Friday, April 29, 2011

Fairy Tales and Fear

I've always been one to appreciate a good fairy tale, especially romantic ones.  It's nice to indulge in a little fantasy.  In fact by the time you read this I will have been indulging in the Royal Wedding television coverage for approximately 4 hours.  To me, that wedding is like a fairy tale come to life and I can't wait to see it!

The problem with fairy tales is that they are a romanticized version of truth.  Reality is a much different world than the world of a fantastical fairy tale.

Fear on the other hand can be both fantasy and reality.  Healthy fear is good.  It's a great tool in and of itself in that it can cause us to have respect for things that might harm us.   In that way, it is like reality.  Irrational fear though is more like a fairy tale.  It is nothing like the truth.

The fact is that as I age, and especially after the rash of deaths that I went through from April of 2009 to June of 2010, I have found myself to be much more fearful than I should be.  In some ways, those deaths, even the ultimately "expected" death of my sister-in-law caused a shift in my thinking and I have found myself without confidence and positively fearful.

I spent most of yesterday whipping myself into a frenzy over my possible Muay Thai test.  It truly was awful and even now I cannot put my finger on what caused this.  The people who read this blog had some great insight and as I looked at the comments on Wednesday's post, I could see validity in so many of the ideas presented.  Yes, there was fear of failure and of exposure, there was fear of not doing things perfectly and perhaps embarrassing and disappointing both myself and Sensei Mr. Helen, there was fear of the unknown because the testing protocols are changing.  Mid-day I had an email exchange with Janell and told her I still didn't know what I was going to do.  (Her return email to me which said, "I totally get what you're saying.....  I'll bet they are serious as shit." made me whoop with laughter, which I desperately needed!)

So, I arrived home practically paralyzed and dove into something comforting to me:  cooking.  I made Strawberry and Cream muffins to eat while sipping tea and watching the wedding.

That process calmed me down enough that I was able to think more clearly and I made a deal with myself.  That I would stare this fear in the face - and if in some way I failed miserably, I would no longer put myself through this.  Because, you know, sometimes it is true that you have to face the fear.

The reality?  It was nothing like the fairy tale I had created in my mind.  Nothing at all. Not even the sparring managed to shake me.









In the end, I KICKED the fear out of my mind... at least for that moment

And I gratefully received my new belt to move on towards whatever fear I need to face down next.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Do What Terrifies You?

There is a theory put into practice by psychiatrists, psychologists, and others that people should do what scares them in order to get over being afraid.  Along these same lines, another thought is that you should always tackle what is hard for you because in the end it will no longer be hard and you will be a better person for having faced the challenge.

As I'm moving along with my practice of Muay Thai, I am beginning to find some of the expectations and requirements hard.  While I have never been one to back down from a challenge, and as I've said before, I am a person who generally finishes what they've started, I keep wanting to quit Muay Thai.

At last night's class I received a grey stripe on my belt which means that on Thursday, I will test for my next belt, which will be blue/green.  When I was handed my test sheet I noticed that the requirements for testing have changed and now we are being evaluated in four areas, only one of which is the same as previous tests.  I don't really have a problem with that, I just wish the professional staff at the dojo had told us this is a change that would be made.  Mr. Helen didn't even know about this as even though he's a Sensei, he's part time and does not evaluate students.  I suppose, as Mama Helen always said, it's probably just a good idea to be on your P&Qs all the time because you never know who is watching.

After the stripes and test sheets were handed out, the Sensei told us that those who were testing should bring full gear and our bo staff, which is the weapon we are currently working.  This is also new and means that not only will we have to demonstrate combinations and fitness, there is a good likelihood that we will be doing some sparring and it definitely seems we are going to have to demonstrate our weapon.

I immediately felt sick to my stomach - and a bit itchy which could mean I'm about to break out in hives, something I've battled since I was a child.  As I drove home I realized that these new protocols for test feel dreadful to me because they combine something I find hard, something I dislike and something that terrifies me all into one 30 minute test. 

While I sometimes struggle to remember exact combinations, especially if they refer to them by number, I can usually pick it up once it starts and sort of bluff my way through it.  My fitness is not really a problem though I know it can (and will!) be better as I improve on my weight and waist ratios.  But sparring?  I dislike it immensely and I find it hard.  For whatever reason the combinations we practice, do not click in my head as things to use during sparring, so I find it extremely hard.   Sensei Mr. Helen keeps telling me that I need to practice and that between muscle memory and practice it will get easier and I will do better.  The problem is I don't want to practice, because I don't like it!  As for the weapons, I feel like maybe I will eventually be better, but I am not right now.  In class when we have to practice weapons my mind will just go blank and suddenly I can't remember the next move.  Of course I can always look at another student and copy them but it's quite frustrating.

