Resilience…or, I’ve Been a Busy Girl

Resilience is what keeps us moving and growing. And I can honestly say that I’ve seen such resilience in Mister Bubby since my last post, that it’s inspiring.  Is that stupid? To find your fur baby to be inspiring? Even if it’s stupid, I still believe he’s a miracle. Since I last wrote, I found out that Bubby is officially cancer free! He’s moving around like the champ that he is and continues to amaze me every day. We’re just about back to normal with the exception of climbing the staircase to go to bed at night. For some reason, he just can’t muster the energy to propel himself. I just keep telling myself that we’ll get there. And we will.

His recovery period was a real bitch. Keeping him from licking at his sutures was a miserable experience for all involved, and we had to make a visit to the emergency room due to a bad reaction to pain medication, but we got through it. And somehow, even with putting him through the surgery and making sure he kept his tongue off of the incision site, he still loves me. The love that our fur babies have for us is simply incredible.

Let’s see, what else has been happening? Oh, big doin’s. I’ve been working with a phenomenal trainer at the gym for a little over a month, and I’ve started dead lifting and have far exceeded my expectations with what I thought were my abilities. Last week, I lifted 130 lbs. My goal was 120 and I just… kept going, adding more weight little by little. It’s really amazing what your body can do once your brain says you can do it. Lifting is something I never thought I would do. I never imagined that I’d reach the point where I actually look forward to picking up heavy weight.

I’ve also been working hard with my cardio work and sticking to the Weight Watchers plan, and I’m happy to announce that I am now 28 pounds lighter now than I was on April 22nd. And, I’m the incredible shrinking woman: my trainer took measurements of me when we started working a little over a month ago and every part of me is getting smaller. It truly is a wonderful feeling when you see results and know that your hard work is paying off.

I also just got back from a fantastic trip to Houston where I was able to spend time with my FES (fitness extraordinaire sister). It was so great to get out of the small town I’m in and meet new people and experience new things. I had a wonderful time having sister time and making memories; I even enjoyed it when we’d be trying to sleep and my phone would make a noise and she’d give me a death glare. There truly is nothing like the bond you have with your sisters.

Along with all of the above, I’ve recently just opened my own business. I’m now an Independent Beauty Consultant with Mary Kay. I turned to this to add a little extra income to my pocket to achieve further financial independence, but I’m excited because this is something totally fun and different from what I do from 8 A.M. to 5 P.M., Monday through Friday.  This weekend will be my first weekend with the ability to hold appointments, and I’m totally booked up all weekend! It’s a terrific feeling. I’m looking forward to sharing some great products with lots of different women and making them feel beautiful.  If any of you are interested in any of our excellent products, you can visit my store . The beauty about Mary Kay is that while I’m an independent consultant and therefore, a small business owner, I’m backed by a global company who believes to thoroughly in their products that they offer a 100% money back guarantee.

So that’s what I’ve been up to since my last writing; I’ve been a busy girl! All in all, life is good. Our journey may lead us down some bumpy roads, but somehow you end up just where you’re supposed to be, doing exactly what it is that you’re supposed to be doing.

 

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Meeting Goals…or, Being Brave Instead of Vague

I’m eight weeks into my transformation/weight loss journey and things are going remarkably well. After having several meltdowns and moments (ok, ok…days) where I wanted to throw my hands in the air and eat my feelings, I think I’m finally past all of the hysterics. And, I’m ecstatic to report that I have surpassed a weight loss goal!

I began doing Weight Watchers again about two weeks ago after hitting a weight loss plateau on my previous plan. Don’t get me wrong, the plan that my FES (Fitness Extraordinaire Sister) put me on was great and it helped me lose about ten pounds in a week’s time, but after some time, I felt it to be restrictive and after about six weeks of following the plan (albeit with cheats) and working out five days a week, I still wasn’t losing any weight. So, I decided to give ol’ WW another go of it and see what would happen. What happened was I started losing weight again! I weighed in on Tuesday and was astonished that I finally surpassed a weight loss goal; it was a small goal, but a goal nonetheless.

I realize that I’ve been rather vague about my weight loss thus far, never actually mentioning a number. Part of that is because this journey is intensely personal to me. Part of it is because stating a weight that I’m not proud of makes me self-conscious. And part of it is because actually stating my weight to an audience of people is a daunting and scary task.  But after thinking about it, we’re all friends here, so here goes nothing. I’ll start at the beginning.  When I started this journey, I was a whopping 238 pounds (I’m only 5’5”). Somehow along the way, I’d eaten my way to an unhealthy and uncomfortable weight. I became increasingly self-conscious about my looks and downright uncomfortable in my own skin. I wasn’t happy with the me that I’d become. This is why I decided to start this journey. I want to be a more confident, healthy version of me. I want to feel good and look better.

So, now that that big matzo ball is out there, I can happily say that I’ve dieted and exercised my way to 224 pounds. That’s a fourteen pound loss since April and I’m quite proud of myself. I’ve been trying not to look at the big picture when it comes to how much weight I’d actually like to lose because it makes me feel like I may never achieve that goal.  I find that it’s the small victories that make being on the weight loss journey bearable. I think breaking a big weight loss goal of 80 pounds into smaller, more achievable goals of perhaps five to ten pound increments helps. Hell, I even celebrate each one pound loss.

Different things work for different people and I believe one of the big hurdles people face when decided that they need to make a change and start the process of losing weight is to figure out what works best for them. Some people like working with a trainer at the gym, while some people need just a little bit of guidance when it comes to working out. As far as dieting goes, some people need a very restrictive set of rules when it comes to diet (a forbidden list and an allowable list of foods), and some people need a little more wiggle room when it comes to diets because they end up going home at the end of the day feeling deprived and end up in a pool of their own tears.  In my case, I hate going to the gym, but I do it because my personal trainer sister told me to. And because I’ve started to see results.  I go and I sweat intensely (as I like to say, I sweat like a man) for 45 minutes a day, five days a week. As for diet, for me, I need wiggle room. I need to be allowed wine and treats and fruit…otherwise it’s me that ends up feeling deprived and crying hysterically at the end of the day, feeling utterly hopeless and like I’ll never achieve the big goal that I’ve set for myself. Now that I think I’ve got what works for me figured out, all I need to do is to keep plugging away at it and see where I am in another week’s time.

I Did It!…or, I’m Starting To See Changes

I did it. I achieved what I believed to be the impossible. It started small…and turned into a huge accomplishment. My last blog post, I wrote about how I was finally able to stay on the stair climber (AKA The Beast) for a total of thirty minutes, climbing for fifteen minutes then stopping for a moment and continuing on for another fifteen minutes. Well, this past weekend (as I type this, I’m grinning a grin so big it hurts) I was able to climb for thirty minutes straight!  And then something even bigger happened. On Monday, I climbed my way onto The Beast and kept going, past the thirty minute mark all the way to forty-five minutes! I’ll be totally honest, I don’t kick up the speed. I keep my hands on the heart rate monitor handles and watch my heart rate, trying to keep it within the fat burning range, so slow and steady is my style on this machine. But slow and steady is what got me through forty-five minutes of heavy breathing and sweat and wishing I was at home on the couch. When I was done, I was disgustingly sweaty. Seriously sweaty. Like my whole shirt was a sweat stain. I had sweat dripping from my hair, down my face and into my eyes. But damnit, I did it! Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I could stay on that machine and keep moving for that period of time. Never.  Because it’s hard.  And because it hurts. But I did it. And now I know I’m stronger than I thought I was and have way more determination than I thought I had (because I was ready to get off that machine about five minutes into it!). And do you know what I did yesterday? I forced myself to attempt it again, and I climbed for another forty minutes.

I don't know if the stair climber will ever be considered my "warm up", but I'll stick with it!

I don’t know if the stair climber will ever be considered my “warm up”, but I’ll stick with it!

I’m now in week six of my transformation. I call it a transformation, not a diet because I am changing: the way that I eat has changed and my relationship with food is slowly changing. Sure, I still want ice cream and cake and pizza and wine and all of the crap that I was allowing myself on a regular basis. I won’t lie and say that I don’t occasionally indulge and allow myself those things, but the frequency and the amount of any food I eat has changed drastically. I want a better me more than I want the food, which is why I live on a steady diet of grilled chicken and field greens and veggies. It isn’t fun. And it isn’t easy. But I’m doing it. Another big change is my activity level; I went from literally doing nothing, to spending forty-five minutes a day, five days a week at the gym. That’s a huge change. I still can’t say that I “love” working out, but I tell myself that it’s a necessity, so every day after work, that’s where I am, pushing forward and imagining myself a whole lot littler as I huff and puff away on the stair climber. After four weeks of not seeing any progress on the scale, I’ve had very minor weight loss over the last two weeks. I’ve decided to take each one pound loss as a victory rather than thinking You’ve only lost a fucking pound and you’ve been killing yourself at the gym and eating rabbit food!? Ok, ok, I sometimes think that…but then I tell myself this will take time and I suck it up and move on. The major things I’m noticing six weeks into this journey is the way I look naked and the way my clothes fit. My body is changing! Clothes are starting to become too big! I’ll take those changes with a smile and keep on keepin’ on! I’ve decided to set little goals for myself and crush those little goals, one at a time until I get to my major goal. I’m realizing that in order for me to get to my big goal, I’m going to have to stick to this new way of eating and living for an extended period of time – that there is no overnight fix. And I know myself: I burn out and lose interest in things and move onto the next thing that is shiny and new and peaks my interest. I’ve just decided that this time around, that isn’t going to happen. So, everyday, I’m going to remind myself that I have to keep going until I meet the big goal and transform myself into the person who I want to be.

