Saturday, August 03, 2013
I haven't had much time for blogging lately although I enjoy this chance to connect with SparkFriends and to organize my thoughts about my journey. Truth be told, I don't have time right now either, but I am making a few minutes!!
Things have been hectic lately. New position at work is taking additional time and adding stress to my life. Overall, it is a positive but it does change the amount of time I have for myself and taking care of my stress levels is even more important than usual. On top of that, I've started taking a class again, towards Applied Behavior Analysis certification. I enjoy it, but it is another time stealer. I am behind already and it is only about the second week into the course. Fitting in fitness, cooking, self-care, time with friends and Burak all become harder to do. Hanging in there and I am proud of myself for the consistency I've had even under the demands in my life.
I'm taking part in the "Back On Track" August challenge by focusing on yoga for the month. I always tell people that this is the foundation of all my other weight loss and fitness success. I truly believe that. By even doing a little bit of yoga every day, I feel like I can manage my arthritis (in both feet and which was debilitating when first diagnosed... I know how to manage it better now) and it helps manage my stress. Without it, I wouldn't be running, that is 100% certain. However, lately I've been doing the bare minimum, typically a 15 minute relaxation routine before bed. For August, I've decided to do at least 30 minutes daily, and to push my challenge level, getting back into routines that focus on strength, balance and flexibility, not just gentle relaxation poses. So far, so good! For the first three days in August, I've stuck to this plan and I've been doing Intermediate level poses (based on the iPhone app I use, called Yoga Studio). What surprises me is how well I'm doing with the Intermediate routines. I'm challenged and a few of the poses are really tough, but I'm DOING it! I just think back to where I was in January when I started yoga (before I even started losing weight) and I'm amazed at how far I've come. Especially since for the last couple months I haven't been challenging myself with yoga at all.
Other than that, I'm just trying to maintain my consistency with the other healthy habits I've been forming. I've been doing strength daily for a while now, or occasionally if I do a full body workout in a single day, I'll take the following day off. That's been a nice change and makes it easier for me to manage my time. I'm still loving running although this week I haven't done much. I managed to get blisters on my toes on a walk this week and I didn't feel like running would help the situation, plus I've just been so time crunched that my cardio time has been limited. Silly me went to the beach with my students the other day and I didn't bother rinsing the salt and sand off my feet before going for an hour-and-a-half walk with Burak and a friend... blisters in between my toes was the result. Ugh. Feeling better now and I plan on running tomorrow.
The real accomplishment over the last few days is that I've been staying strong around emotional eating. My two biggest weaknesses are social eating and emotional/boredom eating. Thursday was an extremely stressful afternoon at work. Usually when I leave work, I'm able to leave the stress behind too, but this time it came home with me in a big way. Long story short, I work with teenagers with profound autism and one of my students injured one of my staff members. The rest of my staff (5 people total) in my classroom were also emotionally affected by the situation. When I got home I REALLY wanted to open the fridge to cope with the stress. I did a good job staying on track. Yesterday, on top of still recovering from the stress, I got my monthly visitor and that seemed to justify binging on junk food (I still want a burger and fries, PLEASE?) but I stayed the course. I did get a frozen meal but I stuck to a single serving and logged my calories, and added veggies to it. It's been ages since I had a convenience meal and it satisfied that part of me that wanted the indulgent burger, fries and shake without knocking me off course. I also didn't reach for a beer to cope with the stress. I have a healthy relationship with alcohol; it isn't a problem area for me however it sure would have taken the edge off my stress on Thursday evening so I am pleased that I chose not to since it didn't fit in with my meal plan for the day.
I guess I've rambled long enough especially since I am procrastinating about many other things right now. Last note, part of my motivation to stay strong right now is to keep watching the scale head in the right direction. Only 12.3 pounds left to get to my goal weight!! I'm so excited to be getting into the home stretch with this phase of my journey. If I can get to my goal weight by early October (ahead of my goal of my 40th birthday in late October), I want to go climb Katahdin Mountain to celebrate. Let's see if I can keep strong and make it ahead of time before the mountain closes in October.
