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Daily Bread #66 (Back Home)

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We got back home and I realized I actually live in a place where people pay big bucks to go on vacation.  I did so much walking while we were gone, I thought I would try it here.  I have a new routine now I think.  I walk for 45-80 minutes mid-morning before it gets hot and try to do it again after dinner.  You can’t beat the views from my neighborhood and the flowers are all in bloom.

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It is very hilly here and although the downhills slow me down some because I am afraid of falling if my knee gives out.  I am getting to be an expert with my cane, but will be really glad when I no longer need it. Uphills are much easier, and I don’t have to stop to catch my breath or rest like I did before.

 

Standing without moving is still hard, though.  I went to a local protest against the current administration’s draconian immigration policies.  I did the short march around a block in downtown Novato and could have done more walking, but I was glad that I found a place to sit to listen to the speakers.

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I was back at the group last night for the first time in a month and had my official weigh in.  I lost 9.6 pounds during the month I was on vacation.  I am slowly getting used to my new body, but at least I seem to be on track with the lifestyle change.  I want to lose another 12 pounds or so before my knee surgery and right now, that seems like a fairly easy goal.

L’Chaim!  This week’s stats: I am still not getting my gallon of water in most days, my bladder needs time to adjust back up to that volume.  My Fitbit report shows 109,110 steps last week for over 46 miles – up from last week.  I ate approximately 11,000 calories and burned 18,693. I am down another pound for a total loss of 129.2.

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Daily Bread #65 (On the Road)

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Last week on vacation.  Damn, it has been fun.  After Canada, we visited friends in Portland and then headed down the Oregon Coast.  One more night on the road and then we are home.  I am thrilled at how active I have been able to be.  Long walks along the coast and when we walk a mile to and from dinner, a shared desert is just great and well earned.   Maybe TMI, but I have also had fun tossing my old baggy underwear into the trash each morning.  It is so much better than hauling it home to wash.  Getting new underwear now is much more fun than it was when I got it under the tree as a child.

Now that I know what I can do, I am looking forward to some long walks closer to home. That is one of the lessons I have learned during this time “on the road.”   Sometimes, just sometimes, we can do a LOT more than we think we can.  Like the old children’s story about the little engine that could, motivation matters.  At the beginning of my weight loss journey I was motivated by my declining health.  These last few weeks, I have been motivated by the beauty of the natural world and my desire to be out in it.

There is more to be learned from this time away. Every minute of my life now feels abundant with meaning if only I can keep my attention focused – or if I can let the focus go and just be in the moment.  I have walked in beauty.  I have been blessed.

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L’Chaim!  Vacation stats: I am definitely NOT been getting my gallon of water in most days, it is just too hard when bathrooms aren’t just down the hall.   My Fitbit report shows 98,741 steps last week for over 41 miles – less than last week but still way more than I did at home.  I ate approximately 10,150 calories and burned 18280. I am down another .8 pounds for a total loss of 128.2.

 

Daily Bread #64 (on the Road)

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Vacation has been good for me.  I am so happy that I am able to hike again.  It has been years since I have been able to do trails like these.  We have been to the Canadian Rockies many times and camped and hiked these trails with our kids.  I am not camping anymore, and my knees are still ridiculous, but I am actually pretty fast with my cane.    I am slow on the rocky and root covered parts because I am afraid to fall, but I am not getting out of breath and don’t have to stop and rest much at all.

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With all the exercise, I have been able to indulge a bit on food.  I even had prime rib!  I skipped the potatoes and got extra veggies instead.  It was really good and I saved a bit for lunch the next day.  Rocking it in the Rockies, that’s me!  I even had fish and chips minus the chips and substituting salad. Restaurant workers have been very accommodating about keeping the potatoes and rice off my plate.  I do take a few of Anne’s fries if they look really yummy.

We are on the homeward bound part of our trip now, so will have some longer driving days and less serious hiking.  Looking forward to some long walks along the beach in Oregon though.

L’Chaim!  Vacation stats: I have probably NOT been getting my gallon of water in most days, but I am exercising some every single day and a lot on others. My Fitbit report shows 127,344 steps last week for over 53 MILES! I ate approximately 10,400 calories and burned 19,351. I am down another 1.2 pounds for a total loss of 127.4.

