Checking in – July 9, 2013


Last week was a challenge for me, especially because so many of my beloved routines were taken away from me, including regular intensity workouts. As a result, from last Monday’s surgery until after my dental appointment yesterday morning, I took a few very slow walks and that was it.

Once the dentist cleared me to slowly & gently resume my normal workout routine, I went home, changed into workout clothes, and hit the gym. I was planning to go pretty easy anyway because Monday is always an easy workout day for me, but I was really surprised at how sluggish and out of shape I felt. It was barely a week, for pity’s sake! So I decided to move Week 5, Day 1 of my Couch to 5K to tomorrow/Wednesday and do some more walking today. Probably a good decision although I was absolutely drenched after a walk that wouldn’t have even winded me a week ago.

I look at it this way: I had major surgery a little over a week ago and my body is recovering from that trauma. My whole purpose in working out and taking better care of myself is to live a healthier, happier life, so honoring what my body needs from me is more important than pushing through to do something I “should” be doing.

Training for a 5K

I have walked lots of 5K events in my adult life. I even challenged myself to walk a 5K every month in 2011. There is something about a 5K event that appeals to me – it’s long enough to be more than my standard, daily walk but not so long that I want to die when I’m done.

Back in 1996 and 1997 I used to run at least one 5K every month, if not more. Of course that was back when I was 140 pounds and ran approximately 35 miles a week, just for fun. I loved running because of the way it made me feel: powerful, fit, & strong. With an extra 100 or so pounds on my frame, it just wasn’t possible for me to run without tremendous pain – I tried – but I never stopped missing how it made me feel.

About a month ago, an advertisement for the Nike Womens Half Marathon came across my desk and I clicked through to read more. The race doesn’t take place until October – my birth month! – so I was fairly confident that I would have enough time to train for walking that distance. Then I read that there’s a time limit on the event in order to get one of the gorgeous Tiffany finisher necklaces. A time limit that would require me to run, not walk, if I wanted to get the necklace.

"nike womens marathon tiffany finisher medal"
Nike womens marathon finisher medal!

Hmmm. I started wondering about whether running was an option for me now that I’ve dropped a few pounds, so I popped the speed on my treadmill at the gym up to 4.2mph and jogged for the last 60 seconds of my scheduled walk. I didn’t die nor did I have any pain later on, so I decided to do some research on training programs that would allow me to safely increase my jogging until I could complete an entire 5K event.

That very same day, I received an email directing me to Couch to 5K training tips created by Mo Langley, personal trainer and fitness expert for the 2013 Dana Point Turkey Trot. While Mo’s tips are specifically directed at those intending to walk their first 5K, they’re equally applicable for a novice 5K runner, too. Here are the main points of Mo’s advice:

Before you jump off the couch and walk a 5K, or 3.1 miles, there are a few things to consider:

  1. Please, please, please check with your doctor or health professional before embarking on any fitness program….yes, even walking!
  2. Get some good supportive shoes.
  3. Find a walking buddy, your spouse, child, dog, best friend or neighbor.
  4. Realistically look at your weekly schedule and schedule your walks accordingly. Find your motivation…why are you doing this?

To read the rest of Mo’s thoughts on training for a 5K, visit the Dana Point Turkey Trot training site.

I checked with my endocrinologist (diabetes doctor) and got his blessing to begin jogging. He advised me to check my blood sugar before and after jogging to make sure that it wasn’t too low, and to always carry an emergency snack with me in case of low blood sugar in the middle of a workout. He also agreed with Mo that good, supportive shoes are a must because diabetic feet sometimes have trouble healing and a blister could put me out of commission for a while.

Armed with all of this good information and the right pair of shoes, I’ve just completed week 4 (of 9) of my Couch to 5K training and am really feeling strong. While my application for the Nike Womens Half Marathon wasn’t accepted – they do a random draw and mine wasn’t chosen – I am still excited about jogging and eventually running a 5K, 10K, and half marathon in the next year. I will, of course, keep you updated on my progress and I’d love to hear about your 5K experiences, be they walking, jogging, or running.

Project Me: Goals for June

When last we chatted, I was telling you all about what a pleasant and productive April and May I had. OK, perhaps that wasn’t exactly how it went, but I got through April and May, Project Me is still going strong, and I’m ready to set some goals for June.