To top it all off, the thought of having to do all these things in front of the instructors who don't have a class full of people but who can just concentrate on me, well, that is flat out terrifying.

I am not completely sure why I am lacking self confidence as right this minute I could get up in front of a huge group of people and wing a speech. So it doesn't seem to be that I am always afraid of the spotlight.  However, I am finding when it comes to Muay Thai, I just want to blend in and not have the focus on me.  So now I find myself at a crossroads because honestly, if I don't go to the test on Thursday, they will still give me my next belt the next time I go to class.  Because the fact  that I'm invited to test means I'm ready and deserve it. 

I can honestly tell you that as I sit and type, I have no idea what I will do. All I can tell you is that I'm scared and don't know why.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Dry as a Bone

No, not the weather.  In fact around here we've been stuck in a true spring pattern: rain, rain, rain, sun, clouds, rain, rain sun, rain, clouds, rain, sun.  It's my brain and my thoughts that are dry.  Life in Helen-land has just been clicking on in the same old same old monotonous pattern as usual.  I honestly can't think of too much to write/say. I was thinking about this over the weekend and remembering that each time I'd start a diary (the old fashioned kind with paper and key), I 'd never fill it because I would run out of things to write and I got tired of writing, "I can't stand my mother!"  So, blogging has been and will continue to be sparse for a bit, I'd say.

I did enjoy the long weekend I just had.  Mr. Helen was glad I had that extra day off too - because while he was working on Friday, I cleaned the entire house and did the grocery shopping which left me with two free-ish days but left his entire three day weekend intact to do whatever he wanted to.

Good Friday night, heathens that we are, we went out for about an hour and half to watch our good friend sing and play with his band.  This band plays "our" music - you know the oldies and goodies from the late 1960's to the early 1980s.  We weren't the only heathens out there because the place was packed.

Saturday we decided to go see a matinee and chose Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family.  It was a good choice.  Even though there were some parts that made me cry (because I'm a big baby menopausal, hormonal mess) mostly it was a movie that made you laugh out loud.  As Mr. Helen said, "Wow, laughter really is good for the soul, isn't it?"  It definitely helped lighten our mood in the midst of the monsoon we were experiencing. 

Of course, the ultimate thrill for him was when we got home and I told him we'd have a homemade pizza party and he could pick whatever he wanted.  As I've said before pizza is one of his five food groups so he was indeed a happy camper.

Mr. Helen's pick: Onion, Green Pepper and Black Olive
(very unusual for him as he usually wants a meat extravaganza)


My pick: Chicken, Garlic and Gorgonzola


Two 14" pizzas are, of course, way too much food for just the two of us so there are plenty of leftovers to have thoughout the week.

Easter Sunday it was supposed to rain and indeed when I got up the fog was so thick you couldn't see a quarter mile ahead of you.   Eventually the fog burned off and the sun came out, turning the skies brilliant blue for a bit before the rain did move in during the early evening. 

Our Easter meal was spent with Mr. Helen's family.  My mother was bitterly disappointed but honestly, we're the only couple amongst both sides that has everyone pulling and tugging.  I decided some years ago, after trying to be all things to all people that for the most part we would not do that and would choose one or the other.  Right now, Mr. Helen is in the mode that every single holiday meal will probably the "the last" before his mother is either gone, or gone into a nursing home.  While I would like to have some meals with my own side, at this point it's either going to mean an argument or us splitting up and going to our own family of origin. So, like most married people, I'm choosing my battles.

There was entirely too much food planned:  A turkey breast, leg of lamb and full spiral ham, salad, broccoli, asparagus, rice, potatoes, rolls plus desserts.  I was sort of dreading it and as it turned out, there almost wasn't enough.  What was supposed to be 9 people ended up being 30!  I'm not kidding when I tell you there were two exes (1 ex husband, 1 ex wife), a niece, great nephew and his family, and other assorted misfits people who ended up coming.  That's the way Mr. Helen's family always has been and after being part of this family for so many years you'd think I wouldn't be surprised.  With all the hubbub, my MIL didn't even come downstairs to eat with the rest of the family because it was too overwhelming for her.  I know how she feels.  In any case, I did not even feel tempted to overeat because it became a case of making sure there was enough food to go around.  In the end it was a great example of how food does NOT have to be the focus of any occasion.

For me, it's back to the same old same old today.  Mr. Helen has one more day off then he's back into his routine as well.  We are taking Mama Helen out for dinner tonight as tomorrow is her 72nd birthday and since we didn't spend time with her yesterday, we wanted to celebrate that. It will be nice to have just the 3 of us to sit and have a meal and adult conversation.

Life goes on.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Shape Shifter

One of the hardest things of this menopausal time in my life is that it has happened when I’m carrying extra weight. As it is, women tend to gain a bit when they are in mid-life but this has been adding insult to injury.

