Food is just food

In my last post, I said that I was no longer dieting, but what does that really mean?

First, let’s look at the definition of diet (as found in the Oxford English Dictionary): “A special course of food to which a person restricts (emphasis added) themselves, either to lose weight or for medical reasons”. So, by this definition, whether you’re eating Paleo (no grains, beans, soy, dairy, added sugar, or certain vegetable oils), Whole30 (dairy, grains, alcohol, legumes, added sugar or artificial sweeteners), Keto (no sugar of any kind [including fruits and dairy], no root vegetables [such as potato, pumpkin], and no grains [including grain derived foods such as bread and flour]), or Weight Watchers (no more than a certain number of Smart Points [that number is derived by using customers’ resting metabolic rate to determine how many calories they need in order to lose a couple of pounds a week]), you are, by definition, dieting.

I was really good at dieting for a long time, although I hadn’t followed a specific plan since I tried Weight Watchers for the first time back in college. From January 2013 to March 2017, my self-conceived “plan” looked something like this: no bread or baked goods of any kind, no white starches (rice, pasta, potatoes), minimal whole grains (quinoa and brown rice), only nonfat dairy products, and tracking every morsel of anything with calories in an online food diary. I obsessed over not just the number of calories I was ingesting but also how many grams of carbohydrates and sugar, sometimes taking 10-15 minutes to choose which meal option to choose as I compared calories and macronutrients. I lost a significant amount of weight by living this way, but I also developed really disordered eating habits including wild swings between strict adherence to my “plan” and carb-laden binges when I was under stress or tired or not feeling well; it was definitely all or nothing for me.

By some miracle, I managed to keep off most of the weight I’d lost for 2-1/2 years by doing the same things I’d done to lose it: restricting and obsessively tracking my food. And then I was injured in an accident that left me unable to run for a month, followed closely by a major shakeup at work, and all bets were off. Not only did I feel horrible physically but I was under more stress than I had been for many years; I turned to food for comfort and release. No tracking, no restriction, just eating lots of floury, sugary carbohydrates in large quantities (and usually in secret).

It was something my physical therapist said to me that finally made me want to change. She said, “You are so lucky that you weren’t hurt more badly than you were, Denise – your body is really strong.”

Strong? My body? My stubborn body that wouldn’t get thin enough no matter how strictly I counted calories? My undisciplined body that craved sweet baked goods and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches even though those were “bad” foods? Was she serious?!? What the heck?!?!

And then I started thinking about it and I realized how right she was.

My poor body put up with my crazy food restrictions while I trained for three half marathons. It never complained and in fact, it got stronger and faster even as I slowly gained a few pounds with each race, increasing my hatred for it and my determination to “get this thing under control” so that I could finally be thin and happy. “This thing”, of course, was my own body, but I was so disconnected from it that I saw it as something separate, something not to be trusted and certainly not to be appreciated.

A few days after that conversation, I decided that I wanted to find sanity in my eating and my relationship with my body, so I started working with a coach. One of the first things Summer told me was that “food is just food”, and that just blew my mind with its simplicity. How many years did I spend obsessing over, restricting, and vilifying food, when the truth is that food is fuel for my body, nothing more, nothing less. In my unceasing quest to shrink my body into a more acceptable size, I’d rarely considered what my body actually needed to be happy and healthy, only how to make my food intake fit into my “plan”.

So there I was, a whole clothing size larger than I’d been just five weeks ago, before the accident, with a choice to make: I could go back to my diet/restrict/binge eating pattern, or I could try eating what my body actually wanted when it wanted it and in the quantity that it wanted. With a huge amount of fear, I stepped off the diet bandwagon and into a whole new world of eating.

For a little while, I was like a small child let loose in FAO Schwarz, eating everything I’d previously denied myself, including a scone every morning with my latte. Predictably, my body size increased. I had multiple panic attacks about my new “no rules” eating and started planning for a new diet several times before I remembered that restriction and obsessing had gotten me to this place of insanity in the first place, so – with support from Summer – I stayed the course.

