Tag Archives: Stress

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.

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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…

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…

Keeping Positive…Even in the Rain….and Through the Stress….

Five years and counting! I'm proud that since 2012, even before my gastric sleeve surgery, I've run a Thanksgiving race. Running keeps me going Down the Scale!

Five years and counting! I’m proud that since 2012, even before my gastric sleeve surgery, I’ve run a Thanksgiving race. Running keeps me going Down the Scale!

2016 is the year of change for me in many ways. I shared in my last blog  that we moved from California to Washington last month. I realized that running would keep me centered and help me feel at home in my new surroundings. I was sure that running my annual Turkey Trot race would help. Did it? Well, at times it did, and in times it made me more stressed about our move. Here’s what happened…

First, let me share that since 2012 I’ve run a Thanksgiving day race with my personal cheerleader, N. Not only did she get me to start running, but she has been with me at every Turkey Trot. She is always there at the finish line to snap a photo and congratulate me and go for coffee afterward. This would be the first year without her and I started to miss her from the day I signed up for a race here.

But I did sign up for a race! My two children decided to join me and I was thrilled. While this wouldn’t be the fun race through Golden Gate Park that I usually run, it would be exciting to race in a new place. The kids thought so, too….until the day before.

I never want to force my kids to do anything, so when they said they didn’t want to run, I tried to hold back my disappointment. OK, let me be honest, if I run by myself, I feel the need to push myself on time. I really wanted to make this run about family and not about the pace. Yes, I realize this is a silly notion that I am putting on myself. I’ve never claimed to have a sane mind, have I?

My son rallied the next morning and decided to join me! I was thrilled and quite impressed since it was raining. Oh, I don’t mind a sprinkle, but this was an official Washington downpour. We managed to keep positive and drive to the running store where the race was to begin and end.

My hope for this race was that we would meet some new friends. Well, this didn’t happen although everyone was friendly and chatty throughout the race. Since I was the only person wearing a turkey headband, or for that matter, anything turkey related, it was easy to start a conversation with us. Although we didn’t make new friends, we enjoyed the camaraderie that races have. I find that there’s always a positive energy at races.

We needed this positive energy as we ran the 5K through rain-soaked trails and unfamiliar neighborhoods. It was my son’s energy that kept me going and helped me forget this was a completely new course and that it was freezing cold! I think I learned just about everything there is to know about the current video games he plays, but we also talked about the changes we are facing in this move. While I always try to remain optimistic, I have to admit it’s always tough to move, even when it’s a positive change. I am thankful that Jack and I not only shared the run, but how we feel through this stressful time. He usually doesn’t run with me, but for this race he did and I was most thankful for it.

Running with my son is one of my greatest joys! He keeps me motivated and inspired! And up to date on all the latest video games during our runs.

Running with my son is one of my greatest joys! He keeps me motivated and inspired! And up to date on all the latest video games during our runs.

Well, he ran with me until the last quarter-mile and then he sprinted down the road to the finish. I didn’t mind as I was happy to see his face when I crossed the finish line. I missed my friend, N., but I was appreciative that Jack shared the moment with me. And he shared a trip to Starbucks with me, too, after the race. Coffee after a turkey trot is my tradition and I will keep to it, no matter where I am!

Running my 2016 Turkey Trot Race was tough physically and mentally, but I am thankful that I did it. It was a good reflection of the day-to-day struggles that I face during this stressful transition. More importantly, it was a good reminder that even when life is tough, or in this case cold and rainy, that there are positive things going on as well. Spending a day with my son and completing another 5K race are pretty special and I look forward to doing them again at next year’s Turkey Trot. While I know there are more stressful and difficult times ahead, I will keep looking for the positive as I continue to learn and grow during this transition and as I continue to go Down the Scale…

Finding the Familiar in the New

Jen First Lake Run

Here I am on my first run in my new hometown! I am very lucky to have a running trail around a beautiful lake by my home! No excuses not to run now!

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve posted here at Down the Scale. Honestly, I have a good reason! We moved from California to Washington! We’ve gone from noisy city living to the quiet wooded suburbs. It’s a big change for the entire family. New schools for the kids. New job for the hubby. New everything for me. Well, today I found one familiar thing in my new life…running.

Yes, I finally went out for a run this morning. Well, more like a walk/jog/run. It was slow and I’d like to blame my pace on the incredible new scenery, but in fact, it’s the first run I’ve done in a month. Yes, a month. Forgive me fellow runners, for I have sinned. Yes, I let my running slide in the midst of our move.

Actually, it was easy to let everything slide during this move. Bad eating habits and little sleep become the norm during the past month. While it’s fun to have treats and drink sugared coffee drinks at times, after a while it becomes old. I never thought I would believe that, but when I think about how my body felt over the past month, I know it’s not the comfortable me. It reminds me of the old me who didn’t know how important and rewarding that eating well could be.

It felt great to put my running shoes on once again! Keeping healthy, no matter what the circumstances, is so important!

It felt great to put my running shoes on once again! Keeping healthy, no matter what the circumstances, is so important!

So today’s run was slow and involved more huffing and puffing than I’d care to admit, but it still felt good. Being outdoors, especially in a new and beautiful setting, was just what my body and soul needed. It took me away from the boxes, the struggles of new schools and routines and reminded me to take care of myself. Just 30 minutes of exercise helped me to clear my lungs, but more importantly my head.

Oh, the boxes and stress and worry of the move will be here for a bit, but I’ll get through it. I’ve moved many times before, but this time I have more “tools” to deal with it. Since having my gastric sleeve surgery, I’ve learned to take on new challenges with the strength, courage, and determination that I now know that I have as I go back Down the Scale…

Let’s Get Uncomfortable

“You’ve become comfortable.”

Those important and truthful words were simply stated last week by my friend, N. She is one of my strongest supporters since I began my weight loss journey. She is also my most honest friend. She is brave enough to speak the truth even when I don’t want to hear it. That is the sign of a true friend.

“You’re right.”

Most people would consider this a "before and after" photo, but I like to think of it as a "before and my current state" photo. My weight loss journey continues to evolve as I strive to be the healthiest person I can be!

Most people would consider this a “before and after” photo, but I like to think of it as a “before and my current state” photo. My weight loss journey continues to evolve as I strive to be the healthiest person I can be!

That was my immediate response to N. When you speak without thinking, without filtering your spoken words, you know you’re sharing your truth.

Why did I agree I’ve become comfortable? Because I feel stagnant in my journey to become a healthy person. No, it’s not just about losing weight; it’s about physical and mental progress. For me, becoming comfortable can lead to falling, even jumping, backward. This is not what I want.

I’ve become complacent in terms of my physical health. The weight I gained over this past year is still here. I am used to it. And if I felt like this was where I wanted to be, that would be OK, but I don’t. I don’t like my tight jeans. I don’t like the new extra jiggle in my arms. When I’m honest with myself, I am not happy with my body now.

I’ve also eased off on my physical fitness. Having run my first half-marathon in May, I should set a new goal. I like having goals. I unabashedly admit I like to check off boxes on my own to-do list. I like something to focus on down the road. I’ve become too comfortable with running two to three miles twice a week and one spin class. While it’s great that I do have an exercise routine, I’ve been comfortable just keeping the same pace and exertion.

The biggest area I’ve become comfortable with is eating. Yes, my gastric sleeve stomach keeps me from overeating, but I admit I have been snacking more. The protein bars I claim to buy for meals have turned into candy bar snacks. It’s easy to slip back into poor eating habits. “I’ll starting eating less and drinking more water” is my new Sunday night mantra.

Now that I’m being honest with myself, what do I do next? Staying comfortable is not an option. I need to push myself to get over this plateau and stop the backward sliding into poor habits. I want to get to the next level of mental and physical fitness. This means being uncomfortable. It doesn’t mean forgetting where I’ve come from, though.  This just means reminding myself of the success I’ve achieved. I’ve come along way, baby! I’m maintaining a huge weight loss, exercising regularly, and, for the most part, eating healthier. Yes, I am proud of where I am, but I know I can do better. I can be better.

And this is what I’m going to do to get to the next level of health: I’m going to get uncomfortable:

*It’s time to weigh myself weekly. While I’m a firm believer that the scale isn’t the end all, be all of fitness, it does give me a tangible indicator of where my health is going. My blog isn’t called “Down the Scale” for nothing!

*Crank up the physical intensity. I already started last week at spin class by turning up the resistance on my bike. I ran faster and longer on this morning’s run. Sure, I was tired after each outing, but my head and body felt better. Pushing through the initial pain made me improve. I still need to come up with a tangible goal like last year’s half-marathon, but starting to challenge myself in my every day life is a good start!

*Back to eating mindfully. Snacking, for me, is a mindless activity. Snacking, even if it’s healthy food, is mostly done without thought. I do it for the instant gratification or to help ignore stress, pain or depression. I promise to take the time to think about why I’m eating. I know this will be the most uncomfortable step in my continuing journey. It’s easier to ignore my feelings by eating. That is my lifelong struggle.

When I began sharing my experiences, I thought I would have a definite before and after photo and story. Yes, I have before photos, but the after photos and stories are just landmarks on my personal map. Sometimes these landmarks are strong and majestic, but some times they are more weak and ugly. And by ugly I mean negative, unhappy and dull. They are not the places you want to stop at when looking at a map, but I’ve learned I can get through those places.

When I am complacent in taking care of my body, mind, and soul, I slide back into bad habits and negative thinking. It’s easy to be comfortable in the dark. Pushing out of the dark and into the light is hard, sometimes frightening and it is definitely not a straight line type of journey. For me, stepping forward after going backward is always worth it. Being truthful is hard! Here I go being honest as I seek out new, positive landmarks on my journey Down the Scale….

Tangible Versus Intangible: Thank Goodness for Both

Today my ever-supportive husband hung up the wonderful running bib and medal holder he made for me. Since I started running in 2012, my bibs and medals have been scattered around the house. It was wrong to treat them as knick knacks because they aren’t just meaningless objects. The awards from the races are tangible rewards of my heathy lifestyle that I started with my gastric sleeve surgery and continue to strive for each and every day.

"I Did It!" Why, yes, I did run all these races featured on my new display. It still amazes me that running is part of my life. From obese to a runner...my Down the Scale journey makes me so happy!

“I Did It!” Why, yes, I did run all these races featured on my new display. It still amazes me that running is part of my life. From obese to a runner…my Down the Scale journey makes me so happy!

Since I’ve become the healthier version of myself over the years, I’ve realized I have many tangible results. Obviously I look different. I’m in better shape and happier than I was before I took charge of my body and mind. Photos from the past compared to the present show the obvious difference. Smaller sized clothes, a collection of race t-shirts, and a closet of running shoes and accessories also prove my new lifestyle is a reality.

The way I live my life is more tangible proof that I’ve changed for the better over the years. While I’m still battling some weight gain this year, I am healthier according to my scale and by my blood work. My normal blood pressure and “regular” sized clothes are part of my life now. Now that walking and running are part of my life, I can see how sedentary I was before I made the decision to change my lifestyle.

So what are the intangible results of living healthier? In some ways, the way my life has improved since my surgery is hard to quantify. Everyone can see results through numbers and pictures, but I think the “hidden” improvements are the best. My improved disposition is measurable proof that a healthy lifestyle does make a difference. Trust me, I’m not overly perky or positive, but I don’t think I’m Debbie Downer either. And of course, I still battle stress and depression, but I know that I handle it better than before. When I face difficult challenges, both physically and mentally, I know I will get through them. My weight loss story shows me every day that I can tackle what life hands me!

My new race display perfectly represents my journey. It shows my successes in a tangible way, but when I look at it, I see more than medals and finishing times. I see that I take on challenges and that I finish them. Some races were easy and some were hard, but I didn’t shy away from a difficult test of my physical and mental abilities. My race display encourages me to keep working toward new running goals and to keep trying new races. While the board shows the tangible results of running, in my heart I know it’s also proof that all the intangible results of my hard work are there too. Here’s to adding more medals and positive changes to my Down the Scale journey…