Recently I was looking back on old photos of myself so I could submit my 1970s fabulous prom photo to Shelley for the collection she will be displaying. As I looked at photos of myself in my late teens and even all the way into my 30s I realized I never, ever appreciated what I had back then: a really cute figure.

I am a woman who at first gains weight through the hip and lower abdominal area but eventually, if I gain enough, my top catches up. Therefore, I can confidently say that I still have a figure it’s just not the one I would like to have, as it seems that I have turned into a rectangle.

Being rectangular is not fun for me right now as it seems most of my work clothing has worn out its welcome and I need to buy some things for spring and summer. Most of the time I look for clothing with a little ‘give’ (and for-give) as the tiniest bit of stretch does seem to help de-emphasize the rolls. I also have to look for slacks that fall just below my waist otherwise to find a pair that actually fits my non-existent waist causes a look reminiscent of a child with a full diaper from the rearview.

In the winter dressing for work is easy enough: any combination of slacks, skirt, shirt and jacket works. This time of year, however, the dress code changes a bit towards something a bit more casual. I think a lot of it is due to the fact that my boss owned a marina and as the marina season opened, his attire switched to much more casual wear as he was often running back and forth between the office and the marina to conduct business.

I’ve been reading Kristen’s blog Low Fat Dressing for a while now and while I am not the type to accessorize in quite the way she does, I’ve been looking to her for tips into this odd season where winter clothes are too much and summer clothing is not quite enough.

One of the things that she has spoken about for a long time is adding a belt. Up to now, I have not been able to find the right combination of shirt/belt to satisfy me. Ironically, shirts with built in belts seem to be all the rage this year and so I have purchased a couple in the hopes that I could find my waist again.

I don’t think I am successful and it frustrates me! The thing is, I’m not even in plus sized clothing – I am a solid 12 right now (although I guess years ago that would probably have been a 16 or an 18 which is plus size). I can walk into any store and buy a 12 and 99% of the time, it fits – don’t even have to try it on. Although I like the total look of the outfit that I am about to show you, I still feel like a big boxy rectangle.

Herewith I will show you several photos (including outtakes) so you can see my boxy-ness for yourself. Sigh.



I purposefully chose this Harve Benard shirt because the stripes are vertical, which I always think are slimming, and though it is mostly cotton it has some stretch as well. The slacks are also a cotton/stretch blend and fall exactly where I want them to below my belly button. The shoes are super cute: suede Tommy Hilfiger flats that I got on a clearance rack last year for $5! Kristen recommends wearing a shoe that is more open along the top so that part of your foot shows. This may be the one part of this outfit that is successful.

I wish I could figure this out because I know when I think I look good, I feel better. Feeling better helps me act better. If I could just keep acting better, I should eventually get back into some of the gorgeous smaller than size 12 clothing items I have in totes patiently waiting for my return.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuesday Ten

10.  Why is is that Mondays always feel like a fresh start?  I've never quite figured out why, but for me, they do. Which is ironic considering how much I look forward to the week's end!  It's even better when it's a Monday where the sun is shining.  Everything looks new and sparkly.  Of course yesterday was our 2nd day of sunshine in a row so it's raining today.  Like I said, it seems impossible to have more than that this spring.

9.  Remember how I said in my Girl Hero bio that soy counteracts thyroid medications?  I've found soy in a place I never noticed before!  I'm considering calling their 800 number to find out what the point of this is.

Why Bumblebee, Why?


8.  Confession:  I don't like Laughing Cow Cheese.  I don't.  Every single time I buy some and try to like it, with the first bite I think, "Ewwwww."  This last time I bought it because I thought maybe the new flavors would appeal to me.  Nope.  Still thinking ewwwww.  I'm not buying it anymore!

7.  My sister, whose husband was killed in a horrifying accident two years ago this month, has begun dating!  We are very happy for her as she's much too young to be alone the rest of her life.   Even our little Jacob had started asking around Christmas, "Mama are you ever going to get a boyfriend?"  I think Gary's family is having a harder time with this - understandable.  But my side is just flat out excited to see her happy and joyous again.

6.  Sometimes I wonder if women ever stop worrying about their weight/shape/appearance.  Mama Helen is about to turn 72 years old.  My sister recently brought said new boyfriend to meet Mama.  The new beau comes from "The Hamptons" which is a very posh and wealthy area of Long Island.  Mama Helen immediately assumed that meant that his mother was not only rich, but skinny.  As she tells Mr. Helen and I about this encounter she said, "All I cared about was making sure I had my girdle on!"  As you can imagine we just about fell out of our seats.  72 and still worrying about looking skinny!