 

Daily Bread #63 (On the Road)

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General Assembly in Spokane was fabulous, exhausting, and moving.  I saw a lot of old friends – including one SSA friend I hadn’t seen in 30 years – and I made some new friends too.  I am very pleased with the direction and new leadership of our faith.  The backlash which bubbled up on the fringes is a bit disheartening, but there is also widespread enthusiasm. Change is hard, for everyone, but if we don’t open up our faith so that all can participate fully, then we aren’t being faithful to our principles. There is a lot that I still need to process about those days in Spokane, but I believe that true transformation is coming.  Hope and love will lead us on, and we are blessed with human leadership that seems up to helping us with that task.  The world, and our country, is in a dangerous place.  We need to be stronger and more resilient than ever to meet the many challenges if our democracy and our planet are to survive.

After General Assembly, we headed up to the Canadian Rockies, one of my favorite places on earth. We have been many times since the mid 1970’s, but we are no longer camping.

The top picture is at Radium Hot Springs where on an after dinner walk, we discovered an adult playground full of exercise machines.

With scenery like this, it feels so good to be able to move about and enjoy it!

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Even on a road trip where you don’t need to pack light, I forgot things I wish I had.  I should have brought my hiking boots and a small daypack.  After years of only being able to walk short distances, I walked almost 10 miles on Tuesday.  Not all at once, but still!  I do stay mainly on paved trails and I avoid steps because of my knees, but we went on a river float trip yesterday, and I may be ready for some mildly white water later in the trip. Who knew I would be able to do all this?  Next trip, hiking boots!

Food is tricky, but I am very careful about what I have for breakfast, lunch, and snacks, and I don’t go wild with carbs at dinner.  Dinner is all guesswork for calories, but I am eating what I want (Shrimp Étouffée with dirty rice and cornbread last night), choosing lower calorie items most of the time, and stopping when I get full.  Most of our rooms have had microwaves, so we have done a couple of leftover meals. Étouffée for dinner again tonight!

I am actually still losing weight, even though my plan was to just not gain any while on vacation.   I have increased my calories some because of the exercise and the vacation food and drink I am enjoying.  I am not hungry except right before I eat.  I can LIVE with this new lifestyle!

L’Chaim!  Vacation stats: I have been getting my gallon of water in most days and exercising some every single day. My Fitbit report shows 82,299 steps last week.  I ate approximately 10,400 calories and burned 17528. I am down another 3.4 pounds for a total loss of 126.2.

Daily Bread #62 (on the road)

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I am on my road trip and am really noticing that people (strangers) treat me differently.  I am not the old fat 300+woman who could hardly barely move.  At just under 200 pounds, I present more as an active senior, still overweight, but in pretty good shape.   The difference is subtle, but noticeable.  I have almost always smiled at people in stores, gas stations, rest stops, and hotel hallways, but now their responses are just slightly different.  It is hard to tell exactly what that difference is.  Do they treat me as younger and more able?  Do they dismiss me less, and respect me more?  Are they less protective of my comfort, and feeling less pity for me?  I believe the difference is real and and not just inside my head.  I do carry myself with more physical confidence, so that is part of it.

I think really, though, it is about power.  I have more power because I have shed one of my marginalized identities.

A friend of mine, who grew up as female, told me that once he began to look male, the sexism he had experienced growing up went away.  He’d gained male power, which he could hold as long as people assumed he was male and cisgender.

Power held by those with marginalized identities is very precarious.  Trans and genderqueer folx are very vulnerable to violence and assault as are women, lesbians, bisexuals, gay men, people with disabilities, fat people, and people of color.  That list could be much longer and include class and religion. The world is even more dangerous if you embody more than one marginalized identity.  This culture diminishes anyone who isn’t straight, white, male, Christian, able-bodied, and wealthy.

Maybe what I have been sensing is a power surge, one that has come because I have shed (some) of one of the identities that made me more vulnerable and  less respected.

Our General Assembly started last night – more on that later. I am very glad to be here with a people that believe in bringing more hope and love into our hurting world.  We do it imperfectly of course, but imperfection is one of the blessings of being human.

L’Chaim (My stats this week are rougher than usual and will be for the duration of my trip, but I have been getting my gallon of water in most days, exercising some everyday -13220 steps yesterday – I am down 3.2 pounds with a total loss of 122.8)

Daily Bread #61

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I have begun the task of getting rid of clothes that no longer fit because they are too big.  This is so much more fun than the times I have gotten rid of things that were too small.  It is a daunting task, but one I need to do.  Those large clothes take up so much space!  Packing for a trip is also easier now as I can get a lot more outfits in a suitcase.  A “Large” is so much smaller than a 3x.  This is a non-scale victory for sure!

We had 10 people in group last night, with the facilitator asking us what we thought a pipe dream was.  My first thought was that it is a drug induced fantasy.  When I googled it, I found out the term came from the 19th century and opium dreams, so my 1960’s sensibilities held me in good stead once again, getting a definition just right. One man had an interesting definition, involving looking through a long pipe, kind of like a spyglass, so that you could visualize a goal without seeing all the distractions that surround you.  I love the creativity that can surface in our group in images like that.  We then talked about things we thought we could never do, things that we believed were impossible.  People talked about dance classes, pilgrimages in Spain, 5k walk/runs, and European walking tours.  Some of those things we are actually doing now, and others are in reach.

One woman said she never thought she could succeed in the program, and was discouraged now because she was gaining the lost weight back.  I wish she would have been asked what might help her get back on track.  I did catch her afterward and chatted some.  This journey is a hard and emotional one.  It is so easy to step off the trail, sit down to rest for just a minute, only to find yourself in free fall down the mountain’s side.   If one of your friends throws down a rope to you, maybe you can grab it and haul yourself up again.  I carry a lot of ropes in my backpack.

Depression, discouragement, and grief are really common.  Food, overeating, has been such a source of comfort for so many of us, it is hard to give that comfort up.  There is also grief and loss involved with losing weight. With every change, even positive ones, something is also lost and it is important, I think,  to grieve that loss.  New parents can be thrilled at having a child, but they might also need to grieve the loss of the freedom from responsibility they once enjoyed.

Some depression on this journey is normal as we grieve the lifestyle and self we have left.  If we stick with the program, we know that we won’t be able, ever again, to eat whatever we want, whenever we want. We will need to stay mindful of what our bodies actually need, not just what might taste or feel good in the moment. This will be a huge change for the rest of our lives.  I have grieved the loss of the “fat and happy me.” I am almost done with that now, I think, as I have fallen in love with the new, energetic, healthier me. And yes, I have occasional food “treats” after a year in the program, but I plan for them, count the calories, and don’t overdo anything. So I am not the old me anymore, and I am cleaning out my closets.

One last note.  This morning I got this reading on the scale.

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I think I am ready for the challenge of a road trip!  We leave on Sunday for who knows how many weeks.  I will try and blog when I can.  It might be hard to continue my current weight loss pattern of 1-2 pounds per week with restaurant meals, but I am determined at the very least to not gain anything back during my time away.  I am packing my scale so I can make sure of that!

L’Chaim!

(My stats for the last week – down  1.5 pounds, drank at least 7 gallons of water and exercised for over 870 minutes.  My cumulative weight loss so far is more than 119.6 pounds.)

Daily Bread #60

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I am still startled by the changes in my body over the last year or so. It is taking some emotional and psychological adjustment.  Who am I?  We are so connected to our physical selves.  It is the most intimate relationship we have.  I believe our souls are woven into our bodies, at least for the duration of our lives.  What happens to our souls when our bodies change?  Sometimes the changes are really hard.  If our bodies are hurting in new ways, we need to adjust, to cope somehow, and to discover new ways of being in the world.  I went through some of that when my health was deteriorating. The more recent changes to my body are mainly positive.  I am healthier and stronger.  But am I the same person?  Yes, of course, and no, not really.  My focus is different.  I am living a more deliberate life than I did before, making decisions, even small ones, with more thought beforehand.  I still “go with my gut” when the Spirit moves me to do so, but in some weird, mystical manner, something has changed. As my body shrinks, perhaps my soul is expanding.

I increased my exercise routine this week and met my goal of burning at least 2460 calories every day.  This lets me eat 1300-1450 calories per day and still lose an average of two pounds per week.  That is enough calories for me.  I am not hungry, but then again the calories are all from protein, fruits, and vegetables.  They include some fat, but minimal carbs, just Dave’s Killer Bread (whole grain/thin sliced) and the sweet potatoes I have with dinner several times a week.  I avoid white bread, potatoes, rice, and sweets.  I did eat an 1/8 of a bagel last week at church. Moderation is the key.  

I am being extra compulsive for these last few weeks before I go on a vacation which will involve some restaurant meals.  Restaurant meals are mysteries as far as calories go.     You can ask questions and try to be sensible, but you never know exactly what you are eating when you eat out. It makes the math so much less precise.

