I can get so dependent on technology. My FitBit wasn’t syncing to my phone or to my computer one day this week and it really stressed me. What’s the point of exercising if I don’t get “credit,” if the goal doesn’t turn green on my screens? Luckily, I figured out how to fix it by searching help forums -basically I needed to turn my phone off and back on. This technology stuff can be frustrating, but I do love it when it works. I also adjusted my calorie goals this as I had set them a little too low. Even though I ate a bit more this last week, I still lost almost 3 pounds, which is maybe a little too much. I may have to get even more calories in so I can keep my loss rate healthy. Eating enough is as important as not eating too much. It is all about balance and health.
Last night we talked about body image which was very moving. Our culture is so horrible that it can make us hate our bodies, particularly if we are young and female and don’t fit the “ideal” body type. I sang the group this song. “How Could Anyone” (Song here)
They did not seem to mind my less than stellar singing voice, but they got the message. We are all beautiful. I also told them that I loved them when I met them, and that I don’t love them more now because they are thinner.
Maybe it is because I gained most of my weight after my 40’s, or maybe because I am a lesbian in a very long term relationship, but I never really hated my “fat” body or was particularly ashamed of it. It was just who I was, someone with an “Earth Mother Goddess” body. If it wasn’t for the health issues, I would not have considered altering my body in any way. I am also having some trouble adjusting to the thinner me. It is a little weird, and I feel somewhat less substantial, that it is just a little harder to “claim my space” in a crowd. I will get used to it, and I am definitely appreciating the health benefits I have achieved through the weight loss.
Next week I am going to a conference for retired UU ministers and their partners. It should be good, although I have a presentation to do so I am a bit nervous about that. Ministers can be an intimidating audience. And most retired ministers tend to have a lot more experience than I do, as I entered the ministry fairly late in life. Once I get going, I know it will be fine; it always is. The Spirit hasn’t let me down yet, so no worries.
The conference food is likely to be buffet style, so as long as there is protein and veggies I should be fine. Finding time to exercise might be harder, as schedules tend to be packed. I am also a bit nervous about the 4 extra days we are staying, as restaurant meals will be involved, and those can be harder to figure out. But since I have been doing so well, it will actually be fine if I gain a bit that week. So no stress! Or at least not too much.
My life is getting better and I realize that is always how it has been for me. The presentation I will give at the conference next week is on my life’s journey, my odyssey. I wrote a poem about it this morning and will likely start my talk with it. (the poem is here)
And, special for Valentines Day, the words I spoke to Anne at our legal wedding in July of 2013, (here)
(My stats for the last week – down 2.9 pounds, drank over 7 gallons of water and exercised for over 540 minutes. My cumulative weight loss so far is 87.4 pounds.)
My sweat bands! They came and they work super great. Plus I had (most) of my hair cut off so it is easier to dry after a shower or the hot tub. Once the weather warms up and I can start swimming again very short hair will be awesome as well.
I did OK on my exercise last week, not as good as the week before as one day I was just tired and took a break without getting my cardio hour in. Still, with the sweat bands, I am now officially a jock.
Last night we talked about goal weights. The ideal weight charts do much more harm than good. What matters is our health, how we feel, how much energy we have, and whether we are reducing our risks for heart disease and diabetes. I spoke about how I had changed my goal weight on my fitness apps, because the generated one was way too depressing. As I calculate my calories in and calories out, I am looking for a deficit of 1000 so that I can continue to lose some weight while not losing my muscles. Once I can get off a few more medications, it may be time to go for simple maintenance. But it would be pointless to go to all this work and then go backward, sacrificing all the health benefit I have gained. It is the reality that I will always have to pay attention to what I am putting into this body of mine.
My knees are still a mess and I am getting another cortisone shot today to help with the pain. I will also see if I can now get on the list for knee surgery. Once that happens, I may even be able to go hiking again! That will feel like (another) miracle.
(My stats for the last week – down 1.8 pounds, drank over 7 gallons of water and exercised for over 575 minutes. My cumulative weight loss so far is 84.5 pounds.)
Our mantra last night was “it is a privilege to be able to exercise” because not every “body” can. We do what we can in this life, and it isn’t always easy. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, things don’t work out very well.
I have been taking advantage of that privilege lately, although the above statistics show stairs I did not climb. It is apparently a glitch in the FitBit programming on the model I have. The steps and active minutes are accurate though. I will walk even more after I get my knees done, but for now it all feels pretty good.
I seem to be on a very positive roll these days, as I racked up another health improvement this week when my doctor reduced the dosage on some more of my medications. One was for blood pressure. I also learned from her that a heart medication I am taking slows my heart rate. I will have to keep that in mind as I exercise.
I also decided I needed to get some sweat bands for my head. The old bandana I have been using gets soaked too quickly. Who knew I would ever need something like sweat bands? I am also watching my daily calorie burn and balancing it with my intake. This is science! I have always loved both data and science. No “fake news” for me. Knowledge and facts feed my brain and are helping me feed my body in much healthier ways.
This week I went from “Obese Category III” down to Category II. It is not about the numbers I know, but so far my numbers are correlating well with the health improvements I am having. Let’s call it “progression analysis.” (That’s a math joke.)
(My stats for the last week – down 3 pounds, drank over 8 gallons of water and exercised for over 595 minutes. My cumulative weight loss so far is 82.7 pounds.)
I feel like I have turned some kind of corner, easing into this becoming an actual lifestyle rather than a tough program I am struggling to follow. I am relaxing more about my food, feeling confident that I can do what I need to do. I will continue to record everything I eat, because knowledge is power, but I can also decide to go over a few times and not stress about it. Last week I asked Anne to pick up a half pound of Molinari salami, my favorite comfort food, which was on sale. She looked at me and asked if I was sure. I said I wanted it and that I could handle it. For the next 8 days I ate an ounce of the salami with a small orange for my afternoon snack. In times past, I would have eaten all 8 ounces in one sitting.
We also went out to dinner and shared a dessert after a mostly sensible meal. I am learning that I can sometimes just eat what I want, just not every day or for every meal. I loved the dessert and I enjoyed the salami a lot, but it truly was enough. (That “dayenu” refrain may become a recurring mantra for me.)
While I am easing off on my obsessive calorie counting, I am turning into an exercise nut. I even started using a sweat band when riding my bike. I check my Fitbit app often, watching for the various the goals to turn green when I have met them.. When I had my resting metabolic rate test, it came out at 1555. Fitbit estimates 1677 based on my age, gender, and weight. I will do another test at some point to see if there are changes. But yeah, it is about figuring out what my body needs to be healthy. I love data!
Our sweet facilitator has taken some of my (hopefully gentle) suggestions to heart. We did a get-to-know each other exercise this week. I do believe that members of a group have some responsibility for how the group functions. Just like a congregation can lift up or tear down the minister (and I have experienced both kinds of congregations) so can group dynamics affect how well a facilitator does. Connie is rocking right now, although the F-bombs my old cohort tends to drop seem to startle her a little. I want to do whatever I can to help the group bond so we can support each other effectively, so I can get the support I need. This isn’t something anyone can do alone. Actually, there isn’t much of life that should be lived completely alone. We all need some solitude and reflection time of course, but we are social animals. We need each other.
We also talked about food behaviors that aren’t working for us and ways to change them. Awareness, motivation, planning and rewards are all important. With the food and exercise routines, I am on track, so I didn’t make any plans for myself other than keeping on doing what I am doing. It was good to hear from others, though.
I changed the weight goals in my fitness and food apps yesterday. For me, it has never been about the numbers, an ideal weight, or the size of clothes I can fit into, but about my health. So I just let the apps auto-select the goal numbers. But it was starting to piss me off looking at a “to lose” number that is larger than what I have already done. So I changed the number. I know I need to lose more to take the enough pressure off my knees, so I somewhat randomly picked the number that will get me to the edge between the “obese” vs the “overweight” ranges for BMI. When I get there, I can reevaluate, but it feels good to be more than half way there.
