Change- The Year in Review

My word for this year was change. Boy, did I ever pick a doozy. I’m not saying my word caused the pandemic, but I’ve never actually picked a word of the year before. This was my first time and look what happened. Safe to say I don’t think I’ll be picking another word of the year again. I’ll go back to resolving to moisturize more. Floss regularly. Safe stuff.

I did choose the word “change” however so it’s only fair that I look back and see what, if any, change was made in my life. You know, aside from the whole world going to shit and being under lockdown and mask mandates.

When I picked the word I was really hoping that most of the change would happen in regards to my financial situation. As in, I hoped to either get promoted or get another job elsewhere. 

Technically, there were all kinds of changes in regards to my job. I got sent downtown to work for five and a half months. We’ve had to learn to do our jobs in a very different way because we’re not all together. I will probably never see my co-worker/partner again because she is working from home and is retiring no later than June 30th of 2021. We don’t have a lot of hope that everyone will be brought back by that point.

I did put myself out there and applied for the supervisor position. I didn’t get it but I did get exposure and I was told I’m a hidden gem. This little hidden gem had better get a new job title and a lot more money or I’m relocating to a newer mine.

I have been perusing online job postings but I haven’t seen much that excites me. I also checked out grad school but I think that is way beyond anything I can do. For starters, the deadline for one of the programs I was interested in had already passed and I would be looking at yet another year before I could start. Then there is the issue of getting transcripts, and taking entrance exams and getting referrals. Who the hell is going to write a recommendation for me? I’m not in college anymore. Do I ask friends who have jobs to write a recommendation for me? Based upon what? 

Another program would require me to do a bunch of prerequisites before I could start which would mean my two year program would probably take three or four years. Sure- I’d love to get a Masters degree at age 55 and then work for 10-12 years. I’m sure the employers would be falling all over themselves to hire me, a candidate that does not have much of a shelf life left. And no experience to boot.

I see people with no education beyond a high school diploma fall into these amazing jobs that pay well and offer great benefits. Why on earth can I not fall into one of those jobs? Why am I doomed to work a low paying job with crappy benefits?

Way back at the beginning of the year, before Covid-19 changed everything, the mobster and I made a lifestyle change. We began the Couch To 5K program. I am still running, although with the days becoming darker earlier I am not as consistent as I would like to be.

In March I began eating low carb. I say this as I’m coming off of a 5 day holiday from low carb eating. Nonetheless, at this point in the year I am somewhere between 40 and 50 pounds lighter. I say somewhere because I haven’t stepped on the scales in 2 or 3 weeks and I have no intentions of stepping on them for another 2 or 3 weeks. But, at my lowest weight so far I had lost just over 50 pounds. I believe it was 50.6 pounds. I’m wearing clothes I haven’t worn in 2 or 3 years, and in the case of my jeans, they’re all too big now.

I’ve greatly reduced the amount of diet Coke that I drink. That’s a huge change for me. I started that one in May. I have my moments where I go back to it, but I’m pretty good. I certainly drink a lot less than I ever did before.

The mobster has put his route up for sale so now we’re just waiting for someone to sign the papers. After that he’ll make his way up here and we’ll finally be living in the same state! Same town even. That’s a huge change.

I made the transition to being a parent of adult children. Neither of my kids is a minor anymore. After June of 2021 I will no longer have any kids in the local school system. Picasso, God willing and fingers crossed, will graduate this June.

My mom’s dog died earlier this month. He was 15 1/2 years old. He’d been losing a lot of weight recently. My mom took him in and unfortunately he never came back home. I miss that little booger with his big underbite. She swears there will be no more dogs but we’ll see. She said that before she got him, too.

I finally got Jerry Lee garnished. Basically. It’s not through the state but he did sign an agreement which was turned into a court order whereby he directly deposits his payments into my account twice a month. He also knows that if he tries to stop it or attempts to fuck with me I’ll take his ass back to court and from there he’ll find his ass in jail. For the first time since he took off to be with his cousin back in February of 2016 I know exactly when to expect that money. It is a wonderful feeling.

Plus, my saga with Mississippi is finally over! Everything is done. It took forever- it took them more than 3 months for them to return my money- but it’s done.

Bonus- once I got my money from Mississippi I paid off my car so there’s another change for the year. No more car payment.

I got my car in September of 2014, taking out the longest loan for the smallest payment with the intention of paying it off in larger chunks with Jerry Lee’s bonus check. As you all know that didn’t work out as I had planned. I ended up with a large car payment with no job, and then a large car payment with a low paying job. But I had so many miles on it that I didn’t think I could trade it in and by the time I realized it really would be prudent to do so my credit was in the toilet, thanks to Jerry Lee and his machinations. Honestly, it was the last thing left from my old life. I wanted desperately to hold onto it. I had already lost so much- my house, my furniture, probably 95% or more of everything I’d ever owned. I was determined to keep that goddamn car. I worked my ass off to do so. Now it’s paid off. A change in circumstances, and more change in my pocket. Not really. All my additional money is going into my HSA account so I can pay for my kids’ therapy bills.

