54 at 54 Weekly Update – Week 8

Walking

First, and most importantly, today I am wearing a pair of jeans that, two weeks ago, were incredibly uncomfortable.  So much so that I had to wear a big flowing top and do the “rubber band trick” on the button.  (You know what that is right?  It’s when you loop a rubber band through the button-hole of your pants and then around the button itself.  Depending on the rubber band it can give you an extra 1/2″ to 1″.  Those rubber bands that come on broccoli at the supermarket are perfect for this.)  Today they are not only comfortable but a little baggy.  Yesterday I had to tighten my belt twice because the pants I was wearing were threatening to leave my body – and not in a good way.

I’ve also started working out in…wait for it…the morning.  GASP!  I know…I’ve tried before and given up but the fact that this treadmill is right in my bedroom and that basically all I have to do is put on a bra and shoes is definitely a bonus.  Plus, I just get home too late at night to do the nightly workout that’s been my staple all of my adult life.

But things change.

When I was 16 I wanted to take off some weight (well – since puberty I’ve wanted to “take off some weight”) so I bought a record album of exercises that came with a wall chart so you could see how to do them (yes…I’m old…don’t judge).  I fell in love with it.  Over the years that morphed into gyms and aerobics classes (Jazzercise anyone?) and personal trainers and lots and lots of VHS tapes and then later, DVD’s.  My library was extensive and for a while I belonged to a kind of “club” where you could trade videos you’d grown tired of or that were not a good fit for you.  Working out at home to videos with Kathy Smith, Karen Voight and Petra Kolber (to name a few) became my fitness routine and lasted for about 20 years.

After I got sober and started thinking about getting back into shape (one other than the one I’m currently in) I dusted off those old tapes and DVD’s and got to work.  The problem was that where they once energized me and made me happy, they now bored me and made me feel bad about myself.  So I stopped using them and started my search for my next fitness path.

One thing that has never changed in all my life is that I love to walk.  I will walk anywhere for ridiculous amounts of time.  My normal gait is at about 2.7 mph (yeah…it’s hard for people to keep up) but I’ve been known to walk as fast as 4.2 mph if I’m really pushing it.  I prefer walking outside but when I’m out there I tend to walk slower and just enjoy the outdoors.  I can listen to some “beat” music and match the pace – but for me, having earbuds in takes the joy out of my walk.  (Plus if I’m in an unfamiliar city it’s dangerous because I need to be aware of my surroundings at all times…you can take the girl out of the hood but you can’t take the hood out of the girl.)

Which is why this treadmill is such a godsend.  Last weekend, after my run-in with my compassionate boss (yes…that WAS sarcasm) I feeling pretty low so I did what I love to do – I walked.  First on the treadmill and then outside with the dogs.  Saturday and Sunday I exercised self-care and just…walked.  I didn’t try to run or match any pace or even care if I sweat.  I just moved my feet.

And it was glorious.

So this week I’ve been getting up early and walking first thing in the morning which sets the “pace” (HA!) for my day.  I’ve decided that if I never learn to run that’s okay…I can walk.  If I never run another race (5K, 4-miler, half marathon) that’s okay…I can walk it.  If I never fire up my c25K app again that’s okay…I can walk while binge watching TV series and let the iFit application on my treadmill do the work (and make ME work in the process).

I’m happy with this program.  I logged food all week and did pretty damn well I think.  I walked and walked and walked…with my own unique brand of quiet determination.

And that is perfectly imperfect…and just enough.

Stats:  74, 442 steps for 30.9 miles – 10,635 daily average steps – 4.41 daily average miles.

Namaste

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54 at 54 Friday Update – Week 1

This week has been…slow.  I’m still struggling with the sugar but I’ve worked out every evening which is a very big deal.  When I hurt my foot before Christmas, I stopped working out so I didn’t aggravate it.  I never picked it back up.  BUT I’m pushing through even when, like last night, every bone in my tired body said “NO!!!!  Just go home and sit in your chair and relax…you deserve it.”