Let’s first look back at my bigger goals for 2013, which are

  • fasting blood sugar reading below 130 mg/dL
  • triglycerides reading less than 150 mg/dL
  • body weight at or below 220 pounds,
  • and an improved quality of life as perceived by me

Turns out that I’d blown away all four of those goals before the end of April, so I’ll need to think about new, challenging/inspirational goals to work on between now and December 31st. (Look for that post Coming Soon.) That being said, I know the general direction I want to head, so let’s look at how I can make progress in the next 30 days.

Goals for June:

  1. Get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate intensity cardio activity PLUS two strength training* sessions each week
    • *Make an appointment with a trainer at the gym!
  2. Have fun: incorporate at least one fun activity into each week (sewing, knitting, crochet, lunch with a friend, bike ride, pedicure, get hair done) – it’s sad that I have to be so serious & focused about having fun but that just seems to be the way it works for me!
  3. At least one fruit or veggie with each meal
  4. Eat at least 25 grams of fiber every day
  5. Don’t buy any clothes for a month – believe it or not, this one is definitely going to be the most difficult for me since I’ve become quite the clothes-a-holic since I stopped using food to numb my feelings.
fun by hodgers, via Flickr

So that’s what I’m going to be working on for June – what will you accomplish in the next 30 days?

Project Me: April retrospective and review

My goals for April were:

  1. Make appointments with my optometrist and a periodontist – DONE. My eye appointment was on May 15 and my periodontal appointment was on May 22.
  2. Take 10,000 steps per day at least 5 days a week – DONE. (Note that this was before The Depression kicked in.)
  3. Cook one meal at home in April – if I can’t manage that, I might just give up on cooking entirely. I think I’m ready to call Uncle on this one. The problem, as far as I can tell, is that I don’t really want to cook at home. I have been successfully improving key areas of health and happiness in my life for three months now without cooking at home, so I don’t really have enough motivation to overcome my dislike for all of the hassle, planning, and MESS that comes with cooking, either. So I’m officially stating for the record that I am no longer beating myself up for not cooking at home because I am making great food and eating choices while eating out and I can afford it, too.
  4. Make an appointment with my hair stylist for highlights – DONE. My appointment was on April 19 and I just love the sunny look of my hair now. (You almost can’t see the gray at my temples. Almost.)
  5. Do something fun at least once a week – I might have accidentally had some fun every week in April but I didn’t really concentrate on it, as I’d intended to do when I set up my goals. This definitely requires more focus!

You might have noticed the date on this post – May 30 – and wondered to yourself, “Why has it taken Denise an entire month to update us on her progress?,” or even, “What happened to May???”

What happened indeed!

The short and simple answer is that I have been fighting with a major depressive episode for roughly the last six weeks. This is not the usual blip on the radar that passes through my universe every month and then goes away without doing much damage, rather this is a terrible beastly thing that devours my happiness, my self-esteem, and any desire I might have to be creative and clever.

Lots of good things happened in April/May, too, especially in regards to my health. I was able to tick off several of my overall health goals for the year before the end of the first third of 2013, and I’m so happy & proud to be able to say that. (Related Note: Look for a reassessment of my 2013 Project Me goals coming soon!) The scale was kind, too, and although I am trying very hard not to let that be the primary barometer of “how I’m doing”, it’s hard to miss the fact that I’ve donated five large trash bags of clothing and shoes to charity since February 1 because things keep falling off of me.

I truly hope that I’m turning the corner and am on my way out of the worst of the depression, so I ought to have my Goals for June up by the weekend. Bless your hearts if you’re still here and still reading!

Project Me March retrospective plus my April goals

How did I do this month? Not bad, honestly. My blood sugar is consistently in recommended ranges, my mood has been mostly good with a few blips that I rode out with some deep breathing and less harsh self-judgment than in the past – all good. I’ve lost some weight, too, which certainly never hurts although it’s not the prime focus of this project.

