Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year's Eve Eve...

...and I'm still 3 pounds off from the 100 pound challenge. I could give you many reasons why that may be, but in the end, they all sound just like excuses to me.

The fact is, unless divine intervention happens overnight tonight, I'm not going to meet the challenge Angie gave me. I'm not going to miss the 100 pound mark by much, but I'm going to miss it. And for someone who hates failing, this is presenting me with an opportunity. Not a problem...truly an opportunity.
  • An opportunity to redefine what failure really is...because losing 97 pounds over 20 months really can't be categorized as a failure by anyone's definition of the word. 
  • An opportunity to gracefully hold my head high and thank God that although I may have missed this the mark on this mini-challenge, our journey continues...and I WILL be there at that 100 pound mark soon. 
  • An opportunity to demonstrate my newly learned self-control by not eating emotions away and deal with them as they happen...rather than making myself a pan of fudge brownies to drown my frustration at missing this goal I wanted so badly to hit. 
  • And opportunity to just suck it up, pick myself up by my bootstraps, and keep on getting after it! Because sometimes, friends, that's about the best thing you can do. 
And that's my plan for tomorrow...sure, I'll be sad to miss this challenge...but I've still got work to do. I'll see you here tomorrow for the final tally...and then we move on to the bigger goals ahead! Thanks for taking the trip with me!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Made to Move...

Yesterday on the treadmill, a thought occurred to me.  It was an Angie x 2 day in the you know I was working hard!  And I was enjoying the way that my body moved.  In fact, it felt great!  What occurred to me as I was walking efficiently and for a long distance is that our bodies are made to move.

My left knee tweaked last week for the first time in about 8 weeks or so, and Angie fixed it quickly and easily right there in the gym. When the pain got too high on the pain scale she asks me to use to communicate with her about my knees, she shut down the cardio, had me finish the strength training part of the workout, and then took me into the locker room and adjusted my unstable knee.  Is she an amazing physical therapist or what?!?!  I didn't even have to go to her office!  After I left the gym, I took anti-inflammatory meds and iced on and off for the rest of the night as I elevated and rested the knee.  I have been anticipating and mentally preparing myself for a set back since that that hasn't yet come.

In the past...96 pounds ago...this kind of tweak would have set me back several weeks in my exercise regimen.  In fact, only about 30 pounds ago, it had that effect, too.  I lost a lot of time this past summer in training for my 5K because my left knee did this.  Angie fixed it then, too, but it took so much longer for the knee to be ready for me to work it hard again.  I had weeks and weeks of low intensity workouts instead of being able to kick it into high gear because the swelling and pain just wouldn't go away.  But now, the same shift in the joint, the exact same kind of tweak, has been manageable.  Why?

Several reasons, I think.  First of all, I weigh a LOT less.  That puts tremendously less stress on the joints with every step I take every day.  We've talked about it many times - there's about 4 pounds of stress/pressure on your knee for every pound you weigh.  Losing 96 pounds has released 384 pounds of stress off my knee joints with every step I take every day.  That's a tremendous reason for less pain and less swelling.

Another reason, I think, is that I've learned much about my knee, its tendons and ligaments, and how it functions.  Knowledge is power, I believe.  I know how patellar tendonitis, pes anserine bursitis, osteoarthritis, and baker cysts feel and what symptoms are present in each of these conditions.  I have frequent flare ups of these things, and knowing the difference in how they feel is important because then I know what to tell Angie about where and how it hurts and she can target the intervention better.  I listen to her when she teaches me how my knees work...or don't...and what I can do to maximize my ability to move.  I know where my IT bands are and how to strengthen them with exercise.  I understand that strengthening my quads and hamstrings is essential for me...not optional...because they will do a lot of the work in moving and stabilizing my body that my knees just can't.  I am acutely aware of the power of ice and anti-inflammatory meds and make use of them frequently.

But I think the biggest reason that this tweak in my left knee hasn't set me back yet, and at this point, likely won't, is the thought I had on that treadmill.  Our bodies are made to move.  By their very design, the joints we have that were so carefully crafted by our Maker, we were made to be mobile.  NOT moving is an unnatural state for us.  The placement of our muscles, tendons, ligaments,'s all designed so that we can move freely.

When I think of how much I hampered my ability to move, how close I came to finding myself confined to a chair that would move for me instead of being able to independently walk where I want to go, I cringe inside.  It terrifies me, in fact.  Even now...96 pounds removed from facing that possibility...I am horrifyingly aware of how near I was to that becoming a reality for me.  Choosing to be sedentary and becoming obese challenged and taxed the natural design that God gave my body.  I caused the additional stress on my knees that has resulted in them becoming bone-on-bone arthritic.  I caused the pain I used to feel with every step as my pes anserine felt like a knife stabbing me on the inside of my knees.  Me.  My choices.

