Sunday, November 16, 2014

WW Week 2

I'm hanging in.

I've made it through two weeks of being back on program.  I continue to feel like this is one of the best things I could have done for myself.

I missed my yoga last weekend.  I'd like to blame that on out of town company, but that's really no excuse.  I could have done it on Sunday afternoon and I just didn't.  I didn't get much pipe practice in either this week - and it certainly showed in my lesson on Wednesday night  :-S

My steps were down a bit, and I didn't log as many Activity Points as I did the first week, but it's not often that I get a 15,000 step day in like I did in Week 1.

I had an "Aha" moment last weekend at my meeting that I have taken to heart this week.  Every week there is what I call - for lack of a better term - a Weekly Reader (remember those?!).  I used to get the meeting room weekly reader and look through it, read the exercise, look at the recipe, check out the tips, and then put it away - or toss it.  Last Saturday, a woman in my meeting said that she had really worked with the exercise and answered the questions - and from what I could tell, it pretty much informed her whole week and kept her on task.

Well, isn't that interesting?  She actually used one of the tools that WW gives us every week in the meeting room  . . .  I made a decision there and then that I was going to use every tool that WW gives me to be successful.  I'm not going to just read it, or think about it, I'm going to do/use/practice it.

So, yeah, I got cracking right away with the exercise in last week's weekly reader as soon as I got home from my meeting.  I actually wrote out my answers to the questions.  It was all about what my choice (lose or maintain) was going to be for the holiday season and how I was going to achieve it - and OMG we are IN the Holiday Season, my friends.  It's in full swing already.

And then, I happened to re-watch Dr. Brene Brown's two Oprah Master Class episodes last Sunday, and she said something that that really resonated with me and completely dovetailed with the choice I had made the day before.  She was talking about gratitude and how one had to make it a practice.  Not just thinking about it, but actually practicing it, meaning actually writing out the three (or however many you want) things you are grateful for every day/night, not just thinking about them.  Practicing in the truest sense of the word, which Webster's defines thus (as a noun):  "the actual application or use of an idea, belief, or method as opposed to theories about such application or use."

I'm actually using the tools I have from WW.

So, a wakeup call in the meeting room, and Brene Brown.  Hard to argue with either one. And BTW, if you have never seen her June 2010 TED talk called The Power of Vulnerability, click that link.  It takes about 20 minutes to watch.  It's life-altering.  I'm not kidding.

My friend, C, left on Sunday, and my friend, Linda the Chicken Lady, arrived on Wednesday with her dog, Hannah.  She's staying with me for a few weeks, and it's very nice to have her and Hannah Dog at the house.  Plus, she telecommutes pretty much all the time, which means she's home a lot.  She offered to cook dinners!!  And she's well aware of the journey I'm on, so she's totally down with weighing and measuring things for me so I can track points easily.  How awesome is that?!

Here's the Check In:

Weight:  -5.2
Daily Points:  34
Weekly Points:  49 (ate 47)
Activity Points:  Earned 11 (ate none)

Oh, and in case your wondering, my choice for the Holida Season was to continue losing. :-)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Open Your Hands . . .

A friend of mine unfriended me on Facebook sometime in the last couple of days.  It's not someone I am particularly close to any longer, but it was someone I have known for more than 35 years.  I guess this person didn't appreciate my positive focus and ability to disagree clearly but respectfully.

Truth be told, this person has always been an Eeyore kind of a person - a glass half empty kind of a person - a stick in the mud kind of a person - and a person who needs to be right at all costs.  So, really, no great loss.  I mean, who needs that, right?  Right?  And yet . . .

Did they not know that they could remain friends with me but "unfollow" me if they didn't want to read what I have to to say and share?  Did they know that my feelings would be hurt?  Did they care?  Or did they just say "cram it clownie" and walk away.  I'll probably never know, and really, it's that not knowing that's the hardest part.

Ah, closure.  Or in this case, no closure.  Yeah, not having that makes it kinda hard to let go of stuff.  And yet, we have to let go of stuff in order to be able to move forward - and there's the rub.  It's a life lesson that has presented itself to me over and over again, I mean, I've certainly written about this more than once here.  Here is what it boils down to:  I can sit and stew in my righteous anger and let everything else pass me by, or I can let go and keep moving forward.

Yeah - I can only stew for so long. So, I learned how to do it - I don't always do it brilliantly, and it's often a little messy. I don't always do it immediately, and sometimes (OK, a lot of times) I have to do it more than once (hey, practice makes perfect ;-) ).  But I learned how to keep moving forward.

I bet you want to know how.  :-)

I will tell you!