So let’s get specific. My goals for March were:

  1. Make appointments with my endocrinologist (Diabetes doctor), my general practitioner (for my annual exam), and my optometrist – Never did make that appointment with the eye doctor so that needs to be my first priority tomorrow morning at work.
  2. Work out at gym five or six times a week, 45 minutes each visit – Done and done. Whether I go to the gym five or six times in a week generally depends on what else I’ve got going on, not whether or not I want to work out. The girl at the front desk at the gym knows me now and told a newbie there that I was “a regular” – me, a regular at the gym? Who’d have thunk it???
  3. Eat at least two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables on three days a week – Big improvements here. On workdays in particular, I always have veggies with my lunch and dinner, and I’ve been making an effort to squeeze in a piece of fruit at least once a day during the week, too. Not doing as well on weekends but my calories are still in line with expectations, so I’m giving myself some slack. Besides, I said I’d do it three days a week and I’m definitely in line with that goal.
  4. Cook dinner at home at least twice a week – Nope. Not once. I have subscribed to a meal planning service and yet still nothing. This is a continuing source of frustration. I am eating well and getting in the nutrients I need but I really want to be able to cook at home and I’m not.
  5. Schedule an anti-aging facial and make it a monthly thing – Didn’t get to this one, either.

Alright then, so what will I be working on for April?

Let’s first look back at my bigger goals for 2013, which are

  • fasting blood sugar reading below 130 mg/dL
  • triglycerides reading less than 150 mg/dL
  • body weight at or below 220 pounds,
  • and an improved quality of life as perceived by me

Goals for April:

  1. Make appointments with my optometrist and a periodontist – The eye doctor is more of a preventative measure (to make sure diabetes isn’t damaging my vision) but the periodontist is something I’ve been putting off dealing with for five years. I have very bad gum disease – turns out that’s probably due to my diabetes – and I haven’t done anything about it since I had costly and painful root scaling surgeries in 2008. Once the doctor told me I’d need a further four surgeries after that and that EACH ONE would cost about $5,000 (none of which was covered by insurance), I just sort of gave up on trying to get better and decided just to wait until my teeth fell out. (Yes, I know how insane that sounds.) That philosophy is not in line with improving the quality of my life – how does hating my teeth fit in with a healthy lifestyle??? – and I need to do something about it, now.
  2. Take 10,000 steps per day at least 5 days a week – right now I’m averaging about 9,000 so this will be a bit more work but not unreasonable.
  3. Cook one meal at home in April – if I can’t manage that, I might just give up on cooking entirely.
  4. Make an appointment with my hair stylist for highlights – the gray in my hair is making me feel old and sad. I’m thinking honey blonde and auburn but I’ll let the expert decide!
fun by hodgers via Flickr
  1. Do something fun at least once a week – I spend so much time doing what has to be done (work, volunteering, parenting an adult former foster child) and almost none actually having fun. I feel as though I’m always running after something elusive, just in front of me, that will make everything perfect and right so that I can relax and just enjoy my life. But I’ve come to realize that there is never going to be a perfect and right time in my life but if I don’t start to have some fun then what is the point? One of my big goals for Project Me is to improve the quality of my life, and I cannot think of anything more important for attaining that goal than having fun!

So those are my goals for April, now you: What will you accomplish in the next 30 days?

How am I doing? (a check in)

Things are going well here at Lottalatte Central, at least health-wise. My blood sugar readings are consistently good, I’m at the gym at least five mornings a week for 45 minutes a go, and I’m eating nearly no white carbs while adding loads more beans, fruits, and veggies to my meals. TCB is also monitoring his food intake and is incredibly supportive of my need to get a grip on my health; we have honestly never been happier.

Balanced rocks
Balanced rocks by gr8what via Flickr

On the other side of the equation, our 20 year old house guest – Alcott’s 20 year old sister – disappeared for 28 days with nary a word then when I inquired as to when she planned to come and get her things (and her cat), got very offended, stomped up and down the stairs in silence for 90 minutes while moving out, and has been ignoring us ever since. I suppose it’s silly of me to expect some kind of “thank you” for the nine months we let her stay with us rent and household expense free but I’m still bothered by her behavior. Still, it’s for the best and her leaving has given me the time I’ve needed to focus on working out and eating properly, so all’s well that ends well.

While my blood sugar has been responding beautifully to the changes in diet and exercise, the scale has not been as ready to drop. Not to say that I’m not losing weight, it’s just that when your mind has already shifted into “I’m living a healthy lifestyle and I’m a healthy, fit person” mode, it’s disconcerting to realize that it’s not that simple when it comes to losing weight. I didn’t gain 100 pounds overnight – although it sometimes feels like it! – and it’s not going to come off that way, either. I keep catching myself day dreaming about all of the gorgeous clothes I’m going to wear “soon”, when I can fit into normal clothing sizes instead of being stuck with the few items of plus sized clothing that don’t look like they were made by Omar the Tent Maker. The problem arises when I realize with a thud that I’m still MILES and MILES from anywhere near being out of plus sizes. “But I’m ready now,” wails my poor, confused brain, while my body just goes about the difficult business of shedding over 100 pounds in a safe and sane manner.

It’s a difficult business, this healthy living gig.

A little bit of motivation

I mentioned in an earlier post that I’m using a Fitbit One activity monitor along with a Fitbit Aria wi-fi enabled scale. In case you’re not familiar with these devices, let me give you a little run down on what they do and why I’m excited to have them in my arsenal.

Fitbit One activity monitor

I’ve used a lot of pedometers/activity monitors through the years and they all work in basically the same way: you wear them at your waist and they keep track of your steps throughout the day. The One is a little different because it not only keeps track of my steps but also how many flights of stairs I take and how much sleep I get every day. The idea is to give you a picture of your whole life so that you can work on areas that aren’t where you’d like them to be. All of that information is sent wirelessly to a web portal/iPhone app where it joins up with information from the available scale (see below) and other information you can manually input such as water consumption and what you’ve eaten all day. I got bored by manually entering my food after a day so I started using the MyFitnessPal application, which talks with Fitbit so it knows how many extra calories I can eat based on my activity level for the day. (Hooray for extra calories!)

Since one of my long-term goals for this year is to lose 10% of my body weight, I’m going to be weighing every week. (I’ve added a countdown widget from MyFitnessPal to the sidebar so you can all follow along at home.)

Fitbit Aria wi-fi smart scale

I love our Aria scale because not only is it an accurate and consistent way to see how my weight is coming along but it sends all of my data to the Fitbit website and app without me doing anything other than standing there on Sunday mornings and praying. (Not sure the prayer helps with weight loss but it can’t hurt, right?)

Anyway, I think part of the allure of my Fitbit paraphernalia is that it makes this whole “eat less, move more” thing a bit like a game, and I do like games, particularly those that come with prizes. (Did I mention I’ve gotten several badges for my walking now?) Shiny objects and silly badges – who knew that was all I needed to get me motivated to take better care of myself.

Are any of you on Fitbit and/or MyFitnessPal? If so, please add me as a friend so that we can share in the fun together.

…and then I had a completely crazy thought

Updates since last time:

  • Went to the gym all seven days last week
  • Tracked every morsel of food that went into my mouth using MyFitnessPal
  • Made it through a mild episode of depression without turning to food. I wanted to eat, I thought a lot about eating, but instead of eating I tried to figure out what it was that I really wanted and how to get there without food. Very interesting
  • I tested my blood sugar seven times in less than a week including my pre-breakfast blood sugars every day. I haven’t tested my blood sugar since I started on insulin injections and the readings were so high that they upset me, so I put my meter away. I committed to my Making Peace With Food group – all Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics – that I would test at least once before our next class, and then when the number wasn’t too bad, I just kept going. I’m treating it like an experiment: “if it’s this number now, what will it look like right after I finish on the treadmill?” or “I wonder what my blood sugar is this morning after I had more carbs for dinner than usual?”
Peonies by Linda N. via Flickr

So many good things are going on in my life right now and it’s wonderful but also scary. Scary because I remember what it feels like when it all goes sideways, so I’m putting in the effort now, while it’s all good, to learn how to be OK with not being 100% perfect all the time – basically learning to fail and bounce back.

Part of my strategy is to not let the scale be the sole determinant of whether or not I’m “successful”. I need to lose a LOT of weight just to be considered “overweight” (as opposed to Morbidly Obese, my current designation based on BMI) but I can’t focus on that because it’s too overwhelming, so I’m staying focused on what’s really important – my blood sugar. Good things are happening on that front, friends, and it’s very exciting! When I took my blood sugar for the first time in months last week it was 171 mg/dL which was about 40 points less than my fasting test last time I saw my endocrinologist two months ago. Target ranges for diabetics with good control are between 70 and 130 mg/dl before meals, and less than 180 two hours after starting a meal, so I knew I was a little high but was heading in the right direction. And I’ll be darned if my reading this morning before breakfast wasn’t 131 mg/dL – down 40 points in less than a week!

I also lost seven pounds this week.

And I had this crazy thought about what I can use for my long-term motivation but that will have to wait until next time. In the meantime, though, tell me how you deal with the “all or nothing”/”must be perfect in all ways” syndrome of healthy eating and exercise? Am I the only one who feels like there’s a light switch somewhere that controls my desire to eat well and exercise every day???  

Put One Foot In Front of the Other

(from Santa Claus is Coming to Town)

I don’t know what to think. I’ve gotten so used to failure and disappointment when it comes to making good choices about my eating and exercise habits that I’m scared. Scared because it’s all coming together so seemingly easily. And I remember when it used to be easy but then one day it wasn’t any more. So I don’t want to relax and enjoy the feeling because if I stop being scared maybe it will all evaporate and I’ll be back where I started, disappointed and sad. And hopeless.

But I have hope now – I’m letting myself feel just the faintest glimmer of hope again – and that is everything.

What happened to January?

“If you want to make God laugh, tell Him about your plans.” Woody Allen

I had such big plans for January and then my life became completely unglued when things at work went crazy over New Year’s Day weekend and things still haven’t settled down since.

“Bicycle” by Riccardo Mottola via Flickr

Throughout January I told myself that I needed to come here to report out on my progress, as I’d promised. To put my long- and short-term goals in writing so that I could be accountable. And the thought of the “big post” I needed to do just completely exhausted me, so I stayed away.

I did so some good thinking about what I want to do in the next 333 days and I even took what I think are some good steps toward achieving my goals for the year. So, without further ado, let me share my goals for February, each of which ladders back to my bigger goals for 2013, which were

  • fasting blood sugar reading below 130 mg/dL
  • triglycerides reading less than 150 mg/dL
  • body weight at or below 220 pounds,
  • and an improved quality of life as perceived by me

Goals for February:

  1. Join gym with Mick – helps both of us get and stay healthier
  2. Work out at gym four times a week for 30-45 minutes each visit – nothing too strenuous or involved, just get in there and move; exercise is very good at helping to lower my blood sugar
  3. No snacking on junk in the afternoons at work – purchase fruit and veggies, have them prepared and ready, and eat as many of them as I like but NO junk (vending machine munchies, trail mix that a co-worker made at home and brought in, Girl Scout cooking)
  4. Eat a breakfast with healthy protein – my current obsession is a breakfast sandwich with one egg poached hard, lean ham or turkey, a slice of cheese, and a slice of whole grain bread – and skip the pastries when I get my nonfat latte in the morning
  5. Apply my anti-wrinkle eye and face treatments every night before bed after washing my face – this one goes to my fourth long-term goal to improve my quality of life: I’m tired of looking at my sad, tired, wrinkled face every day and there are things that can be done to make the wrinkles go away if only I’ll actually take the five minutes to do them consistently!

Signs of progress already:

  • Am joining gym tonight – Mick is signing me up under his account, the sweetheart
  • Purchased FitBit scale and activity monitor so that I can see how I’m doing with my weight loss and getting more activity
  • Have enrolled in “Making Peace With Food” class in conjunction with the Behavioral Diabetes Institute. It’s a six week program aimed at helping Type I and Type II diabetics manage their emotions without turning to food – what a concept! I really enjoyed the first class – it started last week – and feel that it will help me start thinking about food differently, which is a good first step toward getting my binge eating under control.
  • Have enrolled in Weigh 2 Eat behavioral weight management program. It’s a 16 week, 5 month program that uses cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to change unhealthy thinking and behavior to slowly and permanently lose weight. Can’t wait to start this week! It’s a huge commitment of time and money but I’m tired of losing and regaining the same weight over and over again, so I want to learn to re-train my brain.

So there’s the list. What do you think? I’m trying to take small, achievable steps without overwhelming myself, so not biting off too much at once. Give me your thoughts about other things I could be doing in the comments.