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Coping with Life

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A couple months ago, I wondered how I'd cope with tax season. I expected work to be busy, volunteer work to be busy, and to have a tough time squeezing in time to run.

Well, I solved part of that problem by injuring my foot so running is out. As a bonus, my normal walks on the lunch hour are out. I miss them. But the time crunch is still here. Work will suck up however many hours I give to it.

I'm muddling through, trying to get enough done in few enough hours so I can get enough sleep. SP tells us that sleep is important. Today it was impressed on me just how important in this crazy work environment. I was on a conference call, and either Darth Vader joined to listen in, or someone fell asleep on the call without putting their phone on mute.

The volunteer job is more manageable; I'm giving it the planned number of hours but no extra shifts. The nice thing about volunteer work is that people are happy to see me, and willing to take whatever time I'm willing to give without pushing for more time.

On the fitness front, the right foot is ever so slowly improving. The past few days, I've been able to run a few test paces. The result of the tests is that running any sustained distance is still not feasible, and it's inadvisable to test too often; but that's better than stopping in pain the first time I land on my right foot. I can walk with a normal gait, but it's clear that I can't do a lot of that without the foot telling me about it. So I'm still not going on intentional walks just to be walking. I'm getting more steps in per day, but still less than 10K.

This is getting old.

Yesterday I got an email from the HM I signed up for, asking me to check the confirmation list. I'm on it, and my name is spelled correctly. So I should get a bib for the half marathon at the end of April with my name printed on it. At the rate my foot is recovering, I might be able to do it in run-walk intervals; or maybe walking all the way; or maybe it will be inadvisable to attempt it at all.

That's a far cry from my hopes of being competitive in my age goup. With just 2 months left till race day and the foot still keeping me on the sidelines, I won't be able to train to be competiive. If the foot gets all better faster than I think it will, I might be able to train to run it all the way.

It is what it is. As my sister notes, it's more important to be fit than to be competitive. On the bright side, I've been able to keep my eating and weight under control in spite of the enforced lack of running or substantial walking. That's success, and it needs to be enough for me . . . at least for now.

And now to bed . I'm finding that while the foot is trying to heal, I can soak up more sleep than I could when I was healthy and running four days a week.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MSLZZY 3/1/2012 9:59PM

    The body always requires more sleep
in order to recover. Do what you need
to do to heal.

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HEALTHIERKEN 3/1/2012 12:51AM

    Your sis is right: it's more important to be fit than to be competitive. You can always be competitive next time, but keeping fit (mentally as well as physically) as you are is tops.
Congratulations on how you're handling this setback.

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KRISZTA11 2/29/2012 12:04PM

    You are doing the right thing.
Eating and sleeping well is at least half of success.
Keep up the good work!

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RG_DFW 2/29/2012 8:09AM

    I like the way you're staying positive in all this. And congrats for checking on the race entry! The news article yesterday didn't give a reason why the "winner" didn't register.

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FIT2BETHIN 2/29/2012 5:23AM

    Loved your Darth Vader comment...hysterical!

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ONEKIDSMOM 2/28/2012 9:18PM

    "This iss getting old." Oh, my gosh... go back about four years, when I tripped over the dog and injured my foot and I can soooo related to what you're going through. When it hurts to put weight on your foot, when it hurts to walk...

BUT, you are healing, you are being sensible, and you are doing what you need to do. And if you decide to walk the half (as I am probably going to do mine, again)... so be it. I remember you used to walk the legs off the neighbor kids! This is just more of the same.

To your health, bro! emoticon

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MAGGIE101857 2/28/2012 8:36PM

    I like that you are finding the silver lining in all of this! A lot can change in two months!!! Stay strong!

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The Maintenance Puzzle

Sunday, February 26, 2012

When I was two pounds from my initial goal weight, I started reading posts on the At Goal and Maintaining Spark Team. I learned that maintenance is hard, and that most people who lose a lot of weight gain it back. I learned that the odds of keeping it off improve if you keep it off longer. I learned that different strategies were key for different successful maintainers. I learned that the consensus among successful maintainers in that team was that maintenance is *not* like losing weight, and requires a different mindset.

I didn't learn an easy way to tell what weight I ought to be. That remains a puzzle. BMI is a nice estimate that tells you where you want to go when you're a long ways away; but it's kind of like saying, "Go to New York!" Okay, now I'm in New York. Precisely where in New York should I be?

