Project Me: July review and goals for August

My goals for July were:

  1. Finish Couch to 5K program (I’ll be starting week 5 of the program this week if all goes well with the surgery), be able to jog 30 minutes straight – I’m very, very close to being complete – just finished Week 7, Day 2 – but I’m not done yet. I’ve developed some sort of mental block about running and I just don’t want to do it. I walk every day, though, so it’s not as though I’m not burning calories, just not running
  2. Make an appointment with a personal trainer to develop a strength training program I can begin – complete fail. I do not like strength training, never have, and while I say that I want to start doing it, in my heart I do not. I’m going to face reality on this one and move it to the backlog for consideration at a later date. [Note that I DID take a Pilates Reformer class this month, though, and that seriously kicked my butt. Nothing like using your ~200 pound body for resistance!]
  3. Reach out to friends & family to make sure that I have scheduled time with at least one person I love every week this month – I think I did pretty well with this one. The surgery at the beginning of July really threw a wrench into the first two weeks of the month because I was on heavy duty pain killers for five days then trying to figure out how to eat semi-regular foods with my new (fake) teeth. Still, I saw my childhood penpal from the UK while she and her family were in San Diego the weekend of July 19th, I went to an event downtown for healthy living bloggers at a great Mexican food restaurant, met fellow San Diegan blogger Kay Lynn for coffee after Weight Watchers, and went to lunch with my BFF, so I think I’ll mark this one as “done”

My revised goals for 2013 have been published and they include:

  • fasting blood sugar reading below 130 mg/dL – already achieved, need to maintain
  • triglycerides reading less than 150 mg/dL – already achieved, need to maintain
  • body weight at or below 169 pounds (putting me into the Overweight category on BMI scale) – 35 23.8 more pounds in six five months
  • waist measurement of not more than 39 inches – 5-1/2 4-1/2 more inches in six five months
  • an improved quality of life as perceived by me – well on my way to achieving this!

Given that, what am I focusing on for August?

  1. Finish Couch to 5K program, be able to jog 30 minutes straight – I’ve started it, so I want to finish. It’s not as though it hurts to jog, I just don’t enjoy it
  2. Attend one Pilates Reformer class per week – if I’m not going to do traditional strength training, perhaps I’ll fall in love with the painful experience that is Reformer class!
  3. Consume no more than 20 ounces of latte drinks each day – I’d gotten into a bad habit of swinging by Coffee Bean on my way to work and after dinner, each time picking up a large latte. That’s 400 calories a day and it’s nearly pure sugar because of the milk, so I’m cutting that in half. I want to chew my calories and I want them to have a reasonable amount of fiber, too!
  4. Complete six cardio workouts of at least 45 minutes each a week – I must increase the number of calories I’m burning if I’m going to make my weight and waist measurement goals for the year. I’m currently doing 5-6 cardio workouts each week but they’re 30-45 minutes each and I really need to do 45 or more for maximum calorie burning. No, I’m not getting obsessive here, although getting at least an hour of moderate intensity exercise per day has been proven effective – by the National Weight Control Registry – at maintaining a significant weight loss, which I hope to be doing by this time next year!
strong is beautiful
a good month

Given that last month started off with me losing 15 teeth, I think I ended the month pretty well. I’ve been fighting with the depression again for the last 10 days or so but I’m not letting it knock me off my healthy routines. Being able to buy non-plus size clothes now is a great motivator, as is hearing that I look “ten years younger” from work colleagues, but honestly, just knowing that each step I take is a step away from early death brought on my diabetic complications is really the best motivation I’ve found to get the shoes laced up and get me out the door for a walk every morning.

You cannot imagine how good it feels after so many years of adding more and more drugs to my daily routine and still seeing my blood sugar and triglycerides rise and rise to see my well-controlled blood sugar readings each morning! When I wonder if it’s worth it to get up earlier to walk or not to eat a sweet dessert that looks yummy, that’s what I remember: sitting in my endocrinologist’s office on November 29th of last year listening to him tell me that there were no drug therapies left to try and I needed to start daily insulin injections.I’m off all but two of my medications and I have to keep monitoring my blood sugar and adjusting my nightly insulin to make sure that I don’t go too low in the mornings. Is it worth the sacrifice to feel this way? Absolutely, without a doubt!

What motivates you to make healthy choices? And, in a related thought, do you have any great songs that you listen to while working out? I find that jogging/running isn’t nearly so awful if I have great music to listen to, but I’m getting bored with the same songs every day, so I need new material, friends!

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: 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!

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.

Doing my bit for Science

Having diabetes stinks. No really, it does. It’s not the dread Death Sentence some media outlets like to make it out to be but it definitely does stink.

(Did you know that insulin can make you gain weight? Insulin which most Type 2 diabetics will end up needing at some point in their lives? Basically, you need to lose weight to help control your blood sugar but the drug that you need to help you manage your blood sugar will make it tougher to lose weight. Just one of the special little gifts that come with your diabetes diagnosis – yay!)

Then you’ve got the stigma attached to being a person with Type 2 diabetes. Because one of the risk factors for Type 2 is being overweight, there’s a perception that we “deserve” this disease because we wouldn’t be here if we weren’t fat. Seriously, I’ve had people tell me that to my face. Whether that’s true or not, no one deserves diabetes and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. Three times yearly visits to the endocrinologist (diabetes doctor). Keeping track of what you eat versus your pre- and post-meal blood sugar readings so that you can try to figure out which foods don’t send your body into orbit with extra sugar. Finding it harder to lose weight even as your doctor tells you that you “really ought to” focus on losing some weight. Is it any wonder that so many diabetics also battle depression? And of course, depression can make getting out of bed a huge accomplishment, much less exercising and planning nutritious, low calorie meals. It’s all much easier with support from friends and family but the depression and shame can make it tough to reach out.

Enter, a company dedicated to using big data to help make new discoveries for treating chronic diseases like diabetes. I recently signed up for a pilot they are running to gather passive data about activity levels among Type 2 diabetics that can be used for several purposes.


In essence, each of the participants downloads an application to their smart phone and then just goes about their daily business. Every day I receive a one-question survey about my mood the day prior, and once weekly I answer a survey about how I’m doing with my diabetes tasks and another about how my quality of life has been for the past week. Simple Simon. The application then tracks how active I’ve been – not with steps or calories burned or anything like that, but how many miles I’ve traveled, text messages I’ve sent, and phone calls I’ve made. Right now the application just gives me interesting tidbits about how my activity this week compares to what I did last week or today’s travels versus yesterday’s, but the plan is that in the future, if I specify people in my support circle, the application will track how I’m doing and alert those that I specify when my activity drops and my survey results show I’m not doing well.

Imagine that: I’m dealing with depression and struggling with my diabetes, and then TCB will just know as if by magic that I need help. Wow.

In addition to the selfish part of this exercise, the application is also gathering important behavioral information about a group of folks with Type II diabetes that can then be used to help create new methods for treating diabetes and those suffering from the disease.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with Type II diabetes and this program sounds like something you’d like to hear more about, click here to find out more or to sign up for the on-going pilot today.

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.

Project Me check in: Tuesday

What I’ve done since last check-in: Lost a pound, tracked every morsel of food going into my mouth using MyFitnessPal, worked out three times for 30 minutes each time, stopped using food to self-soothe

Plan for the rest of the week: attend my Weigh 2 Eat class tonight, attend Making Peace With Food class tomorrow night, work out two more times for 33 minutes each time, read another chapter of 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food (highly recommended if you, like me, struggle with how to deal with your emotions without turning to food)

 The greatest wealth is health.  ~Virgil
The greatest wealth is health by katerha via Flickr

Random thoughts that may or may not be of interest to anyone but me:

  1. I am married to the most amazing man ever. Truly. I am half-crazed with work stress and he finds lots of little ways to help defuse my anger and frustration. He takes care of me the way that I ought to take care of myself and that is beyond the call of duty.
  2. The first Spring Training games are next Friday. Oh, how I love baseball!
  3. Shakespeare had it right: How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child. [No further details, just had to get that out of my head and on paper.]
I need to write about and how much I love knowing that I’m contributing to a knowledge base of information that will help diabetics more effectively manage their disease, so expect a post about that soon. Also one about Fitbit and how much I love their devices. Neither of these companies are giving me a darned thing other than highly effective tools to help me make good choices, so this is coming from my heart (not my pockets).
OK, I’m off to my Weigh 2 Eat class, so ta-ta for now!

Project Me check in

How did I do yesterday? Pretty well, actually. I had my first Weigh 2 Eat class and committed to tracking my food via MyFitnessPal. I think it’s going to be a great group and I’m looking forward to 16 weeks of learning how to get to a healthy weight and stay there. No diet or exercise plans, just habits and best practices that have worked for successful weight losers/maintainers with a healthy dose of checking in with ourselves and the rest of the group for support.

Exfoliated in the morning. Took all of my medications. Washed my face before bed and used my eye cream and overnight moisturizer.

Plan for today: Came to work dressed to work out. Hoping to get in 30 minutes on the treadmill before grabbing a 500 calorie dinner from Rubio’s and heading to my Making Peace With Food class for the evening.

Counting Beads 2
Counting Beads 2 by the little list via Flickr

Just figured out how many calories are in the baby carrots, Cuties, and grape tomatoes I’m eating. I can’t believe I’m counting tomatoes!

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.

Project Charter available for review

I’ve published the Project Charter for Project Me, in case you’re interested in reading it. This is the foundational document that authorizes any project and it sets up what is to be done, why, and how the project will lead to the desired effect. I put a lot of thought into what I want to achieve in 2013 and what is reasonable for me to do in the next twelve months, so I’ll look forward to hearing your thoughts and if you think I ought to add anything else.

At work we use the Agile method of working on a project, and I’ll do the same here. All of the work to be done on a project is defined and broken down into pre-defined periods of time called “sprints”. We’re doing one week sprints at work right now because we have so many changes in priority and availability of required materials (tax forms) is unpredictable, but I think I’ll start with two week sprints for Project Me because I don’t want to be tempted to change course based on a single (weekly) weigh in.

I’ll be back tomorrow with my two-week sprint backlog – that’s the detailed list of work to be completed and what the success criteria is for each – as well as pictures of my weigh in tonight.