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Daily Bread #49

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I got a new, more accurate, scale this week, based on encouragement from the group last week.  Since I love high tech stuff, I got one that will sync with my FitBit app.  It averages my weight for each time and day that I step onto it, and generates a trend line so I know what direction I am going.  Ah data!  There can never be enough.

It probably wasn’t due to my new home scale, but at weigh-in tonight I was down 5.1 pounds from last week.  See?  Last week’s weigh-in with no loss wasn’t an issue at all.

My meeting with the knee doctor was somewhat disappointing.  He wants me to lose another 15 pounds before he will schedule me for surgery.  This is not a big problem as I can do that in another 2-3 months and I don’t want to do the surgery until the fall anyway.  In fact, after this last week, I am one third of the way there already.

The appointment still feels like a bummer, and I am not really sure why.  At least I can just email him when I reach the weight he wants and I won’t need to make another appointment before being scheduled for surgery.  And it also isn’t like I thought I was done with this weight loss journey.  I guess I expected him to just say,”wonderful, let’s get you on the list.” Managing hopeful exceptions is not always easy.

Neither is managing this weight loss.  Every time I lose a few pounds, my calorie budget goes down in all my apps (and in reality too!).  I am always either adjusting my intake with food or my expenditure of calories with exercise.  Flexible,  that’s me.  Hah!

Last night, based on a participant’s request, we talked about strategies for dealing with things like conferences and buffet lines.  One man said he doesn’t participate at all and tells his friends, “I am leaving during the meals because I would want to eat it all.”  I loved this.  No guilt, no shame – just honesty.  Another man talked about deciding to go the Sizzler, and to just enjoy that buffet.  AND he counted the calories and made sure to get back on track the very next day.  Others drank extra water during conferences, or decided before hand that they would only take protein, fruit, and veggies from the buffet line.  If you know your trigger foods, it can help to avoid them completely.  Buffet food is also rarely all that delicious, so becoming more discerning and only eating the highest quality items can help too. Mass produced desserts are rarely very good and are loaded with fairly empty calories.  Some people also took protein bars to substitute for some of the meals.  Good tips, all of them, and I think everyone learned something they can use in the future.

We also talked about accountability, and what it means to us. This blog is one way I stay accountable both to myself and to my circle of family and friends.  Writing about this journey each week helps me, and I hope it might help others.  We all need companions and supporters, cheerleaders even, along the way if we are going to get to where we want to be.

One small part of the conversation last night disturbed me.  One of our group was feeling bad, like a complete failure, because she had been gaining a lot of weight back.  I know it was not meant the way it sounded, but the facilitator made a comment later that “studies show that if you feel like a failure, you will fail.”  For someone feeling hopeless, this was not the best thing to say.

I also realized how protective I feel toward everyone in our group, even those I hardly know, but especially those I have grown to love.  Like I have said before, the bond is strong and my mama bear personna can get riled up in an instant.

Hope IS a powerful motivator, and I know that if we cannot visualize success or even progress, then everything becomes harder.  If you are feeling a lot of guilt or shame, odds are you aren’t liking yourself very much, and who wants to put in the energy to take care of someone they don’t like?  I hate all that.  I hate that it happens and that people are made to feel that way by our culture and by the thoughtless remarks by even people who mean well.

I also know this journey has been easier for me than for many people.  I don’t have the long history of dieting, of losing and then regaining, that so many others have experienced.  Failure is not something I expected to happen.  I wasn’t SURE it would work, but I had a strong faith that it could.  I also never felt particularly shameful or guilty about being fat.  (Although I was sometimes shamed by others).  I was also an over-eater but not a binge eater.  These things have made it much easier for me.  I am grateful for that relative ease, knowing also that “easy” is not what this has been like, even for me.

Damn, I just wish we could all love ourselves fiercely just as we are, fat, thin, whatever.  The God I believe in loves us in just that way.  Then, if we want to make changes, for our health or for whatever, we can do it in the spirit of love, do it for our bodies and for ourselves.