Eventually, probably 6-8 weeks into my new way of eating, the insatiable need for sweet baked goods waned and was replaced by eating things that I knew made my body feel good and function well. I started to pay attention while I ate, too, so that I could feel when my body had enough food and stop eating. The first time I ordered a two taco combination with a side of black beans and could only finish one taco before I felt full, you could have knocked me over with a feather. This was a meal I’d eaten hundreds of times during my dieting days – it had fewer than 600 calories even with the black beans, for goodness sakes, but, of course, I’d never been paying attention to how my body felt before, so how could I have known?

It’s been 2-1/2 months since I stopped dieting and started listening to my body. I’m up another size in clothing (that would be the extended period of no-holds-barred baked goods eating) and I’ve never felt this sane, this normal, this happy about my relationship with food and my body. I haven’t weighed myself since before the accident and I don’t intend to ever again because my body feels happy and strong, my blood sugar is well controlled, and I don’t hate my body anymore.

Damn, this feels good.

What I believe now: no more diets

If this is your first time reading here, welcome, and let me give you the “Reader’s Digest Condensed” version of my life until now:

  • I spent most of my adult life considerably larger than the average American woman, and probably double the size of the average woman living in southern California, where I’ve lived since 1978
  • I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 1996, although I’d been experiencing symptoms of undiagnosed, untreated diabetes for at least 18 months prior to that
  • Three times in the last 20 years, I have lost a significant amount of weight, only to gain it all back and more
  • In late 2012, while taking at least 8 prescribed medications to (unsuccessfully) treat my high blood sugar and triglycerides, I asked my endocrinologist (diabetes doctor) to put me on insulin because nothing else was working and I was terrified that I would develop complications of uncontrolled diabetes
  • When my “last ditch” addition of insulin to my daily routine did absolutely nothing to lower my blood sugar levels, I was devastated, leading me to a place of despair so deep that I wrote about it on New Year’s Day and vowed to make a good faith effort to improve my health and happiness for the rest of 2013
  • Eighteen months from that blog post, I saw the smallest number in my adult life on the scale – it was less than one pound from being in the “Normal” range on the BMI scale; I stayed there exactly one week before regaining about 10% of the weight I’d lost. My blood sugar and triglycerides, however, stayed right on target and were even below what’s considered “desirable” for someone with diabetes
  • For the next two years and nine months, I pretty easily maintained within 10 pounds of that slightly-higher than “Normal” place. I completed three half marathons, two duathlons, and numerous shorter races in that time, too
  • While I was in the middle of my final long run – a 10 miler – for a fourth half marathon in March this year, I was hit from behind by a bicyclist that the emergency response personnel estimated had been going between 30 and 35 miles per hour. A fractured ankle and C7 vertebrae left me with strict instructions not to run for at least four weeks, terrible headaches, and intermittent vertigo; so much for the half marathon I’d spent nearly three months training for
  • A couple of weeks after the accident, there was a major reorganization of my team at work; I began eating large amounts of sugary, flour-laden foods to cope with my stress and anxiety about work and my injuries
  • By the time I left for vacation in New Orleans, a month after the accident, I was unable to wear any of my clothes and had to buy things a size larger in order to pack for the trip; I was so ashamed

About this time, I found a podcast with a host that I absolutely adored. She was bold and brassy and she talked about this crazy idea that diets don’t work and that you can live a happy life at any weight. I found myself moving from outright incredulity to grudging acknowledgement that she might not be completely wrong to wondering if it might be possible for me to be happy and healthy without trying to shrink my body; no more diets for me.

I started working with Summer in April and it’s been a crazy journey. I struggled with rebound binge eating for a little while but eventually the endless stream of sugary baked goods (and resulting stomach aches and lethargy) lost their allure and I settled into a comfortable way of eating that makes my body feel good and my morning runs a little easier. My blood sugar hasn’t changed appreciably from when I was smaller, nor has my blood pressure or resting heart rate. I started running regularly again and am training for a half marathon this October (in London).

