Finding Motivation and Inspiration Through Trial and Error

I’ve been struggling with finding inspiration to BE healthy. And I don’t mean that in a fad diet way, or an extreme way. Rather, I mean it in the same way I make decisions about money, career, and even relationships. I’m able to see the long game, and make decisions today that are healthy for the future. I don’t spend my entire paycheck, I save, without question. It isn’t painful at all, and doesn’t seem like I’m sacrificing. I do the work today without knowing if I’ll even be here to enjoy it in the future.

Same with career. I make sacrifices today in hopes of a better tomorrow – whether that’s a raise (preferred!), promotion, or even more autonomy or being involved in stuff I enjoy, now or in the future. I’d say the career path is harder, as there’s not always a concrete end result. Doing good work, especially as a woman, NEVER guarantees success tomorrow. And I don’t mean that in a victim way. Just that I watch men effortlessly (and without much commitment) get promoted, while the women around me struggle and grind more. But it’s life. It’s unintentional, and I can’t change it. so I roll with it.

Even in relationships, I’m able to look at a situation and determine quickly that some things aren’t worth arguing over or being right just to be right. Or that I won’t take offense to something when my friend is just that way. I see the big picture. I still want to be friends, so I let a lot of things slide for the long-term of the relationship. On the other hand, I’m also good at saying, “This relationship doesn’t benefit me, why do I continue with it?” and sever that relationship. I don’t want EVERYONE to like me. And don’t mind if they disagree or think I’m uncool. I have a good set of friends I feel lucky to have, and I spend time taking care of those relationships today.

So why do I struggle so much with health? Do I like eating more than I like spending money, calling in sick to work or slacking at work, or even being right or putting myself before relationships? I know I don’t do everything right with money, career or friends, but those areas of my life are super successful. Why can’t I care that over to moderate success in health?

I have been trying to find a better fit this past year, and I think part of my issue is depression (which I tend to eat through). Not debilitating but enough that food does bring me pleasure when other things aren’t. And anxiety affects my sleep cycle, which affects my hunger and give a damn. Fatigue also affects other parts of my personal life, mostly my organization at home, which plays directly into some of my food choices. But I’d say by and large, I simply can’t get into a groove I can maintain with eating “well” (whatever that means). Though I’ve done better with working out.

This year I’ve made walking a priority. It’s low impact, low energy requirement, and I’ve even found it’s a huge stress relief. But it’s time-consuming, and I only like to walk outside, so weather can impact my success.

I’ve posted before about being a huge fan of The Firm and Cathe. I do their workouts still (been a fan since the early 2000s). And over the past two years have found some great, encouraging, supportive social media groups of people who are fans of the same workouts. And I’ve actually found The Firm groups to be the most down to earth and long-thinking of ANY diet or exercise group I’ve been a part of. But it feels like time moves so fast. Those in the groups are slowly moving through their lives, intentionally. But I blink and the day’s over and I haven’t done as much as I’d like.

I’ve complicated the matter by purchasing a year with an online coach. I love the coach. He doesn’t try to get me to adhere to HIS diet and workout routine. He and I work together to try to figure out what works for me. I try to tell myself this is going to be good for long-term me, but so far my weight loss is minimal and I still feel lost. But I’m going to carry on until the year is up, in hopes I’ll come out the other side with a clearer outlook. So far, I can say, having someone to check in with has made me very consistent in workouts. And I feel somewhat stronger, but I can’t help thinking if I had somehow just said, “I want to walk, maybe work on jogging, maybe do some gym classes and add in workout videos when I want” I might be in a better place strength-wise. His strength workouts he gives me don’t seem to do a lot for building actual strength. And I don’t get the same sweaty burn (and after-glow) I do with Cathe or The Firm. It could just be at my age I won’t feel the same I have in the past. Or maybe I’m just uninspired.

My eating is a roller coaster. I’m trying to be VERY aware of over-eating. Why am I doing it? Is it because the food was good? If so, why? Is it because I’m sad/stressed? If so, does over-eating help? But I just can’t seem to make my revelations carry forward from day to day. And I know the eating is what’s hindering weight loss. But I also REFUSE to go back into a restricting cycle. I want to enjoy eating, but not have eating control me. Idon’ want to count calories and feel ashamed if I eat more than whatever my arbitrary limit is. Or have to make up for it with exercise.

