Tag Archives: Health

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.

Have You Given Up?

Jen February 2018

“You wouldn’t have done that before.” My husband said this to me this weekend as we explored a new place in our new home state. He was right. Before gastric sleeve surgery, I would never have tried to walk along a narrow ledge for fear of falling. I would have given up. The post-surgery me tries new things and doesn’t give up!

“Have you given up?”

One of the cheerleaders in my life, N., asked me that the other day. She called in response to my “woe is me” texts of late.

“Well, no, I haven’t.”

“OK then.”

Sometimes it’s the simplest questions that lead to the most profound answers. While I haven’t accomplished the goals I made for January, I’m not giving up.

I set two goals in January: to lose weight and finish the first draft of my mystery novel. I’ve lost about a pound, but nothing earth shattering and not the eight pounds I planned to lose. My first draft of my novel is nowhere near done although I finally wrote the first murder (these are things that make mystery writers very happy).

February appeared and the feelings of failure came with it. Failure provokes such strong emotions in me. I tend to let it drag me down. I berate myself for my lack of accomplishments. I wonder if I can really do what I set out to do. Doubt becomes the prevalent emotion in my life.

I generally pull myself out of these funks, but it was N.’s words that really resonated with me this time. Well, no, I haven’t given up! Why would I? Sure I’m behind on my goals, but there are reasonable goals. The time frame wasn’t right this time. Needing more time is not a bad thing; it’s definitely not the reason to give up.

I’ve decided to let up on setting time related goals. Somethings do need time frames, like my training for my July half-marathon. You can’t cram training into a month before a race. Well, I guess you could, but I’m not that crazy. So I am running three days a week and I start my formal training in a week.

I am determined to lose more weight this year, but I’m not going to put a deadline on it. I know what to do. I’ve been on this weight loss journey for almost five years now. One of the many lessons I’ve learned it that there will always be ups and downs. Both literally and figuratively. The scale is one of those literal ups and downs, but truth be said, I don’t need a scale to tell me about weight loss. I can feel it in my clothes, in my body, and in my head. Eating poorly and exercising less are a bad combination for me and I know it.

My other goal of finishing my first draft continues. Some days writing comes easy and other days it’s like pulling teeth without Novocaine. I was so focused on finishing the draft that I lost a bit of my motivation and my love of writing. So I’ve stepped back and started writing out-of-order when I’m stuck. Sometimes getting to the finish line means taking a meandering path. For someone like me who adores structure and order, this is a bit awkward. I’m learning it’s OK to do things differently than I have before. Shaking things up is working and I feel like my novel is back on track.

February plans are to keep exercising, eat healthy meals, and write whether it’s hard or easy. No time frames this time for me. I plan to focus on the process, not the end. There is joy in doing well and being happy, not just in finishing.

So back to my original answer, no I’m not giving up. Not now, not ever. I plan to keep trying as I continue my journey in 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…

Dress For Success: Warrior Clothing

 

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This view was my reward for running a mile this morning.  Putting on my “warrior clothes” and making the time to exercise is an important part of my continued success on my weight loss journey.  Keeping healthy physically and mentally should always be a priority!

As usual this morning, I came up with a ton of excuses not to run. You know, the usual list of chores like laundry, cleaning, paying bills, and putting the house back together after a busy week. There is always something, but today I ignored the list for a bit and put on my workout clothes. They’re also known as my warrior outfit. There is something about my sturdy black leggings, my “dri-fit” black running shirt covering my favorite industrial strength sports bra, and my Spanx-like underwear that makes me feel strong. Rounding out my outfit with my cheerful purple running shoes and comfy socks, I knew I was ready for my run.

There are all those annoyingly clichéd sayings like “dress for success” and “dress for the job you want”, but they are true. When I put on my running clothes I know I’ve made a commitment to exercising whether it’s for 20 minutes or an hour. Even if I’m feeling lumpy and bumpy, exhausted and stressed, I have made a promise that I will do something that’s good for me.

Today’s run was my only other one during this second week of school for my kids, so I felt a bit rusty. I started the run by going downhill and while in some ways that felt like cheating, it helped me get in the mood. New music from the Foo Fighters inspired me to pick up the pace as I reached the bottom of the hill.

When I was getting dressed this morning, I told myself I just had to go one mile. Whether it was the help of going downhill, the new music or my warrior outfit, I did it without stopping like I did this winter with my trainer. Since I’ve moved, I don’t have a trainer, but now that I’m working out again, I keep what she taught me in my head. Not only did she teach me proper running form, she gave me the confidence to trust my body.

I gaged a mile from house to be along the water and when I heard the mile marker ding of my running program, I saw the beautiful water in front of me. The peaceful Pacific Northwest scenery greeted me as I walked onto the shoreline and checked my watch. While it wasn’t my fastest mile, it was a mile and I was happy with that. Completing what I set out to do was enough reward; pace and distance will come back in time.

So as silly as it may sound, putting on my workout clothes got me going this morning. I ran a great mile and walked uphill another mile and I took in the comfortable Fall weather as well as the peaceful scenery of my new hometown. Starting out the day in such a positive way is just what I needed. It was a good reminder that I can fit in exercise no matter what I need to do that day. It’s OK for the dishes and laundry to get done later. It reminds me that part of my job is to keep myself healthy and sane. If I’m not healthy, both physically and mentally, I’m no good to myself or anyone else.

Whether it’s a 15 minute walk or miles of running, it’s important for me to prioritize physical fitness in my life. Time to put on my warrior clothes as much as possible so I can keep happy and healthy and continue to go Down the Scale…

A Quick 4 Year Update!

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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…

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…

Days Will Come and Go…Down the Scale…

As corny as this may sound, I am thankful to have my ever-supportive hubby by my side as I swing through my weight loss journey! Through the ups and downs, he is always by my side as I navigate my new life since my gastric sleeve surgery.

I think I’ve been pretty honest throughout the past four years of my gastric sleeve blog that I have control issues.  Obviously I do since I’ve had weight issues all my life. Weight gain isn’t necessarily all about control; for me it’s an emotional issue more than anything.  While I am doing better dealing with my emotions, this past weekend I was the poster child for epic meltdowns.  It wasn’t pretty and I’m fortunate that I’ve kept my family and friends who experienced it.  Now that I’m over it, I’m ready to tackle my control issues or rather learn to deal with what I can’t control.

First, let me say, I lead a charmed life.  When I share my “woe is me” and self-pity episodes, I’m pretty embarrassed.  I realize how fortunate I am to have a loving family, supportive friends, and the ability to lead the life I have.   When things go wrong though, I tend to forget all the good things in my life.  I focus on what’s going wrong or what I can’t have or what I can’t control.  Yes, my chest-heaving sobs and dark moods make me a lovely person to be with.

Finally, I pulled myself from this self-pity abyss and began to focus on the good in my life and the positive changes that are happening and will happen.  It seems pretty silly that I love change, but when I’m not in control of some changes, I, for a lack of better words, freak out.  It was when I was singing this verse from one of my favorite Foo Fighters song, “Saint Cecilia,” that I stopped to think how true this is for me:

“I know no matter what I say

Days will come and go

No matter what I say

Nothing’s set in stone

No matter what I say

Days go by”

What I mean by these lyrics is that I tend to think I can change things even when I can’t.  While my head understands there are things out of my control, I still want to control them.  But what I finally started to come to terms with this past week is that yes, “days will come and go, no matter what I say.”  Time is going to pass no matter what, so it’s up to me on how I live.  I can dwell on the negative or appreciate the positive.

No, I’m not saying I’m going to be Little Miss Sunshine all the time.  I don’t think that’s truly possible and I think it would be unbelievably stressful to try to be perky all the time.  But I know I’m happier and healthier when I focus on the positive and not the negative.  I’m a better wife, mother, friend, and human being when I focus on the good in my world.

If you’re wondering what this has to do with my weight loss journey, I’ll tell you that it has everything to do with it.  Mental health goes hand in hand with physical health.  My head tells me that I should control my weight if I can’t control other things, but for me it doesn’t work that way.  I let everything go when I feel out of control, especially eating.  Sugar made a comeback this weekend.  The instant gratification of sugar left so quickly and I still had my anger and sadness and now guilt was added to the list of negative feelings I felt.  

Now that I’m done “mourning” what I can’t control, I’m working very hard on remaining positive and thinking about what I can control, or at least, be happy about what is going right.  I’m taking charge of my goals and working toward them.  One of the ways I’m doing this is by communicating what I need from the people in my life.  No one can help you if you don’t tell people what you need.  So far, no one in my life is psychic, so I need to actually say the words and not assume or hope my needs and desires are understood.

I’m running more often and I feel better every time I do it.  My training sessions are very helpful and by adding more running to my week, I feel even more invigorated and happy.  Being exhausted after a workout helps me feel in control and I believe it relieves me of much of my anxiety and stress.

After my sugar binge this weekend, I’m back to eating mindfully and making better choices.  My elimination diet showed me that almonds aren’t good for me.  My doctor told me that people who are sensitive to almonds can experience more anxiety and after eating them twice, I found that to be true for me.  I know that eating healthier foods and avoiding foods like sugar and almonds which make me anxious and guilty, I am more in control of my body and mind.

 
So, here I go on my continuing journey trying to be the healthiest person I can be.  It’s not always pretty, but all in all, it’s a very good life that I have the privilege of leading.  I’m thankful I have the opportunity to make the changes I want to make, but more importantly I am thankful that I’m learning to handle the changes I can’t make.  Days will come and go and I plan to keep them going Down the Scale…

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!