Tag Archives: Turning Fifty

Spring Ahead

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When I started my blog, my intent was not to make it about getting healthy. I had been observing that there were defining life experiences that had become touchstones-golden threads interwoven into the fabric of me. Approaching fifty, I thought it time to maybe write about them as they came up, mostly just for me, for reflection. But at the time, it just so happened I was in the throes of a food revolution.

And so I wrote about it.
And I felt GOOD about it.
And I wanted everyone I knew to DO IT WITH ME!
And I marveled at how SURE I was I’d NEVER have a chemical packet of artificial sweetener or a diet soda EVER AGAIN!
And I was HAPPY about it.
And so CONFIDENT!
And then…

I started losing interest.

And I couldn’t quite bounce back from Thanksgiving.

My treads no longer followed the path to Whole Foods or my yoga studio. Rudi’s turned into Ronzoni. And my blog went by the wayside along with my healthy lifestyle. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to write about falling off the wagon. In fact if ever there was a time to write, the struggle-time is the most fruitful time! No, it was just a lethargy that took over. A ho-humedness, especially to those activities that interfered with being warm and cozy and caving and eating comfort food.

I do believe this is the power of sugar, sugar.

With that said, this hibernation hasn’t been a totally gluttonous episode. Though I haven’t been shedding pounds, I have been shedding in other areas: namely the stuff of my life that’s been accumulating for 10+ years.

My husband and I have decided it’s time to move out of this house that’s too big for us. It’s time to get out from under our debt, from our accumulations, and from a living situation that is no longer meeting our needs. This is not easy for me. I am a very attached person. In fact, I believe one of the most important things I must do in this life is become more naturally detached. I don’t mean detached in an indifferent way, but in a loving and mindful way.

In order to do this, I must make my way through the artifacts of my past. I am being tested. For example, what to do with the contents of the box that holds the last remaining items of my father’s life, one that ended over six years ago? His dentures, a few pairs of jeans, a hairdryer, prescriptions, glasses…I wonder, how I can possibly let them go? Then I ‘remember.’ I do not need to cling to these items in order to be connected to him, to feel the love of my dad. My heart’s got it. No need for the physical manifestations of his life.

And so I sort the contents of the box into their respective ‘donate, sell and toss’ piles, with mindfulness and gratitude and love. And move on to the next dig.

Today the clocks moved ahead.
The earth is waking up, even though the dirt is still frozen and blanketed by snow.

I’m waking up, too.
Even though I haven’t been in my produce drawer in quite some time, I have been in my closets, unearthing some treasures and shedding some baggage. I remember that I am powerful and have the ability to craft my life the way I want it to be. I’m turning 50 and I can do anything I want. I can make it happen. I quite like making it happen.

So here’s to manifesting.

Or as a friend coined the term,
“Amanda-festing!”

 

 

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The Downer of an Up Number

weight_scaleWhen I step on the scale, and it shows a loss, I stare in disbelief while a giddy feeling rises in my tummy. Inevitably when I step on the scale three or four days later, the loss seems to vanish with even an extra pound or two to remind me the fat wants to stick around. That giddy feeling? Replaced with a sinking dread that I never want to step on the scale again. The hell with it.

You may recall my earlier “Pssst,” post where I broke the 200 lb. mark. I posted in my moment of giddiness. The scale reading did not happen on a Monday, so I didn’t post it to my “The Numbers” page. A week later I was up to 201 lbs. I was deflated. So I didn’t weigh myself again until this morning (down to 196.5). I’m happy, but I’m thinking of foregoing the weekly (or more) weigh-ins. I recall a blog post from someone who weighs in only once a month, especially to avoid the downer of the scale. This makes sense to me. I’m four months into this journey of healthy eating. I seem to be averaging a loss of about 5 lbs. a month. I think I can confidently move forward without checking the scale so much.

The downer of an up number isn’t worth it.

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Time

One day at a time

One thing is for sure, time marches on.
Being a nostalgic, too-attached person, this fact can make me a bit weepy. But in reality, I view it as a wonderful thing. And it’s especially great news for weight loss. One day turns into another, into another, into a week, two weeks, a month, and before you know it a year is gone, and hopefully as well, a bunch of weight to go with it!