Many years ago at Fourth Presbyterian Church, where I used to sing in the Evening Choir, I heard a sermon.  There are a lot of ministers at that church because it's a really large congregation.  One was a woman.  Her name was Linda Loving (and isn't that just the best name ever for a minister?!  :-) ). The upshot of what she said, lo these many years ago, was that in order to move forward, we had to stop clutching at and holding on to the past - we had to open our hands and release what we were holding on to, so that our hands would be open and free to catch all the good stuff that was coming to us.  It was so powerful and so important for me at that time in my life that I have never, ever forgotten it.

Do this:  hold your hands out in front of you, palms up, and make tight fists.  Look at them.  Then release and open your hands.  Look at them again.  Really look at them.  I'm telling you - it's powerful.

When I pop up in my own mind's eye in a baseball hat and a mitt, I know there's something I need to release.  I'm wearing one of my baseball hats, and I have a catcher's mitt on, and there is amazing and wonderful stuff falling like snow from the sky.  Like little post-it notes fluttering down from on high.  But they aren't sticking to me, and I can't catch them because my hands are not open - they are filled with the past. All I have to do is open my mitt to release what I've been holding on to . . .

It's not always as easy, but it's always profound, and there is always a great sense of relief.  And along with the relief comes a feeling of joy, because now my hands are open and I'm free to decide which of those amazing things floating down from the sky to catch first.

Holding on to pain/grudges/anger/fear/loss/betrayal/control . . .  Wishing the other person would get their comeuppance . . . These things don't serve me, and even though I sometimes fantasize about said comeuppance (who doesn't?) or the perfect retort hours after the fact (why on earth am I so fricking slow on the uptake?!), I feel my feelings.  And when I've wallowed long enough, I put my baseball hat on . . . and open my hands. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

WW Week 1

It's been an interesting week.

One of my best friends told me that I seemed much happier almost immediately this week.  I guess I really do need structure to feel safe.  I know what I'm doing -  I can count the points.  Tracking has always been something that makes me feel safe somehow - like I'm following the rules, I guess  :-)  I do know that everything seems much easier somehow, and the fact that I'm not eating added sugar again for the most part means that almost nothing is hurting.  That's a great relief.

I did not do Simple Start, which is the new name for what was, essentially, what us old-timers called CORE.  WW is still stuck in the low-fat/non-fat dairy rut, and other than skim milk (which I might consider getting again because they don't count almond milk as a dairy), I'm not willing to eat such heavily processed stuff.  Also - many of the meals were poultry-based, which is a no-go for me at this time.  So, I dropped right back in to counting points, which gave me a framework.   It really made everything much easier.

I definitely upped my steps this week.  I've always striven for 10,000/day for at least five of the seven days, and I've logged more than 62,000 this week (I had one really high day of more than 15,000).

Oh, and I FINALLY did yoga last Sunday.  Probably not the kind of yoga you might do - it's a really great DVD from a woman named Peggy Cappy.  It's called Yoga for the Rest of Us.  I can actually do it (except for the major spine twists), and I like it a lot.  It's only a 1 Activity Point workout, and I actually feel like that's a little high because I'm not sweating at all, but it's still a little challenging for me. 

I'm entering my exercise manually into eTools.  I entered my two trainer workouts - I went low on the number of minutes and I always choose the "low" activity level.  I earned 2 activity points for each of them.  My old pedometer used to count total steps and active steps, and that's how I used to track for activity points - by active steps.  The Fitbit doesn't do that, though, so although I could link my Fitbit with the eTools tracker, I'm choosing not to. I'm using anything OVER 10,000 steps and counting only those over steps as active steps.  On the days I've gone over, it's been about 2,000 steps and I've never gotten more than 1 activity point (except for one day when it was 5,000 and I got 3 APs, but that's an anamoly :-) ), so that seems like a pretty safe bet.  Apparently most people tend to over-estimate their exercise.  I don't, so I don't think there is much chance of my earning too many APs. 

I experimented with some different foods this week - and can I just tell you that Campbell's hearty beef noodle soup is disgusting.  OMG.  Blech!  Ptui!  Really glad I bought only one can of it.  That was an eye opener for sure.  But, it's heavily processed, so I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised.  On the positive side, I'm enjoying English muffins with a little bit of butter, and a little more cheese each day than before.

I didn't have a lot of time to cook this week, and now the month of November is a bit wild, with assorted house guests all month long.  Still, I'm moving forward and looking at recipes and seeing what I think is possible for me to make.  As mentioned, I'm eating some things I wasn't allowed on The Strict Program for Three Months, and this, too, is making my life a LOT easier.

