Two years ago I left the health wagon at home. I wasn’t as diligent as I should have been when it came to watching what I ate and exercising fell by the wayside. I was in a job I had begun to dread, not because of the work but because of the people. It took all my strength to get up and go to that office day after day, but I did. That’s who I am. But it didn’t stop me from trying to find a new job elsewhere.
That didn’t work.
Then my son moved back to D.C., our hometown and I was left in Florida with a job I didn’t like, a best friend who was now miles away, friends who were too busy to hang out and food. Lots and lots of food. Since I couldn’t control the rest of the world and had no friends to speak of – at least that’s what I told myself – I turned toward the food. You can guess where that got me.
Eight pounds heavier in a month!
So I decided to make a change. I would move back to my hometown too.
I figured I’d be near my whole family – Mom, son, daughter and son-in-law, four siblings, nieces, nephews, friends, and I’d get a job that I would like. So I started planning for my move. At this point, I had gained another 4 pounds, for a total of 12 of the 50 pounds I had lost.
While I was looking for a new job, packing up the Florida apartment, looking for a new apartment in D.C., pricing moving companies and trucks, working the day job, saving money, listening to people tell me what I should or should not do, trying to decide if I really wanted to do this, and feeling extremely lonely, I stopped exercising altogether and kept eating.
Strange how life gets in the way of staying healthy.
Then things started falling into place. My old law firm needed help in the Virginia office so I was hired back. I found the perfect apartment with a balcony, two Olympic size pools, a gym, near a mall, and walking distance to the subway. Plus, I would be celebrating my birthday with the entire family. I was even looking forward to seeing my ex-husband.
Three months after moving back to D.C., I realized I had made a HUGE mistake. I missed the Florida sunshine. I missed living six blocks from the beach and the ocean – how silly was I not to notice this before I moved. I missed the palm trees and year-round warm weather. What I didn’t miss, and found myself having to endure, was eleven – yes eleven! – snow storms in six months, cold weather, gloves, boots, scarves, long underwear, wet, cold, dark, rainy weather. Every time I looked out the balcony doors I saw snow. How was I supposed to enjoy my balcony under thermal underwear topped with woolen coat, gloves and hat, topped with electric blanket and a cup of hot tea that stayed hot only long enough for me to get comfortable before it too was ice cold.
Then there was the job – 5 hour daily commute! That’s 2.5 hours going to work and 2.5 hours coming home. I left my house at 7 in the morning and most days arrived back after 10 pm. I had to take two buses and two trains to get to it. It didn’t seem that long a commute when I was contemplating getting the job but try it for two months and then winter hits, it gets old pretty quick.
By the time Thanksgiving came around, I had gained 22 pounds back. But I didn’t care. I was cold, miserable, and my seasonal disorder had kicked in. Picture me on the beach for several years never feeling the bitter cold of D.C. and, therefore, never experiencing seasonal disorder. Then put me back in D.C. with eleven snow storms while I’m stuck in the house trying to stay warm with whatever warm food, drink, etc. was available and not caring that my waist was expanding.
And my cute dresses? Can’t wear them anymore.
Believe me when I tell you. Be diligent. Don’t let the stress of everyday life deter you from maintaining. That’s what happened to me. I fell off the health wagon big time.
No, that’s not true.
I left the health wagon in Florida.
Thanksgiving day I announced to my whole family that I was moving back to Florida. Nobody believed me, of course. After all, I had only been home four months. After spending many months telling everyone how excited I was to be returning home, they could not believe I was going to leave again. But I reiterated that I was moving back as soon as my lease ended in July.
“But you just started a new job.”
“Yep, but I’m still moving back. I’ll give them their two weeks’ notice when the time comes. But I can’t keep doing this 5 hour commute.”
“Then get another job.”
“I’ve tried, believe me.”
“It’s a lot of work moving.”
“I know, I’ve done it four times in the last six years, including once for Mom and once for my daughter. I’m getting very adept at it.”
“This is your home. You need to stay here.”
“This is my hometown. My home is in Florida.”
That last one did not go over well at all.
Today, I’m glad to say that I’m back in Florida – new job (again), new apartment (again), new attitude (again). I’m re-reading my book, “Dear Diary – What My Doctor Never Told Me About Dieting” to get back on track. I’m walking along the beach. Too early and too out of shape to run/walk but give me time. I’m also making new friends who do have time to hang out.
And I’m looking forward to finding that health wagon!
Last night, I arrived early at the bar and, while waiting for my friends, I met a young man. We were the only ones there except for the bartender and wait staff so I invited him to join me. They don’t call me “Chatty Kathy” for nothing. We started talking and somehow the subject of future goals came up. I asked him about his dream. He told me he wanted to be a painter and used to paint all the time, but now he didn’t have time to pursue his dream. When I asked him why not, his answer broke my heart. Not only because of what he said but because I’ve heard it before.
He said, “I’m married with two kids and don’t have time.”
Is that the excuse you use? Do you use your responsibilities to your family as an excuse not to get healthy? What about their responsibilities to you?
First, you need to make the decision that you need to put yourself first. I’m not saying to forget about everyone else. I’m saying start small. Decide to take 15 or 30 minutes for yourself. Convince yourself this is what you need to do. Understand that getting and staying healthy should be a constant commitment. Believe that you can do this, then add it to the list you have for everyone else.
Second, convince your family. Explain to them how important this is to you. Tell them that this is something you need to do for you. Let them know that you want to take some time to, say, walk around the block, go to the pool, stay late after work to go to the office gym, or just change the shopping list so you can eat healthier.
I used to tell my family, “If Mommy is not happy, nobody else will be happy. Let me go for a walk.” After weeks of saying this, they finally did.
I know it’s going to be hard. As a single Mom, my job was to take care of everyone. Even thinking about taking time for me made me feel guilty. All kinds of thoughts would pop into my head, thoughts of all the things I could or should be doing instead of taking 15 minutes on the treadmill. Believe me, if your mind is not on your exercise, why bother. To get healthy, you have to concentrate on the big 3 – your mental, emotional and physical well-being. The stress of worrying about what you could be doing negates any positive benefits that the exercise could have given you.
Among my many duties – and I’m sure many of these are on your extensive list too – were making breakfast, lunch, and dinner, helping with homework, getting the kids in the bath and making sure they brushed their teeth, cleaning the kitchen, washing dishes, picking out and ironing clothes for the next day for all of us, etc. That’s in addition to working full-time. Then there’s carpools to band, football, basketball or cheerleader practice or play dates or birthday parties or visiting the Grandparents. And don’t get me started on those science fair projects. Then the day would end and everyone went to bed so that we could wake up the next day and start the whole thing all over again.
You get the idea.
When did I have time for me? I didn’t. There simply was no time for me and since I never made it a priority, my health was getting worse because I ate on the go and didn’t exercise except to get in and out of the car. My weight zoomed up and my clothes … well, let’s just say the fabric was enough for my two kids and me (if I was a healthy size).
I had to find some time, somewhere.
I finally talked to my kids and they understood. Eventually. I started finding ways to incorporate exercise into my routine. For example, instead of dropping the kids off at practice and then sitting in my car reading a book, I brought my iPod with a book-on-tape and walked around the track. That way I could enjoy someone else’s life (in the book) while working on my health. While the kids were doing their homework after dinner, my son would watch my daughter (there’s a 10 year difference in their ages) while I walked around the block several times. After the kids went to bed, instead of fast forwarding through the commercials while I watched programs that I taped while I was at work, I would do sit ups and pushups or jump rope during the commercials.
Notice how all my fitness activities were in the evening. I am NOT a morning person. Discover what time of the day works best for you.
So talk to your family. Stop using them as an excuse not to put your fitness activities on your list of things to do. You’ll be surprised at how much your family also cares about you. They will show you by working with you the way you need them to.
To you and yours, I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving!
This is a time to celebrate with family, friends and our neighbors. I live in Florida, but my heart still goes out to my neighbors in the north – those who endured Sandy.
This is a time to reminisce about those who are no longer here to share our table. For me it’s my Pop, both sets of grandparents and a favorite Aunt who made the best desserts.
It’s also a time to give thanks and remember all those who have gone before. Remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure the rest of us remain safe – be it on our shores or overseas.
