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PAMLEARNED's Recent Blog Entries

If I'm Tracking, I'm Losing

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Oh my, what a tough fall it has been! I'm looking at my last blog, in August, when I started to stray from my most successful streak ever. I started that great streak with three goals: Exercise 10 minutes a day, track what I eat, and eat sitting down. I upped it to tracking and keeping it under 1500 cal a day, more exercise, and about 12 other habits. It felt great!

Then, as my husband's paralysis from ALS crept through his last good hand, I lost my sense of self. I have been struggling every since. On any given day, I've gotten enough exercise, but I let sugar and alcohol creep into my daily life till it seemed I was eating a piece of cake and two glasses of wine every day! Crazy!

How we lose our self in stressful times--that's another blog entry.

At last, we are regaining what I call our "state of grace," which means we have adjusted to this new level of loss.

As I've struggled to maintain some healthy lifestyle decisions, I did one great thing: I joined the nearby Ambler YMCA--a beautiful new facility, only a year old, with an indoor track two lap pools, a sauna, and a large hot tub. I took a water aerobics class and really liked it. There are loads of options at any given hour.

One tough issue we have had is securing stable home care to allow me to get out and do errands or exercise. At this point, leaving the house with husband alone for an hour is all I can do, and that's only enough for a walk around the block.

After nearly 5 months of unstable care, we have two caregivers, 4 times a week for 4 hours in the morning. It seems like so little when I take it, but it gives me time to get out. I started looking for healthy ways to use this time.

I was blessed to be invited to a caregiver's workshop in October. There I had two nights sleep, and the chance to regroup. I realized that I have to find ways to getaway on more overnights-- but also to create spa-like retreats in my weekly life.

The Y was the answer: If I'm too tired, I can just go sit in the sauna and hot tub. At first, I was so excited, I worked out instead. Yesterday, I was sore and tired, so I walked the indoor track for 40 minutes, then hopped in the sauna, hot tub,summoned energy to swim 20 minutes, and followed up with another sauna, hot tub round. It worked!

Now I have a new challenge: All the heavy lifting I do in transfers and other care has made what was considered some arthritis now full-fledged arthritis. The prescription: Eat well and Exercise!

How many ways will the universe seek to teach me healthy liviing? Oh well. My lessons are hard ones, but I really have no intention of failing, even if I have to keep repeating the same lesson!


Worn out, took a break, back to it

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Well, after recording that I was losing momentum in week 6, I was unable to stop a 2-day break from tracking my goals. I believed I was too tired.

Looking back today, I'm pleased that if I went over my 1500 calorie cap, it was not by much. If I didn't exercise, I thought long and hard about it (then laid down!).

While out walking today, I looked back and saw that my husband has been more uncomfortable in bed, and waking me more to help shift him. I'm seeing that his paralysis from ALS is weakening his torso now, so it's just getting harder to roll him without getting up on my hands and knees. Then, since he's been so uncomfortable, I've been spending time trying to rub knots out of his back. So while I used to be able to roll him practically in my sleep, I'm really up and exerting myself several times a night.

After 5 days of this, waking 4-5 times a night, I was back to sleep deprivation so profound that I was having trouble staying awake driving a short 30 -minute trip in the morning. Ugh, this was depressing, too.

Last night, dear husband tried and kept the turnovers to only twice last night, and I felt measurably better today. I don't encourage this, but he feels bad for me.

Today we both researched adjustable beds, like a hospital bed, but bigger so we can still sleep together. Life looked easier today, and I was back on plan.

I find I still need daily Spark time to not only record but reflect on my journey. In this case, I couldn't see why I was waning in my healthy living zeal until I got completely worn down. I was thinking I was just losing dedication.

But I haven't lost dedication at all! I feel great! I'm still losing very slowly, less than a pound a week, but faster than I was all times before because I'm not overeating 3-4 days a week, I'm exercising every day, and I'm essentially off of sweets.

This is making it easier to track triggers. It's pretty easy to see that I am not one who can keep chocolate or forms of cookies, etc. without overeating. I hang on to that promise of 10 minutes a day exercise. I think, looking back, I'm going to try harder for that 10 when I'm very tired.

This is the first time every that I've got food and exercise in balance, and I'm excited about it. My clothes fit better, and I feel better. So, there is nothing to lose by making this my lifestyle.

A couple days without tracking or exercise did not derail me--in fact, I was eager to correct things so I could return to tracking and meeting my goals.

Here I am!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TEDDYBABE 8/28/2011 10:18PM

    Keeping on track with your food is a real plus. Seems to be one of my weak points. If I don't track it I don't "own" it. Hope you can find a comfortable sleeping arrangement for you and your husband. Maybe the hospital bed will be a good fit. Hope so.

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PAMLEARNED 8/26/2011 6:56AM

    Thanks so much for the encouragement. Wasn't all back yesterday, but I'm doing better. Still tired. And yes lots of exercise with transfers, a 3 -floor house, and cooking and feeding. What my body needs, though, is cardio. Well, it needs deep sleep first.

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MKACILLAS 8/25/2011 8:22PM

    Glad to see you didn't let a couple of days without tracking or exercise put you behind. I think you must be getting exercise just taking care of your hubby. But not keeping the favorite comfort foods in the house helps a lot too. I think blogging about things and getting support from all the great people on this site is a big encouragement. emoticon emoticon emoticon

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5 down, 5 to go

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Today is the last day of 5 weeks running with under 1500 calories and at least 10 minutes cardio.

I picked up and had several 30 minute exercise days, and threw in a pedometer counting day, thanks to my nano, reaching 12,500 steps one day!

I also had one day, a Tuesday, just like in week 4, when I didn't exercise. Of five weeks, two no cardios-that's awesome for me, but I'm really thinking through whether I'm truly too tired, or just need a little jumpstart to reach my minimum of activity.

I tried two things that didn't work this week: Dropping my maximum calorie intake to not more than 1400 and dropping my 6 oz of white wine each night. Of course the two are closely related!

As I neared garnering my Level 6 Trophy, I returned to Spark People basic info, to learn that many people spend about 10 weeks in Phase 3, before they move to Phase 4, spreading the Spark and maintaining or sustaining weight loss. Even though it looks like I should be wrapping up (I entered Phase 3 officially in the end of March), I know, I've only been meeting my Jumpstart goals and new goals for 5 weeks now.

So, 5 more--bring 'em on! I can do it.

How? I know because I've got tracking down, when I slip. I'll even check my list of goals earlier in the day to make sure I have time to do them. When I miss (like eating standing up), I'm loathe to miss making that daily checkmark in "other goals."

Again, I read The Official Slowest Loser's blog, this week with its tips on how he met his goal four weeks early. What struck me was that he admits he battled ongoing food quantity issues with more exercise. That's great, but it's not a long term solution for many of us.

Early this year, I tried to reasonably, but aggressively push my exercise, trouble is, I have high emotional and physical demands in caring for my wonderful husband, who is paralyzed from ALS. I quickly wore myself out.

This new round, the one I've kept to longer than any other plan (A-Z, AA-ZZ, etc.) over the last 15 years (ugh!) acknowledges that volumes of food are not in my healthy lifestyle. I simply don't need so much food to be healthy. And I won't be healthy with higher amounts of food--because I won't be able to burn it off with exercise.

It's starting to work...

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MKACILLAS 8/20/2011 10:30AM

    Sounds like you have a plan. I think being on sparkpeople and getting the motivation of others when we don't have it is wonderful. You have your hands full in being a caregiver but it seems like you have recognized you also have to take care of yourself. It will make you stronger and better able to help everyone else. emoticon emoticon

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TRYINGTOLOSE64 8/20/2011 9:52AM


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Speeding up Weight Loss, Adjusting my Goals

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Well, this slowest loser did speed up. After four weeks of setting goals and sticking to them, I have lost about a pound a week, which quadruples my previous year's work of a measly 1 pound a month. Consistency needed a kick.

In addition, I'm finally achieving measurable success in my 2011 goal, "Be Less Flexible!" I am fairly certain this is the first time in my 52 years that I've done something so consistently--My hippie parents taught me to be open to change and forgo guilt--The underpinnings of these concepts do not support a healthy lifestyle! Never fear, the pendulum will not swing too far.

I've been working hard all year to be ready for this last month by examining my thoughts and the patterns now recorded on Spark People.

After a day of frustration turned around by positive thoughts, I set achievable goals based on my Spark People reports. I also gave myself a bit of a jump start by re-reading parts of the Spark People book.

I started in mid-July with a commitment to exercise at least 10 minutes a day and to record what I ate. I also committed to not eating in front of the TV.

I exceeded my 10 minutes a day, but I also exceeded the number of calories that would allow me to lose, according to my own records. I learned to turn off the TV, if that's what it took to meet the goal.

So after 2 weeks, I set a cap on this plan: Not to exceed 1500 calories per day on any given day. (My better numbers should be 1200-1300 per day).

I also was astonished at the number of calories I was eating while standing up.

As I entered week 3, I added more goals, bringing it up to 13 goals. I added in blogging and personal writing goals, more veggies, etc.

This was too soon. I found there were too many things to remember, which means, I can't add on that fast, even if they are goals. Or, I have to expect less than 7 of 7 days on each goal.

Some efforts, like eating outside the kitchen, worked surprisingly well. So did keeping my calorie count consistently under 1500. Now for the next round (I'm going back-to-back on 2 week goals, updating every two weeks), here's my plan:

These are fairly automatic now.
11 cardio minutes per day
Track all food on Spark People Daily
Keep each day's calories under 1,500
Eat outside the kitchen, sitting down

These still require thought, but I've done it before, so I know how
4 veggies daily
40 Ab repetitions
Consume at least 6 cups of water per day.

These next two goals that relate to my personal vision and belief in learning to live in the present.

Meditate 20 Minutes (3 x week)
Write 2 pages per week, at least 10 minutes at desk per day.

The last five are paired down from eight goals. Rather than toss more, reduce the frequency or number to reach each week to achieve success. For example, I wanted to meditate daily, but if I can get to 3x week, that's a habit I could later build on.

You will see that I don't have strength training in there yet. It's coming! Actually, I dead lift about 180 pounds 6 or more times per day-- my paralyzed husband requires transfers, and I try to stretch out before I do it. However, I've hurt my shoulder tendons and lower back despite a great technique, so I'm just using light hand weights when on the treadmill or stretching for now. I've also engaged help 3 times a week for home health care aides to shower, dress, and stretch him out. And I'm committing to use a Hoyer lift more often. This is helping me heal up.

Today, we went to Tyler State Park in Bucks County, PA, where my husband used to run. He rolled in his power chair and I chugged up what seemed an all uphill trail. We covered at least 4 miles in two hours, including a picnic lunch of about 350 calories. I can feel that my dedication to daily exercise is building stamina. And I 'm learning that lots of exercise does not require high calorie meals. I feel good. And he loves getting out!

And now, I'm going to sit down! I've earned it!


Are we victims of our good decisions?

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

A friend emailed me to say that she has been chatting on her daily train commute with a nice married man. He invited her to lunch this week. Stunned, she hemmed and hawed that she had work commitments that day.

Good job, friend, I wrote to her: "Married Men=Worlds of Pain."

I suggested some more direct language for their next happenstance encounter, such as "It's nice chatting with you on the train, but if the invite is personal, I'm saying no because you are married."

She wrote back, "Nice idea. I'm just taking another train now. "

Shocked, I replied: "Don't make yourself a victim of someone's kindness!"

Why should she, who knows better than to make a bad decision (married man) punish herself (change work schedule)?

Crazy, huh?

So I got to thinking, "Why do we make ourselves unhappy about not eating or exercising more to lose weight?"

Since my commitment to Streak Week 3 includes reading my "Beck Deck" (a stack of 3x5 cards, inspired by Judith Beck of the Beck Diet) with my ongoing collection of motivational thoughts, I sat down with my cards and found the answer:

"Making positive eating and exercise choices will give me what I want most."

What's to pout about? Why wouldn't I do what gives me what I want most?


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