Double digits. It was fun when I turned eleven, not so fun now, but on the other hand, it’s better than not being fifty-five, right?

I’m long overdue for a new blog post. That’s a whole other post. But today, Karen turns the big 55. It’s been a good day and I want to remember it, so here I am.

First, no work. The last time I worked on my birthday was when I was in college and worked in a restaurant with 30 flavors of ice cream – I didn’t mind that one. Funny part was, the coworkers got me a cake from another place! Anyway, it’s not happening today. I can think up better things to do with my day. It started early with Power Yoga. I’ve been taking that class once a week since the New Year, and really noticing that it helps my brain and spirit. You can get a lot of clarity when you’re downward dogging, or in corpse pose.

Also got to take a TRX and kettle bells class with one of my favorite instructors who I don’t get to see anymore since I took the daytime job. I’ll be sore tomorrow but enjoyed it today (except for that deep quad stretch, holy moly!)

Last year I went to a foot spa in Raleigh where you can have an hour of sheer bliss, in a recliner, while someone massages your legs, arms, head and does some wonderful acupressure. Decided to repeat that experience and it did not disappoint. (makes mental note not to wait until next birthday to go back)

I rarely eat out these days. I used to eat out almost all the time and it’s part of the reason I was 248 pounds. I don’t like to cook so I tend to stick with the same few meals. I didn’t want to eat the same old stuff today, so I stopped in a new place nearby that makes diced salads and wraps. While they sound healthy, I know they can be costly in calories and macros, but those don’t count on birthdays, right? I did manage to find the nutritional information on their website and did log it, another holy moly moment (and if you think moly is the word I’m actually uttering, guess again.) It was big enough so I took half, decided to eat outside on this gorgeous day and took it and my book to a bench in the next neighborhood that is elevated above the lake.

Between yoga, the massage and the time outside, I got to spend a lot of time in my head (can be a scary place) but it helped me see what I need to refocus my attention on, like this blog and possible career options.

I’m seeing the family over the weekend, but I decided to celebrate with this. I don’t keep ice cream in the house as it’s a big trigger food for me, so here it is in all it’s glory. I’m going to go make a wish and blow out the candle and look forward to what 55 has to offer.

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Fending off Valentine’s Day Sugar

Long time no see. I’ve been devoting extra time to studying for my Health Coach exam and with that pesky work thing, I’ve slacked off here. I need to get back on track and I will.

Today is Valentine’s Day or Single Awareness Day, which is how I refer to it. My least favorite holiday. It’s not like I forget I’m single, but this one 24 hour period makes sure to drive that point home.

Of course today is also the day for major sugar consumption. Not what you want to be facing when you’re on a health journey, and when sugar once was your best friend, your go to turn to when things got rough. A deadly combo.

As with many work places, it’s customary at mine to bring in treats and share, and also to bring in food dishes. I work in health care and it takes little to have a party. It’s been a major obstacle for me on this journey, because many people don’t get the struggle and when you choose not to partake, it’s seen as rude and unsociable. It’s taken a few years, but I got to the point where I opt out and without guilt. I do participate in the major holiday celebrations, but not ones like Valentine’s Day, or because someone has an urge for grilled cheese day and thinks everyone else should eat grilled cheese. Most of the time, the food is not worth breaking my calorie budget or blowing my macros out of the water.

So before today, I made it known that I A) don’t like the holiday and B) choose not to participate. My coworkers are nice people and despite A and B, I ended up with quite the pile of sugar on my desk. I spent some time today figuring out the best ways to get rid of it, but at the same time realizing I wasn’t really tempted. Some of the chocolate pieces did call my name, as well as a Dum Dum lollipop (loved these as a kid), but at the end, I didn’t eat any and gave every piece to a coworker for her grandkids. I’m proud of not giving in and noticing that I was less tempted to than I’ve been in the past. In the weight loss community that’s known as a Non-Scale Victory or NSV. This was a big one for me. I’m now appreciating the challenge today brought me.

I do need to point out that I did appreciate the gestures and being included. I really did. And also want to say that my one “splurge” was a piece of Godiva chocolate left on my yoga mat this morning by my yoga instructor. It was just the right amount and I appreciated the sentiment behind it as well.

Today was a good lesson for me, a way to see the progress I’ve made, not necessarily in my body, but in my mind.

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Yes, a New Year’s Resolution Post

Happy New Year’s!

I was never one for New Year’s celebrating, it always seemed a bit depressing to me. It’s still not my favorite holiday and I celebrate it long enough to watch the ball drop in Times Square, listen to Frank Sinatra singing “New York, New York” and am in bed before the commercial break.

That being said, I have embraced parts of it. Despite it really just being the start of writing the wrong year for a few weeks, I’ve started to see it as a time to start fresh, embrace the motivation that comes out of the woodwork and make some plans to make the year a great one. Of course, like millions, losing weight was at the top of the list, year after year. And year after year, that failed miserably.

In my 30s I started writing down goals, not just weight related – things I wanted to work on, things I wanted to do that year and kept the list pinned inside a closet door. I make sure not to place undue pressure to be able to cross everything off. It’s just kind of a to-do list. Every New Year’s Eve, I burn the list, symbolically letting it all go, and hang a new one. Sometimes I carry items over year to year, sometimes the undone ones fall off when I decide they’re not longer important.