Then again, I DESPERATELY want to be two sizes smaller!

I’ve been working through an intuitive eating workbook. Some sections and chapters are more helpful than others. One I’ve really enjoyed and think has helped is honoring what SOUNDS good. Not (well, probably sometimes) just as an excuse to eat whatever I want. But sometimes pasta sauce sounds really good. And I explore whether it’s actual pasta I want (or pizza as they’re similar cravings). Or maybe it’s the sauce itself. If so, what sounds good with the sauce? In the past, I would often just order pizza or pasta. But over the past few months, I’ve found I want pasta sauce with chicken. So I’ll make up a crusted chicken (I also have found I often crave textures, and crunch is a huge one for me), and eat that with pasta sauce and a salad. Kind of like a parmesan chicken. Other times, the WANT for pizza is overwhelming. And I TRY not to judge it, though I’ve found I judge so many things I want, and just order the pizza and eat what I want.

If I get in a judgement space, I find I eat MORE. I eat like, “this is the last time I’ll do this for awhile.” If I tell myself, “This is delicious. I can have this whenever I want” I find I eat less pizza right then AND order it less often. It is SO HARD to stay in the non-judging space, though. But I think that’ll be a key to success.

This past chapter I’ve been working through is being aware of hunger signals, which has been MADDENING for me. I struggle with wanting to eat as a distraction. And thinking about food leading up to a meal in itself is a distraction. If I think about what I’ve brought for lunch, it’s less interesting and distracting than talking about all of the POSSIBLE foods I can eat, and discussing them with a co-worker. I haven’t sorted how to deal with this, yet. But I do know it’s a root of part of the problem.

I’ve also found I want to eat lunch for a break. Meaning, it’s near lunchtime, I can eat and take a break from work. I’ve actually found boredom to be a strange nagging thing in my life recently. When I was in school last year, I found myself mid-final exam wanting to get out my phone and scroll because I was bored taking a test! I think with a lot of the technology in place now, and messaging being fast, fragmented, short blurbs, I struggle with focus and attention on things. To try to counter that I’ve tried to limit my time on social media, and tried to get back into reading. It’s definitely a struggle. And progress is SLOW.

Later in the same chapter, which I finally moved on because I felt like I wasn’t getting much out of these exercises, there is talk about honoring your hunger. If you’re hungry when it’s “too soon” treat it like if you have to go to the bathroom after you’ve just gone. Honor the hunger, and don’t try to shame or ignore or distract yourself from it. I’m going to try that this week along with still honoring what I’m hungry for and why, and being aware of over-eating, while also trying to work on improving focus and not distracting during boredom.

So many things to do! On the workout front, I did purchase a Cathe On Demand subscription because she has a really cool workout blender you can put workouts together with segments of ALL of her fantastic workout library. I’m going to use it to build workouts around the strength workouts my coach gave me so I can still do his workouts and try to get that sweaty afterglow I’m missing!

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Fasting – An Experiment in Desperation

No, I’m not desperate to lose weight easily because it’s the fastest way. To the contrary. I’ve tried so many approaches – low carb, lowish carb, low calorie, high protein, macro counting, paleo, primal, AIP (autoimmune protocol), I’ve even dabbled in various directions of the last three.

I think it was about five years ago. I was in a similar boat. I wanted to drop some weight, but I was struggling. I also was struggling with high triglycerides, and decided to give paleo, which at the time commonly was low-carb, a shot. I dropped 10-15 pounds really easily, felt pretty good with how I looked, my triglycerides swung into a good place, and I felt pretty good. Except suddenly eggs were making my face break out. Six months later, peppers were doing the same thing, and the weight was creeping back on. 

Cue the over-obsessive, exhausting and frustrating next five years. I’m about ten pounds short of my highest weight right now. Those ten pounds the first weight loss I’ve seen in five years, but so stubbornly so. And they came from eating low carb. But the loss came quickly with five or six pounds. And the other 2-3 have been dragged out over three months. Was I low carb the entire time? No. But I was long enough to know it wasn’t working for me like most people.

