Friday, January 25, 2013

Changing my stress response

I'm not hungry... just bored!

One of the biggest challenges any overweight person must face is how to deal with stress. We all have stress; it's hardly a unique trait. How we respond to it, however, can make or break your journey to healthy living.

What I used to do was sneak around and eat. I'd make a trip to Burger King for the family, and eat an extra biscuit on the way home, and throw the wrapper in the trash on the way in. Or I'd sneak off to Waffle House for a 1200 calorie meal.

I'd throw myself into a double helping of spaghetti, or constantly stand in front of the refrigerator, desperately seeking something to take my mind off the stress. I like to think I'm a laid back person, but really what I am is a person who has trained herself to pretend there is no problem.

So over the last year or so, I've been trying to  adjust my stress response.  Instead of heading to the kitchen when I'm bored, I'll open a game of Bejeweled. If the tension in the house is too much, I'll try and go for a walk, instead.

If I DO turn to boredom or stress eating, I'm trying to make healthier choices, instead of just simple, heavy carbs. I haven't willingly eaten a chip in over a month. They just don't interest me anymore.

If I catch myself having trouble resisting a particularly tasty treat, I make less of it, or not have it so often. (I'm looking at you, tiny tasty ham sandwiches.)

Over time, this has added up to big changes.

This week, I resolved to STOP my late night snacking. That was what was sabotaging my efforts. I'd do so well all day, but then my husband would break out his crackers and cheese, or he'd make something I love, and bam, nom nom nom over my calorie range.

But the last two days, I've stopped doing that. If I DO have a snack, it's a very small one, like a slice of cheese or a string cheese stick. (What? I like cheese.)

But more importantly, when I do snack during the day, or make a meal, I've been trying to be healthier. That turkey stroganoff I made last night was just as good as my usual, but half the calories... just by substituting the meat.

I'm slowly trying to change my way of thinking. The last three weeks have been one of the most  hellishly stressful I've experienced in a very long time, but I have NOT turned to food for solace. Not only have I not gained weight like I usually do, I've lost.

The first time my husband was hospitalized,  I spend the time I had alone going to restaurants, dining on fried cheese sticks, wings, anything to make me feel better.

I don't know when that shift happened, but I like it.

I like it a lot.

Oh, and that 187 came back this morning. If it's still there tomorrow, I'm counting it, baby.

Photo courtesy of Buzzfarmers

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Head Games...

Head games, it's you and me baby 
Head games, and I can't take it anymore 
Head games, I don't wanna play the... 
Head games 

Yeah, so I have Foreigner in my head this morning.

I'm psyching myself out again. I've been on this plateau for so long (okay, it's not a plateau, it's maintenance, be honest with yourself, Heather!) that an actual loss doesn't feel real.

So I lost a pound last week, and recorded it on my official weigh in day. 190.6

Well, only four days later, I'm reading 187.

Wait... what?

Okay, I know all the mantras... fluid loss, takes time, don't weigh every day, yadda yadda. I'm not the sort to be married to the scale, but I've had a hard time with sodium lately, so I'm using the scale as sort of a sodium reaction meter.

I've been very inactive; I've been to the gym once, and I have thrown in a little weight lifting here and there with my husband at home, we're talking less than 10 minutes, with some squats and bicep curls just to keep moving.

I'm going to assume this is a fluid loss, since I've been maintaining for months so it's a little like starting out anew.

I still don't trust it, though. I don't want to record it, and then have to change it when I hit another spike.

So I'll continue to monitor this, and if it averages out all week... I'll count it.

But man, I hate these head games. ;)

I will report that my anniversary dinner went well last night. I chose a 9 oz filet mignon (OMG GOOD), broccoli, a smidge of pasta, and a side of oysters. I stayed more or less in my calorie range! Even with snacks, I didn't go over. Well, not by much. Usually I OD on special occasions, with gleeful abandon.

Now, my real weight loss happened in my wallet. Maybe that 3 lb loss is actually the loss of a $100 meal from my pocket. ;) Ah well, it was worth it.

