Saturday, January 01, 2011
Happy New Year's Eve!!
Everyone focuses on something that they are planning or looking forward to in the New Year at this point of their life. That sure makes a lot of sense to me. Others focus on lists of things that happened int he year that is about to pass away--and that kind of thing makes sense to me as well. We learn from where we have been and what we have done. Looking forward to the future is always a help and all of the things that I have learned about goals here at SP and in the use of data folders and at data team training at work makes that alogical fit to me.
However, 2010 has been my friend and I am not sure that this is an idea that has been put into words by others. It hasn't been my easiest year by any stretch of the imagination. I started out the year quite ill and in a wheel chair. However, the physical therapy people were quite wise and got me into their aqua therapy program and I got back on my feet--and in the process learned both patience and the fine art of watching something (myself in this case) gradually get better and better, without the need for a big physical or emotional or financial drain. I learned that I really could persevere in the face of difficulty and I proved myself to me and to others around me. In this, the year of my 55th birthday, I think I may have learned one of the biggest lessons in my entire life. Thanks 2010!!
I also started refining a lot of my own personal behaviors. I owe a lot to SP for my improved eating choices and portion sizes--both things I "knew" before, but along with information and a lot of great recipes that were awaiting me each day--well, I started to practice that knowledge. I am a lifetime member of Weight Watchers--twice I think for losing over 100 pounds twice, so I knew I had it in me. However, I am just getting it differently now and it is internalized in my lifestyle. As my friends know, I had surgery 2 weeks ago today on my shoulder--repairing some damage that included a pretty torn rotator cuff. It seems that everyone knows a lot about this and how tricky it is. I found comfort eating to be quite easy and soothing in this holiday season with it's harvest of fudge and cookies and rich drinks. I was told that the pool was off limits because I couldn't get my shoulder wet as well. AS I sat here with a fair amount of pain and with lots of yummy, rich treats at my fingertips and little to do to work out, I caught myself falling into the habits of my entire life. I did something new to me--I went to the pool (with help from my oldest daughter) and without doing anything out of line to this shoulder that cannot be moved, I got my walking and exercise in. The comfort eating lasted a few more days, but I am back on target--yes, I gained (gulp) 6 pounds--but I haven't gained back 130+ pounds like I have done more than once in the past before I figured this out.
It's been a tough year financially for my family--I worked at less than hapf of my pay for 2/3 of the year due to my illness and along with this was a car accident my son was in that went beyond the limits of what our insurance would pay. Before all of the court time was over, our home was in jeopardy. We ended up filing a Chapter 13 debt consolidation and although things haven't been the easiest with 3 kids in college, we are doing okay. We have learned a lot about managing things well and doing what is important. I cannot say we have enjoyed any of this because the financial binds are really uncomfortable, but we are coming around and know that in just over 4 more years, we will be debt free. That is a nice thing to see in our futures, especially knowing that we have paid all of our obligations without hurting anyone in the process.
One of our grown children has moved away from home this year--hard for this mother, but certainly what grown children need to do and I have realized how strong our relationship really is. Our youngest child is now in junior high, also hard for this mother of eight to really accept, but again, it is what children do as they grow up. I have been such a parent for all of these years that it is just now occurring to me that along with work, church, my friends and my husband, I have been evolving and improving in a lot of ways right along with the kids. I don't know how this got by me before now--maybe because of how hectic our lives have been with 8 kids growing up and becoming their own persons. We have had years with 6 kids playing baseball. softball on 5 different teams during the same summer. We have had all 8 of them in the band with instruments to learn and how that has taken them into other hobbies and related interests (most of which didn't really make us feel the need for earplugs, lol.) We have spent time with other young people of all shapes, noise levels, maturity, faiths, and attitudes--and we have appreciated our kids even more. Yet, it has been this year that I have learned about how much I have changed with their milestones so obvious. (I am thinking that a wedding or at least wedding plans are coming for one of our kids in 2011--so that is opening a new set of doors. BTW, there is nothing official in that, call it "mother's intuition!!))
So I'm leaving 2010 with a big thank you for all of its gifts and my next blog will talk about those more traditional New Year's things!
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
I'm getting better. Really!! I am getting better in so many ways!
How am I getting better Let me count the ways:
1. I saw the doctor yesterday and had my shoulder checked out--I also started physical therapy. Thee are three incision areas--2 are tiny where the scope went in. There is a bigger area right on my shoulder line that's about 2 inches long. The comment was, "we can't tell how you did this, but whatever it was was a doozy." It is healing and almost looks healed now. I had some physical therapy and she was surprised at how well it was moving for so early on. I am not allowed to do anything with the arm and must wear the sling for a long time--but I am getting better. That nauseating burning pain in the back of my shoulder which sent me to the doctor way back on August 2 is gone. I am not yet over the surgical disruption, but I am getting better!!
2. I have the same physical therapist who worked with me in the pool last March who discharged me--and I haven't seen her at all since late April. She kept looking at me and then finally asked me about the weight I had lost and told me how good I look. There is a point when you lose a lot of weight that you don't get compliments very often, so it is really good to hear them once in a while. I look better and graduated from therapy for my back and legs--and have kept on exercising them anyway. I am getting better.
3. There was a big mix-up over the refill on my meds (because a nurse unrelated to any of my doctors got involved.) It took a long time on he phone today with me talking to four different people at two different doctor's offices to get this all fixed. The best part of all is that one of the nurses is usually very unpleasant with me and the rest of the females in this world, and today, I started off by recognizing her skill and how important she was--and she took care of things for me. I'm getting better at dealing with tricky people.
4. I assigned duties to all of the kids today and I patiently let them do what I asked of them...it got done and I protected the healing taking place in my shoulder. I didn't interfere or do the chores myself to do them better or faster or anything else. I am getting better.
5. I worked harder today at all of the things I know that helped me to lose weight and become healthy. I drank all of my water and I got in my 6 servings of fruits and vegetables. When I needed something to eat, I had grapes and not a cookie or two. I am convinced that eating healthy has helped with my shoulder healing to the point that it already is. It is particularly nice to know that I have some role in what my body is doing. I am getting better.
6. I went to the pool yesterday and tonight with permission from my health care people. I did fess up and let both the doctor and the physical therapist that I had already been there. I am doing about 2/3 of my work out at about 2/3 of the intensity as before and I am not doing anything that I am not allowed to do. Next week, I will be able to submerge my shoulder in the water--but I won't be able to do any movement on that right side for a while. It is amazing how happy my legs, my back and even my left shoulder have been since I've been going back. I never expected to have working out be such an important part of my life. I go in the evening these days, given my work schedule--and it has almost completely TV in my life. I never expected that either, and I never realized how easy it was to give it up. I admit that I still watch one soap each day, and I watch little else. I wonder how much time that I wasted in front of that thing. I am so much better!!
7. Finally, I realize that I am happier now than ever before. Again, it is because I have found that living in a more healthy way is good for me in so many ways. Exercising each day, good food choices, the way that I spend my time, my good friends (online and on land), and making good choices all work together to make me feel "right." I take time for my faith each day and I just feel better as a person. I am sure that losing 120+ pounds plays a big role in that, but my attitude is all about who I am, what I am and what I do. I am getting better and my focus is on what is best for me and those who I love more now than ever before. I think I understand some things better now than I did when I was lugging around an extra person on my body--I see the little things and understand how they work together and make me better.
I'm getting better. I'm healing, I'm happy and I'm raring to go. What more can I say?
Oh, I know--thank you everyone who has a hand in my improved lifestyle and:
Monday, December 27, 2010
I just wrote a nice long paragraph that disappeared for no apparent reason. I wish I understood computers a bit better than I do. (That is one of my professional goals for this school year!!) I want to share some highlights of 2010, but most of my photos are on our computer which is in the shop, on hold because the serial number is worn off on the bottom of the laptop and we cannot find one document that has the number written on it. I cannot believe that Apple doesn't have it since they worked on our MacBook once before. It has a factory sponsored three year warranty, so they have to know they can authorize repairs. They also have to know that it couldn't be an alternate machine because one from the same year would also have the same warranty, so there is no scam that would benefit from doing monkey business.... I hate all of the riles and issues in our lives because somebody did something dishonest some where...)
Anyway, let me share some photos here with you...
This is the senior choir at Mason's graduation in late May.
This is Mason receiving his "diploma." (You know, I'm not even sure if he went and picked the real thing up!!)
These are a few photos from the summer reading and activity program at our church.
Here's a beautiful summer sky!!
Three of the dogs--Lady always runs from the cameras and we miss getting her in the photos!
However, we caught her in this photo trying to get away from the camera while there was a nice Frankie and Lady photo-op.
Some of the kitties--Lumpy, Smoky, The Bandit, and Ty
The new school that I teach in (The Center for Math and Science) that officially opened on August 2.
My classroom complete with children.
A surprise gift in early October from one of my students to add to my apple collection!!
Late fall camping and some flooding of the Mississippi River--all awesome with beauty and fun!
Our youngest son's winter "junior" bowling league with Micah at the helm.
Holiday concerts that feature our two youngest children!
The children's pageant at our church--of course none of my photos with our two youngest dressed as angels up in the choir loft turned out. (A mother always wants photos of their children in white with halos, even though we know better, lol)
Here's Jerry, my daughter's bunny that she tried to name "Rasputin," but was overwhelming outvoted by everyone else.
I cannot find my photos of the church on Christmas Eve or my holiday photos--I obviously made a mistake downloading them. I hope I didn't make a mistake and lose them.
Anyway, I wanted to review the blessings and fun of the past year and share some "new" photos with you that I know hadn't made it to a blog. When I get my other machine back, I'll have more of these. I hope that you enjoy a little glimpse into my world as much as I enjoy sharing.
Friday, December 24, 2010
The Spirit of Christmas
I have a list of people I know
All written in a book,
And every year at Christmastime
I go and take a look.
And that is when I realize
That those names are a part
Not of the book theyíre written in
But of my very heart.
For each name stands for someone
Who has crossed my path sometime,
And in that meeting theyíve become
A treasured friend of mine.
And once youíve met some people
The years cannot erase
The memory of a pleasant word
Or a friendly face.
So when I send a Christmas card
That is addressed to you,
Itís because youíre on that list
Of folk Iím indebted to.
And your are one of many folk who
In times past Iíve met
And happen to be one of those
I donít want to forget.
And whether I have known you for
Many years or few,
In some way you have a part in
Shaping things I do.
This, the spirit of Christmas, that
Forever and ever endures,
May it leave its richest blessing
In the hearts of you and yours.
Gentle hugs and Christian love to each of my Spark Friends and acquaintances,
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
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