Within the last year, and mostly just to see if I could I did about a five day fast. And I lost weight! The first two days sucked, but after that, it wasn’t terrible. Genuinely, I missed eating when I was at work. And that’s the true reason I broke the fast. I wanted to eat. More than hunger, I missed the act of eating. At the time I thought I’d try a second fast again soon to help maintain my loss. But, sadly, I never did it. 

So, I’m back. I want to try this for real this time. I want to see if I can lose any weight for real. I know about water weight loss. I know about losing muscle mass, including vital organ mass. It’s all scary and frustrating. But the truth is, it’s hard to lose fat without muscle, and I’m desperate. It’s not healthy to be overweight. Excercise is painful. And I plain don’t like how I look. My goal isn’t lofty. I won’t even move into a healthy BMI. But if I can feel better about myself, and be a weight where running is doable, and harder workouts aren’t as hard on my body, it will be time well spent. I just need to stay focused. And work on my food issues. So, here’s what I’ll do:

  1. Fast for 5-14 days. Only water, diet soda (no judging) and maybe some broth.
  2. No strenuous exercise. Walking only. Maybe light yoga.
  3. Journal journal, journal to work through some food issues. 
  4. Make a plan for post-fast. Maybe an every other day fasting plan. Maybe the 2:5 plan where you fast two days of the week, and eat normal five. Maybe a 5:2 plan where I fast during the week and eat on weekends. If fasting is what works, I need to commit to it.

Ideally, I’ll get on a roll losing and after an initial long term fast, the shorter 1-5 day fasts will allow me some workouts on eating days. I can build up my running endurance and maintain some muscle mass. 

Right now I’m a size 18. I’d love to be a 12. But, honestly, I see pictures of me where I’m a 14, and think if I could get this bloated look out of my face, I’d be very happy. 

So, there it is. Starting after lunch tomorrow, fast. 5-14 days. Hopefully I’ll see a loss, and be able to keep it moving to a size and healthier place I’m comfortable with. 

Revitalized and Excited for the Future

For those of you who have been following my disjointed journey, I’ve been struggling for the past five years with post-workout fatigue, food allergies, and lots of various minor health maladies. I say minor not because fatigue or allergies are small things. But for me, compared to bigger things like cancer, heart disease, or anything else I may not have been able to work out with time, in hindsight, these are small things. I think my struggles all hinged from burnout at work. I ran my body into the ground, and was surprised when it finally revolted. Actually, that’s not true at all. But I was surprised despite the revolt, “fixing” me wasn’t simple.

Note: Just looked back at my stats. Things started to go awry in late 2010/early 2011. And really came off the rails in late 2011/early 2012 (it makes me sad to see the “WHY?!” that I was noting waist size increase, no weight loss, etc.), but I didn’t accept it until later that year and beyond. I remember that year was the year I went paleo, and I was able to glean some weight loss because of the (lower carb, switching up my workouts, etc.). But you’ll be not-so-happy to see my stats now. I’m trying to stay NOT FOCUSED on that. It’s going to be a 40lb gain. Work to do, but I’m more excited for endurance and strength than weight loss.

It was a complex combination of learning to sleep normally again, avoiding allergy foods, using AAT (Advanced Allergy Therapeutics) to fix a magnesium allergy, finding a vitamin C that worked for my body so I could absorb iron, and using B-12 almost excessively, but D-3 sparingly. I also went through a phase of food obsession (ever heard of orthorexia?), let the pendulum swing back to horribly unhealthy eating out of frustration, and now have settled into a more sustainable way of eating. I went almost five years with no real workouts to speak of. This was the worst part for me. More

Overweight People Aren’t Lazy Idiots – Maybe There’s Another Cause (Besides “Genetics”)

Here it is. The death rattle heard ‘round the Internet. People are posting links to this article and either saying it’s disheartening or “another excuse.” And despite my better judgement, I read every comment. Every single one. Full of people who think their experience never gaining weight, their experience easily losing weight, or their experience losing weight and keeping it off negates that there’s an issue. Rather people are lazy excuse-makers. No one sees an overweight person as a person. Rather they’re a sub-human form of life who is disgusting and lacks willpower. I’ll stop you right there if you’re one of those people. I am overweight, and I am not lazy. I am not worthless. I have willpower. I work on projects for work that everyone else has abandoned because they require too much work, too much attention to detail, and too much follow-through. I lack nothing that these assholes are saying fat people lack. I am a very goal-oriented person. I bet I have more money saved than the average American my age. I get delayed gratification. And I am a smart person. I have access to good food. And I eat it. And I don’t eat 6,000 calories a day like many people assume. But I hear you, you judgmental jerks. You don’t WANT heavy people to lose weight. You don’t want there to be more to the story.

In my opinion, this article was the perfect avenue to open up dialogue and brainstorm other potential causes  or approaches. This was a great scenario to consider other things that might be playing into the story. Maybe it’s not as simple as people are eating way too much because they’re glutenous sloths. Maybe most overweight people WANT to lose weight, but they’re struggling. Maybe simply eating less and exercising more really isn’t working. Maybe you can take them at face value and be part of the cure, not the perpetuation of the disease (of fat-hate).

Somehow an article that seemed to me like a suggestion to look at other approaches has pitted those who struggle against those who have never had weight issues or lost weight once and kept it off (even if that time is less than two years, as mentioned in the article – those who have lost weight recently think they’re safe from regain). Hell, a friend called fat people “fucktards.” How is that helping? I’m glad you know every person in the world. I’m glad you’ve experienced every scenario. I’m glad you know everything about everything, ever.

So, as a fat, worthless, lazy fucktard, what do I think? More

The Affliction of the Naturally Thin

Before I get into this, I want to disclaim, I’m NOT judging those people who have problem putting or keeping weight on. I think those who struggle to keep their weight up are in a similar boat as those who easily keep weight off. I’m also not addressing those who easily maintain their weight without much effort but don’t say anything snarky. This post is narrowly considering those who keep a healthy weight without much effort, but tell others to “just” do some super-simplistic approach to weight loss (or gain, but I can only speak to loss).

I was a skinny kid. My parents used to worry I wasn’t eating enough. I always had good energy. And don’t remember having a favorite food beyond cheese and cola. I do remember foods I hated (mostly vegetables, but I also wasn’t fond of meat or egg yolks). I remember being excited when my mom made ice cream or brought it out to us after swimming, but I don’t remember begging for ice cream or other sweets. Food was just… Food. Those were the days, right?

I hit puberty and suddenly had hips and thighs and a little stomach pooch. But I wasn’t fat. I maintained this “not quite a thin girl” look all through high school and the first few years of college. During middle and high school I definitely started having an affliction for fast food (especially McDonald’s cheeseburgers and pizza). After a breakup, a bout of depression, finding solace in food, and unlimited freedom to eat all of my meals out, I gained weight. I haven’t looked back since. It’s been a struggle to lose the weight I gained mostly on impulse. Mostly in a fit of self-pity. Mostly over a term of several months.

And since then? I get it. I get why weight loss is this national phenomenon. I get why it’s a bajillion dollar industry. More

I’m Back!

Although it’s unfair to say the plan I was working on didn’t work, I can say fairly that it’s no longer working. My support system is no longer supportive. And I’ve stalled.

I haven’t been around much in the past several years. I found a community I really liked. One that was supportive, encouraging, welcoming, and offered a different perspective. Unfortunately, that community has grown a lot and now supportive has turned into competitive. Encouraging has turned into judgmental. Welcoming has turned into snobby. And different perspectives are just ways for people to try to prove how smart they think they are. People regurgitate “advice” that’s popular on the site. The difference is:

