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Hopefully Happy New Year

Monday, January 02, 2012

It's January 2nd. The second day of 2012. Like many, I see a new year as a way to start off fresh. I have to admit: the second half of 2011 was really tough.

I began 2011 with a fresh start. I had just started taking Strattera - a medication designed to treat my ADD/anxiety/depression. Although I was only on it for 2 weeks, it made a huge difference. I no longer felt anxious when I went to work. I no longer walked around in circles trying to figure out what I would do next. I could finally sustain attention and think through choices in busy places.

As I write about taking meds, I realize just how far I've come. I have a new "normal", a better marriage, and more hope for my future. Although the past can be painful to look back on, it's good to do so because it makes you realize just how much you've grown. It also makes you realize that you can pick yourself back up and be who you were if you have fallen. I'll get to that later.

I actually don't remember much about the rest of the school year (I'm a teacher), other than the fact that I was much more balanced. I left work at a reasonable time and was much happier. After a crazy, busy, stressful school year, my husband and I decided that I would stay home for the summer. I took some professional development classes for a stipend and did a day or two at a technology camp but other than that, I worked as a stay-at-home wife.

I knew I was blessed to have the opportunity, but I didn't realize just how blessed I was. I was able to focus on cooking, cleaning, exercising, socializing, and reflecting on the previous school year. I hit the peak of my fitness level and dropped down to my lowest weight in years. At the time, I didn't realize just how much of a luxury it was to stay home. My biggest worry was whether or not I accomplished everything I wanted to do.

I had high hopes for the school year, and I worked way too much to get ready for it (and yet there were still things to do). I quickly realized that my class, although not as challenging as before, would still be very challenging. More than a 1/3 of my class had (and still has) behavior issues and I was (and still am) a fairly new teacher.

The challenges of a new school year were to be expected, so I tried not to let it get the best of me. In September, however, the school year was about to become even more challenging. On Wednesday, September 7th, I found out that my 15-year-old brother was diagnosed with leukemia (specifically AML - a type with a very poor prognosis). I took Thursday off, and managed to go back to work Friday. Rather than hide my pain, I broke down and cried in front of my 4th grade class and told them what was going on. They were very sweet and understanding, and getting that off my chest helped me get through the rest of the day (and year as well).

During this time, my husband and I did were doing work on our house. We had started it in the summer - before we learned about my brother. After learning about my brother, we stayed with my husband's aunt and uncle for 4 days because the house was inhabitable due to drywall finishing and the stress of seeing our house in the terrible state it was in.

Both my husband and I knew that progress on the house would come to a screeching halt. My father was helping us with our home. Obviously, he couldn't do very much. Our focus was no longer on the house. It was on visiting my brother in the hospital and supporting my parents. We have learned to live with one bathroom (which we have to walk down to - even in the middle of the night), an office that is now a storage room, a dining room that is now an office, unpainted walls, and home supplies (like drywall sheets and bathroom vanities) mixed in to our living areas. It gets tiring.

With the craziness of life, my husband and I let ourselves go. We stopped working out - we no longer had the energy or time to do so. It was no longer important to us. We stopped eating healthy. Eating lots of junk food at night became common (like it was a few years ago). In a matter of 6 months, we both gained about 14lbs. We tried getting back on track when things started to slow down, but life had a way of speeding back up and getting stressful again.

Despite the hardships, the end of the year was a blessing. Despite my brother's inpatient status, he was able to come home for his birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. Also, his chemo was proving to be VERY effective. For winter break, my husband and I finally got to see his family in NC after not seeing them for several months. We also had an opportunity to stay at a B&B for a night and explore the areas in NC where we hope to live one day.

Our visit to NC motivated us to make time to fix up our home again. The start of new year gave me the motivation I needed to get back on track. Yesterday, I tracked all my food, stayed within all my ranges, drank my 8 cups of water, and I even did a 8 minute workout (which embarrassingly kicked my butt).

I'm frustrated at my weight gain. For a couple of days, I beat myself up - telling myself that I should have made better choices despite my hardships. I've learned to let go of the negative part of my past (my weight gain) and focus on the positive part (the weight loss). I know that if I lost weight before, I could do it again. I know that 6 months of letting myself go doesn't erase the years of hard work I've put in the be at a healthy weight. I remind myself that I am at a healthy weight and that I would have jumped for joy to be where I am now just a couple of years ago. I remind myself that I am 5lbs less than I was last winter. I remind myself that I am human and that I've gone through A LOT.

This year brings new hopes. The hope that my brother's bone marrow transplant will be successful and that he can be cancer free. The hope that my husband and I can make progress on our home and get closer to our dream of moving. The hope that I will be a better teacher than I was last year. The hope that I can take back those healthy habits I developed - physically and emotionally.

Here's hoping for a happy new year. I'm thankful it's beginning with a strong start :)


Transformation of Mind

Monday, August 15, 2011

I'm not quite sure the exact day I became a "maintainer", but it wasn't that long ago. When I first hit my goal weight, I was like, "What's next?" I wondered if what I had done was good enough, if I could push myself further, if I would be able to keep up what I worked so hard for... There were feelings of restlessness, fear, and being lost. Over the course of the past couple of months, changes happened and I can't exactly describe why or how.

Not too long ago, I was surprised (even though I shouldn't have been) that I started being happy and satisfied with the way I looked in the mirror. Over the course of four years, I lost 35lbs and now I've finally gotten to a place where I can be proud of my accomplishments and feel good about my body. My focus shifted from changing what I didn't like to admiring what I worked hard to achieve. I realized that being happy didn't mean being complacent, it meant being content. I feel more at peace with myself than ever before.

As I have become more content and proud of who I am, something else happened. I looked back on pictures of myself at my "heavier" weights. I used to look at them with disgust: focused on all my flaws and embarrassed at who I was. Now, when I look at those pictures, I see beauty. I see a woman who worked hard so I could be where I am today. I see someone who persevered despite many failures and struggles. I see someone who hoped for something more, something better and went for it. When I see those pictures, I look with admiration and I'm reminded of each step (and fall) I took to get where I am today.

As I focus on the inner beauty of my former self, it shines right through and I see the outer beauty as well. I wish I could go back and tell the "old" me just how beautiful she was and how proud of her I am. I wish the "old" me didn't beat herself up so much for not being exactly what she wanted to be. I wish she could have realized what I have realized now...

In my pursuit of weight loss, I've realized that life is a journey and it doesn't end until you die. There will always be something to strive for. There will always be areas in which to grow. There will always be struggles and blessings. There will always be failure and success. Don't wait to be happy until you've reached a goal. Celebrate each step you take. Love yourself now because it is a part of who you will become in the future.

In life, I learned that if you always look to the future, you'll miss what life has to offer in the present. If you miss what life offers you in the present, it will hurt your efforts to be where you want to be in the future.


One More Month at the Gym

Thursday, July 28, 2011

I'm a teacher and I decided (after a stressful first full year of teaching) that I was going to enjoy my summer off. My husband and I decided to join the gym for the summer. Since his work pays for his portion, we only have to pay for me (which is $20 a month). I've enjoyed my time there. I really liked taking classes, using different kinds of equipment, going swimming, etc.

I have one more month left until I "quit" the gym. The fact is that I'm not going to be able to make time to go when I work. When I work, I do my workouts in the morning (starting around 5:40). If I were to add packing up a bag and driving there, I would have even less time to work out - not to mention less time for breakfast.

I know I don't "need" gym. I lost 35lbs and got in good shape without it. I was able to lose weight during the previous school year by taking time each morning to work out and eating healthy most days. I'm going to miss going to the gym. Sometimes, I worry that I won't be as consistent as I was before since I've been "spoiled" options and working out whenever I want.

Do you rely on the gym? Have you ever joined a gym just for a season and/or quit after a short amount of time? If so, how did you do with your fitness after the fact?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TURBO16 8/2/2011 6:53AM

    I think that if you managed it before you can do it again! The school year can get crazy and there is never time after school to work out. I actually go to the gym at 5am and have become an expert on eating oatmeal on the go. I have also in the past gotten to school a little early to eat my breakfast there ( I had a fridge and microwave). I think that the great, but hard to give up thing about the gym is the variety you get. Dumbbells, machines, cardio, and classes are all at your finger tips. You seem to be very dedicated though and have the ability to motivate yourself to work out at home so having a not having a gym should not be an issue. I will end by saying that if the gym only costs $20 a month I may keep the membership so that you can use it or take a class when your schedule allows it.

