Thursday, November 21, 2013

Giving It the Old College Try

The Old College Try (from Wiktionary)

1.    (idiomatic) A vigorouscommitted attempt or effort . [quotations ▼]

Usage notes
  • Often used in the expression give it the old college try.
See also
For a few months now I have been doing a lot of thinking about where to go from here.  I'm not sure I can even give a good explanation as to how conflicted I have felt about weight loss, health, and fitness over the last 18 months. Last year's foot fractures set me so far back, I wasn't sure I'd ever see the forest for the trees again.  But then we had our spectacular Grand Canyon vacation which gave me a bit of a reset, especially mentally. 
By the end of May, I was able to run a bit without constant foot pain and told many friends and family that I finally felt like I was going to get it together once and for all.  But as the saying goes, “Announcing your plans is a good way to hear god laugh.”  On Memorial Day on my third run, I pulled my hamstring right where it connects all the way at the top (red arrow):
I wasn't even running hard or fast but was pushing up a hill when I felt it pull. At first it was sort of uncomfortable but within hours I was miserable. The pain was so deep, it was near impossible to treat it. I  tried to roll it and stretch it too but that made it hurt more.  Then I tried sitting on ice packs but that just made my butt cold. Finally, I did some research and basically everything I read said go to physical therapy and leave it alone - i.e., rest.  It should take about 4-6 weeks to heal, unless you've torn it.

NOOOOOOOOOO!  is what was screaming through my head.  So I was faced with a choice to just quit running - AGAIN - or try to work through it.  I didn't have the money to spend on PT because Mr. Helen was sequestered (forced to take off 1 unpaid day a week) and I really didn't want to stop running when I was just getting my groove back.  In the end, my solution was to run easy and walk every single hill from June to October. It took so long to heal I figured it probably was slightly torn.  I had a chance to ask our orthopedist about it and he said pulls there are almost always tears - and he couldn't believe I was self-treating.  It started feeling better around the beginning of October at which time I began to stretch it very lightly at the end of each run.  As of today I'd say I'm about 98% healed - I only feel it very occasionally and it's not super sore.

In June, having decided that I could exercise, even if it wasn't as hard as I wanted to, it was time to once again tackle weight loss.  I gained 25 pounds with my broken foot because, not only was I nearly sedentary, I felt sorry for myself and I chose not to control my food.  I heard about DietBet and decided to solicit a group of close friends to see if anyone would do it with me.  We did and I got 10 pounds off during that first bet.  I did another and lost another 8 pounds.... so close.  I joined a third bet (that I didn't run and in fact didn't know a soul in it) and my weight loss just stopped.  It seemed no matter what I did, the lbs. just wouldn't budge, until they started creeping upwards a bit.  Guess what that does to me, knowing that I'm overweight and have several more pounds to lose?  Make me want to try harder?  NOPE. It made me give up and question why I even keep trying.  So, for about 6 weeks, I did nothing other than my exercise.   I just ate and drank and yep, felt my pants getting tighter.  I was completely stressed out too:  Mr. Helen's unpaid day off turned into him being completely furloughed when the government shut down.  In the midst of that, he tore his meniscus and had to have surgery.  

All the while this was going on I had many thoughts going through my head about health and fitness and weight loss, including just stopping:
  • I don't want to be my mother - i.e., 75 years old and STILL dieting.
  • I don't want to be obsessed/consumed with every bite of food that goes in my mouth.
  • I've spent so much time and energy trying to prove wrong the doctor who told me I'd never get back to my pre-thyroid weight, that I'm exhausted from it all.
  • I'm sick and tired of counting, counting, counting.
  • I'm tired of agonizing over my body and the shape that it is or isn't in.
  • I don't want to be defined by a scale.
  • I do want to live a full and happy life and can't do that if I'm so consumed all the time
  • I do want to be an active and more social participant in life:  i.e., I want to accept invitations to go for lunch and not be worried about what I might have to eat
  • I do want to be my best healthy self - and maybe that isn't the number on the scale that I've thought for years
  • I do want to be happy and content because if I am then my life, in general, is peaceful no matter what else is swirling around me
The first decision I made was to give weight loss one more try.  I owe that to myself, mostly because if I'm about 25 pounds less than I weigh right now, I feel a lot better.  So it's more about health and feeling better than the damn number. The second decision I made was to change my goal weight.  The goal weight I am aiming for is seriously 20 pounds more than it was even just a couple years ago.  But here's the thing, if I lose these 25 pounds, I know that I am pretty happy at that size (not weight, but size).  I am able to easily maintain it (uh, well, less a broken foot I guess) and I'm also able to partipate in social events that might have food involved without obsessing. (Disclaimer: that's not to say that if I get there I might not try to lose a bit more - but for now I'm taking the pressure off.) The third decision I made was to take a broader look at how I eat - not what I eat - and work on finding a plan that would incorporate that and help me get started with some real and steady weight loss.  

I've been working on these things for a few weeks now and am having some success.  I find it ironic that all of this seems to be falling into place for me just as the holidays come into play, but I guess that's life isn't it?  It's just always something.  It seems there's no time like the present to give it the old college try!


  1. LOL, it IS always something, but I guess now is as good of a time as any to lose least by being aware of your goals, you won't have the holiday gain.

    I agree with you on so much of this. Hyperfocusing on dieting, a particular number, and the like just gets tiring, and at what point are we "allowed" to let that go? I love that you are looking toward caring for your emotional well-being, via taking care of your body.

  2. I agree with Shelley - there is always something that's going to be happening - and that's my mantra this holiday season. Saying no to things I don't want to go to and saying yes to things that make me happy.

    And trying to focus on the friends/family instead of the food that's on the table!

    I am loving your positive attitude Helen!!

  3. Helen, I can just feel the mental and emotional exhaustion of all this and I just want to give you a big hug.

    I don't know as there is any time that is really good to try to lose - just whenever you feel ready, whether that is the holiday time or not.

  4. man it is always something.
    lately my bod feels like that BOY AND THE DYKE THING.
    each time I get one hole plugged---the next POPS.

  5. Sending a big giant supportive hug to you Helen!!!!!! Hang in!

  6. I can't tell you how inspirational this post is to me.

    I admire you for self-treating yourself and happy to hear it was succesful.

    And you also inspire me with the weight loss thing. I need to lose weight too but since I have this specialist appointment in December I don't want to change much how I eat right now because I am still convinced food is the problem.

    It's funny that yesterday I realized we only have 5 more weeks to go till the end of this year and I thought what I wanted to change in these 5 weeks and then I read your post: very inspirational!