Returning to my [gym] roots

CaptureWhen I first started making my health more of a priority back in 2014, I was a member of the Kroc Center. It’s like a YMCA, basically. It was my bedrock of fitness exploration and consistency. I tried new things like deadlifting and boxing. I was feeling great…and then it was no longer in the budget. I struggled to find a solid workout routine after that.

Fast forward to today. We recently reopened our membership to help our girls stay active (we are working on adopting!), and we qualified for a scholarship. Our youngest loves to swim, so I’ve been in the pool a lot. Today, I finally took advantage of the child care and nearly sprinted up the stairs because I was so excited for a barbell.

I’ve lost a lot of ground in the amount of weight I can lift, but my body remembers the movements. It felt amazing. I am hovering just under the 250 mark due to recent progress, and a good workout is just the boost I need. Maybe soon I’ll work up the nerve to post a recent picture, since the one I have up now is from 2016.

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Stretching Time

I am a Ted Talk junkie. To give you a glimpse into my world, I have a book exchange in my office at work that is right next to an ever-changing inspirational quote on my white board. When people ask for resources, I can barely contain myself from Googling and spewing out articles, podcasts, video clips, and book titles.

In case I didn’t put enough emphasis on the nerd factor, I caught myself being way too excited that a board game involved scoring points for shelving books in alphabetical order. It had something in it called a “ghost of learning,” and I literally said, “ooohhh” when I saw it.

Yep. I know.

At any rate, I say this to give context to the video I’m sharing about time management. Laura Vanderkam’s point is that time has a way of stretching to fit what’s truly important to us. There are enough hours in a week to fit our priorities, even if we are very busy.

I may have plenty of time to watch videos about time management and all other types of learning, but I can’t seem to “find the time” to do things like exercise and do food prep. Why? Because, even if I don’t want to admit it, it isn’t important enough to me.

Exercise and other health related habits are only a means to an end for me. They’re things that allow me to function better. That’s great and all, but it also makes them slip far down the list of priorities. It’s on the list right next to switching the laundry before I have to rewash it.

So, I suppose I’m at a bit of an crossroads. I need to be more honest about my priorities and about what I’m willing to fit into my life.

Other things are more important to me than weight loss and fitness, and I think that’s okay. I just want to find out what it takes for my health efforts to be enough to accomplish what I want out of them.

Up-Anchor, Anchors Aweigh, etc.

A few weeks ago, I almost threw away $150. I tried to use my Garmin Vivosmart. Unfortunately, the display was just a tiny, illegible line down the middle. I contacted Garmin, and they sent me this for free! (It’s a $150 value.)

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My new Garmin Vivosmart HR

I’ve been using it for a little over two weeks, and I’m impressed. I like the bigger display, and it’s nice to have the option of checking my heart rate. The heart rate monitor seems to be more effective when I track an activity, so I’m not sure if my resting heart rate is actually 71 or if it’s trying to make me feel better about myself.

We’ve had a some very serious challenges in the last couple of months, so I’m hanging on to every glimmer of hope and joy I can (even something as trivial as a Garmin). Any time I feel like I’m getting a handle on my weight, life hits me with something that sends me spiraling.

This gives me the perfect chance to put into practice that anchor habit. For me, it’s putting boundaries on sugar. Let’s just say that my anchor has not been in the water for a while. As of this moment, I am resetting myself and starting to limit sugar to times that I’m spending time with people. I’m hoping that with more repetition, I’ll cut back on the time it takes me to get back to it when things get crazy. Time to toss that anchor back in.

 

Why daily means daily…until it doesn’t

I have some non-negotiable daily tasks/habits. They’re pre-made decisions that help me avoid bailing on things that I know are good for me. For instance, when I was working on my housekeeping skills, I did the dishes every day (usually twice, since we had 6 people in our house at the time). Now that I have the habit down pretty well, I can sometimes skip a day without dire consequences. I also have a reliable plan for where to start if our house is in shambles. (For more on cleaning and decluttering, check out this blog.)

I’m discovering that one of my issues with eating and exercise habits is that I don’t have a solid place to start when things go wrong (and, believe me, they do). I rotate through different ideas and strategies so much that I have no anchor habit like I do with cleaning my house. So, I’m starting one.

