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Wall Climbing at Renaissance Faire MD in Spetember 2013

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I''m a 66 year old single mother of a wonderful and beautiful daughter who graduated from college in 2011, and moved out on her own in 2012 and married just this past May 28, 2017 (!). So I''m an "empty nester", currently considering what will be next for me as I embark on reinventing myself yet again.


Some years ago, I lost 47 lbs, through a combination of (at first) NutriSystem (used it for 4 months and then continued to use its structured model but with my own "real" food) and I followed a diligent (extremely strenuous) exercise plan with a trainer at the gym 5-6 days/wk. I felt just great, bought all new clothes and gave or threw away all my old "fat" clothes. But -- I tore both rotator cuffs in the process, had surgery on the right one, still need it at some point on the left one. And then...life threw me a series of turbulent "curve ball" events, and my fitness regimen fell by the wayside. My old habits/comforts resumed their dominance and I regained all the weight I''d lost, and then even a few pounds more - also losing, in the process, the ability to wear 95% of the wonderful wardrobe I''d bought in 2007 after my fitness triumph.


Then, in 2011, I discovered I''m in the 90th percentile for coronary artery calcification (plaque) for women my age. My father died at age 59 of a massive coronary, my mother had a pacemaker and died at 84 from complications of a stroke, both older sisters have high blood pressure & cholesterol, one has serious heart and ambulatory issues -- and so goes my DNA. My doctor prescribed medications for BP and Cholesterol, and both are under good control -- in fact, medication has been cut in half, but not eliminated entirely. But my weight had ballooned to 175, I was tired much of the time and plagued with an array of aches and pains that I recognized as largely weight-related (back, ankles, etc.).


I no longer belong to a gym, but I pretty much have my own, as when my daughter moved out, instead of keeping her room as a ''shrine to her childhood'' (her words) or a guest bedroom that would be rarely used, I decided to turn her room into a home gym and stop using the treadmill as a clothes rack. I have more fitness tapes, equipment, tools etc. than anyone would know what to do with. I love resistance training (only restriction is no more military presses!) , and for cardio I had invested in a decent treadmill - low impact power walking only, no running as I can''t take the stress on my joints.

I have looked at the Ornish (heart disease reversal) diet and, while I think it''s probably more extreme than I could sustain (no oil no nuts no avocado ever in any quantity!). I dallied for a month with veganism year before last, but couldn't do without fish, though I have given up chicken; I gave up red meat around 8 years ago. So I''m a "pescatarian" - I eat fish and dairy. I try to limit processed foods and cook more from scratch, and to stick to as much of a plant-based diet as I can -- still, I eat a lot of salmon and a fair amount of shellfish. We shall see.

SparkPeople was a major resource for me in maintaining my daily nutrition and fitness program in the past - even though it was somewhat obsessive, as I did record my activities and diet in great detail on a daily basis. But it worked, and that''s what I need to do in order to get back on track, hit my goals and maintain them. Belonging to a group or team and sharing stories and public declarations is also a big step and so sorry to have been so long-winded, but I wanted to reach out when I re-launched my fitness program by rejoining the community and sharing my story, goals and commitment so that I might offer and receive support toward the mutual goals of health, fitness and vitality!

I had a personal trainer who agreed to come to my home gym and "spot me" once a month -- to make suggestions, check my form, accelerate my routines, etc. I got "back on the wagon", and I am determined to maintain my health, vitality, and endurance so I can age as gracefully as possible. Seems to be working - I am strong and no longer suffer from the "old lady" pains in knees, ankles, lower back, etc.

I reached my initial goal of 125# (intending to fluctuate between 125 and 130) only to decide I''d be more comfortable at five pounds less (120-125). Once I hit 118 I decided that, for my height and frame, and further informed by the way my clothes fit, I would aim to fluctuate between 115 and 120, striving to stick closer to 117-118. And I absolutely acknowledge that in order to achieve this, I need to track my food daily, weigh regularly, and work out consistently and in challenging ways. This is the path and there are no shortcuts...maintenance doesn't mean perfection, but it does mean trade-offs (making sure to pay indulgences off quickly) and following this consistent regimen. I've since revised my goal maintenance weight up just a tad, as many of my friends/family commented that when I dipped below 120# I looked too skinny - everything still fits well so long as I stay below 125#.


Then in the summer of 2015, from a routine mammogram, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. No family history, no symptoms. By the grace of God, I "dodged a bullet" and it was caught very early, was very small and had not spread. I had a lumpectomy which resulted in "clear margins" and then 16 rounds of radiation...did not need chemo, thank God. -- my pathology report was all one could ask for with such a diagnosis. I'm told by my doctors that I'm a "survivor" and that it is highly unlikely to recur. I never felt sick and had only minimal side effects from the radiation treatments. The most difficult challenge was really in managing the stress and uncertainty from one milestone to the next. In the process, I resorted to old habits for comfort...didn't work out and ate and drank without restraint. Ballooned up to 143# (!!). Again, I got back on track with both eating and exercise, and as of 1/15/16 I weighed 128. My target is to get back down to ~122#.

I'm so grateful to my medical team, my daughter and my friends for the wonderful support system I needed to navigate this crisis and get healthy again!

And again,in 2016 I found myself countering weight fluctuation due to ... it doesn't matter, as excuses sent my weight up 20# over a six month period. Yet again, I got back on track with exercise and portion control, and got to my goal weight for the wedding -- was svelte in my exquisite MOB gown! So -- feeling good and SP continues to be the central set of tools in my maintenance arsenal. I now am actually hovering just under 115# - as light as I've been in decades. But it feels good - I'm strong and my doctor agrees that for my height and frame, the weight is good. Just had a hip replacement (!), and being thin and fit has really paid off in accelerated recovery and no complications!

Toward this end, SparkPeople is and will continue to be a Godsend in supporting the never ending process of navigating maintenance!

Linda Thomas
July 29, 2017

Member Since: 7/26/2007

Fitness Minutes: 112,876

My Goals:
To lose 3 more pounds before my daughter's wedding on May 28th. To maintain exercise, a balance of cardio, strength and flexibility -- 3-5 times/wk. To manage the recently diagnosed arthritis in my right hip and forestall a hip replacement for as long as possible (!).

My Program:
Cardio (treadmill power walking) 3-5 days/week

Resistance/stregnth training 2-3 days/week (alternating muscle groups)

Healthy lean diet of whole foods based on a mostly plant-based model, with healthy fish and low fat dairy, and also influenced by the principals of "SuperFoodsRx"

Personal Information:
Live in Maryland - raised in Detroit, having spent 15 yrs in NYC, 15 yrs in Southern CA, and 2 yrs in Brazil. Love "Arts, Letter & Politics". Work in hi-tech sales for the past 20 yrs; previously was a professional actor in theatre. Raised my daughter as a single mother - she's graduated from college, happy and in love, independent and wonderful at 24 years old. Have a dog, two cats, my "wild kingdom". Love reading, film, theatre, dance, art, gardening, travel. Politically and religiously progressive. Independent and resourceful. Have "rebuilt" my body three times over my lifetime -- once mostly using The Firm videos (the older, original ones) and The Firm tools.

Now can fit into ALL the (smallest) clothes in my closet, am while I just ended the first romantic relationship I've had in 20 years (since my divorce), I am grateful that it opened me up to the possibilities of romance and partnership. I am feeling strong, healthy, hopeful and grateful for my life.

Other Information:
"Opportunity does not knock, it presents itself when you beat down the door. "

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