This is the second year I won’t be with my family, but they all know I love them and miss them LOTS. This is also the second year I won’t go to three different houses to eat three different meals. Before, I would visit my Mom, son-in-law’s parents and my ex-husband’s sister for dinner, and I didn’t eat anything with a spoon.
Could that be why this is usually the start of my adding the holiday pounds? Hmmmm!
So cook, clean, enjoy the parade, watch football, do whatever floats your boat. But above all, eat responsibly – a spoonful of everything!
Then tomorrow, it’s leftovers and working out. Yeah, I said it. You knew I would.
Yesterday was a rough one. Someone brought in bagels for breakfast and, since I didn’t eat breakfast before I left home – bad girl!! – I had a raisin bagel with cream cheese. Then came a lunch meeting and I ate half a turkey sandwich on wheat and a salad. I was trying to make up for the bagel (carbs!) I had for breakfast. Then, in the mid-afternoon, there was a celebration for one of the secretaries who had reached her 5 year milestone. She was given a watch and yes, there was cake. By this time I refused to eat any more food that I didn’t prepare beforehand.
So I stood there while everyone else got in line to get a piece of cake. It was a banana and pineapple cake with a rich cream cheese frosting, and topped with chocolate sprinkles. Yes, it looked yummy but I was determined not to get any.
People asked if I was in line and I said no. Most of them, however, only saw the cake and walked right past me. I continued moving further away from the door so as not to get trampled. Then, when everyone had a piece (except me, of course), we sang “Happy Anniversary” using the happy birthday song. Then everyone started eating.
Several eyes fell on my empty hands and a few pushed their plates towards me, offering to give me their plate before getting themselves a new piece. “No problem, “take it,” “you were waiting before I got here,” and my favorite, “I haven’t touched it yet” were comments I had to endure.
“No,” I said. “I’m fine,” waving away yet another plate.
“Why not?” Further questions were asked in incredulous tones.
I smiled. Shook my head. Said again and again, “No thank you.”
Finally, when I could not take it anymore, I walked over to the anniversary girl, said congratulations and left the room.
Why is it when you’re trying to be good there are plenty of helpful people around to shove food in your face?
I’m just saying.
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Once you reach your goal, don’t think the journey is over. Remember, this is a lifestyle change, not just a diet. You have to continue being diligent as you maintain your weight loss. Just because you feel healthier, your clothes are fitting great, and your attitude is positive does not mean that those things will never change.
Take me, for example. Before I had moved to South Beach, I had lost 50 pounds and was finally back into a size 12 (was size 20). However, instead of maintaining, I instead concentrated on my surroundings, enjoying all that this new area had to offer, including new foods. I ate and sat and partied and didn’t worry about my weight. Six months later, I had ballooned two sizes up to size 16 before I even realized what was happening. I had to restart my journey to get back to size 12. No fun!
You don’t want that to happen to you.
Don’t be like me. Continue being diligent. It will be easier because you are now “maintaining,” not “losing.” You know all the steps. You’ve been there…done that.
One other thing. Get rid of those clothes you can no longer wear because they’re too big. I didn’t, so when I was searching for an outfit to wear to work, I merely reached further into my closet for larger clothes. Still, it didn’t occur to me that I was getting bigger and not maintaining. Not until I wore what I considered my “fat” pants (elastic waist, of course) did I realize that I had not been diligent. Now that I’m back in size 12, those pants are out of my house for good – donated.
So smile as you pull out those oversized shirts or pants you can no longer wear. Revel in those dresses or skirts that hang on you much like they do on a clothes hanger. High five the elastic waists for getting you through the worse of it. Place them all into a bag and give them to charity.
What’s left should be what you can comfortably wear today. Remember, if they start getting tight, get back on the journey to maintaining the new healthier you.
I know I’m going to be more diligent.
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Halloween is here and we’re bombarded with candy sales everywhere we look. We purchase bags and bags of the stuff for our kids, to give out for trick-or-treaters, to take to work – all for one day – Halloween.
The timing is terrible. We just spent the summer getting healthy and training our minds and body to eat healthy. That doesn’t mean we never had a candy bar during this transition. On the contrary. I’ve had candy bars and cheesecake and still managed to lose weight. That’s because I ate them in moderation. But with Halloween there is no moderation. Only bags and bags of candy. Chocolate candy!!
Sure, we say we’re buying them for the kids but let’s be real. We only buy what we like just in case there are not as many trick-or-treaters as we thought would show up. When I touted leftovers, I didn’t mean Halloween candy.
It’s impossible not to give into temptation. I can’t and haven’t. I went grocery shopping over the weekend and saw lots of those big, family size bags of candy on sale, so I purchased four of the assortment bags. I went home to sort through them and, of course, I had to check to make sure they weren’t old. Then I had to try all the flavors to see which ones were my favorite. Before I knew it, one bag was almost gone and not a single kid had stopped by yet.
You put chocolate in my house and you can bet I’m all over it. That’s why I get one bar at a time when my taste buds demand it, not a whole assortment bag.
I didn’t get away with it though. I had been really good for the past 6 weeks and the chocolate took the expressway south through my system and out the other end.
I can’t wait for tomorrow so I can give away all the candy left in my house. If there aren’t enough trick-or-treaters, I have several neighbors with kids. Guess what they’re getting on Thursday!
To read more about my low carb diet that helped me to lose 50 pounds (with before/after pictures), click on the link.
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When I decided to finally get healthy and lose the weight that was preventing me from climbing seven stairs – yes, only seven– from the family room to the living room without stopping and wheezing, I was met with resistance.
Sure, I was wearing size 26 and had not exercised in more than a decade, but I was happy, healthy, or at least that’s what I told myself. When I went to the store to buy a new dress or pantsuit (with elastic waist, of course), I thought I was looking good as I tried on the articles in the dressing room. But what did I know? Apparently nothing because the comments I received were not positive. Some of the comments I got were “You must have gotten that on sale,” or “You should not wear bright colors. It makes you stand out” or “If you let your hair grow it will make you look smaller” or, my favorite, “That’s a pretty dress. Where did you find it in that size?” They were not strangers making those comments. They were friends and family, the ones I needed support from the most, which totally surprised me.
I was ready to start working on my health goals but those comments did not help my self-esteem. I realized I was not going to get support from that group, at least not the support I needed at the time. So I decided to go it alone.
I wanted a quick fix so I went to a Tumescent Liposuction doctor who told me I had to first lose 20 pounds before he would perform the surgery. That way he could make sure my skin still had elasticity to it. I was, after all, in my 40s. That’s not fair, I thought. I didn’t want to have to lose weight. I wanted to go to sleep and wake up several sizes smaller. But that was not to be. So I started a low carb diet and quickly went from a size 26 to 20 in three months, bought more new outfits (with elastic waist, still) and finally started feeling good about myself.
Then a male friend told me I was getting too skinny. He liked me at size 26. He started bringing me chocolate instead of flowers, taking me out to dinner for a three course meal instead of the movies where I could sneak in my protein bars, that sort of thing. No matter how much I told him what I wanted and needed, he would pick me up and take me to where he wanted me to go. I was still new at this game of dieting and loved the special attention I was getting form this guy, so I went along with his program and enjoyed the company and the food until I could no longer wear my new size 20 outfits.
Something was wrong and it wasn’t the friends and family, and it wasn’t the guy. It was me. I had one foot in diet mode and the other still in my old habits. I had to decide and be firm about which path I really wanted to take. I still went out with the guy but I no longer let him talk me into the three courses. Instead, I stuck with my low carb menu. I didn’t eat the chocolate he still brought me, even though I told him to stop. One day he pressed me to take it. I did and then tossed it into the trash directly in front of him. Of course this didn’t sit well with him (he was pissed!) but he finally got the hint and stopped bringing them to me.
I’m telling you now, the choice is yours, not your spouse, not your kids, not your parents, not your friends. You have a right to decide what is best for you. And once you make that choice, stick to it. Be firm. Correct your mindset and achieve your health goals.
BTW, I dumped the guy (got tired of arguing about my low carb diet), had the Tumescent Liposuction surgery, and went down to size 16.