Happened to visit my asthma doc this week and my BP was 120/70, which although a little elevated (for me) on the top, is still pretty darn good.

I ate all my daily points and all my weekly points - I didn't think I would, but I did eat some snack type foods this week, so I will be more mindful of that in the coming weeks  :-)  I need to eat more fruit and vegetables.  This has always been a challenge for me.  I certainly ate more this week than at any time in the recent past, but I know I will do better if I can eat more of them on a daily basis.

Here's the check-in:

Weight:  -3
Daily Points:  34
Weekly Points:  49 (ate all)
Activity Points:  Earned 11 (ate 1)

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Weight Watcher Redux - It Begins . . . Again . . .

I went back to Weight Watchers yesterday.

I think that's going to be the opening line of my memoir.

Getting on the scale was not as hard as I thought it might be.  And the number could have been a lot worse. I'm a Lifetime Member (obviously not at goal).  I reached Lifetime in the late 1980s and I maintained for probably close to 5 years.  I was even a leader (a pretty popular one). I never really learned to maintain, however, and I've tried the program off and on since then, but continued to gain weight and yoyo up and down over the years.

I joined here in Chicagoland back in 2008.  It was in April, three days after my birthday and I was three pounds under my heaviest weight (that I knew of).  I spent a lot of time making excuses.  I only wanted to go to a Wednesday night meeting because I was trying to recreate my initial success where I went to a Wednesday evening meeting and started my food week on Thursdays.  Thursday - my favorite day of the week!  So, yeah, guess what, no Wednesday night 7:30 meeting in my area.  In fact, no evening meeting anywhere that I could get to because I don't even get off the train until around 6 p.m. 

There was a Wednesday noon meeting at the Holiday Inn, just across the river, next to the Merchandise Mart.  Very close to my office.  I went.  The leader was great! I did well for awhile and lost about 55 pounds - and then WW closed my meeting.  I tried going to another office building location and it was OK for awhile - and then that leader (who was also great), left.  I was forced to go to the center in the Loop - a good hike from my office.  The leader was OK - a guy who, you guessed it, left (to pursue his career in theatre).  A new woman took over the meeting - and she had the most horrible voice . . . I realize that sounds petty, but listening to her was like listening to my high school English teacher's clipped, nasal, old-lady voice.  Needless to say, that didn't last very long.

I tried again a few years ago, and was doing pretty well.  I found "my" leader from my original meeting.  I remembered that she said she lived in my general area.  She has the Saturday morning meetings an the center in Orland Park.  Her name is Celia.  She's listed on the WW website, so I think it's OK to share her name here.  I didn't have my heart in the right place for some reason, and then when the dietitian put me on The Strict Program For Three Months she suggested that I stop counting points.  And really, things were going so well with that, that I finally cancelled my monthly pass and went free fall without a net.  And I did great.  I really did.

Until I didn't any more.

And so, here I am.  Again.  And yet - somehow, it's OK.  WW eTools still had my info from my start in 2008, so I'm 18 pounds less than that number (glad about that) and I still have access to all the recipes and data I entered.  I'm going to stop fighting with WW's not-always-great technology and do the best I can.  Switching my food week from Thursday-Wednesday to Saturday-Friday.  No excuses this time.  I'm doing what I can to set myself up for success:
  • Meeting:  Saturday morning meeting.  Early, baby!  7:00 a.m. 
  • Tracking:  eTools. It was difficult to get my existing account relinked to eTools, but thanks to an awesome staffer at the Homewood location, I'm good to go. I'm switching my food week to start on Saturday to match with my meeting.
  • Excercise:  I'm keeping my Fitbit and letting MyFitnessPal go because I don't need another place to track and I wasn't on MFP much anyway.  I understand that Fitbit now links to WW eTools, but after my disastrous go round with ActiveLink, I'm not going to go that route.  I'll track my exercise manually.  I'm like the only person in the world who doesn't over estimate her exercise  :-D  I'm changing my Fitbit week to begin on Sunday - that's as close to Saturday as I can get.  Oh well.  Not something I have any control over - it's a limitation of the Fitbit software.  Still meeting twice a week with my personal trainer.
  • Other Tools: re-downloaded the WW apps for both Apple and Android.  Oh - there's also a Kitchen Companion app for Apple.  I bought a couple of new WW cookbooks for quick meals, and also some vegetarian meals and I have to say that they look better than some of the older cookbooks that I had.
And so it goes.  I'll be checking in every week to chronicle my progress.  Wish me luck  :-)

Once More, With Feeling . . .

It's November.  October is gone.

I've spent the past couple of weeks attempting to figure things out for myself.  Truth be told, I do this a lot.  I always have.

