Tuesday: Exercise Day

No, Tuesday is not THE DAY I exercise, its the day I will blog about it.  Since I had surgery last week, the actual exercising will not begin until I am released. But I figured this would be a good time to start thinking about it.

In my younger years I was athletic.  I loved team sports (softball, football, volleyball etc)  There were plenty of opportunities for team sports when I was in high school, and lots of people to play with.  But once I graduated, I moved from California to rural Oklahoma.  I ended up  a single mother, struggling to survive, while attending nursing school.  I had no friends, no vehicle, and a baby. I was lost, and had no idea what to do with myself.  So I just self distructed.  This is where the weight gain began.  The most physical activity I got was dancing on weekends.  And I LOVED to dance!  I also discovered I LOVED to drink. So I suspect I drank more calories than I danced away during those years.  And whatever weight I gained on my body during those years, I doubled in emotional weight.  Life had spun out of control.

Fast forward through 2 more children, a couple of long term relationships that left me even more broken, and even more emotional and physical baggage.   My life had definately not taken the path I had planned that would have taken me through Med school, traveling the world, and, finding that love of a lifetime.  And unfortunately I was a slow learning.  It’s funny how KNOWING something, and FEELING something are so very different things.  I am an intelligent woman.  I KNEW what I needed to do to fix it.  But what I FELT, about myself and the world around me, prevented me from taking those steps.  I just continued to spiral.

I wish I could point to the moment when the lightbulb came on.  There was no specific day or event that triggered it.  It just suddenly came on.  And there I was.  With all the want in the world to get out and be physically active (among other things, but this IS exercise Tuesday, we’ll keep it small )  and none of the physical ability to be able to.  Instead, I lived through my kids.  I am blessed with talented and athletic kids who love to compete. So the last 10 years have been a whirlwind of Football, Softball, Soccer, Wrestling, and track events.  I kept them active doing 5K’s to stay in shape when sports let out for a while, but eventually, my failing health made me begin using the times between seasons just to recover and prepare for the next one.  Once, in December of 2012, I walked a 5K while they ran it.  I finished in 59 minutes!  (My kids finished in about 25 minutes), but I finished.  I may have been last, but I finished!  The encouragement of everyone who finished before me as I crossed the finish line was… well, in a sense it was wonderful.  At the same time I felt humiliated.  I was still judging myself by the standards that I held myself to when I was 20.  By that meausre, I had failed terribly.   But I wasn’t yet ready to really put in the work to get better.  Not really.  Because I hadn’t yet experienced the moment when I realized that if I didn’t fix this I was going to die.

That being said, I HAVE now experienced that moment (several times over the last 6 months)  Steps 1 and 2 (changing my eating habits, and surgery to correct my severe anemia) are now in play.  The next step is to add exercise.  But in what form?  I have learned from past experience that exercise ‘routines’ bore me to death.  And once I get bored, its not long until I quit.  Much like diet, exercise for me has to become a lifestyle. And for that to happen, I have to ENJOY it.  So what do I do?  There is always the gym.  Treadmills, elipticals, stationary bikes, weights etc…. ugh.  Yes, I said it.  Once the initial excitement wears off, I wind up hating it. The waiting for machines, The judgemental looks from those women who will NEVER understand this struggle, the inevitable days when I just don’t go, until finally I’m paying monthly dues on a yearlong contract that I only used for 2 months.  Where routine works wonderfully for me where my diet is concerned, in exercise it is my absolute nemesis.

Now, I’m not saying I wont be going back to the gym.  But I’m NOT going to let myself fall into the same rut again.  This time, activity will be a lifestyle, not something I dread. The gym will be important, and I WILL start going.  But this time I’m going to mix it up.  So hear are some of the things I plan on doing to help me stay on track.

  1.  Raquetball- Once a week I will be meeting up with a friend for a light breakfast and a game of Raquetball.
  2. Walking/Jogging- I’ll most likely just start with short walks around the neighborhood a couple days a week.  Eventually I will increase, and do some time on the high school track.  Goal: To jog a 5 K with my kids this fall (with no walking) Eventually I dream of participating in a biathalon or triathalon.
  3. Cycling-  At my current weight, bicycle seats are torture devices… even the big fat ones… But my goal is to purchase a mountain bike by the end of the summer and take up cycling to whatever extent I can tolerate it.
  4. Roler Skating!- One of those things that I used to LOVE, and be really GOOD at.  I plan on adding roller skating to my list of activities once the beautiful weather abondons us again, and outdoor activities become more of a chore than a pleasure.
  5. Rock Climbing- Okay, so the thought of climbing a rock climbing wall at the rock climbing gym is almost laughable right now… BUT… it still makes the list.
  6. Canoeing/Kayaking – Summer is fast approaching.  and by golly, I’m gonna get wet this summer!
  7. Swimming- Now this one is harder here in landlocked rural Oklahoma, land of the red dirt (and water) .  And since there are no pools in my town that really allow for lap swimming, this is less available.  HOWEVER, the town 30 miles from here has a YMCA.  Eventually, and as time allows, that will be included in my regular activities.
  8. Playing soccer/football with my kids!
  9. Dancing!- There is a swanky shopping center in Tulsa that hosts an event every Thursday evening from 7-9.  They set up a portable stage and have a different live band each week. The ‘dancefloor’  is teeming with dancers from babies to elderly couples.  Such a wonderful environment, lots of picnickers, and great music.  And none of the stinky cigarette smoke of a bar, AND the kids can go. I can’t WAIT til June! (In the meantime, I have a huge collection of dance workout videos (salsa, hip hop, striptease aerobics (lol), etc… Time to start working on my moves!… Once doc releases me of course)
  10. HIking- With the warming seasons, its also a good time for camping, hiking, and nature photography!  YAY!
  11. Martial Arts- My 14 year old daughter has developed an interest in learning mixed martial arts.  I hear its a GREAT workout.  Hey, why not?

I have no doubt that as I become more active, this list will definately expand, but its a start!  But of course the first step will be utilizing the resources the gym has to offer. What are YOUR favorite activities?

Food Diary for 3/30/15:

Brunch: Scrambled Eggs, sausage links, Paleo Cinnamon Muffin (tasty, not super sweet, but nice for a treat)

Dinner:  Paleo Chicken Enchilada Casserole (The cauliflower tortillas should be kept thin, or at the least cooked until browned to keep it from tasting too much like caulifower.  Might add a little more chili powder to the sauce next time, add some sauted onions and peppers, and maybe some black olives.  Definately worth trying again.)

Monday: Menu Planning

In an attempt to be accountable on a daily basis I have decided that daily blogging is an important element for me.   I realize not every post will be witty, groundbreaking, or cathartic.  And being a perfectionist, I often begin trying to write something, but am at a loss for what to say.  So in the interest of being consistent and accountable, I will assign certain topics to certain days. I’ve got to start somewhere, right? Right!   So from here forward, Monday will be Menu Mondays!

There are so many different versions of paleo/low carb diets.  I know my weaknesses and my strengths.  I would have to say that the weakness that sabatoges me the most is my need to prepare.  For some versions of this way of life, people count every carb, protein, sugar, etc.  I know from experience that I just cant do that.  Usually I start off with the best of intentions. I count EVERYTHING. I fixate, and wind up spending so much time doing the counting and recording that I fall behind, realize that while I was calculating, I missed a meal. Now I’m starving, and oops, didn’t get a chance to prepare because I was calculating instead of preparing yesterday.   It’s a terrible cycle that leads me down the road to failure every time.  Some clean eaters cut dairy, most/all cut grains, some cut legumes.  Some use artificial low glycemic sweeteners like Splenda. An ideal paleo diet includes only grass fed/wild meats. For many of us, that is just not a feasible economically.  There is no one way that is right for everyone.  I know that as I evolve in this lifestyle, so will my diet.  I will learn what works for me and what does not.  And with each failure, I will gain success in the form of knowledge to carry forward.

To this point, I have learned ‘counting’ doesn’t work.  I’ve learned that grains (wheat primarily) make me sick.  (lethargic, headaches, bloating, gas, fatigue, heartburn). I will continue to use rice from time to time, but not often. Fermented dairy products don’t seem to affect me negatively but pasteurized milk can often wreak havoc on my digestive tract, and I haven’t yet found a local raw milk provider so that I can see how that works for me.  I do still occasionally drink milk (maybe a couple times a year), and will continue to do so, but only in limited amounts.  I will continue to eat cheeses, sour cream, yogurt, etc.  Legumes are not a huge part of my diet.  I will continue to have an occasional bit of peanuts or beans, but it won’t be frequent.  As time goes by and living without grains becomes normal, I may begin to limit some of the other less clean foods from my diet. But for now, I will live within these confines.

When eating clean, I find I eat less often.  I’m generally happy with 2 meals per day.  I really don’t like to eat very early, and once I start my workday, I forget about eating just for the sake of a scheduled meal.  But usually by 10:00 I’m ready for a bite.  When I’m working from home I make a traditional breakfast, or eat leftovers from the night before. (It takes much less preperation to make one large meal than it does to make 2 smaller ones!) When away from home I will pack some leftovers, or eat at one of a couple paleo friendly places (which are few and far between in rural Oklahoma, home of the biscuit and gravy)  Dinner can be a bit trickier, since I work my regular 9-5, plus attend sporting events several times a week in the evenings.  Sometimes I’m able to prepare before leaving and will eat between 4:00 and 5:00.  Sometimes there just isn’t enough time.  Thats when it gets tricky and I tend to make bad choices.  As part of this lifestyle, I am still needing to find speedy alternatives that will help me to make sure healthy, FILLING foods are available while minimizing the amount of food thrown in the trash each week.  (I’m terrible about buying too much and not getting to it before it spoils!) There as GOT to be a happy medium!  Does anyone else struggle with this issue?  I’m certain this is something I will be blogging about / struggling with for a while.  I’m open for suggestions!

Anyways… without further ado…. Happy Menu Planning Monday!

Monday:  Primal Enchilada Casserole, Salad :  This recipe uses chicken (recovered from last nights roast chicken), and homemade cauliflower tortillas, sauce, and of course,  cheese.

Tuesday:  Smoked Sausage with fried potatoes/onions, corn.  (Potatos and corn are also not a regular staple in my home, but are eaten from time to time, especially when returning to clean eating while I re-wean from wheat)

Wednesday: Paleo Chicken and Biscuits (using the remainder of the leftover chicken)

Thursday: Crab Legs with melted ghee, Asparagus, Salad, Paleo Cheddar Biscuits

Friday: Meatloaf, Cauliflower ‘mac’ and Cheese, Green Beans

Saturday: Paleo Chili Dogs (Smoked sausages, Homeade Chili con carne, mustard, onions, cheese), and veggie sticks.  (I’ll be photographing a baseball game… dont judge!)

Sunday:  (Easter):  Roast of Lamb.  rosemary potatoes, Salad, asparagus.

Food Diary for Sunday 3/29/15:

Breakfast (skipped…. just got busy and forgot!)

Dinner: Spatchcocked Roast Chicken, Broccoli with cheese sauce (cheddar and heavy cream), and Baked sweet potato.

Snack: Clementine orange, Banana,… and 1 PEEP ( and now they are all out of the house!)

Medical Progress

Wow! Has it really been 7 weeks since I’ve posted?   Hold on…. (mumbled, mumble… 5,6,7)  Well, yes, I guess it has.  And it’s been a very busy 7 weeks!

As with any new routines, my diet as well as my blogging frequency could use a little fine tuning!  But in my silence, I have continued chugging along.  I’ve had fantastically successful days, and I’ve had a couple of weeks full of distractions that setbacks.  But as with any LIFESTYLE, one day, one week, one month, doesn’t DEFINE my success or failure.  I do!  And I’ still here, making changes one day at a time, one meal at a time, one decision at a time.

Since last posting, my life has been a blur of doctors appointments, work, photography, and the push to get my life in order.   For the last few years, even the most basic of daily chores have gone neglected.  The fatigue had become debilitating.  The stress of feeling inadequate at work AND at home weren’t helping.  It would be fair to say that most days depression was a constant companion, even if it was fairly well hidden.  Unlike the depression I’d experienced in my younger years, this was less a self deprecating depression.  Instead it was the realization that who I was in my mind (the loving, giving, mothering, intelligent, passionate woman) was being swallowed by a physical body that was slowly strangling me, and with so many attempts to rein in all in, so many failures, so many unfulfilled desires, I knew my life was passing me by.  It was like watching time pass from afar with no access to join in.  At age 40, I’d finally learned to love myself.  ALL of myself.  I’d learned to enjoy being alone, following my passions.  But my body was holding me back.  And the harder I tried to fix it, the harder it became.  Not mentally, but physically.  I had begun to believe that I it was too late, and at times was nearly certain death was not far off.

I can’t even begin to describe the fear, regret, and sorrow that came with that realization.  The anger followed.   I was mourning my death before I was even dead.  Who does that?

In July of last year, I went to the eye doctor, and he discovered that I had signs of intercranial hypertension.   I researched the conditions and discovered that it was most likely weight related and best treated by losing weight.  If I failed to do that, I was looking at becoming blind.

In August I finally went to the doctor for a little medical supervision when I decided to give the paleo lifestyle another try.  Before going to the doctor, I made a list of every single symptom I experienced, no matter how small. The final list was an entire sheet of paper, 3 columns of symptoms divided by body system.  Seeing that all written down at once, it became very clear that if I wanted to live much longer, I had to make immediate changes.

The doctor agreed.  Labs were drawn, and the healing process began.

When I posted last, I told you that my doctor was referring me to an OB/GYN.  This past wednesday, while a tornado bore down on the hospital, an amazing surgical team managed to remove a very unhealthy uterus, and I am now home healing, and feeling far more hopeful than I have in many, many years.  The debilitating anemia that I’ve been experiencing is on its way to being a thing of the past!

I also went to the Bariatric Center and met with an amazing doctor.  I was very excited about the prospect of taking large leaps forward in weightloss, but before I could even bunch my muscles up for the first leap, I discovered that my health insurance excludes ANY weight management treatment, whether they be surgical or not. I was devistated… for about 30 minutes.

Then it hit me.  I don’t NEED the bariatric center.  I KNOW what to do.  All those years of sitting on my hiney researching diet and exercise wasn’t completely wasted!  The only thing I really needed was accountablity.  I will continue to see my doctor.  I have an amazing support system in friends and family, and I have this blog.  If this isn’t enough to keep me accountable, then I must not want it bad enough, right?

I can DO this!

So now its just a matter of prioritizing, and making sure I put my health before anything else! Of making sure I dont overschedule myself, and allow myself time to breathe.  But I can do it.

HIde and watch! 😉