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.)
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.)
Sigh, I was up slightly this week, but only .2 pounds, which is pretty much staying the same. Still a bit depressing as I am monitoring daily and stayed within my calorie goals. Bodies are complicated, however, so although what we do matters, the results are not always predictable or measurable. It is the overall journey that is important. At least that is what I keep telling myself.
It is also like the work for justice. Progress is made, and then the forces of greed and hatred raise their ugly heads. We have to keep trying to bend the arc.
I am still adjusting to the new group. There were lots of new-to-me folks last night, and a lot of good tips from those that have been doing this longer. The free flowing conversation is a bit disconcerting, with some people talking a lot and others saying nothing. I’ll get used to it, but I found myself being quiet, not my usual mode of being.
Another new revelation for me was that we are actually supposed to continue reporting our activities (tracking calories and exercise) to our facilitator each week. There are prizes involved! I will catch up on it, but I was completely clueless about the reporting requirements. Our new exercise goal is 420 minutes per week, more than I have been doing lately. Winter is harder because I can’t swim. I could cheat and count my steps around the house, but no, there is no real point in faking it. Maybe I will try 2 spins on the bike some days. I can’t seem to manage more that 30 minutes at a sitting on the bike because, frankly, my rear end gets numb after 20 minutes or so.
This is a marathon, not a 50 yard dash. Staying steady, and on pace, one step and one day at a time, is how to do it I think. This is for the long haul. Damn, I wish it was all easier. I am going to a rally this afternoon for immigrant rights. It is something that would have been a huge physical challenge for me a few months ago. Change is possible, on all fronts. This I believe.
(My stats for the last week – up .2 pounds, drank over 7 gallons of water and exercised for 260 minutes. My cumulative weight loss so far is 66.4 pounds.)
Thanksgiving Day was also the 30th birthday of our twins (the 2 sitting in chairs.) And of course we had two cakes, neither of which I even tasted. I actually left the room while everyone ate cake – part of why I had a successful Thanksgiving. Weirdly enough for a holiday week, I lost 4.6 pounds, one of my highest weekly losses ever, which totally made up for the 2.2 pounds I gained the week before. Since the dinner was just us, our 3 children, their partners, and Anne’s nephew Tom (who took this picture) I did not have to be shy about compulsively staying within my calorie budget. I ate really lightly earlier in the day, weighed the turkey I ate and simply brought measuring cups and tablespoons to the table. I had enough left in my budget to have 4 ounces of turkey, 3 tablespoons of gravy, 2 tablespoons of cranberry sauce, 1/4 cup of stuffing, 3/4 cup of roasted brussels sprouts, 1/2 cup of green bean casserole, 1/4 cups of roasted sweet potatoes, and a 1/2 cup of salad. The servings were small, but it was a feast! It came in at 566 calories. (A Big Mac w/out fries is 563). It was more than I had eaten at one sitting in a long time and I felt more than satisfied. Losing a good amount of weight the same week was just more “icing on that cake”- the one I did not eat!
I also realized this week that I am really grieving the strong bonds we had in class with the facilitator we had. It was 30 weeks of intensive work together. Now we are thrown into a group with both a new facilitator and a bunch of strangers who have been in the program longer. I like the new facilitator and am enjoying the stories and wisdom of the veterans, but it is still a loss. Losing my “fat lady’ identity is also a loss. Every change in life involves a loss. Change, even “good’ change, is always hard, but it is what life always is, if you are going to keep living it anyway. It will take time to build up trust in the new group, but I am confident that it will happen. I am going to work on helping it happen if I can. It reminds me some of congregational work. Everyone wants to hang out with their friends, and visitors can be ignored. If we care about what we are doing, in church, or in a program that depends on mutual support, we all need to do what we can the build and strengthen community, inviting the stranger, the new-comer in. I truly believe that diversity of all types is a blessing. We can learn so much from those who have different life experiences. It helps to have at least something in common, however, whether it is a commitment to losing weight or to creating a more just and peaceful world.
I am grateful for so much on this week after Thanksgiving. Most especially the rain, which extinguished the fires and cleaned the air.
(My stats for the last week – down 4.8 pounds, drank over 7 gallons of water and exercised for 210 minutes. My total weight loss so far is 66.6 pounds.)
This week I had what was only my second weekly weight gain that I have had since starting the program, but I know why. I love mystery in general, but not when it comes to improving my health. Three things contributed to my gain: take out Thai food, shrimp tacos with sweet potato fries, and not exercising at all because of the terrible air quality. I enjoyed the food, so maybe that was almost worth it, but the bad air had no positives to it. With so many losing homes and loved ones in the devastating fires, it feels a little bad to whine about the smoky air, but breath is live, and when we can not breathe, it feels like we are dying.
I do not want to die. At least not too soon. I have more to do, not the least of which is trying to improve our environment so that our planet might continue to sustain life.
