Sunday, May 24, 2015

Learning patience

I have been in pain for quite a while. The pain started in earnest when I began to increase my running mileage during my 20 weeks of training for the Tinkerbell Half Marathon; anything over four miles left me sore for several days. The pain starts in my lower back, extends through my left gluteus, down my left hip, and along the side of my left quadricep to my knee.

I have been seeing a massage therapist and chiropractor every other week since late February/early March hoping for a miracle cure but needing at least some relief from the pain. Now that my half marathon is over and I don't need to start training for my next half marathon until the end of June, I have gone back to walking every day instead of alternating walking and running on alternate days, and on Thursday I went to my first appointment with a physical therapist.

The therapy session was painful, to say the least: stretching and deep tissue massage of muscles that are nearly fused solid hurts a lot. I also have stretches to do twice a day at home; those are painful as well. In addition, the therapist told me to avoid running if it causes any pain, so that's pretty much confirmed my decision to focus on walking for a while instead of trying to keep up a regular running schedule.
Patience is not about how long you can wait, but how well you behave while you're waiting
Photo by BK, via Flickr
The problem is that I don't want to wait, or rather, that I'm scared not to run for fear my body will forget how to do it and I'll be put right back to the very beginning of my running journey. That fearful part of me wants to lace up my running shoes and go for a quick 3-mile run three times a week, as I'd planned to do several weeks ago when I was trying to plan for my post-half marathon routine. I'm trying to treat this whole situation as a great opportunity to cultivate greater love, compassion, and gratitude for my body and all of the amazing things it does, but that is easier said than done.

In the meantime, I do my stretches, as prescribed, twice a day, and breathe deeply as I do so. I enjoy my walks and the solitude of walking along in the cool morning air, and I know that doing that helps burn calories, maintain my healthy blood sugar levels, and keeps my anxiety under control. None of this is as planned but then life seldom is. Not every part of the journey to better health is something fun, so I keep my "why" front and center, for those times when gobbling down a dark chocolate peanut butter cup sounds like the best thing in the world, because it's not.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Seeking Inspiration

Five days down on South Beach Phase 1, ten more to go. (First fruit I'll re-introduce? Apple slices! First whole grain? Quinoa!) I'm feeling pretty strong at this point - focused on making food choices that are good for my diabetic body and getting my nighttime emotional, binge eating under control. I'd like to keep it that way, so I've started a Pinterest board to gather inspirational words and images.

Follow Do you have that in my size??? by Denise Elliott's board Healthy Living Inspiration on Pinterest.

I'm still gathering pins and just the process of clarifying what inspires me to make better choices is proving to be highly motivational for me.

If you have a healthy living inspiration board - virtual or in real life, what does it look like? What inspires you to make healthy choices for yourself?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Who's a smug girl today???

Today was a rotten day, for a variety of reasons. I was exhausted mentally and physically, I was dealing with stress at work and at home, and I had to miss a dental appointment that will now have to be postponed a week (leaving me still unable to wear my permanent partial denture, almost two years after my extraction surgery). Several times during the day I was frazzled, hungry, and without any easy food options for South Beach. It would have been a perfect day to give in to my emotional eating urges; I didn't.

Smug by Phil Whitehouse, on Flickr

In the face of all of the craziness, I chose to order a half salad and soup combination to go from a nearby restaurant that I then put in a cooler bag to be consumed after my physical therapy appointment, once I got to work. Am I feeling a little smug? Yes, just a little.

Six days of South Beach Phase 1 down, eight more to go. I have more energy, I feel lighter, and my blood sugar readings are heading in the right direction. (They're all well within the conventionally-acceptable ranges for diabetics but my first-thing-in-the-morning readings are just a hair above my own personal goals. I'm narrowing in on a cause for the morning highs using my meter readings and my food journal to correlate what food groups seem to cause the rise and which do not.)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A vision

I've heard that you can re-program your brain to believe whatever you tell it is true. For instance, if you're in a potentially scary situation and you tell yourself that this is an adventure that will help expand your horizons, your brain will believe that and behave accordingly. I'm not sure that's entirely true in my case, but I've had a lot of luck with positive self-talk in the past, so I'm going to write out my vision of what I want my life to look like, how I want to feel, and what I'm doing now to make that a reality.

Dear Self,

After nearly a year of struggling to string together multiple days of eating that supports good diabetic control, I'm ending day 4 of South Beach phase 1; I feel great. Not only am I following through on my commitment to myself (which makes me happy), I'm also lowering my blood sugar readings to a more steady, predictable level that should keep my body healthy.

It always surprises me how easily I can give up emotional binge eating when I create the right mindset for myself: focusing on caring for my body and eating properly to control my diabetes (as measured by my regular blood glucose test results), rather than looking to the number on a scale to tell me how I'm doing. The older I get, the clearer it becomes to me that healthy living, getting to a healthy body weight and staying there, and creating a happier life overall are truly all about "mind over matter".

So, with four days of healthy living consistency behind me, where do I want to go from here?

  • When I leave for FitBloggin' five weeks from today, I'd like to be:
    • Within 10 pounds of my lowest weight, which, coincidentally, was achieved the week I attended FitBloggin' last year - I need to get this regained weight back off and keep it off
    • Practicing yoga three or more nights a week - not only does this help with my flexibility and strength, it's also a great way to deal with anxiety, which can lead to my overeating if not managed
    • Writing here consistently most nights during the week plus creating one post each weekend for my Type 2 Diabetes blog - blogging has always been a great vehicle for creating a positive mindset for me and it helps reinforce the positive changes I'm making in my life
    • Working with a physical therapist, in addition to my chiropractor, general practitioner, and massage therapist, to strengthen whatever muscular imbalances are leading to the post-run pain I feel - I'm too old to believe in "no pain, no gain", especially when it affects my ability to perform routine tasks at work (like sitting in front of my computer)
All of those goals seem eminently do-able to me, but time will tell.

I wish you love, happiness, and abundant good health!

Love,
Me

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Why I know I can do this

I lost 120 pounds when I was 30 years old and kept it off for about a year before my divorce sent me into a frenzy of emotional eating that culminated in my putting every pound back on in a startlingly short amount of time.

I lost about 50 pounds when I was in my mid-30s then I lost my motivation for eating properly and exercising so it all came back with a few extra for good measure.

Just before I met TCB, in my late-30s, I lost between 35 and 40 pounds (I've lost track) but allowed my happiness over a much slimmer body to distract me from the importance of staying focused on healthy habits like regular testing of my blood sugar (sort of an important life skill for a diabetic) and not tying my self esteem to a number on a scale (or on the tag of a designer dress). I put it all back on in less than six months.

Given my demonstrated inability to maintain significant weight loss and the healthy lifestyle changes that go with that outward change, I might be forgiven for being panicked about my recent regain of 17 pounds. That wouldn't be an unreasonable reaction but it's not where my head is at all.

Why am I not freaking out and shouting "The sky is falling," to no one in particular? Because this time, for the first time, I'm not focused solely on my weight or my dress size - although they're both important to me; my first priority is eating reasonable amounts of foods that are lower in simple carbohydrates and getting lots of moderate exercise in order to get and keep my blood sugar in a healthy range for me.

At 30, 35, and even at nearly 40, I could cheerfully ignore my chronic, mostly silent disease and so my motivation then went no deeper than a desire to look and feel better.

At 47, I no longer have the luxury of pretending I'm not diabetic: if I don't maintain the diet and exercise changes I've made over the last couple of years, it won't take long for me to be right back where I was at the start of 2011. Back then, I was on eight separate medications for diabetes and diabetes related problems, and yet still my blood sugar was uncontrolled. Not even nightly injections of insulin were able to get my sugars into acceptable ranges. After oral surgery to remove 15 teeth because of advanced periodontal disease related to diabetes, I have very tangible proof that ignoring diabetes won't protect me from some very nasty complications.

But my greatest fear - the ravaging effects of uncontrolled blood sugar on my blood vessels, organs, nerves, and brain - is also an incredible source of strength as I sit here, three days into South Beach Phase 1. Yes, diabetes is a deadly disease that has killed people I love, but it's also the reason I know that I will take off these 17 pounds plus a few more if I'm lucky: I want to live!

I want to live to turn 50 and a good number of years past that, too. And the truly wonderful blessing of it all is that even as I stay focused on successful diabetes self management as my primary objective, I also get some lovely side effects from all of those positive habit changes, like fitting into smaller clothes, being able to run 13.1 miles without dying, and inspiring others around me to make healthy changes to their lives, too.

It will take time to get this weight back off because it doesn't fall off quickly when you have less than 20 pounds to lose, and that's fine. Six months will pass regardless of whether or not I'm making positive changes in my life, so why not give it my best shot? I'm not in a hurry and I'm enjoying the journey this time around.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Why my weight still matters

You'd think after more than two years of mostly successful weight loss and maintenance that this would be old hat to me, wouldn't you? That I no longer struggle to make the right decisions for my health and happiness? I'm here to assure you that nothing could be further from the truth.

Every single morning since I made the decision in February 2013 that I would make one last, desperate attempt to change my eating and exercise habits in order to get my diabetes under tighter control and make a happier life for myself, I have to wake up and recommit. Going for a walk or run when I'd rather sleep another hour is not something that comes naturally to me - it's a commitment to my health. Limiting myself to one nonfat latte a day and sticking to brewed coffee, tea, or water the rest of the time because of the amount of carbohydrate in milk is not a "no brainer" for me, but I do it because I know it's what my body needs.

Lately I've been having a lot of trouble passing up late night treats and I've packed back on 17 pounds of the nearly100 I'd lost over the last two years. I lost that weight by paying close attention to my food choices and passing up a lot of things I'd have liked to eat but knew they wouldn't work well for my body; suddenly the mechanism in my brain that prioritizes long and short term priorities went wonky. It seemingly didn't matter that maple nut scones will shoot my blood sugar into the stratosphere not to mention adding inches to my waistline: they were delicious and I wanted to eat them, so I ate them. One extra latte wouldn't hurt anything, either: it's nonfat milk and I have the calories left to cover it, so why not? I've been so good for so long and now I'm thin(ner) and healthy so one little eating indiscretion here or there doesn't matter.

Except they do matter; they matter a lot. There is no cure for diabetes, contrary to what you might hear in the media. My blood sugar stays pretty well under control as long as I eat carefully, avoiding processed foods and starchy vegetables most of the time. My body can tolerate a splurge meal every month or so without a problem, but when the splurge becomes the norm, my blood sugar climbs out of my normal range and stays there until I go back to my normal eating pattern. Lately it's started taking as much as a day for my blood sugar to go back to where it belongs; that's very scary.

So as much as I'm bothered by the fact that I can no longer slip easily and confidently into my gorgeous clothes, that's not why I started Phase 1 of South Beach yesterday. Do I hope to lose a few inches around my waist plus the 17 regained pounds (and more)? Yes, I absolutely do, but that isn't what will keep me going through all 14 days of Phase 1 and every day after that when I can add back my beloved fruit and new friend, quinoa but still must eschew the processed sweet treats that I love.

My weight matters now not so much for the way I look on the outside but more as a barometer of how well I'm eating which corresponds to how well controlled my blood sugar will be. Eat less processed junk and simple carbs, get some moderate exercise every day, control my stress level, and my diabetes is miraculously "cured", at least until my next meal. No secret, no magic pill, just lots of boring, tough decisions over and over again.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

An update

I promised to write more regularly and here it is three months since my last entry. If I tell you that I've been too busy with the rest of my life to sit down to compose an entry, hopefully you'll understand and forgive me.

So many things to write about and it's already nearly 11:00pm when I should already be on my way to sleep; I'll keep this one brief and come back tomorrow with more.

  • After 20 weeks of training for the Tinkerbell Half Marathon (held last Sunday), I came down with stomach flu four days prior to the race and was unable to drive two hours to Anaheim, much less run 13.1 miles. I am so disappointed to have missed the race but I also know that I've had terrible gluteus, hip, and hamstring pain after all of my longer runs that needs to be seen to by a doctor. Weekly massages and visits to the chiropractor haven't cured the problem, nor has twice-weekly yoga, so, now that I've got a respite in my training schedule, I'm off to see my general practitioner in a few weeks. I'm hoping for a referral to a physical therapist who can tell me what's going on and what to do to make running less painful.
  • I managed to re-gain about 20 pounds from my lowest weight. Some of this is due to yummy vacation food on our recent trip to Seattle - organic donuts! - but mostly it's emotional eating, specifically sugar binges before bedtime. This is not only making me feel physically uncomfortable in my body, it's also playing havoc with my blood sugar. While my test results are still within generic recommended guidelines for diabetics, they are higher than they were when I was eating more carefully; this must stop. I am signed up for a weekly support group starting next Wednesday for alumni of the original Weigh 2 Eat program that started me on the healthier life I now live. It's led by a psychotherapist who specializes in eating disorders and will deal with challenges facing people who eat instead of dealing with their emotions. I also started eating a slightly-modified version of South Beach Phase 1 today: no fruit, no grains, nothing processed, lots of lean protein and non-starchy veggies, plus limited amounts of nuts, healthy fats (like avocado & olive oil), and low-fat dairy products. After the first two weeks, I'll add back twice daily fruit plus some grains (quinoa and my favorite diabetic-friendly bread at the very least) and hopefully that time will break my burning desire for sugar before bed.
  • I'm considering taking a 200-hour yoga teacher training course in the Fall - not that I plan to quit my job any time soon but I want to improve and expand my yoga experience as well as being able to teach courses to underserved people in the community (like people with larger bodies and older folks, neither of which group is always well-served by mainstream yoga classes).
OK, I have to get to bed - 5:00am comes early and I'm planning to run tomorrow morning for the first time since my bout with stomach flu, so I want to be well-rested.
 
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