Thursday, 17 September 2015

Support Systems

In trying to break through my plateau, I've been looking into local support groups in my community. I figure maybe getting out of the house once a week to attend a meeting, meet new people, and get new perspectives that might help me change my mindset. A kick in the ass, of sorts.

Online support has been a tremendous help, such a great motivator, and so far has helped me to get over 50 lbs down from my highest weight, but I think I need some support face-to-face.

My first stop was to an Overeaters Anonymous meeting. The welcome I received was lukewarm. No problem, I thought, maybe this OA group is like a high school clique of cool kids? But as the meeting wore on, I found that I didn't really agree with the twelve steps... or the whole philosophy. I'm glad it works for some, but I know that it just wouldn't work for me right now.

Second on the list, a weight loss support group I found on Meetup. Even though it had great reviews, it turned out to be a  only asales pitch for a herbal appetite control supplement. I left as soon as I understood.

Thirdly, a Weight Watchers meeting. Since I found out the first meeting is free, and is an easy 30 minute walk from my house, I figured I'd check it out. The vibe was good, the meeting informative, and people were really welcoming (not just the leader who was trying to get me to sign up ASAP). The big down side are the fees: $35 to register and then extra weekly fees. Or almost $300 for six months. 

Budget-wise, I'd be taking a hit there. My fiscally conservative instinct is telling me not to join right now. But my impulsive free-spending part wants to try it now, now, now! Priority-wise, a personal trainer is where I should spend any extra money. Then if I had some left over, I'd think about paying that price for WW.

Next week, I'll check out a TOPS meeting, but since there is not one nearby, the closest about an hour by public transport from my place, it'll have to be on an evening where I have nothing else on my plate :)

In the meantime, I do have a long-time good friend who is also trying to lose about 30 lbs, so we do take lunchtime brisk walks together, and trade healthy recipes. Down side: We often enable each others' laziness! 

Weight 169.1 lbs

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Trying to Break this Pattern

It's back to the same bad habits. I commit to a plan, lose five pounds, and then regain. Then repeat, again and again. The weekends are definitely my Achilles Heel. Without the structure I have during the week, it falls apart on the weekend. Even though Saturdays and Sundays are packed with activity, poor choices on my part when it comes to food is a big part of the cause. The past weekends have included several restaurant outings and barbecues with family and friends. I've done well avoiding junk at BBQs by bringing a big veggie platter. Not my choice to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries at restaurants, but it's certainly my choice as to what I choose to order off the menu.

There is something that will impede me from any restaurant eating in the next while: Financial issues! I'm still in the black as far as my savings are concerned, but my insurance company has not reimbursed me like they should have for the medications I've had to take for the past few years. Looks like a huge fight is a brewin'. Sigh. Big Stress. Yuck.

In the meantime, I'm on a strict budget. At least there is a very good selection of local vegetables around at great prices. For beef, chicken, fish,  etc., it'll be what's on sale that will dictate my menus.  No more organic, unless it's the same price or less than the non-organic food. Budget overrides ethics.

As for my new gym membership, I've cancelled it, thankfully with only a very small penalty. I did get a few good workouts in with a personal trainer, he gave me a body-weight exercise routine, so that knowledge will have to sustain me until I can afford him again. Despite my sabotaging ways, I do feel my clothes more loosely.

Weight: 171.7 lbs

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Back to it

After a wonderful and completely relaxing vacation, I'm missing the tropics so much, especially Oahu. My lifestyle was so much more active there than back at home. Disturbed sleep was not an issue. And being in a completely different place, my seasonal allergies were non-existent. I'd never felt better! Here was an average day:
  • 8am Wake-up
  • Breakfast: Coffee first, with beans from a local plantation, to eat usually something simple, like eggs or yoghurt and fruit 
  • 9am - Get outside and hike up a mountain or explore a nearby city's cultural scene
  • Noonish - Big Lunch! Stir Fry, Japanese, or Thai, sometimes a burger but always making sure to have lots of fresh veggies 
  • Head to a beach
  • Read trashy romance novels under a palm tree 
  • Shake off the laziness by body boarding or swimming in the waves
  • If hungry, a healthy snack of a handful of nuts or some fresh fruit 
  • 7pm, Sunset - Means time to shower off the sand
  • Supper - Like lunch but smaller portions 
  • Evening - Explore a nearby city with a walk or a drive
  • 10 or 11pm - Sleep
What a tough life LOL

So now I'm over the jet-lag and I'm back in the groove of the daily grind. Weighing less, generally feeling better, and trying to keep as active as I can. But... yes there's a but, it is hard. My workload has increased due to lack of staff at work, the boss has called early meetings all week, and I've had to take on additional duties which leaves me so tired at the end of the day. Stress is creeping back in. 