My son got a job, so both of my kids work now.

And both of my kids are being medicated for depression and anxiety. In Picasso’s case it’s a blessing because he so desperately needed it. After almost a year of counseling which didn’t help the way it needed to he’s finally on medication and it’s working very well. He’s doing things he could not have done before. So that’s a great change. Rock Star, on the other hand, is getting worse and worse, especially now that she’s on nothing while she waits to see our nurse practitioner. As you might recall the medication she was taking caused her to be extremely nauseous so she was switched over to Prozac. That caused suicidal ideations so it had to be stopped. I don’t know why on earth she didn’t prescribe her something in the meantime, knowing she has an in-person appointment in December, but she didn’t so my poor baby has been suffering through it on her own for a few weeks now.

Everything seems to stress her out. She’s this interesting dichotomy where she can be so self-assured and opinionated at one moment and then turn around and be a blubbering mess another moment. She’s back in therapy and she seems to like it, but it’s not doing enough right now and she needs to be properly medicated. She is going to call this week and see about getting some new medication.

Here’s another big change, one I’m not really ready for, but it’s happened. My daughter won’t be returning home. She plans to stay down in Muncie over the summer and work, and then when the lease is up on her house that she is renting this year, she is planning on moving in with her boyfriend. My daughter no longer lives with me. I had no idea until this Thanksgiving break.

On one hand I understand. When I came home for the summer I looked forward to seeing my friends. We went to different schools so we only saw each other on breaks and over the summer. We got to hang out, go to the beach, hit the bars, see a movie. I don’t recall what all we did. I just know it was great being home and being able to hang out with them when I didn’t see them most of the year. Rock Star doesn’t have that. She didn’t make any close friends when she lived up here. Her life is all down at school.

I also didn’t have a serious boyfriend throughout most of college. I broke up with my high school boyfriend right before coming home for the summer freshman year. I broke up with the guy I was dating my sophomore year shortly after coming home for the summer. Hmmm… doesn’t seem to be a good time of the year for me. I just saw that pattern. I didn’t have a boyfriend the rest of college. She does.

So, like I said, on the one hand I understand. I really do. But on the other hand, I am so sick of being blindsided with the last time and never knowing it’s the last time.

I didn’t know that Thanksgiving 2014 was the last truly normal holiday we would have as a family. I had no idea that Christmas 2014 was the last one we would spend together as a family of four. I didn’t realize how much my life was going to change as we left to spend 3 weeks in Indiana and Utah that first summer after we moved. I had no idea what was in store for all of us while we were having fun and spending time with family down in Florida. I sure as hell didn’t realize that August 9th, 2015 would be the last semi-normal day in my old life. I suppose those are all things you never get forewarning on.  “Hey, honey, I’m planning on cheating on you with my gold digging cousin. Enjoy your turkey!” That just doesn’t happen. But other things you sort of do think you get a heads up on.

I watched those proud parents escort their daughters on Senior Night and envisioned myself doing the same. I didn’t know as I watched my daughter at States that February day in 2016 that it was going to be the last time I would ever see her compete in gymnastics. That was it. The end. No more. No warning. No fan fare. No flowers. No big announcement. It was simply the end.

I watched as the conductor would invite all the seniors to stand at their last concert and looked forward to the day my own senior would rise and I would clap and cheer. I didn’t realize that last year’s Christmas concert was the last one I would ever watch Picasso play the cello. He abruptly quit- at the beginning of the year. Look! More change!

And I sure as hell didn’t even consider that last summer was the last summer my daughter would live with me. I thought I had 2 more summers with her. I don’t. Last summer was the last time she was going to live under my roof. 

I wonder sometimes if it’s because I don’t have a home of my own. Maybe if I had been able to buy a house she would have felt like it was her home. Then again, nothing I did or didn’t do was going to change the fact we had to move midway through high school and she had no friends here. Sometimes I wonder if it’s because she feels like I’ve replaced her and am living a new life with the mobster, a life where she’s no longer important and doesn’t really have a place.

I really enjoyed having her home over the summer after her freshman year. I loved hearing her stories and spending time with her. In some ways it was more difficult saying goodbye that second year than it was the first year. Maybe because I knew how lonely it could be with her gone.

Last summer sucked. She worked during the week and was either gone or holed up in her room with her boyfriend every weekend. I’m not available during the week because I’m working. When she worked she worked 12 hour shifts and was usually exhausted when she came home.

I guess I was hoping this summer would be better. Turns out there is no next time.

I understand this is the natural progression of things. Honestly, I do. I wasn’t prepared for it at this point, though. I thought I had more time with her. I was prepared for her to move out in December of 2022, after she graduated. I was not prepared for this.

2020 has brought with it a lot of changes. Some good; most bad. I’ll roll with it as I always do. I would pick a word like “prosperity” but it would probably turn into one of those “The Monkey Paw” things where horrible shit would happen instead of it resulting in money in my pocket. So yeah, I think I’m going to be content with trying to moisturize more and floss regularly. My dentist will be happy.