But it's also my choices that are now liberating me from these consequences. Because I'm eating sensibly and am working out in the gym 5 days a week, I'm mobile. And my body IS moving...really moving!  The way it was designed to do.  The more weight I lose, the more freely I do what I was made to do...MOVE!  And can I tell feels incredible!  It feels natural.  It feels like I was made to walk and run.

Because I was.

Thank you, Jesus, for the motivation and strength I needed to start this journey to the ME you made me to be, and for continuing to keep me on it for 20 months now. 
Thank you, Angie, for so many things...but mostly for supporting this journey by educating me and fixing me when I need it, and also for believing I COULD move freely again, when I didn't quite believe that myself.
And thank YOU for being here with me...sharing my successes...and my failures...holding me accountable...being my cheerleaders...celebrating victories with me.   I'm not sure you understand how much I value that, but I do.  You make me able to walk every step of this journey and I'm honored to be walking it with you.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas to Me...

No, it wasn't a gift from Santa.  It was a gift from me.  The gift?  The chance to shop in a store I've NEVER been able to shop for myself before!  You see, this store only came into existence in 1987.  And I was already bigger than their biggest sizes from the day they opened their doors.

Only not so much anymore!

Merry Christmas...from Aeropostale...where I can now shop.

5 more days...getting close to that challenge.  May make it yet!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

MB and Me...

Picture used with permission!
<---- This is one of my friends and co-workers, Marybeth.  She's an outstanding teacher and a great person.  We've been with each other at the same elementary school for 4 years now and have many things in common.  Similar aged kids...similar length careers...married about the same length of time, both love music....she plays it, I sing it.  You name it, we've got it in common! I really treasure our friendship.

But I've lost her.


And then some!

She weighs 92 pounds.  Puts my 95 pound weight loss into a VERY clear perspective for me!!!  How about for you?!?!?

She overheard me telling someone about my weight loss while we were in the copy room at work and let me know that I've lost a little more than she weighs!  I'm still 5 pounds away from a mini-challenge.  I may make it, and I may not.  But this picture is a great reminder for me.  95 pounds is NOTHING to sneeze at!

And the coolest thing about 95's the first time on this journey that I'm closer to where I'm GOING than to where I've BEEN!

Progress, friends...progress!!!

Have a great day tomorrow!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

This Is One of the Bigger Milestones On the Journey...

...and BOY did I need to celebrate this one this week!

As of this morning, I have officially lost 94 pounds!!!!  I am now halfway to the end goal of a 188 pound weight loss that I'll have when this is all said and done.

When I lose another pound, I'm going to be closer to who I WILL BE than I am to who I WAS.  (Just slightly, but still...!!!)

Have I mentioned lately how amazing this feels?!?!?!  Thanks for celebrating with me!  :-)

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Not So Gentle Reminder...

I've been trying to avoid the calendar lately.  After I broke that plateau a few weeks back, I had a great feeling that I was going to meet Angie's challenge to me.  I was on a roll and losing about a pound a day!  Then it slowed down, much like I expected it to.  Last week, I lost 2 pounds.  And honestly, I was pretty much OK with that.  It's a bit unrealistic to think that you're going to lose a pound a day while going about your daily life, even when it includes 5 days a week of workouts and limited calories.  This isn't "The Biggest Loser" and I don't workout as a full-time job!

This week, though, I haven't lost any weight yet and I'm desperately afraid I'm heading back to another plateau so soon after breaking the last one.  I'm also not feeling all that positive that I'm going to reach the 100 pound challenge by New Year's Eve.  I haven't given up...because I just don't do that...ever.  But I'm honest enough to admit that it's not looking too good right now.

Feeling the way I have been this week, I've stayed away from things that remind me about this journey and the challenge looming large over me.  Things like my blog.  (Maybe you wondered why I was more quiet than usual this week...or maybe you were just grateful! Hahaha!) But try as I might to avoid having to face the fact that I'm going to probably fail in this challenge (and despising failure is a huge dimension of my personality that I have yet to conquer!) I found myself surrounded by things this week that reminded me of why I began this entire journey in the first place and just how far I've come on it.

In the space of the past few weeks, I have seen 2 people in my life that I've known for a long time begin to use electric scooters because they're not able to walk without tremendous pain. I know that pain.  I've experienced that pain.  And I ache for them.  Seeing them scoot around reminded me that 93 pounds ago, that might have been me.  If I had taken the doctor up on his offer to write me that prescription for one 20 months ago, it WOULD have been me! 