Sunday, July 28, 2013
I just wanted to take a moment to tell you how proud of you I am! You've been doing a lot of great work lately and it shows! Just a little over 5 months ago you weren't getting any exercise at all and not concerned about changing your eating habits. But when a co-worker started a weight-loss competition, you took the opportunity to turn your life around! You took on your overeating and you have become a runner, going from absolutely no exercise to running a five-mile race yesterday! And that's your third road race with more planned! That's awesome... and the fact that you've been able to start running despite arthritis in your feet is just amazing.
More importantly, you've changed so many daily habits. You do yoga every day which is supporting every other goal... yoga takes care of the arthritis, keeps you flexible and manages the stress of a busy, challenging life. Tracking calories every single day has paid off with huge weight loss rewards. Five months ago you weighed about 224 pounds and struggled with many daily activities, basic yoga poses, and gentle exercise. Today you have lost more than 55 pounds and you are vibrant and full of energy. Don't get me wrong... there's always room for improvement, new goals, more progress to be made... but you have made so many positive changes that you should feel successful TODAY not just when you reach your "goal weight". Every day with forward progress is an accomplishment and worth celebrating.
So keep it up, Self. Take a look in the mirror and smile because you've created a whole new story for yourself. Instead of just thinking about how nice it would be to lose weight and get active, you've DONE IT. You have taken the steps to live a better, more empowered life. No looking back! This is your life so keep on living it every day to the best of your ability! Move forward with confidence, celebrating yourself every day.
Thursday, July 25, 2013
Tonight I was feeling tired after a very busy few days at work, and to be honest, after a couple of beers with a friend while catching up with her. I knew I wanted to get a little easy cardio in so I put some leggings and walking shoes on, even though it was feeling late. Opened up the door and saw that it had started to sprinkle lightly. Do I really want to go for a walk and get soaked? I guess... since I'm already dressed for it and what does it matter if I get wet?
I got out the door and I'm glad I did. The first thing I noticed was that the remaining sunlight was lighting up some nearby structures so that they glowed absolutely golden against the grey gloomy sky in that direction. Just another hundred steps or so and I see a rainbow shooting straight up from the ground glowing against the same gray clouds. The only part of the rainbow visible was the very bottom part of what would be the right side of it, so it looked like a rainbow pillar instead of an arc. Gorgeous!
Just another hundred yards or so down the road I turned the corner, walking away from the rainbow and discovered a stunning, brooding, stormy sunset as my reward. Reds, purples, grays, a little orange, pink and yellow thrown in for variety, but mostly the deeper shades spread low against the entire evening sky in that direction. I walked on this road watching the colors morph before turning back around as it got darker. As I got close to home, the sky mostly dark gray now with no more glowing structures or rainbow pillars or vivid sunsets, I crossed the railroad tracks. Looking down the long straight path of the tracks, I caught one last glimpse of brilliant ruby red sky far off to the west, at the very end of the tunnel made by the trees to either side of the tracks.
I didn't get soaked by the rain, my mood has been lifted, I burned a couple hundred calories (that will help offset that beer I drank!), I listened to some energetic music and was inspired by the beauty that is just outside my front door... and all I had to do was get my shoes on and get out the door!
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
I wish I had a bit more time so I could blog more; a lot has been going on lately on my journey-- struggled with motivation for a week as I hit a plateau, but stuck with it and started finding it again. SparkCoach has been helping me with consistency and I have been maintaining most of my streaks, which become more and more motivating as they get longer. I don't want to break my streaks after working so hard! But tonight I am not going to address any of those things...instead I want to write about my SparkCoach assignment today which was to do something I'm scared of.
This was a tricky one for me, and one I wish I had more prep time for. Initially, I had a hard time identifying a practicable goal for today. On the other hand, I DID tackle something that has been a lifelong fear just the other day...but more on that later. First, the scary thing I tackled today.