I told those lying-ass thoughts that they had been evicted and would have to leave…and then I did a 40 minute workout instead of a 30 minute workout.  See what happens when you piss me off.

My diet has been good too (except for the sugar…oh…and some potato chips…ugh).  I’m keeping it clean, low carb with lots of vegetables.  Still too many diet Pepsi’s but progress not perfection.

I mentioned I’d been reading the book Down Size by Ted Spiker.  It’s really given me a new perspective on my weight and, more importantly, confirmed what I have always believed…diets don’t work and anything you do to lose weight you must be able to maintain for a lifetime (with the exception of jump starts and cleaning up your diet…more on that later).  If you can’t do it forever, you’re just making yourself crazy.

From the introduction:

“It comes down to figuring out not the rules, but the truths – the principles that can guide your actions, that can steer you in the right direction, that can bail you out when things go wrong, that your brain (and not your belly) is the lead character in the dramatic performance that is weight loss.”

This is the hook that made me keep reading.  That it’s a holistic approach.  That I can’t undo a lifetime of truths and what’s more, I shouldn’t.  Rather, I should work with my own truths to uncover the healthiest version of me.  He outlines 12 truths that worked for him and that he hopes will help us find our own way to healthy.

In part one of the book, Ted talks about figuring out the reasons we are overweight in the first place.  Genetics?  Lifestyle?  Clean your plate club?  Or how fat acts as a coping mechanism against some kind of trauma, either in childhood or in adulthood.  The bells and whistles started going off in my head as soon as I read that sentence.  I remember that I was a sickly skinny child until about third grade when I began to put on weight…exactly when the abuse began.  Believe it or not, I had never put that together with my sexual abuse…NEVER.

So I started thinking, could my weight gain as a child be related to my sexual abuse?  Later, as a middle age woman, could my weight gain have been as a result of a feeling that I was failing my mother as she was dying?  The time in between 22 and 40 I maintained a healthy weight and was physical fit.  But before and after…

Rocked my world people.  I spent a good 2-3 days just flipping that one over and over in my head until I realized, thinking about it wasn’t going to do a damn thing.  I had to actually do something…so I kept reading.

Ted moves on to discuss motivation and determination and strategies but never strays from the premise that one size does not fit all and that we each must do the work to figure out what works for us AND what our bodies want to be.  We’re not all a size 6 (or 00?  What the what?) and, for me, I know my body will fight me every step of the way if I try to make it something it’s not nor will ever be.  It’s been doing it my whole adult life.

And then, after my post the other day where I said it felt like a I had reached some kind of quiet determination this time I read this…

“It’s quieter than what we typically think of as determination.”

I mean…HELLLLLLO!

This book isn’t a diet book and there are no hard and fast rules about how you’re going to get skinny.  But I promise you that if it doesn’t do anything else, it will definitely make you think.

It has made me think.  In fact, I’m toying with the idea of another Whole30.  Just to jumpstart me and detox from sugar and potato chips.  I felt so great when I did the first one and I think enough time has passed for me to feel the newness again.  I’ll think about it some more and let you know.  I know that when I was at my best, my fittest, sugar and chips were a treat…not a way of life.  I know I can maintain that lifestyle.  I know I feel great in that lifestyle.  I just have to find that lifestyle again.

And the treadmill should be coming about the middle of next week.  Scandal here I come!

Thanks for listening.

Namaste

Again

I got some truly amazing comments on my post yesterday about The Before.  It resonated with a lot of people which made me happy because, well that’s why we’re all out here right?  That, and the cheap therapy.

One comment in particular has been stuck in my brain since yesterday and I have to write about it or it will be up there tumbling around unaccompanied until it drives me batshit crazy.  So to avoid all that drama – I’ll be writing about it here.

Josie over at The Miracle Is Around the Corner commented that she feels like she’s in The Before when it comes to her eating and exercise plan and that it feels just like it did when she was in The Before of her drinking career.  She and I have discussed this, so she knew I would understand (which I DO).  Pop onto yesterday’s post and check out her comment – it was awesome.

The reason I get it is because it’s the same for me.  The only difference is that this particular Before has been going on for me since fucking puberty.  It’s been rolling around in my brain and making me miserable since I was about 12.  That’s almost 42 years of bullshit brain activity (or approximately 336 dog years). 

What the what?

This is my 474th post on this blog.  Of those posts, I would estimated that at least 1/4 to 1/3 of them are about eating, exercising, dieting, body image, etc.  That means between 119 and 158 posts have been written about my struggles not with alcohol but with FOOD.  That feels like a lot to be on a blog that is supposed to be about sobriety.  Maybe it’s not.  What the hell do I know?

What bothers me is the up and down in and out back and forth of the whole thing.  One day I’ve got this killer eating plan and I’m exercising every day, the next day I’m stuffing my face with Oreo’s and Halloween candy and my self-esteem is in the toilet.  One day I’ve sworn off thinking about food and I’m just going to learn to love myself the way I am, the next day the doctor calls me “obese” and I’m crying in my Diet Pepsi.  One day I’m meditating and practicing self-care and telling myself only good things, and the next I catch sight of myself in a mirror and I swear I’m not going to eat until my 55th birthday by which time (in 2016 btw) I will have lost approximately half my body weight and have to check into Betty Ford for an eating disorder.

I’m not making fun of eating disorders by the way – I’m saying that thinking like this IS NOT HEALTHY.

Where does it stop?  Unlike cigarettes, alcohol, drugs or gambling, WE HAVE TO EAT!  What’s more, food is one of the greatest joys of life.  Sharing a meal with friends and family is a beautiful thing.  Sitting down to a table of food made with love (including dessert and bread) is a blessing that I never take for granted.  (There are too many people in the world that never have enough to eat.)  All this bullshit going on in my head ruins that joy if I let it get away from me.

Which I do.

Often.

I wish that for once in my life I could make peace with sustenance.  I wish I could find a happy place that was free of guilt or shame or self-righteousness (when I’m doing well I can get very self-righteous).  I wish I could learn to treat food as sacred and, in turn, treat myself that way.

I know there’s a root to this issue that I’ve yet to uncover.  I’ve read book after book on the subject.  I’ve scoured the Internet and plunked down lots of cash in an effort to understand what’s going on with me and food.  I’ve been to nutritionists and spas and doctors in a desperate attempt to right this ship.  And here I am typing about it again.

I often talk about wanting to get back to the way I was when I was in my 30’s and early 40’s.  Now I’m not so sure.  While it’s true that I was at a healthy weight and was extremely fit, the fact is that I was not happy.  The shit going on in my head now was there then – a constant stream of consciousness about what I was eating, where, how much and how much exercise I needed to do.  That’s not healthy.  It also wasn’t very joyful.  It was, in fact, a Before.

There really is no point to this post.  No pithy comment that will make you think, “Yes!  That’s it!”  Only a recovering alcoholic, ex-smoker who would love, for once in her life, to find peace of mind on a plate.  I have no idea how I’m going to get there or even if I’ll ever get there.  I just know I have to keep trying because, as I said yesterday, The Before is no way to live.

Namaste

Geezer Alert

I’m about to rant about something which makes me sound (and feel) really old.  I’m not going to rag on the most recent music (I love ALL music), I don’t particularly care what the younger generation wears, and I don’t really care if they spend all day with their noses in their phones on their personal time, but a lack of manners and decorum really pisses me off.

I know that times have changed and blah blah blahdy blah blah, but good manners never go out of style.  Look, I was raised in the projects.  My parents had no social skills and certainly didn’t pass them on to us.  My grandparents were immigrants.  But I knew better than to show my ass in public from a very, very young age.  I knew the difference between my inside persona and my outside persona. (Forget voices.  I’m Italian…I have no inside voice.)

When my kids were at that “magic” age when they began to flex their potty mouth muscles, I made sure to have a conversation with them about their different personas.  I explained that I knew they would be trying on expletives to see how easily they rolled off their tongue and while that was perfectly normal, there was a specific time and place for that behavior, i.e. only with their friends and only out of earshot of adults.  Who could be lurking around any corner.  So be careful.  Very careful.