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BUSYGRANNY5 7/28/2011 8:46AM

    Interesting blog... I NEVER thought I would RELY on the gym, but over the last two months, that's exactly what's happened! I AM A GYM RAT!!! I joined the gym, in February, strictly for the Zumba classes and until the first of June, that's exactly what I did... went to the gym two evenings a week for one hour for Zumba! However, with no summer school (first time in 16 years) I realized I had ALL kinds of extra time on my hands, so... I ventured to the gym... long story short... I'm a gym rat!!!! LOL!!
As a fellow teacher, I share the concern of what happens in a few weeks when school resumes... I can and will make a commitment to continue to hit the gym at least three times a week...instead of the five I'm now getting in... I will also return to walking with one of my fellow teachers, once the temperatures drop a little... I will NOT allow myself to fall back into my OLD habits... Gym or no gym!!!

Good luck to you on your journey!!!

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CARILOUIE 7/28/2011 8:44AM

    I actually *do* rely on the gym. I've tried the at-home workouts before, and I just can't make them work for me. I've been at my current gym for almost three years and have been going consistently since I joined.

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Snacking Adds Up - Bad Weekend Confession and Learning Experience

Monday, July 18, 2011

I have to be honest... I ate terribly this weekend emoticon It all started with a bad dinner choice on Friday, July 15. Instead of citrus grilled chicken with rice and broccoli, I chose to eat coconut shrimp (which is breaded and fried, by the way) with a side of sweet potato chips (more fried stuff emoticon). I regretted my dinner choice, but unfortunately that didn't stop me from getting a "love it" size of "The Pie Who Loved Me" from the Coldstone Creamery. emoticon

The day after, I had a healthy breakfast but the busyness of fixing our bathrooms lead to ordering pizza emoticon and Cinnastix (because there was a code for a free order of it that I just couldn't resist). I ate pizza and Cinnastix for lunch and dinner. Afterwards, I was invited to hangout with some friends. I brought Skittles, pretzels, and chocolate emoticon over for snacks. I guess by that point I felt like I had eaten badly anyways, why not enjoy some more junk.

Sunday (yesterday) I decided to get back on track. I tracked my food except towards the end of the day when I began snacking on pretzels, chocolate, italian ice, and Skittles. Even though I was snacking without tracking, I measured out my portions. This morning I decided to be honest with myself and add up all I ate yesterday. Just my snacks came to 475 calories - equal to a whole other meal! What frightened me is that this was fairly controlled snacking emoticon . I thought about what I ate this weekend. I couldn't imagine what it added up to and I didn't want to find out. Now, I just want to move forward.

The moral of the story is this - - - Snacking adds up! Mindless snacking is the worse, obviously. Measuring out your portions helps, but you just don't know how much your eating until you track it. Tracking before and during snacking while measuring it out is the best option. It's a pain in the butt, but it can save you hundreds of calories. Measure out that junk food!!! emoticon emoticon

We all hate when we go over our nutrient/calorie range (I know I do) but we shouldn't avoid tracking and measuring because of it. To make progress, you have to be honest with yourself. Don't bury your head in the sand anymore! Make note of your mistakes (and, of course, your successes) and learn from them. Avoiding a problem doesn't make it go away! Recognize your issues and your strengths and use them to improve. emoticon

Another moral - - - the choices you make now will affect your future. I think it is so easy to get caught up in the mentality of "I already blew it - might as well keep on going" I admire and applaud people who can make one poor choice, brush themselves off, and continue making good choices - it's really hard for me. My advice is to avoid the snowball of mistakes in the first place. If you want a unhealthy snack, find ways you can fit it in your day without destroying your progress. If you do mess up, that's okay. For me, seeing the damage that has been done helps me avoid snacking and make better choices. If tracking causes you to feel guilty and eat more, then just make a decision to make 3 healthy choices to somewhat counteract the bad choice (eat some veggies and fruit, reduce your dinner portion, do some fun exercise). emoticon Be careful that you don't let your good choices be an excuse to make the bad choices again Doing both things (tracking and making 3 good choices) is great too.

If you lost your way, it's not too late. It is NEVER too late. emoticon what you are doing and make a plan to make better choices NOW (not tomorrow!) Be honest with yourself and address your problems head on. Choose to track even if you fail to stay within your ranges. DON'T get caught up in guilt. See everything as a learning experience. emoticon

emoticon and emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TJBALISTIC 7/18/2011 11:30AM

  I totally understand.
For me it is more a matter of thinking "I've made good progress, this one meal/snack/day/weekend/week won't affect me in the grand scheme of thing. I'll get back on track for a couple weeks and then I can relax again." It's so hard for me to be consistent.
One thing is for sure - a couple days of binging makes me feel so sick and gross that I want to eat healthy and exercise again. I'm facing challenges in other parts of my life, so I just don't feel like facing the daily challenge of eating right and exercising, especially when I have time off.
I admire your consistency and drive!

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Maintaining is a Challenge Too

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A few months ago, I was able to hit my goal weight and continue to my healthy lifestyle journey as a weight maintainer rather than a weight loser. I should be celebrating this fact more, but the truth is maintaining is difficult. In some ways, it's more difficult than weight loss. I think many people have idealistic distortions about meeting their goal weight - I know I did and sometimes still do.

I've learned that there is no "magic" number. Most people have a very specific goal weight - sometimes it's reasonable and sometimes it isn't. The fact is that weight fluctuates so much. Yesterday, I weighed 124.8 in the morning. Today, I weighed 128 in the morning. Did I gain 3.2lbs of fat in one day? Of course not, but it still is hard to see my weight go up. I've learned to ditch the concept of the "perfect weight" and allow myself a weight range (122 - 128) that is healthy and reasonable for my body to maintain. I just know that there are people out there just waiting to hit that magic number. Just know this - You may hit that magic number but if you are already at a healthy weight, you won't always be able to keep it. Accept that numbers fluctuate and move on.

I learned it's a challenge to stay motivated. I spent years trying to get to a healthy weight and I fantasized about the way I would feel and look when I reached my goal. When I first met my goal, I was lost. I thought to myself, "We'll...what's next?" I am happy with my weight and the way I look BUT now I had to set new goals. Staying within a weight range and becoming more fit are less exciting goals to achieve. The results are less visible and less satisfying, yet those goals still require a lot of work.

The fact of the matter is the work DOESN'T STOP when you met your goals. You've got to keep your weight, eating habits, and exercise in check. This can be hard to do when you are still adjusting to your "new" body. There's also this feeling of "I've worked so hard. I'm tired of working so hard. I've got what I want and I just want to relax." You can relax but if you relax too much, you will undo weeks, months, or even years of hard work. When that happens, there is a lot of remorse and disappointment. Finding balance can be difficult. When you see something out of balance, you have to counter balance it. As life changes, you need to change your habits as well.

Notice how I said that I'm on my healthy lifestyle journey as a maintainer. The journey of living healthy doesn't stop when you meet your goal weight - it stops when you die. Always have a goal to work towards. Take time to be satisfied with your accomplishments and celebrate them, but you can't stop there. You have to find new things to "spark" your interests in addition to maintaining your accomplishments. Maintaining is a challenge too. Never believe that it isn't. I'm sorry but hitting your goal weight isn't some magic switch that will make you everything you want to be. Despite that, it still is awesome and an adventure of its own.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BOOKWORM27S 7/17/2011 11:07AM

    OMG! You literally wrote the EXACT same blog about weight maintenance that I was going to write!


I know EXACTLY how you feel! Thanks for the excellent blog.


Comment edited on: 7/17/2011 11:08:27 AM

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    Definitely. The other trick is to put the scale way down on the list of measurement tools. There is no magic number on the scale because it changes from weight to body composition. More muscle, less fat. I still like numbers though so I focus on amount of weight I'm putting on the bar, race times, distances for running, etc. The scale just doesn't matter much.

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