Sunday, December 1, 2013

No Post November

So apparently I didn't post anything to the blog in November, making it a No Post November. I had every intention of posting. I tried out my witty remarks in my mind and thought of funny catch-phrases. Then my husband called me at work to tell me our house had been burglarized. My priorities then became very narrow and focused to a single thought: secure the house. We have made significant improvements in that direction but I continue to fear that it is not enough. I know intellectually that the fear will diminish over time but emotionally it continues to affect my mood. I have come to a place of serenity that what will happen will happen but I'm not there all the time. Most of the things taken can be replaced in some form, except for my mother-in-law's pearls. These were given to me on my wedding day by my sister-in-law as my mother-in-law passed away many years ago, before I had even met my husband. I like to think that we would have gotten along quite well and that she would have forgiven me for the manner in which the pearls were lost.  

For the sake of accountability, I must report that my chain for scheduled workouts was broken. I was visiting my brother and his family, and actually started well, walking in the bitter cold. Then illness overtook me and instead of stubbornly pushing ahead, I stepped back and took care of myself. When I have been treated and am reasonably well on the road to recovery, I will resume my workouts. I do not feel the need to beat myself up. The chaining idea is to maintain my motivation to work through the boredom. It is one thing to say I didn't work out because I was sick; it is quite another to say I didn't because I was bored. The first is reasonable, the second unacceptable.

So my steps now are to resume my life, perhaps with a bit more vigilance, and to resume my exercise regimen at an appropriate time. What is your next step?


Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Next Step in the Health Clean-up

Today I had my follow-up visit with my primary care provider (or PCP like we like to say in the healthcare biz). My doctor is a no-nonsense kind of guy, in every sense of the word. I've been working hard at making lifestyle changes in order to change my life, and I wanted it to show. I think he was pleasantly surprised because he said, "I see you took our last visit seriously." To his credit, he always gives me a copy of my lab results and discusses them with me. It is not a hurried discussion. Rather, it is a review of my health and family history, his plan for what comes next and what steps he or I will take in that plan.

So my changes are this:
  • fasting glucose = within a normal range and lower than when I measured a couple of weeks ago,
  • A1C = within a normal range. This is the "look back" value for glucose,
  • triglycerides = within a normal range and 100+ points lower than last time, and
  • cholesterol = still out of normal range but improved.
These are all improvements. My weight was lower but I'm less concerned about that number than I am about the values listed above. 

Here is my one beef with the whole visit: he still considers me to have Diabetes; controlled but still there. He didn't think I need medication for it specifically but did want to change/add some blood pressure medicines due to the vascular damage that diabetes can cause. He said I did need to continue doing what I was doing.  So my goal for my next visit (in February) is to solidify the normal numbers for glucose and A1C so that I can argue that he is basing my alleged diagnosis on one irregular number.

So I'm wondering, do you argue with your doctor?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Checking back in

I haven't been on here in awhile but kept meaning to do so. That statement can apply to many areas of my life. I have good intentions with poor follow-through. While I have been consistent with my workouts, blogging has not been so consistent for me.

Anyway, I have talked about my health before and I mention it again because I will return to my doctor this week for a follow-up. My plan is to knock his socks off with the fact that I took his information to me seriously. My blood pressure has been better when I measure at home, and so have my glucose readings. Again, no big change with the weight but my husband said that he has noticed my body has been slimming. I should point out that he didn't say that just to be nice and I didn't ask him if any particular clothing item made me look fat. He is quite truthful about how he thinks clothes look on me.

Since I have been exercising and trying to eat better, I have become more aware of my body. I'm not totally in tune but I am improving. One big thing I have noticed is my posture at the computer. I have caught myself hyper-extending my neck and/or slumping. When I notice, I will correct my sitting with better posture but this happens more than I realized and more than I like.

I did have a moment yesterday that I need to focus on more than I currently do. I try to limit my intake of carbs and sugars but especially after three p.m. to a very small amount, none if I can get away with it. But yesterday, I didn't pay attention to my body or what I had eaten and at what time. I ate lunch at 10:45 a.m. and didn't have an afternoon snack. By the time my husband got home from work, I was queasy and weepy for no particular reason. He gave me some liquid B12 and I ate a little cheese, and I felt better. So I didn't pay attention to the fact that my blood sugar had gotten too low before I ate something. I know I would be better off if I would plan my meals and snacks but I haven't gotten there yet. It's on the list of thing to do.

