Thursday, May 23, 2013
A little over a month ago, I did some pretty intense self-analysis. I discovered I was more comfortable than happy, and that it was time to shake things up. Since that day, I've looked for a new job, found a new job, accepted the offer, and quit my job of the last eight years. On Monday, I started my new job.
My old job was very comfortable. It was located in the suburbs of Chicago. My husband and I worked in the same office, for the same company. I had a ton of flexibility and could work from home pretty much whenever I wanted. In exchange for this comfort, I worked long, hard, frustrating hours with no support from my coworkers. Though I'm exceptionally good at my job and capable of doing more, there was no growth potential. It's a small company; they only need so many managers.
So I quit, and went to work for one of the best advertising companies in the world. With the drastic job change, you'd think I'd be worried about the job, about impressing my boss and getting along with my coworkers.
Nope, I totally spazzed out over the commute.
My new job is located in downtown Chicago. It's more than a mile walk from the train station. And I have a fairly significant physical disability. But, mostly, the walk is challenging because I've been fat and lazy for years.
The office of the new job is closed tomorrow. The company gives the day before long weekends off to make a really long weekend. So, today closes out the first work week at my new job.
I'm exhausted. So far beyond tired my brain feels like it is buzzing. I hurt. A LOT. My lower back is in flames. My feet have blisters and welts on them. My neck and shoulders feel raw. But I did it. Of my eight commutes (one to the office in the morning and one from the office in the evening), I walked six of them.
It rained yesterday morning, so I tried taking the water taxi that runs on the Chicago River. (I won't do that again. It is not, in any way, safe or accessible for people with disabilities.) This morning, it was raining and cold, so I took public transportation from the train station.
The water taxi and the public transportation both required me to walk up and down a significant amount of stairs. Stairs are difficult for me, because I'm disabled and fat, but also because I have pretty consistent vertigo. But, I did the stairs. And I did the escalators in the train station twice per day.
I want to be proud of myself, but I'm just too tired. The walk was difficult every time. But, I did it. I walked as far as I could and then stopped for a breather over and over again until I got to my destination. 9,000 steps per day. Prior to the job change, I average about 3,000 steps.
There was a point during this afternoon's walk where my inner whiner thought, "Self, this is impossible. Hail a cab and call it done." I actually walked to the curb and looked for a taxi before my better (stubborn) sense caught up with me. The walk is not impossible. I've done it five other times this week. I could do it again. So I did. I sucked it up and moved on my way.
And so I say, it only feels impossible right now. In point of fact, it is merely difficult, exhausting, and uncomfortable. I can handle difficult. A month will make the walk old news.
Saturday, May 11, 2013
I'm a data geek. I'm big on trends and charts and graphs. When I started Spark People, I decided to only weigh myself once per week. That lasted for about two weeks then the suspense was killing me. So, I decided to weigh myself daily, and just look at the weight as a data point.
As is my nature, I went off and created a spreadsheet with corresponding long term and short term graphs. Every morning, I weigh myself and then sit down to record my weight.
It's also worth noting that I'm goal oriented. When I started Spark People, I decided to aim for 155 pounds within a year of starting. That's an 82 pound loss- aggressive, as all goals should be, but not impossible. Then I got two weeks in and realized I was dropping weight at a rate close to a half pound PER DAY. Really. It was just falling off. So, I adjusted my goal. 82 pounds by New Year's Day. More aggressive. Still do-able, but definitely a stretch.
I have no real attachment to these goals. There's nothing magical about 155 pounds. I just remember it being a weight I maintained for a long time and felt good at.
There's nothing special happening on New Year's. In fact, I sort of loathe New Year's. My husband and I go for an early dinner on New Year's Eve, and then go home and do a jigsaw puzzle or play a game together. Lame? Maybe. But New Year's is amateur night. Neither of us drink with any gusto or enjoys large crowds in cramped spaces. So, we stay home, do something together, and hang out with the dogs.
But, I digress. There's no miraculous New Year's dress I'm trying to fit into. It's just a date to measure my goal against. With a goal weight and a goal date, I could put a trend line on my graph. Because I'm a geek and trend lines make me happy.
Here's what the first two weeks looked like:
The red line indicates the pace I'd need to hold to hit my goal weight by my goal date. The blue line shows my actual weight. Huzzah! Looks great, right?
Here's the next two weeks:
Now, here's the kicker…
I've stuck with my Spark People plan. Most days, I've eaten at the low end of my calorie range. I've worked out in some form each day. Most days, I've gotten more than five servings of fruits and veggies. I'm watching my salt intake. I drink lots of water. So what gives?
I'm pretty sure the yo-yo affect is caused by stress. The last two weeks have wreaked havoc with my stress levels. I found a new job and quit my safe, comfy job that I've been at for eight years.
This morning, it occurred to me that this is not a linear journey. I'll get to where I need to be. I don't much care what the scale says. I feel great and am happy with my progress. There is an incredible difference in the way my clothes fit and my body moves. I'm more stable on my feet, able to walk longer without pausing, and am down two or three pants sizes (depending on the style of pants).
I'll leave the scale to do its thing. It serves as a data point, one of many. But the graphs are fun.
Monday, May 06, 2013
I gave notice at work today. My boss and the owner were less than gracious. One insinuated that I don't know my own boundaries. The other believes I took advantage of and abused his good will. I think they were both just angry I'm leaving.
I have nine more days in the office. It's going to be a long nine days.
I also have a cold. My husband gave it to me. Thoughtful, right? I've been running a fever off and on for two days.
I went clothes shopping on Sunday so I wouldn't look shabby going into the new job. I bought jeans two sizes smaller than my last pair! Huzzah! I couldn't believe it. My butt looks good in them too. I know this because my husband took a picture.
I couldn't eat this morning at all. My stomach was just rolling around. I was even more upset by some of the passive aggressive comments, so I didn't eat much lunch. Then I got home tonight and had a good cathartic cry. I feel better now, but between the cold and the emotional roller coaster, I'm not even remotely hungry. I'm certain I'll pay for the lack of calories by feeling terrible tomorrow.
Tomorrow will be a better day. The worst of the nerves are behind me.
When we got home tonight, I walked around our block with my husband. I'm going to have to walk a mile each way to work from the train station and back. I'm worried about that walk. I'm out of condition for it. So, we're building up to it. I'll walk for the next couple of weeks, rather than ride my bike. (Or, maybe in addition to riding my bike, depending on how the stress goes.) For some reason, I can pedal like forty minutes straight, going 14 mph on the bike, but can't walk around the block. Stupid muscle groups and body weight.
The lap around our block is a little over half of a mile. I was panting about a quarter of the way through it. I had to pause for breath at the half way point. We weren't walking fast. I'm sure the cold and all the congestion isn't helping. But, yeesh. I'm out of walking shape.
I'm trying to comfort myself by believing the walk will seem like nothing once I've been doing it for a month. True. But that first month is going to be sweaty.
I can and will do it.
I'll focus on all the cardio that is going to be automagically built into my day. My butt will look that much nicer in the jeans.
(I considered titling this blog entry "nice butt" but worried people would get the wrong idea.)
Friday, May 03, 2013
Thirty days ago… I had no muscle tone and no endurance. Some days, walking to the bathroom at work winded me. And, if the handicapped stall wasn't available when I got there, I had to stand there and wait for it. I couldn't get up off a shorty toilet without something to hang onto and assist in shifting my body weight. I couldn't touch my toes to save my life. I couldn't tie my own shoes. The flexibility that I worked so hard to maintain for most of my life was gone.
Thirty days ago… I ate something small for breakfast—maybe some Oreos, maybe oatmeal with strawberries and brown sugar. It depended on how much time I had in the morning. I would not eat at work. I have issues with my vocal cords, which protect the wind pipe when eating and drinking. I dislike eating around others. It's embarrassing if I get food lodged in my wind pipe and cough and choke until it's dislodged. I'd get home at night and eat a minimal dinner. It was takeout four or five times a week, but my portions were small. I love candy. Chocolate, taffy, licorice. Whatever. I'd have at least one candy bar per day.
Thirty days ago, I woke up after a fitful night of sleep and said "Self, it's time to get serious about dropping this extra weight and feeling better. It's time to stop hiding from life." It just felt right. My mind switched modes. And yes, I really talk to myself. All the best conversation start, "Self, …". It makes me pay more attention to the conversation. (Yes, I'm a lunatic.)
I weighed myself, realized I was about 82 pounds heavier than I had any business being, and decided it was a good place to start. I felt bad—fuzzy headed, sore, and uncomfortable in my own skin.
I took the day off work to assess my life. (Well, that, and I had a meeting scheduled that I didn't want to attend.) I thought through how I ended up where I was. I thought about where I wanted to be. I thought about what I needed to be successful. I knew I had more to tackle than just weight loss. I had a sense of being off kilter. Not myself. A couple weeks later, I was able to put this feeling into words… My life was comfortable, but not happy. Not challenging. I wasn't really unhappy. Just not happy.
I was not putting my best self forward each day. I wasn't even striving to be my best self. I was striving to avoid pain, to avoid the discomfort that followed me everywhere. I wasn't even succeeding. I felt like crap every day. My body hurt everywhere, all the time.
Thirty days ago today, I found and joined Spark People.
In the past thirty days, I have:
• Lost almost 10 pounds.
• Established a daily exercise target.
o Reacquainted myself with my much loved but long neglected stationary bicycle.
o Found a pedometer and calorie burn meter that works for me. (Woot! Body Media rocks.)
o Walked several miles, intentionally—not because I had to move from one place to another.
o Developed some impressive muscle tone. (Muscles are noticeable in my legs and shoulders. Most of my upper back fat is gone already. My jeans look absurdly baggy now. The scale shows a modest not-quite 10 pound change. I don't much care about the scale.)
o Tied my own damn shoes every single day.
• Decided it was time to look for a new job.
o Had a phone interview.
o Had an in person interview.
o Accepted a flattering job offer at a world class organization with lots of opportunity for advancement. (I'll give notice on Monday. Eeek! I'm terrified.)
• Cooked many meals, trying at least one new recipe per week.
o Discovered food that I can eat in public without having an anxiety attack.
o Not had a single candy bar.
o Not missed having a candy bar. (At all.)
o Been absolutely freaking amazed at how much better I feel when I DON'T eat tons of candy.
o Ate a fair amount of carefully chosen takeout.
• Reminded myself what it is like to feel attractive.
o Got a haircut for the first time in 18 months.
o Got my hair highlighted for the first time in years.
o Got my eyebrows waxed. (There should be two eyebrows, not a uni-brow!)
o Bought and applied makeup for the first time in roughly six years.
o Put earrings in my ears for the first time in maybe four years.
• Dealt with some pain.
o Adjusted to being active.
o Adjusted to using muscle groups in areas that I previously babied—especially my neck and shoulders.
o Weathered a couple days when my body revolted.
o Rejoiced that the number of days with a ton of raw pain could be counted on one hand.
o Refused to surrender my positive mindset, even though my body was clearly not cooperating.
• Made my husband proud.
• Made myself proud.
• Reminded myself what it felt like to feel good and in control of my life and my actions.
It's been an eventful month. A life changing month.
Yesterday, while in the bathroom at work, the handicapped stall was occupied. Without really considering it, I walked into a stall with a shorty toilet. I did my thing and then stood right up. When it dawned on me that I had just done something that was nearly impossible thirty days ago, I got a bit weepy.
It's been a good 30 days. I wonder where I'll be by day 60.
(I feel the need to clarify. The shorty toilets are the same height you'd find in an elementary school. Why?! Why super short toilets in an office building? Boggles the mind. I may mention it during my exit interview. Ugh... Exit interview.)
Saturday, April 27, 2013
I'm sore this morning. My legs. My back. My neck. Everything hurts. I didn't do anything differently yesterday. No new, strange exercises. No additional intensity. I slept well. Still, I hurt. I hurt enough that I don't want to move. On a scale from one to ten, I'm sitting at a solid five today—enough pain to distract me. Enough that I can't just outright ignore it.
Sometimes, my body does this. My cerebral palsy flares, making everything tight and painful. Couple that with the nerve damage in my neck, and you end up with an ugly, painful day.
So, I took the medication: An anti-inflammatory, a pill to cut down on nerve pain, an anti spastic muscle relaxer, a straight muscle relaxer, and finally, a pain pill. There's also a sleepy time med that helps me sleep through the night, but that didn't factor in this morning.
My doctor refers to this as my "drug cocktail." I hate it. I hate everything about it. I hate the pain pill the most. It feels like admitting defeat, like I can't handle living in my body.
I don't usually take all the meds. The nerve pill and the anti spastic med are standard, three times per day. They help a lot, and do a better job when I take them consistently. The straight muscle relaxer is a rare thing. I'd rather stretch and work the kinks out of my body naturally. This morning, that didn't work well. The anti-inflammatory makes it into the rotation when I work my body too hard. It calms things down.
And the pain pill. There are many people in this world who would love to have a standing Vicodin prescription. I am not one of them. I take as few as possible, though I can't seem to completely remove them from the rotation. My doctors say the pain pills are the cost of living a fully functional life. They say I'll never be fully rid of them, that the pills are needed if I want to skip the worst of my pain. My neck is not healthy, even after spine surgery. There are just some things that can't be fixed. I maintain that I will not take all these damn pills for my entire life.
Until the car accident that damaged my neck, I wasn't on any medication at all. For my entire life, I got through each day without any sort of prescription or over the counter drugs. Today, I have a cocktail. Sigh.
I have plans for today. My husband and I are walking to build up my endurance this morning. We have a bit of shopping to do. I'm getting highlights in my hair this afternoon. I have a date with my exercise bike this evening.
I will accomplish this all today, even though I hurt. Even though the drugs will be coursing through my body. I will not stop my life because of a little pain. This is just today. Tomorrow may be better. But I'm still going to live today.
I start my new job in a couple weeks. I need to be ready.
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