Tag Archives: Challenges

Being Consistent in an Inconsistent World Or Live Like a Squirrel

Jen 4 24 2018

Here I am smiling during my walk even though I had planned to run. My weight loss journey always reminds me that adjustments need to be made along they way.

This morning I watched a squirrel frantically spin around in one place in front of one of the big trees he normally climbs. He flipped and flopped back and forth and dug into the dirt. My son joined me at the window to watch the squirrel and asked, “What is he doing?”

I shrugged my shoulders and said, “I have no clue, but he seems to know what he’s doing.”

And with that statement, the squirrel was joined by another and off they went to chase each other up the tree. My son and I went back to our morning routines, but I thought about that squirrel all morning. I am an avid animal watcher in my yard as we have deers and birds in addition to the squirrels. As a city dweller for most of my life, I am utterly in love with peeking into the animal world.

What I have gathered in my time here is that these animals are pretty consistent. Today’s spinning act was unusual, but normally the squirrels have a regular routine. They run around the yard and up trees. They try to climb the bird feeders and sometimes succeed. They hide their food and uncover it when needed. And when they act unusual as they did today, they seem to know what they’re doing. They’re confidant little animals for sure.

I pondered the actions of my furry neighbors while I also thought about my own actions these days. I’m trying to be consistent with my physical and mental health, but it’s not going too well. I feel like that spinning squirrel without the confidence that my actions are for a purpose. Many things are out of my control these days and I’ve forgotten one of my mantras: “You can’t always control what’s going on around you, but you can control how you react.”

So instead of putting aside my stress and worries, I’m letting them rule my head and body. I have a twitchy right eye that won’t go away. It likes to pop up when I’m stressed and I’m not getting enough sleep. Both are happening right now; sleep is as evasive as Bigfoot is here in the PNW.

Instead of being happy with my half-marathon training, I downplayed my eight mile training run as too slow. And then today as I scrambled to get everyone ready for the day, I felt sharp pains in my abdomen. I get these now and then, but the pains heightened my stress levels as I worried I’m getting another abdominal hernia like I had years ago. I took some pain reliever and headed out to my running spot even though I wasn’t feeling good.

As I got out of the car with my twitching eye and worrisome muscles I stopped for a minute. OK, I can’t control the pain, but I could control the stress. Running would only bother me and I knew any slight twinge would make me think I was headed to the hospital. So finally, I decided to remember that I could control one thing: how I treated my body. So instead of running I walked instead.

Yes, the first five minutes I felt inadequate. If I’m not consistently running as my training program says to do, how am I going to do my half-marathon in July? Yes, I figuratively slapped myself finally. If I’m not taking care of myself in the present, there won’t be a future. If I don’t listen to my body now and give time to heal, I won’t be running in July.

Being consistent in this case means taking care of myself. Consistence isn’t following a training program to the “t” always. When life isn’t going your way, adjust.

So I adjusted today. I took a steady walk along the beautiful waterfront. My body was aching to run while listening to my running playlist, but after running for 30 seconds, I knew today needed to be a walk. I took to heart what my body was telling me and instead took a consistently mind-clearing and soul-soothing 40 minute walk.

Today was a good reminder, to listen to my head and body. Don’t let stress rule my life. Stuffing food in my stomach doesn’t plug up the stress and anxiety. I know it actually causes even more. Being consistent with my eating habits is even more important in times of stress. And don’t stop moving! Even when I can’t run, I can still walk. Keep moving forward, literally and figuratively needs to be tattooed on my forehead.

While I may be like my crazy spinning squirrel sometimes, I also need to be like the consistent and confidant squirrel. After the craziness is over, it’s time to get back to work, well, get back to life. Through upheavals and the unknown, life goes on and it’s pretty good if I just remind myself. I plan to continue to work on being consistent in an inconsistent world and keep going Down the Scale.

The Year Without a Turkey Trot

NoTurkeyTrot2017

I won’t add a Turkey Trot Race Bib to my collection this year. Dental surgery is keeping me from running this year, but it’s not keeping me from my journey to be the healthiest person I can be this year and in the future! This is just a blip on my Down the Scale journey!

“Oh, no, you can’t do that.”

Those words broke my heart this past Friday.  My dentist was following up after I had oral surgery that morning and those are the words he spoke when I asked if it was OK to run the 5K Turkey Trot this week.