So what new things have you noticed about yourself lately?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Update on My Messy Health

I wanted to give an update on my health/weight since I've talked about this before. My weight has not changed. That is not for a lack of trying: I have a six week chain of consistent workouts. So my BMI is still the same. My husband and a good friend have commented that I look more trim, so there are some changes taking place. Although the number for my weight has not changed, other numbers have: my resting blood pressure when recently measured was 123/82 and my fasting glucose was 111. Both of these are significant improvements. My doctor is on the verge of declaring me diabetic and I want to shock the pants off of him at my next appointment in October.

I have also committed myself to "kick my fat in the nuts." This is a program that my cousin, Kinna McInroe has used to lose over 100 pounds and to greatly improve her health. This is not an affiliate link and I'm not trying to sell anything. I'm just being honest about where I am and what I am doing. I say that I have committed because I posted my declaration on the Facebook support group and it has been commented on by Kinna and T.C. Hale, the author. There is no backing down now. What commitments have you made for improved health?

Update: You can see Kinna's video on Kick It In The Nuts in the "Testimonials" section.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Epiphany

This morning I was making my friend's recipe for a quick breakfast. In the future I shall refer to it as Brenda's Bomb Breakfast Bowl. It is tasty and easy, and has a good portion of protein. I was thinking about it will it cooked and that's when I had my "AHA!" Before I married in 2009, I joined Weight Watchers in 2008. It is a good program and it helped me lose about 45 to 50 pounds before the wedding. I had a goal and it kept my focus clear. After the wedding, I had gained 9 pounds over 2 weeks. It was discouraging and I couldn't get back on track no matter how well I tracked my points. Here is the epiphany: In the Weight Watchers economy, I was spending my points on "cheap" abundant carbs rather than the more "expensive" proteins. So I was almost always hungry. It's hard for me to keep to an eating plan when I know I will be hungry a good bit of the day. Now I eat more protein and healthy fat, and I am rarely hungry except at mealtimes, which is when I am supposed to be hungry.

This week I've added a little more time to my workout and it is kicking my tail, but in a good way. I realized I don't mind sweating if it is my intention, like when I work out. It's the unintentional sweat (walking out of the building where I work into sweltering weather and breaking into a flop sweat) that I dislike. Oh, and the workout chain is still intact.

Here's the recipe for Brenda's Bomb Breakfast Bowl:

1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup almond milk (or whatever milk you have)
1 egg white
cinnamon
Optional add-ins: 1/2 chopped apple, chopped almonds, nut butter

Mix together and microwave for 3 minutes.

What have you had an epiphany about recently?

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Headway and the Messiness of Messages

For lunch, I opened a can of tuna and waited for my cat. When she hears the can opener, she always assumes it is tuna and wants to lick the empty can. But I waited for a while. Then I shook the treat bag, which she can hear from any corner of the house. This is how I bring her out of her hiding places to make sure she is okay. But I still waited, worried. She's not a young cat. So I started looking for her in her usual spots while I called her name. I found her in the dreaded back bedroom. It was so cluttered, she couldn't find her way out. I shifted some things around and she was able to pick her way through the mess. So after I ate my lunch (and she licked the tuna can clean), I did some decluttering and shifting of what I was keeping. I spent about 2 hours sorting, stacking, deciding and discarding. The room is not clean. by any definition of the word, but there is a pathway and 2+ trash bags at the garbage pickup for Monday. It's progress.

As for the messiness of messages, this is not an anti-technology rant. I'm writing a blog, for goodness sake, and text messaging has been a blessing for my widely spread family. But I am reminded that the text messages that I send can often be read through the filters we use for face-to-face conversation and the filters of our own attitudes, feelings and moods. Despite the widespread use of emoticons, I have experienced the ambiguity of test messaging, both sending and receiving. I have recently sent a couple of messages that touched a nerve or two and required clarification. In the past, I might have avoided dealing with it because my tendency is to ignore/avoid conflict and discomfort, hoping it will just go away. It never does, as I have learned the hard way. But I dealt with the situations as soon as I was able to do so. I'm trying to hold my friendships and work relationships in dearer regard. This, too, is progress.