I have no food rules, I haven’t weighed myself in months, and I eat what my body wants when it’s hungry and stop eating when I’m no longer hungry. I still struggle with occasional panicky moments of “oh my gosh, my body is too big – what will people think?” but then I remember that even when everyone around me was complimenting me on my smaller body three years ago I absolutely hated it and wanted nothing more than to lose more weight so that I could be “thin enough” to be happy.

Happy, Healthy Me

I am simultaneously larger than I’ve been since some time in early 2014 and also happier than at any time I can remember. I know this will not sit well with some readers but it’s my truth and I want to share it.

Exercising for diabetes control: Doing something scary

This time last year, I was dealing with pre-race jitters and preparing for my first duathlon. Tomorrow morning, I’ll complete my second duathlon and, while my preparation has been lackluster at best, I’m in a very different place than last year.

I remember being absolutely terrified that I either wouldn’t finish the event or would finish dead last. This year I have some of those same thoughts but they dissipate when I focus on what’s really important.

What’s important:

  1. My health & happiness – my blood work is amazing, my endocrinologist doesn’t want to see me again unless something changes, I’m being fitted for my permanent dentures next week because the dentist is finally satisfied that we’ve saved my remaining teeth, my life is generally filled with things that interest and energize me, and I have so much energy that even a really tough day at work doesn’t leave me wanting to bury myself in a hole and sleep for a week.
  2. My family – TCB and I have never been happier, I spend plenty of time with my mom and dad, and all five of the kids are doing well for themselves.

What’s not important:

  • The opinions of 899 women I’ve never met and who have no idea who I am, where I’ve come from, or how fabulous my life is.

So, if I have to walk more of the second running leg than I’d planned, who cares? If I’m the last person into the Transition area after the run and the last one back in after the bike, who cares? TCB and Candace will be at the finish line, waiting for me, and there will be yummy brioche French toast and Deep Stretch yoga class afterwards. It’s approximately 90 minutes of my life and I will survive – how else should a 47 year old with a full-time job, a husband, five kids, two grandkids, laundry to fold, and a house to clean look at an endurance event on a single day in the middle of an amazingly happy life?

A 3-mile morning walk – not a bad way to start my 48th year! #HappyHealthyMe

A post shared by Denise Elliott (@lottalatte) on

Happy Sunday (by the time you read this), friends!

Project Happy/Healthy Me: June Review and Goals for July/August

My goals for June (and half of July) were:

  1. Work back up to run/walk workouts three times a week – Done. I’m jogging 3/5 of a 5K three times a week and it isn’t totally awful most of the time. We’ll call that a win!
  2. Continue to concentrate on clearing out one quarter of the garage, by myself, for 30 minutes per week – Umm, not much was accomplished on this one but then I never added the Google calendar reminder, either. (Let me take care of that right now.)
  3. Put myself on a clothing, shoes, and accessory spending freeze for the entire month of June. I did fairly well with this one, surprisingly, with only one small purchase – $15 shorts from Target when I realized that the shorts I’d already bought months earlier for my trip to Raleigh/Wilmington/Charleston/Savannah were now falling off of my hips – for the whole month. I’m now halfway through July and I’ve been trying to keep with it – only one dress from J. Crew (originally over $100, I got for $25), a souvenir tee shirt from our visit to Seattle (marked down from $80 to $25), and tops and shorts for yoga (used gift cards and rewards points).

