Quick Little Walk.

This mornings quick walk with the dogs (just a quick pee break for the dogs and not a real walk) and it clocked in at a kilometer.

It’s just a small thing but lots of baby steps Can mean more than one giant one.

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I’m Back and I Did Something New Too!

Where did I go? Well I got super sick, beginning stages of pneumonia, so I had to take it easy and look after myself. Which led to me getting into a funk and not being inspired to actually write anything.
I got sick around the end of January and I’m now just feeling better. February was hard. Very hard.

March is looking to be a much more productive month, especially since yesterday I did a thing and joined a gym. Yup. You read that right. I’m going to be dragging this super sized body into a place that that’s only job is to get me moving.
That doesn’t mean that I’ll be slacking off with my home program. Contrary.

The plan is that my gym workouts shall be small, not to complicated and I’m not going to be pushing myself to work out at the level the fitness trainers are going to be pushing. Yes, I still have to do that dumb fitness test that all gyms force you to do so that they can up sell the training packages, which I will not be taking because I know what I’m doing, and my past experience is that they do not actually know how to help someone as large as myself, build muscle, yup. They can help with that.

But I’ll be taking Aqua fit classes, which I’ll explain more about why I’ll be taking them and how they work.  I’ll be doing cardio on the treadmills, stationary bikes a elliptical trainers, and possibly some weight lifting, not heavy by any means, probably about 5-10 pounds to begin.

Then at home I’ll be doing my stairs, the stair masters in the gym always hurt my legs and especially my very weak knees, so I’ll avoid them. Maybe when the stairs start to become way super easy I’ll climb onto a stair machine at the gym, when I need steadier pace for it, but I doubt it. I can get the same results from using other machines, so why bother?

Body weight exercises will be on my list and of course stretches and maybe some yoga, because at 49 I’m becoming as still as a board, having trouble getting out of bed and lets face it, the noises my body makes, well I haven’t heard as much snap, crackle and popping since I was a kid, eating Rice Krispies breakfast cereal. Ouch.

My workouts will be starting next week.

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Plans and Programs for Weight Loss are Not your Friend

When you are obese, even mildly, losing that weight becomes such a complicated and confusing thing. There are enough work out plans, trainers and methods out there in TV, books, devices that are to help you. So much advice on how to lose that weight and yet, none of it seems to be successful.  Not for long term, permanent weight loss goals. Sure some of them will help you trim a few pounds for your wedding, or that special vacation, but nothing ever seems to stick.

It’s because these plans and programs and temporary. They only work as long as you maintain them. And believe me, Weight Watcher, Jenny Craig, all those programs know it. They know you’ll be back because you want to look good, and this was the success you had, so this is what you’ll return to.  These programs and plans love you, you’re going to be a return customer for the rest of your life, earning them lots of money.  And the funny thing is that you’ll tell everyone it’s a great plan, because you lost that weight. But the thing is, if it was a great plan you’d be able to keep the weight off. That’s your goal, right? So it’s not a success. So, why do you think it is? Because you blame yourself for getting fat again. You failed because the program worked and then you quit and put the weight back on.
It’s not a failure on your part. These programs are designed for it. There is no lifestyle change. There is no educating you on proper portion size and meal preparation. You heat up what they give you. No education what so ever.

It’s called yo-yo dieting. And it’s very stressful and hard on your body.
I prefer to think of it as a roller coaster. You feel amazing at that top of that hill, you have lost your weight and everything is wonderful. But then you hit the dip, you feel so low, you’ve put that weight back on and there are feelings of guilt and shame.

You shouldn’t. It wasn’t your fault. These plans are not meant for a permanent fix, they wouldn’t make as much money if they fixed the problem for you. They wouldn’t make as much money if they educated people on how to eat, what to eat and the proper size of a meal. It’s as plain and simple as that.  It’s not you that failed when you put the weight back on, it’s the plan or program that was designed to make you put the weight back on. They failed you.

The simple thing to do if you really want to lose weight is educate yourself. Don’t think of changing your diet as a temporary thing that you can drop as soon as you lose that weight, unless your goal for weight loss is to be just that, a temporary thing. Then continue as you are.

But, if you want a permanent goal weight to be met and kept then what I suggest is to change your life. Don’t think of exercise as something that needs to be done to lose the weight, think of it as something that you will do for the rest of your life. So, find a way to exercise that isn’t pure torture for yourself. Try to find activities that you will enjoy while working out, like swimming for me. I love to swim. I also love jumping rope, I know folks think that it’s for little girls, actually girls these days don’t jump rope anymore, which is a shame because it’s a really good cardio workout, and these days with kids getting more and more into the tech like tablets and video games where all they do is sit and eat snacks, things like jumping rope really need to come back.

I like riding a bike, I’m not good at it, but it’s something that I enjoy. I love to ice skate. As a child I lived on the rink every weekend and holiday I’d be out on the ice. When I was really young my dad made a rink in our backyard, it wasn’t huge, but it was big enough for a small game of shiny hockey for the neighbouhood kids. Every morning I’d get up about an hour and a half earlier than needed and I’d hit the ice. I’d come home from school and as soon as the homework was done, I’d be on the ice. My Mom would drag me off for dinner, a bath and bed, and as I fell asleep, all I would think about was getting up early in the morning and getting back on the ice. No, I did not figure skate, I did not play hockey. I liked gliding along on the ice.
So, try to find an activity that you don’t hate and make that your new normal. That’s the thing that you’re going to do for the rest of your life, or as long as  old age allows you. As you age your joints, bones and balance will alter, so maybe you’ll have to revisit an exercise plan. My grandmother, who lived to 100 was a very active woman. She skied all her life. She hiked and enjoyed swimming. When she started to get into the senior years she fell and broke her hip, which limited her skiing, but she maintained her hiking. Then she fell while hiking and again broke her hip. So she dropped that out of her routine and what was left, swimming. So she joined water aerobic classes, which became aquafit classes. She did a bit of weight training (just a couple pounds) to help her bone density and fight the osteoporosis.  She died just a few months short of her 101st birthday from pneumonia.
I think the most important thing to remember as you try to lose weight is that this is not something that you’ll work on for a bit, have success and then quit.
This is something that you’ll be working on for the rest of your life. So try to find a way to enjoy it.

When it comes to eating, you’re going to have to moderate yourself. We all know the foods that are our addiction and that are not healthy for us. I’m not saying to cut them out, because if we omit the things that give us joy, what’s the point of living? But if we enjoy them in moderation, cut them down so that they are treats that we can enjoy once in a while than we can become healthier.

The most important thing I am learning about is portion size. Eat the appropriate size helping, and that doesn’t mean that you can grab another helping of a small size, it’s the same as that big whopping size that we’re all so used to. Carry snacks with you when running errands, so that you won’t be tempted to hit the drive thru and grab a burger, fries and soft drink. Plan your schedule so that you eat before you feel hungry, and by eat, it could be nothing more than a carrot or an apple. Just something in your belly to ward off that signal to your brain that you need to really fill your tummy up with something yummy.

If you look at this new shift in your diet and exercise as a lifestyle change and that it’s permanent, then you’ll have more success if it’s just something you do until you reach that goal weight.

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Exercise for the Obese

Working out for someone that is severely over weight is very difficult. There isn’t a whole lot of chatter out there to help those that have been leading sedentary lives, and now wish to become active and lose some excess weight.

For years I followed the chatter that is out there, telling folks that want to lose weight to join a gym, to get a trainer and that’ll help them to lose those extra pounds. That advice works well for those that are looking to lose a couple pounds, maybe tone their muscles up a bit for the beach season. But for someone that has been living a sedentary lifestyle, like myself, and has been pretty much couch surfing with a few breaks here or there to maybe run a couple errands here and there, move form the sofa the kitchen to fix themselves and/or family members some food, and perhaps they might take the dogs out for a quick walk, which isn’t a walk in the traditional, get fit sense of walking, but more a series of short bursts of walking, punctuated by the dogs stopping to see to their business or smell the ground, flowers, grass or whatever takes their fancy. So while those walks are great for doggy people bonding, they aren’t really great on the fitness scale of things.
So, like I said I joined the gyms, I hired the expensive trainers and I jumped in gung ho, trying to follow everything that my trainer laid out before me. They gave me tips on what to eat and they laid out a routine for me to follow at the gym, what machines to hit and what stretches and body weight exercises to do.
The problem, as I said before, is that the trainers weren’t knowledgeable about someone who was carrying around an extra 100 or more pounds on their body. So I followed their plans, but the food wasn’t enough for me. I was starving, I was getting light headed. I was fatigued all the time, because when you are carrying around that much extra weight, your body has to work harder to pump your blood, it is harder to carry all that extra weight and because of that you need extra calories to keep your body functioning.  So because I felt so bad, I’d cheat and then I’d feel guilty and when my trainer asked how I was doing with my eating, I’d feel shame. I felt like their eyes would scan over my rolls of fat that I’d tried to hide under very baggy workout pants and a overly large t-shirt. I felt their judgement, like they were thinking to themselves ‘and this is why she got so fat to begin with’. Their tight and toned little bodies already made me feel horrible about my body image, like I already didn’t have that problem to begin with.
Then there were the workouts, which I do with the trainer, with them watching my form so I wouldn’t hurt myself. Only I would, because I was a potato and they were trying to get me to perform like a gazelle. When I said baby steps to them, they’d smile and again I could see that they were thinking that I just didn’t want to push myself.
Problem is that their pushing me to work hard did get me to sweat and I would be losing pounds like mad under their plans, but the thing is I’d get injured. I’d pull a muscle, I’d strain something and I wouldn’t be able to work out. These injuries were normal for someone who had been living the way I was, with that amount of weight on my body. But the trainers didn’t get that. They just thought that I was injuring myself because I wasn’t getting it done right.

So, this time around I am not getting a trainer. I am not joining a gym. I am doing what I always knew I needed to do, but trusted that those in the fitness industry actually knew how to help me. They don’t. And now I know that. Nobody really does, because nobody cares about fat people. We’re lazy. We’re overindulgent. We got ourselves into this position because we have faulty judgment and just don’t want to push ourselves. We aren’t a bunch that people feel sympathy for.  So not many people want to learn how to help the obese.
Sure there are diet plans and fitness programs, but those are geared towards us failing so we’ll be never ending clients for them. A cash cow of their success built upon our failures.

So, start simple. Climb stairs. Go for walks. Any kind of simple movement will help.

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Stairs are not my friend, as any large person can tell you. Walking up a flight of stairs gets my heart pounding, my legs get wobbly and I start to breath heavy. A flight of stairs is my mortal enemy, or they were.

I have stared stair climbing. Not in a gym with fancy stair climbing machines, some that are like the stair masters of old, some that look more like mini escalators that go now than four steps up.
No, I have been climbing up and down the stairs in my house. Now, I’m not talking about going upstairs to my bedroom, or to grab something I need from a different floor.
I am talking about going up those stairs, at the speed where it’s comfortable and I don’t end up gasping for breath and my legs wobbling and threatening to give out on me. I’m not mounting those stairs like I’m a 20 year old fitness instructor and triathlete in training, which is how society tells us we have to approach our work outs.
No, I’m going at a comfortable pace, I’m going up the stairs and then down again. It’s a good cardio workout, it’s good for my muscles, as my legs can attest to.
I’m doing these a couple times in a set, about 3 or 4 depending on how I’m feeling.
I’m doing these stairs in the morning, again in the afternoon and once more in the evening.

As of right this minute I am proud to say that these stairs are not my mortal enemies anymore. No. Now we’re not friends, not even friendly. I’ll just say that when I go to climb those stairs with a basket of laundry grasped in my hands, I don’t look at them like I’d like to kill them, not anymore. Now it’s more like they’ve irritated me and I’d like to cross the street to avoid them, that’s the kind of feeling I have for them.
I’m not gasping for air. I’m only a little winded, which is how it should be. If I get to the point where I’m not longer feeling like I’m working at these stairs, then I shall up my game and pick up the speed at which I am ascending and descending these stairs.

So to begin with, I’ll be doing 3 sets of 3 reps, 3 times a day and 3 times a week. As it gets easier for me I’ll increase to 3 sets of 4 reps, 3 times a day and maybe 3 or 4 times a week.  And as I go along I’ll keep increasing it until I can do it every day, 3 times a day and I’m able to move up and down the stairs at a fast pace. That’s the goal here.

*Sets and reps are the terms used to describe the number of times you perform an exercise. A rep is the number of times you perform a specific exercise, and a set is the number of cycles of reps that you complete.

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New Thoughts on Diet for Weight Loss

I’ve been looking back at all the times I joined a gym and hired a trainer, and how it never worked out and I always blamed myself. The trainers were educated, they were beautifully fit people, all of them. They all gave me detailed workout schedules and diet plans, and I tried so hard to follow their plans. I really did. But it was so hard to follow that strict diet plan of bland food, in tiny portions. It wasn’t that I craved sugar and fats, it was that I always felt starving, I would walk around all the time feeling like my stomach was trying to eat it’s way out of my body. It was pure misery.
And the exercises were great, lots of weight lifting and body weight workouts, like pushups, burpees, squats, lunges and planks, and a lot of pain.

Now, as I’m entering into this new plan of mine and I’m determined to be healthy and not to look a certain way, I’m doing different searches for information to help me out. Or perhaps the entire industry has realized the same thing that I have, fat people don’t follow the same plan as a person trying to put muscle on their body.
My son is pretty fit, he works in a labour intensive industry. He does have a little but of chub to him lately. It’s not a big deal, except that I mention it to say that if he wanted to join a gym it would be a trainers dream, a couple pounds, 10 at the most, to lose and then build muscle. It’s what a trainer, it’s what the industry is prepared for. Their exercise and diet plans are geared towards someone like my son.