(My stats for the last week – down 2.1 pounds, drank over 8 gallons of water and exercised for over 610 minutes. My cumulative weight loss so far is 79.7 pounds.)
When I have attended Passover Seders, I have enjoyed singing the song Dayenu.
The word means,”it would have been enough” and the song has 15 stanzas representing 15 gifts from God. The first five involve freeing the Jews from slavery, the next describe miracles, and the last five are about closeness to God. Each of the stanzas is followed by the word “Dayenu” (it would have been enough), sung repeatedly.
Last week I found out that I no longer have diabetes. It would have been enough. Dayenu.
This week I got the results of a recent sleep study and found that my sleep apnea has gone from moderate/severe to mild. I may be able to ditch my C-pap machine before much longer. It would have been enough. Dayenu
I don’t expect 15 miracles. But these are only the most recent two. Earlier ones were:
Not having lymphedema in my legs anymore Dayenu
Marked improvement in the lipodermatoschlerosis which was also in my legs and very painful. Dayenu
So I am up to at least 4. Dayenu
OK, maybe 5. I am able to exercise a lot more. Dayenu Maybe I am turning into a “jock” now that I have a Fitbit to vibrate and tell me to move.
Last week’s report:
I have exercise goals which I am writing down here to keep me accountable:
Exercise seven days a week.
Do at least 60 cardio minutes at least 6 out of every 7 days
Walk at least 250 steps every hour for 9 hours every day.
I am not doing a step goal as my knee is still quite wonky.
Class was great this week! We had a couple of new folks and we spent time going around the room with everyone participating. I learn so much every time we do this. One woman talked about how she is no longer afraid of working up a sweat when exercising, which brought home for me the fact that I can now exercise hard enough to sweat. Success. Sweat is good.
A few other people talked about how others in the group were their inspiration for both beginning and sticking with the program. It reminded me of the 12th step:
“Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”
This program has a spiritual component I think and helping each other is a part of the practice.
We also talked about our heart rates and exercise.
And I got 2 pairs of new pants this week. They fit – but maybe not for long as I am still shrinking!
(My stats for the last week – down 2 pounds, drank over 8 gallons of water and exercised for over 565 minutes. My cumulative weight loss so far is 77.6 pounds.)
The pics are me in my exercise clothes. I get real hot and sweaty on the bike and these help.
This journey has always been about improving my health, and not simply changing a number on a scale. That said, the weight loss, the drastic change in my diet and regular exercise has yielded some real health results for me. I was diagnosed with diabetes around 10 years ago and have been taking Metformin daily since that time. I have kept my diabetes under relatively good control since I was diagnosed, watching my carbohydrate intake and limiting it to roughly 45 grams per meal. I was not concerned about fats, protein, or calories though and continued to slowly gain weight. My diabetes was stable, but I still needed the medication.
My A1c’s had been fine, always under the 7 recommended for people that have diabetes. They were improving once I started this program, and began hovering between 5.9 and 6, very good numbers for a diabetic, in the “prediabetic range”.
Then, just yesterday, I got a call from my medical provider who told me my A1c (the test for blood sugar) was down to 5.4, which is in the normal range. I was told I could stop taking the Metformin and that I now have a “history of diabetes” but that I am no longer a diabetic! I did not even know this was possible, so I am both stunned and thrilled! And yes, I have been working very hard, but some of it is clearly just luck, as others who work just as hard don’t have the same result. I am very grateful that my body is able to respond to my efforts and that my health is improving in this dramatic way.
Last week, when I wrote in anticipation about our anniversary dinner out, I said that I would have a martini but skip dessert. Well, at the end of the meal, they brought our a piece of s’mores pie with two candles. How could I not eat half? It wasn’t that long ago that restaurant employees would assume we were just friends. I clearly owed it to the GLBT community to eat that dessert with the love of my life! I did skip the crust, but the marshmallow, soft meringue topping and chocolate chunks were simply awesome and I enjoyed every bite.
