Treading Water is Better than Drowning

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A view of the lake during a recent ladies’ retreat with my church.

No matter how hard we try, there’s no way to avoid times in life where we’re in survival mode. Life is crazy and unexpected things come along that take all our best intentions and throw them to to wind. These times seem to be more frequent for me in the good old year of 2017.

When it comes to my weight loss goals, it has felt like hard work to keep up any sort of effort. What I do without thinking on most days suddenly feels nearly impossible. In times like this, my advice is to take a step back and look at the big picture of how you have handled these situations in the past.

How can you make the tiniest steps to make a better choice than before? Maybe it just means ordering a salad to go with your burger because you just can’t bring yourself to cook. Maybe it means you take a nap or drink a glass of water. It doesn’t have to be earth shattering. Just take a moment to remember to take care of yourself in the middle of the chaos.

My weight loss has been minimal lately, but that’s better than stress eating all day and spiraling out of control. I may only be treading water, but treading water is better than drowning, and that’s enough.

 

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Scale Entitlement

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My self-awarded gold star

If I had to give myself a grade for my health-related choices yesterday, it would be about an A-. I moved around a lot because I had some cleaning to do around the house. I stayed away from sugar other than a little flavored creamer in my coffee at church. I had fresh veggies with lunch and controlled my portions. Instead of a sweet treat at night, I had a handful of pistachios. Go me!

Sure, I could have included a workout or avoided an extra couple of bites of lunch, but I felt really good about my day. Because of my nearly stellar performance (please read with a slightly sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek tone), I expected a lower number on the scale this morning.

Instead, a higher number stared back up at me. Wouldn’t it be nice if this never happened? When I have a good day, I feel like I’ve earned weight loss. If I don’t get it, I feel a bit slighted. Why doesn’t the scale acknowledge my hard work?

Unfortunately, my scale does not award gold stars. Sometimes, my efforts lead to a loss, but I’m going to be in trouble if I always look to the scale for my reinforcement.  I have to remind myself that it’s just one way to gauge progress. So, instead of giving the scale all the power, I gave myself a gold star. Take that.

Strides in self care

My scale read 267.8 pounds yesterday. Granted, I went out with a friend the night before, so that added a little weight that will drop off quickly. On the other hand, I’m also facing a reality of having regained almost all of the weight I’ve lost. I started at 275, lost 40 pounds, and then gained over 30. I was convinced this wouldn’t happen this time. I thought I’d figured this thing out, but here I am.

The good news is that me at 267.8 pounds today is much better off than the me of 3 years ago at 275. I am slowly learning to take care of myself and find healthy ways to cope with stress. I’m more active now than I was. I’ve been through much more difficult situations and, by the grace of God, I’m still standing (If you just had singing gorilla pop into your mind, you’re welcome…and now you probably have every song from Moana cycling through…but enough about quality sound tracks from animated films).

Now the struggle is taking care of myself better physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually when life is crazy. Some of it comes easy, like getting enough sleep. Some of it, not so much. Taking a shower, eating a vegetable, going for a walk, drinking water, reading my Bible…these are all things I need to be intentional about when I’m out of the usual routine. I need to use coping skills other than food in times like this, and there are plenty to choose from (reading, listening to music, journaling, etc.).

Before I know it, my “usual routine” will no longer exist. We are on the road to being licensed to adopt up to four kids from foster care. Unless something pops up between now and getting a placement that derails the process, I am about to enter a new stage in life. I know I’ll never truly figure this out all the way, but I’m hoping and praying to be in a better place when it happens.

 

 

 

 

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.

Beverages and Me

I’m not sure what the deal is lately, but I’ve been going crazy on the coffee and pop. So much so that the ice water I’m drinking as I write this seems like a long lost friend.

So, you can imagine how surprised I was when I was strolling around Target the other day, minding my own business, when tastebuds rebelled against me and insisted that my chestnut praline mocha was shockingly, excessively sweet.

It was all a bit disorienting.

I’m feeling like my constant sugar and caffeine highs are starting to take a toll. Time to rein it in. More water, less sugar. No sweeping declarations here, but something’s got to give.

 

The Quiet Changes

It’s been two months since my last post. My two-year anniversary of the beginning of my weight loss journey has come and gone, and it’s a new year. During that time, I’ve gone from tracking my food like crazy without losing weight to my current state of stillness.

I thought about letting my blog fall to the wayside and add to the giant pile of abandoned weight loss blogs and be on my way of weight gain and denial. Instead, I’m going to try keeping it simple. No more waiting to have a good picture of topic for my post. No more waiting for the best moment to write. Those quiet moments are rare and probably best used on other things.

So, here I go, 2017. I start the year without any fanfare or big declarations. My only health resolution is to make my health somewhere on my list of priorities. I’m a bit tired of striving for a goal and never reaching it. I know losing weight will help me, but I can’t handle making it such a huge part of my life.

For now, I’m hoping to minimize pain and be more functional. Now, I just need to work on how to make that happen. It won’t be exciting. Instead, I’m hoping for quiet changes that make up a tiny piece of the puzzle that is my life.