Sunday – a day of rest

When this semester is over, Sundays will be more restful. Meanwhile, I want to clarify that when I said I was committing to post every day about my journey to health and fitness, I didn’t necessarily means Sundays.

I truly believe Sunday (or whatever day you choose) should be a day reserved for worshiping the Lord and for resting as much as possible. In this modern society, “as much as possible” often means none at all, but over the past few years it has been a goal of mine to make it a priority. I’m not always good at it, especially when my life is as overloaded with activity as it is right now, but it is something I keep in mind every weekend.

So I’m not posting tonight. Really. This doesn’t count.

I do want to share a verse that I recently taped to my bathroom mirror because, for me, food has become an idol:

“Don’t go back to worshiping worthless idols that cannot help or rescue you — they are totally useless!” – 1 Samuel 12:21 (New Living Translation)

I hope this verse encourages you to think prayerfully about any area of your life that might have become like an idol to you. Then ask God to help you honor Him above that thing, whatever it is.

Have a wonderful week, and I’ll talk to you Monday night!

Please post a comment sharing your struggles or a word of encouragement for others.

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The weekend ahead

I’m posting first thing this morning because this is going to be a busy day and I’ll probably be too tired to post when I get home tonight.

In a few minutes, Bruce and I will leave for the women’s running clinic. I’m eating an apple rather than my typical Saturday morning big mug of coffee and bowl of bran flakes to minimize the peepee problem I mentioned in my April 5 post. I try not to consume any liquid for several hours before running. Argh! (I typically prefer to eat a banana before running, but I let the last banana get too ripe and Bruce ate it. I prefer green bananas!)

After the running clinic, we’ll come home and clean up, then leave for the Arkansas Scottish Festival at Lyon College. I love the festival, and Bruce indulges me by going with me when we can. He likes it, too, but I love it!

Then we’ll come home, and I hope I can get a little rest before the next event. I worked hard on my school project last night, from the time I got home from work until just before bedtime, so I wouldn’t have that hanging over my head all weekend. It’s due a week from Monday, but I’ll be out of town next weekend.

Tonight, my friend Lynn is coming to town to attend the Batesville High School production of the musical Camelot, my all-time-favorite stage production. Lynn and I have happy, happy memories of Camelot, which we saw together three times when the Batesville Community Theatre staged it in 1981. Our other best  friend, “Rebecky,” was in the orchestra. I saw Camelot a fourth time when I lived in Southern California. There were bigger stars that time, but the Batesville production was the most memorable.

I try to make Sundays a day of rest, but sometimes I end up doing schoolwork. This weekend I won’t have to worry about that, praise God! I really didn’t think I could finish writing my paper last night because I thought I would get sleepy, but God gave me the energy to persevere. The paper itself is finished, but in the coming week I have to turn it into an oral presentation with visual aids, flashing lights and dancing bears (just kidding about the last two).

I’m very tired this morning, and thinking about the next few days makes me even more tired, so it’s good that I’ll be getting in a good workout this morning.

It’s time to lace up my running shoes! See you in the next chapter.

Post a comment and share your challenges.


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Indulge Fridays

On this Indulge Friday (the day I weigh in at work and then spend the rest of the day not worrying about what I eat), here is the bulk of an e-mail I sent in reply to my sweet friend who wants to hold my hand during my journey to health and fitness. Names have been changed to protect the innocent, and sections have been edited to protect me from others who might take offense at the reason I stopped sharing my breakfast! (I hope he’s not reading this):

“You’re so sweet to want to help [me]. It really is about a journey, and if we can’t help each other we might as well not be on the planet sucking up other people’s oxygen.

“One way for you to help is to keep asking me how I’m doing (hold my feet to the fire). I think I’m going to start blogging what I eat so I won’t be tempted to overdo, even on my Indulge Fridays. For instance, when the Biggest Loser weigh-ins [at work] started in March, I started going by McDonald’s on Fridays because I didn’t want to eat breakfast at home before weighing in. It started with two Sausage and Egg McMuffins (or whatever was 2 for $2.50 at the time – a marketing tool that makes people fat!). When I would do that before, I would give one McMuffin to ‘Joe,’ but eventually I stopped … sharing.

“I stopped sharing but didn’t stop ordering the 2 for $2.50, so I started eating both items, and about three weeks ago I started throwing half of the second one away. Today, I ate one and a half McMuffins and was full until lunchtime (not just satisfied, but full). This leads me to think my body is already adjusting to less food.

“I’ve tried a lot of the healthy foods and methods you use, but lately I have veered off the path toward convenience, and convenience will get you every time. This week I’ve been bringing a turkey sandwich from home, and that has helped me not overdo with fast foods or at restaurants.

“[As you observed,] I do think I’m more serious about it than most people – finally. I toyed with the idea of ‘going public’ for over a year. That’s when I had Bruce take my ‘before’ picture, but I have been too chicken to post it. I was at the same weight then as I was a month ago, but I look bigger in the pic because I was wearing stretch pants and a tank top. I can hide the weight pretty well most of the time.

“Anyway, maybe we can continue this conversation over the weekend. Feel free to post comments on my blog (even ones that challenge me to do better). One thing I’ve learned over the years is that I need good mentors to hold me accountable, and I’m now able to be open about my shortcomings (at least most of them).”

My friend had gingerly told me she wanted to help, but she had been rebuffed in the past (by someone else who originally said she wanted her help), and she was afraid to step on my toes. But, hey, I think my toes need stepping on – at least for a while – don’t you? Just be sure to wear your ballerina shoes and not your army boots.

My big victory today was that I broke through the 200-pound barrier for the first time in so long I can’t remember: I weighed in at 197.6!

(I guess I should have mentioned that exciting news at the beginning. As we would say in the journalism biz, I “buried the lead.”)

Thank you, my nameless friend, for boldly offering yourself as my fitness mentor. And thank you, my other friends, for reading along and being bold enough to take steps toward your own mental, physical and spiritual fitness.

Please post a comment letting me know what challenges you face in your journey to healthy living.

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1 pound less

I made it through Day 2 of accountabilitiness.

When I got home from the running clinic tonight, I weighed myself because I worked hard this evening! (Heck, I worked hard today on not eating junk despite being hungry much of the day.) Tonight I weighed a pound less than I did this morning!

I realize that weighing yourself every day has its disadvantages. Lots of factors contribute to the number on the scale (water weight, muscle being heavier than fat, El Nino). I don’t want to obsess about the numbers, but for now it is what is going to keep me on track. Once I see the number going down and staying down consistently, I’ll stop talking about it so often (but probably won’t stop doing it every day). And eventually you will see me blogging about our society’s obsession with weight and thinness. But right now I gotta focus on my immediate problem, which is to get my food obsession under control.

In our Biggest Loser competition at work, tomorrow is a “percentage weigh-in.” I know my percentages aren’t that great right now, but going forward that is going to change!

This weekend is going to be a challenge, because Saturday is when I should be going to the grocery store (after spending some time figuring out the right filling foods to buy). The weekend is going to be very busy, so the salad veggies in my fridge may have to get me through.

Fridays are Indulge Day. I stop by McDonald’s, say hi to the table of middle-age men I see every Friday at McDonald’s (some of whom I work with), get on to work, weigh in, and then eat my fattening breakfast. Jury’s still out on whether I will continue this practice under the new regime. We’ll see how much flexibility my new Taskmaster (me) allows in my diet (I use the word diet not as in Die with a T but as any non-obsessive person with a healthy attitude toward food would use it: the stuff you eat every day).

Diet has always been the hard part of the equation for me. Exercise, while not exactly my favorite pastime, is easier and more fun than changing what I eat. (I like to eat. In case you hadn’t figured that out.)

I had low-fat frozen yogurt for dinner tonight (while writing this post and editing a post for the church blog). Tomorrow morning we’ll see what that did to my one-pound-less success story. I’ll let ya know tomorrow night.

P.S. Bruce has committed to writing about running in his blog, to help those of us who need encouragement and tips from an experienced runner. He wrote the first running-related post today.

Please post a comment telling me your favorite healthful, filling food.

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Accountability, Day 1

Today is Day 1 of accountability, aka The First Day of the Rest of My (Healthy) Life.

I wrote these thoughts at 10:30 a.m.

Here’s the thing: I am resolved to make this work, but I have been snacking about every hour (on healthy foods: a banana at 9 a.m.; 10 almonds a half-hour later) and am still hungry. I have also been drinking diet Coke since about 8:30 a.m., and this could be a contributing factor. I know that the artificial sweetener tricks the body; it has no calories but makes me continue to crave sweetness.

Right now I am hungry.

The rest of the day, I was hungry. After writing the above thoughts, I had a serving of garlic-Parmesan Triscuits (to satisfy my salt craving), an apple and a turkey sandwich (not all at the same time!). Still hungry. My shopping assignment is to buy more vegetables and whole-grain foods, which are more filling.

One source of frustration, though, is that fruit, which has fiber, usually doesn’t satisfy me. My body is just going to have to suck it up until it adjusts to its new habits.

Also, I’m going to dig out my copy of You: On a Diet, a great book (if you can endure the authors’ too-frequent attempts at humor) by Drs. Michael F. Roizen and Mehmet Oz (Oprah made them famous). The above link is to the revised edition (2009), but I read the 2006 version. The new one addresses “the latest diet research (including why fructose has such a special toxic effect on your body)” and contains other new material.

I read it a few years ago, and it helped put things in perspective for me (and, I’m sure, other people who want to know how and why things work). It addresses the science of a healthy body, discussing the hormones and other chemicals that affect metabolism, hunger and similar issues. When you read about how exactly the body tricks you – and how it can work against (and for) you – that understanding helps you resist and persevere. It gives you the determination not to revert to unhealthy habits. At least that is true for me – while the information is fresh in my mind, anyway. That’s why I’m going to read it again.

Check your library to see if it is on the shelves. If not, you should request that they get a copy.

Persevere, my friends!

Share this lifelong journey with me. Post your comments below.

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Going public

It’s time.

As a woman in labor says to her husband while grabbing her overnight bag and the car keys: It’s time.

It’s time for me to get serious about healthy eating, healthy living, this extra 50 pounds of baggage – and go public with my struggle. Public because it’s the only way I will stick with it. (Well, it’s not the only way [more on that later], but it’s a hugely important way, and the one I’ve chosen.)

Many factors have converged to bring me to this point, but tonight was decision time. After more than a year of wishy-washy, excuse-filled thinking, it was time to paint or get off the ladder (my former pastor’s variation on a more colorful and well-known phrase).

As with many of my so-called good decisions, this one came while I was jacked up on too much oxygen – toward the end of a 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) run in a beautiful neighborhood – blue skies, green trees, a slight breeze, low humidity, bicycling kids and dads, jogging moms. A perfect evening.

It was the perfect end to a not-so-perfect day at work – a day of being out of control with my eating. Today was April-birthday-celebration-day at work. Can I tell you all the things I ate without making you sick? It makes me sick (emotionally, mentally, spiritually) to think about it, so maybe I won’t. I will let you imagine. Because, if you are reading this is as a person (especially a woman) who has struggled with food issues for any length of time, you don’t have to know the specifics of my particular brand of food insanity; you have your own specifics and can fill in the blanks using your own food-drug of choice.

I am typically not a binge eater, but I do tend to overdo, and today I pushed the limits of common sense. I ate a lot of junk – so much, in fact, that even though I was no longer full by the time the Women Run Arkansas clinic started at 5:30, I felt heavy. Not body-heavy, but heart-heavy.

I didn’t want to run. For this reason, I knew I had to.

One thing about the running clinic: I always feel better when I’ve pushed myself, made myself persevere. I never want to go; I always am glad I did. It’s kind of like when you’re tired and don’t want to get up and go to church. You’re in a bad mood, don’t want to do it, but you know you’ll receive a blessing if you just go. And you do. And you do.

Tonight, as always, I got to the designated running spot and walked around the parking lot while the other ladies chatted. I don’t like to do the stretches without warming my muscles first. I started off feeling like an elephant (“I can’t do this tonight. Why am I here?”) but slowly began to feel more capable, confident. By the time the group stretching began, I was ready (I had also found a bathroom in the nearby gym – an unexpected, happy bonus: I could pee one last time before jogging! [More on that later, filed under “A Million Excuses”]).

I’m sure they told us the following fact after our last Saturday morning workout, but with the wind blowing, the music blaring and the stretch leader’s head turned in the other direction, I do not always hear all the details: We were going to run a 5k tonight. In a hilly neighborhood. (Saturday workouts are on the high school track. The flat-as-a-pancake high school track.)

Tonight we ran the route of the upcoming 1040 Tax Fun Run/Walk. Sure, we’d been running nearly 3 miles in our thrice-weekly workouts for quite some time, gradually building our endurance with longer jog/shorter walk times, but tonight we took a big leap. Instead of an alternating run-2-minutes/walk-3-minutes workout, we skipped ahead to  a run-3/walk-1 pace. What? Are you trying to kill us? (Really, they’re not. Quite the contrary – they’re trying to save us from ourselves.)

But it was run-3, walk-1, and I was game. I have been building endurance, even though with my respiratory issues (Excuse No. 697) Bruce thinks I may never get the lung capacity I long for. My physical endurance, while not ideal, nevertheless has been improving.

When I finished my 5K (in 41 minutes, 15 seconds!), I walked back to find some other joggers and walkers, mainly because Bruce was with them. (He has been volunteering as a coach at the clinic for a couple of weeks, since the day we both needed the car and he stayed to see if they needed help instead of simply dropping me off.)

Strangely enough, after my run, I felt good. I am sure I won’t be saying this once the humidity pods descend on our city, but tonight it was all good. Especially when I crossed the finish line.

I felt so great, in fact, that I doubled back to jog in with the group behind me, encouraging the ladies as they neared the finish line. And when we reached it, I doubled back again to pick up the next group. “Go, ladies. You’re almost there! You can do it! Finish line just ahead!”

It made me feel good to encourage them. They may not have wanted or needed my two cents’ worth of encouragement, but I felt good giving it to them.

That’s when the crazy idea hit me (remember, my brain was all endorphined up):

“Next year I am going to be in good enough shape to be a leader of one of the running groups.” (We have several groups, starting with Walkers, then Beginner A runners, Beginner B runners, Intermediate …)

“That is my goal, my New Year’s resolution (nevermind this is April). I am going to get serious about this unhealthy, out-of-shape body and be a serious runner! And then I’m going to help others!”

If you have ever made a New Year’s resolution, or gone on a diet, or committed to anything important in the throes of an oxygen high, you know how risky and tricky the next few weeks are going to be. I’m not stupid – I know I will have many obstacles, not the least of which will be the enemy’s attempts to short-circuit my resolve. The evil one will throw in my face every single excuse I’ve ever come up with for quitting.

So let me list a few of them here, just to get them out of the way. I’m sure I’ll think of more later, but here are a few of the Million Excuses:

  • My feet hurt. (I have bone spurs in the bottoms of both of my heels. I’ve seen them in X-rays.)
  • My knee hurts. (I did something to it quite a while back, and it gives me grief sometimes.)
  • I have a heart condition. (But my cardiologist told me 18 months ago that I needed to lose a few pounds.)
  • I have developed a problem with urinary leakage upon exertion. (Don’t make me explain. If you’re a middle-age woman or have been pregnant, you probably know what I’m talking about. Explain it to the other girls.)
  • I don’t have the right apparel. (Solved the most important one recently when I figured out How to buy a sports bra. This was a tongue-in-cheek post; some people didn’t get that – but he was a guy.)
  • I don’t have time. (Haven’t we all used that one? If you don’t have time to take care of your body [and your spirit], you’re too busy!)
  • I’m not very fast. (Solved that one, too, when I read No Need for Speed: A Beginner’s Guide to the Joy of Running.)
  • I have respiratory issues. (So what? See previous item.)
  • It’s too cold/hot/humid. (Since I began running again in November, I have run in below-freezing temperatures and lived to tell about it. In the past, I have run in high temperatures and not died of heat stroke. As for the humidity – well, I’m still talking to myself about that one.)

Those are some of the excuses I’ve used for not exercising. The ones for not eating right are fewer but more ridiculous:

  • My oven is 40 years old and burns everything. (So make a sandwich.)
  • I can’t afford to eat healthy. (But you can afford a cardiologist’s bill?)
  • I don’t have time to cook healthful foods. (Salads do take a relatively long time to prepare, and cutting up the vegetables too many days in advance causes them to spoil faster. But good alternatives exist. Figure them out, and stop whining.)
  • Fresh produce spoils so fast. (So go to the store more often. Or send hubby.)
  • But this tastes so good. (So eat a little of it, savor it, and put your fork away.)
  • The Weight Watchers calculator is out of stock, and I can’t count my points without it! (Good news – I finally got the calculator.)

The excuses pile up like stacks of old newspapers. And the excuses are a lot easier to recycle.

The bottom line is that, left to my own devices, “wisdom” and appetites, I will die young. And I don’t want to leave Bruce and the dogs to fend for themselves. I love them too much for that.

That is why I’m going public:

This morning, my scale said 199. That means my actual weight is 201 (I cannot calibrate my scale to the correct setting, so I trust the one at work, where we are doing a Biggest Loser competition and I’ve been losing the same 2 pounds for about three weeks now).

My weight issue is largely an accountability problem. (At its core it’s a spiritual battle, but that is a post for another day.) And because I need accountability to my friends, my family, and even total strangers, I am choosing to go public.

I’m not going to post my “before picture” tonight because I have to find it first and it’s already two hours past my bedtime, but I am committing to writing something every single day in this space. I do have a busy schedule (job, school, family, volunteer work), but I will at least post a brief thought. Not sure yet how often I will post my weight (at the moment, I’m weighing myself every morning), but I’ll figure out the specifics as I go.

In reading this, you have found out some ugly things about me that you may not have known. I invite you to take this journey with me, whether you have pounds to shed or some other type of heavy weight that is keeping you down. I am doing this not only to help myself but to help others, Lord willing.

This journey will require prayer, commitment, obedience and a lot of listening to God’s voice (the only way this will really and truly work). I am finally ready. Are you?

It’s time to go public. I hope you’ll join me on the journey.

Share your struggles, words of wisdom or a bit of encouragement with me by posting a comment.

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