Seeing Progress…or, Achieving Milestones at the Gym

It really is something special to achieve an unknown fitness goal. Over the last several weeks, I’ve been killing myself at the gym, forcing myself to workout hard in an effort to aid in my weight loss goals; I walk through the gym door with a little bit of dread every day, wondering Am I going to be able to push myself hard enough? Will what I’m about to do actually help me to lose the weight? Rereading the last two sentences, I realize that I’m putting a tremendous amount of pressure on myself for something as silly as a gym workout. But anyway, I digress…

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been forcing myself to once again tackle The Beast, the ever dreaded stair climber machine.  When I worked with a trainer back in 2012, I worked on this machine and hated every minute of it, but was so proud of myself when I was able to increase my time on the machine to twenty minutes. So, this time around, the first time I approached the machine, I did so in the women’s only area of the gym. I wanted to sweat and curse under my breath and make strained faces only in front of my fellow female members. I believe the first time I tackled The Beast, I was able to do about ten minutes before feeling so exhausted, winded and sweaty that I simply couldn’t do it anymore. As the past couple of weeks have gone on, I’ve challenged myself to gradually increase my time, pushing myself a little harder each time. Ten minutes turned into twelve, and twelve turned into fifteen. And then, one day, fifteen turned into twenty. The next day, I thought I’d push myself a little harder and try for twenty-five minutes; alas, I hit my limit at twenty-two minutes and went onto the next machine to complete my forty-five minutes of cardio. But then, something magical happened. Wednesday, I surpassed my goal of twenty-five minutes. I climbed onto The Beast in the main area of the gym (onlookers be damned, they’d have to watch me grimace and listen to me inhale and exhale deeply) and began climbing. I was able to climb for fifteen minutes before pausing my workout to grab a quick drink of water and catch my breath. Feeling disgustingly sweaty and hot, I then began again, climbing and climbing and climbing until I reached a goal that I never thought I’d actually reach. I climbed for a total of THIRTY minutes on The Beast! As I watched the numbers blip from 29:55…29:56…29:57…29:58…29:59…I smiled. I smiled and inhaled and exhaled deeply… and then I immediately hit the big red Stop button on the machine. I had done it! I’d climbed for THIRTY minutes! I descended the stairs of the machine, inhaler and water bottle in hand, with elation. I did it. I did it and I lived!

The Beast

The Beast

Then, something even more impressive happened yesterday. I did it again. That’s right: I climbed on The Beast for another thirty minutes. And you know what? I might even try for another thirty today. At first, I never imagined I’d be able to work on that machine for an extended period of time because…well, because I’m not exactly in shape. But now? It’s kind of like a game. A really painful, sweaty, curse-inducing game called How Long Can I Do This Today?

The longer I force myself to go to the gym, the more I realize that all of the work is paying off. If I hadn’t forced myself to at least try The Beast a couple of weeks ago, I would never have accomplished thirty minutes on that ridiculously sadist machine. Granted, I still loathe working out, but now I realize that it’s working. I’m able to work harder without feeling out of breath, clothes are starting to fit a little differently and I’m starting to get comments about looking different at home and at work. Now, I just need to be able to keep up the momentum and continue to force myself to do cardio. Ugh. Cardio.

Week Three…or, The Moment of Realization

I’m nearing the end of week three of the Do It or Die Plan and as time wears on, it’s become more apparent to me that I need to look at myself rather closely and discover what on this earth brings me happiness other than food.  This has been a sad realization, but a necessary in order for me to continue the weight loss journey. After a multitude of melt downs (that my Fitness Extraordinaire Sister has put up with) because I couldn’t have _________(I’ll let you fill in the blank), I feel that the only way I’ll be able to continue successfully is to re-examine what exactly brings me joy.

Food has always been the center of gatherings with friends and family in my life, and something in which I’ve always taken great pleasure.  Therefore, in these past 3 weeks when I’ve had to deny myself simple pleasures like a glass of wine or pizza on Friday nights, I’ve gotten mad. Mad because I feel I’m depriving myself of the one thing that has always been a source of joy.  Is that sad? Or, am I simply a normal person who takes a great interest in savoring food? Logic tells me that anyone depriving themselves of something that they enjoy is bound to get cranky. Logic also tells me that when I get cranky in this instance, I become resentful and want to throw in the towel. So, the question begs to be asked: is all of this work for naught? Will I, after a week of 45 minute cardio sessions, six days a week become so disillusioned by it all that I say fuck it and quit because I feel like I’m killing myself and depriving myself at the same time? If I did decide that this just isn’t for me, will I then feel a ridiculous amount of guilt because I quit? Would I then try yet another weight loss plan with limited success?

I’ve thought a good bit about what other things in life I could focus on that bring me joy when I’m pissed that I can’t have popcorn or a glass of wine. Time with family, time with my friends, and music are the obvious three.  Hiking and gardening once brought me joy, but I haven’t been out once this year for a hike and I have planted absolutely nothing this season.  I know what you’re thinking: that can be remedied. You’re right. In fact, I have a hike planned in the very near future with my kindred spirit, Lady Di with whom I always have a good time. And I think I’ll head to the store to buy some plants this weekend.

But, what else is there? I think the reason I have such a hard time listing the things that make me happy is because I have never spent a real good chunk of time alone with myself. I’ve always tried to focus on other people and have placed a great deal of significance on other’s happiness. One of my best friends tells me that the reason I don’t like being single is because it forces me to be alone with me and the fact of the matter is that I don’t really like myself all that much.  Perhaps she’s right. I mean, we could always learn to love ourselves more, right? Or, perhaps the thought of being alone with myself and being forced to find out more about myself is a daunting task.  I have friends who are completely at ease with being alone, and actually relish the time and these are the people who, I believe, know themselves the best. They have distinct likes and dislikes and are very comfortable within their skin.

I think this is a time of transformation for me. Not just physical, but emotional and mental as well. I’m pushing myself far harder than I ever have in the past physically and mentally. Every day is a battle with my self from the time I get out of bed until the time I’m back in bed at night: do I force myself to drink the gallon of water a day? Do I have egg whites or do I eat what I want for breakfast? Do I make myself go to the gym and do 45 minutes of cardio or, do I do what I really want to do and go home and have a glass of wine? For the past three weeks, I’ve been changing the way I live my life.  This morning, I watched a vlog that a friend and former yoga teacher posted and a piece of a sentence that she said echoed back to me: become comfortable with being uncomfortable. I think that I’m in this uncomfortable place and I’ve not yet become comfortable with it. Living your life in a completely different way is uncomfortable. But maybe, if I start to become comfortable with being uncomfortable, if just for a little while, it’ll make this transformation period a little bit easier.   This is my new mantra. And I’ll continue to repeat this to myself as I’m on the treadmill walking on an incline and my legs just want to quit. And something tells me that I won’t quit; not just because of impending guilt if I do, or possibly disappointing my sister who has done a good thing by helping me, but because I want this transformation. And being uncomfortable for a little while is a small price to pay for that.

The Do It Or Die Plan…or I Really Miss Salt

Monday morning I awoke with the realization that I’ve had enough. I’ve had enough of making excuses, of continuing to watch the scale move upward, to continue doing things the way that I have been. I’ve had enough of settling for the me that I have been.  I’m lucky enough to have a fitness extraordinaire sister to whom I could reach out for help, and reach I did. What any trainer or fitness mogul worth their salt will tell is this: The gym is only a small percentage of weight loss. What happens in the kitchen is key. So, knowing my sister (she who shall go by the moniker FES for Fitness Extraordinaire Sister), I got in touch with her Monday morning as I was spooning yogurt and strawberries into my face and asked her for a meal plan. I knew I wasn’t going to like it. I knew it was probably going to make me hangry and yearn for taste: for salt, for chocolate, for alcohol, for sandwiches, for chips, for everything that I routinely put into my body. But, I reminded myself yet again: ENOUGH. Enough of doing things your way, Lex.

My sister put me on a meal plan for the week. It’s Wednesday and I can tell you that I miss salt with everything in my soul. Salt and coffee. As an avid coffee drinker, I generally start my day with a big ol’ mug o’ mud, with lots of milk or creamer and a tablespoon or two of sugar. No longer. Nope. These days, I begin my day with a protein smoothie. In my most recent trip to Houston, my sister lovingly prepared me a protein shake to gulp down one morning. My response to the taste of this was, simply put, “Feh!” I actually don’t mind the smoothies though. I use chocolate protein powder (or as I like to think of it, powdered chicken), a banana, a very scant amount of non-fat vanilla Greek yogurt and ice. Tuesday morning was the first morning I made this concoction and I must admit, it took me a while to choke it down. I’m not used to drinking my breakfast, so I think the combination of that and the flavor took some time to adapt to. But this morning? That smoothie was the best tasting damn thing I put in my body since yesterday morning!

Snacks and the other two meals of the day aren’t my favorites, but they’ll suffice for this week. My mantra is ‘I can do anything for a week’. There is one recipe my FES gave me that is absolutely aaahmazing, though. Quinoa & turkey stuffed peppers: simple, good for you, and since I made them over the weekend, super easy to heat for a good, filling lunch. Now, dinner is another story. I love vegetables. Or rather, I love vegetables with salt. Dinner consists of veggies sautéed in coconut oil – no salt, damnit – and 4 ounces of a protein. Also, no salt. As anyone who has ever used Mrs. Dash will tell you, this is no substituted for salt. But, it’ll do. For now.

My FES also told me that running in my current state is not a good idea. Short bursts of jogging are alright, but no running for any kind of distance. This advice kind of made me laugh, because I can’t run for any kind of distance. But, I digress. I’ve been instructed to do some kind of cardio for 30 minutes a day. If it’s walking outside with short little bursts of jogging interspersed or walking on the treadmill with intervals on an incline, or using the elliptical at the gym – do it: 30 minutes and leave. Even I can follow those instructions; I mean, 30 minutes? I can make room for 30 minutes of moving five days a week.

I’m midway through the week and so far I’m down almost three pounds from Monday! I’ll take weight loss over salt any day. Doing things another person’s way is always a challenge. It makes you change your way of thinking and reassess the current situation and biggest of all, it means admitting to yourself that your way isn’t necessarily the best way. That one is tough for me, and always has been. But, seeing results this quickly has motivated me to continue on with a positive outlook and hopes for change and results a lot faster than I could garner if I were still doing things my way. I think I’ll stick with my FES’s plan, or what I call it: the Do It or Die Plan. My sister is one tough cookie and I know if I slack off on this plan, I’ll have to answer to her, and to myself. So, I’ll continue on doing what I’m supposed to do and see what the end of the week brings. Here is to new beginnings, change, and the Do It or Die Plan.

Get Off Your Ass…Or, Giving Running Another Shot

Yesterday, I ran for the first time in months. Well, it wasn’t so much a run as it was a walk-run. I woke up feeling like a slug; I’ve done nothing physical in months and felt like it was time to get off my ass and move. I downloaded an app on my phone called Running for Weightloss that was recommended to me by a friend (who also happens to be the author of the blog Vegan Mostly (http://www.veganmostly.blogspot.com). The app eases you into running with walking interspersed with short bursts of running, a lot like the Couch to 5K app that I used last year.

It was abundantly clear about three-quarters of the way through Day 1 that it is time for me to get back to the gym on a regular basis; any stamina that I previously had for running is gone (not that I ever had that much of, but I had more than I do now). I was so pleased with myself after I’d finished and felt such a sense of accomplishment. It felt good to move, to do something physical, to be out of breath.

Today however, is another matter. To say I’m sore is an understatement! Everything hurts: my legs, my hips, my abs. Moving today has been a challenge. But, I’m taking the discomfort as a sign that I did something good yesterday! Running isn’t something that I particularly enjoy. In fact, last year when I started the Couch to 5K program, there were days that I downright hated it. But now, I’m willing to give it another shot and see if it’ll help me reach my health goals. I perused Pinterest for some inspiration and ran across this blog http://m.blogher.com/i-am-fat-runner. I’ve also run across other blogs that focus on “fat runners”. While I hate that term…the fact of the matter is that there are people out there that run who are not long and lanky. And I am decidedly not long and lanky. It gives me hope that if I continue to give running another try, while it will hurt and it will be a challenge, that there are others out there that do it and are of the same structure as me. And it is possible. Attaining goals is possible. I just have to work through it. And I have to remind myself that even the lean and trim people that I see running at the park hurt sometimes. I can do this. Day by day, I can do this.

change your relationship