I'll be honest, watching these ladies use their scooters is hard for me to take.  It hits a little too close to home and reminds me that if I stray from this journey, it could very likely still be me.  The image of a scooter in my mind is what gets me up out of bed early on the weekends to head to the gym.  It haunts me, compels me, drives me to distance myself from the possibility that I'll have to face life from a chair rolling around instead of looking people in the eye. 

The day the doctor offered me that option, something changed deep inside me.  Something very elemental in my character shifted, and it won't ever be the same again.  I know that, but I've been forgetting it a little too easily lately.

I really can't afford to forget.  I can't afford to shut my mind off from the journey I've already made or the rest of it that's yet to be traveled.  And so, I brought myself back to my blog tonight and spent a lot of time reading it.  Seeing where I've been.  Evaluating my successes...and my failures.  Deciding where I have yet to go.  Honestly examining why I might be stalling in my weight loss again.

I will definitely be drinking more water during the next week.  I'll also be paying closer attention to how many calories I'm taking in each day.  It is also fairly certain that I'll be pushing myself a little bit harder in the gym.  The interval training I started a few weeks ago is hard already, but there are ways to ramp it up a bit, like stretching the sprint interval length a bit.  I'll be trying that in the morning when I make my 5th visit to the gym this week.

I guess the bottom line is this...seeing those friends in scooters is a not so gentle reminder that there are bigger things at stake in my journey than whether or not I reach the 100 pound challenge.  I want it.  I want it badly, and I'm gonna throw everything I've got at losing those 7 pounds over the next 2 weeks.  But whether I make it or not, this journey continues on January 1...and January 2...and for all the days it takes to reach the goal of being a healthy person. The goal is not 100 pounds.  The end goal is 188 pounds...and a healthier Angie - physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.

I'm glad that I had the chance to refocus on the big picture a little bit tonight. No more forgetting it!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Elliptical, The Little Drummer Boy, and Me...

In the gym this morning, I was on the elliptical.  That's really nothing new.  I do that a lot lately.  It has quickly become my favorite piece of training equipment, despite the fact that 4 months ago I couldn't go a tenth of a mile on it without tremendous pain.  This morning, though, I wasn't thinking about that.  I was trying to shake up my workout routine a bit and go for distance instead of speed.

For the past two weeks, I've been focusing on using interval training on whatever equipment I use for cardio workouts.  I love what it's doing to shape my body, kickstart my metabolism, and improve my cardiovascular conditioning.  But one of the drawbacks for me that I've noticed in using it so often is that I haven't been going long distances.  After about a mile or mile and a half of intervals, I'm pooped!  My muscles are screaming at me, and I'm ready to call it quits and move on to strength training.  Today, I wanted to change it up a bit and focus more on distance and endurance, rather than speed.  My goal was to go farther than I've ever gone on the treadmill, elliptical, or arc trainer.  (I didn't include the stationary bike in that equation because I routinely go far distances on that piece of equipment, but it's a completely different workout in my mind and doesn't compare with the work I do on the other three.)  The longest distance I've done to date on all of those machines is a 5K.  3.11 miles.  Today the goal was to go farther than that.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The True Measure of Success...

How do you measure success?  If this was the classroom, I could tell you easily.  At my heart, I am a teacher. I've been on that particular journey for 24 years now and know that success is measured by achievement of the objectives that were taught.  Plain and simple.

But what about success on this other journey I'm now on?  The one that I undertook when I finally realized my health and life (or at the very least my lifestyle) were at risk and did something to change that.  How is success measured on that journey?  Is it as simple as achieving the objectives?  Do I have to achieve them ALL before I can call the journey a success? 

Last week as I finally broke the plateau I was on for 12 weeks, it occurred to me that I have been measuring my success by pretty much one standard - weight loss.  If I'm losing weight, I'm feeling successful.  And that's actually a fairly decent measure for an obese woman!  After all, I've got a lot of weight still to lose so I can finally lose that title of "obese"!  But it's not the only measure of whether I'm being successful right now or not.  And really it may not even be the best measurement of success for me right now.  Take a look at a few more with me.

Last night in the gym, working on the elliptical, I made a 9:10 mile even faster.  I did it in 8:53.  Those 17 seconds amaze me.  Really.  I can move my body a full mile in under 9 minutes!  Do you know that on April 18th of this year, my first night in the gym, I could only go a quarter of a mile on the treadmill...and that it took me almost 10 minutes? So, in 8 months, I've gone from about 1.5 miles per hour to a little more than 6 miles an hour.  No matter how you measure success, that surely has to qualify.

Tonight, my dinner plate contained very reasonable portions of a very lean meatloaf (I've got a great recipe for that, btw!) and redskin mashed potatoes.  There was no butter on my potatoes because I've learned to season things to replace the flavor I loved from the butter I used to add.  My total calories today...1500.  This is a pretty common occurrence for me these days.  Room for growth?  Absolutely.  But successful for a person trying to lose weight?  To a certain degree, yes.  I've got a decent shot at seeing the scale look a little lower tomorrow morning.

You know from our discussions here on this blog that I've discovered one of my personal demons - one that caused so much of this weight gain in the first place -  is emotional eating. I tend to engage in mindless and needless eating, not for hunger, but to avoid feeling strong emotions.  There's not too much going on in life that can't be buried under chocolate fudge brownies...and I make REALLY good brownies!  But there have been some really difficult things in the past two weeks happening in my life.  And I've been controlling myself and sticking to my eating plan for the most part.  I did sit down last week with that piece of peanutbutter cup pie.  But after the first bite, I stopped and threw away the rest.   For the most part these days, I eat when I'm hungry...and not for any other reason.  Is this success?  In my mind...absolutely!

And here's a biggie.  Today the weather has been warm, changing to cold, with a steady, heavy rain all day.  Normally, my knees would be swollen and walking would be difficult.  But not today.  I have moved freely around my classroom, I cooked dinner after unloading and reloading the dishwasher, and the only reason I am sitting down right now is to write this blog post.  I could be up and moving if I wanted to be.  I am able to move on a cold, rainy night after a long day of work.  Is that success?  YOU BET!!! 

Which, brings us full circle.  Right back to weight loss.  The reason my knees are not unbearable today is that I've lost 91 pounds.  There's 4 pounds of pressure on your knees for every pound you weigh.  Did you know that?  I do...intimately! Because I've lost those 91 pounds, I've relieved 364 pounds of pressure off of my knees.  THAT is why I'm walking right now, able to move freely, able to live my life in a very different way than I did when I began this journey.

So, what is the true measure of success?  To me, it's all of these things.  And I need to remember to view it this way, and not totally rely solely on what my scale says.  Losing weight is always going to be a great indicator of how well my journey is going.  It's easy to measure and mark milestones using my weight.  But it's only part of the picture.  I need to remember that and refuse to get down when the scale moves slower than I want it to.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Know What Yesterday Was???

Yesterday was the last day of my life that I will ever spend in the 240's!

This morning, I was greeted with a lovely number...239!

I've been losing weight all week.  After 12 weeks of essentially losing none, I'm losing again.  Besides enjoying the feeling, I've spent some time trying to figure out why I'm losing again.  I want to reflect so that the next time I hit a plateau in my weight loss, I'll have this knowledge to go back to.  And I think I've got an idea as to why this is happening.

I've spent time this week in the gym doing something known as interval training.  Basically, interval training is doing something like walking or slow jogging for an interval, and then sprinting for the next interval.  You repeat this several times.  What happens to me when I do this is that my heart rate hits a  great fat-burning level (150+) and pretty much stays there for the whole workout.  But another thing has happened, too.  I discovered this morning in the gym that my "down" interval is faster than it used to be.  My sprint is still about as fast as I can go, but the other time is quicker than I normally do. 

Today on the elliptical, I did an entire mile of interval 9:40!  That is the absolute quickest mile I have EVER done!  Earlier this week, I did a 10:20 mile on the elliptical.  Today was 40 seconds better.  That's a HUGE gain for me in a 4 day period...for anyone, really!  When my mile was done, I spent the next 10:20 (until I reached 20 minutes of cardio in my workout) just using the elliptical at my regular pace.  And I added on another 3/4 of a mile!  I was going intentionally slower.  I measured my heart rate in the 130's...but I went farther than I've ever done in 10 minutes before.  My regular pace is quicker!

So, I'm going to be interval training for the foreseeable future!  I do believe this is what helped me break through the plateau...and I am loving the results that doing it is giving me, not just in weight loss, but in overall improvement in my health.  Being quicker means my heart and the rest of my body is stronger.  Who wouldn't love that?!?  And when you toss weight loss on top of that...well, I'm just a happy woman!  I HIGHLY recommend interval training!

And for those keeping track.  So far this week, I've lost 4 pounds.  The official weigh in is tomorrow morning, and I'm hoping for 5 this week!  We'll see whether that happens or not!  That's a total of 89 pounds total...and only 11 left for Angie's huge challenge.  Wasn't sure I could make it before.  But now...I'm feeling it is INCREDIBLY possible and within reach!  Let's hope anyway!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Psst...Something You Might Wanna See!

I'm a little hesitant to point it out...but the 100 Pound Challenge Tracker has changed a little. 

I'm just sayin...


Kinda excited for the official weigh in on Sunday!


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