Friday, March 19, 2010

You Mean I Have To Exercise Too?

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I really don’t think of exercise as a four-letter word.  There was a time when I actually enjoyed exercising.  I used to work out faithfully five days a week.  I was there so much everybody on staff knew me by name.  But then a husband and three kids came into the picture, and I had less time to go to the gym.  No, I most certainly don’t blame them for my little sabbatical from exercise (I’m the only one who can take credit for that), but let’s face it, there is less free time for things like exercise when trying to raise a young family.

Fast forward 13 years and here I am at my heaviest and more out of shape than I have ever been.  How did climbing a flight of stairs become such a monumental feat?  You know it’s bad when the laundry doesn’t get put away because just the thought of climbing the stairs carrying a full laundry basket wears you out.  That’s pretty much where I’ve been for far too long.  I’m so out of shape that housework has become 10 times the chore that it should be.  So I’ve decided enough is enough.  Along with taking care of myself nutrionally, I’m also going to start taking care of myself physically.

So what to do…how to move that body.  I’ve tried a few things along the way.  It’s not easy finding the right exercise when you are this overweight, especially when you think you can just jump right back in where you left off all those years ago.  I decided that the stationary bike would be the best for me so off to K-Mart we went to buy a recumbent stationary bike.  That was the first step…buying the bike.  Then came that terribly difficult second step…getting on the bike and actually making the pedals move.  It’s not as easy as it sounds (it really isn’t).

I started out with the best of intentions and great excitement about getting physically fit.  I eagerly jumped on the bike ready to pedal myself to skinniness.  That part went very smoothly.  It was the pedaling that I had trouble with.  You see, in addition to being out of shape, I know I’ve mentioned this before…I’m FAT.  It’s not so easy to pedal a recumbent bike when you’re fat.  Let’s face it, fat people carry A LOT of fat in their stomach area--it’s a well-known fact.  Adding to the size of my stomach is an umbilical hernia that I got after my first child was born.  Every time I turned those pedals, my thighs punched me in the stomach…not a pleasant feeling at all.  Needless to say, stationary cycling didn’t last very long.  Like many pieces of home exercise equipment, it has just become another piece of furniture taking up way too much space.

Next I tried a dance exercise video, Dancing With The Stars Cardio Dance to be specific.  What was I thinking?  Just watching it made me EXHAUSTED.  I never got past watching watching all those skinny girls moving their perfect little bodies effortlessly to the music.  No, cardio dancing was definitely not for me.  I have to keep reminding myself that I’m about twice the age I was the last time I did any real exercise at all, but I wanted to hit the exercise thing head on, start seeing those results ASAP.  I’m not exactly the most patient person.  Okay, so on to the next thing…

I finally had to realize and accept that this was going to take a while.  You don’t just exercise one day and instantly get back into shape, and no matter how hard you try, you cannot exercise like you’re training for a marathon when you are in your 40s and 100+ pounds overweight.  So I told myself, slow and steady.  Walking…that shouldn’t be too hard.  In fact, it should be easy, right?  People walk during part of every day of their lives.  And yes, it is the best way to start out for someone like me, but hat doesn’t mean that it’s easy because it most definitely is not.

The first time I walked, I started out with lots of energy, thinking I could walk the whole neighborhood in no time at all (it’s very big, by the way).  It turns out I could only make it around my block, about 6/10 of a mile.  My legs were as wiggly as a piece of over-cooked spaghetti by the time I got home…not too depressing, right?  But hey, I got out there and did it!  I was very proud of myself.  It may be 6/10 of a mile now, but some day it will be 2, 3, 4, 5, miles…who knows how far I’ll go or what other things I might try because I finally got off my duff and started moving.

I had finally accepted it.  I had finally let it sink in.  It’s not going to happen overnight.  I just have to get up and get out there and do my best every time.  And I have realized that the more I do walk, the more energy I have, and soon those stairs won’t be the difficult mountain to climb that they are today.  Soon I’ll be out there running around with my kids, riding bikes with them and taking them skating and skiing and doing all kinds of fun things with them.  And I can’t wait…remember patience doesn’t come easy to me.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Another Saturday....Another Weigh-In

I stepped on the scale this morning and was very pleased to see that I am down two more pounds.  This brings the grand total so far to 7 pounds after three weeks.  I am very happy with a two-pound loss.  Last week I got on the scale to find that I'd only lost a pound.  Funny how I say ONLY, but I have to say I was just a little bit disappointed.  I'm still waiting for that week that I drop 4, 5, 6 pounds.  I know...unlikely, and when it does happen it is quite rare.  After about 30 seconds of self pity, I reminded myself that one pound off is better than one pound or possibly even more on, and if I wasn't dieting, I'm pretty sure it would have been a weight gain.  Although, I wouldn't know it because before I started eating healthier, I avoided the scale like the plague.

So I start another week, two pounds thinner and very enthusiastic about my new lifestyle.  I'm already  feeling so much better about myself, and it's only going to get better from here!

Until next time...

Uh-Oh…I Have Book Club Tonight

I can’t tell you how many times I have started a diet only to have some kind of party or event, usually involving food, come up.  Like my previous post about waiting until Monday to start my diet so I can live it up on the weekend, I have many times told myself I will start my diet after (fill in the blank here).  The only problem with this is there is ALWAYS something coming up so there NEVER is the perfect week or day to begin a diet.  I have already been tested with a birthday party brunch, a pizza party and a couple of crazy, busy weeks where I so desperately wanted to just order pizzas for dinner and call it a day.  I am proud to say that I passed all of these tests and feel that I am a much stronger dieter for it.

There is, however, one monthly event that I really struggle with…book club.  Some of the girls in the neighborhood started a book club a few years back.  As mothers of young children, we were all desperate to read something with more substance than “see spot run,” and, of course, there was the social aspect of it as well.  I have to admit…I live for book club.  It is the one night a month that I know I will be able to go out ALONE and socialize with all of my friends.  We have such a great time together.  We talk about what’s going on in each other’s lives, in the neighborhood and in the community, and we even get around to talking about the book too (most of the time).  And there’s one other thing we do… we EAT!

Now, I’m not talking about a fruit platter and veggies with low-fat dip…I’m talking about REAL snack food…things like creamy dips, hot chili-cheese dip, buffalo chicken dip, egg rolls, and all kinds of sweet treats as well.  The sweets don’t tempt me very often, but in case you haven’t realized it yet, my favorite food group is JUNK food, appetizer-type food in particular.  And, of course, being the total foodaholic that I am, once I take one bite, it is all over for me.  I just keep eating and eating and eating until nothing more will fit in my stomach, and believe me, that’s a lot of eating!

This has really, truly been an ongoing struggle for me since book club started.  It combines two of the things that I enjoy most, socializing and eating…oh, yeah, and reading (it is a book club after all).  My strategy in the past has always been to skip dinner and then just help myself to whatever I want.  It makes perfect sense, right?  WRONG. So many of the magazine articles and books that I've read all say just the opposite.  When you are going to a party where there will be unhealthy food served, eat something healthy and filling at home so you are satisfied when you arrive…that way you won’t be as tempted to eat all that unhealthy (but insanely delicious) food.  My reaction was always the same…Oh, please!!  It makes so much MORE sense to starve yourself before you go.  Then you can eat whatever you want and not worry about the calories adding up.  It’s a win-win situation.  Well, apparently it’s not because all I’ve ever done is make myself so hungry that I can’t stop eating or gaining weight.  It seems all those books and magazines actually made a good point.

So I decided to take a little different strategy.  I knew that there was NO WAY I was going to be there all evening and not be able to eat anything--even if I did eat dinner first (which I did, by the way).  Now, these girls are very good friends of mine and know what I’m going through, and they have been nothing but supportive.  It was because of this that I felt perfectly comfortable bringing my own snacks, and you know what, it worked out perfectly.  I popped up some popcorn to take care of the crunchy, munchy, salty craving, and I brought along a Jell-O Chocolate Mousse (which is fabulous and only 60 calories, by the way) to take care of any sweet craving that I might have.  It worked out great!  In fact, I actually came home with leftover popcorn, and I didn’t even eat the mousse.  I think just knowing that I COULD eat something while I was there made me feel at ease.  It was like my own little food security blanket.

Now, I know this strategy doesn’t work in all social situations, but it did help me to realize that with a little creativity I could get to have my evening out and get through it without whipping myself up into a feeding frenzy.  Each time I am successful in this type of situation, it gives me the strength and confidence to get through other situations that will surely arise.  And who knows, maybe the day will come where I won’t even be tempted by that spread of food.  Maybe?  Hopefully?  I’ll keep you posted on that one!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I Want To Lose Weight For…Fill In The Blank Here

As I look back on all the times that I have started a diet (too many to count, really), I have to say that there have only been two times that I have had any success.  Most of the time that I began a diet it was because there was some person or big event in my life that I just had to look perfect for.  Can you say “pressure”?  Why on earth did I do that to myself over and over again? 

And this started as early as high school.  There was one time that I was just madly in love with a guy, and being 15 and in love I did the only thing I could do…I made a pact with God.  “Make this guy love me back and I will never eat another piece of junk food again.”  Now, remember, I was 15 and IN LOVE.  I was DESPERATE!  So the diet began, and I was skyrocketing towards skinniness.  He and his friends were actually starting to notice me!  WOW!  This deal I made was actually working.  Until…he broke my heart.  He may have been noticing me, but he was also noticing another girl too.  And she won his heart.  What did I win?  All the junk food I could eat, and boy did I eat.  I had to console myself somehow, right?

Now, you’d think that as I got older I would realize that losing weight for someone else or for a special occasion was not the smartest way to do it, right?  WRONG.  I did this time and time again, most recently for my brother’s wedding.  I had good reason to try to lose half a ton before their big day.  He and his wife had asked me to do a reading (yes, in front of the whole church!), and, of course, there were going to be more photos taken than anyone could possibly count.  I had to look my best, right?  Again, can you say “pressure”?  Needless to say, there was too much pressure and not enough motivation, and by the time the wedding rolled around I was just as fat as I was when they got engaged. 

I did my best to make myself look “pretty” for all of the wedding events of that weekend, and I had more fun than I had had in a very long time--all the while hating myself for not looking “perfect.”  When the pictures started being passed around weeks later, it made me sick to see myself in them.  How could I have done that to myself and to them?   And when I saw their professional photos, the first thing I thought was I should apologize to them for the way I looked.  I felt like I had ruined any pictures that had me in them.  I don’t even have to tell you how I made myself feel better about it, do I?

Now, I did mention that I had had a couple of successes in all of my attempts at losing weight.  The two times that I remember were when I just decided, okay, it’s time to take care of me, time to be selfish and focus on being good to myself.  I got tired of trying to lose weight in order to make other people happy.  And you know what?  That’s all it takes.  I have heard over and over again from the “experts” that you have to want to lose the weight for yourself.  And I resisted that over and over again.  What did they know?  They’re not fat!  But you know what?  They were right.  You have to decide that you love yourself enough to fight for your health. 

But the one key thing to losing the weight out of self love is to keep loving yourself.  Notice I said I had two successful weight losses when I followed this “self love” philosophy.  What happened after I lost the weight each of those times?  Something sad or stressful happened in my life to make me forget to love myself, and I turned to food for comfort.  DAMN YOU, chips and pizza and Big Macs!!  Why do you have to taste so good?!

So now I make this deal with myself, not for a guy (I already have great one) and not for some special event or occasion, but for myself.  I promise to always love myself enough to want to be healthy and to take care of me.  I know that if I keep reminding myself that I am worth it, I can have success for once and for all.  Look out me, here I come!