Looking forward, my goals for 2014 have been published and they include:

  • Achieve a healthy Body Mass Index by weighing 140 or fewer pounds,
  • A waist circumference measurement of 30 inches or less,
  • Body fat between 23 and 33% (done – body fat is hovering around 26%)
  • Complete a 10K event in 75 minutes or less,
  • Park both cars in our garage at the same time

What I’ll work on for the remainder of July and the entire month of August:

  1. Take one yoga class each week. My hip flexors and hamstrings are SO tight and it’s affecting my running, Pilates, and overall happiness; hopefully yoga can help.
  2. Work in the garage for 60 minutes at a time, at least twice in the next six weeks. – I’ve put the reminders on the calendar, now let’s see how I follow through.
  3. Put myself on a modified sugar detox. All of the vacations we’ve taken recently have been wonderful and I’ve enjoyed the heck out of all of them, eating very well but not necessarily wisely. Nothing to worry about in the long term, I just need to get back to basics for a little while and focus on whole foods with as little added sugar as possible.

OK, your turn: what small things are you going to work on for the next 46 days to make your life happier and/or healthier?

Project Happy/Healthy Me: March review and goals for June

My goals for March were:

    1. Keep up the run/walk workouts three times a week – I was doing well with this one until the training rides for the American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure bike event started getting longer and more intense. I found that my hip flexors were very painful when I tried to combine running with the high intensity and/or long distance biking workouts, so I chose to focus on just the biking until after the event. I was ready to start back with the wogging (walk/jogging) last week when I developed a mysterious shin pain accompanied with some really alarming, unexplained swelling, so I decided to take the week off. At this point, I’m hoping to resume walking workouts and my beloved Pilates Reformer classes for this week and see how I go before putting the wogging back into the rotation.
    2. Continue to concentrate on clearing out one quarter of the garage, by myself, for 30 minutes per week – Oh dear, this one has really not gone well – I haven’t had a decluttering session since February. Some of the reason for the slacking was the long bike rides I was taking every Sunday for my Tour de Cure training but the root of the problem really is my reluctance to deal with the unpleasantness of sorting through all of that useless clutter. I have a bad habit of just ignoring things I don’t want to face – hence the need to lose 110 pounds! – so this is just another manifestation of the same problem. As with my physical health, the cluttered mess of my garage makes me actively unhappy and is a silent reproach each time I drive in, so this must be dealt with.

Unfortunately, I never reported in or set any goals for April or May, so we’ll just move on to what I’d like to focus on for June. My goals for 2014 have been published and they include:

  • Achieve a healthy Body Mass Index by weighing 140 or fewer pounds,
  • A waist circumference measurement of 30 inches or less,
  • Body fat between 23 and 33%,
  • Complete a 10K event in 75 minutes or less,
  • Park both cars in our garage at the same time

So, where to focus my energy for June (and possibly July)?

  1. Work back up to run/walk workouts three times a week – As I explained above, I haven’t done any wogging since March, so I’ll need to ease back into it so as not to hurt myself.
  2. Continue to concentrate on clearing out one quarter of the garage, by myself, for 30 minutes per week – This one is proving to be very challenging, as I discussed above, but it’s simply too important not to keep trying. For June, I’m going to put my 30 minutes on our Google calendar so that I’ll get a reminder and TCB will see it as well. Once something is on the calendar with an electronic reminder, the chances that it will get done increase exponentially.
  3. Put myself on a clothing, shoes, and accessory spending freeze for the entire month of June. It’s bad, people – really, really bad – and it must be curtailed. I don’t know if any of you loved to play dress up with your dolls when you were a kid, but I did. I loved to pick out the perfect outfit, mix and match different pieces to see how they’d look, add just the right purse and shoes, then style her hair just so. For all but 18 months of my adult life I was morbidly obese and forced to make do with whatever the plus size clothing manufacturers deigned to offer in my size, so I focused my obsession on my accessories – let’s not talk about my jewelry, purse, and shoe collections! – because I had no other outlet. Now, however, I find myself blessed with my very own walking, talking fashion doll and I don’t want to stop buying her every adorable outfit that crosses my path. My side of the walk-in closet is packed in as tight as it can go even as my bank account dwindles, so this cannot continue.

OK, your turn: what small things are you going to work on for the next 30 days to make your life happier and/or healthier?

Not an athlete

I was in a Weight Watchers meeting this morning when I had one of those annoying “a-ha” moments. It wasn’t my normal, early Saturday morning meeting because I walk/jogged a 4 mile event to honor Pat Tillman, an American football player who quit the NFL to enlist in the Army after the events of September 11, 2001. I was feeling pretty good because I was down just over 5 pounds from two weeks prior when I weighed in and I gained weight the two weeks prior to that.

The meeting leader, Marie – who also leads my normal meeting, started the class off by recognizing two women who walked their first 5K event the week prior, then turned to me and asked what event I’d participated in earlier. I told her about the Tillman run and then she turned to the group and said, “I knew she’d been at an event this morning because Denise is so athletic – she even plans her vacations around different outdoor events she wants to participate in.” I couldn’t help myself: I laughed out loud.

Me, an athlete? The girl who was always picked last for every sport in Phys Ed in school? The one who has to find exceptionally flat routes to ride my bike because my legs are so weak that my bike barely moves at all when I have to go up a hill? I can’t even manage to run an entire 5K nor plank on my toes – I am hardly an athlete!

Marie saw my incredulity and said, “Why don’t you tell everyone why you’re laughing, and while you’re at it, tell them what you’ve accomplished since last February?” And I was instantly transported back 15 months in my head, to the day I started on Project: Happy/Healthy Me in earnest.

  • It was uncomfortable to walk 15 minutes on the treadmill at the gym even though my speed was so slow that I was able to read an electronic book at the same time
  • I hadn’t been on my bike in over a year
  • I drove my car everywhere and got angry with TCB if he ever dared suggest that we might walk to the nearby shopping center because I knew it was uphill from our house and I didn’t want to get sweaty

I shared a little of that with the class, then listed some of the things I’ve done since then:

  • Walk for 60 minutes most mornings, usually covering 3 miles, over a very hilly route
  • Finished a Sprint Duathlon last October, including a 12 mile bike ride sandwiched between two running sessions
  • Completed a 5K event every month, either in person or virtually
  • Started taking twice-weekly Pilates Reformer classes and progressed from being able to do approximately 25% of the moves without modification to doing about 70% as outlined by the instructor
  • Formed a walking group at work that covers 1-2 miles a day
  • Began taking the stairs at work, even when my destination is 4 floors above me
  • Choose a local shopping center to walk around every week with TCB
  • Carry reusable bags and walk to do all of our grocery shopping; we also walk to dinner every night

As I spoke I realized that, while I’ll never be at the front of the pack in any of the events I participate in, I can definitely be accurately described as a physically active person, and that feels amazing.

this is what active looks like
this is what active looks like

Project: Happy/Healthy Me 2014: January/February review and goals for March

My goals for January were:

  • Re-do the ‘running a 5K course’ that I started (then stopped) last year – Although I’d just finished Week 3 (of 8) when I published my January goals, I hit another brick wall at the start of Week 4. Something about the step up between those two weeks had my hip flexors crying out in pain, again, and I had to stop. After giving in to a really horrible bout of depression that was at least partially brought on by my seeming inability to run more than a couple of kilometers at a time (even interspersed with plenty of walking), I decided to give the running thing another go but this time on my own schedule. Miraculously, it seems to be working out better for me and I’m able to run 3/5 of a 5K (in run 1K, walk 1K repeat format) without feeling that I want to die. This, my friends, is progress!
  • Concentrate on clearing out one quarter of the garage, both of us, for 15 minutes each weekend – While I haven’t been perfect with this goal – and TCB isn’t with the whole “let’s do this thing together” program – noticeable progress has been made. I would guess that I’ve put in 30 minutes at least half of the weeks since I posted this goal and I’ve donated several car loads to the charity shop, taken a couple of boxes of old paperwork to the secure document destruction service, and arranged home pick-up for approximately a cubic yard of e-waste, u-waste, and textiles that were too worn or yucky to be donated to charity. I’ve also started a collection of old writing instruments that I find as I go through boxes and bags of crap because we have boxes at work for donating those as well. I knew when I declared this goal that it was going to take more than one month to clear even a quarter of our garage, so I’m not at all disappointed in how much progress we’ve made – at least we’ve made progress!

You might have noticed that I didn’t set any goals for February. Since I was so late setting my January goals and because my time in late January and most of February was really tight due to work deadlines and my new college class I’m taking, I decided that the same goals would do just as well for February. I did add an additional goal, too, although I didn’t post about it here:

  • Go on a spending fast for 21 days – while I didn’t go to extreme lengths, I did refrain from buying any non-essential items from January 13th through February 3rd. I did window shop a lot and I even pinned a few items to Pinterest to go back to after the fast was over. The funny thing was that, on February 4th when I was convinced I would go absolutely crazy with binge shopping to make up for the fast, I couldn’t think of a single thing I actually wanted. I did a lot of thinking during the fast about buying fewer and better quality items – clothing, for the home, electronics – and suddenly it became much harder to justify giving over our hard-earned money. Even items that are on the most incredible sale ever, if they aren’t truly gorgeous items that I can see myself using or wearing forever or if they aren’t of the very best quality, just aren’t worth it. I have too much cheap junk in my closet, littering my home, and cluttering my garage, so the spending fast was a great way to focus on what I need vs. what I want. I’ve splurged on a few items since then but, much like my eating, there haven’t been any binge episodes and I’m pretty proud of myself for that.

Now that we’ve caught up for January and February, let’s think about what I’d like to work on for the next 30 days.

My goals for 2014 have been published and they include:

  • Achieve a healthy Body Mass Index by weighing 140 or fewer pounds,
  • A waist circumference measurement of 30 inches or less,
  • Body fat between 23 and 33%,
  • Complete a 10K event in 75 minutes or less,
  • Park both cars in our garage at the same time

So, where to focus my energy for March?

  1. Keep up the run/walk workouts three times a week – I’d like to get another solid week under my belt on the current scheme before attempting to increase the first running segment from 1k to 1.5k. If I can go slowly, I’m pretty well convinced that running a full 5K before the end of the year is possible.
  2. Continue to concentrate on clearing out one quarter of the garage, by myself, for 30 minutes per week – In addition to the clutter-busting, I am also going to focus on cleaning the newly cleared areas of dust, debris, and grime. Yes, it’s a garage, but there’s no reason the floor has to be absolutely disgusting!

OK, your turn: what small things are you going to work on in March to make your life happier and/or healthier?

Project Me 2014: Goals for January

My goals for 2014 have been published and they include:

  • Achieve a healthy Body Mass Index by weighing 140 or fewer pounds,
  • A waist circumference measurement of 30 inches or less,
  • Body fat between 23 and 33%,
  • Complete a 10K event in 75 minutes or less,
  • Park both cars in our garage at the same time

So, will I work on for the next 16 days?

  1. Re-do the Up & Running 5K course that I started (then stopped) last year – I just started Week 3 of the (8-week) course yesterday and am optimistic that I’ll be able to finish this time. My running is faster and smoother than it was when I tried it last year, although I still have trouble with the breathing part.
  2. Concentrate on clearing out one quarter of the garage, both of us, for 15 minutes each weekend – We have lived in this house, or I have, for not quite six years now and there are still boxes packed from when we/I moved. That’s my part of this mess, along with all of my paraphernalia from my stint as a Stella & Dot stylist last year. TCB is a packrat and also incredibly messy/not detail oriented. He’s got boxes of American Legion stuff that needs to be dealt with as well as just scraps of paper, bits of plastic, etc, plus miscellaneous junk we haven’t used since he got home from Japan in 2009 and won’t ever use, no matter how much we think we might one day. His poor car can’t ever get into the garage so he has to wander like a demented nomad at night when he gets home just to find a place to park. We have a two-car garage and we will be able to park two cars in there before the end of the day on December 31st! By spending just 15 minutes each weekend between now and then, that’s nearly 13 hours for each of us to dedicate to this endeavor, hopefully without getting completely overwhelmed before we’ve started.
this is so embarrassing!
this is so embarrassing!