That’s what I’ve been thinking about lately. As you know, my goal is to be under 150 lbs. by the time I turn 50 next July.  I’ve pretty much settled into this wholesome way of eating now. Even the gluten-free part is a piece of cake (lol). The sugar and flour are out of my house, I visit our local farm two or three times a week, and I’m a label reader. Better yet, I hardly ever have cravings! I have no desire to eat any other way. And so, if I can keep it up, the weight will continue to drop, and time will march on. In some twisted way, I am looking forward to my birthday like as if it’s my due date!

Being a teacher, a “year” is really a condensed, carefully plotted and planned ten months. There are always these smaller increments of time we are marching towards–first day of school, back-to-school night, Halloween, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, February break, April vacation, Memorial Day, last day of school, SUMMER! It’s a whirlwind. And this year, I am so much looking forward to a healthier, more vibrant ME as I transform myself over the course of this school year.

But the season of sugar is fast-approaching. What is your plan for staying healthy throughout the onslaught of temptation over the next few months? I for one, plan to keep the candy out. I want to make a plan with my son for Halloween. I’m thinking something along the lines of paying him cash for candy. I won’t be getting any trick-or-treaters as we live on a street where the houses are few and far between, so no pressure there. Thanksgiving will be much more tempting for me. I figure it’s prudent to have a plan and it’s time to start thinking about it. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Have a great Columbus Day weekend.
I think I’ll put on a pot of soup this beautiful Autumn Sunday.

 

 

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Making Amends

It’s been about three months since I started this blog.

When I was contemplating blogging, I hadn’t intended to have a blog about health. I mostly thought it would be a good way to make sense of my day, to record my thoughts, and maybe post some of my art. But clearly, my writing has centered around health. Not surprising, as improving my health has become my priority over the last few months. All I can say is, “Thank gawd.”

When I look back on the last three years, I am startled to see the mounting symptoms of my deteriorating immune system. In June of 2011, I ventured cross-country with my son on an 7 week, 8000 mile journey cross-country in our old, 24 foot Airstream. It was the trip of a lifetime, and I never felt better. One of the highlights was a week-long Grand Canyon rafting trip. 190 glorious miles of the Colorado River and the majesty of the canyon was almost more than a heart can hold. But what I left behind will forever be counted among one of my greatest achievements. I left behind my cigarettes. I knew there would be no quick trips to the convenience store in moments of weakness. 5 days on the river. That was it. I kicked it.

And it all went downhill from there.

Fatigue, weight gain (40+ lbs), itchy skin, and more fatigue plagued me for the next three years. Each day, I couldn’t wait to get home and get under the covers. I started to worry that I was depressed. I couldn’t muster up any enthusiasm to complete household chores and maintenance projects. I dreaded social events. I just felt tired    a  l  l     o  f      t   h  e       t   i   m   e .    Then one morning I noticed that my eyebrows had thinned, fairly drastically.  The first third of both eyebrows. In fact, once I saw it, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t noticed it before and wondered if it had happened overnight! This triggered a visit to my physician who promptly referred me to the dermatologist. The doc administered painful cortisone shots to my eyebrows and delivered a serious recommendation to go to an endocrinologist. He said this eyebrow loss could be a symptom of Lupus. Lupus? No way.

Six months later, I remembered the dermatologist’s advice, and decided that I really must find an endocrinologist. I may have something seriously wrong with me. The thought was frightening, but I was ready to face it. I had to figure out why I was so out of sorts.

I literally had the thought after school one afternoon, and the very next morning, at 8 a.m. an endocrinologist appeared! My class and I were making our way to the library to see a science presentation. I had no idea what it was going to be about. Imagine how struck I was when I discovered our guest speaker was an endocrinologist. I couldn’t believe it! I felt the universe was speaking directly to me.