I am learning that planning is important, but so is living life, adjusting as needed before and/or after. I had exercised and saved up some calories earlier that day, and did the same the day afterward. That one over-the-top meal did not impact my ongoing progress.
Last Sunday, I had the privilege of preaching again (sermon – here). I love leading worship and it gives me energy. It is interesting that I had over 6100 steps that day, more than any other day to date. There are physical demands in preaching, part of why I had to give it up for awhile. My knee was throbbing at the end of that day, but it was so worth it!
We had a substitute facilitator last night and it was a pleasure again to be with the woman who had guided us through the intensive phase of the program. She was able to draw stories and examples from people in the group that she knew well. The checkins were a bit deeper than usual as a result. The issue came up of what to do when you are feeling bad about yourself, because guilt and shame are avenues that lead to failure and despair. So many of us are raised to be such perfectionists, which can create a vicious cycle. We try to be perfect and fail because perfection is impossible, then we simply stop trying and feel even worse. I offered the following poem which a friend had posted online earlier this week and which helped me.
by Rev. Dick Gilbert.
In the midst of the whirling day,
In the hectic rush to be doing,
In the frantic pace of life,
Pause here for a moment.
Catch your breath;
Relax your body;
Loosen your grip on life.
Consider that our lives are always unfinished business;
Imagine that the picture of our being is never complete;
Allow your life to be a work in progress.
Do not hurry to mold the masterpiece;
Do not rush to finish the picture;
Do not be impatient to complete the drawing.
From beckoning birth to dawning death we are in process,
And always there is more to be done.
Do not let the incompleteness weigh on your spirit;
Do not despair that imperfection marks your every day;
Do not fear that we are still in the making.
Let us instead be grateful that the world is still to be created;
Let us give thanks that we can be more than we are;
Let us celebrate the power of the incomplete;
For life is always unfinished business.
The rest of the class was a discussion of artificial sweeteners. It was a good discussion but not very relevant for me. I gave up my diet Coke addiction years ago, switching to water or unsweetened iced tea on hot summer days. I have always tried to avoid overly processed foods and still cook from scratch with simple ingredients and sometimes complex spices. I am now just passing on the orange juice and leaving out most of the butter, cheese, pasta and bread that I used to eat.
The Fitbit is still keeping me moving. I finished the “Valley loop” this week, one of the virtual adventures on the app for the device.
No longer having diabetes will take some time to sink in. What an amazing result and so unexpected!
(My stats for the last week – down 1.4 pounds, drank over 8 gallons of water and exercised for over 510 minutes. My cumulative weight loss so far is 75.6 pounds.)
I don’t want to sound like a commercial, but the Fitbit Anne gave me for Christmas is making a real difference. I also paid the $30 (per year) to upgrade from the free version of Lose It so it could send my meal info to Fitbit. I have always loved technology and this one is so fun. Like Santa , it knows when I’ve been sleeping and tells me how much REM and deep sleep time I got the night before. The exercise programs are a motivation and much easier than timing my exercise on my phone. It tells me to take 250 steps every hour and it is hard to ignore a vibration on my wrist. Best are the “adventure” challenges. This week I virtually hiked the Vernal Falls trail in Yosemite, something I have done in real life at least 30 times, starting when I was a child and taking my own children there. I know that trail in my bones although I haven’t been able to hike it in many years. So fun to do it virtually and see the photos of places I know so well. I start the “Valley Loop” today. At 35, 899 steps, that will take me almost a week.
At group this week we talked about resolutions, goals, and intentions, and what the different definitions are. I said that I like to use the language of covenant, which is a more of a sacred promise, something you come back to again and again, even if at times you falter. (I am preaching on this topic this Sunday.)
I am trying to learn the names of the new-to-me people in our group. It was easier this week as there were 3 men named John. I try to use people’s names when I speak to or about them, and will try and model this more often in the group. Knowing someone’s name is the first step in making a real connection. In a support group, knowing each other’s names is critical I think. It can be hard, because people drop in and out and the facilitator has lots of classes with lots of people. It is kind of like congregational life, I guess, and as a minister there were always people whose names I did not know. But I’d rather ask for a name multiple times, than skip over what is a need-to know.
One of the John’s made a comment that struck me. He said that now that he is no longer fat, he feels like he is who he was always meant to be. Body and spirit both was the implication. So much of our fat shaming culture eats away at our sense of dignity about who we are and/or who we have been. I hate that. There is virtue is setting a goal and accomplishing it, but there is no shame in failing. This stuff is hard. Life is hard.
A colleague posted a question today about experiences with food and shame. The following is what I wrote in response:
“Growing up working class, and having a large garden, there was always enough food although the quality declined as the month ended and the money grew tight. We celebrated with rich food when the money came in. Free food has always been particularly hard for me to resist, storing up for some intrinsic fear of scarce times I think. I was thin until my mid 30’s, but eating has always provided some emotional comfort for me. It started when I was a child eating potato chips or saltines with butter late at night when the house was chaotic and going out for pizza with my mom when my father was very drunk and we needed to get out of the house. It is funny, now that I am in a serious weight loss program (because of my personal health needs, NOT because being fat is inherently unhealthy!) for the first time in my life I am only hungry right before mealtimes. I have never felt a lot of shame about eating or my size, even when I was over 300 pounds, although I was frequently upset and pissed about others reactions to my size. It is OK to use. my name. I am who I am.”
We are going out to dinner tonight for our 44th anniversary. I will save up some calories so I can have a martini with the meal, but I won’t get dessert this year. I will order a reasonably sensible entree, but if I go over in calories today I now know one meal will not sabotage my progress. I am feeling good and it is time to get on the stationary bike and start walking the valley loop trail.
(My stats for the last week – down 1.9 pounds, drank over 8 gallons of water and exercised for over 510 minutes. My cumulative weight loss so far is 74.2 pounds.)
I have a truly amazing support system. On Christmas Eve, “Secret Santa” from my group left the note above on my porch song with a goodie bag full of fabulous stickers, trinkets and small gifts, including a cute chicken kitchen timer and a fluid measuring glass. Do I feel the love? Yes, I do.
And my beloved Anne gave me a Fitbit (one that I can wear in the pool to track swimming too), a mini-colander to wash my morning blueberries, measuring spoons with size markings I can read, jogging pants that won’t fall off for a few more months at least, and Michelle Obama’s book, which I can read on the exercise bike. I may be forgetting something, but do I feel the love? Yes, I do.
Weirdly enough, it seems to be getting easier in a lot of ways. I am drinking more than a gallon every day now, finishing the jug by dinner and wanting more. I did 420 minutes of exercise this week, and it was easier than the week before. I had veal marsala and a martini on Christmas eve, and ate a potluck dinner at a friend’s house on Christmas – and I still lost almost 2 pounds.
During class we talked about lessons learned this last year. There has been so much! For me personally, I think I now can relax just a little more, turn down the volume on my compulsiveness, and partake of an occasional treat. As long as I keep my focus most of the time, it will really be OK to plan to do something different once in awhile. Planning is the key. I knew I would have a martini this week so I ate a bit lighter earlier in that day. I also knew I would be unhappy if I just got sauceless fish so the veal was a decent option that tasted fabulous. The leftovers were good as well. Watching people eat the bread and olive oil, and sharing a dessert was a little harder, but the veal and martini did it for me, and once it came, I did not feel deprived.
2019 will be a good year. 2020 will be even better if we can pull off a landslide election that will end this political nightmare we have been living in for forever it seems.
(My stats for the last week – down 1.9 pounds, drank over 8 gallons of water and exercised for 420 minutes. My cumulative weight loss so far is 72.3 pounds.)
I made the exercise goal of 420 minutes. It almost killed me but I did it! I rode the bike in 20-40 minute segments twice a day. It is amazing how the idea of a prize can motivate me. We get “stamps” for attendance at meetings, logging our calories, and exercising for 420 minutes a week. When we have enough stamps, the card is entered into a drawing for a Whole Foods gift certificate. I don’t even like that store; it is so pretentious and overpriced, but I want to win so I am wearing out the stationary bike until spring when I can swim again. It’s a mind game I am playing with myself.
We had a interesting discussion in class last night. Does doing something hard, like this program, improve your life in other ways? Does it open up other possibilities for you, other challenges that you might tackle? Does it make you more empathetic to others, because you know how hard things can be, or does it make your more judgmental because after all you have had success, so why can’t everybody else? Of course I went to the theological in this. It reminds me of the old salvation by grace versus salvation by character argument. The Universalists and Unitarians, coming from either side of that issue, decided to just live in the tension of that theological debate. I do believe that hard work helps, but a little luck helps even more. Everything does NOT happen for a reason, much of life is simply random, and sometimes good hard-working, truly wonderful people, simply do not succeed or even manage to survive. We do what we can, and hope for the best. Try to love life and love each other; be generous and be kind. If nothing else, the world will be a little bit better because we lived. As a Unitarian Universalist I believe that all will end up in whatever heaven is, and also that we can, with our efforts, create a little heaven right here.
(My stats for the last week – down 1.4 pounds, drank over 7 gallons of water and exercised for 420 minutes. My cumulative weight loss so far is 70.4 pounds.)
I had a “non-scale victory” this week because I was able to attend a rally, and even speak before the County Board of Supervisors that same evening. See “Ice Out of Marin” for what I said. I could not have physically done this a few months ago. It was still physically difficult. The rally was held on uneven grass, with no real seating. The civic center halls are also very long. Between those two things my knees were cracking, throbbing and popping that night and throughout the next day. I made a joke on Facebook saying, “although I wanted ICE out of our county, I still need some ice for my knees.” A sense of humor helps get me through, not just with doing this hard program, but also with coping with all the truly evil things happening in the world. .
I was also able to wear my clerical shirt with its collar and could button ALL the buttons! Victory! In my tradition, clerical collars are not routinely worn in our churches. Instead, we wear stoles and some of us robe when leading services. In more recent years, however, many Unitarian Universalist ministers have begun wearing collars during public witness events. It is a very recognizable symbol that we are ordained clergy and it can add a tad of religious and moral authority to what we say. The clergy shirt I ordered online a few years ago never really fit me before, but this last week it did! Thinking back to my list of the reasons I began this program, being able to attend social justice events was on that list. (Click here for my full list) here. ) Yay! Just Yay!
Class was good this week. It was particularly fun because it was a smallish group and all but two of the attendees were people from my cohort. We are so well bonded that we can tease each other and laugh hysterically. One man was talking about eating crab and some of us heard “crap” – not much of a stretch because “crap food” is something most of us have known all too well. The rest of the class, he said “Cra -buh.” Maybe you had to be there, but it was hilarious. I also think I remember pretending to be a crab in boiling water, raising my claws and making drowning noises, but maybe I just thought about doing that. We were pretty rowdy and I hope we did not upset our facilitator who is still getting used to us. Laughter helps though. It really does.
One more wonderful thing happened this week. Because of this blog I connected with an old friend who I hadn’t seen in at least 25 years. She finished the active part of the program about a year ago, and is in a “lifestyles” group in a nearby city. We talked non-stop for almost 3 hours when she came by to see us and we have plans to get together again. We mainly just got caught up on our lives and our kids, but she also had some program tips for me as well. (COLD water is better, the body burns calories heating it up – who would have known?)
I will be working on exercising more in the weeks to come. The goal now is 420 minutes. I might have made close to that if it were not for getting a shingles shot on Monday. The shot reaction knocked me out for a bit. I was down 2.6 pounds anyway, making up for my very slight gain of .2 pounds last week,. Yay again, just yay.
(My stats for the last week – down 2.6 pounds, drank over 7 gallons of water and exercised for 315 minutes. My cumulative weight loss so far is 69 pounds.)