 

Someone please make me feel better and tell me about your own, shameful hoarding/clutter bug ways?

Project Me 2014

“I don’t recognize myself when I look in the mirror. Puffy face with wrinkles that weren’t there this time last year. A sad, resignation behind my eyes that belies the smiles I paste on my face for public consumption.

My lower back, hips, and hamstrings hurt nearly every day now – when I lie too long on one side, when I get in and out of Minnie (my Mini Cooper), when I sit too long at work (which I do nearly every day). A not-too-gentle reminder that I need to move my body more while it also making exercise painful; the irony is not lost on me.

And my blood sugar. How painful it was – after overcoming years of fear and pride to ask for a prescription for insulin – to discover that it didn’t make a damned bit of difference. It’s only a matter of time before the complications start, or perhaps just a stroke or heart attack.”

I wrote the above on January 1, 2013 when I decided to launch Project Me. As I read that entry now, I’m struck by the sadness of my words but also my determination and commitment to do things differently with the new year. I don’t know that I’d call it hope because I don’t remember having that feeling as I wrote – it was simply a desperate desire for something more, and something better.

When I think about what I accomplished last year, the word I’d use to describe it all is commitment. I committed myself to improving my health and my life for 365 days, not knowing if it was possible or not, and then put one foot in front of the other to make it happen. Every morning when I woke up last year I committed myself anew to doing what was necessary in order to achieve my goals. And I still do that now, as a lighter, leaner, and oh-so-much-happier person. Every single morning.

So, what will I do this year for Project Me? I still have some weight left to lose before I achieve a healthy Body Mass Index. Most of that weight needs to be released from my abdomen and I need to shrink my waist quite a bit in order to have a healthy waist circumference. For my competitive spirit, I want to complete several athletic events in 2014 as well. And then there’s the happiness component of it all, too. I’ve put a lot of thought into what I’d like to achieve in the next 350 days and here’s what I’ve come up with:

  • Achieve a healthy Body Mass Index by weighing 140 or fewer pounds,
  • A waist circumference measurement of 30 inches or less,
  • Body fat between 23 and 33%,
  • Complete a 10K event in 75 minutes or less,
  • Park both cars in our garage at the same time*
Patience by AuthenticAng11 via Flickr
Patience by AuthenticAng11 via Flickr

If last year was focused on commitment then this year seems to me to be all about patience. I have always been the kind of reader who can’t stand the suspense and flips to the end to see what happens. Life doesn’t work that way, though, so I need to just settle back, keep doing what’s working while adding in a few new habits to enhance my health and happiness, and enjoy the incredible life I’m blessed to be living.

What are your goals for 2014? Do you have a word that you’re focused on for the year?

(*I'll post a picture later this week of the current situation in our garage but for now I'll just say this: it isn't pretty in there.)

Project Me: December and 2013 reviewed

My only goal for December was to make an appointment with my therapist to deal with my anxiety and the binge eating, binge shopping, and horrible obsessive/compulsive behaviors that accompany it. I saw my therapist at the beginning of December and just talking to her made things inside my head a lot more calm. She asked me to keep track of my moods, particularly when I’m feeling more anxious than usual, so that we can isolate any common triggers. We also talked about letting things just be and challenging my constant need for order with the thought, “What would happen if I just left that mess over there? Will anyone be hurt? Why do I care what others think?” I’m doing more of both of those behaviors and definitely feel less anxious than I was before our appointment. I’d like to follow up with her next month but my work schedule is a little insane in January, so we’ll have to see.

This being the last day of the year, I’m also going to take this opportunity to review how I did with my goals for 2013, which were:

  • fasting blood sugar reading below 130 mg/dL – done and dusted; my fasting blood sugar readings this time last year were hovering near 200 (very dangerous) and now they are consistently below 100 and usually closer to 90. [Clinical recommendation for diabetics is fasting/pre-meal readings between 70 and 130, so I’m right in the middle.]
  • triglycerides reading less than 150 mg/dL – done; last time I had blood work done, my triglycerides were below 100 without any medication, so I’m thrilled by that. [Clinical recommendation for diabetics is triglycerides of under 100, so I’m in the clear here.]
  • body weight at or below 169 pounds (putting me into the Overweight category on BMI scale)  – as of this morning, I weigh 167 pounds with 37% body fat, for a BMI of 29.6, officially Overweight. I weighed in on February 1st of this year at 244 with 49% body fat and a BMI of 43.2, officially Morbidly Obese. [I still have 27 pounds to lose in order to be within the Normal weight range for my height.]
  • waist measurement of not more than 39 inches – this was the goal I was most concerned about. At the beginning of the month I still had 1-1/2 inches to go and that just didn’t seem achievable to me. I wrapped the tape measure around me this morning and told myself it would be OK if it wasn’t 39 inches or less. I mean, seriously, look at eveyrthing I’ve achieved this year, so if I miss on one out of five, that’s not too bad. I checked in the mirror to make sure the tape was straight, squeezed my eyes shut while I exhaled deeply, then looked down to see the tape end directly below the big “39”, and I cried – I hit it perfectly. I have lost 14 inches from my waist since February. I know it shouldn’t matter so much to me, but it does. It really, really does. So damn proud. [Clinical recommendation for a healthy woman is a waistline measurement of less than 32-1/2 inches, so I’ve got quite a way to go to get there but I am SO MUCH CLOSER than this time last year.]
  • an improved quality of life as perceived by me – this was my “wild card” goal for the year. There is no quantitative measure to show how much my life overall has improved but here are some important (to me) data points:
    • I’ve made it a point to schedule time with my parents every other month in 2013 and have already set up monthly get-togethers for the first four months of 2014. My life is better when I stay connected with my family.
    • TCB and I have taken more vacations together this year than in any previous year of our relationship. While it’s nice to be able to travel on my own, when we do things together, everything just feels more “right”. We have both scaled back on our volunteer obligations and spend more time together being active every day instead of running around like crazy people trying to fit everything and everyone else in. If it doesn’t tie back to our goal of making and maintaining a happy, healthy family then it goes to the bottom of the list. (And we’re OK when we don’t get anywhere close to the bottom of the list most weeks.) We have subscriptions to two local theater companies and have attended five live productions since October, including one last Sunday.
    • I still fight with my depression but not as much as in the past. I recognize it when it comes much faster than I used to so that I can start to deal with it, and once that’s happened it’s well on its way out.
    • I stopped ignoring my dental problems, had 15 teeth extracted (that’s half of them), and am now on a schedule of regular dental exams and cleanings.
    • I walk a 5K before breakfast, five days a week. I take Pilates Reformer classes twice a week. This year I completed a Sprint Duathlon, Couch to 5K, at least one 5K event every month, and I started a group at work that walks two miles every afternoon.
This is the face of a happy, healthy woman!
This is the face of a happy, healthy woman!

Twenty-thirteen has been an amazing year of becoming happier and growing stronger, and for the first time since 1998 I won’t start the new year with dread and the knowledge that I still need to do something about my weight. It’s funny: once I stopped worrying about the weight and put the focus on my health, everything in my life improved.

I’m going to get off of the computer very soon until next year, so I’ll share my Project Me goals for 2014 in a separate post. Tell me, though, how did you do in 2013 with your healthy living goals and what will you do more of or differently in 2014?