It was a very busy day at work today with a very intense incident at the end of it that left me feeling pretty stressed out and a bit down. I had to go to the grocery store afterwards and my first thought was "Great! I'll buy a little treat as a pick-me-up." My second thought was "Hey! That's emotional eating and you can do better than that!" My third thought was "Oooh, but you know what would be nice when I get home? A gin and tonic, or maybe a glass of wine, to relax and take the edge off." Fourth thought: "Hmmm, isn't that kinda like emotional eating? Let's save it for Thursday when I have after work plans with a co-worker." Fifth thought: "Well, okay, but I'm still stressed and down!!" And my healthy habits kicked into gear and got me into my running clothes shortly after I walked in the door of my apartment.
So what about the scary thing I tackled today? Keep in mind I started running only 5 months ago, working up from 15 second intervals my first week on up to doing my first 5K at the end of May. While deciding which way to head on my run, I remembered a running route that I'd thought of months ago, thinking "Wow, that would be EPIC! I'd like to try that in a year or so." This route takes me from my house, on wooded trails down to a park and then to a 3.5 mile running trail loop and then back home through the park and on the same trails, but uphill at a gentle grade the whole way home. Altogether, an 8 mile run. I set off on this run with a good attitude, but having no idea whether I'd be able to make it or not. My previous longest run was about 6.25 miles. I told myself I could turn back instead of going around the whole loop if I needed to. I told myself I could stop and walk if I needed to. I told myself that I didn't need to run the last two uphill miles if I couldn't handle it. But I didn't stop... I didn't walk... and I didn't need to take a break on the uphill grade on the home stretch. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!
Right now I am tired, but feeling great! Did this run scare me? I guess that depends on how you define "scared". But it definitely felt intimidating and well outside of my comfort zone. It felt like I was rushing into something that I should keep training for instead of just going for it today. It felt like a huge and possibly insurmountable challenge at my current level of fitness. But in fact it was well within my ability. I felt great on a couple of the uphills that would have had me gasping just a couple months ago. I didn't wimp out when I had options like a flatter trail versus the more up-and-down one that I used both ways. It was tough, but it was not too tough. I'm pretty psyched, in case you can't tell!
Okay, so what about that lifelong fear that I tackled on Sunday? Well, maybe not quite lifelong, but definitely all my adult life. I once went bathing suit shopping with a friend, and this was about twenty years ago when I was still slim and somewhat fit, and when I tried on a bikini my friend started laughing at me like seeing me in a bikini was just about the most ridiculous thing ever! So I've never owned, never mind worn a bikini in public! Getting older has provided a lot of benefits and one of those is that even though my body is lumpy and has stretch marks all over it and is in every way a work-in-progress, I'm kinda getting over being embarrassed by it. Especially with all the hard work I've been doing, I feel a bit proud of my current shape even though I still have a long way to go. But I tell myself every day that my body is strong (and getting stronger), fit (and getting fitter), healthy (and getting healthier) and that I have NOTHING to be embarrassed about. Long and short, I bought a bikini on Friday and actually wore it to the beach on Sunday!
So here is the second scary thing I'm doing today: posting a photo of me in my bikini at the beach, lumps, bumps, stretch marks and all the myriad imperfections included! Here ya go!
Sunday, July 14, 2013
My SparkCoach challenge a couple days ago was to identify some big, long term goals in my life, not necessarily related to weight loss goals. I didn't have much time that day to really reflect on this so I am taking a few minutes now to think about what I have in mind for myself over the next year, five years, ten years.
I've never been someone who has her life planned out, mapped and organized. I've generally been more the type of person who takes opportunities as they come along, rather than being very proactive about identifying big goals and then working towards them. I guess that's not true in regard to weight loss, this time around, as I am extremely goal oriented and have a healthy plan on how to get there, thanks to SP.
So this isn't an easy reflection for me. So many people can just rattle off their life goals and what they are doing to meet them. In the coming year, I'll be finishing up the certification process in Applied Behavior Analysis. I've got two classes left to take, supervised fieldwork to complete and then I'll sit for the Board exam. Completing that will be very satisfying and potentially move my career forward a bit. Plus it will be good to get it off my plate... I'm nervous about trying to maintain my current commitment to fitness when my classes start up again next week, taking away a large chunk of "free" time.