We had 12 people at the meeting last night.  The group seems to go better when we have more people.  We talked about how to say “no.”  “No” is something I don’t usually have a lot of trouble doing, but new strategies never hurt.  There are clearly cultural and gender variations that can affect how people navigate situations of being offered sweets – or wine!  It can be tricky as food is so often offered as a gesture of love and sharing meals is how relationships are often nurtured.  Being clear about what you need (or don’t need) and planning ahead can help.  It was interesting how many people in the group had experienced having to “clean their plates” as children before they left the table.  It was traumatic and did not establish a healthy relationship with food, or even I suspect with parents.  I don’t remember that happening to me, other than being asked to taste things (one bite) or being told not to take more on my plate than I knew I could eat.  We raised our kids the same way, although we counted and divided up the potstickers when we went out for Chinese food.  There were fewer fights that way.

Food is so much a part of every culture.  We need it to live, but too much can kill us slowly.  It doesn’t happen to everyone, of course, but it was happening to me.  My world was contracting.  I feel now like I have been reborn; my life is expanding.  This journey  has been one of transformation for both my body and my soul.

L’Chaim!

(My stats for the last week – down  2.7 pounds, drank at least 7 gallons of water and exercised for over 840 minutes.  My cumulative weight loss so far is more than 118.1 pounds.)

Daily Bread #59

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(I got some new exercise clothes!  My old ones were getting super-baggy.  It feels good to have a few things that fit.)

I have been thinking more about goals lately.  Stretch goals, the ones that you need to work at, are important, but they also need to be achievable.  There have been times in my life, in various careers and situations, where I set out to do something that seemed impossible at the beginning.  I helped organize a line management association at Social Security, and eventually we convinced the agency in add a new workload to our large inner city office, which saved jobs.  We also got upgrades for several positions that were under classified.  We didn’t know we could accomplish all of that when we started, but as we organized, the path became clearer.  We worked hard and we did what needed to be done.  We started small, mainly just securing invitations to participate in important meetings.

Ministry offered many opportunities to set goals and to meet them.  Stewardship campaigns were a yearly exercise in trying to increase the motivation to give.  For that, it helped most to celebrate the success we had already seen, leading to the hope that even more could be done.  Stretch goals were good there too.

When we wanted to pass a local non-discrimination ordinance In Ogden, Utah, it meant getting people to the city council meetings, hundreds of emails and phone calls, writing opinion pieces and letters to the editor, and it meant networking with many other groups and individuals.  It took us a full year, and although we were discouraged more than once, we got it done.

Going back farther, in junior high I realized I needed a scholarship if I was going to be able to go to college.  With that motivation, and some luck, ability, and hard work, I got straight A’s, aced my SAT’s and earned a full 4 year scholarship to UC Berkeley.  My life has been like that.  We wanted kids, and that took some serious planning for lesbians back in the 1980’s.  I could go on, but when I think about it, I am not all surprised at the success I have had in this weight loss program.  When I decide to do something, I work hard at it.  Success is never guaranteed of course, and luck, (and friends!) helps, but the hard work is always necessary.  I know how to work hard and to keep focussed on a goal.

Almost every week the facilitator tells the group that they need to commit to doing at least one thing that will get them back on track.  The assumption seems to be that most people aren’t “on track.” Maybe that is true.  It isn’t for me or for a couple of other people in the group, but that is OK.

We talked about plant based diets last night.  (11 people were there, including 2 new and quite delightful people).  I would like to be a vegetarian for all kinds of reasons, but right now, I am sticking with meat which gives me more protein for the calories than plant based proteins would do.  The protein keeps me from being hungry while I continue to lose weight.  We will see what I can do about eating less or no meat when I get done with losing weight and am simply maintaining. I am no longer diabetic, so the extra carbs in plant proteins wouldn’t be that much of an issue for me.

I adjust all my goals often to make them ones I need to work toward, but are also achievable.  I increased my step goal slightly so that I can make it every day, but sometimes need to work at it.  I decreased my calorie burn goal because it was way too high, and I could rarely meet it.

My FitBit went a bit nuts on Tuesday and I had to reboot it.  The swim function disappeared when I was about to get in the pool and “pilates” showed up instead of “swim”.  I don’t even know what pilates are.  The reboot worked and all is well, but I HATE IT when technical glitches happen!

L’Chaim!

(My stats for the last week – down  2.7 pounds, drank at least 7 gallons of water and exercised for over 705 minutes.  My cumulative weight loss so far is more than 115.4 pounds.)

Daily Bread #58

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A flock of turkeys flew up to our neighbor’s roof this morning.  Sometimes one can look out at a distant horizon, and feel that they are all alone.  But very nearby (gobble, gobble, look to your right) there just might be a whole flock of friends.

Much of this work is solitary.  Counting calories, exercising, just staying on track. I look at my stats everyday.

My resting heart rate up, which is good as it was depressed below normal by the medication I no longer have to take.  Figuring out how to adjust the various goals based upon my changing weight is, for me at least, necessary mental work.  Doing the math, I realized that I needed to change my calorie burn goal.  The old one was becoming impossible to meet as my resting metabolic rate was decreasing.  Larger bodies use more calories just by being alive. The step goal is hard, with my knee crumbling, but I still increased my daily goal by 900 steps. The cortisone shot I will get tomorrow will help.  Surgery will most likely be in October.  I am getting ready to dance!

This week I moved from Obese Class II down to Obese Class I.  I hate those charts, but will take every chance to celebrate that I can get.  30 more pounds and the charts will show me as merely overweight. I will see where to go from there once I get there.  If it stays this easy, I made continue to lose.   I might even become “normal”.  Nah, not a chance on that, no matter how thin I might become.

We had 10 people in group last night, which felt like a crowd after all the skimpy  turnouts.  The facilitator asked us to rate on a scale of 1-10 what we felt was our most successful time in the program and also where we are now.  The answers varied, with most feeling like they were more successful when on the full meal replacements.  The meal replacements were easier, it is true; no thought was required.  During that phase I was, as it says on the tee shirts my cohort gave me,”100% compliant. ”  Last night, however, I said I feel more successful now, because I don’t have to be as regimented.  I can have an occasional dessert – or a martini.  It feels more real, and I enjoy eating actual food rather than only chemical constructions.

I did go on a rant last night about Nestle being an “evil corporation.”  I mentioned the boycott that started in the 70’s because of their aggressive marketing of baby formula in poor countries, to the detriment of babies and their families.  Information about that boycott is here.

Another article about Nestle is more varied, has some positives about them, and also includes the concerns about their bottled water business practices. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nestlé

All that said, no judgment on those who still need the Nestle’s products to stay successful.  We all do what we need to do.  (I feel like my body needs meat, although my ethics tell me than being a vegetarian or vegan would be better for the world.)  I am just glad I don’t need to use the Nestle’s stuff anymore.  Most evenings I have either a Kind Bar (5 grams of protein) or a Pure Protein Bar (20 grams of protein), which are a sweet treat for me at 200 calories.  I also carry them in my purse if I get caught hungry somewhere with limited food options available.

We each have to look toward our individual horizons, and figure out how we can get to where we want to go, but it is also wonderful to be part of a whole flock of friends!  Let’s fly above the rooftops!

L’Chaim!

(My stats for the last week – down 2.4 pounds, drank at least 7 gallons of water and exercised for over 745 minutes.  My cumulative weight loss so far is more than 112.7 pounds.)

Charge of the Weight Brigade

I am not sure why, but this morning I had Tennyson’s poem, “The Charge of the Light Brigade”, running through my brain. (His poem is at the end of this post.) I must have memorized it sometime in school.  When I weighed my self this morning, I was down a half of a pound from yesterday.  Then this happened:

Half a pound, half a pound

Half a pound downward,

All in the valley of Life

Moved the six hundred

“Downward, the Weight Brigade

Head for the scale”, she said

Into the valley of Life

Went the six hundred

 

Cookies to the right of them,

French Fries to the left of them,

Ice Cream in front of them

That’s as far as I got, but it is more than enough isn’t it?  Maybe I am missing those who have fallen by the wayside while some of us continue.  I miss my buds who started this program with me more than a year ago.  Maybe it is also because of the news, because there is a war on – a war against women, against people of color, against GLBT people, and against our very planet.  We need courage, lots of courage.  We need heart.  Ours is but to do and live.  We cannot let Glory fade.

Enough, it is am unseasonal rainy day here.

The Charge of the Light Brigade

I
Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!” he said.
Into the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.
II
“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismayed?
Not though the soldier knew
   Someone had blundered.
   Theirs not to make reply,
   Theirs not to reason why,
   Theirs but to do and die.
   Into the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.
III
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
   Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of hell
   Rode the six hundred.
IV
Flashed all their sabres bare,
Flashed as they turned in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
   All the world wondered.
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right through the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reeled from the sabre stroke
   Shattered and sundered.
Then they rode back, but not
   Not the six hundred.
V
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
   Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell.
They that had fought so well
Came through the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of hell,
All that was left of them,
   Left of six hundred.
VI
When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
   All the world wondered.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
   Noble six hundred!