Photo courtesy of Calgary Reviews

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The perils of self-delusion

Paula Deen's Buffet in Savannah, Georgia

A lot of us try to figure out where, exactly, all this weight came from. How we got so big. When it happened that we accepted being fat. How do we not see what we're doing to our selves?

My theory is that you DO see... you just don't want to acknowledge it. Even when directly confronted with it, you aren't ready to accept it, yet.

I can use my own husband as an example of this. He has been in denial about his weight gain for quite some time now. He still tells people his sizes are "large" and "34 waist" even though he hasn't been either for years, and wears ill-fitting pants that look terrible on him.  He's between a 36 and a 38... probably bearing down on 38, though his belly is far larger. IF I had to guess, he's probably easily 46 around his belly button.

When asked how much he weighs by someone the other day, he said "185" - when I'm almost 50 pounds lighter than he is at 190, and I know this because he was just weighed a couple of weeks ago at 235 by the doctor - which I was present for. He honestly heard 185, because that's what he wanted to hear.

He says his large gut is because of bloating (because he has a medical condition that can and has caused bloating in the past, but it's always gone down after a few days... this has been persistent for over a YEAR. It's fat, hun.).

He says his butt hangs out of his pants because they shrink in the dryer.

He's finally starting to have to admit that there's a problem, though. It's gotten badly enough that his too-small pants are rubbing open sores on his stomach scar, that his belly is hanging out of his too-small shirts. He said earlier today that he's going to have to start buying XL shirts. He missed the XL boat 20 lbs ago. He's a 2X or I'll eat my hat.

I love him, but he's very self-deluded right now. He knows I'm very health conscious, and count calories, and I've made a lot of progress, but he's not willing to trade in his plates of fried food and refusal to eat regular vegetables yet, nor start exercising. When he's ready, I'll be there with him, but until he's ready, it won't happen.

It's so difficult when I'm struggling to stay on board this train, and he's refusing to acknowledge he needs to be on it at all. If we could do this together, we could help each other so much. Instead of fixing his favorite high-calorie low-nutrient meals, we could make healthy things together. I've gotten him to eat a little healthier, by subbing salads for baked potatoes now and again, or always making veggies when I cook, but since he's the primary cook, it's always fried pork chops, steaks and taters, french fries, and macaroni and cheese. He's always downing sodas... at least 2-3 per day.

It doesn't help when he sabotages me. It's not on purpose, ever, but my willpower is very shaky these days. I just can't always say no when he presents me with my favorite foods, like Velveeta shells and cheese (360 calories a cup... and that's not even considering the sodium overdose.) He'll surprise me with treats. He bought a bag of powdered donuts "for the kids" and when I asked him what they were for, he said "breakfast."

Really? We have two young children, one of whom is confirmed ADHD, and you're feeding them powdered sugar for breakfast?

It's not that he wants me to fail (not consciously, at least) but he genuinely has no idea how what he brings into this house affects me. I can even see the difference on those rare occasions we go to the buffet. his plate is always BROWN, and I always load mine and the girls' up with colorful veggies. The problem is when he fixes one of their plates, it's just as brown as his. It doesn't help that we live in the south, home to fried chicken, fried fish, french fries, and vegetables so drowned in fats and meats that whatever healthy might have been in them is long gone.

It's an uphill battle that I'm fighting by myself. I can't make him join me until he's ready. If he can't even accept his own weight when he sees it on the scale himself and is told by a nurse, how can I expect him to do it at home?  So I struggle within the bounds I'm given, and hope and pray that he'll eventually join me. I ask him to join me on walks, I talk about my calorie range and hand him celery any time I'm nomming a veggie tray. He knows, he's just not ready to join me.

I can't make him see, all I can hope is that he'll see the way I did. And when he's ready, I'll be there to celebrate with him and hold his hand through the process.

Photo courtesy of John Hyun

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Look ma, I haven't forgotten!

I wasn't going to blog today, because I didn't feel like I had anything to say, but I realized well, I do!

Today has been a pretty good day. I actually did an 8 minute interval training video (the one linked on the first day of the January Jumpstart fitness challenge) and it was fun! A lot more intense than I expected. I've been concerned about my ankle, and that's been holding off activity, but I haven't had much pain beyond when I sit on it (I sit indian style a lot) and such, so I figure it's time to start testing.

I couldn't do any jumping, so I modified things, but my heart rate was definitely up (should've worn my HRM!)

I managed to hit almost every nutritional goal today, too. I stayed in my calorie range (just barely over the minimum, actually) and hit all my nutritional targets on the nose. The only one I didn't get was sodium: I NEVER hit the sodium targets. I was much lower than normal (I average 4-5k, today was just over 3k) so I'll count that as a win.

I'm going to keep moving forward, babying my ankle, but I know I need to MOVE if it's going to get back where it was. It's been almost a month now! Don't worry, I'm not straining it, and I'm paying close attention.

Anyway, things are going well. I just need to keep exercising every day. I'm aiming for 10 minutes while my ankle's still not 100%. I'll build back up to 30 later!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Back from hiatus... a family update

I feel like I need to get these thoughts out somehow, in blog form, and while this blog is fitness related, this somewhat relates, and well, it's my blog, I can go OT if I want to.

Yesterday, my 7 year old daughter was diagnosed with ADHD, ODD, and anxiety. These are not a surprise, we've suspected for years, but fought getting her diagnosed. She's only in 1st grade, and frankly, in Kindergarten and Preschool, it wasn't an issue. This year, though, we had to admit that there is a serious problem, and it's starting to affect her grades and ability to function in school, not to mention the other children in her class.

So we took her in to be evaluated. It's been a painfully slow process, with sometimes months between visits because of the popularity of the particular practice. But we got a cancellation last week, and Monday, we went in for the results of her screening.

The short of it is that we'll be trying medication first. The psychologist hopes that by treating the ADHD, the other issues will fade away, that they're caused by the ADHD and her inability to focus. I can agree with that, and we're just going to take this one step at a time.

The psychologist also offered us some excellent tips for managing her schoolwork in the mean time, including very practical, specific steps. Because she's so kinetic, she needs movement, and sometimes, it's better not to fight it.

One of her suggestions was to get a big white board, and let her use that to work out her school problems. She can write large, and really engage her motor skills to help her focus. I'm willing to try anything!

So today, my daughter started edging towards one of her frustration meltdowns because of the sentences she had to write. So, I got out their old chalkboard/whiteboard easel, handed her a marker, and told her to write it out up there! She was instantly all smiles. Each time, she stood up, wrote the sentences in big letters, then transcribed them to her page.

It worked. She really focused, and at the end, she was smiling.  Another meltdown while doing her math homework was averted in the same way. By drawing it out on the board, it helped her focus, and the motion helped her discharge some of that energy.

It feels good to have a name, and concrete steps to take to get her functional. There's a light at the end of the tunnel. I don't want her on medication, but I can't deny the positive effect medication has had on my husband. No one wants their child on medication. But this isn't about what I want, or what my husband wants, nor even what her teacher wants. It's about what she needs. And I'll do what it takes to get her that.

In fitness related news, yes, I've been completely off the wagon. This is one of the reasons I haven't been posting. However, I'm back on it... or will be as soon as my damn ankle heals.

See, I fell. I wasn't even doing something cool, like training for a 5k, or doing jump squats, or any of the other million dangerous exercises I've done over the last year. No, I feel and sprained my ankle walking to the car on the way to see the Hobbit.

Like a true LOTR fan, though, I fought through the pain, and went to see the damn movie.

It was not, fortunately, a bad sprain, I could walk on it, and I avoided the ER (no insurance, and well, they're just going to wrap it and give me some painkillers.  I have ibuprofen.

I had just completed week one of Six to Start's new Zombies, Run! 5k training (yes, the sister app to Zombies, Run!) and was ready to hit week two when this happened.

I'm ready to get started again, but my ankle still hurts when I put too much strain on it. I probably need to start walking soon to rebuild strength.

Ah well. Here's to 2013!