We’re under yet another winter storm warning, but I’m not complaining. I think my husband and I need a day to relax. I’ve realized, since my weight loss, that I’ve become quite accustomed to my days being filled with a constant flurry (no pun intended towards the falling snow outside my window) of activities.
In fact, with my birthday being a month away, I was mentally comparing my life now to a year ago:
Nearly a year ago today, I was excited to be wearing a brand new pair of size 18, skinny, jeans to my birthday party. This was a welcome change from the size 24 pants that I’d worn to my first weigh in at the bariatric center.
As only a three-month veteran of my weight loss program, I cautiously approached every sip, or bite, of food that I ingested and monitored every calorie I burned at the gym.
My self-confidence was a newly burgeoning entity experiencing so much for the first time.
My main goal was to get healthy and stay that way.
Now, my life is vastly different. As a fit and healthy person, I look at life through new eyes, seeing every bright possibility. It’s not just because my body is fit, it’s because my mind is clear and my soul is free of the baggage of anxiety and food addiction. I love my life and the people in it so much. I quite honestly never imagined being so happy.
I think the secret to life is as simple and pure as the snow gently drifting in my driveway; see life as a series of possibilities and believe that the odds are in your favor, because they are. Take care of yourself. Feed and exercise each part of your body, mind, and spirit with good things, because that’s exactly what you deserve. Practice kindness, caring, patience, and love daily. It just feels right, and you’ll mostly always get each in return.
Last year, on December 16th, I attended an informational meeting about Optifast at our hospital’s bariatric center. I was nearly 230 pounds and physically miserable. My health was on a downward spiral of pre-diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, sleep apnea, depression, and limited mobility. My spirit was in even worse shape. In fact, shortly before my first bariatric visit, a silly family conversation about the Zombie Apocalypse* turned pretty serious as each family member was discussing their special skill in defeating the undead. My husband’s years in the Army have given him amazing survival skills, coupled with a sniper-like aim with any weapon available. My younger daughter is super fast, fearless, and strong. Her fiancé is resourceful and also an expert in survival and weaponry. My oldest daughter is cunning, has expert medical skills, and extremely resilient, and her husband is wily, quick and strong. After talking out a few scenarios that slayed more than a slew of zombies, my family turned to me,
“What would you do Mom?” my oldest asked.
“I’m fat,” I replied, “I’d be your diversion.”
With that, their happy conversation ceased and I spent the next hour, promising them that I would get healthy.
Fast forward to yesterday. My oldest I were happily dancing around the kitchen to holiday music with a few twerking songs thrown in, when she reminded me of last year’s Zombie Apocalypse conversation.
“What would you do now, Mom?” she questioned **
I answered with a high, karate-style kick that finished just inches from her head.
“I’d kick their asses!,” I replied with a smile.
With just one year of extremely hard work, I’ve gone from a Zombie’s holiday meal, to the undead’s worst enemy. I’m nearly 100 pounds lighter, am no longer pre-diabetic, no longer have sleep apnea, depression, or high blood pressure. My asthma medication has been cut in half, and I’m physically fit. I’ve met new, wonderful people through my gym and this blog. I don’t fear life anymore, and I’m certainly not afraid of a few zombies!
I feel so immensely blessed this wonderful holiday season. I’m thankful for the love of my friends and family, for my health, and for all of the caring, sweet people that I’ve met here on WordPress. I feel like I know all of you as friends and wish you all the happiest and healthiest of holidays! ❤ ❤ ❤
*Something that people who have years of advanced education tend to do, along with lengthy discussions of Star Wars, Star Trek, and other various super cool subjects!
I’m going to share a few thoughts on maintenance, but, first, I want to thank everyone who voted on Monday’s polls. The results show that I shouldn’t change my blog’s name, but that switching up my subjects from solely weight loss related posts would be perfectly acceptable. After some thought, I’m rather happy to be keeping my name, as I’ve grown rather attached to it! I do plan to change my tagline and to switch up the look of the blog just a bit. Long ago, my future son-in-law (the Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop wiz) offered to make me a custom header. My husband also offered to do some cartoon work for it. (He draws a really cute cartoon version of me). I need to re-ask them both if their offer still stands for when they have the time. So stay tuned for a few changes! 🙂
Now, onward to maintenance. I read a fantastic quote the other day from Optifast Blogger about maintenance. In her wonderful post about the things that keep her working hard to maintain her weight loss, Optifast Blogger admits that “losing weight is ‘sexier’ than maintenance.” I read those words shortly after tallying up my last calories of the day, and they hit me like an anvil in a Roadrunner cartoon. Maintenance is why some of the air has leaked out of my excitement balloon. Its distinct lack of va va voom-iness is exactly why I haven’t felt like I’ve had much to write about lately.