“How could anyone ever tell us, we are anything less than beautiful.”  If they do, we need to tell them to shut the F-up.

L’Chaim!

(My stats for the last week – Down 5.1 pounds, drank at least 7 gallons of water and I exercised for over 555 minutes.  My cumulative weight loss so far is 96.7 pounds.)

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Daily Bread #48

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I got a new jacket this week as my old one was so large it was ridiculous.  I got the new one a bit on the small side as I am planning to shrink-to-fit it better.  I am slowly learning how to shop for transition clothes.  Jeans only seem to fit for a few weeks before they threaten to fall off while I can still wear stretchy draw strings from when I was 90 pounds heavier. I really want a new swim suit soon, because I won’t be able to swim in any of my old ones.  They work OK in the hot tub where it doesn’t matter much if they are almost falling off.  If need be, if I don’t find a suit before we open the pool in the spring, it will have to just be a tee shirt and shorts for me.

Class was fun, although a LOT of people were missing this week.  Our regular facilitator was also out and Sarah, the program manager, led our group.  We did a very meaningful, go-around-the-room check-in and heard from a few people that rarely talk at all.  It was a pleasure watching Sarah draw them out.  We also did some stretching exercises, which reminded me that I need to get back into doing some of my physical therapy exercises for my arthritic shoulder.  It hurts, and not just because of the shingle’s shot I got this week.  A class member who recently had knee surgery kindly showed me some exercises I can start doing to prep for when I have it.  I see the knee doctor this Friday and hopefully will get on his schedule.  I am excited and a little apprehensive.

My weight this week was exactly the same as last week.  No worries though.  My exercise intensity was significantly less this last week, so it makes sense.  That I can blame on the shingles shot.  Excuses are sometimes valid.

L’Chaim!

(My stats for the last week – same as last week, drank at least 7 gallons of water and I exercised for over 515 minutes.  My cumulative weight loss so far is 91.6 pounds.)

Daily Bread #47

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I am getting back to my routine:  knowing how many calories I consume, exercising and noting the calories I am burning, and drinking lots of water.  This is all so much easier at home.  I admire the folks that do this program when they are still working or have small children.

My weight loss this week was almost too much at 2.6 pounds, but it was funny that at the weigh-in the scale first showed me 8 pounds down.  I was definitely a mistake, so I asked to do it again.  (I’d stepped on the scale before it finished cycling back to zero which confused it.  Ah technology – I love it.)

At group last night one man shared his 4 “W’s” which keep him on track so he doesn’t regain the weight he has lost.

  • Water – drink lots of it.
  • Weigh yourself – at least weekly.
  • Watch what you eat – recording it is even better
  • Walk – exercise

Easy to remember, but it can be harder to do.  I am doing really well on all of these, however, which must be why it is working.   According to my food app, I have logged everything I have eaten in the last 203 days.  My exercise stats are shown above.  Today I was tired, however, so only got on the bike for 30 minutes.  Every body needs a sabbath once in awhile.

L’Chaim!

(My stats for the last week – down 2.6  pounds, drink at least 7 gallons of water and I exercised for over 590 minutes.  My cumulative weight loss so far is 91.6 pounds.)

Daily Bread #46

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I am back from my trip, and pleased to report that while my progress slowed (only a 1.6 pound loss in two weeks) it did not stall or reverse.  I enjoyed myself and indulged in 3 very large-for-me meals, two desserts, one martini, a half glass of wine, and a large sake.  (Not all on the same day!). I sat most of the day during the conference, but the food choices on the buffet line allowed me to choose just protein and veggies.   In Austin, it was restaurants and home-cooked meals, most of which were high calorie, but I walked a ton (23 miles!) and I used the stationary bike at the hotel.  This trip let me see what maintenance might be like: being careful with food most of the time, exercising often, and able to have an occasional drink or dessert.

I bought some new jeans a month or so ago, and they are already too baggy to wear.  I know that can be a fashion statement for some teen-aged boys, but for a 69 year old woman, not so much.   I think I will stick to pants with drawstrings until I get to my stopping weight.  At least someone will get some barely worn clothes when I donate them.

A real win was not having to ask for a seatbelt extender on the plane.  I see the knee surgeon in two weeks and hopefully will be scheduled for surgery.  I understand there is a wait of a few months so I want to get into the queue at least.

The conference was amazing, my presentation went well, and I made some new friends.  The theme was GLBTQ history within Unitarian Universalism and included many stories from the early days after Stonewall.  Some of the stories brought me to tears.  I joined my home church in the mid-90’s, so I mainly experienced acceptance and a warm welcome.  Unitarian Universalism struggled with the issue of gay clergy back in the 70’s and although both homophobia and heterosexism are still deeply embedded in the wider culture, gay and lesbian clergy now have little trouble being called to serve our congregations all around the country.  Transgender ministers still face some challenges, but we are working on that too, through education.

My heart just breaks for what happened in the Methodist Church this week.  The God I believe in is one of an all-embracing love.  Love, in all of its dimensions and in all of its forms, is a sacred gift, a “reflection of grace,” and of God’s love for all of creation.

L’Chaim!

(My stats for the last week – down 1.6  pounds, drank maybe 5 gallons of water and I exercised for over 420 minutes.  My cumulative weight loss so far is 89 pounds.)

Family, Faith, and Breaking Bread #45

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I just returned from Texas where we attended the UURMaPA (Unitarian Universalist Retired Ministers and Partners) conference and spent a few extra days in Austin visiting the family of one of Anne’s Sicilian cousins.

What a trip it was!  It was only a week, but it was also a lifetime.  At the conference I told my life story, my odyssey, which wasn’t an easy thing to do. Like everyone, I have seen some hard times. It was emotional and difficult to speak of some of them.  The response from my colleagues in ministry and their partners was truly heartwarming.  The conference theme was on Unitarian Universalism’s history on GLBTQ issues.  And although we have been much more progressive on those issues than any other faith tradition that I know of, there was still a lot of pain expressed by ministers who came out in the early days. I loved the conference, and there were times I cried.  Tears are good though.

After the conference, we went to Austin to visit family that we had never met in person.  Frankly, we were a little nervous about meeting them.  They are religious Christians who attend a large Protestant church.  Would they embrace us for who we are, or simply tolerate us in “love the sinner, hate the sin” mode?  We were very moved by the warm welcome we received from them.  We also learned that one of the teenagers is president of the GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) at her school.  How awesome is that?  It reminded me of our visit to Sicily where we were also nervous, and then we discovered that one of the young adult cousins was “Mr. Gay Europe” and that the family embraced him whole-heartedly.  Damn, I love our Italian family, and I am thrilled to now know the ones who live in Texas.   This warm and embracing family is yet another gift I have received from my marriage to Anne.

I tried to stay on-track with my weight loss program while I was gone, but it was hard.  I definitely drank less water.  The conference food had lots of good choices, but exercising was pretty much out as the programming started early and went into the evening.  Austin was a home-made Italian pasta dinner and a similar lunch, complete with impossible-to-resist pastry desserts.  They also took us out for an awesome steak fajitas lunch.  I skipped the rice and beans, but likely overate on the rest.  The meat was so tender and flavorful! The hotel had an exercise room, though, and we walked a lot touring around.  We will see what the scale shows this week, but my funky home scale doesn’t have a particularly frightening number on it.  It is all OK.  Everything is just grand in fact.  It is also good to be home.

 

L’Chaim!

 

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Daily Bread #44

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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.)

 

 

 

Daily Bread # 43

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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.

Image-1Last 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.

L’Chaim!

(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.)

Daily Bread #42

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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.)

L’Chaim!

(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.)

Daily Bread #41

 

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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.

L’Chaim!

(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.)

Daily Bread #40

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:
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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!

L’Chaim!

(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.)