As for the weight loss, it was on my list for 2013 and for the first time in my life, I kept it and am still keeping it. I actually started working on that on January 2nd, today is Day 2195 with logging food on My Fitness Pal and making changes to my eating and exercise routines and keeping off over 100 pounds. On my profile page, I’ve listed my goals for each year, it’s a great way to look back and see how far I’ve come along in this journey. 2014 included goals like hitting Onederland, running a mile in under 10 minutes and hitting 10,000 steps each day. Those are now a routine part of my life. 2015 had me trying just one 5:45AM gym class and I remember it took me until October to actually get out of bed and do it. It was a cycling class and it was so hard to get up and go. Now 5:45AM classes/workouts are my norm Monday-Friday.

For 2019 my goals are mostly similar to 2018 – hit my goal weight of 138 lbs. but at the same time shift the focus to fitness, not weight loss. Lose the reliance on the scale, get my body fat down to 20-22% (currently 23.9%), add muscle, work on doing a pull up (my trainer thinks this is the year, we’ll see …), and incorporate more yoga/mindfulness into my life. There are a few more and not all of them are related to fitness but these the main ones. I started this morning at a yoga class – so far, so good. The instructors had us turning our clasped thumbs into an open book and talked about the blank pages we can fill in the year ahead. I loved that.

I know that come December 31st 2019, I’ll be happy with what I was able to accomplish and will be writing down new ideas for 2020. It’s going to be a good year.

In 2019, I will …
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Same shirt – five pound difference

On Christmas morning, Facebook showed me my most liked photo of 2015, which was taken on Christmas Day. It’s a picture of me and my very handsome nephew. What struck me is that I thought I looked bigger than I am now, and I have difficulty seeing weight changes in myself. I went back to my My Fitness Pal account and saw that I weighed 138 lbs. then and am approximately 5 lbs. higher writing this. I dug up the same shirt and snapped the picture on the right today. Besides noting I need to work on my selfie skills, I can see that today, while I weigh more I am smaller.
I’ve been working on changing my focus to strength, muscle gains and being as strong as I can be. A recent Dexa scan showed I’d lost three pounds of muscle and that threw me off my game. I’ve made some changes to hopefully correct this and will check again in a few months, but seeing these pictures side by side is helpful to my psyche in that it shows the work is paying off and the minor setbacks I experience, are just that, minor.

Looking at pictures of myself has always been torture, so I avoided it whenever possible. It’s still not easy, but I cringe less often. Everyone advises you to take pictures, so even when the scale doesn’t move, you can see the differences. I never saw the first fifty pound loss until I put two pictures of me side by side. I haven’t taken them on a regular schedule but I have done some along the way. While most will never see the light of day, it’s a testament to the fat loss and muscle gain I have experienced on this health journey.

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Mental reset

My usual exercise routine on Sundays is to walk outside, I live near several lakes with trails and I enjoy being out there. I wasn’t able to get out last weekend due to the snowstorm and I missed it. Being that NC gets all four seasons in a week, today was 60 degrees and sunny. I made sure to make time to get out there.

I’ve been walking these trails for the past six years on a regular basis. It was my main form of exercise when I started this health journey and still an important part of my routine. With a new job and working M-F, it’s been reduced to weekends. When I walk on Sundays, I think about what’s coming up this week, work demands, appointments, obstacles I need to face, etc. Today there were several trees downed from the snow, blocking the path and I thought about how these were also obstacles in my way, but I was able to go around them – and in one case, through one by going under it. I’ve worked out a lot of solutions to issues on these walks. To me it’s a symbolic way to kick off the upcoming week and get ready to face it head on. Today really reinforced that.

Last week kicked my butt a bit, mostly work related. I think not being able to walk last weekend hurt my mindset. The snowstorm and the change in schedules didn’t help, most of that due to the gym (my happy place) being closed or opening later on in the day all the way through Tuesday. I missed Boot Camp and my personal training, I missed seeing my friends and the fun we have. It’s always a joy to me, even when I have to do burpees. I did a Dexa scan last weekend before the snow, I do them every four months and this one showed a muscle loss I’m not happy with. My attempts to hit my goal weight and build muscle took a hit, and so did my brain. It doesn’t take much when you’re on this journey.

I saw my dietitian yesterday to go over those numbers and see how to fix things. She’s part therapist and looking at the numbers and talking about recent increases in work stress made us see that my difficulties are most likely related to increases in my cortisol levels, which doesn’t help my PCOS. I’ve had some shifts where it’s been all stress and noticeable in feeling like my heart is racing and I’m trying to stay afloat. This was similar to the feelings I often had in my last job. We came up with a game plan on how to manage my food on those days where stress is going to be high and I’m burning too many calories. We also, with the help of my trainer (who generously fit me in on a different day), came up with a clearer plan on exercise days and types and more importantly, rest days.

I’m excited by the new ideas and as always, grateful for the support I get. I need to change a few other things as well and that walk today gave me a clearer head.

Bring on Monday!

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