Now there is me, looking to lose about 80 to 100 pounds. It’s an entirely different system. Their dietary needs are different because their body is not working like a typical body. There is a lot of strain on their cardiovascular system, their heart works harder to pump that blood through their bodies. Doctors tell us that every time they talk to us about the dangers of obesity. Our lungs work harder to circulate oxygen through our system. Walking is harder on us, because we are carrying 100 pounds of extra weight, all the time.
So, we will need to eat more than what a trainer would think of as a normal diet, and what we are doing is eating to lose weight, not build muscle, which is how their dietary knowledge leans.

Now, I’m not saying to go out and eat a McDonalds Big Mac Meal because you’re large and need more fuel to keep that body moving, but perhaps an extra meal or healthy snack thrown in when you need it, without the guilt of thinking that you’re blowing the plan, would be a good thing.
A salad of mixed greens, tomato, shredded carrot and red cabbage, with a sprinkle of salt free sunflower seeds and a hard boiled egg on the side, or maybe some granola with yogurt and fresh fruit, and a handful of nuts.  If I can’t grab a meal or snack, I’ll grab a small drink of garden cocktail to put something nutritious in my belly and it’s heavier than a glass of water, but I don’t do that often, and it’s basically a snack replacement.

I think it’s time for us seeking answers to help us lose a large amount of weight, might do better to stop looking at a muscle building industry for those answers and start to listen to our bodies and our brains. When our bodies say eat, we should, but we should listen to our brains and make educated decisions on what to actually eat.

Of course that being said, I am a big fan of a cheat day, which doesn’t mean that you stuff your face full of junk because it’s your cheat day. But you know how you’ve been craving that slice of lemon meringue pie all week, well cheat day is the day to have a small slice to fulfill that craving. I like to think of it as a reward. I was strong, I denied my craving all week, and for that I get to indulge just a little bit for a job well done.

Tune in Next Time for my thoughts on exercise for the obese

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Wake Up Calls

Have you watched the movie ‘Brittany Runs a Marathon‘?  No? Well I did.
As I sat there watching this woman come to a realization about her life, part of my soul jumped up and began to beat my brain against the side of my head. Wake up you stupid woman, this is you, stop sitting on your fat ass and listen to what your body is telling you.

It’s all because she had a wake up call at her doctors office, seems that he body wasn’t
doing well, so she starts to take stock of her life, and realizes that it’s not where she wants to be, and she sees that it’s not even heading in that direction at all. She’s making poor choices, floating along, following people that aren’t the best influence, and just very depressed about the whole thing, and she can’t even see it. Not until the doctor gives her that wake up call.

Brittany stands at the door, dressed in running gear and trying to psyche herself up to step outside and take those first steps into running into a fitter version of herself, but it’s so intimidating, so nerve wracking. When she gets out there, everyone is looking at her, judging her, or at least that’s her perception and she breaks down, she can’t do it. Visions of her large body (and the part that gets me is that in comparison to my own body it’s not that large) haunt her.
I get it. It’s hard for me, if I start to plod along and get myself started in running will everyone point their fingers at me and laugh at the fat draft horse trying to be a thoroughbred? It’s funny. Comedy shows are filled with jello jiggling folks bouncing along, sweat dripping off them like they have their own personal hose pouring water down over them. It’s gross and funny at the same time, also a little pathetic. I mean how could those fat people ever let themselves get like that? They must have no self respect. How can they look in the mirror at themselves and not recoil in disgust like the rest of the world does?
Sizeism is alive, no matter how many supersized super models post body positive photos of themselves, telling everyone that no matter your size you are beautiful, and that discriminating against them is no different than discriminating against a person of color or a disabled person.
Only there is. I have a disabled son, he did nothing to become disabled. He was born that way.
I on the other hand stress ate my way into this large size while he was undergoing testing. I grabbed my meals from fast food restaurants on the way home from his doctor appointments, because I was to mentally drained to even think of cooking when I got home. I sat on my sofa and channel surfed, looking for a show to give me an escape from thinking about my son and all the medical procedures, diagnosis and prognosis that were in his future, instead of going out for a walk, or riding a bike or even hitting the gym.

I did this. I did this to myself with my choices. I wasn’t born this way. This is how I became, and it was a ride that I was complacent to be on. Every now and then I’d get up and work out for a while, lose ten pounds here, 20 pounds there, but it never stuck. It always came back, with a few extra pounds tagging along.
So it’s very easy for others to look at me, know that I did this to myself and judge me. Why wouldn’t they? I do.

