Friday, March 9, 2012

Walking and Laughing

When I first began my weight loss journey last June, right out of the gate I began working out 3 - 4 times per week.  I started with a Biggest Loser program for the Wii, doing everything from boxing to yoga, and then threw in some balance ball work for good measure.  In November, I blew out a hamstring and my exercise came to a screeching halt.  In the last several days, however, I've been trying to motivate myself to get up and moving again.  I've still been eating properly and losing weight steadily, but I know I need to start working on building muscle and improving my overall fitness as I lose.

So, that brings me to today...there is a sidewalk that runs around the outside perimeter of the office building where I work, and it is a bit over 1/10th of a mile to walk one lap (approximately 240 steps for me to make one lap, for those who look at it as steps taken, yes, I've counted!).  I only take 30 minutes for lunch, so I've been trying to take part of that time and go out and walk anywhere from 5 to 10 quick laps every day when it's not raining.  It's not very exciting, but it goes by quick and it's getting the job done and getting me back into the swing of things.

I don't particularly like to listen to music while I work out.  Perhaps it's all the years I spent in marching band throughout high school and college, but I tend to pace myself to the tempo of whatever music is playing rather than keeping up with the speed or intensity I really need to be at during exercise.  As a result, I typically listen to preaching podcasts, audiobooks, or to other speakers while I work out, and walking is no exception. 

Today, I happened to pick one of my new favorites, a humorist named Jeanne Robertson.  With my earbuds plugged in, I was listening to her tell funny stories as she exampled living a life that finds the humor in every situation.  Since it was lunchtime, several people were coming and going around the building, and I noticed I was getting lots of strange looks.  Then, I caught a glimpse of myself in one of the windows, and saw that I was walking around with this huge goofy grin on my face, and realized I had also been laughing out loud as I walked!  Since my hair covers the earbuds, people must have thought I was loopy!  There I was...just walking and laughing, going around...and around...and around the building!

                   "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine" Proverbs 17:22

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Daddy's Example

Today is the 12-year anniversary of the death of my dad.  When I think back, there is so much emotion tied to my childhood and young adult years where he is concerned, but I will not delve into that here.  Suffice it to say that I am so very thankful that my dad chose to receive Christ into his life a few months before he died, and the knowledge that I’ll spend eternity with him in heaven brings peace and joy to my heart, and I’m thankful for the handful of beautiful memories our family has from the last few months he was alive.

What is pertinent to my weight loss journey and this blog, however, is the terrible relationship my dad had with food, and the example it set for me while I was growing up.  As a young man, my dad was very trim, and so handsome!  Looking at my mom and dad’s wedding photos, he very much resembled Clark Gable when he played the role of Rhett Butler in “Gone With the Wind”.  As the years went by though, my dad became less and less active, all the while eating more and more, and it took a toll on his body.

Never one to eat breakfast, my mom would pack lunches for my dad to carry to work with him, and typically, he wanted nothing more than a sandwich or two and a bag of chips.  When he got home from work is when the real eating would begin.  My mom always prepared large dinner meals, usually consisting of a meat, two or three side dishes (most of which were processed foods), and a salad, and there was always ice cream, donuts, and other sweets around for dessert.  After eating large portions of everything she prepared, along with a 32oz. glass of sweet tea, Daddy would go to their bedroom to watch television before going to sleep.  Within an hour, he would begin snacking, which might consist of an entire package of cookies, or a whole box of cereal.  Another of his regular snacks was a jar of peanut butter mixed with a jar of jelly, eaten with either a half loaf of bread or a half box of crackers, and another 32oz. glass of milk.  Sometimes he would have more than one of these enormous snacks in the same evening.

Every so often, my dad would bounce to the other extreme with his eating patterns.  He would decide that he had put on too much weight, and he would get angry about it.  He would blame my mother, saying that she wasn’t cooking healthy meals for our family, and demand that she only fix him salads with cottage cheese for lunch and for dinner.  Mama would comply, but within a day or two, Daddy was eating his salads during the day, and would revert back to his snacks at night, and before you knew it, he’d want to return to the regular meals Mama had always made and the cycle would begin all over again.

I can honestly say that I loved my dad dearly, but I don’t ever want to be like him where food is concerned.  I don’t know what he weighed when he died, but if I had to guess, I would say he had to have been in the 400-500 pound range.  He was 54 years old and died from a massive heart attack that just very well may have been prevented if he had lived a healthier lifestyle.  I hate to think of all the things he missed out on…he never got to meet my wonderful husband or walk me down the aisle at our wedding…he never got to be Papaw to my children…he never got to enjoy his retirement years off of work…he never got to know two of my sister’s beautiful children…he never got to fulfill his dream of visiting Ireland…the list goes on and on…

So…one of the reasons why I’ve committed to my own weight loss journey is that I don’t want my life to be characterized by the “I never’s…”  I want to be able to be a great example of a healthy lifestyle for my own children, and to live my life fully, every single day.

I love you Daddy, and I miss you terribly…but I refuse to be like you…

Monday, March 5, 2012

Blueberries or Chocolate?

Every day, I eat within a certain amount of calories which, based on my height and current weight and a few other factors, is supposed to be the right amount for me to lose at a healthy rate of about 2 pounds per week.  That amount is calculated by the food journal app I use on my phone, and so far, it has been extremely accurate.  Having a daily calorie “budget” to work with means that some days are more challenging than others when it comes planning my meals, but more often than not, I usually end the day with anywhere from 100-300 calories that I haven’t eaten by the time dinner is over. 

All that being said, a few days ago, I came to the end of the day and realized I still had almost 500 calories left I hadn’t eaten.  My husband had bought a bag of peanut butter M&M’s, which used to be one of my favorite candies.  Before you think that it was mean of him to even bring them into the house, I’ll tell you that, from the beginning, my weight loss journey has been about learning to live my life by making healthy choices, portion control, and moderation in my relationship with food.  Part of that, is knowing that I cannot isolate myself into a sugar-free world!  I’ll be faced with holidays, birthday parties, and every other celebration and sweet snack-fest imaginable for the rest of my life…and I needed to learn how to eat with balance, instead of abandon, in every situation.  So, I can’t be afraid of sweets being in my house.

Back to the M&M’s…With so many calories left for the day, I decided to have some.  I measured an exact portion (yes, I weighed candy on my food scale!), which would still only use half of the calories I had available.  I sat down to eat them, and after the first two, realized that they just didn’t taste very sweet to me, and I wasn’t really enjoying them like I used to.  The following morning, I grabbed a handful of fresh blueberries at breakfast and had the startling realization that the blueberries tasted much sweeter, and were far more satisfying to me than the candy was the night before! 

Most changes are hard to make, initially.  A year ago, you never could have convinced me that I’d rather have blueberries than chocolate.  I’m sorry to say that, in the past, I was “that person”…you know, the one who couldn’t keep a bag of candy in my desk drawer for an entire day…if I opened it at 8am, it would be empty by 3pm, with nothing to show for it but a pile of empty wrappers and another pound added to my hips.  But today, little more than 8 months later, I’m a completely different person than I was back then.  It’s not that I have to make myself stay away from the junk food anymore, I just really don’t even want it these days. 

Throughout these last several months, one of my prayers has been something along the lines of, “Lord, help me to change my eating habits.  I want to make good choices that are healthy for my body and pleasing to You.”  I believe He has answered my prayer and that God is truly helping me make the changes I could not possibly make on my own.  For that, I am most thankful!

“O taste and see that the LORD is good…” Psalm 34:8

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Shopping Victory

February is over, and I’m happy to report that I lost 15.2 pounds in the first two months of 2012.  I would have liked it to have been more, but when you’re losing weight, the tendency is to ALWAYS want it to have been more than whatever it actually was for any given period of time! I’m working hard and have a goal of reaching the major milestone of the 100 pounds lost mark sometime in May and feel great about my progress towards that goal.

Let me share another milestone...

As long as I can ever remember, I’ve always had to purchase my clothes from exclusively “plus-sized” stores.  Even as a 12-year-old, my mom was buying my clothes from a shop back home in Michigan that was called “14/16 Plus” (not something you want to admit, especially at that age!).  For my entire adult life, I’ve been limited to two stores, and a couple of mail-order catalogs to find my size.  The plus sized sections of most regular stores didn't even carry my size.  When you’re someone who loves cute clothes like I do, it’s awful to be so limited in your choices!

A couple of weeks ago, I got the wild idea to try ordering a pair of jeans from Old Navy.  While they don’t carry larger sizes in their stores, they do have their own plus-sized line available through their website.  The avid shopper I am, I got carried away and ordered not just the pair of jeans, but also a denim skirt as well, fully believing that they would arrive and not even be close to fitting, and I would have to put them away and try them on again after I lose a lot more weight.  To my great surprise, the jeans fit beautifully, and after the few pounds I’ve lost since they arrived, they’re starting to feel a bit loose in the waist already!  The skirt though…WAY TOO BIG!!!  I’ve actually had to send it back to exchange it for a smaller size! 

Now, being excited that a skirt is too big may seem silly to most people, but for me, it felt like a huge victory!  Just to be able to shop at a “regular” store (albeit through their plus-sized line), is something I’ve never been able to do before, and feels ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL!  I can’t wait to make it out of the plus-sizes altogether so that I can walk into any store I want to shop in, and the best thing is, I know that day is coming!