  • Instead of telling you to be more careful with calories or eat less when you haven’t lost weight, it’s common to tell you to eat more. What? Neither mindset works for me.
  • Instead of focusing on more and more and more cardio, depending on who you’re talking to, they want you to start doing x, y or z instead.
  • No one on the site (or any site, really) has any appreciation that every body is different. Every one. One diet doesn’t work for all of us. One workout plan doesn’t work for everyone. Sure, maybe you can get by on zero cardio, but I actually need it. It brings up my moods, and gives me much-needed cardio endurance.
  • In all, my experience is weight loss/health sites are prowled by selfish people looking to stand out. I’m not selfish. I don’t want to compete. I want to compete with myself to be better than I was yesterday. I want to work toward a goal of health (which includes losing weight, and becoming strong, but still able to run around 3 miles, hike for hours, and swim). I don’t want to be the best at one thing so I get recognition on the site. I want to be the best me I can be.
  • I don’t want to compete with what I eat. There’s definitely a movement for who can be the most/best at diets. That’s not me. I don’t think that’s healthy. It’s definitely the direction health/fitness is going, though.
  • I also don’t want to compete for best cook. I am a good cook. But why is it a competition? I feel as frustrated where I am (or was, I guess) as I was looking for a site before I found this place. Too bad it’s changed.

In short, it’s not working for me. At all. More

My Journey To Here – Which Isn’t Really Anywhere, Yet

I just looked back, and this blog is three years old. It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long, but it also seems like an eternity. This is the longest I’ve ever stuck to health as a commitment, not just a fad or a means to losing weight. Of course, it started as a goal to lose weight, but along the way I’ve discovered a lot of things about myself, and improved a lot of things. So, here they are. In celebration of three years, the things I HAVE changed/discovered/improved:

  • I now fall asleep in about a half hour on average and maybe wake up once per night. An improvement from taking 3-4 hours to fall asleep then waking up at least 10-15 times a night. I feel endlessly better from sleeping better. A few things I did to improve this: I actually cut back on super-aggressive workouts, but still got in workouts. I walked more, and did harder workouts 1-3 times per week (rather than 5-6). I took my clock and other electronics out of my room. And bought blackout curtains. This is the single biggest improvement I’ve made.
  • I’ve discovered I’m all autoimmune diseased up. Yes, it’s true. But knowing is a good thing. These diseases aren’t debilitating, but they’ve actually helped me focus on overall health, and how what I put in my mouth affects not only my health, but the “flares” from these diseases, and general feelings of unwell (fatigue, joint aches, irritability, etc.). I still struggle with all three AIs, but for the most part one is in almost total remission. One is sparked mostly by stress (which is much less of a factor), and one is an almost non-issue – mostly just cosmetic.
  • I used to eat carbs at all of my meals. I’m nowhere near a low-carb diet, but my intake is down to a more normal level (approximately 30g or less per meal – 30g is a meal I actually “splurge”, whereas it was almost impossible to get less than 50g when I first started). And thanks to that, my triglycerides have plummeted from around 230 to the 60s. Victory!
  • Wheat/gluten gives me anxiety. I didn’t believe it until I quit it for a long stretch (a month). But once I got off of it, three things improved: My overall insatiability (I was hungry ALL THE TIME), my moods, and anxiety I didn’t even realize I had. And it’s the anxiety I didn’t realize I had, that once it was gone, that’s motivated me to continue to stay away from wheat.
  • I can lift a lot more weight than I ever thought I could. I bench pressed 100 pounds. I deadlifted over 200 pounds. And I squatted 165 pounds five times. Then I hurt my back. And have been on the road to recovery, still staying active, but doing more lighter-weight endurance lifting, more walking, some sprinting intervals, TONS of mobility and yoga work, and even some aerobics workouts. I just cut back on heavy lifting. And now I’m back at it. I benched 75 pounds last night, and squatted 100. And I feel like my form’s improved a ton on both.
  • I am actually spending LESS on food now than I was. I know most people say eating healthy is expensive. But even if I buy a chicken at three pound chicken at $3.50 per pound and eat it over three meals, and buy some organic veggies to go with it, it’s still cheaper per meal than my $5 extra value meal. Sure there are some $3 meals, but more often I was getting a $5 or even $8 meal. Hell, Chipotle, which some people tout as health food, is never cheaper than $6.50. I can eat like a queen if I cook it myself!

I feel better than I have in years. Three years ago I was tired. So tired. And so irritable. Work had me on edge, and I always felt foggy brained. I felt like I needed a nap, all the time, but couldn’t ever fall asleep. My diet seemed like it was healthy, but now I eat more whole foods than I ever have before. I stock my freezer with beef, pork and chicken from a local farms, getting away from hormones and GMO-fed animals. I avoid all GMOs like the plague. I still eat out occasionally, but much less often.

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