I guess another "Big Goal" is to sort through all my various financial messes and start cleaning them up. I recently got promoted at work and I'll start seeing a little more money coming in. Hopefully, I'll be able to put some of that money towards old debts, student loans, that sort of thing. I'd like to be in a place where I can start feeling like I'm in control of my finances rather than always having a low bank balance hanging over my head, not knowing how to take care of emergencies when they arise. In connection with this is the goal to own my own home, rather than renting. I have a wonderful apartment and great landlords so I'm not in a hurry, but it's not the same as having my own house. There are advantages to renting, and certainly much less stress, but I want my own little piece of land with my house to make my own. That feels very out of reach right now, but as I conquer the old debts, hopefully I can start moving in that direction.
Somewhat connected with my dream home is figuring out my relationship with B. He's wonderful, very kind and supportive most of the time, but we are also stuck in a rut and our future is very foggy to me. He is clearly not in any hurry to make a lasting commitment to me and that is definitely an issue for me. I'm not getting any younger, and I want to have a lasting partnership, with a shared home and life. As time goes on, I feel like this is becoming less and less likely with B, rather than more likely. We aren't very good at communicating about our relationship, which concerns me, and I feel like he is generally content with the status quo of our relationship and with his incredibly stressful and busy job that leaves little time for us. This is a major source of stress for me, and needs some resolution in the next year or so for me to get on with my life, with or without him.
Professionally, I really don't know what I want. I just got my promotion that I've been working towards, so I'm happy to settle into my new role and get my feet under me right now. As part of my new job, I'll be starting a master's degree in special education which is going to add evern more time stress to my life, but I can add getting my teaching certificate and special ed master's to the list of "big goals" for the next few years. I'm not sure where this will ultimately lead. It would be nice to have a better paying position, but honestly, I love special education and feel very satisfied with my professional life other than the chronic financial stress. B keeps trying to get me to go into consulting, or private schools or back into science but I'm just not driven in those directions. Yes, I have the skills. Yes, I could probably get a job or start my own business. But no... I don't want to have that life. I enjoy the place that I work, my co-workers and students are wonderful, I don't dread Mondays for the most part (I mean, of course I love an extra day off here and there but in general I ENJOY going to work). That means a lot to me. I've had the jobs where I'd feel sick to my stomach just walking in the door or on the commute or that I start worrying about Sunday evening and can't sleep. That I have a place where I feel at home and valued and useful means a lot to me. The only big problem with my current job is the low pay and the poor benefits. Such is the life of a teacher...
Obviously, one concrete goal for myself is to get to my goal weight. I'd love this to happen by my 40th birthday in October, although I am also okay with not meeting that deadline, because weight loss happens on its own timetable, not mine. I'm on pace though to meet that goal and often visualize how great it will feel to be at a healthy weight as I turn 40, looking and feeling better than I have in YEARS. I have some smaller goals too, such as running my first 10k this September. I'd like to get back into hiking as I start to feel stronger and I'd love to start rock climbing again like I did in my 20s. Continuing to be active and getting stronger, faster, fitter is as important to me as my goal weight.
Another goal is just to travel more... but that one is tied into the financial piece. I want to explore the world, but it feels unattainable while struggling to make ends meet. I've never put together a "bucket list" but there are so many places in this world that I want to see, so many things I want to do, so many foods or experiences that I want to try. Somehow I need to find a way to make those things happen. I guess the question is whether trade-offs like getting a better paying job and being able to travel more and save more money are worth it, if I'm giving up some of the satisfaction I have with my current job. I don't know the answer to that question right now, although I am very committed to continuing in special education and applied behavior analysis for the time being.
So that's about it. For the most part, I just take life one day at a time, which can be a negative quality in terms of being able to reach some of these goals. I guess what I really want to do over the next year or two years is to become a little bit more financially stable and sort out my relationship with B so that I can begin thinking ahead a little more and start reaching some of the goals that feel unattainable right now (house, travel, money for retirement...). I am grateful that I have a life I enjoy, a healthy body, a curious mind, friends and family that are caring and kind, and my basic life needs are being met every day. Beyond that, everything else is just the icing on the cake, isn't it? I have very little cause for complaint compared to so many people who have much greater struggles than me... Life is good, even just one day at a time.
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