Saturday, January 3, 2015

2015 Goals & Plans

This blog break has been quite a bit longer than I had planned and I apologize if anyone has been holding their breath.  I have to say, so much has happened in the last 3 months, so first I will give a brief update, and then jump into my 2015 Goals & Plans.

When I last wrote, I was coming off of a September Whole 30 and incredulous over my weight vs. how I was looking.  I tweaked my plan in October/November and tracked my macros pretty faithfully.  I did well, not huge weight loss still (trying to continue to remember it is not a linear process) but was pretty happy with how I was looking, how my clothes fitting, but most of all, how strong I had become.

During all of this time, my husband began having some serious back issues.  In between getting epidural nerve blocks and physical therapy he did manage to get a little bit of hunting in this season.  I support this endeavor for two reasons, first, because he loves it and it is good for his psyche.  Second, we eat what he hunts (venison) so it fills our freezer with pretty organic meat.  Well, he managed one day to have a great day and kill two deer in one day.  This is fantastic except for the part of actually carrying the animals, then cleaning them and separating the meat into coolers to be iced down for the next 3 days.  We fill the coolers with ice, then drain them daily and re-ice them, before taking them to a meat processor to put in shiny packages for us.

So here we were, with my husband barely able to bend over to pick up a sock and he had 2 deer divided into 3 coolers. That had to find their way into the back of his truck.

Enter Clara, the girl who is now front squatting with 65lbs of kettlebells.  I wasn't sure how my strength workouts would equate in the "real" world use of my muscles but I was willing to try.

Sure enough I spotted the largest cooler, and felt it weighed around 80 pounds based on how it felt.  I carefully squatted down, grabbed it and picked it up, sliding it out the back door into the back of his truck.  The other two coolers were smaller and thus much easier.  I walked away from this feeling great.  Nothing hurt, and I felt accomplished.  And STRONG!

Moral of the story?  I love feeling strong and being capable of using my strength in a practical way.  And while I may not have hit the elusive 165 pound goal I have set for myself multiple times over the past few years, I did gain strength in 2014 among a few other things. 

I also completed multiple strength programs last year.  P90X3, two different 30 day rounds of Pat Flynn's Kettlebell training programs,  the 30 day kettlebell swing program, and multiple other kettlebell combinations along with Simple and Sinister.  I started the year swinging a 20lb kettlebell and finished easily swinging a 30lb with one hand or doing double swings with a total of 50-60lbs.  My Turkish Getups went from 20lbs to 30lbs.  I worked through a shoulder injury and began a monthly massage regimen and continued to tweak my nutrition and figure out what works and what doesn't.

I learned that what I struggle with is a full on food addiction, and needed to be treated as such.  I began exploring what it means to be an addict and how to deal with an addition that you can't ever walk away from (food).

Outside of fitness, I achieved my SPHR (Senior Professional in Human Resources) certification this past December.  I passed the PHR exam back in 2005, so it was time to try for the upgraded certification.  I was definitely nervous about it as first, I don't test well and second, I don't like to study and third, there is a 40-50% fail rate for this test.  GULP.  It was terrifying but with some studying and even more prayer, I passed and never have to take it again.  This was totally a stretch goal for me this year and I'm so happy I pushed myself to get it done.

I also secured a job I love with a fantastic company that has a great deal of promise. What I do everyday is needed, necessary, and I get to spend my time serving people who serve the elderly. 

I may not have achieved everything I set out to do in 2014, but I'm pretty pleased with how it all turned out and how 2015 is looking for me.  My priorities have changed a great deal.  I'm focused on health and strength, and much less on size and the scale.

GASP.  I know! 

Does this mean I'm giving up reaching 165 someday?  Not at all.  It just means I think I'm discovering that setting "goals" isn't as prosperous for me as making "plans" has been.

I've missed or changed so many goals over these last 5 years of my journey to better health.  And yet, I've made so much progress and gained so much health that I honestly don't look at the things I haven't achieved yet as stumbling blocks at all.

But setting a goal to "lose 10 pounds in January" or "reach 165 by July 31st" - while these might be good overall goals, I know I will only reach them if I PLAN well.

I want my focus to be less goal driven and more plan driven in 2015.  I want to focus on making sure I plan weekly for what I want to achieve that week.

I think going one week at a time will be best for me right now.  I don't want to make any huge declarations about the scale (though I'll admit I've gained a few pounds over the last few weeks!) nor am I giving up my dreams of being the best version of myself I can be.

I need to remember I am 35 years old, a wife of almost 15 years, mother to an incredible 11 year old girl, in a great place in my career and overall in better health than most having lost 100 pounds without any surgery or crazy pills or shakes.  I did it on my own and that is something to be proud of.

So right now I'm planning my first week in January, to get myself back on track nutritionally (paleo) and begin a new exercise routine.  I'm doing a combination of Simple & Sinister kettlebells (swings and getups) as well as adding back in some T25 and running. 

Basically, I want to do things that make me happy.  I read this great book last year called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. It was a neat exploration of how to rid your life of things that don't make you happy and fill your life with things that will.  This might mean trying new things or ridding your life of old habits that are just not making you happy. There are some neat tools I want to explore to possibly use and do my own happiness project.  I'm a pretty positive and happy person overall but I do really well with plans and parameters so maybe this is all coming together nicely...hmmm...

I want to be happier in 2015, and I think I can be if I continue to grow spiritually, work on my financial goals and consider a few stretch goals, added happiness will be a given.

Things I would love to achieve in 2015?  I'd love to become fluent in Spanish...pay off the last of our debts (Sallie Mae!) and become more regular with my devotion/prayer time and spiritual growth.  Definitely not going to try to do all of that in January, obvs, but I will spend January trying to figure out what good goals might come from my plans...and then map out the strategy to get there.  And some stuff?  I'll just DO it.  Shut up, stop talking about it and DO it.  Workouts, good nutrition and daily devotion time are a given there.

I hope as I work through 2015 I am able to inspire you to keep on going in your own journey to better health be it spiritual, mental, physical or financial.  If nothing else, you will find in me an example of someone who stumbles regularly, has fallen a few times, but has also achieved some incredible things.

This is a year of short term goals and plans for me.  I'll take it day by day, week by week, and month by month.  And I hope I have a good recap for you a year from today on how it all went (don't worry, I'll blog some too!). If this next year is anything like 2014, it will be exciting and I'm sure contain some of the unexpected as well (wink wink).

Cheers to you on the cusp of this exciting time. I feel like I'm getting ready to rip open the gift of the present...and I plan to unwrap it a corner at a time each day.

Join me?

Clara


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Guess My Weight?

I was recently reading a blog by JillFit about how she played the "guess my weight" game at a carnival and the carnival worker did not get it within 10lbs.

So I placed a "guess my weight" on my Facebook page yesterday to see what would happen.

You see, many people hide their weight and would never tell people the number.  I think that is a little silly, because it's not like you can hide how you look...but then again, you've all known my weight since it was 285, so maybe I'm immune to feeling weird about people knowing that.

Or maybe, just maybe, part of me knows that walking around weighing "heavy" but looking the way I do today might encourage someone not to give up, nor to let the number on the scale define them.

Because it is just ONE factor in a series of many health numbers that should mean something about your overall health.

And today, I'm healthier and more fit than I was when I was 16 years old and about 25 pounds lighter. 

So back to the game.  Here is the picture I posted on my FB page:

Weight guesses from my Facebook fan page: 140, 162, 150, 165.  Actual weight in this picture: 187.




I snapped this photo last Thursday, which was day 30 of my most recent Whole 30.  I was actually a little ticked off when I took the picture.  I had ambled onto the scale after finding it in the closet and dusting it off...and it was not nice to me.  I got off and back on a few times, truly in disbelief. 187?  I mean, I had watched my body transforming, what had happened?  3.4 pounds lost in 30 days with all of that hard work?  Unbelievable. 

The way my clothes were fitting, the way I felt, I could have sworn I lost 10 pounds, easily, if not more.

But alas, I did not.

So I snapped this picture before my workout and wondered, how do I weigh this much and look like I do?  Now, please don't misunderstand, I am NOT where I need to be yet, NOT saying I'm done, but I DO NOT hate the way I look right now.  Do I look perfect?  No.  Am I skinny?  Nope.  (**not a look I'm going for anyway truthfully).  Do I have work to do still?  Yep.

But I don't loathe my reflection.  When I look in this mirror, I see strength.  I see perseverance.  I see a girl who is a mere shadow of who she used to be.

Ah, the purple shirt picture. From June 2009.  Weight 285 pounds.  I remember how miserable it was on this trip fitting into rides at Dollywood.  Walking all day almost killed me.  A river almost swallowed me up as I laid like a turtle on my back on the inner tube. Shirt was a 3x.  Capris were size 22. 

Sometime in 2009.  That shirt was a 3x in the first 2 pics and the pants a size 22.  The one with me playing the guitar is actually from Thanksgiving the year before - when my brother posted it on Facebook and tagged me I immediately removed the tag I was so embarrassed. 

I'm not who I was.  I'm also not yet who I will be.  I see curves in my current picture, and even if all of them are not as my body was designed to cling to, they are still part of me...for now.  I came to terms with the fact that I will never be one of those girls who is a size 2.  It's not how I am shaped.  There is nothing wrong with people who are shaped that way.  I'm glad for them if they are healthy! {hint - they pick on themselves too, by the way. life isn't perfect for a "skinny" chick. And by the way, don't pick on them for being skinny - it's not fair for us to get upset when people call us fat, but we can make fun of skinny people? What if they can't help it?}

But I will be the healthiest version of me I can be.  Regardless of the number on the scale, which again, only accounts for ONE piece of the puzzle.

In looking over my macros for the month, remember, I did track my food which you all know I hate to do and won't do forever, but for informational purposes.  Turns out I lost exactly on track with what my Fitbit predicted.  My overall macros weren't crazy, but my content needed tweaking.  Too much fruit and fat, not enough protein and veggies was the overall verdict. I still saw results but they were halting and limited.  Well, duh. 

So I've tweaked again. Shooting for a high protein number (1 gram for each pound of my goal weight) each day, increasing veggies and decreasing fruit.  Leaving the RX bars in the cupboard (while they are high in protein, the figs/dates make them also very high in natural fruit sugar).  Saving sweet potatoes only for days with extra strength workouts, and only in the meal just after my strength session.

The way I'll be eating is really pretty much whole 30/paleo (learn more about how I eat HERE).  {If you are new to my blog this must be said: my main disclaimer/vent about paleo eating is this - a great number of people eat "paleo" but don't necessarily eat healthily.  Meaning they do 80/20 and their 80 is just ok, low carbish with minimal veggies, and their 20 is junk food.  A healthy diet in my opinion and from my experience includes LOTS of veggies along with a good amount of protein and some fruit.  Veggies at every.single.meal.  Of the green kind. OK rant over.}  I also considered adding black beans in and I still might, but only if I think I need them.   Right now, I'm not convinced that I do but leaving my options open so not calling this a "whole 30."

I've decided to do two week checkins - so I will weigh and measure in two weeks, though the strength program I'll be doing is a 30 day program. In two weeks if I'm jonesing for a "treat" then I'll have one. By the way - I'm also going to be walking a great deal!  I used to poopoo walking as I didn't feel like it was a good enough workout for me (NOW - remember, I started this whole journey walking!).  BUT walking is very good for fat loss I'm learning, especially immediately following a strength workout.  So walk I go.

I officially start Monday as I have a 5k already scheduled for Saturday.  This week I'm tooling around with my food, figuring out numbers, practicing kettlebell moves and being thankful that even though I'm not at my magic 160-165 range, I am not sick feeling, unhealthy girl I was 5 short years ago.

I'm made new.  And I get to be made new as many times as it will take to get it "right."  With that I'll leave you with one of my new favorite songs that kicks off my workouts these days. It reminds me that I'm not alone in this fat fight, and that I can be made new each day, with each workout, each good food decision and each prayer I send up for the strength to keep on keeping on.

Made New by Lincoln Brewster

Peace,
Clara

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Going from Good to Best

Ever heard this quote?

"Good, better, best.  Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best." 

~ St. Jerome. (You will also find Tim Duncan of the Spurs as credited with this quote as he apparently taught it to his family.)

I remember it from when I was a kid, though I can't pinpoint where I first heard it.  For some reason it has been ringing in my ears for the last 24 hours and today I made the connection as to why.

So when I blogged on August 9th, I was sharing how challenging things were for me.  How I had hit some stumbling blocks, but then alternately made some huge progress.  The week following that post, I made a conscious decision to do some off-roading (some people call it cheating but I refuse to use that word) when I found myself researching a restaurant called Hogs Head in Bluffton (entrance to Hilton Head Island where I was for work).  This restaurant is all about farm to table and their menu was nothing short of AMAZING.  Before I went to the restaurant I decided cheese in my appetizer would be happening. Because it was brie.  And I love love love brie and rarely have it.

Had an amazing dinner, enjoyed the brie/pear/walnut appetizer along with a beet salad appetizer with goat cheese (yes, still trying to like beets - meh).  Had some amazing short ribs and homemade lavender cole slaw and a side of roasted brussel sprouts.  Still doing really well.  Then it was time for dessert.

Normally on a menu, something called "chocolate, chocolate, chocolate" would just be ok to me, but not super tempting as even though I love chocolate, at a steakhouse this would just be an overly chocolatey loaded cake of some sort and I don't care about cake. 

But this.  This was different.  It was made from scratch amazingness - a chocolate creme brulee bottom, topped with chocolate ganache and creme de fresh.  The rest of the meal was so amazing I was certain this was calorie worthy.

Oh wow, was it ever.

My tummy was a little ick from it all, but not terrible.  The next day I definitely was fighting some sugar cravings and found myself eating dried mango when I got home from that trip.  Thank goodness that is out of my house now...

I reigned myself back in and did great the ENTIRE following week.  I'm talking eating out 3 meals a day from Sunday through Thursday night.  Dessert was offered EVERY NIGHT but nothing was really something I either hadn't tried or really wanted.  I worked out EVERY day.  I slept well.  I was killing it!  Then on the last day I had some cheese on my eggs at breakfast...and a cheesecake parfait (which was pretty good but not the best thing I've ever had) at lunch.  Dinner was some chicken fingers and fried brussels (though they really seemed more like roasted, there was no breading).  And a milkshake.  Me and the freaking milkshakes.

It still totally amazes me how quickly I can lose control like that, but I need to stop being surprised and just DO BETTER. 

So while those two weeks were MUCH BETTER than the weeks prior to that when I had milkshakes MULTIPLE times during the week and crap all the time, it wasn't my BEST.

And I deserve my BEST.

I started another Whole 30 this past Monday.  I'm really excited about it.  Almost a week in and I feel incredible.  Amazing how food can do that for you.  I feel my BEST on Whole 30.  Doesn't mean I will always be 100% compliant. But I have to be careful with my treats, and I know that doing my BEST means going about a month without sugar, THEN maybe having a pre-planned treat in a controlled environment.

It was a little sad not making my Saturday almond flour pancakes this morning, but the eggs, leftover roasted sweet potato and US wellness bacon made up for it.

I'm also stepping up my workouts a little bit.  I've decided to add a small amount of running back in - it's just good for my brain.  I'm not going to replace my strength training, but will add to it.  Not distances, just intervals and a 5k every now and then.  Also kicking my kettlebell training up a notch.  I love feeling strong and know that the stronger I am the leaner I will be. 

For fun, I ordered a fitbit again.  Now that I have a phone it can sync with, it makes more sense to have one, remember last year I sent mine back as I couldn't sync it with my phone.  My only beef with the device is it doesn't count my strength training as activity.  I guess I can add it in, but crap, I was heart pounding pouring with sweat earlier after my kettlebell session and it said I had zero minutes of activity. But I knew that going into it and still think it will help me focus more. I'm going to try to track my food for a few weeks and make sure I'm logging a deficit as well. 

Sometimes it's just back to basics for me.  And what I've proven throughout the last 18 months of this journey is that I have my BEST results when I'm consistently doing things (duh, right?).  And those "things" will look different for every person, but for me, Whole 30 helps me stay accountable and true to the right way to eat for me, and training 6 days a week in one way or another helps me push harder and makes it easier to eat right.

Don't settle my friends!  While Good is Good, and Better is Better than Good, YOU DESERVE YOUR BEST!

Find it.

Peace,
Clara

Saturday, August 9, 2014

One Lesson at a Time

I am unsure if you know how cathartic blogging has become for me.  I received a bunch of private messages responding to the last blog I wrote and I am so glad my therapy seemed to resonate with a few of you out there.  One great friend pointed out that I started the blog to remain accountable.  Not blogging is like not logging my own accountability.  Such a good point.  Alas, my goal even in the craziness of my work travel and other life priorities, will be to blog at least once a week. 

After last week's full on heart dump, I felt like a new person.  Not fixed, by any means, but had a new resolve, a new determination, and a new day with a clean slate.  This is the beautiful thing about life.  There is always another day to get it right, to try again.  "Though the sorrow may last for the night, joy comes in the morning."

For me right now, that means there is always another day to learn a lesson. 

As many of you know I have a job where I travel for work.  Right now my travel is super crazy and frequent due to an exciting merger my company just experienced week before last.  This month, I will sleep in my own bed maybe a total of 10 nights, though it's likely closer to 8.  I will be on the road for 31 days.  This past week, for example, I drove to Atlanta on Sunday, then all over Atlanta Monday, to Nashville Tuesday, back to Atlanta Wednesday, all over Atlanta Thursday and Friday then returned home late Friday night.  I drove over 1100 miles total and that doesn't even count the other miles I drove to drop my baby girl off with the grandparents last Sunday afternoon BEFORE I started my work trip.

Needless to say, the massage I have scheduled for Monday at lunchtime has been earned and is a requirement for my survival - before I hit the road again.

All of that to help you understand that I'm battling this food addiction/recovery while having to eat out MOST of my  meals this month.  While it's not ideal, it is what it is.  And if I can survive not cooking for 6 days and still losing weight/meeting goals, then I feel like I'll end up even stronger when the dust settles in October.

So this week I began my Celebrate Recovery journey. Unfortunately I won't be able to attend a meeting until probably September and it looks like I might have Cross Country meets to attend for my daughter so I'm on my own for the most part.  I'm ok with that.  I've accomplished alot on my own so far.

The first workbook says "Stepping Out of Denial into God's Grace."  Interestingly, I sort of balked at the word denial. I mean, I started the study, right?  Could I really be in denial?  Maybe not right at this moment, but a TON of denial is what led up to the events of last week, right?  Yeah...

So some people are "emotional eaters" which is defined as this when I googled it:  (from webmd.com)
"Emotional eating is eating for reasons other than hunger," says Jane Jakubczak, a registered dietitian at the University of Maryland. "Instead of the physical symptom of hunger initiating the eating, an emotion triggers the eating."

Too true.  I've always marveled at people who seemed to lose weight when tragedy struck, as I seemed to gain it.  Instead of losing my appetite it seems I always have an appetite.  Not hunger, as you know that's not the same...but an appetite. I want food.  I eat when I'm happy, when I'm sad, when I'm bored, when you're happy, when you're sad, when you're bored.  Seriously.  I always want food.  I'm addicted to it. So emotion is really tied to food for me.  I am an emotional eater.  But "staying happy" isn't going to keep me healthy since I eat then too.  And let's face it, life is tough and we aren't always going to experience happy days.

Mainly this week the study forced me to write out that I have a food problem - to admit and stop denying that this is causing serious disruption in my life.  And to identify people who can help me along in this journey. I'm so blessed to have a few particular ladies who are completely inside my head on this - you know who you are and I'm so thankful for your accountability, prayers and time you have and will invest in my recovery. 

I had a great learning experience this week that resulted in something I'm hoping others can utilize.

After a long day on Thursday we all decided as a team NOT to do dinner together again.  We had eaten together most of the week and all of us were tired, needed to work on our laptops for awhile and decided we would part ways for dinner.

Next door to the community we visited last was a Publix.  I felt strong, and determined.  Rotisserie chicken and green beans is what I decided I would get.

I walked inside only to find myself greeted with huge amounts of fried chicken staring me down and NO rotisserie chickens.  There were 25 minutes left before they would be ready.  A heinous storm was brewing outside and I did not want to be caught in awful rain in downtown Atlanta traffic.  I stood there for a moment trying to decide what to do.  Walked around the corner and there were some rotisserie chickens that weren't freshly cooked in the cooler - they were cold and just unappetizing to me.  I walked back to the hot food and stared at the fried chicken tenders.  I've eaten so many Publix fried chicken tenders in my lifetime.  They are yummy but who knows what is in the batter and oil used.  And of course, I would want honey mustard.

Forget it!  I walked toward produce hoping to find a salad with walnuts and fruit on it and kill some time so the chickens would be ready.

One salad folks.  Greens and 4 tomatoes.  It looked as unappetizing as it possibly could.

Forget it!

I walked back up towards the front, an internal battle going on.  Almost like the angel on one shoulder and the devil on another.

You've only been clean a week.  You've been clean a whole week!   Two very different messages whirring around in my head.  You're tired just grab something.

I stopped dead in my tracks and realized what was happening.  And that I needed to get the crap out of Publix RIGHT THEN.

I grabbed a six pack of water and checked out of Publix.  Hopped in my car still unsure what I would eat but more focused on just getting myself out of a dangerous situation.

One of my close friends is a mental health counselor - when I described this situation to her she described the chicken and Publix situation as a "trigger" for me - and that "getting the crap out of Publix right now" is a great example of "relapse avoidance." (I'm really thankful that my dear friend is willing to indulge my food addiction talk with actual terminology).

I drove in the rain and wanted to order takeout from Urban Pl8, a fantastic paleo restaurant not terribly out of the way from the route back to my hotel.  And no one was answering the phone.

Dang it!

I had a new resolve and was NOT going to let my newly revived fried chicken craving win, so I kept driving.  Didn't see a Panera.  Nothing I wanted.  I went back to the hotel as I knew room service would at least have a steak option.  I really hoped sweet potatoes too.  Funny thing, I was craving sweet potato ALL day.

Room service had a 12oz NY Strip steak.  I called down and the girl offered me steak fries or broccoli.  "Are those your only two sides?" I asked.  "Yes ma'am." She replied.  I mumbled back that broccoli was fine and pouted in my room for a few minutes.

Then I remembered I had bought an extra kombucha at Fresh Market in Nashville the day before.  You would have thought it was Christmas morning!  I was so excited!

They brought my food - the steak was good, though I had to trim quite a bit of yucky fat/cartilage off of it. The broccoli was ok, I ate some of it.  Finished it off with a green apple and my Mango kombucha and I was satisfied.

As I was driving home yesterday, I pondered this situation and it's result.  I was really happy with how it turned out, though I came dangerously close to eating off plan and potentially sliding back into a binge situation.  I came up with the following acronym to help me (and anyone else who wants to use it) next time something like this happens.

It's S.A.G.E.  What does sage mean?  According to dictionary.com:


sage


1. a profoundly wise person; a person famed for wisdom.
2.someone venerated for the possession of wisdom, judgment, and experience.
Please know I'm not using this word because I think I'm wise - ha!  But I'm more someone who possesses some wisdom due to my own experiences and I want to share that with you.  While driving last night I came up with this (the marketer in me, sorry).  
When I'm in situations like I was at Publix, when anyone has reached a crossroads and feels themselves teetering remember this SAGE advice:
S - Stop.  Right there.  Stop where you are and take a deep breath.
A - Assess the situation.  Figure out what got you there, and how you can get out of it.
G - Get a grip and get OUT of the situation you're in.  If it means you have to leave, then leave!
E - Engage your brain - everyone says follow your heart but I have proven my heart and emotions to lead me astray on my journey.  My brain, however, is smarter than fried chicken.  E can also stand for evaluate  - figure out an alternative to whatever unhealthy behavior you are considering.  
On another note, I participated in a spiritual fast on Friday as I was praying for a need some friends have.  It began after my dinner (around 9pm) on Thursday night and I broke it this morning around 9am.  So it was approximately 36 hours.  I felt ok all day, stayed very very hydrated and probably drank too much coffee in addition to 150 ounces of water and some kombucha when I arrived home but again, I felt fine.  I actually slept well last night and woke up this morning energized.  Enjoyed a small green apple then did a Kettlebell workout.  Then enjoyed some eggs, bacon and apple/chicken sausage with some bulletproof coffee. 

Thanks for reading my update and sticking with me.  I'm working this next week on lesson 2 of the Celebrate Recovery program in book 1.  It digs deeper into the theory of being powerless.  

In the meantime I'm going to apply my SAGE trick anytime I find myself in trouble this next week.  Will let you know if I find myself in a situation where I have to "get the crap out and now."   In the meantime, I hope this helps encourage you in whatever journey or struggle you maybe facing.

Here is a song that really encouraged me this week...and I'm not gonna lie, made me shed a few tears.  I still can't hear it without crying.  Overwhelmed by Big Daddy Weave

Hugs,
Clara
 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Step 1 - I am Powerless...and That's OK.

Coming out of "hiding" to update you all on, well, everything.  Truthfully, I haven't been in hiding as much as I have gone inside of my head space for awhile and had to work on my "filing" and have spent a few weeks reeling at what I found inside my own psyche. Toss in traveling 85% of my time, some denial, avoidance, loss of accountability, exhaustion, lack of sleep and a plethora of socially acceptable excuses and I'm actually not sure I need to write anymore about the last month to bring you up to speed.  As I've pondered exactly where to start, I find I'm left picking up the few pieces of mental strength I think I still have access to and trying to figure out how to make it into an inspiring story rather than a sad diatribe resembling a poorly attended pity party that ends solidly back in a size 12 and hating my waistline.

I know I've blogged a great deal about food addiction and in the past I've made comparisons to other addictions of the less socially acceptable type, such as smoking, alcohol and drugs.  Let me stress that I don't make these comparisons to marginalize anyone battling such difficult addictions.  I have some wonderful friends who are battling and beating their addictions and they have inspired me, as well as made me realize that my addiction could also be debilitating and, unfairly, was "understandable" according to well meaning friends . (I mean, I work so hard, such long hours and all the travel? No one can eat well under those circumstances, right?)  Instead I make these comparisons because there is a part of me that has realized that food addiction can be AS DANGEROUS to our long term health as other addictions and it is SILENTLY killing people I love.  And it has silently been killing me for the last few weeks, as I slowly slipped into behavior that, frankly, became embarrassing. I've even found myself avoiding people I did not want to see me "like this." Sound familiar?

As dramatic as I might sound, the truth is, right now my body aches terribly and I have not exercised in about two weeks so it's not the "good" kind of ache from developing muscles.  Instead, my shoulders are sore and achy, my neck hurts miserably, my sciatic nerve is pinched in my left hip, my face has erupted in pimples again and I have circles under my eyes.  It truly looks as if I've been on a bender.  And in a way, I have.

I finished my 4 week intermittent fasting/fat loss program a few weeks ago with mixed results.  Given my shoulder injury I had a challenging time keeping up with all of the workouts I had planned, and by the 4th week (and 4th straight week of travel), I realized I hadn't really been able to give it the full attention it needed.  I do not have amazing results to speak of - not at all indicating "it" didn't work as much as "I" didn't do the work needed to make it work.  Because most things will WORK if you WORK them. 

I did find that I can tolerate black beans and sweet potatoes more than I thought I could.  But the sweet potatoes are still a slippery slope for me.

So is cheat day.

Sigh.  It all sort of started and ended with cheat day.  There was a part of me prior to beginning this program that knew, in the back of my mind, that an off the rails "no rules" food day was a stretch for me.  My advisers tried to tell me to only have one or two cheat meals then, to keep myself in check.  Or just add certain foods in to the meals I would normally eat, and indulge in fruit on that day.  I had options.  Instead, I chose door #4 which included, by the 4th and final cheat day, crappy eating that began at midnight and didn't end in 24 hours.  It was easy to fast the day after cheat day, I hurt so badly and felt so awful that I didn't want to eat anything anyway.

This isn't NEW news, but I have confirmed for myself that I'm an extremist when it comes to food.

When I'm good, I'm REALLY good.  Resolve of STEEL.  Rarely missing workouts or "slipping" up especially when I'm accountable to others or they are counting on me to help them along.

And when I'm bad, I'm SO BAD IT HURTS.

Is there a happy medium, for me?

My fall from grace after this program was helped along by exhaustion and poor planning on a work trip a few weeks ago.  Three days in a classroom, even with very interesting presenters, is tough for me.  I reached for a diet coke.  The candy and crap soon followed.  It was a fall from grace, and I fell a long way and the landing HURTS. Ah, diet coke.  My frien-emy.  You quickly helped me spiral out of control, once again.

I've been on the fence for about a week.  Making a great deal of great choices and quite a few not so great choices.  Eating PERFECTLY one day, then walking into Publix to get a pint of raspberries and walking out with a pint of coconut milk ice cream and a container of dark chocolate covered cherries.  (I practically got a high five from the kid who bagged my groceries).  Little did he know he was further encouraging what went down a short while later.

What I have learned and am still trying to wrap my mind around is that I THRIVE with parameters.  I do very well within certain plans or rules.  Other people do NOT do well in that head space and that is totally a personal thing.  I DO.  I need it.  Does it mean I'll never eat cheesecake again?  No.  Do I need to eat it every Sunday?  Again.  No.  Should I maybe limit it until I've reached my fat goals?  Not even going to answer that.  I know the answer.

"Moderation" is a word I just cannot claim right now in my journey.  Sure, it is healthy for some people and I'm really glad they are able to enjoy a weekly or even daily dessert and still maintain a certain size/weight/athletic performance.  What I realize is that my metabolism was broken for SO LONG and my head in the sand in regard to nutrition for most of my life, that I may not be able to enjoy moderation for a long time. For me, eating off the rails like I have been for the past few weeks resulted in weighing in at 199 again.  Yes, that's not a typo.  My low was 170.8 at the end of February...around 185 after the intermittent fasting 4 week plan...and 199 this past Monday morning.

I need a plan.  I need treats in a controlled and limited environment.  I'm sure some of you are reading this thinking it's just too extreme to live this way.  Or that it's unhealthy, mentally.

I beg to differ, based on my current status. I'm going to share a very honest, raw, true life story with you from last night and today to prove my point.

In just a few short weeks, sugar once again completely and utterly consumed my life and my thoughts.  Let me share an example - I had a great dinner last night at a paleo friendly restaurant in Charleston, SC called Sesame Burgers.  They serve grass fed hormone free beef burgers, amazing salads, etc.  Everything is made from scratch (in fact it amused me at how excited the server was about how they make their own mayo - I wanted to squeal, so do I! but decided to let her have her moment...) Surprisingly this restaurant was located in the mall.

I ordered the fig & bacon jam burger with blue cheese.  It was incredible.  No bun not because I was trying to be "good" but I have zero interest in bread which I know is quite strange.  I also had a really pretty spinach salad with melted brie and apples and some sweet potato fries with more blue cheese, pancetta and a red wine reduction.  It was so amazing.  Best meal I've had in a long time.  I was SO FULL.  (uh can you say that's a lot of cheese but I'm partial to fine cheese and hey, I don't have parameters right now remember?)...

And all I could think about was dessert.  Thankfully the waitress didn't give me that option.  I left sort of embarrassed that I even wanted dessert, and thinking about the crazy look I would have gotten from her if I had pretended I still had room in my gut for some since she saw first hand what I had eaten.  I decided I would walk by the cookie place and see if anything there struck my fancy.

I walked back through the mall and passed a coffee/dessert place that looked interesting but kept going.  AsI approached the cookie place I realized there was someone sitting on the bench adjacent to it.  They would see me get the treat.  They would probably think something like "her thighs don't need that cookie."

Suddenly I weighed 285 pounds again, in my mind, and I don't think I realized it.  I ambled to the exit fumbling for my keys to my car.  I was overly alert since it was dark and I was not sure how good of an area of Charleston I was in, alone, late at night (smart, I know).

I got in the car and started wondering if I would pass anywhere on the way back to the hotel where I could get a dessert.  Maybe a Publix where I could get something from the bakery?  But no, I'd rather have something more like homemade.  Dang - why didn't I just get a dessert from the restaurant where I just was?  I contemplated baskin robbins. But then remembered how much ice cream makes me hurt.  And my neck was already killing me (likely all the cheese, honestly).

I arrived back at the hotel and parked in the garage underneath the building.  I climbed onto the elevator and pushed the 1st floor button.  My room is on the 3rd floor.  But the restaurant is on the 1st floor.  I could get dessert there.

I got off the elevator on the first floor and walked a few steps to where I could see the lounge/restaurant.  There were too many people there, all of which would see me with my dessert and think, "she really should watch what she eats."  I quickly turned around and got back on the elevator.

When I got to my room I snatched up the room service menu, sugar still consuming my thoughts, even though I was consciously embarrassed by it as I had already avoided 3 situations to have something "bad" which is funny as it was because I didn't want to be judged, NOT because I didn't want something.  At this point I'm keenly aware of how unhealthily I'm behaving inside my own head.  Peanut butter pie, no, don't really care for that.  Southern pecan pie with white chocolate ice cream, that sounds interesting but still not really what I was looking for.  Warm brownie with vanilla ice cream now that might be a contender.  But it's just a brownie.  Not a special brownie.  Not a homemade brownie.  And the ice cream will make me hurt.

Crap.

I probably picked up the menu and put it down 3 times.  Then I proceeded to take 2 aleve for my aching neck and lay down only to watch TV for the next several hours staying up unnecessarily late.

I woke up once again exhausted but better rested than the prior few days, still mildly embarrassed in my own head about the dessert fiasco, not sure if I was more embarrassed about the fact that I didn't want people judging me or about my inability to make a decision and just get something.

This morning I was fortunate to meet some friends for breakfast at the hotel.  I had a veggie omelet (no cheese) and sausage.  It was really good.  The company was really good.  The chef brought out some homemade mozzarella he had crafted into a caprese salad.  I had a few bites and it was awesome.

On my way home from Charleston I stopped at Earth Fare to pick up some kombucha, pasta for my peeps at home and whatever else struck my fancy.  I left with 12 kombuchas, 2 bags of almond flour, a container of dried mango and dried cranberries sweetened with apple juice (finally found those!).  Truly, I do not need dried fruit in my house.  This I know.  For the occasional recipe it's good to have, but I have no business having it around.  I bought it anyway.  I had a major urge for something sweet.   They have paleo treats here, ooh, I could have one of those.  I thought about it when I was in line already.  Too late.

At that point I became fixated mentally on a milkshake.  Interestingly, I've had a few of those recently. It's been super hot and all the car travel makes one so inviting.  Making the mistake of not having ice cold water with me has not helped.  I've also eaten fried chicken and french fries a few times in the last week.  Even from Chick Fil A, it has resulted in a major stomach ache.

On the drive home I passed a Publix and was afraid to go inside.  I have not proven myself very trust worthy.  There are a bunch of miles after that last Publix before I reach actual food again.

One side note - I haven't reduced myself to eating at McDonalds again - that's just not food.  Ha.

I knew I would eat off the Pooler exit.  I was afraid I would go to Chick Fil A and get a stomach ache like I did the day before.  I don't need a stomach ache.  And then I'll be tempted to get a milkshake.  Crap, I don't want a milkshake. Nothing worse than having your hands/arms ache while driving 2 more hours home.

I saw a Panera sign and it was like the heavens opened up.

In line at Panera I almost grabbed a row of chocolate chipper cookies.  Almost.  I averted my eyes quickly.  I ordered my usual Power Mediterranean Chicken salad from the hidden menu with added pecans and avocado.  The dressing is fresh lemon and a packet of olive oil.  It was amazingly satisfying.

I wanted dessert.

AGAIN.

The thing is, in the past I would think, just get a dessert already and it will be over with.  But I've already done that.  About 10 times in the last 12 days.  I'm not getting it over with.  I'm getting it started again.

I looked at Facebook and saw a message from a friend who is doing a W30 right now and vented about her day, mentioning it would be a miracle if she made it through the workday without alcohol or chocolate.  Her message gave me strength and purpose.  I went through the Panera drive through and ordered black coffee.  It was REALLY good.  Though I'm not sure if I enjoyed that OR having beaten the sugar dragon down more.  I can't decide.

But I know this.  I have won more battles than I have lost these last few years.

It's amazing to me how quickly and easily I can revert to old, unhealthy behaviors.  Much like an addict.  But I cannot avoid the grocery store forever.  I just have to go in there with a plan and a list.  I may always be that way. The light bulb went off as I thought through this whole 24 hour dessert fiasco.  I wanted to eat in secret, in private.  Anything you don't want the people you love to see you doing is likely NOT good for you.

Is it ideal for me to have to live this way? No, I would prefer a life of moderation.  But is it my reality?  Yes.

And do I want to heal from this?  More than I will ever be able to describe to anyone, ever.

I'm doing another Whole 30 starting tomorrow though I'm doing a little bit of a 21 day sugar detox hybrid - I'm not allowing dried fruit (hoping those craisins last the 30 days - ha) and actually limiting my fruit to green apples or green bananas.  Now my Whole 30 wouldn't measure up to someone's first REAL whole 30 - meaning I've come to realize that there is a trace of sugar in the ingredients in the Panera salad.  But I am unconcerned with that.  I will be home only 10 of the next 31 days.  Half of those will be days we have church.  Time is NOT on my side.  So there will be meat that is likely not Whole 30 compliant as I will be eating the majority of my meals in restaurants.  So I'm ok with that because I don't think those things will hurt my results.  The trace sugar is what it is.  It will not keep my sugar dragon fed.  But it will make my plan NOT a true Whole 30 and I'm ok with that.  I'll think of my own fancy name.

Thanks for reading this super long update.  I shared the details of my last few days with you because I need you to see how real the struggle is.  This is not me being dramatic - this is the reality that is my head and has been my struggle as of late.  And yeah, it is dramatic.  Welcome to my filing cabinet.  Yeah, I'm ready to get out too.

Not only am I going to focus on my nutrition this month, I will be getting moving again.  I eat so much better when I'm active and the good choices come easier when they are equated to fuel.  Going to make myself a realistic workout plan designed around strength building and some fun runs.  I'm going to enjoy sweating and feeling strong again.

I'm also going to focus on my mind and my heart.  I've decided to work through the Celebrate Recovery books.  I have them and have never cracked them open.  But it's time.  It's time to call a duck, a duck. It's time to take control of the mind portion of this battle and arm myself with the right tools and strength I need to keep on winning. And battle this head on like the real attack/addiction it is.  I might even attend a meeting if I am home on a Monday night anytime soon.


Celebrate Recovery Step 1:  
I admit that I am powerless over my addictions and compulsive behaviors
I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. (Romans 7:18 NIV) 

Yep. On my own, I'm powerless.  I need God to help me with this.  I rely on Him for everything else in my life and it is finally time to give Him the reigns here so I'm turning them over.  If you've followed my blog at all you know I'm a Christian, you know I love Jesus and you know my husband is a pastor.  I don't talk about that much as this blog is much more focused on my health.  But it's time to let Him into this process and let Him take over. Maybe it's why I haven't been able to fully finish this race or reach my final goals.  Maybe He wants to be part of it.  I hope you'll stick around to find out.

I'll keep you as updated as I can.  In the meantime, pray for me?

Hugs,
Clara

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Little Bit of a Lotta Things

Hey all!

So, I've officially made it through week 2 of my 4 week fat loss carb cycling/intermittent fasting plan - and no one got hurt! (ha - during the fasting part particularly!).  Let me go ahead and preface this with a disclaimer by saying I'm not posting this eating plan anywhere, I'm under the direction of a trainer and my workouts and lifestyle are carefully planned around trying this to jump start my metabolism and in conjunction with my personal workout plan.  Plus, I don't know how effective it is.  That said, carry on.

It's been a good experience overall, and I definitely felt the "inferno" last Monday during my first Monday following a fast day - I was like a baby needing to be fed every few hours! I ate when I was hungry...which was multiple times during the day.  The crazy hunger subsided by mid-week but I literally ate every morsel of food I brought with me on my work trip. 

I've been weighing every day - not obsessively, more out of curiosity.  So far I've noticed a decent loss during the week, a gain after cheat day (duh) and then a good loss after fast day.  It's almost like the 2 steps forward, 3 back, then 5 forward if that makes sense.  Unfortunately I've not actually been home on a Tuesday to weigh due to starting a new job and being in a different state the last 2 weeks on Mondays.  But I can tell by how I feel and how my clothes fit throughout that I'm on the right track here. 

Interesting observation - so Saturday is cheat day - you're supposed to eat whatever you want essentially - pile on the calories and fat - the theory on the next day, fast day, is that your body will kick into serious fat burning mode, being confused by the heavy eating followed by a fast.  It's a 24 hour fast, so I do still eat dinner on fast day (and let me tell you it was the best chicken salad and green beans I've EVER had lol).

Well yesterday I ate a few things that qualify as pure crap food in my normal way of eating (fast food for lunch - wha???) and not only did I not really enjoy the "freedom" I felt like crap and had trouble sleeping, then woke up looking hungover, seriously.  I planned my meals carefully, as I am always afraid of the "eat what you want" mentality turning into a binge.  Being a food addict, this will forever be a concern of mine.  I do well within parameters...not so well when I'm given the ticket for a free for all.

So I decided next Saturday will be a bit cleaner.  Instead of pizza at the Italian place (it's award winning by the way - but I was seriously underwhelmed) I'm going to make my own - I tend to really like my own ingredients and I see exactly what I put on it - and I use FLAVOR! Seems restaurants these days are afraid to spice things up, if I'm eating pizza, give me the garlic!

I like the way I cook - I like the way my food tastes and I crave my own cooking much more than eating out, which is something I NEVER thought I would say.  I was always the girl who was up for eating out pretty much anytime, even when my lunch sat in the fridge at work!

I couldn't even finish my dessert last night, it was some awful cookies, several flavors of ice cream.  I had to throw most of it away as I just felt so sick already.

My my, how times have changed.  For the better.

My new self has some better ideas about Saturday and it will include ALOT of fruit as that is something I really have been missing during the week.

But truly, I'm pretty impressed with myself to be eating exactly according to plan for two weeks during a time when I've been on 8 airplanes, hotels and the like.  But hey, I've done a Whole 60, a Whole 45 and a Whole 37.  If I can do that, I'm pretty sure I can do anything.

Fast day has been interesting.  I'm hungry, but not overly so.  I drink a ton of water and also my black coffee.  Even when absolutely exhausted, I found I cannot nap on fast day, unfortunately.  Yes, this is totally a first world problem - and has actually made me realize how awful it must be to live with hunger daily and my heart is moved.  24 hours is an inconvenience, and honestly, psychologically has been pretty good for me.  You think alot when you are trying not to think about food. :) 

My training has been going well also.  I did suffer a bit of a setback with my left shoulder about a month or so ago. Suddenly, during a TGU (Turkish GetUp) with a 30lb weight, I felt weakness in my left shoulder.  A TGU is a tough move with a kettlebell, where you are in a faceup position lying on the floor and you bring the weight straight above you with one arm, then raise yourself up to a standing position with the weight in the air the entire time.  It's hard! But I had been using that weight for awhile.  I realized quickly this was going to go south and carefully got the 30lbs back to the ground without damaging anything (my toes included).  The next day my shoulder just ached.  The pain I was feeling was localized to the top of my shoulder and all of my research was pointing to my rotator cuff which would be devastating.  My friend is a PT and she worked on it a bit for me then suggested massage therapy.  It was a few weeks before I could get in to see someone but once I did, we realized during the treatment that I actually had done something to my trapezius (which I called a trapezoid for at least a day before realizing it - HA!) and that was causing the pain to radiate upward to my shoulder and down my arm.  I've since had 2 massages and I am SO happy to report I'm probably 75-80% better.  In the meantime, I've adjusted my training a bit - I realize the biggest issue is weight overhead.  Therefore, instead of TGUs I'm just doing the Kettlebell swings and squats with the bell (still using the 30lb).  I'm also exploring some other moves.  Additionally, with my T25 workouts, I'm in the Beta phase but trading out Upper Focus for Lower Focus when that one pops up.  I'm allowing RipT Circuit as the overhead work is pretty minimal and I think it is good to keep some activity going up there.

Here's a picture of me and my friend Rebecca, whom I met in Raleigh in person for the first time this past week!  She was such a help and support to me when I began this lifestyle last year and we are both admins on a huge Paleo group on Facebook so we've gotten to know each other better this year.  I'm sporting my new favorite tank top.  "I AM WHOLE 30."  Yeah, I earned that.

In one of my favorite stores - any guesses???

We had a great time having dinner then shopping.

Will post an update for you in a week or so on how things are going.  In the meantime, be well!

~Clara

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Celebrating the NSV's

Ever heard of the acronym NSV?  It stands for Non Scale Victory.  An NSV is when you find something in your or about you has changed for the better because of your efforts to be healthier.  It has to be a change that has NOTHING to do with the scale.

I finished the Alpha phase of T25 today.  I've also consistently been swinging my kettlebells around for a few months, and am on Day 54 of my Whole 60.

You would think the scale and I would be BFFs.  Not so much.  I'm at 176.  Which is not bad, given I once weighed 285 (perspective is imperative here).  But, it is a little disappointing when the scale doesn't agree with your hard work, sweat equity and dedication in the kitchen.  Measurements weren't much better.  Nothing horrid, just not alot of change.  I can feel my triceps way better - but they are not necessarily smaller, just changing in shape. 

So today I want to list out some NSV's to be proud of, to hopefully inspire you to do the same and NOT allow the scale or it's lack of downward cooperation to make you want to quit.

  1. My skin looks awesome.  One side effect of eating so clean and so many veggies is that my skin responds so well.  I just have a glow about me and today went all over town with no makeup on besides some lip gloss.  I realized it about 3 stores into our trip and exclaimed to my daughter, "Oh geez, I've been walking all over the place with no makeup on!"  She said, "Mom, you can't even tell.  You look great."  When I gave her a look, she said "I'm not just saying that Mom."  And of course, in her 10 year old fashion gave me a good old eye roll. (yep, a mini-me!)
  2.  I bought a size small dress today.  I'm not always a small - I mean, hello, I wear a size 10 or 12 shorts/pants.  But every now and then I luck out - tried on a size medium in a maxi dress today and it felt too roomy.  Asked the sales girl to bring me a small.  She did.  And it fit perfectly.  Whaaaat?  Given I used to wear a 22/24 in the SAME STORE it felt great to say the least.
  3. I love the way I eat.  This is super important.  I have a ton of satisfaction with my meals. I don't feel deprived.  Did NOT crave the cheeseburger and fries my daughter ate in front of me earlier - I was excited to get home and eat my leftover ribs and brussel sprouts.  Every morning my breakfasts are satisfying and YUM.  I love the way I eat.  Everything tastes so good.
  4. I feel disciplined and in control.  This is so important for a food addict.  I feel like I'm in control but not in a miserable "I can't eat anything" kind of way.  Instead I feel like I'm making great choices as second nature since I have been doing it so long.  It feels natural and amazing.
  5. Not everything is measurable.  So I can't measure that part of my body where my butt meets my legs - (once heard it called the Bu-thigh - lol!).  But I can tell you my butt fits better in my jeans.  Not something I usually can measure with a tape measure and no number attached to it - but feels great.  I bought a pair of size 10 shorts yesterday that fit PERFECTLY.  Do you know how amazing that feels?
  6. I ran a 5k last weekend with no training.  Once again, being an athlete is amazing.  I am not fast, but it's cool that I can go run for 34 mins and change without months of training and enjoy it so much.  Running for fun has really been enjoyable and I know my strength training during the week has made me a better runner.
Overall, I'm really really happy with where I am.  I can get upset that I'm *still* in the 170s or I can look back and remember how long I was stuck in the 180s!  Many women would not be a size 10 at 175 pounds.  I know I don't *look* like I weigh that much and that I have some great muscles to show for it.  I wouldn't trade my muscles for anything, including my shrinking bust (lol).

I'm looking forward to next steps.  Going to try some new things nutritionally, still staying within the paleo/W30 guidelines but going to see if I can jump start some fat loss again.  I'm excited about what is next and ready to see more positive changes.

Had I quit at any point in the last 5 years I would NOT be where I am today!  Look for the NSVs in your life and tell me what some of them are in the comments section!

Today, if you get no other message from me, please get this:

"The scale is not your friend.  Your own amazing progress is." ~Clara B. 2014.


Holla!
Clara