Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘weight loss’

Soon we will celebrate the beginning of 2016. There is a sense of renewal that comes with the dawning of a new year and and it’s tempting to resolve to make great changes especially when caught up in the energy of it all. Waiting in the wings, there is a multi-billion dollar diet industry that thrives on our want to better ourselves. Fad diets, quick-fix plans, and all the other tricks in the business of weight loss are designed to garner profits and create repeat customers. January is by far the most profitable time for such companies and one only has to look at this week’s sales flyers to see the plethora of offerings related to the business of New Year’s resolutions.

However, there is a saying… “Don’t make a resolution… make yourself!”

I stopped making New Year’s resolutions especially when it came to losing weight. I’ve always felt that this yearly tradition is a setup up for failure. For example, back in the days when I was morbidly obese I’d resolve that a certain year was going to be the one where I’d lose all of my weight. I’d start out strong with the latest diet plan that guaranteed success. More often than not the plan was flawed and the task was too daunting. By mid-February my umph was gone and I’d give up because it was just too hard. I’d hang my towel over the console of the treadmill and walk away. I saw it with many people at the gym this year. The gym was jam-packed during the month of January and a few weeks later crowds started to thin out. By the beginning of February things had died down quite a bit and by the end of February it was back to normal.

Why does this happen? My thoughts are because we choose resolutions that are too specific, too big, and too rigid and in doing so we set ourselves up for failure. Throwing in the towel often happens because the process is difficult or it’s taking too long and frustration wins out. It can become an “all or nothing” scenario. Sometimes it is a matter of pushing too hard, too soon, and burning out rather than making incremental and lasting change. Instead of focusing on how far we’ve come, we look at how much work we still need to do and that puts us in the wrong mindset for success.

The answer is easy… shift the focus. Change is very much a mind game. When I started to look at the days ahead differently, real change began to happen and there was a permanence to it. Instead of the typical New Year’s resolutions I adjusted my perspective and I found the results were amazing. In the process I lost close to 180 pounds and my lifestyle became dramatically different. Here’s what I did…

Rather than resolve to lose a huge amount of weight, I chose a few milestones that I wanted to complete. That first year was to go on backpacking trips and I accomplished that. I was morbidly obese so I knew I’d have to work up to backpacking. I started with short walks, then day hikes, then practice hikes with a pack. Next thing I knew I was hiking the rugged shores of the Bruce Peninsula. The weight was coming off and I felt better than I had in a very long time. Years that followed included activities like canoeing, cycling, bike-packing Le P’tit Train du Nord, running a half marathon, and all sorts of other fun adventures. Some of these milestones didn’t have set timelines but others had dates attached to them because of the need for registration or reservation as well as booking vacation time.

As I prepared for such activities everything else fell into place. I watched nutrition through moderation and mindful eating which helped to fuel my body properly. Not having a specific deadline lowered stress levels. This in turn reduced cortisol and other stress hormones which helped me to lose weight more easily. I trained so that I would be well prepared and not risk injury.

Accountability is a big motivator for me but I find a blanket statement like a that of a resolution just doesn’t cut it. My milestones, whether camping excursions, cycling trips, or running events, are what keep me accountable. Even those times when I’ve had to bail on an event, like this year when my heart had other ideas, I kept the next milestone in the back of my mind and did what I could to work towards that.

In a few days I will share some of my plans for the coming year and I would love to hear what milestones you have in mind for yourself.

Read Full Post »

If you’ve been following my blog ramblings for any length of time then you’ve read about my battle with heart disease. If not, let me get you up to speed. If you already know about my journey then feel free to skip ahead to the update.

My History

I have horrible family genetics when it comes to premature coronary disease causing death and there is also a history of diabetes. Couple that with my former self being severely overweight and sedentary… well you have a ticking time bomb. That would have been the case but I decided, after watching family member after family member suffer from heart disease, that I was going to change my life. I lost weight. I lost a lot of weight. Then I was diagnosed with diabetes. I became even more proactive about my health and reversed the need for diabetes medications. I fought for my life and fought hard.

