Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Choosing to take a step

It's not always an easy road to weight loss, but it is a road that can be traveled. Sometimes it's long, sometimes it's short, but it's there for you whenever you choose to take it.

I wrote this on someone's wall today at sparkpeople and it just made me think about my first step. My first step was over a year ago when I started trying to eat healthier. I was trying to cut out so many sweets. I was trying to control my portion sizes and I was trying to find an easy way to get healthy. It wasn't working. Then my dad, who was pre-diabetic was no longer pre-diabetic. He was diabetic, plain and simple. Everyone in my immediate family, including me, was overweight. I knew if I didn't start doing something, anything, my life would be shortened because of my excess weight and all the extra pressure I would be putting on my body.

I had been reading the blog and she was doing such amazing things in her life. She said she came to sparkpeople sometimes to track calories, so I came to check it out. That day my life changed.

To date I have lost almost 25 lbs. In 0.2 lbs. I will be halfway to my goal. I started running. Yesterday I ran 4.25 miles and it felt amazing. My clothes fit better, I'm happier, my self-esteem is better and I have more energy. This is happening in my life because I took that first step.

There are people out there that never take their first step. They know that they need it. They know that their lives will improve exponentially if they just make one change for their healthy, but they never do. Some are scared. Some think it's impossible. Some just don't know where to start.

To those who are scared, I pray you find courage. If it's courage within yourself, that's amazing, but often courage within someone else who can help you on this journey is just as good. Read, do research and learn that you can do this. Set a goal for five pounds. Set a goal to work out ten minutes a day. Set a goal to cut down your portion size. Set any goal that you can reach and that's related to your health and reach for it. You will meet it. That first success can propel you down the road to thousands of other small successes. One goal on top of another is all it takes to lose 25 lbs. Trust me. I know.

To those who think it's impossible. If you feel like you have too much to lose, too far to go and not enough time to do it in think again. If you lose one pound that means you are one pound lighter than you were. That's less stress on your body and one more pound to your goal. You will never know unless you try. You will never succeed unless you try. You will stay the same unless you try. Just keep in mind, our bodies are amazing things. There are things are bodies do that we cannot even comprehend. We can create life for goodness sake! Give your body a chance to prove to you what it can do. Few things in life are impossible. Sometimes they're just a tad difficult.

If you don't know where to start, you can do some reading online, ask a doctor for advice or question a friend who has lost some weight. There are a million places to start and most of them aren't wrong. You can start by exercise. You can start by eating more fruits and vegetables, you can start by portion control. The important thing is to start.

Once that first step is taken, things can begin to happen. Your life can begin to change. I know because mine has. If I don't lose another pound my life will have changed. I will lose another pound though. I'm geared up for it and my body isn't ready to say "No, this is a good weight now." My mind isn't ready to quit either. For me this is a life journey. I lost part of who I thought I was. I found part of me I never knew existed. And all because I took that first step.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Challenge me

I love having goals to meet. I hate not meeting goals. When I aim for something and fail, I feel like I'm a failure no matter how far I've come sometimes. But, as we mark the halfway point in our BLC challenge, I've learned that even though I feel like I haven't accomplished much sometimes it's a lie.

In six weeks I have lost over nine pounds.

In six weeks I have lost over seven inches off my bust, my waist and my hips.

How can I not be proud of this? How can I not cheer when a pair of pants that were SUPER tight three months ago, honestly that I never wore anymore because I hated how they dug into my waist terribly, fit comfortably, if not a little loose. Btw, I wore those same pants to work today. How can I not shout out loud when I finish my 3.5 mile course of RUNNING. How can I not smile when I climb the three levels of stairs to my office at work and I'm hardly (if at all) out of breath? I just need to think a little sometimes and see how far I've come on my weight loss journey.

This past week I lost 1/2 pound. I sighed a little when I saw that this morning. But then, guess what? It was still a loss. I didn't gain, I didn't even maintain - which I would have been happy with - but I lost 1/2 half of a pound. If you lose 1/2 pound every week, that's still two pounds a month. That's 24 pounds in a year. If I lose 24 more pounds I will be skinnier than I have since I graduated college. Since I graduated high school! Chances are I will lose more than 24 pounds, or at least lose it faster than in one year.

Was it easy? Sometimes. Sometimes not. What was easy was eating the food that I buy to put in the fridge. What was easy was buying things from a list I put together that I know I'll eat and I know is good for me. What was easy was measuring a cup of mashed potatoes for my plate. Four ounces for my meat, and almost all the vegetables I could ever want. I wasn't hungry. I didn't starve myself or deny myself. I ate sensibly. If I really wanted McDonald fries I had them, a small, and mostly only 1/2 of that. What was easy was putting foods into my calorie counter and seeing how it added up. Each of these, one by one, was easy. Putting them together took a little bit of effort, but once I started with one thing to do, and then gradually added others, it still was easy.

What wasn't easy? Getting my butt out the door to run the two miles, then three, now three and a half miles that I had in front of me. But once I was out that door, oh it was amazing. Once I was home and I had sweat dripping down my brow and a smile on my face it was always worth it. When I went downstairs to stairstep and watch 'Friends' on DVD it wasn't always easy. I laughed as I stepped. Afterward I always feel great. I have never finished working out and then said 'I really wish I wouldn't have done that.' When I do my 30 Day Shred, yes, I want to scream at Jillian sometimes. But I'm never sorry when I'm done.

What wasn't easy? Not eating when I would have before. Not eating from boredom or sadness or loneliness. Not going to those M&M's I keep in the cupboard for baking and eating them just to put something in my mouth. But it was easy to make a cup of tea instead. Something for my mouth, something for my stomach and something warm to warm me up.

Choices are both easy and hard. But choices are what the last three months in my life have been about. I have chosen to be healthier. I have chosen to be fitter and I have chosen to change my life forever. Now I'm asking you to challenge me. Challenge me to something. Whatever you see fit. I may fail, I may not meet my goal, but that's one more thing that I think I need to get over. If I never fail I don't think I will ever learn how beautiful it is to succeed.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Eating my life away

Birthdays, funerals, weddings and breakups. Life happens, these events in life happen and for me they all involve food. When I'm bored, I eat, when I'm tired, I eat more. When I'm sad or happy or somewhere in between I feel the need to stuff my face.

This has been my hardest habit to break, especially the eating when I'm bored part. It makes me wonder what happened to me to make me eat like this?

Maybe part of the problem is that I'm a bottomless pit. I can eat and eat and eat and it can take an immense amount of food to make me feel full. This is why portion control works so well for me. I do have the rare days when I'm just not hungry and I feel full almost immediately, but that happens MAYBE twice a month.

I don't think I learned this behavior. We didn't have a lot of treats around the house. We had meals we sat down to and I always had plenty to eat there. I don't remember seeing my mother or father always munching away. We maybe had chips or something at night after dinner, but that's all I remember.

So then why, when anything happens in life, do I immediately begin to eat it away, to welcome it in with a big slice of cake or to pass time with family and friends only when food is on the table? Food fills a void it's true. It releases those feel-good chemicals that we all allegedly love, but why food? Why, when something traumatic happens or something joyful don't I celebrate by getting my energy up and my heart pumping from a run that benefits my body and my mind? Why don't I go on a walk with family or friends instead of sitting down to a lunch? Both take time, but walks are significantly cheaper and you can talk more 'cuz there's no food to work your way through.

My next step, my next goal that I aim to meet is just being more active in my daily life. To go on a walk with my friends instead of out to lunch. Maybe to walk to church or home from church with my family when I visit. To reach out and be more active in my daily life. Not just taking the stairs instead of the elevator, but reaching out and being more active when happy or sad things occur instead of reaching out for a calorie-filled snack. This is life people. I don't want to say I spent it all eating.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The elusion of sleep

I like meeting goals. I like setting a date or a number of situps or a mile mark I want to meet. When I ran my first 3.1 miles without stopping I shouted out loud (the neighbors probably think I'm crazy) and then cried a few tears of triumph. It meant a lot to me. But one goal I can never seem to meet is getting enough sleep.

I wake up at 4 a.m. to be to work before 5 a.m. To get my eight hours that means I have to be to bed by 8 p.m. In the summer it's not even dark out yet! So I push back my sleep. Most nights I go to bed around nine or ten, anywhere in between there. The weekends are for catching up, for sleeping as long as I want. But then when Sunday rolls around I can't get to sleep at night because I've gotten enough sleep and slept in late and when 9 p.m. rolls around I definitely am not tired.

If I take a nap during the week to get enough Z's in then the same thing happens. I'm too well rested at night to get to sleep on time and then I am so tired I have to take a nap the next day, and, well, it's a vicious cycle.

I know that sleep is important for a healthy life. But it's the first thing I ignore when I want to fit more things in my day. When I want to spend more time with the SO sleep goes out the window. He's what I call a regular worker. He gets home around five and then that's all of three hours that we maybe spend together before I'm off to get myself some dream dust.

If I stay up late, my work and my attitude suffer the next day. Not to mention that I have some trouble with depression and two sure-fire ways to help keep it at bay are to get enough and to exercise. But, while all the changes in my life are making me healthier, the only time I really feel deprived is when I know I should go to sleep, but like a little kid, I can't make myself stop. I almost need someone to tell me, "You've had enough, it's bed time. Now go brush your teeth."

So sleep is that elusive goal. I eat my vegetables, I sweat it out down in the basement or on my route outside. I get my complex carbs and my calcium and all that fun stuff. But good ol' sleep? Let's just say dream dust doesn't grow on trees.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Back to the 170's, with hope

Over five years ago I met one of the most wonderful men in my life. The only man that might surpass him is my father who is a gentle, quiet and strong spirit of a man, but it's a super close race. We've known each other probably close to six years and in November we will have been together "officially" for five years.

He makes me laugh, he holds me when I cry and he deals with all the nonsense I bring into this world that I live in. He loved me when I was 160-something and thought I was fat, and he loved me when I reached 205 and when I knew I needed a change.

After three more pounds I will be in the 170's. I have not been there since shortly after the SO and I started dating. It's a milestone for me because of how I felt then. I felt fat, I felt like I would never be smaller like those other girls and I just felt unsatisfied with my health. At the same time I felt sexy. I know now that I didn't even think about my weight except for when I was trying on clothes or trying to find an outfit to wear to work or out for a fun night. I didn't think "oh, I'm fat." I smiled, I flirted, I laughed and I made no apologies about it.

As the pounds came on so did more frowns. I pulled away, didn't reach out to people to make friends as much. Those closest to me will probably say I haven't changed, and around them I haven't because I feel protected. I know they love me no matter what. I love them with all my heart.

The 170s are so important to me because they represent a time when I felt more carefree. Granted, I didn't have the bills or responsibilities I have now, but I was more open with my heart and I was more willing to befriend someone. I was a better friend, not because I weighed less but because there was less weight on my heart.

People at work call me PollyAnna sometimes because I want to see the best in people. My friends say I should be less naive about some things because I end up getting hurt when I place my trust in people who may not deserve it. My family laughs at my antics because they know my heart. I refuse to change. I refuse to give up on people just because I may end up a little hurt. I refuse to stop trusting just because someone hasn't earned my trust. And I refuse to give up hope for a better tomorrow, for a better person, for more achievement and possibilities and opportunities that may exist right around the bend.

I have hope. I literally am faced with hope every day, I have the pleasure of seeing it in my name. My parents blessed me with the middle name of Hope. Maybe they knew how much hope would mean to me. Maybe they knew how much I would need to reach out and grasp onto hope sometimes when my life felt the darkest. Maybe they felt called to give me that blessing. To bless me with hope and to see how it carried me through my life. Whether they knew or whether they just hoped, that name and that thought has meant more to me in my short life than I believe they ever dreamed possible.

On the same note, My parents gave my two sisters the middles names of Joy and Faith. We are drawn together because we are sisters, but we are drawn together because of our names. The middle names have remained even though my sisters' last names no longer resemble mine!

Back to the 170's. To me, these names represent how I feel about the next turn in my journey. I have faith that I will find hope again right around the corner. I want to see the joy I had when I carried a lighter heart. I want to find that part of me back and raise it up and laugh and cry and shout out when I find it.

This journey is about weight loss, sure, but it's about finding parts of me hidden in day-to-day life. Some parts I thought I had lost. Some parts I never even realized were there. I never realized I was this weak. I never realized I was this strong. What I did know was that I wanted change, I needed change and to find myself n the past and in the future was the best way to bring about that change. I can't wait to see what I find at 170!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Darn butt muscles

Okay, so I went out for my run and, pulled a butt muscle. Yeah, I'm really excited. I was 1.25 miles out, so I got to walk the 1.25 miles back, butt (heheh) now I'm icing it.

The Story:
I was feeling great, my pace was really strong, it's chilly and windy out but there were intermittent patches of sunlight and it was just a gorgeous day to run. The beach boys just finished Barbara Ann on my MP3 player, I love that song, and I felt my hair on the top of my head flopping around.

What? My hair is flopping around? That's why I have this stupid headband on! I stopped, looked back, and there it was, 10 feet behind me. I walk back to get it, bend down and WOOOT my left buttocks is SORE! What? I just bent down! I tried to walk another block to the stop sign waiting for me, jogged a couple of feet to test it out, nope. Bad buttocks, bad!

So I walked back home and now I'm sitting on an ice pack. Let's just say my butt's a little chilly.

Let's just hope I just need to sit on it for the day and then I'll be fine. I want to keep running, I want to be comfortable when I sit and most of all, I want my buttocks back.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Feeling the fullness

When I sit down to eat supper with the SO it's almost always with Wheel of Fortune on the TV. We talk, we laugh, we solve puzzles, but I don't really concentrate on what I eat. I set out my portions so I know I'm not overindulging, but I seldom ask myself in the middle of a meal if I'm full or not.

Part of my issue is that sometimes I have a hard time getting in all my calories. If I'm full halfway though my meal, how do I get more calories to make sure that I'm eating enough? If I stop, I might fall below the 1500 calories Spark says I should eat. I eat healthy foods normally, not a lot of junk, so I have to eat more vegetables, more grains and more of everything it feels like to get all my calories in.

The other part of the reason I don't pay enough attention to if I'm full or not? My name is Jessica and I'm a plate cleaner. I've said this before. I'll probably say it again! If there's a sweet that's not up to my standards, I'm getting better at just saying "It's not worth it" and getting rid of it. Not so much when it's chicken alfredo and I've made it for supper. I love chicken alfredo, I want to eat the chicken alfredo, and if I don't eat it and there's not enough for leftovers I just end up throwing it away. I hate that. I've learned to eat less, portion what I eat so that I'm still pretty much full all day. I know I'm saving money just because I'm not eating three times the amount of food that I'm supposed to eat, but I still hate throwing food away.

Any plate cleaners out there have any helpful hints?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Volleyball and Wicked

I had my first volleyball game in eight years last night. I decided a month ago to join the team at work that plays in a volleyball league. I was nervous. Like I said, I hadn't played in eight years, since gym in high school. Wow it's been a while.

I had such a blast. OH my such a blast. The people on the team are people I absolutely adore at work, so I had fun with them. It was good to be out with a bunch of people, playing volleyball, albeit losing at volleyball. I didn't care. I had fun, got my third serve over the net, and I know I'll get better as the season goes on! It goes all the way until Spring, so I have a while to improve. The paper also has a softball team and I think I'm going to ask if I can be on that, too! I was surprised by how much fun I had, and how relaxed I got once I hit the ball over the net for the first time. I don't know how much of a chance we had. The shortest person on the other team (guys and girls mixed) was taller than the tallest person on our team, but it was great.

I used to be so scared to go out and do things like this. I sang in high school and in college and then that wasn't a big deal to me, but sports? Activities that involved physical stuff? That always unnerved me. I'm a bit of a klutz and not athletic in any sense of the word. Getting out of my comfort zone there is a huge accomplishment for me.

Also, I found out that I get to go to Wicked in Des Moines in a couple of weeks. A friend of mine can't go for some reason, so our friends asked if I wanted to go. I'm super excited and wish Lisa was still going too, (sorry Lisa! :(....) but I'm glad that I get to go. I think it might be my reward for losing 20 lbs. instead of a new hairstyle.

In both areas, the volleyball and the Wicked I'm stretching myself a little. I get to do things with a group of friends who I see occasionally, but not a lot, and I'm stepping outside my box at work and with physical activity. It's amazing how your life changes when you let it.