I’m Alive, Part 1

How y’all doin’? Making it through 2020 month by month? Is that too much? Week by week?  Maybe day by day? The good news is it’s November so we only have two months left in this shit fest we call 2020. Sadly, 2021 isn’t projected to be much better.

I occasionally like to just throw random thoughts up here. Today is such a day.

For starters, I am *almost* at the 50 pound loss mark. I have lost 49.6 pounds. Hooray for me! This is where it gets tricky. Since the weight loss challenge ended on July 3rd I’ve lost around 12 more pounds. Twelve. In damn near four months. What is that? Three pounds a month?

I was actually on a high Saturday because I lost weight last week. I have a spreadsheet because I can be anal retentive about things like this. I started tracking my weight for the weight loss challenge so I knew where I was and which goals I was meeting. I went on to add another tab for the next 3 months (which ended September 26th, I believe) and then another one for fourteen weeks which took me to January 1st. At the time I made the spreadsheet I thought I’d be at my goal weight at the end of the year, or at least damn near it. I have now added on a fourth tab which runs for another 2 months and ends at the one year mark of me eating low carb.

Those numbers are not going down much anymore. And with my weekends with the mobster I end up gaining 2 or 3 pounds and it takes another 2 weeks to take it off and by the time I’ve finally lost another .5 pounds we’re meeting up again.

I did do very well the last time we were together. I realized i just can’t go hog wild every weekend we’re together. So, I saved my carbs for things I really wanted. I may have had a stupid chicken Caesar salad from Wendy’s that Friday night but I thoroughly enjoyed my white chocolate mocha from Starbucks the next day. I also indulged in a few bites of the mobster’s cinnamon roll (not Starbucks; it was so much better!), had a piece of banana bread, and gave myself permission to have some fried mushrooms and French fries. I did order my burger without a bun though.

I was having a real tough time last week, wanting to grab a custard cone at Culver’s, maybe even a cheeseburger or fries. 

I have to tell everyone Culver’s is probably the best fast food out there. It’s made to order so it’s always fresh. Their custard is amazing. I was all set to have some this past weekend and when I got on the scale I was down 2.2 pounds. That’s the biggest weight loss I’ve had in a while. So I’m keeping on the low carb path.

Don’t worry. I treat myself plenty judging by the dismal 3 pound per month weight loss (and the list of things I ate the last time I was with the mobster). I even had chips and salsa last Saturday. And again last night.

The mobster likes to keep saying “we” have slacked off in the last few months. I keep repeating to him that *I* have not slacked off. I am still eating low carb. I don’t make the stop at Culver’s. I don’t have the custard. I don’t run down to Nothing Bundt Cakes and get one of their fabulous bundt cakes. I don’t stop at Starbucks and treat myself to a coffee drink. I save my carbs for when I’m with him for the most part. 

I’m also still running. Speaking of which, I am now losing toenails. It’s gross. So far I’ve only lost two and the second one isn’t actually off my toe. When I went to get a pedicure a month ago the person doing my pedicure told me what I thought was the nail coming off was actually the new nail pushing the old nail away. I’m not sure how that’s working because my old nail is still intact. Anyway it’s getting worse and I’m not eager to lose my big toenail. I feel like that will be painful.

Did you know Aunt Millie’s has recently come out with some low carb bread options? I bought the 5 seed low carb bread and it is very good. It does have 1 gram of net carbs per slice, unlike Aldi’s and Costco brands which are both zero carbs. But, if you’re at the grocery store and out of low carb bread there’s another option for you instead of having to run to one of those stores. My wish is that Aunt Millie’s would make low carb bagels as well. I would definitely eat those.

Did you also know that moisturizer expires? I had no idea. I certainly thought it was possible but truthfully I didn’t think about it much. Until I went to use some night moisturizer this past week. I didn’t see an expiration date on it so I asked the mobster if he had any idea if it expired and when he didn’t I decided to consult the mighty Google.

Whoever invented that deserves every penny he or she made. It is amazing the amount of information at your fingertips.

So… it does expire. Usually it won’t hurt you if you continue to use it. The ingredients that are supposed to do wonderful things for your skin might not work as well, so if you think you’re using an acne product or an anti-aging product you’re probably not because the ingredients are no longer active. However, they did say when it comes to moisturizers in a jar you should throw them out after 6 months. Because your finger goes into that jar on a regular basis it is easy for bacteria to grow in it. My mother will be so happy to learn that I’ve tossed 2 jars of moisturizing cream!

The Boston Marathon of Weight Loss

As most of you know I have embarked on a “lifestyle change” these last six months or so. Recently I came across an article that has completely changed my outlook on weight loss, weight loss goals, and how we define success when we talk about those things.

Yoni Freedhoff is an obesity doctor who wrote an article a few years back for Vox. It’s a long title but definitely worth the read- I’m an Obesity Doctor. I’ve Seen Long-Term Weight Loss Work. Here’s How.

I think what hampers people more than anything else with weight loss is how success has been defined. Whether that definition comes from the glorification of extreme weight loss on idiotic television shows, or from public health messaging around the risks of obesity, or doctor’s discussing “normal” weights or body mass indices with their patients, or from personally held desires, the shared goal post is one of losing every last bit of excess weight.

Wow! Like most people out there who decide to go on a diet or change their lifestyle, I tend to think in concrete, non-negotiable terms. I want to lose this much weight. I want to wear this size again. I’m not looking at it in terms of, “Hey, I lost 15% of my body weight. That’s awesome! I’ve lowered my risks for heart disease and stroke. Way to go, me!”

No! I look at it as, “I’m still fat. I still want to lose more. I’ve got x number of pounds to go before I finally feel like I’m at a respectable weight.”

He goes on to talk about a 1997 study done by Gary Foster and colleagues. In this study 60 women were enrolled in a weight loss program and prior to the start they were asked to describe their goal weight, their dream weight, their happy weight, their acceptable weight, and their disappointed weight. Disappointed was defined as “a weight that is less than your current weight, but one that you could not view as successful in any way. You would be disappointed if this were your final weight after the program.”

What happened? Nearly half of the subjects didn’t lose enough weight to even be disappointed. A quarter reached what they deemed to be an acceptable weight and only 9% reached a “happy” weight.

By the way… those goals? They represented anywhere from a 17% loss (disappointed weight) to a 38% loss (dream weight), with the average weight goal being a 32% loss. Acceptable weight loss clocked in at 25%. As a person who has lost somewhere between 35-40 pounds and is rocking a 16-17% weight loss I can tell you that this shit is hard! A 32-38% weight loss is a lot of weight.

Bear with me for a moment while I veer off to another point. I promise this is going somewhere.

He is a runner. This is fortunate for me because I, too, am a runner. I’ve long said running a marathon is on my bucket list. Did you know that in order for me to qualify for the Boston Marathon I would have to run it in 3 hours and 55 minutes? For comparison’s sake I run 4 miles in about 50-52 minutes on a good day. A marathon is 26.2 miles so multiply my 50 minutes by 6 and then add another 25 minutes. I’ve calculated 325 minutes. That’s 5 hours and some change. I’m nowhere close to running the Boston Marathon. Truth be told, I’m tired after five miles. I’m nowhere close to running any marathon. Shit, I’m not ready to sign up for a 10K!

Should I quit? Should I give up running? If I can’t run the Boston Marathon, or any marathon, or even a 10K, why should I bother?

How silly does that sound? I bother because I enjoy it. I bother because even though I’m only running 3-4 miles I enjoy challenging myself and seeing if I can get my time down. I do it because I’m hoping there will come a day that my limit isn’t 5 miles, but rather 6 miles, or 10 miles. I do it because there’s always the possibility that even if I don’t run a marathon I may still sign up for a 10K or a half marathon. My dream, even if it’s never realized, is to be able to participate in a Ragnar Relay.

Yet when it comes to weight, it would seem that everyone is trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon of weight loss, and society is not only not pointing out how backward that goal is but reinforcing it.

Truth bomb! Why is it all or nothing with weight loss? Either we go from a size 22 down to a size 2, or we’ve failed. Isn’t it a victory if you go from a size 20 to a size 16? Sure, it may not be where you’d like to be but it’s a win. You’ve lost weight. You’ve done something. Maybe you want to do even more. But maybe even when you do more you still don’t reach that size 2. Will a size 10 suffice? Can you live with being 150 pounds instead of 130?

…what if, like running, the goal with weight loss and/or healthful living was for people to simply do their best? For people to determine their own best efforts, and respect their realities?

There is so much truth to that. Some of us have physical ailments. There are genetics at play. Some people are dealing with illnesses or caregiving responsibilities or travel commitments. It is not a one size fits all. I also appreciate how he recognizes the very important role that food plays in our lives. As he puts it, “…food is not just fuel, but also something that we as a species use for comfort, for celebration, and as the substrate of the world’s oldest social network.”

So many diet gurus try to convince us that food isn’t important, that we shouldn’t use it as anything except fuel for our bodies. They try to guide us towards not indulging at the Christmas parties over the holidays, and not using food as a social gathering.

How do we do this, you may be asking? How do we do our best and determine our own best efforts while respecting our realities? Dr. Freedhoff points to another study, the Look AHEAD, study that explored the impact of weight loss and exercise on reducing heart disease risk among patients with both excess weight and Type 2 diabetes.

In this study patients were divided into two groups. One group called the intensive lifestyle group received what was described as “rigorous, frequent, and lengthy behavioral support and education” while the other group, the casual care group, received infrequent group meetings where diet, physical activity and social support were discussed.

The weight loss goals were a mere 10% of the participant’s body weight.

By year eight 50.3% of the intensive lifestyle group and 35.7% of the usual care group were maintaining losses of greater than 5%. 26.9% of the intensive group and 17.2% of the usual care group were maintaining losses of greater than 10%.

That’s eight years later! Long term weight loss is possible.

Furthermore, did you know that there is a National Weight Control Registry? In order to qualify for enrollment you must have lost more than 30 pounds and you must have kept it off for over a year.

There are currently more than 10,000 registrants on that list. On average they’ve lost 66 pounds and have kept it off for five and a half years.

The secret to their success?

…the one common theme is that while maintaining their losses requires ongoing effort, that effort isn’t perceived by these weight loss masters as a hardship but rather as just living with their new lifestyles, and lifestyles that they enjoy… Liking the life you’re living while you’re losing weight is the key to keeping it off.

That’s why it’s called a lifestyle change and why the word “diet” has become a four letter word. I can eschew carbs all day long but if I hit my so-called goal weight and go back to eating a spicy chicken sandwich, fries, and a small chili with cheese at lunch every day, followed by a bag of chips and salsa, plus eat a piece of cake every night, I’m going to put every pound back on.

The trick is to enjoy whatever it is that you’re doing to lose weight. It has to be something you can do forever.

Hopefully for me one of those things will be running. I’ve given it up several times but I always seem to come back to it.

Another thing I’ve been doing is drinking more water instead of focusing on diet Coke. It won’t help me if I turn around and start chugging diet soda once again.

Finally, I have long said that once I reach a weight where I’m comfortable my long term plan is to let myself eat carbs on the weekend but watch what I eat the rest of the week. Does this mean I’ll never have chips and salsa on a weekday? Of course not. But it does mean that chips and salsa on a weekday is a rare occurrence and not something I do all the time. Does it mean I can stuff my face full of carbs all weekend long? Well, ideally no. I’m sure that will happen on occasion, and the good doctor understands that. But, if I’m out camping and we’re all making S’mores, I’ll allow myself to have one. If I’m spending the weekend with the mobster and we want to go to a winery and have a dish of spinach and artichoke dip served with pita chips or bread, I’ll indulge. Maybe I’ll even have pancakes or biscuits and gravy on the weekends once in a while.

It just has to be something you can do long term. And what works for one person may never work for another. MyFitness Pal comes to mind. The mobster loves it. He is a fan of counting calories. I hate it. I much prefer watching my carbs. For others maybe it’s eliminating fat or going vegan. Whatever works for you and you can live with is the best plan for you.

The mobster has been asking me forever if I have a goal weight in mind. I like to mess with him and tell him I’d like to get down to my birth weight. His goal weight is 165. I think he looks fabulous where he is, which is about 10 pounds from that goal. But, it’s his goal and if that’s what he wants then I will support him. I don’t have a set goal weight. I’ve told him many times it depends on how my clothes look on me and how I feel. It could be 150; it could be 130. I could get crazy and decide I want to be somewhere around 120-125. We’ll see as the months go by. This is how Dr. Freedhoff describes it:

The term I coined to describe it is “best weight,” where you best weight is whatever weight you reach when you’re living the healthiest life that you actually enjoy.

If your efforts can be summarized as cyclical, episodic, concentrated bouts of suffering, during which your aim isn’t the healthiest life that you can enjoy but rather the healthiest life that you can tolerate, well, go figure you’re not likely to keep it off.

I love this. I also love how he tells us to embrace both reality and imperfections. He reminds us that our best efforts are going to vary. There will be times that life is challenging. There will be times when everything is going great. There will be times you are on vacation and times you are celebrating a birthday. He even says there will be times you are celebrating a holiday and that might mean indulging a bit.

He leaves us with this:

The truth is there will come a point where you can’t happily live any better- where you can’t happily eat less and you can’t happily exercise more- and your weight, living with that life, is your best weight. In every other area of our lives we readily accept our best efforts as great, and we need to do that with weight and healthful living too.

Look At the Trees, Sam! Look At the Trees!

I have a confession to make. Last Monday was the first day in a very long time that my alarm went off and I just shut it down and reset it for another hour. Did not feel like getting out of bed and running at the crack of dawn. So I didn’t. That’s how I roll.

Anyone still watch The Walking Dead? I was never a big fan. I found it too violent. I like to laugh, not cringe. Jerry Lee was a big fan so I did happen to see a couple episodes.

The one that stuck with me through the years was the one called The Grove. If you’ve never watched TWD, or don’t remember this particular episode by it’s name alone let me give you a little synopsis.

Carol and Tyreese are in charge of 2 young sisters, Lizzie and Mika, and baby Judith, who is Rick Grimes’ daughter. One day they are out hunting and when they come back Mika is dead. Turns out her sister is a psychopath, or sociopath, not sure which. Lizzie lists feeding walkers and playing tag with them as her hobbies. She’s so distraught over the idea of the walkers being killed that she has decided to prove to Carol and Tyreese that they are “good” by virtue of killing her younger sister and letting her “come back”. Just to prove that she’s a little psychopath she admits she was about to kill baby Judith. And pulls a gun on the adults so they don’t try to prevent Mika from becoming a walker. This kid is so bonkers she thinks Carol is upset with her because she pulled a gun on her. Uh, no; you killed your little sister. That’s the real issue.

Anyway, Carol takes Lizzie out to a field and shoots her in the head. So she doesn’t become a zombie, of course. As Lizzie is crying and asking her not to be mad at her; she didn’t mean to pull a gun on her, Carol keeps telling her, “Just look at the flowers, Lizzie. Just look at the flowers. Just look at the flowers.”

I know you must be thinking, “What on earth does this have to do with anything?” I will tell you.

Back in the beginning of the year when he was totally gung-ho about exercising and I was not, I avoided hills like the plague. I mean, obviously if there was one in front of me I would run it but I would actively go out of my way to make sure I didn’t find one. I was telling him about running this hill and how horrible it was so he told me he had read that when you’re running up hills you should focus on an object in front of you instead of focusing on the hill.

The mobster is the smartest man I know. Far smarter than that guy I knew who claimed his IQ was so high he could qualify for Mensa. So when he told me that I figured I would give it a shot. Now whenever I have hill to run I always try to focus on a tree up ahead. Sometimes I have to switch focus to a different tree because I get too close to the first one I’m focusing on. But I focus on the trees. Because of that damn episode every time I’m running up a hill and I’m focusing on the trees I can hear a voice saying, “Just look at the trees, Sam. Just look at the trees!”

Oy! And vey. The things I think about while I’m running. This is why I never should have started running with no music. No time for whackadoodle thoughts like this when you’re running along to Dierks Bentley singing about being drunk on a plane, or Little Big Town singing about the beer, the wine, the whiskey.

Good news is I don’t think I’m at a high risk for suffering a bullet wound while I run. I could get ran over by a car though. The streets are narrow. But I’ll take my chances as I look at the trees. And watch for cars- even the sneaky ones that might come up behind me.

Guess Who Won the Weight Loss Challenge?

If you guessed ME you would be correct! I got the news today. I didn’t lose as much as I wanted. That weekend camping with the mobster and the kids really took a toll.

By Monday I had gained almost 5 pounds back. Wednesday I was down to only a weight gain of a little more than a pound. Then something went terribly wrong and the scales kept inching upwards. I don’t know why. I wasn’t cheating. And I ran four out of five mornings that week. Still, I was up by 2.2 pounds from my last weigh in.

I was so pissed! It’s the first time I’ve gained at a weigh in during the competition. Of course it had to happen at the last one.

Somehow though I held on for the win! The person who was right on my heels and we had switched first and second place several times in the beginning, ended up coming in third. She didn’t lose much if anything these last two weeks. One of the guys who was probably almost 5% behind her ended up making a surprisingly strong finish. For my efforts I am now $244.79 richer.

Despite being disappointed about the weight gain I’m still down almost 40 pounds. It fluctuates somewhere between 38 and 39+ pounds. I know that alone is a great achievement. Even without winning that would have been a win. I’m not stopping though. I’m nowhere close to where I want to be.  I’ve definitely been using this week to slow down, though!

We were supposed to go out for sushi for Picasso’s birthday on Friday. Those plans were interrupted and we ended up ordering in Chinese food. Definitely not on my list of low carb foods. Because I ordered plenty of it I had leftovers on Saturday. And Sunday. Plus, I had a couple of scotcheroos. They were delicious.

I have not been able to force my lazy ass out of bed before work so far this week, which means it is now Tuesday and I have not ran since Friday. I need to get up! But I want to sleep in!

I’m not sweating it. I’m beginning my next three months of weight loss. I’m eager to see where I am at the end of it. I know the results won’t be as stellar as they were for the first four months. Obviously I have less time this go round (3 versus 4 months), and any kind of weight loss seems to take off in the beginning and then slow down as your body adjusts. I lost almost 40 over four months; I think I would be okay with 20 over the next three.

Summer birthdays are over in my household. I’ve got another five days planned with the mobster. Hopefully I’ll be good. There’s no Blueberry Festival to gorge at over Labor Day weekend this year. Virtual races are where it’s at! Let’s get this party started!

What Is Going On With My Body?

I am not complaining, mind you.

Last I wrote about this I had lost .4 pounds since my last weight in after my week of debauchery. I was very happy with that. This week I lost four pounds. No decimal point in front of this one. I haven’t lost that much weight in a week since the very beginning of switching over to low carb. I don’t know if my body reset itself after a week of not paying attention to carbs or what.

I have actually read about that. Some people have found great success in adding carbs back in when they begin to plateau. I wasn’t so much plateauing as I was losing a lot more slowly. The biggest weight loss I had in those last 7 weeks was 1.8 pounds. One week I only lost .8. Average was somewhere between 1.3 and 1.6. I added it up and I lost 25 pounds the first 7 weeks. The next 7 weeks I lost 10 pounds. Maybe 11, because I’m down 36.4 pounds.

It could also have been the heat. Our air went out on Tuesday of last week and it was a little over a week before they could come out and replace the furnace and A/C unit. I lost 1.4 pounds in a day. I’m pretty sure it’s because I sweated it all off.

Maybe the muscle that I am imagining I have gained is finally doing its job and burning more calories. I have been very hungry lately.

Oh, and here’s some more exciting news. I have long maintained I am a very slow runner. I’m not ashamed.

I have signed up for several virtual races. I completed one on June 3rd and emailed them my time. The time I submitted for the race was 41 minutes, 51 seconds. Not horrible. Certainly nothing to brag about either. Then on Friday the 5th I ran again. I ran the same distance (5k) in 40 minutes, 29 seconds. It was a better time by almost a minute and a half. On Sunday the 7th I did a four mile run. I ran the 3.11 miles in 38 minutes, 43 seconds. I completed the entire 4 mile run in 50 minutes, 56 seconds. I shaved almost another 2 minutes off my time! And running 4 miles has always taken me over an hour. I was very proud of myself.

Of course I’m back to being slow. I think part of it is I have strained something. I’m usually fine while I’m running but afterwards it feels like my muscle running from my buttocks down the back of my thigh is tight and it’s very difficult to stretch it. I took the weekend off but will be hitting the streets again around 6 am tomorrow. Strangely enough I actually look forward to these morning runs. Getting up an hour earlier doesn’t even bother me anymore. Who would’ve ever guessed that? Certainly not me. I may end up running outside in the dead of winter after all.

P.S. I know I shouldn’t have but I got on the scale again today. Weight is up .6. Maybe my body did not reset itself after all.

I had eggs and sausage for breakfast, went on an hour plus long walk with my mom, and then stopped at my favorite Mexican restaurant. I did order the fajitas with no tortillas but I also indulged in the chips and salsa and Ranch dressing; I also had a frozen pomegranate margarita. So good. So worth it. Tomorrow is another day, right?

Back In the Saddle Again

It’s now almost a full week since I’ve been back. I had my first weigh in since vacation on Friday.  I am pleased to announce I actually lost .4 pounds since my last weigh in on May 22nd.

Oh, I definitely gained some between May 22nd and June 5th, but I managed to take it off. My whole plan was to indulge on Monday when the wedding took place- have a piece of cake, eat whatever they decided to have for dinner. Instead I played footloose and fancy free pretty much the entire week.

I had a donut every day Saturday-Tuesday. I would make some really good choices, but I would also indulge, like when I had an omelet for breakfast, lobster for lunch, and then had a pretzel stick dipped in nacho cheese later that evening. I tried to put a stop to it once we got back but I never made it to the grocery store. I had eggs in the morning and some pork skins and cheese doodles. Honestly, I don’t remember what they were called but they only had 2 grams of carbs in them for 9 of them! My new favorite. We’d go out to dinner and I’d pick something healthy and then have a drink and maybe a dessert. So, I wasn’t horrible but I wasn’t strict either. I flew home Monday morning, was ravenous when I got off the plane (lines were very long and there really isn’t much I could eat) and had my mom pull into Wendy’s so I could get something to eat. I did not care if it was low carb or not. I was starving. I ended up getting a spicy chicken sandwich, fries, and a diet Coke. I ate the entire sandwich, one fourth to one half of the fries, and one fourth to one half of the diet Coke. Small size, by the way. That was my last day of debauchery.

Wednesday I got on the scale just to prepare myself; I was sure I was going to weigh in at a higher weight for the first time since I started this. I was higher- 1.2 pounds. I was pretty happy with that because after my week of no carb counting and eating a lot of things I shouldn’t have I thought I might actually have a 10 pound weight gain! But, seems returning to eating low carb and running 3-4 days a week helped me shed the vacation weight and then some. I was pleasantly surprised when I stepped on that scale Friday morning. Not much of a loss in two weeks but it was a loss instead of a gain!

I’ve got four more weeks until the weight loss challenge is over. Last I heard I was still in the lead. We’ll see if she updates the leader board on Monday. I’m a little less than 1.4 pounds away from losing 15% of my weight. I have no doubt I will reach that unless I start to plateau horribly, so I’m set to win a lot of money. Not millions, or even thousands, of course. But probably two hundred or so.

I don’t know if I’ve actually gone over the weight loss challenge here. Each person who is participating paid $25 to join. Then, we pay $10 each month for April, May, and June. So, $55. I believe there were 18 people to start, although there are maybe 3 who haven’t paid anything since or aren’t fully paid up.

When the challenge is over the money in the pot is split in two. The first half of the pot is split between the top 3 losers (or winners, however you would like to put it). I always got the feeling that the pot was split evenly between the top 3, but maybe they do a percentage. I don’t know. The second half of the pot is paid out to people who reached the milestones- 5%, 10%, 15%, 20%. No one has reached 20% and I don’t believe anyone will. There are two of us who have reached the 10% milestone and will make 15% more than likely. There are maybe five people who have made the 5% goal, and another 1 or 2 who probably will. They take the number of milestones to pay out and divide the money by that number, so if it ends up each milestone nets $25, I’ll get paid $75 because I reached three of them (assuming I take off that last 1.4 pounds). If it’s $30 I’ll get $90 and so on.

Yesterday I went through all my old summer clothes- the ones I had put away because I could no longer wear them. There was a pair of denim short overalls, a pair of low rise capri pants and maybe another pair of shorts that didn’t fit but everything else did. It felt great. I now have way more summer clothes than I need, especially because most of what I bought last summer still fits me and doesn’t look awful on me. I can wear almost all of my dresses and they no longer make me look like a stuffed sausage. It was a good day.