While he explained why I couldn’t exercise this week, all I could think of was it would be the first Thanksgiving day run I didn’t do since 2012.  I did my first race even before I had gastric sleeve surgery.

After I hung up the phone and cried to my ever-supportive husband.  I moaned about how stupid I was to have the surgery so close to Thanksgiving.  Fortunately, as he does many times, he put everything back in perspective.  I had to have this surgery and between Thanksgiving and Christmas, there really wouldn’t have been a better time to have it.  And he was right and it was done so I had to move on.

My reaction surprised me though.  Yes, I’m definitely the type of person who doesn’t like to change  plans.  I am an admitted planner although I’m always up for spontaneous activities.  I do love traditions and I have run this race for years even if it’s in different cities.  No, it wasn’t losing the money on the entry fees.  Every Turkey Trot I’ve run as been for charity so I’m glad to support them even if I’m not running.  

Maybe it’s losing out on time with my son that was bothering me. The last few races, he has run them although with his friends.  Last year as we were new to the area , he ran with me though.  I loved sharing the run, although not the steady rain, with him.  

What I really think is bothering me, is that racing, particularly the Turkey Trot, is such an important part of the new healthy me.  It’s part of what defines the “Down the Scale Jen.”  And while I first did this race before my surgery, it was an important part of defining who I wanted to me after surgery.   I would be a healthy person.  I would be a runner.  I would be normal.

Now, I realize it seems silly that missing one race changes who I am.  I know it doesn’t.  I am still committed to my weight loss journey.  Well, it’s actually a healthy lifestyle journey.  My decision to lose weight in turn made me confront many emotional issues that lead to my unhealthy eating habits.  Exercise is a huge factor in keeping me focused on being a healthy person.  

So missing one race won’t change that. It’s disappointing, but as soon as my dentist tells me I can run again, I’ll get back to it.  Running is a part of me now.  Striving to be as healthy as I can be (albeit with a treat thrown in now and then), is who I am.  This bump in the road was a good reminder that I am still dedicated to my weight loss journey.  Although I won’t be running this month, I am still continuing to focus on being positive and healthy as I keep going Down the Scale….

Cookie Regrets…

This is the aftermath of my cookie hangover. Even with my smaller stomach from gastric sleeve surgery, I can still eat cookies. And I regret it every time. Time to get back to mindful eating on my weight loss journey!

I have a cookie hangover. I just finished a big chocolate chip cookie with just a touch of sea salt on top and before I swallowed the last bite I felt ill. Like when you have that last drink that you know you should have said no to, but drank it anyway. That’s me with sweets. I still crave them. I still love them. I still hate them after I finish them. It’s the never-ending battle of good versus evil; healthy versus unhealthily; knowing better versus ignoring the facts. It’s like a bad relationship where you know you shouldn’t even start it, but you do and for a while you’re happy. And then the part (that you know is coming) is when things turn. You feel like shit and you knew it was coming but you did it anyway. And you say you won’t do it again, but you do….

When will I learn? I should know better by now wouldn’t you say? I feel like a failure most times when I eat poorly. OK, not always. There are times like a holiday celebration that I know I won’t make the heartiest of eating choices and I’m OK with that. Those are days I’ve made a conscious decision to make some unhealthily choices. Yes to pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. Yes to peppermint anything on Christmas Day and a hell yes to peanut butter eggs on Easter.

It’s the spur of the moment eating that is bothering me these days. Here I am at a coffee shop with my coffee which should have been enough. It’s always enough but I saw the cookie and thought what the hell. Then I inhaled the cookie and now I’m sitting here in a sugar coma thinking “You idiot. You feel like crap from all that fat and sugar and you can’t even drink your coffee.” I’m saying more to myself but you get the point.

Why is it that I can be so strong some days and eat well and other days I slip? Other days I really don’t seem to care. Yes, stress is a lot of it, but honestly I can’t keep using that as an excuse can I? No, I can’t.

What can I do?

BRING BACK MINDFUL EATING

Yes, it’s time to be aware of what I’m doing with food. I’m using it for stress relief. I’m using it to fight boredom. I’m using it as a reward system. What I’m not using it for is to be healthy.

I always, always feel better when I eat healthy. There is no doubt about it. Time to make better choices and this mean stopping the sweets when I can get coffee. It’s time not to eat granola bars mindlessly because really, they’re not a healthy food. It’s time to remember food is fuel.

Oh, I’m not going to pretend I’m giving up completely on unhealthy food, but I need to be more conscious and selective when choosing it, especially with the holidays coming up.

Time to end the sugar hangovers and feel better about my choices and myself. Time for me to be mindful in order to be healthy. Time to stop, think and make better choices so I can keep going in my journey to be healthy and happy and continue to go Down the Scale…

A Quick 4 Year Update!

Jen20132017v1

I’ve changed in more ways than one since my gastric sleeve surgery four years ago! The mental and physical changes still amaze me this day. My journey to a healthy life is always evolving and for that I am ever grateful!

Life is a bit crazy these days with a move in the works.  While we’re only moving 30 miles away, it’s a bit more difficult when  you’re moving to an island!  As soon as we’re settled, I promise I’ll have a more detailed post of my life at Down the Scale.

In the meantime, I wanted to note that it’s been four years since I had my gastric sleeve surgery.  This year as been full of ups and downs, literally and figuratively, but I still believe that surgery was the start of a much better life for me.  I am healthy in more ways that I can measure.  There are always challenges in life, but I feel more prepared to tackle them since I began my journey to what is now a healthy life.

I’ll share more of my four-year journey soon.  Thanks for reading and more importantly, for supporting me through the years.  Yes, it takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to support and encourage those who seek change.  Thank you for being with me as I continue my story, going Down the Scale…

Time to Go for the Distance

First 5K 2017

Here I am enjoying my margarita at the end of my first 5K race of 2017. Running is one of the best results of gastric sleeve surgery! My weight loss journey continues with more runs this year.

When did I become a running snob? It was this past Saturday. Perhaps snob is too strong a word, but after running my first 5K race of the year, I learned that I actually take running more seriously than I thought. It’s just another one of the many surprises I’ve experienced in my four-year weight loss journey.

After last year’s Tinker Bell Half Marathon, I took a step back on running long distances. The mental and physical exhaustion from training was part of the reason. Lacking a new goal was another. I’m the type of woman who needs goals and I didn’t come up with a running goal for a while.

After a crazy year of moving and settling into a new state, in January I finally got serious about exercise again. To improve my running, I began working with a personal trainer. While my main goal was to increase my running pace, the focus was on building my strength and endurance through weights and speed drills. Yes, it is working! I’ve cut almost three minutes off my average pace and I can run for at least a mile without stopping. Success!

What I don’t feel successful with is my endurance. Yes, I can run for almost a mile whereas before I would do intervals as in run then walk, run than walk exclusively. I can run for a mile or so, but then at about mile one and a half, I start to slow down or go back to intervals. I know this is my brain playing tricks on me. I’m pretty sure I can run longer than that. It’s time to break through this mental barrier and run longer distances.

My plan was to do this at my first 5K of 2017. I should have known by the name “Margarita Madness 5K Run/Walk” that there wouldn’t be an emphasis on running. When I saw the lines of people buying margaritas before the race began, I mistakenly thought that as a sober runner I would fly through the course. I was wrong.

A few things kept me from running the whole race. Sure, I could blame the participants who were more concerned about spilling their drinks through the asphalt and trail course. I could point my finger at the people who were walking three or four across the path. I could blame the lack of racing etiquette: walkers on the right, runners to the left, and only pass on the left. I could use the surprising heat and sun as another reason.

Sure, these are all good excuses, but I know I’m fighting a mental game. My head still hasn’t grasped the fact that I can run longer. All the work I’ve put into strengthening my body and improving my pace needs to be put to good use. Time to go the distance. Time to believe in my training. Time to just do it.

Today is Global Running Day so it seems appropriate that I go out there and run the best run I can. I’m not planning on running any crazy distances, but I know I can run for more than a mile without stopping. That is my only goal. No, actually my other goals are to have fun and appreciate the fact that four years after gastric sleeve surgery, I am a runner. My plan today is to enjoy the unusual warm and sunny weather of the Pacific North West with a peaceful and positive run. Here’s to believing I can go the distance while I continue to go Down the Scale…

Really, No One is Watching

Getting ready for another work out session! I never thought I would wear a tank top to exercise in, but here I am almost four years after gastric sleeve surgery wearing one! Living a healthy lifestyle is the best change I made!