I know this is just temporary until September when other staff members come back from vacation. I just have to hang in there just a few more weeks. Here's the plan:
  • Morning workouts on the elliptical, and body weight exercises 
  • Keep eating lots of veggies. There is so much choice now and at low prices!
  • Be sure to get into bed early, no late nights

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Battling Burnout

I've been MIA for the past month or so, but I've not gained weight, which is what usually happens when bloggers go silent. I've just been busy working on my mental state, which hasn't been all that great. 

Therapy and a support group have been helpful. But in addition to my own issues, add in some family issues, major work stresses, and I'm just plain tired, burnt out. And not getting enough decent nights sleep; 6 hours per night on average is far from ideal. I've been working with my therapist on issues I can control, and getting help to get back into the activities I used to love. 

My plan for this month includes getting away for a real vacation. The last time I took any non-medical related time off was around Christmas-time. Even though my issues and stresses will certainly be waiting for me when I come back, the break and a change of scenery will do me good. The only thing is, when on vacation it doesn't mean I'll be off my food plan, it'll just be a heck of a lot harder to stay on track. 

Although eating at restaurants will be more frequent, I'll make wise choices and am going to be sure to get as many meals/healthy snacks from local grocery stores or markets. My food template: Lots of vegetables and some fruit, lean protein, low-sugar, low-sodium, and limiting processed packaged foods.

As for exercise, I've been only been doing the minimum to keep the weight where it is. I still walk, do some yoga, and walk to and from the grocery store instead of using the car. But my level of actual physical fitness has degraded since I was last at this same weight when I was on my way up to gaining over 220lbs. Stamina is less, muscles have shrunk, flexibility is down and fat is higher. When I have to run to make it to the bus, I'm sucking wind like a vacuum cleaner... and that's not fit, not healthy at all. That's what I'll be concentrating on this month, building up fitness. 

I know I'll be hiking and walking quite a bit on vacation, but certainly there will be time unwind and laze on a beach or two with a good book. And get a little vitamin D recharge from the sun. 

There's nothing worse than coming back from a vacation, stepping on that scale, and seeing the number jump 10 lbs higher. That will not happen here.

Monday, 25 May 2015

A Small Victory

Removing an item off my trigger list feels really good. I won't say it it's 100% off forever and ever, but for the past several months anyway, ice cream has gradually lost its power over me. I don't know exactly when it happened, but I know partly why. Lactose-intolerance is a big part of it. Most dairy products now cause digestive turbulence of some kind in me. It doesn't feel good to eat it anymore, even in small quantities. Now there can be some in the house, and I won't touch it. Even taking a Lactaid and eating it anyway has no appeal. That soothing comfort I used to find there long ago is not there anymore.

My other main trigger foods remain and are not allowed in my house:
- anything salty and fatty, deep fried stuff, especially crackers and potato chips
- nuts, raw or roasted
- chocolate
- anything sugary and fatty, especially cereal and doughnuts

Food: Past couple of weeks have been good. No over-indulging at BBQs and parties. My strategy has been to load up on veggies, then have a small portion of BBQed meat or chicken.
Otherwise, I've measured and tracked everything while limiting sugar and salt as much as possible. I've also been searching for nice fiddleheads (tasty little unfurled fern)! I'll check the market tomorrow. I've only seen shabby ones so far this year.

Weight: Has stabilised at 169.7lbs... it was bouncing around like crazy.
Sleep: I can do better there.
Exercise: I can do better there too, especially if I don't get a good night's sleep, exercise won't come easy.
Mental: Making sure to go out with friends and not isolating is key at this point. I'm trying hard to focus on the things I can change, and still setting small doable goals. 

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Promises, Promises

I met my goals for last week, modest though they were. I walked every day for at least 30 minutes and I met a friend for a movie. We saw Hannah and her Sisters at the local art house movie theatre. They run "oldies but goodies" a few times a month. It was nice to get out of my rut of isolation, and it was just what was needed. I also forgot how much I love Classic movies. And now I also want to visit New York in the Fall :)

After hosting a 80s movie night at my place last night with a couple of friends,  I do feel like I'm slowly getting back into the swing of things. We watched Flashdance, Little Darlings and Foxes. While I wouldn't call them classics, I do call them fun movies about love and friendship.
The pollen vortex is affecting me quite a bit, so I'm very happy the pharmaceutical industry exists. I'm sure I'm single-handedly keeping tissue makers in business these days!  Switching to a morning workout on the elliptical in the basement instead of outdoor walks in the morning and during my lunch break is my best course of action.

Doable goals for this week:

1- Exercise 30 minutes every day.
2- Measure the food I eat with actual measuring cups, spoons and kitchen scale, because my portions are still too big.

Since it's 80s flashback week, here's Naked Eyes with Promises Promises. Boy, music videos were so low-budget back then! :

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Sink or Swim?

That's what I keep thinking to myself these days. Do I want to sink or swim?

I've been dealing with a lot of stuff; not just the physical, but the emotional and just all-around painful, not just from the present but the past too. Add to that questioning my faith in what I thought I believed in. Right now, it's sometimes hard to see the future or make plans for one; it's not impossible, just difficult.

It's like being unbalanced on a kind of precipice, and fighting against the slide into grief and depression. I am getting professional help and have been going to a specialized support group, which has been incredibly helpful.

No, I have not fallen face-first into a barrel of ice cream or chips. The solution to my issues is not that easy. And it would be easier, I've done it before, pushing down and numbing the pain with junk food.

My two closest friends know what's been going on and have been supportive. But I've been isolating myself from other friends and acquaintances. It's something that I have been slowly doing since January, and it's really not healthy. With various medical appointments, hospitalization, and now that I am well, the increased work stress, making legitimate and not so legitimate excuses to stay away from social activities has been easy. That is something I'll start to change.

Weight: 175lbs. Yes, that's a set-back and is a result of not getting regular exercise. At first, not being physically able to walk briskly, and then not wanting to for the past three weeks, has been the reason the extra 7lbs. Since walking is one of the ways I cope with the stresses of the daily grind, I do miss having that peace of mind only exercise can bring. I realize now it's a necessity in my life.

Food: Have not been tracking. At first, I was on a medical diet, then went back to my usual template, mostly eating veggies, lean proteins and fruits, and some carbs like oatmeal and high-fibre bread.
-I did have some real ice cream (made with cream and eggs, not modified milk ingredients), but had some digestive turbulence afterward. It seems my lactose intolerance is worsening slowly.
-Ate a bag of corn twists and regretted that so much, especially due to the high salt content. My face actually showed the bloat and my body was sluggish.

Plans for this week: Actually having a plan with doable goals is a good first step! 1-Get back into an exercise routine. 2-Contact some friends and make arrangements to get-together for a movie.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

A Colder Winter than Planned

The weather here has turned much warmer and we are finally getting sunny days. Temperatures are still hovering around freezing but the snow is melting. The birds are coming back; lots of cardinals and blue-jays, especially. My old friends the crows made their appearance earlier this winter.

I've not been in the mood to blog of late for a very good reason. Okay, so sometimes in the past, I've mentioned health issues but I've never been specific until now. What I've been dealing with is In Vitro Fertilisation and the difficult effects which all that entails. When my man was younger, he was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. He had the trifecta of chemo, radiation and then surgery. He survived with a only a few side effects and must see an oncologist every year for the rest of his life. Before he began treatments, he made arrangements with the fertility clinic in the likely case that his fertility never came back. When we first discussed starting a family, this meant IVF as our only option.

It's been hard: Numerous appointments, blood tests, injections, medications, soaring and dropping hormones plus emotions, stress, pain, fatigue. Along the way, my man and I try and find the funny side, the lighter side of our experience but it's no picnic.  And now, this time, the failure has hit me especially hard. Once again we were so very hopeful, then excited, and then we had to face massive disappointment. My body will take about another two months to recover to the point where we can try again. As for my current state of mind, I am battered but still hopeful.

We are seeing a counsellor who specialises in helping couples who are struggling with IVF and related issues, which has really helped. This situation can really make or break a couple. We've seen it first-hand in the waiting room once or twice when couples are suffering from IVF burnout.

Taking things day by day, expressing feelings in constructive not destructive ways is how we're coping. I no longer have any shame about letting my emotions flow out, it's mostly tears now, but can sometimes there is anger and regret. The worst thing to do is shove those emotions far down into your soul. It's like poison really.  The emotions build and build and then get spewed out in huge and usually negative ways. Letting my man take care of me and doing all the household chores and cooking has been a little weird (and sometimes funny) but he says at least now he feels like he's contributing something other than just holding my hand. We're holding on to one another to get through this.

Am I turning to food for comfort? No, that'd be the worst thing to do. On the menu, oatmeal with chia seeds and berries for breakfast or an omelette; then for lunch or dinner, fish, chicken or eggs paired with lots of nutrient dense veggies like dark leafy greens, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, sweet potatoes. My man and I have been going out more for meals since neither of us feel much like cooking but we're making wise choices. No fast food. To help balance my electrolytes after my ordeal, the doctor suggested drinking sports drinks. No way I was drinking that sugar-laden stuff. My trusted pharmacist suggested electrolyte tablets instead. Overall, I felt better for it.

Exercise: Gentle walking only. My body needs to heal. As I feel better and energy levels and hormones regulate and get back to normal, I'll add more. It's surprising how quickly a body loses muscle tone but I'll rebuild back what was lost.

My next steps are to take it easy, be kind to myself and to my man, not to isolate myself too much from friends and to keep busy more often than not. Our time here on this earth is so short so I'm focusing on the positive and on things I can change.  This will help me not to dwell in the past or slide into the darkness, but to keep looking forward to the future.

I'll leave with a song that my man played and sang to me (not in Spanish however).