I’m not planning on buying anymore clothes, regardless of how cute they may be, until I’m able to buy something in a smaller size. I’m so looking forward to that day! It’s a long process but I’m in it for the long haul.

Who Is This Person?

Back in January I was having a conversation with the mobster. He told me he was thinking of starting this program called C25K. Having done this program years ago I jumped at the chance to train with him and get back into running.

We began in mid January. We ran three days a week and started off with a whole 60 seconds of jogging at a time alternating with 90 seconds of walking. By week four I was cussing up a storm and feeling completely defeated. I couldn’t even manage the 3 minutes/5 minutes/3 minutes/5 minutes intervals, never mind the whole “run 20 minutes without stopping.” Each week I kept trying and I kept failing. I wasn’t sure I was ever going to be able to run 3 miles again.

In late February/early March I finally caved and downloaded the MyFitness Pal app. I hated it! Three whole days of torture where I was always hungry. But the mobster had been following it for 6 weeks and had lost more than 20 pounds at that time. I didn’t want to be the fat woman to his skinny man and really hated the idea of weighing more than my boyfriend so I knew I was going to have to do something. I was at my heaviest weight ever; I hated seeing myself in pictures because I knew I needed to lose weight. I downloaded a carb manager app and started watching my carb intake, limiting myself to no more than 30 net carbs a day. I made great progress in the beginning but then along came a few frustrating weeks where it seemed like nothing was budging. Fantasies of cheeseburgers, biscuits and gravy, chocolate cake, chips and salsa, and Chinese food filled my head.

For probably a year the mobster has been pointing out how bad diet soda is for me. My son has voiced concerns over me drinking it, letting me know I really need to give it up. I would agree and yet continue to drink 1-3 diet Cokes a day even as I read those articles entitled, “What Happens To Your Body When You Drink Diet Soda?” Nothing good, I can tell you that much.

Today, May 17th, I am still running. I am now able to run over an hour at a time. I’ve run 5 miles without stopping. I even have been getting up at 6 in the morning to run before work. Who would have ever thought that would happen? I was dead set against that one, let me tell ya! Now? I don’t necessarily like getting up early but I love the fact that I’m done with it before I even go to work. I’m also deliberately seeking out hills to run UP. Never would have seen that one coming.  AND I have bought some elastic bands, a set of 3 lb. hand weights, and 2 kettle bells with the intentions of doing some at home workouts on the days I don’t run so that I can build more muscle. Plus, I started taking the stairs at work. I was only using them at the end of the day instead of taking the elevator, but Friday I used them for both breaks and lunch. I went down those stairs and then when it was time to come back I went UP those stairs. Three times down and back up, and a fourth trip downstairs at the end of the day. I work on the eighth floor.

I did not give into those food fantasies. I was so good, in fact, that on Mother’s Day I made biscuits and gravy for everyone and then turned around and made myself a bacon and cheese omelet. While everyone else had Chinese food from one of my favorite Chinese restaurants I had an Atkins bar. The other night for my Mom’s birthday we went to Olive Garden. Unbeknownst to me they were only serving a limited menu so instead of having the salmon I had their salad. I lost 2.8 pounds this week despite all of those temptations and have lost a total of 30 pounds now. I’m roughly back to where I’ve remained ever since I gave birth to Picasso almost 18 years ago. It’s not a good weight for me; I still want to lose a lot more, but at least I’m back to that point instead of being 30 pounds heavier. My fat pants are falling off of me and I actually got out a pair of pants I hadn’t worn in 2 years and wore those to work on Friday. My old jeans are fitting. I’ll be breaking out the summer clothes soon and I’ll see if I can once again fit into my older summer clothes; I had to buy a whole new wardrobe last summer because almost nothing fit me anymore.

I have not had a diet Coke or any type of soda since May 3rd. I’m still going strong. Still drinking lots of water flavored with Crystal Light. Sometimes it is just water. As I said before I don’t know that I will never drink another diet Coke again. Maybe I will. I just won’t have one today.

I’m a whiner. I will admit that. I throw fits, gnash my teeth, complain endlessly, and then I do what I need to do. It floors me sometimes that I have stuck with changing my exercise habits for 4 months now. I am amazed that 3 months ago I didn’t think I was ever going to be able to run 3 miles and now I do that before I go to work. I even run 4-5 miles on occasion. I’m looking to expand my routine to include weights. I’m doing it.

I feel the same kind of amazement when I look back on my weight loss journey, seeing the first big milestone passed and now working towards the second. I’m doing all of those things I complained about- I’m giving up foods I love, cooking separate meals, skipping the pasta or the potatoes while everyone else enjoys them. There are weeks that I struggle, mainly when I don’t see much progress, but overall I pack my little low carb lunch and get on with it.

Even giving up diet Coke for now hasn’t been nearly as hard as I thought it would be. I thought I would be having major withdrawals but I haven’t. I had a moment yesterday where I thought I really wanted one, but I didn’t have one and the feeling passed.

All of this causes me to wonder, “Who is this person?” Then I realize it’s me.