What is it about exercising in groups that makes me so self-conscious?  It’s not so much a problem in classes like spin where everyone is on their own bike so it doesn’t matter if you’re slow or uncoordinated.  Unless you fall off the bike or perhaps sing too loud to the music, no one cares or notices what you’re doing.  You’re not keeping anyone from advancing or slowing down the group when you’re in spin class.

Other exercise classes are a different story.  Or at least that was my preconceived notion before I did a boot camp class today.  Most of my fears and concerns were gone by the end of class.  First, I managed to do all the stations without passing out. I did however text a friend before class to remind her that she was in charge of picking out a good photo for my obituary should I die from either exertion or embarrassment.  Fortunately I did neither and I was once again reminded that exercising is about me, not anyone else.

Today’s class was my first group weight training class in about ten years. When my children were little, the YMCA was a godsend with its childcare so I tried out classes even though I was obese.  I was proud of myself for participating, albeit slowly and clumsily, until one fateful day.  A perky girl, who I could only think thought she was being helpful by cheerfully rushing up to me after class said, “Wow, good for you!  You’re doing this class.”  My dumbfounded and angry face must have given her the impression she should just back away slowly.  As if I didn’t say to myself every class, “It’s OK you’re the only fat mom in here, just keep trying.  No one cares.”  From that day on, every time I took that class I thought that people must feel sad for the fat chick in the class.  It was devastating, but I did keep going.

Here I am almost four years out from my gastric sleeve surgery and I must admit I’m still self-conscious about my body. Oh, I’m in the best shape of my adult life and I exercise regularly including running, but the “fat chick” in my head likes to make herself known from time to time.  My personal training sessions have boosted my confidence tremendously, but they will be ending soon.  I realized it was time to try out a group class to keep working on strength training.

I’m very lucky that my personal trainer also teaches the boot camp I did today.  I was reassured that she would make sure my form was good when she could.  When I walked into class I realized that it was made of women of all shapes, sizes, and athletic ability.  No, I wasn’t the skinniest woman in the room, but I fit in just fine.  But you know what?  It didn’t matter what I looked like or what I could do because no one cares!  Now, I don’t mean that in a malicious way as in people are uncaring, what I mean is that everyone is there to do their best.  It’s not a fashion show or a competition.  This boot camp was all about people doing their personal best.

Was I awkward, uncoordinated, and insecure?  You betcha!  I was also determined, strong, and proud.  Sure, my lunges were slow, but I rocked it on the TRX bands.  As I moved from station to station, I became more comfortable and relaxed.  In no time, the session was over and I did everything.  I assume everyone else did, but I didn’t notice.  This time was about me and what I could do.  And thankfully no one came up to me commenting about my abilities, weight or the fact I was even in the class.

But if someone had said something to me, I would have been irritated, but I would have brushed it off.  I am proud of what I can do and I am not focusing on my weaknesses when I exercise.  I’m working hard to be this way in all aspects of my life.  I’m taking one giant step, or rather lunge, forward to being positive mentally and physically!

Next time, you’re thinking of trying something new or even an activity you stopped doing due to insecurity, I hope you’ll do it.  One of the positive things that has come out of my weight loss journey is my confidence to try new and old things.  I want to live a life that is full of hope and happiness and how I get there is all up to me.  While no one might notice what I’m doing to get there, the results of living a healthy life are clear I think, especially as I continue to go Down the Scale…

Engaging My Core

How could I not be engaged with these people? The ups and downs of my weight loss journey reminds me to remember what is really important: making your life a priority. For me, spending more time with my family is my top priority!

“Remember to engage your core.”

I hear these words for an hour twice a week now that I workout with my trainer, H.  Dedicating two hours a week to exercising with the guidance of a trainer is helping me improve my physical health, but focusing on my physical core made me think about my core in a mental sense.  What I mean is that for my body to work better, I need to engage my core to support the rest of my body no matter what exercise I’m doing.  It’s also my mental core that needs engaging as well these days.

The past few weeks I felt unfocused, like I was going through the motions of life, but not really feeling it.  I have all these goals in my head, but I wasn’t working toward any of them.  Sure, I’ve been eating better and exercising more, but I still didn’t feel fulfilled.  It wasn’t until my training session last Thursday when H. reminded me to engage my core muscles that it hit me.  I’m not engaged in anything.