I’m picking something with clear boundaries (because I need them) that doesn’t need a tracking system. I want it to be so ingrained in my mind that I don’t need a checklist. Don’t get me wrong. I like lists. Sometimes, I just need to give it a rest, though.

What the anchor habit is doesn’t necessarily matter as much to me as it’s purpose. Washing dishes every day naturally reminds me at this point to think about things like wiping down counters and sweeping. Seeing results helps me to keep going.

So, I’m not going to say what my anchor habit is quite yet. When I start seeing other ways it’s affecting my health habits or when I mess up and start again there, I’ll let you know.

Streaks Habit 3 – Feed Your Soul

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March 2017 – 260.6 pounds

It’s time for a regress…ahem…progress picture. If you have lost weight and regained it recently, you’re not alone! I’m at 260.6. That means I’m down a total of 15 pounds total. What a tiny number list compared to my lowest weight just last year (it was 40 pounds lost).

I “knew” when I started all of this in December 2014 that it would be a lasting change. I would “never” go back to my old ways. Well, as odd as it may seem looking at the numbers, I think I was right.

It’s tempting to see all of my efforts in the last 2+ years as pointless. Yes, I’m frustrated about the weight gain. Yes, I thought I’d be nearing the elusive, shiny goal weight. Or, at least leaving the 200’s…I mean, come on. But, I’m coming out the other side of this feeling more at ease about who I am and more likely to take care of myself.

 

 

One of the habits I’ve been tracking on the Streaks app I’ve titled “Feed Your Soul.” There is a profound reason why God compares food with His word and His Son.

No matter how hard I try to be self sufficient, I am an infinitely weak and needy creature. I need food to live (along with things like water, air, Netflix, etc.). There’s no way around it. Not only do I have to depend on God for food, but I desperately need God Himself to sustain my life and my soul. I need to see Him and know Him to keep going in this life and forever.

I didn’t included this in my habit tracking because my life will be perfect if I spend time in the Bible or I will instantly lose 100 pounds if I am in constant prayer. Crazy things will happen no matter what, but when I’m grounded in Jesus and my identity is found in Him, I make better decisions moment by moment.

Even though I’ve regained some weight, I’ve learned some powerful lessons over the past couple of years. I’ve learned that my weight and weight loss are not who I am. I’m not defined by my  interests. I’m (thankfully) not my ability, or lack thereof, to grow tomatoes, make homemade gnocchi, take care of my hair, or swing a kettlebell.

As I press into my struggles to improve my health, I find that my weakness is not necessarily negative. If I’m filling up on Jesus and the word of God, it points to my need for Him. If I can’t do it, He gets all the glory. And, that is the point.

 

Streaks Habit 2 – 5+ Movement Minutes

5 minutes doesn’t seem like much. I mean, if you’re only spending 5 minutes on something, is it even worth doing?

That amount of time can make a difference in my cleaning routines. In 5 minutes, I can unload the dishwasher, clean the kitchen counters and sweep, or fold and maybe even put away a load of laundry. So, what about physical activity?

I’m short, 5 is better than 0. For me, a 20 minute workout is an hour long commitment (shower, hair care, etc.). Even if I can’t squeeze that in every day, I can do 5 minutes of something (anything).

4 days into using the Streaks app, and I’m 3 for 4 on this habit so far. I even picked up a kettlebell the other day for the first time in months. It felt great (and terrible…I was really feeling it by the end).

 

The 3 P’s

I just uninstalled MyFitnessPal from my phone. An app called Streaks has dethroned it. (To all my MyFitnessPal friends, I hope you can keep going without my likes…which happen maybe once a month.)

Streaks is the first habit tracking app I found in Google Play. I put in 5 habits I would like to do daily, and I will check them off each day as I complete them. It shows how many days in a row I’ve done each habits (hence the name Streaks).

The next few times I post, I’ll explain one of habits I picked. The first one is the 3 P’s: portions, protein, and produce. I just want those words to go through my head when I’m making my food choices. Reasonable portions, a decent amount of protein, and fruits and veggies are a great start to helping me eat like a grown up.

Today, I thought through these when I desperately needed a snack after work. I grabbed some string cheese (protein), mushrooms, and cilantro (produce). I threw them in a tortilla and added some salsa and a true serving of sour cream (portions). Just like that, I have a reasonable snack that tastes pretty good and has some nutritional value.

We’ll see how it goes, but I’m off to a good start with this. I’m paying attention to what I’m doing, but not obsessing.

Weight! Don’t do it!

1028160536This is the number I saw the morning after we got back from our vacation. I intentionally went against all good logic and advice of waiting until after things return to normal to weigh myself. I wanted to watch the daily ups and downs as my body realized I was no longer going to eat whatever I happened to feel like or be around at the moment (this is also NOT prescriptive, but I have to be honest with you about how my trip went).

Armed with my inflated weight of about 250, I had my annual physical yesterday. Just as a side note, I feel I’ve achieved mature adulthood because I actually have these every year now. I also met one of my goals for 2106 by getting my blood work done. I’ll be interested to see the results.

When it comes to my weight, I feel like I’ve been stuck on the second week of the Biggest Loser. You know what I mean. The one where everyone is excited because they lost 20 pounds the week before and are shocked to see that they only lost 5 (or 1 or gained a pound). Then, after a few seasons, we would all roll our eyes and ask if the contestants had ever watched the show.

While my weight is about the same as my last physical, I am happy to report a lower resting pulse of 73. For those playing along at home, that’s average on all the charts I’ve seen. That’s right folks: Average! Seriously, this is a big deal for someone who has a long record of failed fitness tests. Click the chart to go to the website for info for both men and women, but ignore the unsettling article.

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I had a blood pressure of 125/81. This is also an improvement, even if it still is on the pre-hypertension side of things. All in all, it was an encouraging doctor visit. Perhaps, my week 3…I mean, year 3 will come with more wins on the scale.

A Healthy Vacation

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Shiprock, New Mexico

I’m writing this quickly because we are beginning a trek to the Tolman homeland today (also known as New Mexico). My mom grew up there, and, even though her family dispersed for a while, many of them have migrated back. New Mexico is also the land of green chiles, ruins, dirt, and cool rock formations. I’ve been there multiple times, but I’m excited to share a little piece of my family tree with my husband. The kiddo will be very happy to see family that he usually can only see via Skype.

It was in New Mexico that I began regaining the 70 pounds I lost in high school. Vacation is always a precarious situation for me when it comes to health. It’s a tough balance between experiencing the local cuisine and leaping into overindulgence.

My goals for this trip are to stay moving and to enjoy myself. I don’t want to stress about my food, because that leads me down a weird path. I’ll post my next weigh-in when I get back. Happy October, everyone!

It’s Not About the Flowers

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My beautiful flowers from my husband on my desk at work.

One of wonderful things I inherited from my mom is the ability to pick a great gift. She has always been a master at this. For my brother’s birthday one year, my parents bought him a Sega Genesis. My mom put Sonic 2 inside a box for Reader Rabbit 2, wrapped it up, and gave it to my brother. Imagine the look on his face when he unwrapped it…and then when he opened it! Epic.

With all of the effort that goes into picking out a gift when someone’s really invested in the process, I love how it symbolizes so much more than that. The best gift exchange says, “I care about you,” “I see you,” “I’m thinking about you.” It’s about the connection to the giver.

For instance, my husband brought me flowers at work today for my birthday. They are gorgeous and smelled amazing. But, I didn’t start sobbing because of the flowers (I know…I’m an emotional mess). It was because of how grateful I am to have a husband who loves me so much.

 

Not only that, but gifts like these point me to my Heavenly Father who is the reason I have a wonderful husband and so much more. Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and the like are so good for me. I so easily take things for granted when I’m caught up in the day to day routine. I need to be reminded of the joy I have and the good gifts that surround me.

When I’m grateful, my heart is focused on my Creator instead of being distracted by His creation. Also, when I’m grateful for the body God has given me, I’m more likely to take care of it. Often, I think that healthy eating means doing my best to take all joy out of food. However, I’m free to enjoy things like my free Biggby coffee I have coming when I do so as I honor the Giver above the the gift. In the end, it’s not about the flowers or the coffee. It’s about a God who loves me more than I can imagine.