I saw a cardiologist for a full work-up when I first started running. I had to push for this because it isn’t a standard part of a physical from a family doctor. I was diagnosed with left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) and my aortic valve had a very mild stenosis. The LVH was likely due to my former size as it was reversing. Things were going swimmingly and I ran my first half marathon. Then I accidentally kicked a dumbbell and broke two of the toes on my left foot. After they healed I returned to running and my cardio was worse than it was when I was obese. It didn’t make sense. I thought something wasn’t right, that this was more than a setback due to the toe business. I went to the cardiologist and failed a treadmill stress test but before I got the results I decided I should go to the emergency ward. I still felt really off. Less than a week later I was at home recovering from what is called Percutaneous Transluminal Coronary Angioplasty. In other words, I had two stents placed in a branch off the left circumflex artery. You can read the whole story in the blog post named Fixing My Broken Heart.

I had to come to terms that no matter how perfectly I did everything, genetics will always play a role. My cardiologist, Dr. J. has explained to me that I am doing everything right and that is why I didn’t have a heart attack or heart damage despite having a significant blockage. He told me my heart was strong. I was cleared to run a full marathon but I was to avoid things like heavy lifting. What followed was months of anxiety. Panic would set in when I would run longer distances. I was stressed and upset. I dropped out of all my races including the marathon. I had worked so hard to prevent heart disease and I was very disappointed in myself even though I didn’t have control over much of it due to genetics. I was bummed.

The update

So, now that you have the background, here is what happened on Friday’s visit to Dr. J. I stressed for days about it. I went to my appointment expecting to be told that I had to limit things like weight lifting at the gym and serious hill training for races like Run for the Toad. What happened next caught me off guard. Here is how the appointment went…

I had an echo-cardiogram first, followed by an EKG and measurements for blood pressure, weight and abdominal circumference. Finally it was time to consult with the doctor. Dr. J. is a rather pompous guy but not so with me. Well, not since the first visit when he started to lecture me about weight loss and I handed him my before photo. He knows I’m really proactive and that I take his advice very seriously.

So I am still dealing with Familial Hypercholesterolaemia (say that five times fast) and that is something genetic which I have no control of. In other words, I will likely be on a cholesterol lowering medication for the rest of my life no matter how healthy a lifestyle I lead. Thanks Dad! We talked about some new research into a monthly injection that has had great success in Europe and is going through trials here. It won’t be available to me for several years but it could be an alternative that is less harmful to the body.

The verdict… everything is great… really great! I can go off the blood thinner in 60 days. No more polka dot bruising from having NERF dart wars with my kids. No more anemia! I asked about lifting heavier amounts at the gym. I asked about training for Run for the Toad and other trail races where there are wicked hills. When I heard his response I was compelled to ask him two or three times to be sure my ears weren’t deceiving me. I have the all clear for anything I want to try. He said run hills, climb mountains… whatever I want. In fact, I have NO restrictions whatsoever!! I had to completely restrain myself from doing a happy dance in Dr. J.’s office. NO restrictions!!

Much of the success of this appointment and all of what I have been through with my heart and with diabetes has been due to my dedication to having a healthy lifestyle. Losing weight in a healthy way, keeping fitness fun, and having a balanced way of eating has proven to be the best medicine. I may not be skinny but I am healthier than I have ever been.

PS I did the happy dance in the driveway when we got home… lol.

PPS I’m going to tackle Run for the Toad again. It’s redemption time!

Read Full Post »

Seven months ago today I had been transported, by ambulance, from Hamilton to Brantford after undergoing the Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (formerly known as angioplasty). Later that afternoon I was released and I began the process of recovery.

Physically I recovered very quickly but emotionally the journey has been a little more difficult. It has been hard to try and wrap my head around the fact that I am okay. It freaks me out to know I have something foreign in my body. I underwent all sorts of post-procedure testing and that indicated that there could be a mild and reversible issue or that my ample bosom was interfering with the scans. In other words, I’m fine. As you know, I had been cleared to train for a marathon so that in itself was pretty positive. Yet, here I was struggling with runs and breathing. Five minutes into things I would start having troubles and my mind would automatically go to thoughts of it being my heart again. It seemed to be getting worse… until…

Starbucks with Carla.

Back at the beginning of October, Carla and I decided to catch up with one another over coffee at her favorite coffee shop. The next thing I knew my dear friend had convinced me to go for an orientation at The Athletic Club (TAC) here in Brantford. I can’t remember how we actually got on the topic but next thing I knew we were touring the brightly lit facility. She didn’t pressure me but she did share her passion for working out there. I could see why. TAC is open, bright, and not the least bit intimidating. It wasn’t at all what I had anticipated. So, on October 4th I committed to becoming a member for a year. Quite honestly, I have toyed with the idea on numerous occasions but Carla gave me the gentle push I needed.

With membership at TAC you receive a fitness assessment as well as a personal training demo. I went in to see Kelly Harker and we spent well over an hour discussing my history, current health, lifestyle, and goals. Kelly did all sorts of fitness tests and gave me a copy of the results. I have some work to do. Body fat is still a concern, but I knew that going in. I still can’t do a push-up to save my life. Well, okay… I managed one and even that was modified. Apparently I have average strength biceps… that one shocked me. I would have expected a poor rating there. My flexibility is shot… I used to be able to sit and reach well beyond the tips of my toes (lol – I’ll just blame that on being a runner).

I had gone in with extremely low expectations surrounding cardio-fitness because, when it comes to my health, I’m a realist. I had been off with broken toes, heart issues, and bronchitis that verged on pneumonia—it was one hell of a year. With the time away from training I had expected my cardiovascular ability to be close to rock bottom. After all, every time I would run I would feel like I was immensely out of shape in that regard.

face your fears

face your fears

I braced myself for the news that my suspicions were correct, however, my VO2Max was much better than I thought. I had expected to be in around the 21 V02Max range which is quite low. The actual assessment was much higher at 33.2 which is considered good. What!? At first, I thought maybe she had made a mistake. It was at that moment I realized the breathing issues I have been having when I run are not physical… I was dealing with anxiety. Knowing that has been a gift that has allowed me to move beyond fears that my heart issue wasn’t fixed. That one simple act of going to Starbucks with Carla that day started me on a course of action that would lift a great weight from my shoulders.

While I have your attention, I should update you on The Fall Challenge that I decided to do in order to support my friend Kim.

Here is where I am at…

Nutrition

I have done well with all the goals I set out for myself except I still need to focus more on breaking the habit of having lunch in front of the computer. I could still do with incorporating more dark leafy vegetables too.

Fitness

I’m walking, running, and working out at the gym where I am concentrating on the areas that need some attention. I met with Jenn Jones, a Personal Trainer at TAC. Jenn gave me some pointers on how to achieve my goals which are to increase strength especially in the core, reduce body fat percentage, bring up my V02Max even more, increase flexibility and lose a little more body weight in a healthy way that I can maintain over the long term.

I am somewhat lacking in discipline when it comes to doing the daily yoga flows and will continue to work on that during the last bit of this challenge. Soon enough it will be second nature.

Posture

I’m continuing to work on correcting decades of poor posture. It’s tough but I am determined to stand tall. The gym has mirrors and that certainly helps me check my form when I am lifting and such.

Other

I’m sleeping better. There are a few exceptions to this, like when my little girl has been coughing in the night. Cutting down on the caffeine and exercising more has been quite helpful in this regard.

So there you have it. I’m back to my run-bunctious self.

I feel good great for the first time in over a year. I’m starting to sign up for running events that will take place in 2015 and my enthusiasm for fitness has returned.

And… I couldn’t have done this without the people who have encouraged me, believed in me, and lifted my spirit.

Read Full Post »

The last few weeks have been a period of transition. My baby girl is now a kindergarten kid and her big brother is in his final year of elementary school. I’m not sure where the time has gone. I spent the first week of school tying up some loose ends and putting steps in place to move my career as a writer forward. My husband has been at the IMTS in Chicago so I spent the school days writing and negotiating new ventures, one of which is a freelance food writing gig with a magazine that focuses on fitness. I also started working on the outline for my fourth cookbook.

Now that the children are settled in the school routine and my career is moving in the direction I want it too, it is time to get the rest of my life on track. As you’ve heard, ad nauseum, the last ten and a half months have been akin to a roller-coaster ride when it comes to my health. So much of it was out of my control and lately I’ve been dealing with the emotional side of that. Things started turning the corner a few weeks before school started and I began to contemplate what adjustments I should be making to move forward with my goals.

Mid-week I saw a post on my friend’s Facebook timeline about an eight week lifestyle challenge. She was asking for people to join her. I looked through the videos, looked at what the program had to offer and decided that I would create my own 8 Week program and call it my Fall Challenge. This is partially to support my friend but also in order to regain my fitness and make some positive changes. Supporting and encouraging my friends helps me too and it makes me accountable because I’ve made a commitment to myself and to them.

Below you will find an overview of what I plan to work on over this 8-week time frame. This weekend I will measure and weigh myself. Then the scale will be hidden away until the end of the challenge because the scale lies. You’ll notice that there is nothing mentioned about weight loss although I am sure that will be a side effect of this process. I’m removing the scale from sight because I don’t want the focus to be related to numbers, I want it to be about healthy choices, wellness, and fitness.

The Fall Challenge

Nutrition

Eating will be a conscious activity. All meals and snacks will be consumed in the relaxed environment of my dining room. This means no more eating while I am writing at the computer or checking email. I won’t nibble when I am preparing meals or school lunches.

Portion control will be a big focus. I haven’t been as careful with that as I should have been and I have gained eleven pounds since my half marathon in 2013. There are several ways I will implement being better about this and I’ll share those in another post.

Caffeine reduction is going to be a difficult one for me. I am susceptible to severe headaches when I cut caffeine out entirely so I will need to do this gently over the length of the challenge until I am down to one cup per day. I started to reduce intake recently because I realized I was drinking four to six cups a day. Another issue is time of day. There have been days where I have a coffee at 7 pm and I wonder why I am having interrupted sleep patters. It’s really the warmth of the drink I like so I will be supplementing with herbal teas and such.

Better hydration. One thing I’ve noticed during my running hiatus is that I am not hydrating properly. There are days I drink nothing but coffee and a single glass of water. While the coffee does add to hydration, I know that I am out of balance in this regard.

Choosing more whole foods especially when it comes to snacks is something I need to get back to. This year I haven’t been as selective about the type of snacks I’ve been eating and often reach for a few crackers rather than a piece of fruit or some veggies with hummus. While I did make more of a conscious effort to do this throughout the summer, I know I could do more especially in the dark green leafy veggie category.

There is one thing that I have been far too lax with and that is testing my blood glucose. I used to check multiple times a day but lately the only time I’ve done that is if it is a day that I run and as we know that hasn’t been very often. So, I will be testing more frequently and keeping a better eye on how the dietary adjustments are affecting my body from that perspective.

Fitness

I’ve already started making some of the adjustments, such walking back and forth to the school with my children even though my teenage son is more than capable of escorting his sister to her kindergarten class. I will continue this and walk a minimum of 18K a week. This will include the trip to and from the school as well as the warm-up and cool-down walks I do on days that I run. Some days I will use the school walk as my warm-up if time and weather permits.

I plan to get back to running a minimum of three times a week but no more than five days per week. I will take two rest days. I hope to have achieved this consistent level of running by the fourth week. I will also strive to be better about stretching after I run. It is important that I rebuild my running base and do it in a smart way that prevents injuries.

Every day I will complete a yoga workout whether it is for 10 minutes or an hour. I will vary what I do to keep it interesting and also to complement running and cross training. On the days I rest from running I will select a flow that is more on the gentle side so I can give my body the recovery it needs.

I’m planning to cross train more consistently than I have been. This could include hiking, cycling, weights, or boxing. I also have several DVDs that I can draw upon—everything from kickboxing and Pilates to Qigong.

The other important element here is intensity. I will ensure that at least two of my weekly fitness activities are at a much higher intensity than the rest of my workouts. This could mean hills or speed work if I am running. I will lengthen the time holding planks and yoga poses as I get better at them. Every week I will slightly increase the heaviness or repetitions of the weights.

The focuses will be improving cardiovascular ability, running endurance, core strength, and flexibility. The goal is to feel strong.

Posture

This has always been a big issue for me. I have rounded shoulders from years of slouching. I’m a tall and chesty girl at just shy of 6 feet and have always been self-conscious when it comes to my height. When I was a child I started to physically try and reduce how tall I appeared and some habits die hard.

Because I write for a living, I need to reconfigure the height of my laptop to help correct my sitting posture. Currently I have to look down and my gaze is practically at a 45° angle.

Strengthening the core will help as will watching my form while running. I will hold my head high and be proud about standing tall.

Other Adjustments

This is an emotional and social makeover too. Surrounding myself with like-minded, positive people has been so amazing for me. I don’t have time or inclination to invest in toxic relationships. The last one ended around this time in 2012 and through that I learned a great deal about what kind of BS I will not accept in my life. As I connect with new people I will remind myself to pay attention to the red flags rather than ignore them.

I won’t sweat the small stuff. This one may be easier said than done as I am a worrier by nature but I know worry is counter-productive. I need to have faith in myself and that I can overcome any problem big or small. When I start to worry I will refocus by distracting myself with something else.

Another aspect that I want to reincorporate into my life is time for me. For years I took 15-minutes a day just for myself. It made me feel good and that in-turn helped me to be a better wife, mother, and friend.

Since I broke my toes back in the latter months of 2013 I’ve been somewhat hiding out. It is time to be a little more social. This isn’t just from a family and friends perspective, I would like to be more involved with my children’s school. This week I went and picked up the forms to get a police check so that I can help out on their school trips. I will do some volunteer work as well.

One of the most beneficial changes will be correcting my sleep habits. Actually that should be lack of sleep habits. I’ve been burning the candle at both ends trying to balance being a Mom and a writer. I will attempt to get to bed at the same time each night. I will avoid caffeine after 3 pm. I will try to refrain from checking the messages on my phone if I wake up in the middle of the night.

Clutter on my desk causes clutter in my mind. It may sound odd, but for some reason it affects my writing when my desk looks like a tornado dumped half the contents of my purse, scribbled notes and scraps of paper, junk mail, flash cards, various chargers, USB keys and other odds and ends on its beautiful wooden top. I will spend a few minutes every morning to keep it from getting out of hand again.

My challenge will come to a close around the one year anniversary of kicking that 5lb hand-weight and breaking my toes. By then this should all have become a permanent part of how I live, at least that is my hope. I’m looking it as a bit of a reset—the end of 12 difficult months.

So there you have it, my plan of action—my Fall Challenge. I will start on the first day of Autumn and go from there. It’s not written in any particular order and I likely won’t be trying to do all of this at once. I believe some of this will progress quite naturally. You can find more about the program here at www.8weekchallenge.com or you could make your own version as I have. Throughout these 8 weeks I will share my successes, setbacks, and how I’m managing overall. I may even post a bit about what is going on in my kitchen with meals and even a recipe or two.

Read Full Post »

Never have I wanted a Friday to come as badly as I want it to this week. I tend to savor every day but on this particular Friday I will go to see my cardiologist, Dr. J. What I want to hear him say, more than anything, is “sure you can slowly ease back into running”.

Last week I managed to walk for almost 25K on the treadmill. I wasn’t really given a plan or any direction other than to simply walk as much as I felt comfortable doing. I should be happy with the fact that I walked as much as I did. So many people can’t. I should be grateful considering I am recovering from a percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA). It is a good sign of how well  my recovery is progressing to being doing this amount so soon after the procedure.

Yet, I wallow.

Perhaps it is the rainy weather that has put a damper on my mood this morning or maybe this is just my way of working through the emotion of what I’ve just been through—a post-traumatic sort of thing. Whatever it is, it is a dark place where I am not used to dwelling.

I want to snuggle under my down duvet and hide from the world.

But, what I really want is to run and to cycle.

I want my active life back.

It seems so ironic because there was a time where I wanted to lay down on the sofa and not do anything but eat and watch television. Funny how it started all those years ago as a mere desire to lose weight yet progressed to be so much more. I never thought I would feel so frustrated or restless. I’ve touched on this in the past but today that change seems so profound to me.

Wallowing.

It’s not something I do.

I believe in picking myself up and dusting myself off.

Forward momentum.

Today I am struggling with that. I’m frustrated. I’m sad. And, I’m fearful.

My other feeling is one of anticipation. I see the cardiologist on Friday. No matter what the outcome is, I will be somewhat relieved, because what I really want/need is direction, guidance, and an idea of where to go from here. A plan of action. I’m scared but I also feel that knowing the full picture will enable me to deal with these health issues as I always do—head on.

I thought about hiding my feelings and not sharing this because it doesn’t put out my usual message of positivity but I also felt that it is important to share that I have my ups and downs too. Despite my generally happy and positive outlook on life, I am not immune to being in a funk and…

like the rain, this won’t last for long.

Read Full Post »

no longer a sofa spud

from class III obesity to half marathon

Read Full Post »

I am a die-hard fan of a show called The Biggest Loser and last week Dr. H. at The BL Ranch said something that I thought was right on the mark. When the contestant said they didn’t have time for healthy eating and exercise, he said… “If I told you, you were dying of lymphoma, would you take two hours out of a day for chemotherapy?”

Harsh? Most definitely. True? Absolutely! It certainly made me step back and take notice. He had summed up, in one sentence, my philosophy on being active. It’s essential to our health and wellness. Not to mention, that obesity is a risk factor for developing many diseases, including cancer.*

Time is the number one excuse I hear from the people who say they want to make change and frankly that’s what it is… a mere excuse. I’m a Mom, business owner, and author working on my third manuscript. My husband travels extensively for his work so sometimes I’m like a single Mom. I don’t know how to drive so getting to and from a gym or the track takes me twice as long as the average person which is why I don’t have a gym membership. Yet, I find time to chase after a toddler, help my 11 year old with his homework, make homemade healthy meals, keep the house somewhat in order, and work the equivalent of a full-time job… all the while, training for a half marathon.

There are so many ways to sneak fitness into the daily routine and here are a few ideas.

  • take the stairs rather than the elevator or escalator
  • park at the end of the parking lot when you are shopping
  • walk or ride your bike to work (you’ll help the environment too)
  • make it a family affair (go for family bike rides or walks together)
  • find an exercise buddy (having similar goals can help with motivation)
  • make it fun (exercise doesn’t have to be boring)
  • sign up for a charity walking or running event to keep you motivated
  • watch your favorite show while on the treadmill or elliptical

I was the Queen of Excuses. Been there done that and somewhere in my closet there is a 5X t-shirt to prove it. Only I could stop the behaviour of telling myself why I couldn’t do something. I owe it to myself and those who care about me to be active. I find that I feel much better when I am being physically active. I sleep better and am more productive in other areas of my life. Not to mention, a little time now could prevent a lot of time spent dealing with serious health consequences later.

*Health Canada – Health Risks of Obesity

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: