Tag Archives: food

The Part Where I Attempt to Take Care of Myself (Again)

While it may be boring to everyone but me, I am once again embarking on a health kick.

I’ve gained all the weight my body will allow. I have a knee that just can’t take any more. When my weight’s lower, it hardly bugs me at all.

I actually began the healthy eating part yesterday but didn’t weigh myself until this morning. I know most people would be devastated to weigh 249 pounds, I was only relieved I hadn’t gained back every pound I had lost after the cheater discarded me. I was up to 270+ at that time. So, hey, it’s all relative, right?

I also know that it took a great deal of effort for me to get to 199 pounds and I stayed at that weight for about a day and a half. I’m 5′ 8″ and I was wearing normal sized clothing at that weight, of course I was swimming a lot, too, so that no doubt made a difference in how I looked. My point is that my goal is to get back to 199. That’s it. Any more than that will be icing on the cake, so to speak.

I plan to get more active but right now I’m focusing on the eating. Part of the reason for not doing everything at once is my knee hurts too much!

I was considering gastric bypass surgery recently and was reminded that before they perform that surgery they put you on a super diet to make you lose 25 or 30 pounds first. It reminded me that if I can lose weight without putting my body through surgery, I need to do it.

As I was losing the 70ish pounds I lost two years ago I knew all along that keeping it off would be nearly impossible. Every article I came across said virtually the only way to not gain weight back is to have gastric bypass. Otherwise the fat wants to come back and it does come back.

What I have to face if I can is that to keep it off I will need to eat less calories than other people who maintain. That’s just a fact. The metabolism is effed up or something. But to keep it off I will have to diet forever.

The odds of me succeeding at that are pretty much impossible, so I’ve decided that I’ll do my very best and I’ll add important lifestyle changes that might have a more lasting impact.

So yesterday and today I came home and made a homemade soup that was nutritious and super delicious.

I start by sautéing some cubed firm tofu in olive oil in a nonstick pan until it’s golden brown and meanwhile, in the soup pan I sauté a sliced leek, a handful of sliced mushrooms, fresh asparagus, and at the end, some spinach. Then I throw the tofu in and add hot water. For seasoning I added some light soy sauce, a few drops of sesame oil, a small squirt of Siracha sauce, and some salt and pepper. I let it simmer for about five minutes, until the asparagus seemed cooked, and then chowed down.

I’ve eaten that yesterday for dinner and today for lunch. Then a new batch tonight which I’ll finish tomorrow. It’s a bit hot these days for soups, but it’s all I can consider right now. I think it would be really good with a few shrimps or a handful of crabmeat.

Right now I’m weaning my poor body off the junk food I eat around here. My stomach is intermittently rebelling and I’m making trips to the bathroom. That always happens to me when I change my diet. It’ll stop eventually.

I’m working every day on getting better sleep. I’m often in bed before it’s pitch black out, but I still don’t get great sleep. Sleeping in a small day bed where I can’t stretch out has been problematic for me.

I’ve made a concerted effort to wash my face every night rather than use those makeup remover sheets. It’s a nice routine and makes me feel ready for bed. I did some research on those electric face brushes — hah, I can’t think of what they’re called. They have batteries and a fine brush which rotates and cleans your pores. I bought one from Korea that is said to be the most gentle so I’m excited to try that when it arrives.

I went to World Market on my lunch hour yesterday and bought three decorative pillows for my non existent couch. They were on sale and I got all three for $20. It was good to get out of the office and nice to do something other than hunt for vintage goods. To be honest I don’t need more kitchenalia! (Well, I need a new rice cooker, a new electric kettle, but I’ll buy those new). What I will need are practical things like a hose, a rake, a weed wackier, a toilet plunger, cleaning supplies, paper goods well, you get the picture. I need to save for practical things.

The most recent three day weekend reminded me that I have no fucking life at all and it depressed me. When I have a home to care for and a dog to walk, I will be too worn out to care about my lack of social life, at least for a while, while it’s new to me.

I am hoping that the house/dog thing will be the major lifestyle change I need to help me keep weight off.

My new position starts in one month and slightly increased pay with it and that’s about the time I will be able to start officially looking for a home to buy.

Oh, and apparently my sister, two of her children, and one grandchild will be moving here about then as well.

My father asked me if I wanted them to come to my confirmation this Sunday and I was floored. Interesting that it wasn’t my mom. Dad was born Catholic but hasn’t been in a church in many decades. I guess he just though I might like it, so I said, sure, that’d be nice and told them not to feel like they have to do all the standing and kneeling parts.

Interesting times ahead!

 

 

 

 

 

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Nothing Tastes as Good as Being Fit Feels

I have had comments from a couple of women who actually took the time to read my blog from the beginning, what an honor! It makes me feel like I’m not in this alone and really boosts my spirits. The internet can be an amazing place if you know how to get around it. You readers and commenters help me far more than I help you. I need you and I’m grateful for you.

I went back and read several of my earliest posts and was struck by how just in mid-December I yearned to swim more than two freestyle lengths in a row and I wondered what it was like to swim laps for an hour. A month later I was doing that and I still do it now with less and less time at the edge of the pool.

Lesson learned: if we start it and keep doing it, we will get better. And it doesn’t take nearly as long as you think it will. So just start.

I think my weight loss this week will be minimal, and I’ll accept that. It’s not the end of the world. I have had a couple of moments of nervous eating due to the pain in my pelvic region. I don’t want to go through surgery and recovery or have anything even more serious but ignoring it won’t do me any good. I must figure out what’s going on.

Today will be my last workout for two days. The pool is closed Sundays and on Monday I will drive to Portland to spend the day with my daughter. She has been involved this last month with a Women in Transition group at her local community college and it has opened her eyes to many possibilities regarding school and career. I’m considering doing the same course down here next term.

I spent quite a bit of time researching walking/hiking groups in my area and saw quite a few, but feel reluctant to get involved. I have so many insecurities such as will I be the only “old person” there, will I be the only single person there, will I be the most out of shape person there. Interestingly these are the same types of thoughts I had when I went to the pool to see what I could do there.

I’m thinking the next thing I might do for myself without any investment, is to begin a walk/run routine using the app I’ve spoken of a few times. No need to say more about it until I try it. But we are having a few more days with sun in them, and the other day, when I walked my parent’s dogs, I ran several yards and thought, hmmm, I might be able to do a little of this.

I did not message, email, or telephone my husband yesterday. A minor victory for me. Now today I will try very hard not to do that again. One day at a time, as they say.

Bless my parent’s hearts. As I was leaving to go to my counselor yesterday morning I was feeling terribly fragile and tearful. My mom didn’t really see it, though, and she said, “Well you’ll have plenty of things to talk about.” And I said, “Mom, I’m a wreck.” She said, “Why?” dragging the word out in disbelief as though I haven’t a care in the world. I said, “Because I love and miss him.” And she said, “Nooooo.” Again dragging it out. When I left my counselor’s office my dad had left me a voicemail saying they were going to the mall and I could join them for some lunch if I wanted to. I hate worrying them so much!

I just got back from swimming and it was a good workout. Swimming on Saturdays is a bit unpredictable but it wasn’t any more crowded than it is during the week. I have noticed that on Saturdays I am pretty fatigued from swimming for six days straight.

When I was in the deep pool doing my ab exercises I began to get a “stitch” in my side, yet it felt unlike the sort of stitch I remember in my youth. It was bad enough to make me get out and even now as I type it is throbbing. My poor, poor body. I abused it so, and now my torso is filled with mysteries. On my right a gallbladder filled with stones. On my left (ish) the new stitch. Then there’s the pelvic area pain. I fear I’ll be having a surgery soon and I dread it so much. Yes, I’m a worrier.

The limbs seem to recover pretty quickly, but the poor torso, having suffered years of a bad diet and now layered in fat, well, this is the price I pay for not taking care of my body. I just hope my issues are not too serious and that I may recover quickly. In the meantime I will keep exercising and trying to take weight off because it will make me stronger and make the doctor’s job easier. It’ll help my recovery too.

Years ago, when I realized I was really getting big (I was probably about 190 or so), I went to my doctor and spoke to her about bariatric surgery. This was in the earlier days of this surgery and she told me I wasn’t overweight enough to qualify for it. She did ask me if my breasts bothered my back or neck because they had gotten huge. I jumped on that and soon I found myself having a breast reduction.

The doctor removed 7+ pounds of breast tissue plus some liposuction on the side  breast area. The recovery was not easy and I had some complications but thankfully my breast sensitivity is all just fine, everything is all connected and I could button my blouses again.

Because of that, I am now realizing that my breasts are becoming small for my size. I don’t know why I almost find that amusing. And in the end I imagine it will all sort of balance out, or not. I’m not going to go have breast implants put in, I guarantee you that.

I don’t know why, but my very large breasts represented old and matronly to me and I really began to hate them. I prefer smaller breasts on me and I think I look a little younger without that enormous bosom. My god, before the surgery I could hardly get food to my mouth. It was a long journey from the plate, over my breasts to my mouth. Everything I owned was stained. I was mortified by it.

Now, between the breast reduction and the weight loss so far, I already don’t have to worry if I get seated in a small booth because I can fit there. If I were to fly I would not worry about how snug the seatbelt would be, and less embarrassed about what my fellow passengers think of me. I won’t kid you, it feels really good to take up less space.

Even when I used to go to walk by someone, I’d often misjudge how big I was and sure enough, bump into them, or the chair with my hip or butt. Every time I did that I felt embarrassed about the condition of my body, but still I didn’t do anything about it.

Now I’m wearing a coat that I bought three years ago and had almost thrown away because not only could I not button it, I couldn’t even tie it closed. Now I wrap it around and tie it snuggly around my new waist. This waist by normal standards is still big, but for me, it feels great.

There’s a horrible expression that “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” I think it’s rather insulting and certainly over simplistic, but on one hand I do sort of get it. Fitting in that booth, securing that seatbelt, buttoning that coat, running with the dogs all feel very, very good. I want to continue to the point that my body is the size that it should be.

I would love to ask one of these people who go from 300 pounds to 125 pounds if they feel as though they left part of themselves somewhere. I sometimes wonder if I’ll feel frail or tiny because it’s been so long since I’ve been a normal weight. I suppose it will feel like the new normal for me but I’m so damned used to feeling like a linebacker.

I want to feel feminine again. I want to dance. I want to wear a dress. I want to be thrown around in bed. I want to look good with my partner. And I feel that I will probably love that more than eating too much which is really what that silly expression is all about.

Thank you again for reading. I’d love to hear about your own experiences with diet, fitness, divorce, middle age, or anything else you’d like to share.

Please follow me on Twitter @movingliquid1

Older Women & Weight Loss and My Own Weight Loss Technique

There is no shortage of before and after photos and stories all over the internet to inspire us to lose weight and get in shape, but you rarely see a woman over 50 highlighted that way.

We are told in our 40s that losing weight after menopause is nearly impossible, and in fact we are told we will gain weight at that time no matter what we do. Faced with these old tapes in our heads, it makes it doubly hard to make the decision to lose weight as an older woman because it sounds like it’s hardly worth attempting!

Because I hadn’t really lost weight in a very long time, I was fairly convinced that I was no longer capable of losing weight at all.

I’m here to tell you that I was wrong. I can lose weight. I am in fact losing weight. And truly, if I, as a 56 year old, formerly inactive and post menopausal woman can, then pretty much anybody can.

Of course, my weight loss and fitness journey is still right in the middle. I’ve lost about 44 pounds since mid October and have about 70 to go. I’m sure that I’m just weeks away from the dreaded plateaus we are also warned about.

But I began to feel healthier after only a couple of weeks of effort on my food choices and exercise program. From that moment on I have felt energized and filled with optimism because I saw that it could be done and that it didn’t really change my lifestyle.

Perhaps if I were younger I might be losing the weight faster, but I have no real complaint in that area. At least not yet.

Here are 10 tips I use to keep my food choices reasonable. I have decided for me that I cannot eat an entirely restricted diet, that I must eat now as I will always eat and therefore I did not eliminate every food I love.

1. Portion control is the key for me. Next time you make spaghetti (you can give up pasta but I refuse to), give yourself about half the normal sized serving of pasta, double the vegetable, and eliminate any bread. Fill yourself up with water during and after the meal. Also cook your pasta until it is just tender. Overcooked pasta sends blood sugar higher than pasta cooked al dente.

2. Speaking of breads, rice, potatoes, pasta. If I have some, I watch the portion size and I only allow it once a day, on rare occasions twice. So if bread at breakfast, then none later. Also I’ve been known to have half a slice of bread with my boiled egg — who says we have to eat the whole slice? Do I tempt myself with muffins and bagels? Nope. I steer clear of them.

3. Eat more protein, especially if you’re exercising hard like me. You need it to repair the muscle. We want muscle! Again, watch portion size, they say our meat serving should be no larger than a deck of cards. Easily done. And remember eggs are our friends. I also eat a fair amount of tofu and other meat replacements because I’m funny about meat sometimes. I never eat beef, but that’s just my own personal choice.

4. I avoid most foods marked “lite” because I feel this might mean they’ve been even more processed than the regular version. I not only use butter, I buy expensive Kerry Irish Butter. I just use it as sparingly as I can. I also eat tacos with corn tortillas that have been fried in peanut oil. I’m not about to give up tacos. But I eat only two of them and I fill them up with tons of lettuce, avocado, salsa, and only a bit of cheese. I usually eat tacos with fake meat, but sometimes make fish or chicken tacos.

5. I will not give up sugar entirely. I think that’s silly. I have one or two cups of coffee a day, and in both of them I use two heaping spoons of plain old white granulated sugar. I will not drink coffee without it. I will not poison myself further with fake sugars. They are getting an awful lot of bad press of late anyway — even the ones that are supposed to be “natural”. A couple of squares of very dark chocolate are the only other sugary thing I ingest.

6. Drink a ton of water. Forget diet drinks of any kind. The water will help you in so many ways including helping to keep you regular.

7.  Keep an eye on how many fruits and fruit juice you drink. They are another form of sugar. If I have juice, I use a tiny juice glass. That is an appropriate quantity of juice. Learn about which fruits are best for you, pineapple, for example is terribly sugary while other fruits are less so. Anything in the berry family is a good option. My daily prune also counts as one fruit.

8. I’m no expert nor am I a nutritionist, so I will tell you the following with that disclaimer. I let my mood tell me if I am going to have vegetables or salad that day, and what sort. Let’s face it, we all know by now that a huge salad covered in bleu cheese dressing has more calories than most double patty burgers. So salad is only as good as how you prepare it. I’m funny about vegetables. I eat them fairly regularly but some days I don’t. I don’t sweat it because I simply refuse to be a slave to numbers of this and that I am “supposed” to have in the course of 24 hours. Our bodies are not machines.

9. Eat out less often. This is a huge one. Not only are we tempted to order something we should probably not eat, but the serving size is just simply too big. Perhaps you can share your meal with someone?

10. Don’t skip meals. Feed your engine. But also learn to like the feeling of being a bit hungry. At first it’s kind of uncomfortable, but soon enough you’ll grow to like that feeling much more than being too full. A few times a week I drink a high protein meal replacement simply because I can’t bother to figure out what to eat. I know it’s certainly not optimal or natural, but it’s probably better than not eating anything or munching a bowl of Fritos. Sometimes I don’t want to think about food.

This is merely a short list of some of the things I think about in my own weight loss journey. I don’t plan elaborate meals and I’m certainly not a health nut. I don’t spend much time cooking new things just because they’re supposed to be good for me. For me it was important not to obsess over food. You may be different. Planning your meals and becoming a better cook might be right for you. I love to be fairly spontaneous in deciding what I’m going to eat, so shopping once a week is a terrible idea for me because if I’m not in the mood for it on the day, it will go to waste.

Pick and choose from what I do to create your own weight loss journey. My temperament makes it impossible for me to count calories or eat what anybody else tells me to, whether they are Weight Watchers or Spark People or the latest magazine article. I feel that this is the very reason why I am having success losing weight. I don’t feel deprived at all because I’m eating “my” food. It does help that I have a fair understanding of food and nutrition because, as they say, if you want to know how to lose weight, ask a fat person. We know it all, we just haven’t practiced it enough.

I’m 56 and I’ve lost 2-4 pounds a week for a few months. Granted, I do exercise six days a week, and I’m sure that helps, but diet is the most important aspect of weight loss. One odd way that I feel exercise helps me lose weight is that because I am often slightly sore, I’m more aware of my body and the fact that I am working on improving it.

Turns out, we older women can lose weight and we need to stop reading and listening to experts who make us feel that it’s hardly worth attempting. The rewards of weight loss and a stronger body are almost immediate.

One final word on alcoholic drinks. I’m really lucky that I rarely imbibe because they are generally high in calories. I have decided already, that if the opportunity presents itself, I will not say no to a glass of white wine.

Please tell me what are some of your weight loss techniques. And please follow me on Twitter @movingliquid1

Don’t Wait Until Your Life is Perfect

Today was another rough day, but I attempted to make the most of it.

My workout was good. Sixty minutes of laps and 30 mins in the deep pool. My right shoulder was a bit sore when I got in, but it felt better after a few laps. I have to be careful not to hurt myself. I’d be pretty mad at myself if I had to take time off from swimming due to an injury I caused. I’m sure the tenderness was because I’m doing much more of the front crawl than I ever have before.

When I was done swimming I came home, dried my hair, put on some makeup and hoped my husband would want to see me. I went to Macy’s to buy some pants I had my eye on that were now 50% off. When I got back into the car I texted him that it would be so nice to see him. He replied that he was at the store.

I pulled the car up to a spot in the parking lot where I can watch the river go by and I sat there and stared at it. It hurts more than I can say that my husband would rather do anything than see me. I’m still in such denial and shock over it.

I shed a few tears and then a car pulled up beside me. I didn’t want anyone to think I was there for weird reasons and so I left. When I was almost at my parent’s house I decided to go see the 2nd Hobbit movie; I just couldn’t face an entire day in my depressed condition. #iheartsmaug

So, yay, me, it’s a few hours later and I’m still alive. Sometimes it’s one minute at a time, not one day at a time.

I really didn’t want to try clothes on at the store. No fat woman does. But I just didn’t know what my true size was so I forced myself. Interestingly, clothes fit me in an odd way now; I’m not sure why. If they fit in the waist the hips and bum were too loose. I just bought a pair of tight leggings instead and called it a day. The amazing part is I ended up leaving with a 1x. And one pair of jeans I tried on that fit odd was a 20. I could tell I was on the verge of size 18, at least in fairly stretchy pants.

I stared at myself in the mirror to try to actually see myself and it is hard when your eye just jumps to one conclusion, “Fat.” But it’s not that simple. I certainly look taller. I have a neck. My breasts are shrinking. I’m still a big woman but a transformation is definitely taking place.

With my tight budget and hatred of shopping, it’ll be a month before I go back and try to buy something else, but I know that there will be a difference then, and the month after that, etc. I am on my way.

I hope at the very least that I’m an example of how a person can work on change, improvement, better health, fitness, or whatever, even while their life is messed up and they are stressed out. Turns out you don’t have to wait until things are calm or perfect to embark on your own journey.

Please feel free to leave a comment. And please follow me on Twitter: @movingliquid1

Disappointments, Plateaus, Mixing it Up

Today I went to see my psychiatric nurse practitioner for the first time in four weeks. He’s the only person I have to talk to about my problems and challenges, and I only have 30 minutes with him. Still, I’m grateful for the time I do have.

It was good to see that his scale and my mother’s scale are in sync. Tomorrow I go to see my regular physician and will compare her scale as well. My nurse practitioner showed me a chart of my weight since 2011 and it’s pretty amazing. A steady climb from about 240 to almost 270 in mid to late October and then bam, down to the 232 I am today. He’s amazed at how determined I am and so am I. The only good thing I do for myself is my diet and exercise program, other than that I am lost and don’t know what I want.

He asked me how things were going with my husband and I said they are not going at all. I told him it’s as though I’m hoping that, by the time my husband says he wants to be with me I will have decided that I can live without him. I don’t know what will happen. I don’t know what I want to happen. For now I’ll just swim and practice yoga and try to eat right.

I’ve decided since a bike is so spendy to save for some hiking boots. I can use them more often too. It’d be nice to have a friend to hike with but I’ll try to make myself go on my own. I’d like to say maybe I’ll meet someone there, but let’s face it, I’m just not that friendly. I don’t know how to make small talk and I can’t tell who might like to talk to me and who wouldn’t so I assume they wouldn’t want to to be on the safe side. And if the person I’m with doesn’t challenge me, then I don’t want to waste my time walking with them anyway. Yes, I need a friend, but the workout is the thing right now!

Today after swimming I came home and spent some extra time on myself, dried my hair, moisturized all over, and put make up on because my husband said he wanted to see me today. When I was done at the nurse practitioner’s office I texted him and he called me. He was “busy” with a friend. Anyone and everyone has precedence over me and for this reason alone, I should move on and leave my husband in the past.

I was angry for a few minutes and I felt a desire to go spend money I don’t have. I drove around and around not sure of where to go or what to do. Finally I went in to TJMax to see if they had any XL yoga pants and they do, but I didn’t have the desire to try anything on. Finally I just drove home, feeling like an idiot with my lipstick and pearl necklace on.

My workout was surprisingly good today. I got to the pool at 10:25 and the aerobics class was going to start in the deep pool at 10:30, so I just bypassed that pool and went right into the lap pool. Man, it seemed cold for a few minutes and I’m not used to getting into that pool without being warmed up, but it only took one slow lap for me to forget about the temperature.

I decided not to look at the clock since I knew I could not go into the deep pool until the class ended at 11:15. I really challenged myself to do more freestyle and keep working on that damed alternate breathing. When I finally looked at the clock, fearful of how much more I “had” to swim, I saw that it was already 11:12. The time just flew! I did one more lap then left that pool for the deep one.

My nurse practitioner is fit (he rides his bike to work) and he spoke to me about plateaus and I said I was prepared for them but hoped I wouldn’t see much of them until I got below 200. We talked about how mixing up your physical activities is important with plateaus. The body gets used to the same old routine and it doesn’t challenge it in the same way.

I’ve already decided that from now on I want to try to spend 60 minutes in the lap pool. I’m a bit apprehensive but feel that I can probably do it.

I was describing to him what I do in the deep pool and he seemed kind of amazed. He asked me if I made up the stuff I do and I said, well, some of it. I try to recreate in the water what people do on land and if it burns or is difficult then I know it’s “something” and do it more and more. I told him that my combination of laps and water calisthenics is my way of achieving an aerobic and weight lifting workout in the water.

To my surprise the deep pool had about five people in it when I went there today. I hope it doesn’t start getting crowded in that pool, I’ve been incredibly spoiled that I often have it all to myself.

So I had what was for me a pretty huge disappointment and yet I didn’t do anything rash about it and now I feel fine. This must be what it’s like to be more mature and to be kinder to oneself.

I won’t see my psychiatric nurse practitioner now for two months. I hope that when I see him I am at least 15 pounds lighter. Crossing fingers.

I Am Addicted

I am absolutely addicted to the pool and I am in heaven when I’m in the water. What a revelation this is! I’m not happy on Sundays when the pool is closed but I know my body needs one day of rest. It makes Mondays all the sweeter.

I went to the deep pool today, about 40 minutes before class started. When the other students and instructor came, I didn’t feel like doing the class thing so I got out, went to the bathroom, squished my swimming cap on and went to the lap pool.

I hadn’t been in the lap pool for several weeks. I am intimidated by it because, well, it’s long and once you commit to a lap, it’s a long way to the other side. I didn’t have the stamina when I first began going to the pool, but today I noticed I have definitely gotten stronger.

I am certain I got a lot of aerobic exercise today. I do two laps (one up and one back) in the front crawl then I switch to an easier stroke like side, back, or just kicking with the little floatie board thing. I alternate an easy stroke with a challenging one and I keep going that way.

The main thing is, except for adjusting my goggles which I just can’t seem to adjust to fit me, I don’t stop moving. I was in the lap pool for about 45 minutes and then, when I saw that my class was ending, I switched back to the deep pool where I just did a lot of stretching and floating and stomach exercises.

I didn’t want to get out. Even when I dragged myself out and got into my flip flops, I kept wanting to jump back into the water. By the time I am in the shower I am sad it’s over.

Who knew? Who knew that I could wake up every day with one thought on my mind: getting into the pool and exercising.

Now that I’ve ventured back to the lap pool things will get more serious. I look forward to the day I can do three laps in the front crawl and then four and then more. Wow. What does it feel like just to swim laps for an hour?

HB

As a kid in southern California we went to the beach a lot. And the beaches in Huntington Beach and Newport Beach are not for weaklings. You can venture in at one lifeguard station and after a bit of body surfing and playing in the water you realize the current has taken you eight lifeguard stations away. Getting into and out of the water is a skill due to powerful waves and I’m so grateful that I never let it scare me enough to keep me out of the water even though it was challenging at times.

In the summers I would go to the high school pool as many days a week as my parents would give me the .25 to get in. I’d stay for hours just playing in the water and then walk home weak and starving.

When my P.E. class focussed on swimming I secretly liked it while my friends complained. I paid attention to the coaches when they taught us the strokes and to this day it comes back like riding a bike. I’d never be able to teach someone to swim, it’s totally automatic to me.

If one of the coaches had seen potential in me, I’d have had another life. I wish they had!

But it’s ok. I had the life I had. The coaches didn’t single me out for anything. I didn’t make cheerleading squad. But my love of water has remained.

When I left Southern California and moved to Oregon in my early thirties I soon became very depressed and stayed that way. I never knew why. I’m sure there are many reasons for it. But one of them that I didn’t think of at the time is that I gave up a culture of outdoors and water and I never replaced it with anything up here. A shame, since there’s plenty to do in Oregon, you just need to plan it a bit mostly due to weather.

I had my mushrooms on toast today and over-salted it so I didn’t enjoy it. I tend to go in spurts with what I eat in the morning and today I knew my long run of mushroom toast was over for the time being. I bought some good greek yogurt and some granola and plan to start that tomorrow. It’s a challenge for most people to come up with a protein rich meal first thing in the a.m.

Interestingly (to me) I am also very excited about adding a land-based exercise after the first of the year. I have a lot to choose from (thank you, city) so I am very lucky.

Yesterday’s experience with the scale was really baffling to me. As I mentioned, the first a.m. weigh in was 238 and I was ecstatic. Then two hours later, after only coffee, it was 240. Then two hours later, after breakfast, it was 242. Geesh. If it’s 242 then I won’t be so thrilled about the slow rate I am losing.

I know, I know… I’m supposed to be losing it slow. You lose it slow and it will stay off. I know. I don’t care. I’m so super motivated and I know if I were younger the weight would be melting off. Nothing melts off when you’re 56.

I’m going to resist weighing again until next Sunday. I really, really hate plateaus and I don’t want to pull my hair out wondering what I’m doing wrong, when I know damn well I’m doing very well, the best I can, and can’t do much more.

It’s just that I feel different so I want to look different.

I’ve been reading about muscles and protein lately and I would like to avoid, when I do get most this weight off, looking like a shapeless skinny older woman. I want muscle and strength.

I am gathering that when you work a muscle and it feels sore (but not damaged) then that means your muscles have tiny rips in them and as they heal they become stronger than before. I might be full of shit, but I think I read that somewhere.

Some people online say one should eat or drink something rich in protein within 30 minutes of a hard workout to optimally encourage muscle growth. I’m pretty bad at that. When I leave the pool it’s about 11:30 or noon and, while I am hungry, I either don’t know what to eat or don’t feel like eating. Often I’ll do some errands and when I get home it feels too late for lunch. I may drink a meal replacement drink, or just have some peanut butter pretzels and a prune.

And always water.

I have a theory that during my many years of taking many medications, the only thing that saved me from having a lot of long term side effects was the fact that I drank tons and tons of water. Of course I drank more water then because some of the medication made me terribly thirsty. Now I drink water for enjoyment and because I know how good it is to keep things moving inside the entire body.

Today I allowed myself to consider what might happen if my husband and I do not reconcile and I thought well, in time I’ll find someone who is also into physical activity, someone who’s interests compliment mine, someone who wants to explore the beauty of Oregon. And even though the mere idea of looking at another man seems inconceivable to me now, I enjoyed the idea of it for a fleeting moment.

Moments like that are rare, since I just don’t know how 56 year old women find men of substance, but I don’t have to think about that now. I’m not nearly ready.

I need to make some female friends first, something I’ve never been very good at. I am hoping that I meet a wider range of women when I begin my yoga (or whatever class it is) after the first of the year.

Oh, and today I will add scuba diving to my list of things I want to try. Some place warm and exotic.

Quickie Prelude

In October I found myself at the end of my fourth marriage, obese and suicidal, knowing I had finally reached bottom and I was grateful for it.

In the weeks that followed my separation I realized that my age old ways of handling stress, anxiety, and depression were not working for me and were no longer an option. I vowed to never again consider suicide a viable option. I vowed that psychiatric hospital stays would never again be part of my future.

I realized I was on the verge of becoming an invalid and that if I let myself go there, I’d never recover. High blood pressure, exhaustion, plantar fasciitis in my right foot made it difficult to walk. Feet, knees, hips all felt like they were failing, and they were. My body was warning me that it could not get fatter and I heard it.

My husband and I have not decided yet whether to reconcile or not. I’d like to, I think, just not right now. He seems more hesitant to consider it. For now, although we keep in daily contact, we live separate lives but are still monogamous.

I am told and have been told for many years that I have mental illness. For now I’ll accept that because it helps me explain away the dozens of serious mistakes I’ve made in my life, causing me to be where I am today. Single, fat, broke, and 56 years old.

My primary focus now is improving my physical health with the hope that it will also improve my mental health. I have decided to write here for several reasons, 1.) I’ve got no one else to talk to about this new adventure I have embarked on; 2.) I might help others in a similar predicament; 3.) others might help me; and 4.) for years I’ve kept a detailed journal that I’ve come to realize is not helpful, in fact it is depressing, and it includes a lot of whining and very little self improvement; this blog will not be that.

So, back to October, on one of my last doctor visits before the big breakdown and final separation, I weighed 267 pounds (I am 5’8”). This is well over 100 pounds overweight but I plan to take my weight loss goals in increments and I plan to eat the way I am eating now for the rest of my life. This is not a diet. This is my new way of eating.

I am temporarily living with my parents, a fact which causes me quite a bit of embarrassment, but I have a limited income and don’t want to make any huge decisions right now so my primary focus is on regaining physical and mental health and not much more.

For two months I have limited or avoided snacks altogether; limited the “white foods” such as potatoes, bread, rice, and sugar. I also attempt to amp up my protein, not easy because I am a reluctant meat eater yet find many bean dishes to be too heavy.

As of a couple of days ago I was at 243 pounds, a 24 pound weight loss in two months. I know I cannot complain, but, come on, I am hugely overweight so this should be the time of big weight loss, right?

The truth is, if I were 20 years younger I would have lost a lot more. Losing weight post menopause is notoriously difficult. Luckily, I have no intention of being a svelte 140 pounds ever again. Being under 200 will be a massive achievement because I’ve been over 200 for many years. If I can ultimately get under 175 pounds, I’ll be extremely pleased with myself.

For a bit over a month I’ve added exercise in the form of deep water aerobics and lap swimming to my life. I am deeply committed to swimming at least five, and hopefully six days a week. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I attend the water aerobics class which is 45 minutes long. I usually continue in the pool for another 30 minutes on my own. On Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, I mix water aerobics with lap swimming for one to 1.5 hours.

Going to the pool is the highlight of my day. If weather or appointments keep me from it, I feel antsy and lost. I was born and raised in Southern California, so water was a huge part of my childhood. I swam in the ocean and I swam in pools. I could not get enough time in the water.

I want to add other physical activities to my day because I recover from the swimming and then I wish I were swimming again. I plan to add yoga or a gentle martial arts (or both) to my schedule after the first of the year. I am limited to classes being offered by my city recreation center because they are reasonably priced.

Most fat people know a lot about dieting and I’m no exception. But anyone who follows blogs, health gurus, or reads Huffington Post knows that there is a ton of conflicting information out there.

To be honest, I’m a bit resentful that I have to eat at all and I do so with some reluctance. I am so determined to undo over 20 years of bad habits in the least amount of time possible, and I know that is not smart or the “right” way to do it.

I understand there are good fats, like avocados and nuts. But I also know that a handful of cashews can easily undo any exercise you may have done that day. I eat butter, in fact I treat myself to Kerry Irish butter, but I use it as sparingly as I’m able to. I don’t buy any food labeled “light” as I feel this just means it’s been messed with too much. I don’t drink diet drinks, I actually love water. I don’t bother with alcoholic drinks.

I eat fairly normally, overall, with a fairly balanced diet, but I pay particular attention to portion sizes. I know I should not eat pizza, for example, but sometimes it is what’s for dinner at my parent’s house. I eat two small slices and stop even though I don’t want to stop and could easily eat two more. I have nothing else the rest of the night.

I know that fruit and juice can be a way to consume too much sugar, so I limit those. I am a fan of keeping my gut clean, so I usually eat a soft prune once or twice a day, which counts as two fruits right there.

I’ll be honest, I am unenthusiastic about vegetables and salads and will eat them in phases throughout the year. I’m not worried about that.

I do think about protein which is essential especially for older people who have not kept their muscle mass and are trying to replace some of their fat for muscle. I often eat a boiled egg with a bit of butter for breakfast. I have to eat something or I will not have the strength to exercise!

Lately my favorite breakfast is sautéed mushrooms on toast. I slice the mushrooms and sauté them in a small amount of butter (a teaspoon or so). When they are beginning to brown I add salt, pepper, and turmeric and stir for another minute. Then I pile them on to a piece of sourdough wheat toast. It is hugely satisfying.

To me, the mushroom falls into a category that is in between meat and vegetables. It has flavor, fiber, vitamins, and protein. I could eat mushroom toast almost any time of day. (Same with avocado toast). I attempt to use the smaller piece of toast in the package with a huge mound of mushrooms on top.

If I were living alone, I would eat a little differently than I do now, but I do not want to inconvenience my parents or cause them to drastically change their own diet to suit me. That’s ok. If it’s something I know I shouldn’t have much of, I don’t have much of it.

Going out is a huge waste of money and I rarely bother anymore. If I had someone to split a meal with it would make more sense, but portion sizes in America are utterly out of control as you can see on “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives”.

As far as my weight loss, by the time I had lost a measly ten pounds I began to feel better. I stood taller. I had more energy. I felt my body around me and I felt smaller. I would have to remind myself that I was still fat, because I already didn’t feel fat! Amazing to think that a ten pound weight loss can have that kind of effect.

As of now, with the 24 pound weight loss, my clothes are becoming ill fitting. I am postponing buying clothing because I don’t have the income to buy a new wardrobe. Lately I am wearing some black knit jeggings I bought three years ago, but now they fit me more like regular pants and I must use a belt to keep them up.

I don’t care. I’m not trying to win a fashion show.

I have spent money on face lotions. I’m very aware that I am 56 years old and that, no matter how much weight I lose, I will never look young again. That said, there’s no need to throw up my hands and make no effort whatsoever. I have super dry skin and being in the pool doesn’t help. I often use night creams in the day time because my skin is so dry.

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My most recent treat was buying a Burt’s Bees night moisturizer which has pomegranate and white birch in it. I don’t know if it’s doing anything, but it smells so good I don’t care. [UPDATE: I’ve since learned that many night creams have ingredients in them which should not be used in the sunlight, so don’t follow my lead here unless you are sure your night cream is “safe” for day use.]

The first time I went to the local pool I was quite nervous. Would I be the fattest one in class? Would it be too difficult for me? Would the water be too cold to enjoy it? The first day I went to a gentle class which took place in a shallow, warmer pool. The class was absolutely too easy for me and left me frustrated because I longed to move my legs in the water, not touch the bottom.

The next day I went over to the diving pool where the deep water classes take place. I asked the women in the pool if it was hard and they said, “No. You’ll love it. Get in.” So I did. I learned right away that you’ll get out of the class what you are willing to put into it. Many women enjoy chatting throughout the class, but I keep to myself. I am there to work out hard without hurting myself and that is my entire focus.

Every single day when I enter the pool I feel like a child melting into her mother’s arms; it feels so good, there are almost no words for it. And when it is time to get out, I get out reluctantly.

I went to a normal fitness center before I went to the pool for the first time and although it was not very intimidating, I am simply not comfortable with recumbent bikes and elliptical trainers and weight machines. I could force myself to go ten or fifteen minutes on the bike, and it felt icky; like work. You’re supposed to do something you like, I hear, and that is why swimming will always be my primary exercise.

I am (we all are) graceful in a pool. We can stretch our bodies as we are unable to do on land. I am hopeful that when I do begin a yoga class in January, that I will be somewhat more flexible than I would have been had I not taken water aerobics.

I see people of all ages and sizes entering the pool and I admire all of them. There are people who are barely able to walk down the ramp to the shallow pool but once they are in the water they are able to move; it’s such a freeing feeling to be released from your weight.

I usually do laps in the deep diving pool because it’s usually fairly empty, but now and then I go into the lap pool. This pool intimidates me somewhat because I am not able to do constant laps for an hour. This is why I push myself in the deep pool and then keep moving in other ways until I am recovered enough to do it again. Every time I go into the pool, I increase the aerobics part of it. There’s always plenty of time for stretching in between.

I am certain that I use every muscle group when I go to the pool. The water also provides resistance which you can learn to maximise to increase strength.

I’ll be honest, I’m usually quite sore in the evenings, but when I get in the pool the following morning, I feel no pain whatsoever. I am so incredibly lucky that my city has a top notch pool just minutes from my parent’s house. It has made all the difference in my health and recovery. There are many things I am grateful for at this pivotal time of my life and they will be the focus of my second post.

For now I realize I am typing to no one and that doesn’t bother me. After a time, however, I hope that other people with an interest in improving their lives will join me here with encouragement and advice. I look forward to meeting you and reading your blogs as well.

Oh, and I named my blog after a line in a Kate Bush song: