Friday, December 24, 2010
This is a big realization--one that isn't quite new and one that has been studied by a lot of people who are authorities on physiology and psychology and other "ologies." Yet, I have picked up some understandings this past few days as I recuperate from my surgery. I think I am wired to think about things and pick them apart and to get my "aha" moments from my own applications. Anyway, if you combine my recuperation with the holiday season, there are a lot of ways to look at eating in my radar right now.
First of all, let me lie my cards on the table to start with. I cannot weigh in right now. The guys put up one of the Christmas trees in the place where I always weigh in because I get an accurate and consistent number from our scale. I figured out how to do it, even with the tree, but now I cannot possible bend over and pick up the scale to place it in the right place. OK, for the next couple of weeks, I simply cannot weigh in. Secondly, I know that is not an excuse to misbehave or slide on my habits because I cannot let my weight grow out of hand and I cannot do the yo yo thing again--and I won't--but it has loosened the reins a bit. Maybe I needed that, only time can tell.
Things that I have finally REALLY figured out...
*Eating should really be about getting the nutrients from food and beverages that our bodies really need for energy and for life. It should be that simple, that is the job of food.
*Eating is the act of putting food in our mouths and showing and swallowing--that stays the same. However it is everything around that act of chewing and swallowing that can make the difference in what eating actually is.
So, WHAT can be so powerful to actually alter the act of chewing and swallowing?
*The physical body of the person doing the chewing and swallowing plays a big role. If you are healthy, eating is often that straightforward thing I mentioned of consuming food--but if you are not healthy, the entire act becomes different. There are a variety of ways that we can be less than healthy, and unfortunately, I have had experience with many of them. The environment around that person is also significant in being able to alter the act of actual eating and what it really looks like and becomes.
I started out my life being a chubby child to an obese child, teen, young adult, adult--with yoyo dieting starting when I was about 11 years old. Unhealthy is someone who learns to change their weight in a short period of time by tightly monitoring what goes in their mouth. When I was around 18 years old, I dieted in a way that I passed out from lack of nourishment a few times. The one thing I remember happening to me besides losing some 60 pounds is that I ended up quite ill with rather large kidney stones fighting their way out of my body. I'm going to call this unhealthiness "Overweight stress." And, by the way, every time I have ever lost weight in this manner, I have gained it all back and it doesn't really work.
I have lived with depression as a personal part of my life and I have lived with or close to family members with bi-polar disorder, AD/HD, autism, and other "mental issues." As one deals with these stresses on how (s)he sees the world, eating is something that can be done with little thought and can run the range of healthy eating to over or under eating, to any kind of binge eating imaginable. I have dealt with emotional overload with needs of my loved ones and loss of life and friends and work. Weight can fluctuate up or down slightly, greatly, or not at all... I'm going to kind this kind of unhealthiness "Mental stress."
I have also lived with serious osteo-arthritis and fibromyalgia the past 15 years. I have had so many surgeries that it seems unbelievable in the quest to put my body into a functional order. I have also had RSD, a spine infection, heart disease, gall bladder disease, and the list goes on. As one seeks relief from pain and malaise, eating becomes another thing besides the act of consuming food. It becomes a distraction, a familiar friend--and this is a time when I now can say I understand the real definition of "comfort food." I am currently on my 6th day past shoulder surgery that included a rotator cuff repair, reattachment of a tendon, and the required arthritis clean-up of bone spurs and loose pieces of cartilage and bone. I didn't realize until the day of my surgery and beyond that even though this is now an outpatient surgery that it is one that doctors don't approve of as an outpatient procedure and that they consider as a "big ticket" procedure. I am doing okay--I'm following doctor's orders and things seem to be progressing appropriately, but it has and is painful. I haven't been "on my program" as faithfully as I have been on it for well over a year. I have shamelessly used food for comfort as I have waited for pain meds to numb me up or as I have sat in misery waiting to be asleep or as I have tried to wiggle my fingers on this hand in a splint to get past the swelling that is ongoing from my arm being immobilized. I'm going to call this kind of unhealthiness "Healing stress."
I am an elementary school teacher and work in an environment that is very "social" by nature. We are working hard to teach children about appropriate social activity and behaviors, customs, good health, literacy, math, content areas, physical activity, bullying, drug and alcohol abuse, etc... As a staff, we are under pressure from the entire world with the ramifications of "no child left behind" and teacher accountability as the children have more and more requirements piled on their plates. Parents who cannot buy pencils and crayons can buy expensive treats laden with fat and sugar. Staff members treat each other on a regular basis by leaving donuts, cakes, and other high fat items in the "staff room" regularly--we have to treat the staff on our birthdays, it's expected. On days when we are required to work long work days with conferences or parent activities or training days, we have "pot lucks" with the sheer amount of food for the number of persons involved being a bit unbelievable. Some of us do our best to participate in healthy team activities and meals, but it is not the norm. Walking away from the constant food supply is difficult but generally doable with some restraint. Dealing with the stress is tough, but can be done... However, we all break down at some point and fall into the trap. I am aware that there are other professions dealing with similar issues--people in medicine comes to mind easily, with thankful patients sending cookie trays and pizza parties for the staff and stress meeting laws and rules. Any place of employment with over 15 or 20 people probably falls into this situation. I will call this "Employment stress."
Finally, I want to include "Social stress" as a final stress. This comes around any of us when there is a holiday, a vacation, or an event like the Super Bowl or the Oscars that people get together for a celebration. As a society, we eat and enjoy food as part of the social experience, more than as a way of consuming nutrients and sustenance.
Now the unsettling part of these 4 stresses that I have described in my personal layman's terms is that most don't occur by themselves. In this past week since my surgery, I have experienced all of them but "Overweight stress." (Thank you Spark People for helping me to get away from that part of my life.) With my surgery, the impact of the holidays, the end of the semester at school, and some extra emotional baggage--there has been a lot on my mind. I haven't done my best in making food choices and really understood what the phrase "comfort food" means. Food can be a distraction from anything that is causing one any type of pain. I even am not sure that this is a totally bad thing. I have learned so many good things here at Spark People to help me develop a healthy attitude about eating and a healthy lifestyle. Everything from using the nutrition and fitness trackers, to seeking out varying types of information to using the wonderful online community here can help us to avoid
Adding some Christmas cookies to my daily diet shouldn't have hurt me at the scale much and I enjoyed sharing them with others. I also have been tracking my food daily and my somewhat decreased activity as well. (Being super busy at work has helped me greatly with my loss of time at the pool for healing. Yesterday, I got in over 15,000 steps as I struggled to analyze test scores and to make some fairly stressful decisions on my schedule.) The pleasure in eating a cookie at the right time was a welcome and important escape from some pain.
Knowing more about myself and how food works has been a real gift--thank you, Spark People.
Understanding that I am not "the only one," handling these issues and that there are ways to work within them has been a blessing--again, thank you Spark People.
Knowledge of ways to deal with the issues in my life and unhealthy ways of handling food as a result has been invaluable. Thank you SPark People for letting me know that I am "normal" in my responses to the issues and that if I use food as more than than something to consume will not be the end of the world or my healthy lifestyle. I understand that I can function as a person and sometimes eat because of another reason rather than securing healthy nutrients in my life, and I won't have failed as a person or as someone who is living a healthy lifestyle. I am still so much healthier than I was over two years ago when I joined Spark People. I am a human being living my life, which is sometimes stressful, sometimes painful, and sometimes plain old difficult. I am doing okay--and I am okay.
If you have stuck with my rambling and my thinking this far, I have just really had some "aha" moments here. The big one is that I am accepting the person who I am. The next one is that I can admit, here in this place, that I have been doing some "comfort eating," and that I have not been hiding or sneaking to do it. My family knows that I have done some of this and that I am aware of it as well. I also am able to understand that I will not ruin my efforts and world by having done some of this. I know that it isn't as wonderful as it could have been, but it also isn't a tragedy either. My life will go on and I know how to eat and how I want to live. I haven't stepped so far off-track with eating a few treats that I am not living a healthy lifestyle that my body needs.
There is one other thing that I need to share that is related to all of this. I am right now living under doctor's orders-- a"post-op" patient. I was told that I couldn't get my shoulder we and that unfortunately that included showers and similar activity. 6 days ago was my last time in the pool, where I do my daily exercise. I am very faithful to my exercise program that began as physical therapy and rehab, and that I have moved into a daily workout with more sets, more resistance, and more activities that I have learned from Spark People and the staff at the fitness center. Anyway, with the pain and my job I have--and I really only missed a half day of work with this procedure, I have gotten in a good deal of walking to keep active, but it hasn't been the same. My arthritic body has been getting more and more uncomfortable. Today, I got my oldest daughter to help me to put on my most loose swim suit, and I went to the pool. I spent about an hour walking, doing kicks, squats, balance activities, and stretching without moving my arm or allowing it to be in any but the two positions I am allowed to have it in. It was amazing--it took about 15 minutes in the water before I felt the big ball of pain in the right side of my lower back to break up and dissipate. Exercise has become an important part of who I am. I know that I am not one of the people here who run marathons and who do all of these amazing things with their bodies, but I have found my place in the world of physical activity. I can walk UNASSISTED in the water and I cannot do that on land. I can move comfortably with the water supporting me as I walk, bend, stretch, use resistance equipment and swim some laps. I love it and I need it. I can't believe either of those things is part of my reality, but it is. I enjoyed my time int he pool so much today and it helped me and my attitude so much. It is also a part of who I am--and with help, I am going to go to the pool EARLY in the morning and do the same exercise. I still cannot bend or get my arm wet--or wash my hair, but I can give myself this gift of moving my body and I am going to do this special thing. I do live a healthy lifestyle and I crave what is best for me. This also gives me another reason to say thank you to Spark People.
Life is good. It got better for me because of Spark People.
I am a person who makes healthy choices when I eat and I practice portion control. I exercise daily. I go to my doctors regularly and I follow their instructions. I take my medications and vitamins as described. I am living a healthy lifestyle.
Life is good.
my Spark Friends and Spark People
Gentle and Sylvia
Sunday, December 19, 2010
First of all--my update: The pain block wore off in the early morning hours yesterday. I have been managing pain with my meds and it has been tolerable. I have had my husband help me take frequent walks around the house and gotten my kid to do household things for us. I have resorted to some comfort eating, which makes me a bit sad--however it was a welcome pain diversion at the moment, so I can live with that. I have had medication induced scattered sleep off and on all day, so my world is off as well,but given the nature of this procedure, that is to be expected. My poor tiny, handicapped kitty has climbed on my shoulder twice and gotten major screaming out of me with her under 5 pounds of weight, so I think my family put her in a closed room of the house, poor baby. Anyway, I fell asleep early, between 9 and 10, and I just woke up before 2 in a lot of pain. I don't think I can set an alarm clock to take pain meds to ward off pain before the fact--and I know this will not be a long-term, random pain like before--this will only get better.
I've been thinking a lot about sp today and have some things i want to say:
*I really like the daily insider and continue to learn from it regularly. i had never seen the calendar from today with my daily review on it. the important thing came last week on the day when they showed the "friend feed." i wondered how my friends were always so good and prompt in responding to my sp accomplishments, and now i know. i'll be adding that vheck of your accomplishments to my routines here over the next few days.
*There are so many ways that you can do the same thing around here. this makes me think that we can do the same activities in so many differing ways that we might not even see this site in the same way.
*I am still not sure i use the fitness tracker the right way. i used to list each of my activities on the tracker each day with the amount of time i do them. i recently discovered the cardio checklist on the same page, so I marked my favorites on the menu (like the food tracker!) and have been recording my individual activity. Each day, my feed records the correct amount of exercise that I have done, but that calendar i just found out about seems to be totaling the two things. am i doing too much there? if you can tell me, let me know.
*there is never enough time to do everything here that i want to do on this site. no matter what. i have had the computer on all day and have been catching up with everyone, but i have so much more i want to do. i didn't respond because this one-handed typing is so slow (Linda, I'm sure thinking about your upcoming replacement surgery...)yet, i want to read about everyone's activities!
that's enough for now. i make even more spelling errors typing like this. i am having big trouble with t. r, and y--and anyone who has ever watched "wheel of fortune" knows two of hose letters are pretty common. have awonderful day--i am going to go huddle!
Friday, December 17, 2010
That is the end of me trying to type capital letters one-handed, forgive me but enough of that is enough. i'm going to be one-handed for a while and i hope that you understand how this is a bit troublesome.
i went to work this morning--and with that and the little bit of walking i have done since i was discharged from the surgery center, i just crossed 10.000 steps for the day. tomorrow will look different and i am going to have yo accept that. i got to the surgery center just before 11:30 and they took me right back. my nurse was gentle and skilled. she wrapped my hand in a heated sheet and popped that iv in really quickly--i didn't feel anything. that is amazing. we did the obligatory paperwork and finally the docs and the very funny anesthesiologist came in to meet with us. the u r nurse came in with her sharpie and wrote "yes" on my right shoulder.
i went into the o r at 2pm. the doc gave me some medicine and then did a cervical block which still has my shoulder numbed. then, he gave me some sleepy medicine and i went to sleep missing the breathing tube and the procedure. my doc didn't find any big surprises, but the tear in my rotator cuff was too big to fix arthroscopically. so i understand that i have an incision. i'm not allowed to take the dressing off or shower until after i see him and start physical therapy on the 27th.
they were kind and gave me top notch treatment. the big part of repairing my shoulder is back in my hands--so i will follow all of the directions i was given. they increased my pain meds considerably and i am to take them round the clock for the nest 2 days. i'm needing a lot of popsicles right now for my throat, but things are going according to plan.
thank you all for your well-wishes and prayers. they make a difference. i'll be around sp because it is something i can do. albeit slowly, lol
Thursday, December 16, 2010
I'm not talking about a foot race, I'm talking about the race to get everything completed before my surgery that needs to be done for the holidays and the end of the term at school. Wow, I'm driving myself a bit crazy with all of this. I just don't want to be stuck with tasks that my shoulder will prevent me from doing like wrapping gifts and lifting baskets of books.
I have been "purging" the kids' book baskets at school to freshen them up with some different books that a bit more difficult and that are "new" to them. That is a big job when each of my students--over 50 of them have around 30 or more books that they select from. I have them select the ones that need to be changed--and it seems that the younger the student, the more books they remove from their baskets... Then I have to select a variety of replacements and put the others away. It has been an exhausting day trying to get that and some instruction done with each of my groups of kids.
I have most of the gifts that we have purchased wrapped. I bought a lot of things online and those things are trickling in, a couple of things at a time... Nothing has a tag on it yet--so tomorrow, I have to create tags and get that done sometime. I also have to pick up the items we put on layaway and get them wrapped. In my spare time, I am trying to get my report cards finished and I am waiting for test scores from the classroom teachers... On Friday, I'm going to photocopy what I have and they will have to fill that in for me.
I am really feeling scattered and nervous about all of this, but it will just have to work out. That is that. The kids will have to bake and organize things and I am just going to have to take a deep breath and let them do it. It is time for me to relinquish responsibility and let them handle everything.
Wish me luck!!
Thursday, December 09, 2010
I cannot squeeze another thing into my day, yet people keep asking and I keep trying. This is my worst bad habit and it is a nasty trap to fall into. I know what I need and I know how to take care of my less than cooperative body. I know that what I have committed to is not good for me and yet, I keep doing it. Let's go back in time and take a look at Tuesday...
I go to work about 45 minutes early because I am tutoring one of my students on my time. Why? The answer is because he needs some special attention and it is the only way that I can give it to him. That bogs me down in getting my day started because as he leaves, my first reading group comes in. I saw them and my second group--but I had to leave for a short period of time to go to the surgery center.
My shoulder surgery is late--at 11:30 on the 17th. I have all of my directions and I can handle most of them. I am supposed to wear a shirt that buttons down the front--and oops, I don't own such an item. I'm guessing that I am going to need a few of those for my post-surgical time. The nurse I spoke with wanted to know the cause of my injury. Hmm, I'm not sure--but my husband is convinced that the fall I had at work when I was packing boxes after school in May was the cause. I think I'll ask my surgeon his opinion before and after the surgery.
I got back in school within my 40 minutes and only missed one reading group. I saw that group, the next group and then my kindergarten group who I started seeing a few weeks ago during my lunch time. After that, I have 3 more reading groups and they are all back to back. (One group arrives while the previous group is getting ready to leave.) I also had a group of 10 children I am tutoring after school on Tuesday and Thursday. (This will end for the term this week...that might give me time for report cards...)
Before I got ready to leave, the kindergarten teachers asked me to help with their special parent education evening ("Go on a date with your kindergartener") I had told them I would help previously, but they had told me that they wouldn't need my help and that I should take a break from the extra stuff--however that was before they realized that they had 55 children signed up to be there and that not one other teacher in our building offered to help them. I recruited my husband and my son to come and give me a hand because the activity that the kids were going to do involved hearing a story and then coloring, cutting and creating puppets. (That is a lot for one person to do with that many 5 year olds!) I had time to reorganize a closet while the families were having dinner. I had multiple copies of the story that I needed to read, so I got the guys to be in stations around the room with the same book so that everyone could "see." We got an extra helper, our assistant principal. It went pretty well--the kids didn't quite get finished with everything, but they took it home to complete with their parents. It went quite well, and my help was so appreciated.
I went from school to the pool and got my work out in. By the time I got home, several of our kids were already in bed and I tried to get started working on SP. I fell asleep as I am apt to do these days and I woke up with the computer in my lap.
Wednesday was hectic as well. Our day started out with a flat tire ont he little car--grr. I convinced my husband to stay home from work and use one of his many leave days to attend to that and a few other things that just need to be done at home, but with the schedule we have, there isn't enough time.
My class schedule was more typical, but we have an early dismissal day on Wednesdays for staff meetings and the like. During the course of the day, I received two emails giving me some extra duties and I tried to squeeze them in before the grade level team meeting. I try and join the 1st and 2nd grade team because the majority of my students come from them. I tried to explain to this group that I need to give my schedule a big makeover to move all of my first grade lessons to the morning. My little children seem to be pretty worn out by the late afternoon, and I am trying to do some important work with them then. That was fairly well received. I also mentioned that I was "thinking" of letting go of the big tutoring group, because the group is too big and that there are too many disruptions for it to be the kind of instruction the kids need. I want to do some one on one tutoring with another child. This was not so well received, and I found myself being unable to hold my ground with the dissension. I have the next couple of weeks to get my point across. When I volunteered to help them out, I wasn't expecting such a big group and I feel like I've been taken advantage of. Our meeting ended around 4:00 and my husband came to get me.
We picked our son up from his school and came home o prepare dinner. It wasn't quite ready when we needed to take our youngest son to Confirmation, so I just passed and went along to go to the fitness center (pool). I got home around 10:00 and sat down to work online. I started my blog--and, well, it is now 6AM. Falling asleep with the laptop has gotten to be something I am doing more and more often these days. Hmm, at least I slept two nights this week!!
Today, two of my kids are going to join me at school and help me with some videotaping for my National Boards renewal. It's Thursday, so I have the final long tutoring day after school. It will be followed by our youngest son's choir and band concert. I don't know if I will make it to the pool or not with all of this going on. I can tell that I am pretty sore today, which will need some attention if I am going ot do anything well. I don't know what else might come up, it has seemed like a lot of the people who I work with have needed some sort of help from me this past couple of weeks--I have spent a good deal of time with at least 6 different teachers on top of my regular work with children and families. I am so pleased that people are talking to me about the things they need help with and I am glad to be able to do it. In the big picture though, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed trying to maintain the schedule that I have been keeping. I think there is a balance and I just have to find it. This may be my new goal to work on as I move from weight loss into maintenance in the coming weeks.
That's my story, in any case.
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