Progress and process are my watchwords. What are yours and what progress have you made lately?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Learning to Love the Process

The alternate title to this post is "Dealing with Disappointment." This week my coworkers asked me to wear black in *honor* of our supervisor's fortieth birthday. When I put on my black scrubs, they fit more snugly and uncomfortably than I remembered. This is where the disappointment reared its ugly head. As I reported in my last post, I've been exercising four days a week for the last couple of weeks. However, it hasn't shown up in my clothes yet. The situation reminds me of a bit of wisdom shared with me many years ago: An expectation is a premeditated resentment. Or tweaked for my circumstance, a premeditated disappointment.


So I have to change my way of thinking, specifically my beliefs about myself. James Clear calls this transformation Identity-Based Habits. Instead of my goal being to lose 75 pounds, I change how I identify myself. My current identity is "I'm a fat person who needs to lose weight." I'm working on changing it to "I am the kind of person who doesn't miss a workout"with a corollary being "I am the kind of person who takes the stairs at every opportunity." Here's the magic: Behind every behavior is a feeling, and behind every feeling is a belief. My work is to change my belief of my identity and what I can control. No matter how hard I try, I have little control over the numbers that show up on that scale. I can control how much I move, for how long and at what level. So who do you believe you are?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Chaining Myself to Success

I'm trying to become a better person physically, mentally and spiritually. I'm not trying to do it on my own. I read a good bit (online and offline) and I listen to podcasts. The ones I have found that are the most uplifting have also led me to other uplifting podcasts and websites. When I have the time, I watch TED Talks. I don't remember who turned me on to TED Talks but they were sent by God. It was there that I found Brene Brown as well as Adam Baker. It was Baker (as he is generally referred to), or rather his wife via email, that directed me to Byron Davis and his podcast. It was there that I found James Clear. For all of the blogs that I read, I sign up for their emails. This is how I know when they have posted new content and sometimes you get cool extra stuff. When I signed up for James' list, there was a line at the bottom of the email that said, "I'd love to hear about what you are struggling with or what you are working towards right now when it comes to your health. Seriously -- reply to this email and let me know. I'm here to help however I can." So I did. I mean, really, this guy gets hundreds of emails so there is no way he will reply. But he did. He clearly read what I wrote to him and he linked some of his posts that he thought might help me. If he can take the time to do that, I can take the time to read what he sent.

The post that stood out the most to me addressed....Procrastination! I know you are as surprised as I am. This one (How to Stop Procrastinating on Your Goals by Using the Seinfeld Strategy) is the one I have most recently taken to heart. The concept is using a visual strategy of X's on a calendar (big red ones) to show that you have started a chain of behavior. It serves as reminder that you don't want to break the chain.

I started a chain this week of morning exercise. For the record, I used to go to aerobics at 5:00 am, 4 or 5 days a week but then my arthritis acted up and it was just easier to walk on the treadmill. Then it was just easier to stay home and exercise with the Wii. Then it was just easier to do nothing because there were other things I should be doing that I never ended up doing. This week I got up and walked with Leslie Sansone. I'm just walking a mile but I'll increase it over time. I mark my calendar every day I walk. It reminds me that I can do this.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Paper mess

So today I tackled the paper pile. I have tried to stay on top of the sorting and filing but it's just easier to toss papers/paperwork/receipts in the basket. The same holds true for the junk mail and credit card offers. I don't know about you but we get 4 to 5 credit card offers a week. I procrastinate with this paper pile because I know I need to shred any of the financial offers. It's an extra step in a task that I already dread.

The "important papers" basket has been piling up, especially since I refinanced my mortgage earlier this year. I finally did that after putting it off for a year or so. The basket also piles up after I clean up my husband's paper. He is overwhelmed with paper and just puts it in boxes or baggies and considers it dealt with. So I have to sort through his papers to determine what to keep and what to throw out. I have been given the advice to let him do it, but he can't. It's not that he won't; he simply can't, hence the boxes and baggies. The last time I tackled his area, I emptied six different little boxes, all containing receipts, payroll stubs and the like.

Today I have sorted, filed and shredded, and created a full trash bag. And it feels good.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

On Not Making More of a Mess

Yesterday was not the best of days. It wasn't the worst by any means but I'm glad I don't have to do that one again.

First, I have had some neck/shoulder/back pain. The muscle at the base of my neck is hard as a rock and painful. The pain radiates and refer down my back and arm. It shows up when I reach for something with my left hand. It wakes me up at night. So on Monday evening, I asked my husband to massage it for me. He did so while I cried from the pain of trying to release that knot. Afterwards, I took an anti-inflammatory, drank lots of water and went to bed early. The next day (yesterday) the pain was still there but it referred less to my back and arm. I knew it was on the way to healing but it still hurt.

Later in the day, I was given some information. The information was given as it was "not personal" to me but it felt incredibly personal and fed into my insecurities. It hurt more than the physical pain I had been experiencing. As the inimitable Brene Brown says, I was experiencing shame, what she calls "the warm wash of inadequacy". Maybe I'll post more about her later but her work and speaking has resonated with me in ways that I can't describe. Anyway, I was hurting emotionally on top of the physical pain.

When I got home, there was a small package for me from a beloved cousin. It contained pictures of me and my family that had been in my grandmother's personal effects. While I would love to tell you about my Grammie, I do actually have to go to work today. After opening the package, the floodgate of tears opened up as well.

In the past I would have lashed out and spread my anger (shame-based) all over the place. I feel fortunate that I have not always been on Facebook because the ugliness of my anger shows up in spite and sarcasm. Apparently, I am not alone in this behavior.  Instead, I sat with my pain and cried. I cried until I was done. Then I went to bed. While I know that is not the best thing to do for some people, it was the best thing for me. I don't say and do things that I will have to apologize for later. I don't stew on the information and deepen my shame spiral. I rest and let my mind and body heal.

When my husband came home from work, I was able to talk to him about it. He made sure I had something to eat. Then I went back to sleep.

This morning I look back and see the pain. I can decide today whether I want to stew in it or not. I can decide to take action to make some things happen. I can decide to do nothing. I have choices. Yesterday I chose to not make more of a mess. I have the same choices today.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Power of Influence

As I was listening to radio while I got ready for work, I heard the DJs talking about how their teachers in school helped to shape their lives for the future. One in particular was talking about his teacher that suggested he join the annual staff. That experience eventually led him to what he does now. I wonder if that teacher ever knew.

I am fortunate to be Facebook friends with several of my former teacher. I'm glad that Facebook can show them how we turned out (hopefully it encourages them). I have a multitude of family and friends who work professionally as teachers at all levels of education. They have had, and continue to have, a powerful influence in the lives of their students.

But I like to think that, at some level, we are all teachers and we are all students. As a professional (Speech Language Pathologist), I teach on a very specialized level. I also learn very specialized information. But I don't just teach my patients, I try to teach their families and caregivers. I try to remember to teach them where they are in life and in the current situation. I have had families who thought I did a poor job with their loved one and others who wouldn't go to anyone else for therapy. Isn't that what happens to all of us? We connect with some of our "students" and others we cannot reach no matter what we try to do. Regardless, we have influence and I need never forget it. I remember the compassion and effort that so many of my teachers showed. Some did not and I remember that also. So my goal for today, and each day, is to remember my influence and my need to show compassion, and to let go of the result. Many times I literally see their progress and it is amazing. But some times, I never do and never will, which is why I have to let go of the results.

But if you can say thank you to your teachers (professional or otherwise), let them know. I'm sure it will make their day.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Messy Health

Today, I actually did some exercise this morning. It wasn't a lot but it was a beginning. I have a walking DVD and I did the 1 mile segment. And it hurt, at first. Then I settled into the rhythm and it got better. Typically I would have plowed through the next (harder) part but I am easing into the routine.

So there is no change with my BMI (still 38.9) but there is a small change today with my movement and attitude. Here's to keeping the health momentum going.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Momentum

So for the last few days, I've washed the dishes every night before going to bed. This means I have stayed ahead of the mess. It's a new place for me and I like it. The frenzied housecleaning of Sunday started the momentum of wanting to keep it cleaner. Not everything has stayed straightened up and I have yet to tackle THE BACK BEDROOM, but I'm not overwhelmed. I can do this.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Pick up and light a candle

I once had a friend who said she didn't clean (meaning deep clean) before people came over to visit. She said, "I just pick up and light a candle." I thought it was funny at the time but that was before I had my own house with its accompanying clutter. Now I know it to be the truth.