I WILL get on the stationary bike this week, and will meet the Thanksgiving dinner challenge with resolve. I had a melt down yesterday, faced with the sight of the dinner rolls my wife had purchased for the meal. After some tears and conversation, she froze the rolls and agreed to skip the mashed potatoes. She is so wonderfully supportive and understood that the stuffing and gravy would be enough of a challenge for me. I can avoid dessert easily. I have never really liked pumpkin pie anyway. We are also having roasted brussels sprouts and I am roasting the sweet potatoes rather than coating them with butter, brown sugar, and marshmallows. The kids are bring a salad and a healthier green bean casserole. My plan is to measure out a small serving of dressing, a tablespoon or two of cranberry sauce, and a couple of dollops of gravy. Turkey is a really good protein, low fat and low calorie, so I will have a healthy serving of that. After that I will stick to the veggies. I will likely go a bit over my calorie budget today, but that is OK. Today is a day to feel thankful and not deprived. I am grateful for my improving health and I have a strong desire not to sabotage my progress. Wish me luck and grace!
(My stats for the last week – up 2.2 pounds, drank over 7 gallons of water and exercised for <30 minutes. My total weight loss so far is 61.8 pounds.)
Last night was our first meeting with the new Lifestyles group. The lifestyles group is composed of people who have finished the 30 week intensive. We can attend the weekly meetings as long as we want and some people have been attending for way more than a year. It was good to hear from those who are further along on the journey. Us new kids composed about half of those in attendance last night. It was both good and hard being with my peeps in a different environment. The bonds between us are so strong that it will take awhile for us to blend and join with the others that have been there longer. I liked the new facilitator and am hopeful she can help us accomplish a melding together so we can become one ongoing supportive group. I did miss the intimacy and trust we have had in our smaller group and I hope that can both continue and expand.
This week has been impossible for exercise because of all the smoke from the horrible fires up north. The air is classified as “unhealthy” for everyone, and I am in the “sensitive” group so have been coughing even when indoors with the air purifier running full blast. My heart goes out to those who have lost homes and family in the fires. We really do need to get a handle on climate change before the West goes up in flames and the East and South are completely devastated by monster hurricanes and floods.
I also had my RMR (resting metabolic rate) test this week and found that my body burns 1555 calories a day when I am doing absolutely nothing. As a result, I am going to increase my calorie intake to 1350, which should still keep me on the weight loss path without going too low. Even with virtually no exercise, I still lost 1.2 pounds last week.
Sadly, too, we closed the pool for the winter, so the stationary bike will have to do once the smoke clears.
I also got some new pants last week. They were both on sale and fit! I am holding off on buying more as I hope to shrink out of the new ones before too long.
(My stats for the last week – 1.2 down pounds, drank over 7 gallons of water and exercised for 30 minutes. My total weight loss so far is 64 pounds.)
They shared the “before and after” pictures with us last night.
I am not done, but you can really see the difference. What you can’t see is how much better I feel.
Our last meeting last night was simply hilarious, as well as moving. We’d written a song for our facilitator, whose name is Joanna, and we gave her a gift after we sang it. To the tune of Oh Susanna:
“Oh, Joanna, oh don’t you cry for us. We’re off upstairs to lifestyles, our new group for to meet. A protein bar is in our mouth, a tear is in our eye, we’ll stay your cohort two seven, Joanna don’t you cry.”
She was totally blown away not the least by the fact that she had also written us a song TO EXACTLY THE SAME TUNE! Serendipity? Traveling along on the same wavelength for 30 weeks? A miracle?
Her song was amazing, with a verse about each person in the class, which I must say, nailed us each quite precisely.
The chorus was “Twenty Seven, Our cohort lost the fat. Smart skills, waters, logging cals, We’ve got the skills done pat.”
My favorite was the last one, “xx kept us very in the know on making habits stick, when faced with hard decisions, for God’s sake don’t be a dick.” It was one of his more famous lines during check it. We were all practically on the floor laughing.
I loved my verse too:
“Our group was helmed by Theresa, Reverend mom to all, her sage advice was cherished, she throws veggies at the wall.” The veggies at the wall line also referred to a check in story, but the less said about that one the better.
The group then overwhelmed me with some gifts. Two Tee shirts, in two sizes, one that I will need to shirk myself a bit more to fit into. 100% compliant because I was the only one who did not “cheat” the entire time. Except last week when I had that martini, but they didn’t know that when they ordered the shirts. A swimming trophy for my exercise, and egg cookers because I’d complained about peeling hard boiled eggs.
Hugs and tears all around last night. I blurred the faces in our group pic for privacy as not everyone has been as blatently public about being in the program as I have.
I am so happy that most of the group will stay together in the Lifestyles class. As we said last night, we need each other to keep on keeping on and really change our lives for good.
Tomorrow I am scheduled for a test that will tell me what my resting metabolic rate is. RMR is the amount of calories a body burns when it isn’t doing anything. It will help me know how many calories I should have each day to keep on losing the rest of my weight that needs to go. No exercise today and no food or coffee tomorrow morning before the test. I am looking forward to it.
(My stats for the last week – 1.8 down pounds, drank over 7 gallons of water and exercised for 260 minutes. My total weight loss so far is 62.8 pounds.)
Sunset. It is almost sunset for our group – at least as it has been configured for the last 28 weeks. Actually 29 weeks. I started counting weeks on this blog from the week we started meal replacements, not the week we started in the group. So next week will be the end of the 30 week “intensive phase” of the program. We will start in “lifestyles” which will be more weekly meetings that we can continue attending as long as we want. Forever might be good. It might take that long to really get committed to healthier eating in the long haul. I still have quite a bit of weight to lose, so it will be more than just “maintaining” for me. 61 pounds is nothing to sneeze at, however, and I am proud of myself.
Endings are almost always bittersweet. It does feel good to have finished something, but we will be leaving our awesome facilitator behind. I hope the new one has a good sense of humor too. She will need it; we are pretty rowdy. A few people in our group will be going to other lifestyles groups, ones closer to their homes or on nights that will be easier for them. I will miss them fiercly as well. Most of us will stay together though, a very good thing. I love our group!
It was a small group last night, only 8 of us plus our facilitator. A few people were traveling and others were spending Halloween with their kids. Quite a few of us wore costumes, which was fun. The topic was alcohol use, especially around the upcoming holidays. I haven’t had a drink since April when I started the program, and my intention is to wait until I get to my maintenance weight before having even one of my beloved martinis.
Alcohol involves more risks to weight loss than the obvious ones of calories and lowered inhibitions. I learned last night that it is important to eat some protein before drinking, because otherwise the body digests the alcohol as a priority and anything else will go directly to fat production. Who knew? My friend Brian must have been onto something with his blue cheese stuffed olives. I could maybe try a pepperoni stick as a garnish. Just kidding, but the protein idea was a good tip.
The holidays are coming, and I am cooking Thanksgiving dinner again this year. It will be a smaller one, just the kids and their partners, but I am going to try some healthier side dishes this year. Turkey is an awesome low fat protein if you don’t drown it in gravy.
I am still losing a pound or so each week – which shocks me in some ways. I am also not feeling hungry, except right before meal time. Having 3 small snacks in addition to 3 somewhat larger meals, seems to be working.
It has been another hard week in the world and I don’t have the emotional energy right now to write about all the horror this week. I wrote this poem earlier after attending a vigil. But please vote and please vote for Democrats. Lives are at stake, so many lives, so many precious lives.
(My stats for the last week – 1.7 down pounds, drank over 7 gallons of water and exercised for 390 minutes. My total weight loss so far is 61 pounds.)
Halloween is coming and our kids came over to carve pumpkins last weekend. They all live in apartments, so they left the jack-o-lanterns for us and our neighbors to enjoy. It was the first time carving pumpkins for both of our sons’ girlfriends, as neither one was raised in the U.S. They had fun – and it was fun seeing the fun they had. This is what sharing different cultures should be like – fun. Where did we learn the fear that so many display toward immigrants? It has always been here I know, but I hate it.
Last night, before class, a few of us got into a conversation about choice and abortion. A class member said he protested outside the Planned Parenthood offices every month, because he did not believe in abortion. I told him that I had friends who served as escorts at other clinics where the demonstrators were aggressive and sometimes violent. I mentioned the shootings at the clinic in Colorado, and the doctor (George Tiller) who was murdered while attending church. My friend said his group wasn’t violent and I said good, and I asked him if he was also against the death penalty. What I did not say, and would have said if I had thought quickly enough, is that is safe abortions are not available, women and girls will die, because they will take whatever desperate steps they think are necessary, with quacks, coat hangers and poison. I am old enough to remember what it was like before Roe vs Wade. I don’t want to return to those days. Life is more important. Comprehensive sexuality education and free and easy access to birth control are the solutions if you want to reduce abortions. Abortions rates (and teen pregnancies) are proven to decline in places where those are available. The conversation was a cultural exchange, not as fun as the Halloween pumpkin carving, but not violent or hostile either. On a day when public figures and news organizations were the target of terrorist bombs, it was refreshing to just talk and exchange opinions respectfully.
Words matter. Our class topic included the negative self talk that is part of struggling to lose weight. It is hard to stay positive, to lift up hope in such scary times, but I do believe it is the only way we will survive.
The scale surprised me this week because I had a small weight loss despite the fact that I was prepared for a gain. It seems like I did fine at the retreat and at the dinner out we had with the kids. (Thai food works, or at least Chicken Ka Prow worked). I also signed up to have the test that will measure my resting metabolism rate. (RMR – the calories a body burns just existing.) Knowing this number, which is different for everyone, should help me calculate more precisely how many calories I should consume in order to continue to lose weight without kicking my metabolism into starvation mode. I’ll let you know how it goes in a couple of weeks after I get the test done. I will need to do the test later as well, because the RMR number goes down as weight goes down. More facts, more data. I can’t get enough of either. Oh and more love, more hope, more courage; I can always use those too. Be well.
(My stats for the last week – down 1.7 pounds, drank over 7 gallons of water and exercised for 240 minutes. My total weight loss so far is 59.3 pounds.)