Saturday, February 12, 2011

February 12: Change is Coming

My sinuses are on the warpath today.  Warmer temperature = moister air = my sinuses are out of whack, my bad ear is ringing, and my head hurts.

Oh, and it's The Weekend, which means that Routine is out the window.

Not all of me realized it's The Weekend: rather than snooze extra long, my body awoke at four o'clock in the morning.  I rested in bed a while, trying to mentally alphabetize everything I'm worried about (if it can be alphabetized it can't be that overwhelming!). 

Then I prayed.

On the bright side: My family is home with me!  I've had a couple hours of alone time!  Since I kept a good food tracker this week, I can follow a prior successful day rather than have to plan my food for today!

What an awesome change: I'm learning.


Friday, February 11, 2011

February 11: Can You Spot the Differences?

   I constantly keep in mind that while sixteen of us were selected as contestants in Lighten Up, several hundred people out there wanted this opportunity, too.  This knowledge keeps me on the straight and narrow: for me to squander this opportunity would be an insult to the other applicants.  So, how is my life different as a Lighten Up contestant?

·          There have been several days when, were it not for Lighten Up, I might have given in to the temptation to stay in my warm bed rather than go to the Y.

·         Because of Lighten Up, I consistently spend some time with my thoughts in order to keep my unspoken promise to write every day.  Without Lighten Up, I'd neglect my journal and lose focus on my weight loss goal.  I know. It's happened before.

·         Lighten Up has brought me closer to a number of people in my life: people who have reached out to me and people who have let me reach out to them. 

·         Thanks to Lighten Up, I am more consistent in my meal planning.

·         I'm learning to set boundaries not just between me and other people, but between me and unhealthy habits.

·         When I wrote that last one, I surprised myself by thinking "I don't have the constant barrage of negative thoughts."  When doubt begins to creep in during exercise, I've got a stronger voice cheering me on.  When food is calling to not-hungry-me, I actually speak aloud "I'm not hungry" and walk away.

·         Before Lighten Up I'd read a wide variety of fiction books.  For the past few weeks I've read almost exclusively nonfiction books, and I've learned from the authors' experiences.

  Without Lighten Up, I probably would continue on my cyclical levels of focus.  But now, knowing that (a.) my weight will be published in the paper each month and (b) I've been given a rare opportunity, I am determined to keep my lose-weight, get-healthy goal on the front burner.  I guess Lighten Up has given me the permission (forced me into) not letting myself be a victim.  With or without Lighten Up, I have the most supportive husband and kids I could ask for and I have a mind-bogglingly loving support system.  They've always wanted what's best for me, and now my mind has given me permission to not only want what's best for me, but to go get it.

  Lighten Up: So far, so good.



Thursday, February 10, 2011

February 10: The Joy of Exercise

        Once upon a time I loved to exercise; I just didn't know it.  As a kid I loved to swim at Memorial Pool – I'd dive again and again, pretending I was a dolphin.  I'd spend hours in my little front yard doing somersaults.  During the summer I'd pedal my bike to Memorial Park where I learned to play t-ball, then softball (on Diamond 5 I learned how to really smack the ball).             

        Somewhere along the way, though, I lost the joy of exercise.  For a laundry list of reasons, I lost self-confidence and tried to fade away.  I stopped going to the pool, I stopped playing softball, and I stayed inside. 

        Fast forward to today.  I often tell people that, having gone through cancer treatment and given birth to three children, there is no part of me which hasn't been examined, poked, or prodded, and therefore I have little fear of humiliation from relatively ordinary things.  The result of this – along with a ton of mental and emotional work – is that I have found joy in exercise again.

         Last night at the Euclid Sports Plant, I watched several dozen young men run conditioning and agility drills under the guidance of the extraordinarily talented and generous Mac Stephens.  The sounds, the movement, the thud of the athletes' footsteps were miraculous!  Different skill levels all exercising to their potential.  I had the good fortune to talk with Jermaine about my conditioning program and to thank him for helping me regain confidence.  One of the greatest moments on this journey was sweating through a plank and having Jermaine right down there with me, believing in me.

          This morning at the Euclid Family Y, I participated in my beloved Women On Weights class, and today's turned out to be one of my favorite classes!  The instructor, David, is understated, incredibly encouraging, and patient.  His only shortcoming is an apparent inability to count.  J  When counting reps, he has a bad habit of counting 1-2-3-3-4-5-5-5-6-6, etc.  Sometimes it seems we'll never get to 15!  Today we worked with dumbbells, resistance bands, and a host of machines.  My favorite was a drill which involved a step, a medicine ball, catching, squats, and throwing.  It wasn't just exercise, it was FUN.

         I've got some little goals in mind: I want to kayak (once I fit in the little kayak).  I want to parasail.  I want to hang glide.  I want to ride the family slides at Kalahari (I've lost enough weight to no longer be prohibited!).  I want to climb at the Cleveland Rock Gym – imagine a rock wall less than a mile from my house!  I want to be physically able to run the drills with the athletes at the Sports Plant.  I want to play whirley ball.  I'd like to play on an adult softball team.  I want to attend summer camp with my family and participate in all the sports (archery, canoeing, hiking, you name it!).

        My most intimidating goal: I want to wear a pretty dress and go dancing with my husband.  It would take a lot of courage for me, a lousy dancer with poor body image, to give it a whirl.  But life's short, and I've survived cancer and three kids.  Surely dancing can't be that bad.



Wednesday, February 9, 2011

February 9: Perspective

February 9: Perspective

                Last night's temperature forecast for this morning, eight degrees, sounded incredibly cold and caused me to shift into "Maybe I don't want to go to the Y tomorrow" mode.  I'd had a few excellent workouts yesterday and eaten right on target – I deserved the rest.

                This morning, eight degrees sounded even colder, especially from my cozy warm bed at five in the morning.  But I read somewhere that if you're awake for fifteen minutes you should get out of bed.  Also, last night I caught a snippet of Jillian Michaels saying, "If you feel like the underdog, then show up!"  Since I didn't fall back to sleep, I got out of bed and got ready for the Y.

                As it turns out, according to my trusty old van anyway, the temperature wasn't merely eight degrees: it was a balmy eleven degrees!  Nonetheless my hands were cold – my everything was cold!  I even had to pull over once to scrape a second coating of frost from my very old van's windshield.

                When I left the Y about an hour later, eleven degrees felt blessedly refreshing.  Why?  I went into the Y with a goal, and I achieved that goal.  Not only had I overcome the temptation to skip the Y, but I'd worked hard, found a lucky penny on the cross trainer (and left it there for the next person), and received compliments from two fellow exercisers!   As Ric Flair would say, "Woooo!"

                So: eleven degrees can be too cold or just right; I can be obese or making progress; exercise and eating right can be chores or blessings.  It's up to me.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

February 8: Yesterday I Whined

     One of my very favorite poems is "Yesterday I Cried" by Iyanla Vanzant (it's online and also in the book by the same title).  The poem is an account of purposeful crying, if you will.  Vanzant starts with technicalities ("I cried until my head was hurting so bad that I could hardly see the pile of soiled tissues lying on the floor at my feet"), moves into apparent reasons for her cry ("I cried for all the days that I was too busy, or too tired, or too mad to cry"), then describes growing into a place of strength and purpose ("In the midst of my crying, I felt my freedom coming, because yesterday I cried with an agenda").

     While my experience yesterday wasn't nearly as eloquent, there were some similarities to Vanzant's.  Early in the day I whined about my hurt feelings to the group of Friends I dubbed "My Support Team."  Throughout the day I had whined to myself about having weighed in heavier at Weight Watchers on Sunday.  In the afternoon I binged. 

     And somewhere along the way, my whining changed – I found my purpose.  I remembered that in my application paragraph to Lighten Up I wrote that I needed to overcome my sweet tooth (or in yesterday's case, my salty tooth).  I had been focusing lately so much on exercise (which I love) and on the progress of my fellow contestants that I was completely ignoring my weakness: eating.

     So I called another dear Friend who is also a Weight Watcher and I asked her for help.  And we talked, me with notebook in hand.  And I could feel my focus sharpening as a plan took shape.  I moved from helplessness into control.  My Support Team reminded me not only of my worth but also of my strength – they reminded me of Who I Am.

     This morning I feel confident.  My plan is in place: I've written what I'll eat and when, so that when Life happens today, I won't find myself again panicking over what to make for lunch, then bingeing while I try to figure it out, then eating because I binged.  I'm strong today.


Monday, February 7, 2011

February 7: Words Words Words

A dear friend who is following the contest from out of state sent me a note, writing "a determined bunch, so will be interesting to follow all of you.  BUT… if this were a writing contest… you'd win hands down!"  I think she had no idea when she wrote that what a maelstrom she was unleashing in me.  Here are my reactions.

First of all, I hesitated to share my reflection publicly – for the most part, I don't like to toot my own horn or share when someone else toots it for me.  I instinctively want to apologize all over the place and say "Yes I write well, but so do all of the posters.  I just happen to do it more often."  It's my tendency to want so much to prevent other people from having their feelings hurt that I'm willing to taint the pleasure of receiving a compliment.  That can't be good.  That's one of the lessons I've apparently got to work on in my continued get-healthy journey.

Okay, aside from that worry, here's a heaping helping of more.

1.  "a determined bunch":  Yep, this group of contestants is a determined bunch.  When I read everyone's stories yesterday and as I follow the blogs regularly, I become both impressed and intimidated.  All of us have good reasons to lose weight, and all of us will work as hard as we're able.  I'm intimidated because I compare myself to the others (don't do that!) and worry that while everyone else will look dramatically better in their after pictures and everyone else will have a nice percentage of weight loss, my after picture will be practically identical to my before and that I might not show any loss at all.  And get this: I am afraid to say "I don't want to finish last" because if I don't finish last, I'll have hurt someone else's feelings by this early statement.  Ugh!  I really need to working on caring about me and trusting others to be strong enough to care for themselves.

2.  "interesting to follow all of you": Wait!  If you're my friend, and you're following all of us, does that mean that other contestants' friends are looking at me?   Help, Linus, I need your security blanket!

3.  "if this were a writing contest…  you'd win hands down":  Reminder: this isn't a writing contest, Karin!  It's a weight loss contest.  I have to worry less about other people and focus on me and my weight loss efforts.  I have to do what I need to do in order to lose weight.  I can use euphemisms like eat right or get healthy, but the fact is I need to lose weight.  I've lost 45 pounds, but with or without Lighten Up, I need to lose more 90 pounds just to get to the top of my suggested weight range! 

Last week I slipped into a bad habit: I stopped tracking my food near the end of the week.  The result: I weighed in almost a pound heavier at Weight Watchers yesterday.  At first I was baffled, but when I realized I'd stopped tracking, I realized I'd probably been eating/drinking more calories than my body was burning.

How lame am I?  First week into a weight loss contest and I gain weight.

Once again, I tell myself, it's not about perfection, it's about persistence. 

"It's not how many times you get knocked down; it's how many times you get back up." (Custer, Lombardi, and undoubtedly more)

I applied to be in Lighten Up because losing weight is a struggle for me and I need every motivation I can get my hands on.  I gained weight little by little, and that's how I'll lose weight.  There'll be bumps in the road, but I cannot allow those to rattle me into a dead stop.

I am grateful to my friend for her note and for her continued support as we share this journey.  When you read this (and you know who you are): Thank you.  Thank you for the compliment, and thank you for helping me to regain my focus.

So far today: exercising, eating right, drinking water, and tracking!



Sunday, February 6, 2011

February 6: A Numbers Game

For a moment I was pleasantly surprised to read this morning that I weighed 214.  But then I panicked.  See, since I attend Weight Watchers every week, I know that my weight was actually 244 last weekend. 


I could sit here wringing my hands, feeling sorry for myself because I would be absolutely unable to show a loss at the February weigh-in.  (I can't healthfully lose more than 30 pounds in a month.)  I could turn to food for comfort.  Or I could control my reaction.


Luckily for me, the Serenity Prayer is a big part of my life.  In this case:

Serenity – to accept that I cannot change the printed number

Courage – to continue to work to lower my actual weight

Wisdom – a typo is not the end of the world


Mistakes happen – heaven knows I've mastered the art of making mistakes! 


As I remind myself regularly: the number on the scale is just a number – it's feedback.  What matters is that no matter the number, I work hard, eat right, and journal/blog to keep myself focused.


I sent an early morning email in to our wonderful editor who is running the contest, and confirmed with her my actual starting weight of 244.  She graciously put me at ease and promptly corrected my starting weight on-line.


Nonetheless, I challenge myself to meet and surpass that phantom 30 pound loss!  I can hardly wait till I actually weigh only 214… and then 200… and then 180… and then….



~Karin, with an i  (with a special nod to L.M. Montgomery's "Anne, with an e")