5. Our dojo had their Power Weekend last weekend. This is the weekend where the black belt candidates are tested. Pretty much if you've been invited to take part in that, you're going to pass. But the thing is, it's not a cakewalk. In fact it's hard has heck. In addition to having to know forms and combos and weapons, they are put through a rigorous fitness test. For example one of the sessions, they had to run 2 miles, then they did 41 minutes of sprints, then they had to run the two miles again!

4.  Confession: That terrifies me and makes me wonder if I'll actually go all the way to black belt.  You see, I'm a crockpot runner.  It takes me a while to warm up and get into my "cooking" pace.  Short distances and sprints?  Not so much my thing.

3.  Speaking of fast running, the winner of yesterday's Boston Marathon ran it in 2 hours, 3 minutes, 2 seconds.  Less than 5 minutes per mile for 26.2 miles.  While I admire the athleticism required to do that, I can't even fantasize that I would ever be able to.  Losing 50 pounds and training as hard I could still wouldn't get me there - or to the first woman finisher's time: 2 hours 22 minutes 34 seconds.  Now that's amazing - and epic!

2.  Those elite runners that are able to keep that sort of pace?  They eat thousands and thousands of calories a day.  I guess that would be one good reason to try to run faster.  To be able to eat more!

1.  Confession:  One of the things I'm looking forward to about maintenance?  Eating more food.  Isn't it odd how a person at ideal/goal weight can maintain that and actually consume more calories than a heavier person trying to lose weight?  I can't help it.  I really, really, really like food!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Miscellaney

Spring has finally sprung for sure.  Each evening on my drive home this week I've watched the trees along the highway change color as their buds are popping out.  I suppose it's only to be expected with all the rain we've had.  Today is our second day of sunshine but the weekend forecast isn't looking so good:  overcast, windy, rainy, raw.  Appears the sun will come out just in time for my return to work on Monday.  But perhaps this is the last hurrah and temperatures will begin to normalize and it will feel more like spring than winter around here.  There's always hope, right? 

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I went to a friend's house for coffee and she gave me a little snack that just made me happy.  I found out she bought them at our local BJ's but I'm sure you could find them in your grocery store.  Since I already knew I liked them, I went to BJ's for the larger box.  These are only 80 calories and are a perfect pick me up with a cup of coffee around 3:30 in the afternoon when I want a little something.  The combination of the crunchy granola with the dark chocolate coated bottom seem to be everything I need to feel satisfied!



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I was surprised at the reactions to the two other blogs I wrote this week. Both  INO and this week's Cranky Tuesday Ten are in the running for most comments on any post I've written.  INO seemed to really strike a chord with a lot of you and was linked by several bloggers.  Like I said, isn't it funny how something so simple that you might even have heard before, when stated differently can cause a lightbulb to go on.  The one thing I want to make clear, which I don't think I did, is that INO is not dieting, nor is it permanent refusal to partake of anything.  INO means "not now" but maybe tomorrow.  I think Lori at Finding Radiance had a perfect example of that this week with her coconut macaroons.  What was really ironic is that once she said, "none today" when she allowed one the next day, she wasn't all that thrilled by it.  I've been experiencing the same sort of thing with INO.  I'm using it to make myself wait until whatever the item is will fit into my food budget - to not eat unnecessary food.   Ironically, once I allow it that food is not even what I would choose.  I'm beginning to think that INO might actually help me shift towards more intuitive eating, which is really how I'd like to eat.  I can honestly say I've reached the point where I just want my body to settle whereever it's supposed to go.  I'm done with the drama, you know?

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It's Finger Friday, this week with the bonus of toes!  The drama going on at my job had me singing the blues this week. Wednesday was my normal manicure time so I quickly texted Michele and asked her if she could fit me in for a mini-pedi.  The mini-pedi is basically an abbreviated version of the full and the price is abbreviated too!  It gave me an hour and a half to just sit and be pampered.  By the time I left, I felt better and ready to tackle the last couple of days in the office.

Koala Berry by OPI


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Our dojo is having Power Weekend which is when those who are testing for black belts (all degrees) are put through their test.  It's 3 two-hour sessions spread out over Friday evening and Saturday.  It's quite rigorous and if the candidates can survive they certainly deserve their belts.  We will go to watch some of it, especially since Mr. Helen is a Sensei and has trained quite a few of these people.  Other than that we don't have any big plans this weekend.  I'm looking forward to the R&R and maybe we can sneak a date night in.  Sort of nice to think that we can do whatever we want - or not!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tuesday Ten: I'm a Cranky Old Lady

10.  You know what I find irritating?  The fact that now that I've reached midlife, my carefully applied morning makeup totally FADES by like 1 p.m..  Unless I put on a whole other layer of primer stuff underneath it all.  So now instead of just applying my eye shadow, I have to prime then apply.  It's so irritating I tell you.  Not to mention twice as expensive for me to be beautiful.

9.  Irritating the heck out of me lately?  Charlie Sheen.  You are not winning.  You are an idiot. Or maybe all those people paying to see his live show and bemoaning the "loss" of the tv show are idots.  Whatever.

8.  Also irritating is the fact that movie theaters LIE about what time the movies start.  If a movie time is listed as 7 p.m. it should START at 7 p.m..  Do not make me eat my whole bucket of popcorn during the endless previews that last for 20 minutes.  I bought that popcorn to eat during the movie!

7.  You know what else I find irritating?  Politicians. (This was one of the upsetting things I was dealing with that I alluded to last week.) I don't want to start any sort of debate up in here and if any of you do I will erase you because this is a family friendly blog. But peeps, I was ready to shoot someone and I didn't care what party they were affiliated with.  Had the gov'ment shut down, Mr. Helen would have been unemployed until further notice and unable to use or take any of the six weeks of vacay he has on the books so that we could have a paycheck.  And some groceries.  That's irritating.

6.  Somewhat irritating?  Husbands who don't listen because they are zoned out on some sport or MMA fighting or Animal Planet.  Then you have to repeat yourself. and still aren't sure they heard you.  This is almost as irritating as husbands who talk and make snarky remarks all the way through "Real Housewives."

5.  Miss Manners would be appalled irritating?  The way people think they can talk to each other via written communication.  I swear, folks will say things via email or on a blog comment or on Facebook that they would not have the guts to say to someone face to face in real life.  Family included.  We need to do more talking.

4.  Which leads to what else I find irritating.  Too much talking via people on their damn cell phones inappropriately.  I do not want to listen to your whole conversation in a grocery store line, on the elevator, sitting in a waiting room, at the movie theater and really, really, really NOT AT A RESTAURANT.  In fact I'm beginning to think there should be mandatory cell phone check rooms at restaurants! How on earth we survived all the years prior without being constantly connected may be one of the world's great mysteries.

3.   Irritating?  Overuse of words.  Lately the one that is bugging the crap out of me is "Amazing."  Not every damn thing is Amazing.  Sometimes things are just plain old good and that is good enough. I recently had to hide some FB friends because of the overuse of this word.  I'm not kidding.

2.  Super irritating?  Having to sit 8 hours a day at a job where you don't have enough work to keep you busy, all because you need the paycheck.  Especially when there's hours and hours of things you could be doing at home.

1.  Maybe most personally irritating of all?  To follow the rules, do the right thing, stay the course, be decisive and still not get results. Only to see someone who is sort of wishy washy and half-assed and a fly by the seat of their pants type seeming to get it all.  I know you think I'm just talking about weight loss, and while that might be some of it, I'm talking about many other things as well.  Feel free to add your own personal irritations in the comments!

Monday, April 11, 2011

INO

A while back I won a giveaway sponsored by Katie J.  One of the items in the giveaway was the book Secrets of a Former Fat Girl by Lisa Delaney.  When the book arrived I put it on my bedside stand along with the other books I've been trying to get to.

One evening during the time when I was sort of reevaluating what I was doing for my health and well-being, I picked the book up.  As I opened it my mind was saying, "Ah, it's probably just like every other weight loss memoir you've read" and believe me, I've read a ton of them.  (Pun intended.) When I got to the page showing the chapters, I noticed that she had written the book where each chapter was one of her secrets. So I decided that I would not read the book in order from page 1 to the end.  Rather, I would randomly choose a chapter and read it.

I read a couple of chapters and I was correct, it was like so many other memoirs.  Not really much in the way of secrets - at least to me.  Things like visualizing yourself thinner, remembering that just because other people can eat whatever it might not be the case for you, don't let people push food on you, etc., etc.  Then one night I picked it up and read Secret #3: Adopt INO.  By the end of that chapter, I knew this was something I was going to put in place for myself.  Though the information wasn't necessarily new to me, the way she stated what her goal was with it made some lightbulbs turn on.

You know how we're all looking for the elusive "click?"  As I read, it seemd that the INO strategy was about faking it until you make it, or, creating the click when it's not there. It is easy for me to work this strategy because one day per week I allow myself a treat day, a splurge day, a pleasure day - whatever you want to call it.  On this day I have anything I want, in any amount.  It might seem backwards to do this, but along with INO, it works for me.  So what is this INO?

It's Not an Option

In a nutshell, it's a phrase I use towards eating and towards exercise.  In the case of eating, for example, I allow myself a certain number of starch servings per day.  If I have reached the max, and I want something else, I quietly say, "It's not an option today.  You can have more tomorrow or you can have all you want of that item on treat day.  But today, it's not an option."

With exercise, it may be that I don't want to get up and run or I may get home and feel too tired to go to Muay Thai.  Yet, I have committed to a certain number of minutes that I want to exercise each week.  So I tell myself, "It's not an option today.  You need to take a 60 minute class to add to the minute bank.  On treat day, you don't have to exercise at all if you want.  But today, it's not an option."

As simplistic as this sounds, INO is helping me stay within reasonable boundaries for health and fitness. I'm also finding that often the conversation goes much further in my head - beyond INO.  It helps me remember that my ultimate goal is to be the best I can be and now I've begun to think of INO as "I'm telling myself NO - for now."  As I've put this into practice, the thought occurred to me that there are a lot of folks out there who are dealing with medical issues where they have no choice but to operate under INO. So, as simple as it sounds, it has a lot of power.

Don't get me wrong, there have been times when it has been hard, more so in dealing with food than with exercise.  Because I'm like a lot of you out there - I like to eat good food.  Even when I'm not hungry.  Shocking I know! I have times when it's just my head or my taste buds that want to eat.  I've reached the level of plenty of food for the day and I want one more thing.  When it's like that, the INO conversation can go on for quite some time.  In fact, as I told Shelley, one night I was pretty much walking around my house chanting "IFNO, IFNO, IFNO!"  I'll leave it to you to figure out what the "F" is for...

Perhaps this works for me simply because of my treat day.  I have found myself at times thinking, "INO!  Just hold on, Saturday's on the way." (That one works well when I want a glass of wine.)  I have no idea if this will work for anyone else, I just know that it has been working for me.

So there you have it:

1. Eat real food in smaller portions
2. Alcohol is not my friend
3. INO

Now, let's see where this takes me.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Topic-less

There has been a lot of busy-ness in my life lately but nothing I want to share on Doing A 180. Unfortunately, since those are the things Ive really been dealing with, I’m finding it hard to write blogs. Like Kelly said, sometimes you get just an ordinary post. On the other hand, if I’m writing for me, if this is my diary, I suppose there’s nothing wrong with that!

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My get up and go got up and went this week. I've been searching for it desperately and think I may have found the thief!

I started noticing a problem with water retention in my legs for the last couple of weeks - alarming, just sort of puffiness. The other thing I've noticed is that I've been feeling super sluggish. Almost like I had no metabolism/adrenaline/whatever it is that gives energy. My legs have felt very heavy when I've been out running and after exercise instead of feeling revved up and refreshed, I've been feeling like I just need to lay down for a while.

Tuesday while at work I was sitting at my desk and slipped my shoes off for a second. I often do that because my office is carpeted and if I'm wearing heels, it gives my achilles tendons a chance to stretch out a bit. When I went to put my shoes back on they felt tight, which made me take them back off and look at my feet closely. I couldn't believe what I saw! (I tried to take a photo to show you too but it wasn't translating well into a picture.) I had CANKLES! And my poor feet were so full of water they looked like this:


I don’t even know what made me think of it but I decided to go online and look up all the meds I’m taking and sure enough a new one that my doctor switched me to at my last visit seems to be the culprit. I stopped taking it and as of today my legs are back to normal. When I called the doc she agreed I did the right thing and put me back on the one I used to take.

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You know why I don’t get to plant my new Day Lilies that I bought, or anything else for that matter? Because it was 32 degrees here this morning. But Spring is definitely somewhere out there because the birdies have come back to the bushes in my neighbors yard and they start chirping right around 4:45 each morning. Pain in the neck when I want to sleep in but great when I want to get up and run!

At least the tulips on my desk opened up fully. The colors inside are just beautiful.  Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tuesday Ten

10.  Connecticut is in hysteria today.  In case you missed it the UCONN men's basketball team won the National Championship last night.  The women's team was predicted to win but got their butts waxed by Notre Dame so they aren't even in the final.  I was hoping they would be because they would have been playing Texas A&M.  I was all ready to do one of those friendly bets like the Senators do, with Shelley. The loser would have had to send the winner something from their state.  Oh well, maybe next year?

9.  It's curious to me that Southwest Airlines did not do more comprehensive checkups and inspections on their "middle aged" planes. Because 'I'm' middle aged and I know I need more comprehensive checkups.

8.  Speaking of checkups, like a lot of middle aged women I'm looking for the holy grail of skincare products that will remove at least 10 years off my face.  Mr. Helen has a part time job where he's the representative for various products that are put into the commissary on the sub base.  When they want to introduce something new, they send him samples.  Sometimes his store hasn't authorized it to come in, so we get to keep the samples.  This is the latest one he gave to me.  I wasn't sure if I should be insulted that he thought I needed a youth code or excited because this stuff is expensive.  In the end, I promised him that if it made me look 35 again, once they put it in his store, I'd go be the model for it.



7.  In a comment on this blog Lori mentioned that she weighs/measures her food whether she's in weight loss mode or not.  I often do the same. For me it started in 1995 when I joined WW to lose the 60 pounds I'd gained after quitting smoking.  Back then, they really put an emphasis on weighing/measuring.  I've had a scale on my kitchen counter ever since.  Comes in super handy for recipes too.

6.  Spring finally sprang this week.  Around here that means rain.  Lots of rain.  Right now we only have 1 day in the seven day forecast without it.  Which means I'm being kept on the treadmill much more than I want to be.

5.  My last few runs/walks/jogs outside have proven to me, once again, that I'm totally deconditioned from all the treadmill running I was forced to do over the winter.  Right now it feels like it will be forever before I will get my pace and conditioning back on natural terrain.  That messes with me mentally.  Then again, I've always said about half of running is the mental part.

4.  My new running shoes.  Don't they look beautiful and like they're going to make me really, really fast?  First time in around 7 years I've tried something other than an Asics.  I'll let you know how I like them - or don't.


3.  Speaking of running, I'm thinking about not training for any races until I get some weight off.  When you do it properly, training for a race is hard on the body and extra hard when my weight isn't where it should be.  Plus I'm the type that once I get a training schedule I force myself to stick to it, sometimes against better judgement, even when my body is telling me to back off a little. I'm stubborn that way.  Not racing will ultimately be for my own good, right now.  We'll see.

2.  It's going to be very important for me to get in better shape as I progress with Muay Thai.  Things are changing around the dojo and some of the automatic promotions are not happening anymore.  Used to be that simply showing up was enough to get your striped and promoted to your next belt.  Now they've decided to treat it like the real martial art that it is and by the time you are a candidate for black belt, you have to be invited.  If it's the last thing I do, I'm getting that invitation!  Being in great shape will help.

1. Sometimes I think the way to success is to fake it 'til you make it. At the dojo they say habits we train are habits we gain. So even if I don't "feel" like exercising or watching what I eat or disciplining myself to get to bed and get enough rest, the thought is to just do it. Just do it, until it's a new habit. Just do it all the way to success.

Monday, April 4, 2011

To Your Health!

Last Monday, I shared with you the first of some of the things I've been learning lately in regards to my health and fitness.  Or I should say "re"learning. What's old is new again and all that jazz.  Don't get me wrong, this is an ongoing learning experiment, but I've always felt that in order to keep on keeping on you have to keep educating yourself and figuring out what works for you.

I am hypothyroid.  My doc had a devil of a time balancing my thyroid.  In fact, that took almost 18 months before we could get it to read balanced several months in a row.  Just when I thought everything was dandy and I was only 10 pounds away from the goal I had set for myself, it went out of balance and I started regaining some of the weight I'd lost even while still trying to lose weight.  18 months after that, I started writing Doing A 180 trying to find a way to keep on keeping on.

Just imagine here I am right at the time in life when women in particular seem to be hit hardest by midlife hormones. Even the thinnest and hardest excercising of my friends suddenly find themselves wondering how it is they haven't changed a thing and yet their pants fit differently! Challenging.  Add to to that a sluggish thyroid and it's a bigger battle than most.

However, I have never been one to excuse my weight gain because of my thyroid or my mid life.  I know if I keep working at it I will find the right combination of things that will lead me and my body to just exactly where it should be. Which brings me to another of my recent discoveries.


Alcohol is not my friend.


Let me state right off the bat I am not an alcoholic.  This has been confirmed by an alcoholic friend who, once when I told her that I had put some "leftover" martini in the freezer to be consumed at another time said,
"Oh, you're definitely not a friend of Bill's.  Leftover, what is leftover? That's not even possible is it?"

Still in recent years I have found myself partaking more often.  Some of this, I'm sure, is because of where I am in my life.  Kids are grown and gone, lots of free time for Mr. Helen and me to go out for nice dinners or to concerts or to other social events where it is quite easy to partake.

The trouble with alcohol is that it is easy, even for a non-alcoholic, to have it become a habit.  Just like overeating can be a habit, so can having a drink.  There was a stretch in my post thyroid where I was so depressed from the weight gain and what it was doing to my running, not to mention a bunch of other stuff that was going on in our lives, that each night I would come home, pour 1 glass of wine and drink it while I cooked dinner.  Almost overnight that became a habit.  Just one glass, every day.

When I initially was able to lose some weight post diagnosis, the first thing the doctor told me to do was to remove all sweets, "whites" and alcohol from my diet for two weeks.  It was then that I realized the alcohol had indeed become a habit.  For those two weeks, I ate lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and when I went back to the doc to get weighed was shocked to find those simple changes had allowed me to lose 9 pounds!!  I'm sure I wasn't eating that much less in terms of bulk. However, I'm also sure that my caloric consumption was way down simply because of all the calorically empty sugars removed by removing the sweets and alcohol.

Over these last 5 years I have experimented with this many times and the one thing that is true for me is that reduction of intake of alcohol equal weight loss.

Well don't you know that scientific studies have shown that alcohol slows down metabolism.  This is how it works.  Alcohol is full of sugar and calories which restrict your metabolic rate. The metabolic rate is restricted because too much sugar overloads your body and causes your blood sugar levels to rise rapidly. This in turn makes your body go into conservation mode meaning that you will store extra fat and burn less calories.   It's a vicious cycle.  This doesn't even take into account that alcohol also lowers your inhibitions. Each and every time a study is done they find that when alcoholic beverages are consumed, people eat around 30% more calories.    That doesn't sound like a lot but add that 30% up time and time again and it will equal weight gain, I promise.  Especially in a middle aged hypothyroid woman! 

Also alcoholic beverages are dehydrating.   Dehydration equals slow metabolism.  Peeps, I don't need a slow metabolism.  I need to figure out how to get mine to work normally and then hopefully speed up!

So, my solution to this issue is that I allow myself to consume alcoholic beverages on one day per week, usually Saturdays as that is when we tend to have social gatherings.  I also prepare for this the same way I prepare for when I want to participate in Bagel Wednesday:  I exercise a little bit extra.

Even then, I pick and choose my indulgences.  This past Saturday I went to a baby shower that was held in a hall.  There was a full bar.  I could have had a glass of wine, but I chose not to.  I chose to save my little indulgence for a martini later on with Mr. Helen.

I'm not saying what works for me will work for you.  I'm only saying after some years of going round and round, this is what is working for me, at least for now.

So here's a toast to each of us as we find our way.  To your best life and to your health. Cheers!

Friday, April 1, 2011

No Fear

It's Fingers Friday!
That's Hot! Pink by OPI

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Good grief.  We have a Nor'easter rolling through.  It started last night and will finish up some time today. Northern parts of the state are getting enough snow to cause school delays.  We're getting rain, sleet, snow and back to rain.  Last year's rains on this weekend flooded my basement.  So far, we're dry but it's cold and it's no wonder I keep buying spring and sprinkling it anywhere I can find a spot.  Here are the flowers I bought for home this week:

And here are the flowers I bought for my desk

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Whatever it takes, right?  Speaking of whatever it takes, I have been so good about keeping my calf wrapped up and taped!  Last weekend when we finally took the tape off we found a pretty good sized purple bruise all around my inner ankle.  That means I had a Grade 2 or 3 calf strain - pretty serious!  Anyway, the bruise is gone and my calf has been feeling good but I'm keeping it wrapped for Muay Thai.  The fact that it feels so much better led me to try and flat out run instead of walking or doing a walk/jog combo.  So far this week I've had 3 decent runs.  Hurray for running!  But do you know what the price of being an Adult Onset Athlete is?  Lots and lots of ice packs.

 Good golly Miss Molly!  It takes a village! One for my calf, one for my hip/butt, one for the arch of my right foot which started pulling this week.

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I don't want you to think I forgot about Bagel Wednesday just because I was running around being a Super Hero that day!  Not only did I not forget, but I got up and ran 5.3 miles in anticipation/preparation.  I did switch things up a bit and have it for lunch instead of breakfast.

This was so good.  Pumpernickel bagel with homemade chicken salad that had craisins and walnuts in it. 
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If you had asked me in September of 2009 when I started writing Doing A 180 if I would have ever, ever, EVER put photos of myself in a bathing suit at my heaviest weight ever out there where anyone could see them, I would have definitely questioned your sanity! Now remember back then 'I' was anonymous and it would be many months before I'd show my face, but even then I wouldn't have shown a photo with my head cut off.

All motivated by fear. Fear of what "people" might think, or do, or say. Fear of being exposed like that. Which is super ironic because did not the people of St. Martin (where that photo was taken) see me? Ahhh, but they didn't know me so I rationalized it into being OK. Which is silly because as I've said before, when you're overweight, it's already all hanging out there for anyone to see.

I guess all this turning 50 business has been good for the soul and the fear reduction because I have truly reached a point where I'm less and less afraid of revealing my authentic self. Besides, I'm planning to keep on keeping on and pretty soon I'm gonna have more better, more fabulous photos to show you. Just because I've got some extra poundage, it doesn't change who I am at my core. I'm glad I finally realize and acknowledge that!

Mark Twain said, "Do the thing you fear most and the death of fear is certain."  I can say with certainty I am no longer afraid.  In fact, you guys may be running away and covering your eyes what with all the letting it all hang out I'm about to do up in here.

Make it a great weekend in every way!