Now, I’m not saying I’ve just ignored my family, friends, and my life in general during here last few weeks, but I haven’t felt involved.  Besides the goals of being healthy I have other goals, but I haven’t made them important.  If I don’t make my goals a priority, how will I accomplish them?  Unless there’s a magic wand somewhere that I don’t know about, I need to work toward my goals instead of talking about them.

The first step in the new engagement of my core, i.e. my life,  is to stop talking about them and start doing them.  Here’s how I’m beginning to be more active in my life goals:

*Being confident in my physical self is a must, no matter what happens.  As I mentioned in my last blog, I do feel stronger and more confidant in my athletic abilities, but I took a step, well, a run back, two weeks ago.  I was doing fast laps around the YMCA and my first one went great.  The second set was two laps, but halfway through the second lap I just stopped.  It felt like my body couldn’t go on.  I was winded and my legs cramped.  I was angry with myself.  I finished the training session, but it bothered me the rest of the day.  Normally, I would have let it go and just waited until my next training session to try again.  Instead I went to the gym early the next morning and ran without stopping for a mile and a half like I’ve been doing.    Instead of acting like I was going backwards in my training, I tackled the problem head on.  I was engaged.  I will continue to be engaged in my athletic endeavors no matter if they’re good or bad.

*Making my goals a priority, even if it means saying no.  I’ve put off building a new career for the past year.  Sure, at times, I had to put my goals aside to work on immediate issues like moving to a new state and setting up our new life in the Pacific Northwest, but we’ve been here almost six months and we’re pretty settled. Each day I come up with excuses not to make the time to work on my writing with the exception of a blog entry here and there.  No more excuses!  I am now scheduling in time to work on my writing which includes my blog and my fiction writing.  I’m doing this even if I have to say no to meeting a friend or pushing housework aside for another time.  As I type, I’m at a café while my daughter is at a theater class.  This is my dedicated writing time; no running errands or playing Words with Friends.  I am engaged in my writing, which in turns means I’m engaged in my personal and professional goals.

*Spending time with friends and family is essential.  I realize that I’m with my children a lot, but I’m not always “there.”  While I’m not quite sure which games my kids are talking about, I am trying to listen intently.  If it’s important to them, I need to make it important to me.  I’ve realized if I’m not engaged when they’re talking about everyday things, I might miss the important life stories they’ll share.  And with my ever-supportive hubby, I need to be with him in addition to our time as a family.  We’ve made the effort to go out to dinner and breakfast on our own and having this time alone with him is necessary.  It’s easy to get wrapped up in our lives as parents, so to spend time as a couple keeps us engaged in our marriage.  I can’t forget my friends, either!  So many of my friends are far away and while an email, text or Facebook post helps enormously, FaceTime is my new favorite app.  During a “woe is me” moment, I texted my constant cheerleader, N., to see if we could schedule a FaceTime appointment. We video chatted yesterday and it really lifted my spirits.  Seeing her face while talking was just what I needed and I realized much of it was because I was focused just on our conversation.  I wasn’t texting in between loads of laundry or running out the door to an appointment; we were focused on talking only.  When I am focused on the person I’m talking with and not trying to multitask, I am engaged in my life as well as this person’s life.

Now that I’m focused on engaging my core physically, I am going to engage my emotional core.  Sometimes, multi-tasking isn’t helpful.  As a lifelong multitasker, this is going to be a challenge.  Just from the small changes I’ve made over the past few weeks though, I can already feel some of the physical and mental weight being lifted.  There really is something to be said about slowing down and focusing on your goals.  Now that I’m making my core muscles stronger, I am going to make my figurative core, meaning my heart and soul, stronger.  I am engaged as I continue my journey Down the Scale…

Making the time to write is one of my goals and by setting up outside in the occasionally clear day in the PNW, I can write. No excuses, it’s time be engaged.

What’s In, What’s Out:  Elimination Diet & Training Update

Jen April 2017

A month after my elimination diet and new workout routine, I’m feeling strong! I’ve been on this weight loss journey for almost four years, and I’m happy to share that it keeps getting better!

Yes, I did it.  I survived a month on an elimination diet .  I managed to do this while starting a new workout schedule with a personal trainer.  Besides surviving and losing some weight, what are the results of the diet and training?  Here’s what I’ve learned:

*For a month, I avoided wheat, dairy, almonds and sugar.  Now that the month is over I’m adding a new food group for just three days and then waiting two more days to see if I can note any reaction.  So far, I added back in wheat.  The only response I’ve noticed is a bit of gas.  Not very ladylike perhaps, but not the worst reaction.  Will I keep wheat in my diet?  Maybe on occasion, but I didn’t particularly miss it.  When I reintroduced wheat-laden foods, I realized most of them weren’t healthy or particularly enjoyable.  I eat crackers mindlessly and that’s not good.  I stopped eating toast with peanut butter as a snack and switched to apple slices and sunflower butter.  As I test the foods I show a sensitivity to, I plan to be more mindful of how healthy that food is and if I really like it.

*Reading labels isn’t so bad.  In the beginning of the diet, I was thoroughly annoyed that I had to read every food label for items like sugar and almonds.  It made me realize, especially with sugar, that there are ingredients in foods that really aren’t necessary.  Bacon without sugar is just as good, if not better than bacon made with sugar.  I plan to keep buying sugar-free bacon as well as the vegan Caesar salad dressing I discovered.  If I keep sugar as just a “sometime food” as opposed to an everyday food, I know I’ll continue to feel better.

*Making meals from scratch is getting easier.  To eliminate sugar from my diet, I found it easy to make some foods instead of buying prepared foods.  Yes, it takes more work to make meatloaf than to throw a preseasoned meat in a crock pot, but I got into the hang of it.  My Pinterest food page has more recipes for me to draw from.  I’m still searching for new recipes, but I’m more confident in my cooking skills.

*I feel a bit like a cavewoman with the meat I’m eating, but that’s a good thing.  Since my iron was at 2 when the range is 10 to 232, I knew I needed to eat more iron in addition to taking supplements.  While I didn’t follow through on my nutritionist’s suggestion of adding liver to my meatloaf, I did eat more red meat than in the past.  I’m happy to share in a month my iron went up to an 8.  While it’s improving I did have my first IV iron infusion this past weekend.  It was really easy actually and I didn’t have any reaction.  I’m going for a second one later this week and we’ll see what happens from there.  My symptoms of itchy skin and fatigue are gone, so unless eating a certain food bothers me when I reintroduce it, I think my low iron levels were causing them.

*An elimination diet is more than just finding out which foods are causing issues, it helps reset your eating habits.  For me, this past month was a good reminder that I need to eat mindfully.  Making better choices like eating less processed foods and more whole foods is making me feel better, I’m sure.  Also, even if I’m eating healthy foods, I need to watch the amount.  Macadamia nuts are better than chips, but they still have calories, so you can’t eat them mindlessly. This month has been a bit of reset to my old ways of eating after I had gastric sleeve surgery and with my four-year anniversary two months away, it’s been a good reminder of how I need to eat to continue to be healthy.

*Along with the diet, I began working out with my trainer with the initial goal of improving my running.  Yes, it’s improved my running!  When I first started, H., had me run 1.5 miles for a baseline.  I ran that same 1.5 miles last Friday and I’m excited to report I did it without walking.  As I’ve mentioned in many blogs, I’ve been a runner/walker since I started my weight loss journey.  And let me say that I think there is nothing wrong with doing intervals.  If you’re moving, you’re doing great!  For me, I wanted to improve my pace and see if I could improve my stamina.  After a month of twice weekly workouts and a day or two of working out on my own, I’m excited to say I ran that same 1.5 miles without walking and beat my original time by 1:09 minutes.  I will never forget when I started the Couch to 5K program, my pace was 18:30 minutes per mile.  Four years later, my new pace is 12:07 per mile.  My body can do more than I ever thought it could!

*This brings me to one of the best parts of increasing and improving my exercise routine:  I believe I can do more.  I know that it was my mental block that was part of the reason I couldn’t run without taking a break.  While I’m working on my muscle memory (my body getting used to working out harder), I’m also retraining my brain to be more positive and open to changes.  I’m learning to trust my body when I exercise.  When my head and body work together, I can accomplish my exercising goals.  

So after a month of “dieting” and a new exercise routine, I am excited with all the changes I’ve made.  Sugar and wheat are mostly out, but in on occasion.  Mindful eating is in, but mindless eating is out.  Cooking is in, but prepackaged food is out as much as possible.  Exercise and working with a trainer is most definitely in, but doubting my abilities is out.  As crazy as this month as been, I’m glad I followed the elimination diet and new exercise routine.  I feel healthy, empowered, and ready to keep going Down the Scale…

Jen April 2017 Part 2

With the spring weather approaching, I’m excited to have my sunroof open and the ability to run outside! My weight loss journey continues as Spring arrives!

Training My Body and Mind…

Working Out TRX

Here I am learning to trust my body and mind using the TRX bands! Working with a personal trainer is keeping me going on my weight loss journey!

“You’re not going to drop yourself. Just lean back.”

These were the words my trainer, H., said to me casually as we used the TRX bands for the first time. For those asking what in the world are TRX bands, they are straps attached to a wall or pole used for different exercises. H. wanted me to grasp the straps with my arms extended, then walk my feet under and then lower my body backwards. Next all I needed to do was pull myself up and down. Easy right? Just let my body lean back while I depend on my upper body and core muscles to hold my body weight.

I’m not saying this is an impossible exercise, but it was more about my trust issues with my body than the ease of the task. Even though it’s been almost four years since my gastric sleeve surgery, from time to time I still think of myself as being the overweight woman who can’t do anything athletic. While I’ve been running even before my surgery and I do call myself a runner, my head and heart sometimes have a hard time believing I can perform certain exercises. Working with my trainer is proving to me that I can do more than I think I can.

I initially contacted H. for personal training so I can be a better runner. It turns out what I really need was to develop my over all strength, especially my core muscles. From what I gather, everything originates from your core muscles. After my two c-sections and my constant weight gain/loss cycles, I hadn’t thought much about my midsection. Once I lost the weight and then couldn’t run because of my hernia, I did start to have an inkling that I needed to take care of my abdomen.

So here I am, two years later, thinking about my core muscles again. While I don’t have the extra three and a half pounds of skin hanging down from my stomach and my muscles were surgically tightened, I still don’t trust myself all the time. My body is in the best shape of my adult life, but I don’t always think I can do things. One of the greatest benefits of working with a trainer one on one is that you discover you can do things. There is no hiding out in the back of a group class! H. is there to teach me, guide me, and push me. And even though she must be half my age, she does it in such a positive, but no-nonsense way that I always want to try whatever exercise she is teaching me. Yes, I’m paying her, but I’m happy to let her be in charge. Even when I want to give up, I know she has my best interest at heart. And she won’t let me die, I’m sure!

One of the important lessons I’ve learned so far is about “muscle memory.” H. watched me run during our first session and commented that my form was good, so we need to work on muscle memory among other things. I needed to get my body used to working harder for longer periods of time. My muscles needed to learn what it was like to work harder so I can improve my pace and distance. While I know this is true about my body, it made me think that my head also needs this “muscle memory.”

What I mean by this is that for me exercising is not just about improving my muscles and overall strength, but also about improving my mindset. If my brain doesn’t believe I can run faster or lift weights, my body isn’t going to either. While I’m working on building muscle memory, just as importantly, I’m developing a new mindset. Yes, I can run faster. Yes, I can hold a plank longer. Yes, I can hold myself up on TRX bands and do rows!

My personal training sessions are another reminder that my weight loss journey is not just about my body, but my brain. I need to eat heathy, exercise and maintain a positive outlook in order to be in the best shape physically. While my training sessions are improving my body, they also help improve my confidence. I’m looking forward to more muscle memory for my body and mind as I keep going Down the Scale…

Not Just a Month, But a Lifetime

Jen Week 1 Elimination Diet

Here I am, finishing up week one of my elimination diet! I feel strong and healthy! New foods and more exercise are always part of my continuing gastric sleeve journey!

“Not Just a Month, but a Lifetime”

By that statement you might think I mean that my elimination diet feels like it’s lasting forever. In some way it does feel that way as I’m missing the convenience and flexibility of eating foods with wheat, sugar, dairy, and almonds. What I’ve really come to realize is the I need to think of this diet as a lifetime change. By that, I hope to keep many of the healthy changes I’ve made so far this week. Some of them include:

*I’m focusing on eating protein first. When I first started eating non-liquid foods after my gastric sleeve surgery, I always ate my protein first followed by vegetables. Now that wheat is off my list, I am making protein my first choice in my meal. Not only is this helping me by giving me more energy, I’m sure my iron levels will show an increase on my next blood test.

*There are less preservatives, sugar, and sodium in my diet. By taking the time to read food labels, I’m now aware of what really goes into food. Well, if I could understand what some of the words included in the food are, I would know if there were good or bad. If an ingredient has more than four syllables, my guess is it isn’t good for you. I could be wrong, but I’ve decided this month to buy foods in which I actually know what the ingredients mean. There is one exception but I’ll talk about that later.

*I’m not frantically trying to figure out what I’m going to cook for each meal. I wish I was one of those people who meal plan and cook on a Sunday, but I’m not. With my kids and husband’s ever-changing schedules, I don’t always know when and who will be home for dinner. So, each morning I decide what to make for dinner based on what I know that morning. Tuesday is always Taco Tuesday thanks to the Lego Movie, but every other day, the meals change. Fortunately, I have a number of dishes that I can draw from based on the amount of time I can cook that day. My Pinterest board is filling up with more healthy recipes.

*I have more energy…finally! After wondering why I was so tired for so long, I finally feel energetic for most of the day! Instead of trying to keep my eyes open past 9 PM, I can make it until 10 PM. OK, so that makes me still sound old, but some days you just enjoy these small victories. I’m sure the new vitamins and iron supplements I’m taking are part of the reason I feel better, but I know eating better is a big part as well.

*I can exercise more! With better fuel and vitamins in my body, I am able to workout longer and better. Now, I’m sure working out with my trainer twice a week is a large part of my increased athleticism. Having a professional guide you, motivate you and push you is well worth the cost and time, in my opinion.  And by my increased interest and commitment to working out, this is a new way of living that I plan to keep!

With all these great changes, what in the world would I not want to keep from this elimination diet? Here you go:

*First, I would say coffee, but as I mentioned in my post about day one, I decided not to give it up. I tried for the first few days to drink it with cashew milk and stevia, but it wasn’t the same. It wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t particularly good either. So I broke down and went back to my non-daily sugar-free creamer. Yes, the one with words that are too long. Honestly, if this is my only vice in life, I’m good with it. Eventually, I’m willing to try other sugar alternatives, but for now this creamer makes me happy. Silly, I know, but right now this is my biggest vice, so I’m OK with it.

*All right, I’ll be honest and say that sugar-free non-dairy creamer is probably not my biggest vice. My love of Starbucks would be my worst vice. Now, if I was buying pastries or bagels along with my espresso, that would be really bad, especially when I know how great I currently feel without large doses of fat, sugar and wheat in my diet. I broke down on day three of the elimination diet and drank a tall soy latte. The only reason this drink breaks the rules of my diet is that Starbuck’s uses vanilla soy which has cane sugar in it. This is my big treat about three days a week. Yes, it might seem ridiculous, but I really enjoy lattes.  I really love grabbing one while I’m out running errands or drinking one while I write outside my home. Yes, I know they make regular coffee, but I don’t particularly care for it. I want my latte and I’m going to keep getting it..no pastries or bagels, though.

*I can’t wait to eat at a restaurant again! As a family, we only eat out once a week, but it’s a nice break from cooking for me and it gives us a chance to focus on our time as a family without home distractions. I’m sure I could eat out, but honestly I believe it will be a pain to frantically search the menu for food without dairy, sugar, wheats or almonds. Choosing better dishes that are protein and vegetable centric will be my new goal when we return to dining out.

Now, some of you might question why I couldn’t give up a few things like coffee, creamer, and Starbucks for just a month. True, in the scheme of life it’s not that long to remove these foods from my diet. But it was making me cranky, irritated, and I was focusing on what I couldn’t have instead of the what I could eat. I actually have a wide range of foods I can eat and I’m discovering new foods like sunflower butter and paleo-style meatloaf that I love. I have decided that I need to concentrate on what I can do easily and forever, not just for a month. I keep going back to the thought that I’m working on a lifestyle change, not just a month change. Just like I realized that going Down the Scale wasn’t a “before/after situation” but a continuous journey, this elimination diet is helping me focus on a healthy lifestyle permanently!