Saturday, June 30, 2012

Still Exercising Can't Hardly Believe It

I don't have many cooking posts any more as I'm watching what I eat, which in turn resulted in me watching what every one eats. Mostly, I want everyone in my house to eat healthy, but I also don't want anything around to tempt me. I'll still make special sweets for birthdays and I have 2 coming up here in a month or so. What have I been doing instead of cooking and crafting? I've been learning to exercise.

I've lost 55 pounds in the past 7 months. It didn't start out as a weight losing venture. It started out as a "make peace with exercise" venture. I've discovered a lot of things along the way. I don't hate exercise nearly as much as I thought I did. Enjoy it? I wouldn't say that, but I've learned that I really need it.

In October of 2011 I was a marshmallow. I'm not even exaggerating is the sad fact. I could get along fine in my everyday life if I kept things simple. I was walking down the stairs at Kaiser and I discovered that I really had very little muscle tone in my legs. I thought if one thing goes wrong and I start to fall I won't be able to catch myself. I hung onto the hand rail for dear life. Not comforted by the fact I was hanging on with my equally marshmallow arms.

It wasn't until I was adding up the receipts for a near death incident with my poodle. She's fine now thank goodness. When I reached the Vet bill total I wasn't shocked by the total. In the scheme of things I thought I got off pretty cheap considering how sick she was. There were a lot treatments, medications, surgery and investigating done. The bill came to $2400. I was surprised that I was so comfortable with that amount. I was comforted that she's healthy and that's ALL I had to pay. Then I got to thinking of all the weight loss schemes I'd turned down over years, because I wasn't willing to spend that much on myself. I was shocked that I wouldn't consider spending $2400 to save my own life.

It was the slap in the face I needed. I decided I would spend that much to save my life. I was hugely overweight and out of shape and it was only a matter of time before I had a life altering event that would force me to do something about it. Why wait until I have a heart attack, a stroke, or diabetes? I need to do something NOW! I gave great thought to what I would spend that kind of money on. Diets have never worked for me. Sure I'd lose weight some where between 25 and 40 pounds, but I'd put it right back on. What do they say "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results." That's the way I suddenly felt about diet plans. It was insane for me to even consider a diet plan. The one part of the equations I've ignored all my life is the exercise part.

I thought long and hard about why I won't exercise. I don't like it. I don't like being sweaty. I don't like being uncomfortable. I don't really know what to do at home or at the gym. I don't know how hard to push myself. I don't know what is too much exercise. I don't know what is too little exercise. I'm embarrassed. I feel silly. That's when I decided I was going to spend my money and hire a trainer. I needed an expert to help me figure this all out.

I called the gym and I had 3 free 1/2 hour session on the books that I had never used. I'd start there. I made an appointment with a name that sounded familiar. The gym called back and that person couldn't do it. That's when they asked if I minded being switched to a new gal named Michelle Young. I didn't know it then, but that was the best thing that could have happened to me.

She's well trained. She's young, but not too young. She prompt, cooperative, encouraging, yet pushes me when I need to be pushed. She answers my questions and will do research if she doesn't know the answer. She'll patiently listen to my whining and then give me good reasons why I'm exercising. She reminds me and points out how far I've come. She's empowered me to be able to come to the gym and know what to do. I don't feel silly. I'm no longer embarrassed. With her help and the Polar Heart Monitor she suggested I buy I know how hard to work out. I also know how little to work out when I'm pushing too hard.

As I said dieting wasn't in the plan and still isn't. For years I thought I'll get my diet under control and THEN I'll start to exercise. What I discovered was as I learned to exercise as I got stronger I lost small amounts of weight without watching what I ate. I learned that I wanted to start watching what I ate. I wanted to make better choices. I felt when I'm working this hard to feel better I don't want to mess up the hard work with bad food. Exercising made me want to eat healthier. Dieting never made me want to exercise.

The first thing I did was cut out diet sodas. I did it mostly to get the main source of chemicals out of my diet. No artificial colors or sweeteners by the gallon for me. This was the 2nd best thing I did for myself. 

What I found out was my super strong sweet tooth all those years has been triggered by the artificial sweeteners. Dr. Oz talked about how artificial sweeteners can cause one to gain weight. The explanation fit me to a T. You can read it here. 

It was difficult to drink water all day and not have diet soda the first 2 months. I really had withdrawals. Not just physically, but mentally. I didn't realize what rituals surrounded my drinking of diet soda. Picking my child up from school I would take 24 ounces of diet soda to drink while I waited. Kids are in bed I'd have my "I'm off duty" cold diet soda. No little kids wanting to dip their lips in my drink. Once I got past the 2 month mark I've been fine with water. Occasionally I'll have herbal tea, but I'm not really a tea lover. Occasionally, I'll have some soda water with a twist of lemon, a squeeze of lime or some cranberry juice.

My sugar cravings are next to nil. It's a strange feeling for me. I use to seek out sweets and carbs like a drug addict seeks out drugs. Again I'm not even exaggerating. I've talked to many doctors over the years about it and got no answers or help in regards to it. Diet soda who knew?! I had candy stashes around the house to keep my husband and kids out of my candy. I'd get mean and defensive of these stashes if they were discovered. I moved them like a dog moves a bone when discovered. I didn't share and was insulted at the suggestion. I think "buy your own candy" was said a time or two over the years. It was the candy talking.

It wasn't until I wasn't eating candy that I found out how many stashes I had. I thought just one in the kitchen, but one night my daughter wanted a sweet and asked if I had anything. I checked my stash and said no. Then she said what about your other stash? I thought I don't have one, but then thought again. She followed me around the house and was shocked at my inventiveness. I had 5 areas that I stashed things in. It was a good night as she helped me clear them out. It was really only a matter of time before I probably would have eaten them all. I just had no craving and hadn't looked for them. 

When someone wants to know what secret diet I'm on and how I've lost 55 pounds I say, "I know it will be disappointing to find out, but exercise. It really works. Damn it!"

As for diet I still don't diet. I do watch my calories with a free account with myfitnesspal. Julian Michaels reminded me it's nothing special "calories in calories out." I can fill my whole daily allotment of calories with jelly beans if that's what I wanted to do, but I'll probably have a big stomachache. She has an awesome free podcast. Check it out on iTunes. 

I try to eat more fruits and vegetables. Not rocket science we all should do this. I did find out I haven't eaten enough protein for years. So, I make sure I get enough protein every day. I make sure I eat 3 meals a day. Sometimes a small snack between meals. I don't snack often and I'm working on getting better at spreading out the food over the day. I seldom eat simple carbs in my evening meal. No potatoes, rice, bread, pasta kind of things. I don't crave them any more and I don't need them. I don't eat anything after dinner any more. I don't crave that evening ice cream like I did. Now I'm use to not having it.

I'm stronger. I'm lighter. I feel better. I look better. I live by two simple mottos "Don't say no to exercise" and "put it on a bed of lettuce." Everyday I strengthen my commitment to exercising for the rest of my life. Not because it needs to be done, but because it has to be done.


Jan said...

Wow, what a great post. My body is like yours. If i try to diet, my body goes into a starvation mode and hangs onto every morsel. Years ago I finally learned to need exercise. I tried jogging and biking and then I discovered aerobics and developed my own dancing regimen. I still don't like traditional exercise, but I love dancing. My only indulgence is dark chocolate, but it has health benefits. :)

CathyR said...

Wow, those are amazing results. Great blog post. I know how hard it is to give up sugar. Thanks for your honesty.