Spring Forward - Fall Back.  I like it when Standard time returns in the fall, and I wish it did it sooner like it used to.  But it happens now in November.  Today. So the clock says a quarter to eight, when it's really now a quarter to seven.

It's kind of like a do-over.

I went back to Weight Watchers yesterday.  I'm a Lifetime Member not at goal.  I know this program works - when I work the program.  When I start to get off on "customizing" stuff, that's when I get in trouble.  And so, since I find myself - once again - in a place of beginning, I figured I might as well begin again with something I know is going to work.

Alrighty then.

I'm going to a meeting early on Saturday morning a couple of towns over.  I'm not attempting to hide from anyone and there is a center much closer to me, but the leader I started with downtown back when I could run across the river to the Holiday Inn at lunchtime on Wednesdays (that meeting's been gone for a very long time . . . ) has the Saturday morning meetings at this center.  

I did Weight Watchers back in the 80s.  I was very successful with it, and I lost 50 pounds.  I became a leader. A very successful one.  My meetings were extremely well attended.  It was a great part-time job and it helped to keep me focused - and very close to my goal weight. 

I never really learned Maintenance, however, nor got it through my head that I could not go backwards with what I was eating, and that has been the crux of my continued struggle for the past 30 years in one form or another.

So this is the path I've chosen - and I'm going to chronicle it here as I do with many things.  On Ravelry there is a Weight Watchers board.  It's a bit quiet now, but years ago there seemed to be a preponderance of people asking for information that the rest of us were paying for by attending meetings, which I found supremely irritating.  There was also a very vocal group of whiners with countless excuses.  But there was one member who chose that board to chronicle her journey.

Every week she posted an update for many, many weeks.  I found them uplifting and very honest.  She is still there off and on.  She has not made it to goal (although she's dropped about 120 pounds), but still keeps going.  I admire that, and because I did find her updates so helpful at that point in my own journey, I'm going to do something similar here in the hope that it will help me, and maybe help someone else in the process.  You know what they say - imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  :-)

So, there will be a weekly update post here, on Saturday or Sunday.

I'll leave you with this - as I do most years around this time.  Pardon me while I go and change the clocks to start my do-over . . .


Saturday, October 18, 2014

It's All About the Balance . . .

I've been thinking about my own mortality lately.  I know, sounds morbid.  And yet . . .  there it is.  I'm closer to 60 than I am to 50, and I think that now is when the chickens of one's misspent youth might start to come home to roost.  Granted, I don't have that many, but . . .

About a month ago.  I came in to the office to find that everyone had gotten an email advising that a work colleague had passed away the night before.  She went to bed and didn't wake up.  She was 10 months older than I am.

Last week, my cousin's daughter (also my cousin :-D) had a beautiful baby girl.  I knit a bunch of stuff for her.  I even crocheted stuff for her (not my fiber art of choice).  And I realized that then when she is out of college, I will be an octogenarian.

Four days later, my cousins' dad passed away at the age of 78.  Not unexpected as he was in ill health and on hospice care, but sad nonetheless.

These things happen.  I mean death is a part of life - cue the Disney music.  But the death of my work colleague was sobering - someone I knew, and she was only a few months older than I am, and as far any anyone knew, there was nothing wrong with her.

My 40th high school reunion was about a month ago, and, as you can read below, I didn't go.  One of the few people I remain in touch with from those days did, however.  And she said that all the men looked frighteningly old.  Many of the woman did too, and of course there were those who were massively tan and had had far too much plastic surgery, but it was mainly the men who looked the worse for 40 years of wear.

And this week, one of my best friends has learned that the "heart palpitations" she has had off and on for a number of years have moved on to atrial fibrillation (the precursor to my mom's death).  

And so I've been thinking a lot about life - and death - and a really lot about my health.  Which, if you read this blog regularly generally always includes concern over the size of my ass, which is again looking kind of like Kansas, I'm afraid.

But you were eating so healthily last year, A.  Yeah, I was - but the draconian plan I was following (The Strict Program for Three Months) proved to not be sustainable over the long haul, and the dietitian left the practice before I could meet with her again and work on making the initial program livable for me.  Excuses.  I know.  My pipe teacher hates when I say "I know."  And yet, I do know.  These missteps and choices were my own and have brought me here - and so I have to learn - again - to get smaller and - hopefully this time stay smaller.  For as many times as my weight has gone down, it has always gone back up.  I know how to get smaller, but I haven't learned yet how to stay smaller.

Other than my lifelong struggle with the size of my ass, I've never had anything really wrong with me until all this inflammation crap started a few years ago - then early last year a minor cholesterol issue, which was corrected by diet and exercise (that would be the Strict Program for Three Months).  I have no idea what my cholesterol numbers are like at the moment and I don't want to know.  I did check my BP, though, as I used to do regularly. 

My mom developed high blood pressure in her 50s - after a life of low blood pressure (like me).  After my recent weight gain (yeah, it's bothersome . . . ) I've taken my BP at the Jewel a couple of times and not been happy with what I saw there.  I know that in my case, those machines are generally substantially higher than when a person takes my BP, but I'm looking at it as an early warning system.

I did contact my doctor about all of this - and I gotta say, I wasn't too happy with his response (or should I say lack of response), and I realized that I know what to do, I just have to do it.  Again.  And so, once more, it's all about the balance . . .

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

40 Years . . .

My 40 year high school reunion is in two weeks. There will be a gathering.  It's highly unlikely that I will attend.  High school . . .   I would not go back to that time for all the tea in China.

I made it through all four years, and I was a good student.  I sang all four years and got into the Concert Choir when I was still a Junior.  I solo'd in the V-Show (annual variety show) Junior and Senior years. I learned to speak French.  And I got to study photography Senior year - I entered two of my photos in a local show, and they were both accepted, winning a third place and an honorable mention (pretty thrilling back in the day - and no one else got two photos in the show  :-) ).  I had one date in high school, so not a popular girl. I never went to a dance or a prom.

When I say I made it through all four years, I mean that I was able to go to the same school.  We moved often as I was growing up.  We even moved once during high school, but it was only a block away, so I stayed in the same school district.

I was bullied in both junior high and high school.  We didn't call it bullying back then - bullies were big cowardly guys who used their fists.  No, it was more being made fun of.  So easy to do to the homely new girl who wore glasses and was not stick insect thin.  I wasn't a jock, I wasn't a nerd, I wasn't a greaser, I wasn't a stoner - I didn't have a clique to fit in with.  I was just an average kid - but a new kid.  I cannot imagine being in high school now - it was hard enough back in the 70s without texting or FaceBook.

The school I went to was huge - there were more than 1,000 people in my graduating class.  I didn't know most of them.  Most of the friends I made were through music, and through the youth group at church.  However, I had very little in common with most of the kids I went to school with, and most of their friendships had been forged in elementary school - kids who had known each other pretty much all their lives.  I think it's pretty telling that I have only one friend from those days with whom I remain in touch.  We are actually very dear friends and it is nice to have a friend who has known me for so long.

My mom was a single parent, and she worked.  This was not common in the affluent suburb in which we lived - where she had moved so I could go to a great school.  I had wanted to be in the annual school musical every year, but I never got in (and one year the school choir director told me not to bother because I was "too fat" for the bare midriff costumes)  - it was also very, very political, and the choir director at church (who was in the know about these things) told my mom that I never would be in the musical because my mom was not wealthy.  So, I had to be content with solos in the V-show.  I liked V-Show.  A lot.  :-)  The Thespian Society did a short play every year, and my Senior year they did Winnie the Pooh - it was presented at local grade schools.  I was Pooh.  That's the closest I ever got to any theater before I majored in it in college.

All told, high school is not something I have any interest in revisiting - no glory days on the athletic field, no wondering about old boyfriends.  I've never gone to a reunion.  I do like seeing photos, though - I confess that I take guilty pleasure in seeing how some of the classmates I recognize have aged . . . most of them didn't get the memo about good sunscreen and a hat  ;-)  Interestingly enough, I got the worst sunburn of my life on a youth group visit to the Michigan Dunes.  It was the 70s.  We were all trying to get tan.  Never mind that I was NEVER going to get tan.  Baby oil was the tanning accelerant of choice back then . . . my friends put a peace sign on my stomach with sunscreen . . . not only did I have second degree burns (with the blisters) over my entire body, I had a white peace sign for a really long time . . .  I'm lucky my face didn't scar.  My entire body peeled - I'm actually surprised I didn't have to go to the hospital.  I did have to spend the rest of the summer in jeans and long sleeved clothing, because just being in sunlight was painful - through my clothes.  I'm sure that little event will come home to roost at some point at a dermatologist visit, but I digress.

There is a small gathering of theatre people the same night as the reunion, in the same location.  I have been personally invited to that, and there is a part of me that is considering going.  But I probably won't.  A combination of wishing I looked better than I do (common, I believe  ;-) ) and the anxiousness of revisiting a time in my life that was supremely difficult. We'll see . . .

In a year that produced some truly awful music ("You're Having My Baby," by Paul Anka.  I rest my case.), 1974 gave us what is probably of my all-time favorites:


Enjoy.  And get up and dance, will you? :-)