Thus began the my education about the state of my health. When I got the diagnosis of Hashimotos, I had no idea what it meant. I did a little bit a research, concluded it was a common diagnosis, and actually never gave it much more thought. The diagnosis actually came by mail, as my endocrinologist was in the process of moving offices, and she had gone ahead and ordered the blood work, etc. based on a patient questionnaire and medical history that she mailed me. I didn’t actually meet her in the office until this past summer!

Then I visited a naturopath who practices functional medicine. It’s expensive, especially the supplements I’m taking. But as far as I’m concerned it’s worth every penny.  I am finally feeling like myself. And as I get healthier and stronger, I am seeing more clearly the dense fog I’ve been in for so long. I’ve never had a good relationship with food. I’m trying now, to make amends.

So, I have this blog. It turns out I have a lot to say about my health. I suppose I’ll just keep writing like this until I run out of things to say.

It might be a while. After all, I’m turning 50 next year. I’ve got a lot of ‘mending to do.

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Mind, Body and Soul

I’ve been thinking about this burden of weight I’ve carried all of my life.  What has been the function of it? Why does it matter?

Early on food was comfort for me.  An only child, with a single working mom and a grandma raising me, I was a pretty lonely kid. Food was my companion. My weight became a hot issue between my mother and me and I resorted to hiding food from her. I was teased through junior high school, but still managed, through all of my school years to be involved in activities.  I had the lead in our school play, frequently sang and played guitar on stage, and was a class officer in high school. I suppose weight protected me from all of those boys, though I longed more than anything to have a boyfriend, to be a part of this mysterious, heart-pounding world that would sweep me off my feet.

I was the girl with the “pretty face.” I convinced myself that any boy for me would have to look past my weight and know my heart. If he couldn’t see it, he wasn’t worth it. Then, in my mid-twenties, I came face to face with that dilemma.  Except I was the one who about to do the rejecting.  And oddly enough, it was a cat who was the object of my rejection. All these years later, the lesson still rings in my heart.

I had been on a teaching assignment about eight hours away from home.  While there I happened to find a dairy farm run by a family with same last name as me. They became my home away from home for a few weeks.  Anyway, where there are cows, there are kitties and I soon found myself attached to them. I decided that I would take one home with me.  The day before my departure, I called Farmer Joe and said that I thought two would probably be just as easy to take care of as one, and would he please pick out another kitten for me to take home? Upon my arrival to pick up my new kittens and bid my farewell, Joe had collected the kittens in the front seat of his pick up. There was ‘Blackie,’ the one who first stole my heart, and to my surprise, two other kittens, brother and sister, cuddled up on the seat. Joe said they were both good kitties, and left it to me to pick which one I would take. One instantly snuggled up under my chin and made himself at home. So sweet…But the other one, she was perhaps the most beautiful cat I had ever seen. She was stunning. I knew she would be coming home with me. And as I put down the snuggler, I stopped in my tracks. I was behaving just like those boys who never glanced my way! Whoa! Had I not noticed in that moment, the choice I was making, I would have left behind the best cat I ever knew. I took home all three.

Before I settled in to my traditional teaching job, the one I currently have, I led a bohemian sort of existence while teaching in less traditional ways. I’ve taught in England, had an assignment in the Middle East, and in several unique arenas in the U.S. Traveling alone in these places I learned more about loneliness, and came to understand that I alone was in charge of my happiness.

Despite all the travel, I eventually found my knight in shining armor right here at home. He saw past the weight, past my “pretty face,” and knew upon meeting me for the first time, that I was the girl he would marry (I still find this hard to believe). My man is much more evolved than me, and probably more in tune with realms beyond the mundane. Twenty-one years later, we’re still together–through thick and thin (pun intended). I’m a lucky girl indeed.

So, back to the function of carrying around all this weight (thanks for sticking with me to this point). In many ways my weight has sheltered me throughout my life. It has certainly been the thing I could hold up as the cause for this or that not working out the way I wanted it to–a barrier to my growth and self-actualization.  My weight barrier has evolved over time.  At first it blocked my loneliness. Then it became a barrier to having the kind of social life I wanted.  It was the ‘reason’ I didn’t have a boyfriend, and eventually, a husband.

What I’m leading up to here, is that I think I’m ready to rid myself of the barrier. I don’t need it. I am fully capable of keeping out unwanted energy.  Likewise, I believe I’m ready to claim my choices,  to go for it (still defining ‘it’). If I don’t succeed, I can handle it, wrap my heart around it. I don’t think I need my weight to be my reason ‘why.’ If I clear away the weight, I can be closer to the source.  The source of me and you.

My body isn’t in alignment with my soul, and it’s time to do something about it.

That, is why it matters.

 

 

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“When the Student is Ready, the Teacher will Appear.”

 

Artifical Sweetener

Yesterday, my teacher appeared in the form of a packet of artificial sweetener.

While running some errands I got a hankering for an iced coffee.  Somewhat of a coffee snob, I especially enjoy a hot, dark roast coffee.  But in the heat of the summer sun, iced coffee was calling me.  For some reason, even though I don’t put sugar in my hot coffee, when it’s cold, I like it sweet.  So as I made my way to the coffee shop, daydreaming about my mid-day treat, I realized that I’d have to pass on the packet of Equal.  And I should probably skip the cream (I’ve been drinking it black the last few weeks), as well.  Nevermind that I haven’t yet convinced myself of the adverse effects of coffee in and of itself. My internal dialogue went something like this: “A packet of Equal can’t be all that bad.”  And, “Calorie-wise, it’s fine!”  And finally (my pathetic favorite), “You deserve it!”

I got cranky. By the time I reached the cashier, I was all twisted inside. And then, like a bolt of lightning, I realized that this is how it happens. This is how I get from drinking warm lemon water every morning, to nibbling munchkins in the faculty room.  These seemingly little choices reflect a mindset, and that mindset either leads me to better health or instant gratification.  I can eat anything I want, ANYTHING!

So which is it? What do I want to eat?!? What does my body need (and deserve!)?

When the server asked me what I’d like, I replied, “Small, black coffee, please.”  I sipped that coffee for the rest of the day, and  felt grateful for the choice I made. While I’m not so sure about the negative effect of a packet of artificial sweetener, I am very sure of the positive impact my choice for health had on the rest of my day.

And that is Why it Matters.

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Slow and Steady

No weight loss this week.
No gain either, which I suppose is good, but I’m disappointed. Since I’m not really “dieting,” I have been staying off the scale but once per week.  I am operating under the (misguided?) belief that if I consistently make choices to avoid sugar, flour, and processed foods coupled with regular exercise, that the weight will eventually come off. I have to be prepared to accept the slowness of it. Slow and steady is supposed to win the race, right?

This is soooo opposite the way I’ve spent my life dieting. Used to be, once I set my mind to it, all I had to do was eliminate carbs, pee on a keto-stick to make sure it turned a deep maroon color, and the weight melted off. I remember one of my favorite snacks was to roll salami around cream cheese!  Buffalo chicken wings, eggs & bacon and diet soda provided most of my malnutrition. I could go indefinitely without cheating.  The Atkins Diet was for me.  Problem was, that once I resumed ‘normal’ eating, it didn’t take long to gain the weight back and then some.

So looking ahead, I have 364 more days to lose sixty-one pounds. I can’t remember the last time I had a real, long-term goal to work towards. As I’ve mentioned before, I plan to be <150 lbs. when I turn fifty next year. Let’s do some numbers:
61 pounds /52 weeks =  1.17 pounds per week
61 pounds/12 months= 5.08 pounds to lose per month

Seems reasonable enough to me.

Holy moly, I would be so happy if I could really do it.

Slow and steady.

 

 

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Midlife Waltz

I used to be a dancer. A chubby dancer, but toe shoes and tap shoes still count, right? My mother started me dancing when I was two years old. I endured weekly lessons and yearly recitals until I was about thirteen. Not a team sports kinda girl, it’s a good thing I had these weekly opportunities to move my body. I developed strong legs, flexible joints, and (dare I say) a bit of grace. I believe this early training set me up in life to be more agile and coordinated. I liken it to regular deposits in my ‘physical’ bank account.

Approaching fifty, I guess you could say I’ve been auditing my state of affairs. Aside from the obvious (weight loss), I am coming to terms with my dwindling energy reserves and (lack of) physical prowess. It occurs to me that I’ve been surviving on my trust fund–the physical deposits made in my earlier years, with only occasional boosts to the account as I yo-yo’ed through the next three decades.

The cold, hard truth is that my account is drying up. I can’t believe how weak I’ve become! I hobble for a bit upon rising from a chair, my joints ache, and I have become less sure-footed. I can think of three falls I’ve taken in the last year! I’m an old lady at forty-nine. How could I have let this happen?!?

Recently, I was diagnosed with autoimmune thyroid disease. This may account for some of my lethargy. I don’t yet know the severity, or what, if anything I can do about it. I have an appointment with an endocrinologist in a few weeks and will hopefully get some answers. But I’m worried about myself. I’m worried that I will succumb to inertia. I’m worried that I won’t be able to put myself back together again. I’m worried about my ability to reverse this track I’m on. I must remember how hard it is this time to pick myself up and dance again.

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Independence

A wise mentor recently observed that I am seeking freedom.  I trivialized it at first, thinking how very mid-life-crisis-ish of me to be yearning for freedom as I near the half-century mark.
But it’s true.  

Ever since, I’ve been thinking about my aspirations and desires, and rolling each of them forward. And each one liberates me in some way. I’d like to liberate myself of the contents of my house; I’d like to liberate myself from my financial obligations–live smaller and within my means; I’d like to liberate myself from my growing aches and pains; I’d like to liberate myself from my alarm clock; I’d like to liberate myself from my emotional dependence on others for happiness;  I’d like to liberate myself from my obesity.  

So my goal is to celebrate my very own Obesity Independence Day next year, on July 21, 2015:
<150 pounds by the time I turn 50.  I know I can do it.  I sure hope I do.

One of the things that’s keeping me motivated to eat whole, healthy food, is learning more about it. I mentioned earlier that I’m reading The Science of Skinny, by Dee McCaffrey. I’m about a third of the way through and I just finished reading about sugar and flour. It was fascinating to learn about how sugar and flour are refined. By the time we take a bag of sugar or flour off the shelf at the grocery store, the product we are buying (and consuming) has no resemblance, molecularly, to its original source. The nutrients have been stripped away, and along with it anything that is recognizable or useful to our bodies. Our bodies are simply not designed to deal with these foreign substances! Not only that, but ingesting them lights up and stimulates the same areas in the brain as drugs like cocaine and heroin. We’re all addicted.

And guess who knows this better than anyone? 

You guessed it, the food industry. Here is a link to a TEDx talk about how the food industry (like the tobacco industry before them) is brainwashing us and more alarmingly, our children.  As soon as my boy gets home, I plan on sitting him down to see this as well.  I’m hoping his teen brain might feel stirred to rebel against the corporate manipulation infiltrating his body.  He is after all an adolescent, and like his mom, seeking independence.

Happy 4th of July.  
I wish you well in your own pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.

 

 

 

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Back to Basics

At one point this week (I sneaked a peek), I was down three pounds.
Today, my official weigh-in day, I’m down nothing.  NOTHING!  What a bummer.

I haven’t been counting calories, or carbs.  What I have been doing is working out, mostly staying away from flour and sugar, and eating fruits and vegetables.  For example, last night my hub grilled swordfish and made a delicious mango, tomato and basil salad with red onion and feta.  It was delicious!  Totally satisfying and healthy.  I also had a great workout.  I have to believe that if I stick to these whole foods and exercise, that the weight will come off.  It used to be that I could drop five pounds in a couple of days.  Clearly, I’m not so lucky, anymore.

I started reading, The Science of Skinny, by Dee McCaffrey.  It’s about understanding body chemistry and how our bodies process the foods we eat.  The farther away we get from eating foods in their natural state, the less healthy they are for us.  Makes sense.  This isn’t the first time I’ve been down this road.  I get so enthusiastic about eating well and exercising.  What I haven’t figured out yet, is why can’t I maintain it?  I am nowhere near giving up, despite a zero balance in my weight account, I just wish the skinny gods could have helped me out a little more this week.

 

 

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