Like Brittany, I have had my wake up call. It’s come in the form of high blood pressure, a heart condition and a friend who almost a year ago to the day, passed away from a heart attack. I miss my friend, she was an amazing, wonderful woman.
She was also a large woman, like myself. Society looks at her death as inevitable because as a large woman, you should know that’s where you’re heading. It’s like when I got diagnosed with high blood pressure and then my heart condition, folks looked at me like they were thinking that I’d brought it on myself. Like I should have expected this to happen, it’s all my fault.

Well, it may be my fault, it might not be. It could be genetics, it could be those McDonald’s milkshakes. Who knows.
You know what is my fault? Getting these warning signs and not doing anything about it. Sitting here, going with my status quo, not changing anything about my life. Eating crap, living a sedentary lifestyle and not even trying to get into a fitter version of myself.
That is on me. 100%

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Eating Better. That’s About It.

Here I am, half way through the month and there have been no updates. There also has not been a whole lot of work done on getting me into a better shape, partly because I’m feeling like crap, tweaked a muscle in my back and man does that hurt.

I am eating a bit better, but really that could just be the switch from that Christmas sugar cookie and heavy, fatty foods that we all overindulge in during the festive season.
I’ve got a fridge full of yummy, healthy snack foods to grab because I’ve made them ahead of time, carrot salad and red cabbage salad are my favorites.
Yes, I know carrot salad sounds weird, everyone keeps telling me so, but I don’t care. When I was a kid my aunt made a carrot salad that I loved, it was just basically shredded carrot and creamy Italian dressing. I instead use shredded carrot and healthy Italian vinaigrette.
And red cabbage salad is basically a coleslaw made with red cabbage instead of the traditional, and again a light vinaigrette dressing with lots of vinegar in it. There is green pepper, celery and slices of apples too. Again it may sound weird, but I enjoy it.

So, I’m eating a bit better and once this stupid back muscle stops hurting I’m going to start more than just walking the four dogs a few times a day.

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Another New Year

It’s been about 1 year and 7 months, or more accurately 630 days since I last wrote here.
The reason for this absence has been that I was having some issues health wise. I had kidney stones, lots and lots of kidney stones. Most people that have kidney stones pass them, and it’s painful and others sympathize, but I was not in that boat.
I underwent years of treatments and procedures and still those damn stones were stuck in my kidneys. So I had to go a surgical route, which was not fun. It did lead to the discovery of my high blood pressure and my left bundle branch blockage (in my heart) that I’m assured is doing well and I don’t have a thing to worry about.
Except that I do have a worry, how does my weight affect all of this?

So, that means that the only thing that I can do now I focus as much of my attention that I can towards my eating, controlling my emotional, stress and compulsive eating habits, although I’m not quite sure how to go about that.

What I do know how to do is exercise.  That is actually something that I’ve always enjoyed, although you’d never know it to look at me now. My favorite activity was always getting out and about, walking all over my neighbourhood. I’ve moved now, so I’ve a whole new neighbourhood to explore and get to know.
I also loved going to the gym, although that won’t be happening, just because I can’t fit it into my schedule. This is the point where most trainers or fitness gurus cut in with the whole ‘you have to find the time to fit it in’ which is all fine and dandy to say, but I have my special needs son home with me full time since his graduation from school last June, and no day program available that we can afford, or that fits his needs.
So, when I say I can’t fit it in, I mean that I’m being realistic and know that while I could try and find a moment here and there, the reality is that my time is no longer my own. Plus, I don’t think I have the finances now that the son is home full time.

So, here I am looking at a home program that I can fit in where every I can squeeze it in. Body weight exercises, and walks when I can find the time. It’ll be slow, I’m sure. But slow and steady win the race, and I want this to be something that I can keep doing, something that isn’t a yo-yo diet, a lifestyle change. I’d like to be a lot fitter for my 50th Birthday in 2021. That’s my goal.

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Even More Set Backs

I came here with the intention of posting weekly, and I had the intention of doing better in my attempts to improve my health and well being.

Truth be told, these past weeks those have been the farthest things from my mind. My family situation and circumstances have left me a large mess.

My anxiety, panic attacks and other wonderful mental problems have been released from their cage and I am struggling to keep my mental status in check for my kids, so looking to make improvements in my wellness isn’t even possible right now.

I’m emotional eating, I’m stress eating. Exercise has been missing from my life.

I know that in times of stress and anxiety, exercise can help, and it’s my hope that soon I will get back to it, but right now I’m just holding things together, and that’s all I can do right now.

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