I made sure they understood that they were a reflection of me and that no matter how “good” they were, a foul mouth and rude behavior would have people thinking poorly of them and that good manners, kindness and a polite demeanor would cast the impression that they were trustworthy, mature and well behaved…even if they were the heathens I knew them to be.  I also made it clear that a poor first impression was very hard to overcome and a good first impression would pave the way for forgiveness of future sins.

In other words…don’t fuck up and make me look bad.

No…of course I didn’t actually say that.  My foul potty mouth is reserved only for this blog and my husband’s ears (and a few close friends).  Otherwise I have daisies and rainbows flowing from my mouth on a regular basis.

It worked.  I am consistently complimented on my kids and their behavior and they make me proud everyday.  They have an excellent vocabulary.  Wouldn’t think of cursing outside of their inner circle.  They open doors, pull out chairs, say please and thank you and blah blah blahdy blah blah.

Here’s the thing though.  Yes, my kids are well-behaved adults but I honestly think the reason I get complimented so often is that the rest of the world has lost their freaking minds!!!  Since when is it acceptable to drop the f-bomb every three minutes within earshot of perfect strangers?  Strangers with toddlers in tow?  Or at a work function?  Or directly to your boss?!

Again…I must be geezing.  I know they are just words and that, as I told my kids, they only have power if we give them power.  But the fact remains that society has given them power and we have to respect that.  Or not.

We recently took a group of our trainees to a community service function.  We were asked to leave.  Let me type that again.  This group was asked to leave a VOLUNTEER function because they didn’t know how to behave.  From the time they walked in the door they were rude, foul-mouthed and not helpful at all.  These are young adults – not high school or middle school kids.  We didn’t accompany them because we thought they were adults.  We were wrong.  And let me assure you, they knew what was expected of them.

And let me also assure you that they heard from me upon their return.  But digress.

On what planet is it EVER okay to be rude, foul-mouthed and disrespectful?  I’m no Emily Post but damn people, it doesn’t cost a dime to be kind and respectful.  But it costs a lot for my company to have their reputation drug through the potty because of a few obnoxious frat boys and girls…yes girls…even they were in on it.  I think that pissed me off the most because, in a male dominated industry like mine, I expect more out of the women.  I expect them to be better than their male counterparts because that is what they’ll have to do in order to get ahead.  Is it right?  Hell to the no!  But it’s a fact so get over it.

What I do not expect is for them to show their ass while wearing a t-shirt with the company logo on it.  Show your ass in your own clothes…not mine.  And while you’re at it, bring me a bar of soap because I’ve got a line of people who need their mouths washed out.

See…told you I was geezing.

Namaste

 

 

No Thanks…I Don’t Like Roller Coasters

Image

First…you guys!  Guess what?  I’ve been Freshly Pressed!!!  My post on Facebook was selected for Freshly Pressed!!!  (Can you tell I’m excited?)  Never in a million years did I ever think that would happen and yet…WOOT!  Thank you Krista for noticing me and pressing me…you’ve made my blogging year!

Now…on to today’s post.  

Earlier this year I wrote a post about eating cleaner and breaking the cycle of obsession that had been a part of my life for as long as I remember.  The obsession with food, with the scale, with how I look, all of it.  I was able to break that awful cycle.  I was able to set myself free.  Free from getting on the scale every freaking morning and letting it have the power to decide my attitude.  Free from waking up every morning and thinking, “I’m going to eat well today.  I shouldn’t have eaten (whatever) last night.  Ugh…I hate myself.”  Sound familiar anyone?

I broke that cycle until…until that bitch rude nurse poor uninformed woman at my doctor’s office used the “O” word.  Obese.

I said I wasn’t going let it affect me.  I said I was going to stay on my path to healthy, clean eating and moderate exercise.  I said

…doesn’t matter what I said.  What matters is what I thought and what I did.

What I did was jump right back onto that motherfucking roller coaster.  I started weighing once a week…and then once every three or four days…and then every damn morning.  I started tracking my calories on MyFitnessPal.com and using my FitBit to not only track my steps, but to give me back some of the calories (you can lync the FitBit to MyFitnessPal).  Before I knew it, I was right back into thinking about food either consciously or unconsciously every minute of every day.  I was dreaming about food!  Shit!

This morning I woke up and my first thought was, “Okay..today’s the day I’m going to eat better.”

And I stopped in the middle of my bedroom and thought, “STOP!”  Which reminded me of my day in my closet when I yelled the same thing (out loud that time).  Which made me realize that I have let one single solitary word uttered by a woman who didn’t give it a thought put me back into a place from which I fought to remove myself with every fiber of my being.  I let that word not only impact my eating but my thoughts about who I am and what I look like as well.  One simple word unraveled all that hard work, and I mean HARD work.  Double SHIT.

It felt like a relapse.  Not a relapse back into drinking but just as harmful to my well being because I have worked very hard in recovery to cultivate peace and quiet in this crazy head that sits on my shoulders.  AND I WAS THERE!  Sigh…

Here’s the cray-cray part, the more I let those voices in, the worse I ate!  Potato chips every night (I counted them of course).  Candy (counted). Cake (counted). Banana bread (counted). Fried chicken, full fat dressing, blah, blah fucking blah.  Plus?  Not one single pound lost…not an ounce!  In fact, I’ve gone up two pounds (and then back down…whatever).  All why counting every single calorie and staying below my target.

Prior to jumping back on this nightmare of a roller coaster I had lost the weight I had gained at Christmas and leveled out.  I knew Spring would arrive and I’d get more active and then – well then I was fully prepared to let my body do what it needed to do while I was feeding it only good things and moving it in a moderate and responsible way (i.e. not making my already bad knee worse).  I WAS THERE!  

Until I wasn’t…

To show you how bad it got (is),I ordered “Rockin Body” from Beachbody and led by Shawn T.  The same Shawn T from P90X and Insanity.  Really?  While I could probably do the exercises and might even like it because it’s dance and I spent a good part of my life doing aerobic dance, I am sick of worrying about when I’ll do it and if it’s going to work and should I start getting up a five am and do I need a knee brace and what if I can’t do it and feeling guilty if I decide to walk the dogs instead and UGHHHHHHH!!!!!  STOP!

So I am taking my overweight (NOT obese) ass off this scary clown, Stephen King, haunted, carnies with three teeth among them, rats and snakes and roach filled roller coaster.  I’m doing it intentionally.  I’m sending back the videos.  I’m deactivating my Myfitnesspal account.  I’m going to take the few minutes I have in my day to myself and do what I want to do…walk the dogs, yoga, meditate.  I’m going to go back to putting clean and healthy things in my body and give myself a fucking break.

Then I’ll reassess.  Stay tuned…I’m a work in progress.

Namaste

An Open Letter to Margaret Wente of The Globe and Mail

Dear Ms. Wente – 

I read with interest your article published on February 13th with regard to Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death.  I haven’t commented on Mr. Hoffman’s death in this blog because so many of my fellow bloggers have done so rather eloquently and I didn’t feel I had anything to add to this tragic event.  In addition, I didn’t want to make it seem as if his death, because he was a celebrity, was any more tragic than the death of any other addict that passes due to their use of something to excess.

Until now.

See, after I read your article I became…let’s see…what’s the word?  Oh yeah.  Royally pissed off.  Not only am I pissed off, but I feel very sorry for you and your seemingly well spoken husband because Ms. Wente, one day you will likely be touched by addiction (more so than your friend who fell down the stairs and died) and you will know what it is like to suffer from the affects of addiction. You will understand the deep ache that comes with a helplessness matched only by the sorrow in your heart…whether it is because you are the addicted…or because you love the addicted.  When that happens, I hope that you are treated with more compassion and understanding than that which you have given Mr. Hoffman and, by association, his family.

Here’s the deal, I don’t give a rat’s ass what you want to call it.  Perhaps it is a habit.  Maybe it is a disease.  A condition?  A mental illness?  Really…who cares?  Call it whatever you like but I can assure you without a shadow of a doubt in my highly intelligent mind that it is most assuredly NOT a choice.

No one chooses to live this way.  We don’t start out casting aside family and friends, destroying our bodies and minds and slowly killing ourselves.  We don’t start out drinking ourselves into oblivion, night after night.  We don’t start out with a needle in our arm.  Most of us start out just like you.  Most of us have jobs, families that we love and that love us, dreams, goals, hopes and a very clear opinion of what addiction means.

Many are like you, clear in their opinions and firmly seated on the side of ignorance.  Others are like I was, fully aware of the danger due to my family history, but sure that I was not going to let it happen to me.  Most sit somewhere in between…somewhere between ignorance and bliss.  Until they don’t.  Until they wake up one morning and realize that the pain they’ve been trying to escape is still present and no amount of alcohol or drugs or food or sex or gambling is going to fix it.  That they are in the grips of a disease that sat dormant until the day it didn’t.  Until the day they lost control.  Until the day the “thing” took control.

I’m not really sure if I truly believe that my addiction to alcohol is a disease, but I would like to address some of the claims made in your article because, by my calculations, your correlations simply do not add up.

First, I don’t think that anyone really cares whether or not you felt sorry for Mr. Hoffman.  I don’t think anyone really cares what you think at all except that you are blessed to have a public forum to voice your opinions.  But does it really matter whether or not someone dies in a “particularly degrading” way?  Which is more degrading?  Being found in your underwear, surrounded by heroin with a needle in your arm or laying in your own filth in a medicare nursing home at 80 years old with no family to care for you?  Both are degrading to say the least – but I’m guessing you’d feel sorry for the 80 year old.  Why?  Perhaps his choices have resulted in his condition too.  But there is less stigma attached to just being old than there is to addiction.  We’re supposed to feel compassion for the elderly.  Would you have us stigmatize those that are old and poor too?  Perhaps then someone will do something for them?  Sorry…doesn’t add up for me.

You state that no one gets Alzheimer’s because of something they’ve done.  How do you know that?  How do you know that something they’ve chosen to eat, or the fact that they stopped exercising their body and brain, or any number of reason is why they were unfortunate enough to contract Alzheimer’s.  If you found out that was the case, would you feel the same about them?  Would you then suggest we stigmatize them too?

And I vehemently disagree with you about support groups that pledge to avoid heart disease, or diabetes, or asthma.  They are called education and we try harder and harder every day to convince people to eat better, to exercise, to avoid second had smoke.  But people still die every day as a result of these DISEASES.  Why?  Partly genetics and partly because of the CHOICES they make in their lives.  I’m guessing you think all diabetics should just walk away from carbohydrates and sugar and that all overweight individuals should just push away from the table.  I’m sorry, but that also just does not add up. 

While we’re discussing genetics, let’s also talk about the big “C”.  Cancer.  No, changing your behavior won’t get rid of pancreatic cancer but more and more we’re finding that there are genetic markers at work in cancer patients.  That some are predisposed to cancer based on their family history, their geographic propensity, and, dare I say it…their CHOICES.

Guess what?  Research is also finding that addicts are predisposed to their addictive nature as well.  It’s no coincidence that my father and his father and my mother and her father and my sister are all addicts in one form or another.  Yes…I guess I should have known better and perhaps made better CHOICES but before I was old enough to make those good decisions about my life it was too late.  Because as soon as I took my first sip of beer at 16, I was addicted.  

Were all your 16 year old decisions good ones?

Think about it…please.

And finally, Mr. Hoffman did not DECIDE he needed the drugs more than he needed to save himself – of that I am sure.  His addiction took over and before he could gain control again it took him.  I hope to God that his children do not stumble upon your article one day (because everything lives forever on the Internet) and live the rest of their lives believing their father loved heroin more than he loved them.  THAT would surely be the worst tragedy of all.

And THAT would be your choice.

And THAT would be your fault.