The best answer I came up with for what weight I ought to be is a reasonable appearance and feeling energetic and fit. I achieved that in the range of 165 to 167 pounds, 8 to 10 pounds lower than my initial goal of 175. It took me 8 weeks after achieving initial goal to adjust my eating to where I was no longer losing weight. Then I focused on running. First I focused on continuing to run through the winter; later I focused on a half marathon at the end of next April.

Well. Man plans, and God laughs. In the process of learning to listen to my body, one of the learning lessons is my current foot injury. In 20-20 hindsight, this might be a result of failing to listen to my body about the thigh injury before; it's possible that I messed up the foot by running with a gait altered by the bad thigh. Whatever. Now I need to get the foot healed up, and that means no running since February 1.

No running means I'm burning less calories, which in turn means I need to eat less. I learned early on that the SP exercise tracker is useless in terms of quantifying calories burned accurately, so I had to experiment with changing the diet and see what my weight did. That has resulted in 4 adjustments to my calorie range during the month of February. First I cut out 200 calories. After gaining 3 pounds, I cut 400 more. When I hit a new low weight at 162.8, I added back 200 calories.

This morning I hit another new low at 162. In hindsight, I understand this. The foot is slowly getting better, and I'm more active because of that. In addition, I've slipped into the habits and thought processes from losing weight, where I dutifully ate up to the minimum of the calorie range and not much over that.

So today I added back another 100 calories, to force myself to eat just a little more. I'll give it a week and see what happens. I'm confident I can solve the puzzle of making adjustments to what I eat to put my weight into a desired range.

I'm far less confident that I know what that desired range should be. I was nervous the first eight weeks of maintenance when I couldn't seem to stop losing weight. I was more comfortable in later weeks when the weight mostly went sideways, then got nervous again with each new 30 year low weight.

Now, I don't know. It's counter-intuitive that I should lose fat while I'm resting from my major physical exercise to let the foot heal. But the mirror seems to show me a little bit less of the small roll of belly fat that I still have, and I'm fitting into 32" waist jeans now, when 33" was comfortable at the start of maintenance.

Oh, well. I see a future where I will always have to track what I eat. I see a future where I will be making adjustments to how much I eat based on what my weight does. I see a future where I continue to weigh myself each morning, a fasting dehydrated weight that will be as consistent from one day to the next as practical. My crystal ball is too cloudy to let me read the weight on that future scale. And my 20-20 hindsight tells me that my high school weight isn't really comparable to what I weigh now, because I didn't have a standard for how to weigh back then. The weights I remember from my teens and early 20s are probably weights in clothing, and heavier than what I would weigh with my standard now.

Maybe my high school weight was more equivalent to what 160 would be now? I don't know. I just have to muddle through until I figure out what my true ideal weight should be. And maybe my ideal weight will change depending on whether I'm running or not? I just don't know.

Maintenance is a puzzle. I have some parts of it solved, and just have to trust that the rest will fall into place when I need it to.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BOBCATGIRL76 2/28/2012 9:39AM

    Have you read the book Born to Run? My boyfriend just gave it to me and told me it would have me wanting to run a marathon in no time. I know that probably would be unhelpful with you trying to let your foot heal, but I was just wondering if you'd ever heard of it? My maintenance period is a long way off, but I look forward to the days where I can just eat good healthy food and not worry so much about needing the scale to go down. I just hope I am successful when I get to that point.

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FROGGGY13 2/26/2012 7:59PM

    I love your blog posts because you go over the many details and puzzling aspects of this whole maintenance thing.
I have found it to be very nonlinear at times. I am definitely eating more and exercising just as much as before, yet I'm still losing, but am afraid of adding too many calories and slipping into old bad habits. I am now at a weight I haven't been at since I was 16 or so... yet I look different now, of course, the weight distribution has changed.

The key question, I think, is "How do you feel?" Are you still strong? Are you getting too bony for your own taste? Unless the doctors tell you something's wrong, the final call is yours. For me, I feel good and I will let that guide me. As long as I am getting my nutrients and not yo-yoing widely, I think it's ok. My body was never skinny and I trust that it will never be - I hope it will be fit and strong, at whatever weight it decides to settle.

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SPARKLEMEL89 2/26/2012 6:34PM

    It's sort of disappointing that the weight loss and learning how to be fit part is so much fun and so thrilling while the maintenance aspect is difficult and largely unexciting (no stepping on the scale to see you've lost 5 pounds). Best of luck man! It's hard to be consistent sometimes but always well worth it! emoticon

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Internet Dependency

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Yesterday morning my internet connection was slow. I didn't think anything of it till I got a call at work from my daughter. She was at my house doing her laundry, and the internet wasn't working. She took the liberty of calling my ISP for tech support, and learned that they needed to make an appointment to send a tech out.

Got home yesterday, and found the earliest available tech appointment was for the 2PM to 4PM window today. Um, that's over a full day without internet.

In 1996 when I first got internet service, it was a toy. It was very entertaining, but most of what I used a computer for was local. Now, I need connectivity to do the SparkPeople thing. Other stuff too, but SP is what cramps my style soonest.

I had to finish my Friday eating without being able to look at the Nutrition Tracker. I had seen the tracker results at the office at quitting time, and I knew roughly how many more calories I needed; but I couldn't remember for sure how much more protein I needed. And of course I couldn't remember the exact macronutrients on the stuff I normally eat in the evening; the tracker figures that stuff for me!

So I stuck to fairly normal stuff, and wrote down what I ate on paper. I added calories to the best of my ability to remember or estimate them, and hoped for the best. Then I planned out my Saturday breakfast and lunch to be very standard stuff that I've done a lot of times. Best I could do.

The internet came back briefly (and slowly) this morning, and I learned I ended Friday 40 calories above bottom of range, and in range for all the macronutrients. That was a relief, even though I knew I'd be close and one day wouldn't make or break things. Went to my volunteer job doing tax prep, and only gave them about an hour and a half. Fortunately, there were enough volunteers that the site could afford to let me slack off today.

The tech arrived around 3 PM. It was interesting how the drill was different than it had been in 2002 when I had the service installed. Standards have changed. New connectors were put on the coax, a new tap and ground was installed, and my modem was swapped out. New modem didn't work. Swapped for another one.

The internet came back, and it's faster than it's been in quite a while. Apparently my former cable modem had been slowly dying for months and months. The good news is that there's nothing wrong with my router.

All is right with the world again. I can read blogs, I can post a blog, and I can track food. But maybe I shouldn't do as much of the reading and posting as I did; I seem to have been awfully productive with household chores this morning when I had no connectivity.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ONEKIDSMOM 2/26/2012 4:39PM

    Funny how things that once were luxuries become necessities! And all because people have imagination to develop things that make life chores easier.

Glad you're back!

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RG_DFW 2/26/2012 8:42AM

    ah, one can hardly remember the time when we didn't have computers connected to the world!

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KRISZTA11 2/26/2012 7:43AM

    Sometimes we have troubles with internet too, and everybody feels we are cut from the world.
Luckily we have a mobile internet stick for such emergencies, and I have another one for work.
What a change!
15 years ago I didn't have a mobile phone, and no internet access either.
Now I cannot do my work if I leave either phone, laptop or mobile internet at home.

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HEALTHIERKEN 2/25/2012 9:50PM

    I'm with you on the crucial role SparkPeople plays in my new Self, MOBYCARP. Even got the app a couple of days after I got an iPhone. Now I don't have to haul the computer along when I go to Daughter's overnight : ) Can't wait to use it to check out nutrition values next time we eat at a restaurant!!!!

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MAGGIE101857 2/25/2012 8:29PM

    Amazing what you can get done when you aren't on the internet!!! But sometimes it just isn't as much fun!! emoticon

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Marking Time

Thursday, February 23, 2012

This morning's snow has mostly melted. Tonight we're supposed to get more wet heavy snow, which has a chance of melting during the day tomorrow. I'll see how much is in the driveway tomorrow morning, and make a judgment call on clearing it. Chances are I will. This time next month, if my car will drive over fresh snow I won't bother shoveling it. But snow in February could last a few weeks.

I'm on track with SP, but it feels like treading water. Today I had to make an effort to eat up to the minimum of my calorie range. But I'm pretty sure I need to do that to maintain my weight. It reminded me a bit of the weight loss phase and early maintenance, when I frequently had to eat late to get in required calories. I can do this.

The foot continues to improve, very slowly. It didn't bother me while shoveling snow this morning, and I found myself walking at an almost normal pace at times today. It's still not right, but I notice this more from my altered gait than from direct pain in the foot now. Perhaps I could have gone for an intentional walk today, but I didn't. I want the foot to get enough better to run on, and it's clearly not there yet.

So I'm kind of marking time on the fitness front, resting the foot to the extent practical, and waiting till I can use it normally again. Meanwhile, pushups on the ball have progressed from 3 sets of 25 to 3 sets of 35 while the steel cut oats simmer. When the foot is good enough to do standard pushups, I'll have to test to see how many I can do.

And now I need to be to bed early. Sleep is important, and my body is telling me I shortchanged it in that department last night.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FIT2BETHIN 2/24/2012 6:06AM

    Healing is a slow process, isn't it? Sounds like you're giving your body the time it needs. Hang in there!

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HAKAPES 2/24/2012 1:12AM

    Well done, man!
When it's time to rest for some body parts to heal, it's time to rest.
Keep it on!

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ONEKIDSMOM 2/23/2012 7:59PM

    Sleep good... sometimes you have to just focus on the things you CAN do. Frustrating as that may be. Go sleep! emoticon

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Convalescent Musings

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The bad foot is getting better, slowly. Today it felt good enough in the morning without tape or shoes that I went to work without taping it. That turned out to be premature, but I had the foresight to have athletic tape with me just in case.

During the day, I found myself occasionally walking at an almost normal pace. Sometimes I didn't notice the foot hurting at all. Of course, at other times it was obvious and I had to be slower than normal; but being able to walk normally at all is progress.

There is still no question of trying to run on the bad foot. Three paces of testing are enough to make that obvious.

SparkPeople doesn't have much in the way of specific advice on how to deal with injuries, but I'm finding that some of the lessons from SP are helpful.

First, patience. Weight loss is supposed to be a long, slow process requiring ongoing effort in the face of not always making progress. I really didn't face that during my weight loss phase, but I'm facing it with the injury. I want it to be all better, right now! But that isn't reality. I need to keep doing the stuff that lets it heal, and trust that healing will happen.

One of the things that I need to do to let it heal is avoid aggravating the injury. That means no running, and limited walking. Here's a second lesson from SP, use a pedometer. In weight loss mode, I wanted to get 10K steps every day. In injured foot mode, that's too many. I've been getting 5K to 8K steps most days. Progress is better when I get fewer steps; but fewer than 5K is only going to happen on Sundays. This requires yet more patience.

Another thing I need to do is get enough rest. Here's a third lesson from SP, get enough sleep. That means enforcing a strict bedtime, and trying to get to bed even earlier when I need more sleep. That's a hard thing for a natural evening person to do, but it's easier than arranging to be able to sleep later in the morning. And progress is better when I get 9 hours of sleep than when I get 8.

Yet another SP lesson is, listen to my body. The fact that I *can* sleep for 9 hours tells me my body has healing to do. When I'm healthy and generally well rested, I can't sleep that longer than about 8 hours.

And of course, there's the obvious SP lesson: Control what I eat, and monitor what my weight does. That turns out to be one of the easier things to deal with. Right now my nutrition range is 400 calories per day lower than it was when I was running 4 days a week. That seems to be the right level to maintain, right now; but I know I will need to adjust that as things change. I hope the next change is an upward adjustment because I become more active; I fear the next change will be a downward adjustment because I rested so much I became less ft. But whichever way it shakes out, I'll deal with it.

Meanwhile, I've found that I can work up a light sweat in 15 minutes doing stuff that doesn't bother the foot, while I wait for steel cut oats to simmer in the morning. There's a bunch of small SP lessons in that - patience to cook steel cut oats, desire to be active, adapting to different exercises such as pushups on the ball, and small regular quantities of exercise being better than sitting on my butt feeling sorry for myself.

I will run again. It's not yet clear when, but it's going to happen. For right now, the plan is to do what I can to make the time when I can run happen sooner. Psychologically, this is not unlike losing weight; I need to do the routine things daily, and trust that the results will follow.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

RG_DFW 2/22/2012 8:16AM

    Patience will win out over the long haul... as hard as that may be.

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FIT2BETHIN 2/22/2012 5:38AM

    Wow! You've got it figured out! Good for you!

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KRISZTA11 2/22/2012 4:52AM

    Well written, great blog!
My favorite is "small regular quantities of exercise being better than sitting on my butt feeling sorry for myself".

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HEALTHIERKEN 2/22/2012 1:08AM

    What a great blog, MOBYCARP. I'm always in awe of your ability to analyze a situation and make the best of it.

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CAROLJEAN64 2/21/2012 10:06PM

    I love this blog, because it proves what I say to most new people when I welcome them. Spark People isn't a weight loss site, it's a healthy living site that happens to have weight loss as a side benefit if you need it.

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WATERMELLEN 2/21/2012 9:20PM

    Very thoughtful blog: and good review of rhe lessons all of us need to learn over and over again.

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ONEKIDSMOM 2/21/2012 9:12PM

    Well said, brother. Time to heal. Patience to heal. Sleep to heal. Take care of you. One day at a time.

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