One of my messes is my house. I am a pack-rat who married a borderline hoarder. I say that because it is kind of funny and completely true. I can easily walk through most of the room in the house, except for the dreaded "back bedroom." This has collected all the things I think are somewhat important to keep but not important enough to display. If all the rooms in my house looked like this one, I would be a candidate for an episode of "Hoarders."

The rest of the rooms just have some clutter I just haven't gotten to yet. That is, until the minister and his wife were coming by the house to pick up a hand truck. My dearly beloved and I both kicked it into high gear and cleared most of said clutter from the dining room and living room. It looks quite nice and it has given me some motivation to keep it like that. Some of my trouble with initiation is the overwhelmed feeling that I get when I don't feel like I can even make a dent. Now that dents have been made, I hope that I can follow through.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Medical Dread in the Middle of a Physical Mess

So, I have a medical appointment this morning for one of those yearly wellness check-up visits. The thing that I dread the most about these visits is weighing in. Unlike a weigh-in at Weight Watchers, the nurse usually does not let me take my shoes off of my feet. I'm lucky if they let me set my purse down before stepping up on the scales of doom. I know what I weigh but I'm embarrassed for others to know what I weigh, even the medical personnel who will guard my Protected Health Information to the death. Well, not really to the death but they are reasonably protective. But I digress because I really don't want to talk about my weight. Since the friendly nurse will put it on my chart, along with my height so that my BMI can be figured, the medical service provider will know. And I will probably get the usual talk about what I need to do and not do so that I can lose weight. I know all of this because 1) I've heard it from other medical personnel, and 2) I actually know what I should do.

At one point in my life, I actually went to Weight Watchers and followed the program. I lost a significant amount of weight and felt really good. But then I got married and ended up having surgery about 9 months later, and I fell off the wagon. So here is my dilemma: I know that I feel better when I weigh less and move more but I am not doing anything to move in that direction. I have trouble initiating. I know I should tell someone but I fear the failure of having to say, "Thanks for keeping me accountable but I didn't do all those things I told you I was going to do." I don't want to feel like a loser (not in the Biggest Loser sense but in the "I'm a failure and there is no hope for me" sense).

I've been listening to a variety of podcasts lately, and here are some things I've gleaned that might help me to do what I really need to do:
1)  When I try to do something, I am going to fail. Failing does not make me a failure but not trying again does.
2)  I won't typically take an action if I don't see a result. I need to believe in the process because I am not going to see an immediate result from every action I take.

So, my action for today is to tell about my BMI, which is 38.9. Ouch.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Organizing

I love organization. I mean I really love it. I all but drool driving by The Container Store, let alone walk into the store itself. Baskets enthrall me like shoes or purses do to most women. I can't pass up a good box because it might go to waste. And don't get me started on things that nest or stack.

So it is ironic that I have so much clutter in my life. Maybe my obsession with organization and containers is a reflection of how I want my living space to look. Maybe if I had that one box (or twenty) and that set of shelves, everything would just fit into place and I would be clutter free. Alas, it is not the case.

Yesterday evening, while my dearly beloved lovingly washed dishes, I started straightening up the living room. Yes, I should have done it long ago. Yes, I know I should put things away instead of just setting it down. But I'm not writing this for self-flagellation. Or as it is said in Rational Emotive Therapy, "should-ing" on myself. I'm writing this to know that I can do it and to remind myself how things looked so much better; to know that all it takes is one small action after another.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Let's Start at the Very Beginning

So, I finally decided to write a blog. The thought has been rumbling around in my head for a while. If no one reads it, I think I'm okay with that. What I hope to accomplish is to talk openly about the messes in my life (self-created or otherwise) so that I can also talk openly about my part in cleaning these up.

My messes include:

  • Physical: I'm overweight and out of shape. My health is compromised and my family history is less than stellar on this front.
  • Financial: I'm "normal" on this front as I have too much consumer debt that consumes too much of my life and peace of mind.
  • Home: I am not the housekeeper my mother was nor who I intended to be. I see the clutter and so want to clean it up. But I get overwhelmed and distracted and I don't get started.

That's just a beginning but I think it is a very good place to start.