In fact, the exhilaration of actively losing weight is much like the giddiness of being in a new relationship. The beauty of it, is the person that you fall in love with, or re-fall in love with, is you. It’s magical to work hard and see results. Peering into the mirror and seeing the person that you’ve imagined yourself to be is awe-inspiring. The feeling of completing physical challenges that you never before thought were possible is breathtaking. You run into people that you haven’t seen for a while and they notice how trim you’re looking. You go shopping for new jeans, because all of your old ones are too big, and you find yourself slipping easily into a size 8. You’re on top of the world! Then one day, you step on the scales at your doctors office and she tells you that you’ve arrived. You’ve reached your goal weight. She slaps you a quick high-five and hands you the diet plan to maintain what you’ve lost. Then she says. “This is the hard part; keeping it off.” You leave the office happy and determined. You have a formula that works for you, and you work your formula. Then one day, after your 100th cup of yogurt at exactly 11:00 am, the same day that no one has asked, “Did you lose weight?” you realize that the honeymoon of weight loss is over and that maintenance is the marriage. It’s a good solid marriage, but it takes lots of effort. It needs the infusion of a few fluttering butterflies in the stomach and a few sparks to zap it back into the exciting status that it once had. Luckily, it doesn’t take a gastro-etymologist (I made that one up) or a generator to get the butterflies and sparks that we need. We can do it ourselves with a few happy reminders. This is my list of things that bring the “sexy” back to maintenance for me:
I don’t have diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease. How hot is that?
I can run–fast. This means I’m no longer brain-bait during the zombie apocalypse, and that my legs are really toned and flexible.
I’m strong–In addition to knowing that I could fight off the undead, I have more poise and confidence because of my physical strength, and nothing is sexier than a little bit of swagger!
I have a nice fitting butt. I’m not talking about how cute it looks in my size 8 non-mom jeans, I’m referring to the fact that it actually, truly fits in the places that I need it to; bus, train, theater, and restaurant seats needn’t shudder when I squat!
I’ve found positive replacements for compulsive overeating. I can craft, write, hang out with friends and family, or I can ask my husband to distract me–and actually not care if the lights are on!
I’m potentially adding additional years to my life by continuing to eat right and exercise–Knowing that I’ll be here longer for those I love puts the very biggest spark into my maintenance program.
So what do you all think? Is losing or maintaining your weight more difficult? What are some things that you do to keep “the sexy” in maintenance?
Though I’ve had my share of struggles, I’m a very fortunate person. Life has given me the privilege to meet, get to know, and live with several distinctly different versions of myself as an adult. The first version of me was the wild 18-22 year-old college student who often made terrible decisions based solely on what made the pain of a dying mother go away. Those decisions often involved rather risky behaviors and very little positive cognitive processing. If it felt freeing, fun, or dangerous, I was doing it with little thought of consequences.
My wild years, ushered in the next phase of my adulthood which reigned from 23-30 and involved the birth of two gorgeous daughters, one marriage followed by one divorce, and the joy of living below the national poverty level. (I’m not using the word joy in a facetious manner; an explanation is coming)
Next, came my years of single motherhood from 31-36. These years were marked with fun, adventure, frustration on many levels, loneliness and continuing poverty.
My single years ended when I met the man that I’m now married to. From 37-40 all of our lives became significantly better, fuller, and richer with love.
Then, just when things seemed to be flowing smoothly, my younger daughter’s first depressive episode surfaced when I was 41. Though my daughter was properly diagnosed with Type II Bipolar Disorder within two years of her first episode, and though she was properly treated and doing well, my years from 41-48 were dark. Anxiety and isolation were the central themes of my existence and I spent most of my time compulsively eating to quell my anxiety and waiting for the next episode to happen.
Now, at 50, the past two years of my life have been an incredible period of growth for me. I have two wonderfully healthy daughters and a fabulous stepson. I am married to the kindest man in the world. I have the freedom to be the person that I want to be and I’m finding that the true person that I am is loving, patient, kind, giving, caring, calm, healthy, at peace, and very awake to the possibilities that life has to offer. The amazing thing is, that I wouldn’t be the person that I am today without the contrast of the past “me(s)” that I’ve been. Had I not had a “wild” period would I have been naïve to what my teenaged children could have been up to? Had I never experienced anxiety, would I now recognize peace? Had I not lived in poverty, would I now appreciate the little things, like having a dishwasher, or my own washer and dryer? Would I have figured out how to make something fun, or useful out of the limited resources that I had? I don’t think so. Had I not witnessed illness, I could now take my own health, or the health of my loved ones for granted. Had I not known loneliness and lack of family, I might not hold my husband, and the family and friends that I have, so dear.
The suffering that I experienced in my past is only a memory that I can chose to dwell on, or learn from. I’m certainly glad that I’ve finally reached a point in my life that is no longer dictated by the past. Goodness is now and the days ahead are what I choose to create. Do I wish that I could have figured this all out sooner? Of course, but I think we all figure things out in our own time though our own life experiences.
What experiences have you learned from and have made you appreciate the life you have now?
I learn a lot at the wellness center I go to. Most of my acquired knowledge is about fitness, but sometimes it’s simply about people and life. This morning, as I was changing into my workout clothing, the older ladies at the locker near mine, were gossiping about their neighbors with messy yards. “He bought a motorcycle that he works on every weekend, but he can’t get his lazy behind out there to trim his bushes!” Another group was talking about a family from their church, “I don’t know what made them decide to come. They certainly don’t fit in with any of the other members!” These conversations taught me to not buy a house near an old lady with too much time on her hands, and to continue sleeping in on Sunday morning per usual!
I learn other things, too. Today, I walked/ran a few miles on the track. and when my favorite machine, the Octane, became available, I hopped on and adjusted the timer for 30 minutes. The Octane, of which there are three, has caused quite a bit of controversy among gym goers because there are several members who don’t respect the 30 minute time limit. One member, in particular, I’ve witnessed spend two hours at a time heaving and pumping away on it, always, always with a terribly grumpy scowl on his face.
At first I thought this dude’s scowl was just his “work out” face. That look of concentration that one gets when they’re in “the zone.” So, one day, when I passed him on the floor, I decided to test out his expression, by giving him my
friendliest smile and saying hello. His scowl only deepened as he turned his head as far from my direction as he could. I tried to attribute his lack of response to his inability to hear me, even though my years of teaching have caused my voice to project far above the loudest din. I spent the rest of my workout time pondering his unfriendliness. Had his wife just died? Did he just have to have his beloved dog put to sleep? Was his daughter on heroin and living in a crack house with her drug dealer and eight children? Maybe he was living with chronic pain, or suffering from a mental illness? Whatever the reason, this guy gave me a bad feeling. His whole energy and being seemed to suck the life straight from the air. I soon found myself picturing him as a Dementor , from the Harry Potter series, in a skin suit.
Today, about 5 minutes before my Octane time was up, Mr. Grumpy Pants came and stood by my machine. While he’s the type of guy who would set his timer for additional minutes if he saw someone waiting, I’m the opposite. I’m a rule follower. I smiled at him and said, “I’m almost done–just five minutes left.” He rolled his eyes and began stretching out on the floor in front of me. Once again, I began trying to figure him out. Is he a lawyer who helps drunk drivers, wife beaters and child molesters get shorter sentences? Does he run a sweat shop full of kidnapped five year-olds that make sneakers 15 hours a day? Perhaps he’s an executioner–I could definitely picture him flipping on an electric chair switch, gleefully placing a noose around someone’s neck, or administering a lethal injection.
My last five minutes felt like an hour with his shiny bald head bobbing up and
down as he readied himself for my machine. His dark presence slowly crept over me, changing my mood, and causing me to turn off the machine with 24 seconds left to go. I got off swiftly and began to clean the machine with a gym wipe. Like I’ve said, I’m a rule follower. “Don’t do that!” he said abruptly to me. “Now the seat’s all wet!” he added curtly, as he climbed on the machine before my water bottle was even out of the holder. “Have a nice workout,” I said sweetly, as I walked away.
Back in the locker room, I found myself feeling defeated and wondering why one unfriendly, middle-aged, bald guy would even begin to make me feel that way. There are all types of people in the world and 99.9% of them are extremely nice, even in the midst of hardship or despair. This guy just isn’t a part of that percentage. Though I’m sure there’s a reason for his general rudeness, it’s uncalled for and it’s not up to me to fix, or figure out.
Though I’ll still be friendly to him, because that’s just who I am, I won’t take his curt behavior personally, and I won’t waste anymore of my precious energy or time pondering his negativity. Sorry, mean gym guy, I’m giving up on pulling you over from the dark side. That’s ultimately your job.
How do you handle rude people? Do you feel the need to win them over, or do you avoid them for your own good?
With May being Mental Health Awareness Month, I thought a reblog of my friend Kathy’s beautiful post and artwork would lend awareness to my readers of the struggles faced by people with mental illness.
Kathy has been such a huge inspiration to me. Though her life has been touched by bipolar disorder, she has still managed to live it to the very fullest with love, travel, adventure, success, and enormous talent. Kathy urges people touched by mental illness to share stories like hers “with those you love, and encourage others to talk, write, and blog about their own battles. Let those who live with mental illness (and their families) know they’re not alone.”
If you struggle with mental illness, or, like me, have a family member who does, I encourage you to contact NAMI for informational classes and resources. Help is often difficult to find, but NAMI is an excellent resource.
I will forever associate spring with an up-close-and-personal encounter with crazy, with losing my mind in an over-the-top kind of way. And, indeed, my March Madness of 1990 ended life as I knew it.
Spring brings many forms of madness.
A university writing instructor, I was suffering through what should have been a relaxing spring break, when I began to crumble. In Oklahoma the branches were barely budding, when I started obsessing over trees and their ability to lead me elsewhere, wherever there was. I imagined it was a dimension parallel to the world around me.
A parallel place–
I wanted desperately to go there, and it was that longing that ached me into action. It muscled me forward, compelling me to bring bare branches indoors and decorate my walls with them. (I kid you not.) It seemed I was suddenly and acutely aware, as the sculptural quality of those limbs stunned and…
Yesterday, was very special. I hung out with my best friend, helping her do some shopping for her mother who is in the beginning stages of dementia. She’s the same age that my mother would be if she were still living. I haven’t shopped for a mother (other than myself) for 30 years, and it was difficult to hold back tears while watching her mom’s face beam with delight as she put away her new supplies.
There are some things that are “nevers.” I will never, in this life, care for my elderly mother. I will never brush her hair, never buy her new clothes, and never get beaten at Gin Rummy by her again. Never.
Please don’t think that I use the example of my mother morbidly, or to make anyone sad, myself included. I use this example to illustrate the monumental gravity of the word never. Anyone who’s lost a loved one knows that death equals some weighty and permanent nevers.
After, visiting with my friend’s mom for a few hours, I headed to the gym to get the rest of my day’s 10,000 steps in. The padded track is on the second floor where the exercise studios are located. As I walked on the inner “slow lane,” I couldn’t help but notice the runners gracefully sprinting past me in the outer “fast lane.” Their well honed muscles, their fluid movements, and their oneness with the track, made me yearn to be like them. As I passed the classrooms, I saw people dizzily spinning at speeds that I couldn’t imagine reaching. I watch a core class doing TRX Training that looked virtually impossible. I spied men and women in an X-treme Aerobics class moving with a pace and steps that seemed unreachable. Then I found myself thinking a dreadful thought–one that I’ve work so hard to shut out of my mind’s recesses; “I could NEVER do that!” I didn’t just think it once; I had a never for every activity on that second floor. In fact, I walked and entire lap lost in my own personal Neverland!
Luckily, I mindfully “checked myself before I wrecked myself!” The next lap, I changed my way of thinking. “I can’t do that yet, ” I thought, as a runner flew by me. “I can’t do that, yet,” I mused, as I passed some impressive, suspended push-ups happening in the TRX class. “I can’t do that yet,” I said, as I glided by the sweaty spinners. “I can’t do that yet,” I inwardly smiled, as I shuffled past the lithe aerobic dancers.
“YET” is a power word. It’s imbued with hopefulness and magnificent things to come. It implies future successes, the meeting of goals, and the crossing of finish lines. On this rainy Wednesday, in my corner of the world, I implore you to change your weighty, dead-end, final nevers to glorious, hopeful, anticipating YETS!
What exercise goals are you working on? What will you be able to do physically in the future? Tell me about it! 🙂