Life Just Kept Throwing Monkey Wrenches

Thursday, August 31, 2017

So, the typical story I suppose. I joined SparkPeople in 2011 primarily to track food, then went all in and tracked my activity, joined groups, and over a 2-year period dropped 90 pounds.

I regained about 10 but was doing well and found I was sending more time than seemed reasonable logging in to keep up. At that point I chose to take a hiatus, unsure if it would be permanent or just a long time. (I also took a long hiatus from the video game I'd played for years - World of Warcraft - around the same time.)

Monkey Wrench #1

In December 2013, one of my adult children (DDa) was hospitalized with what turned out to be Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma, at a stage where she had a tumor in her armpit and one in her abdominal area.

That turned into four weeks of spending every night with her in the hospital, dozing and leaving to go to work, leaving work to go home, shower, change, and head to the hospital again. While there was a fair amount of walking going on, there was only one day I even tried to work out at the gym in the wee hours of the morning and decided it wasn't going to happen.

Thankfully, about eight months of chemo later she was tested and declared "cancer free" with the caveat she has five years of follow-up checks to make sure it stays gone. (It's one of the cancers that responds well to treatment, especially with a certain genetic marker or protein she has.)

After those initial four weeks, I got myself back into the gym habit, but the fast food for most meals that became "necessary" to save all my time for her and the lack of workouts took their obvious toll on my weight.

Monkey Wrench #2

In December 2014 I managed to tweak my lower back moving furniture, and made a very unwise decision to do an "upper body" workout the next day. Cue inflammation and sciatica bad enough that I spent a few weeks in January with a cane and months getting back to being able to walk normally, and even longer to feel comfortable getting back to the gym.

Monkey Wrench #3

On April 1st of 2014 the gym's ownership changed and sadly was not an April Fool's joke. The resulting management was terrible. Bit by bit I got annoyed with one thing after another. They replaced a chunk of the cardio machines with some gimmicky ring of timed machine stations. They put in paid tanning machines. They took over most of the stretching spaces with things like a rope climbing machine. They failed to get one "out of order" toilet repaired for months, they frequently failed to keep the bathroom areas clean or stocked (excuse was no female staff, so it was only cleaned after closing.) I let my 2 years of prepaid membership run out knowing I never wanted to go back.

Monkey Wrench #4

DDa had gone home from the hospital to living at an uncle's house, sharing a pair of rooms with her father and grandmother. It wasn't a great situation, especially since she and the uncle's wife butted heads a lot while she was dealing with the chemo and not being able to work.

Finally deciding they'd had enough, the uncle and an aunt and another relative went in together to buy a condo apartment for the father and grandmother, with DDa to stay with them. Trouble kept cropping up, though. Whether it was her father's alcoholism or her grandmother's misunderstandings and upsets or DDa and her boyfriend bringing home a puppy to get her walking to rebuild her strength, the tension in that house was way more stress than could possibly be healthy. She and the boyfriend were looking for a place to move out, but couldn't afford a 1-bedroom on their own. Me agreeing to move in with them allowed us to afford a 2-bedroom in a place that allowed pets.

Great, but now the gym was hard to get to and I'd already been upset as per Monkey Wrench #3. The apartments we live in do have a fitness center, but that's the typical small under-equipped space and it's an awkward walk to get there (complex is huge with multiple buildings on two sides of the street, and we're almost as far from it as possible).

Monkey Wrench #5

Well, it's sort of the same wrench as #4 but developed over time. DDa and her husband ... are slobs of the highest order. I'm a roommate, not "mother" in this place, and while I keep my bedroom and my bathroom clean, the kitchen is shared space. They overload the refrigerator and freezer. They leave dishes and pans all over. My desire to do any sort of careful food planning and preparation took a major dive.

Monkey Wrench #6

Not a huge deal, but mixed in over those years were various injuries and health situations.

I had several repeats of spraining my right ankle to the point I carry a brace with me at all times. I don't sprain it so bad I can't walk, but it's gotten to where there are days I say it's itching for a spraining and put the brace on to stabilize it.

I badly sprained my left thumb (or got a hairline fracture - not sure as I never went to a doctor about it) while out with DDa's puppy. That took a couple months and a brace to heal fully.

Before I'd left on my hiatus, something I'd blogged about was discovering through an ER visit and overnight hospital stay that I have Atrial Fibrillation (AFib). The heart specialist and his cohort, after dozens of tests, did say I have no other stroke factors aside from being female, but the one thing this did change was my ability to use my chest strap heart rate tracker. Apparently it can't handle the "wild fluctuations" that the stray electrical signal produces. The downfall of that was losing my easy tracking of my physical efforts.


So, yeah, wow. That's some four to five years of a bunch of monkey wrenches leading to where I'm at now ... walking only minimally, not doing 5ks, not working out with weights.

I did buy a Fitbit tracker a couple months ago. The sleep data has been quite interesting (hope to see if getting back to a workout routine improves it). The heart rate data is reassuring - I know I lost a lot of condition, but my resting heart rate is 66bpm which is at least on the lower half of average.

Today I paid for a membership at a new gym that is about twice as far away as the apartment fitness center, but is very spacious and well-equipped and well-staffed.

I am still sharing the apartment which means I need to figure out how I'm going to solve my food issues rather than use the situation as an ongoing excuse. (At "best", when our lease is up in May of next year we might see if they can afford their own place - but that leaves me figuring out where I can afford to live. At "worst", we lose the lease randomly because they've added three pets on top of the original puppy and the lease only allows two and the management only knows about one. Ugh. Well, I may have a workable backup for me in that case, but still ... planning ahead for that monkey wrench is a necessity.)

I've reactivated this account, but I actually track my weight fluctuations using a spreadsheet (
x8/edit?usp=sharing) that smooths the ups and downs. I prefer to track my workouts with a tracker designed for weight work that I can use in the gym. Food is the one thing I really need to get back to tracking, but I don't want to for the first month or so of workouts because I want to really focus on habit-building. (Some food will change, though, to up protein intake.)


So, that's where I've been and where I am. Now to see where I can go between now and my 50th birthday in 2019.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    emoticon Wow!
    1194 days ago
    So glad to see you back here. I joined and lost weight right at the time that you did.
    Then monkey wrench 1 and 2 for me was that I lost both of my parents. I logged in 2 years ago and now here I am 30 pounds heavier than when I started the first time.
    Good luck with all your efforts!
    1356 days ago
  • AHAVAH123
    Thank you for sharing this.
    I am very sorry to hear of all the difficulties, challenges...
    and the pain.
    I'm glad that you are not giving up and that you are here on Spark people.
    You have had so much success before and I just know that you will continue
    making progress with your goals.
    Hoping that you will also find more strength, love and determination
    from this site and your Spark friends to achieve your dreams.
    Sending love your way!
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

    1389 days ago
    I'm glad you didn't delete your account here. There's something about this place, kind of like "home" that when you go there there's somebody to "take you in" and welcome you back.

    I've been stomping around in a sad funk for a few weeks now, nothing as serious as what you've described, but I've found that even keeping a minimal connection helps me remember what I need to do and not give up.

    You have a good plan for the future. Hang in there and good luck.
    1392 days ago
  • MARTHA324
    Wow! Those are a major pile of monkey wrenches and hooray for you just just carrying on.

    Glad you are back here and back at the gym. You are one strong woman.

    1392 days ago
    Whoa, that's really a fine set of monkey wrenches, of all kinds.
    You are a hero for surviving it sane, and supporting your daughter in so many ways.
    Stay strong and be kind to yourself.
    1392 days ago
    Wow! That's some gauntlet you've been running... I'm sorry about the physical challenges you have to manage at this point... it does make things harder, but I'm pretty sure that if anyone can rock a do-over it's you! Good for you for coming back. I think a lot of people assume that when people have to 'start over' it's because they gave up on themselves. Your story shows starting over for what it really is: a commitment to well-being despite all that life throws at you in the meantime.

    I'm really glad that your daughter made it to the other side of her diagnosis.

    Welcome back! You've got this!
    1392 days ago
    Sheesh! Life is awful, unless you consider the alternative... glad you are keeping your spirits up.
    1392 days ago
  • DESIREE672
    Phew! Gosh! That is a pile of major monkey wrenches! It's very brave of you to launch back into Sparking. It sounds like when you have your own place, you'll be in a much better place to work on your health and fitness. Very best of luck to you!
    1392 days ago
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