Hello Everyone! I know I have been a bit absent as of late, and while with fibro and RA you can expect that sort of thing I can for once say I was not absent because of a flare. Hooray!
The New Year is upon us, but I haven’t been one for resolutions since I gave them up nearly ten years ago. I’m more of a go with the inner flow type of person, which means I will never start anything on January 1st nor ever on a Monday because once an idea has settled into my brain I am overwhelmed with the urge to start immediately. And so I do.
A few weeks ago I was having quite a sorry moment for myself as my stomach had begun to stick to my thighs while sitting – even while wearing leggings. It was, for lack of a better word, gross. Now don’t think that I thought myself to be gross because that is not the case, nor do I believe any body to be gross whatever the size or shape. I am a huge advocate of body positivity and self-esteem as they both have helped me a long way with my own struggles with a very distorted image starting at a fairly young age. I’m simply describing how it made me feel. And I did not like it.
When you have chronic pain and invisible illnesses, life is very unpredictable. Flares come and go, as well as new medications and new “ologists” and “ists” to visit. Nausea makes it difficult to eat and fatigue makes it difficult to prepare food when the nausea leaves. And the pain makes moving near impossible. So moving the scale up or down in the direction you need it to go is beyond difficult; it’s pure hell.
I’ve never been one to make excuses, but i do believe in looking at the facts and reasons in order to find a better way. I’ve done the diets and the exercise routines for a week, maybe two, only to be completely derailed by a flare for nearly a month. Then I would sit there looking at all the lost progress with a broken heart. I had no interest in putting myself through all of that yet again, but I knew I needed to lose the weight somehow.
Two weeks ago I embarked on my mission to lose weight without stressing myself out by doing things at just below my actual ability for as long as it takes until it begins to feel easy. This required an actual awareness of my current abilities, something I’ve thankfully been working on for a while thanks to one amazing physical therapist. This means that I couldn’t do what everyone else was doing, nor could I do what I thought I should be able to do. No, I had to go lower and slower than anyone else because I’m me and I have exceptional issues working against me.
Realizing how little I could do, though, made me feel hopeless. I figured I’d never accomplish much this way and was about to abandon my newly hatched plan until I stumbled across FatGirlFedUp (https://www.facebook.com/Fatgirlfedup). Lexi started 2016 at 485 lbs and was down nearly 200lbs by the beginning of 2017. That’s one year’s time! I knew that I had significantly less weight to lose than she ever did, so if she could do it than so could I. Her daily posts and pictures have kept me motivated every single day – especially when I wanted to give up. More on those moments later.
I’ve accomplished a lot over these past two weeks. I’m down just over 11lbs (absolutely not water weight at all) and 3 inches off my waist. My stomach is still very clearly large, but it is no longer sticking to my thighs when I sit, and that is just amazing.
So what am I doing?
- I own an elliptical thanks to my sister, and thanks to my physical therapist I know how to use it without hurting or exhausting myself: One minute forward, one minute backward, one minute rest. However, I had been out of PT for so long I couldn’t even go a full minute at a time so I created a HIIT/Tabata (high intensity interval training) workout for myself (using “Tabata Timer” android app: 23 seconds work, 11 seconds rest, repeated 8 times, alternating forward and backward, for a grand total of 3 minutes of work in about 4 min 30 sec time. I wanted to start at 5 minutes but I knew that was dumb and way too ambitions, aka a perfect recipe for failure. So I set myself up to succeed and aimed for just 3 minutes twice a day, but at the very least once a day. At the end of the first week I was able to increase my intervals to 30 seconds of work and 20 seconds of rest. Two days ago I was able to bump the work intervals up to 45 seconds. So yes, you can start small and still succeed. (blog post about what happened to my body and pain when I started this coming soon)
- I have tried nearly every calorie counting app out there, and I keep coming back to MyFitnessPal because I can literally scan anything and they have it in their database – which makes keeping track of my protein/fat/carbs super easy. It is a free app, though they do have advanced features for a fee…but I haven’t needed those features yet. MFP also has the most accurate daily calories calculation, which is why I believe I am succeeding this time. It really, truly calculates for people who live very sedentary lives. This means I do not need to kill myself with exercise to lose the weight provided I stay under my calorie limit – meaning I will still succeed even on flare days.
- The second week I added in strength training. I can only do about 4 minutes worth of work (once again another high intensity interval training – HIIT/Tabata – HERE ). I aim to do it once a day using soft weighted balls (heh heh heh). And just a quick word about high intensity – you are supposed to go balls to the wall each time (I’m going to die of laughter) but I do not do that and I don’t know when or if I ever will. It’s just not right for me right now, so I go just under what I am actually capable of.
- The second week I also added in a fitness tracker, thanks to my brother in law. This helps me know what I’m really doing all day and therefore plan accordingly for meals. It syncs with MFP so I don’t really need to do anything other than wear the dang thing. Bonus is that it will guide me through a short session of squats and other activities, and tells me when I’ve been sitting on my butt for too long. I have the Samsung fit pro 2, and since it was free I cannot complain about the price. But they are normally around $150, similar to certain models of FitBits and other brand names. However, there is an array of generic trackers on Amazon for around $30. And, you never know who might be getting rid of one (like my brother in law), so it doesn’t hurt to ask around!
- I refuse to drink a gallon of water a day. Nope. Not gone do it. Once you start this and you lose all this water weight, you have to keep doing it all the time to keep the dang water weight off and honestly I’d just rather retain the damn 6lbs rather than constantly chasing it. Lazy? Yes. Do I care? No. If I lose 20lbs and it only shows as 14lbs lost, oh well. As long as I am moving down the scale I don’t care. To make up for this refusal to join the insanity, I have splurged on various flavors of sparkling water, something I already enjoy (you may not like if you are switching straight from soda or other sugary drinks, but honestly I love it)and it helps me get at least 8 glasses in a day when paired with one full water bottle of actual…water. Bleh. *shivers*
- What do I eat? I basically watched what FatGirlFedUp bought and cooked with her husband and copied that. So lots of eggs, turkey burgers, salmon, chicken cooked in various ways, tons of veggies like spinach, mushrooms, peppers and… zucchini. I bought a spiralizer and make “noodles” out of zucchini like they are going out of style, and my son freaking hates squash but loves “zoodles” – go figure! They are amazing, and the spiralizer is the best $25 I’ve ever spent. I track every single little thing that I put in my mouth so that I know what the heck I’m doing. I’ve cut down on grains, but not completely, and have really ramped up my protein. Fat has been way up and way down as I navigate learning what works best for me. For example, guacamole is an excellent source of fat and so is avocado oil, but I save calories by eating fat free greek yogurt and low fat cheese. Why? Because it works well for me this way. So far. And while I cut out all processed foods, I quickly realized I could not feasibly cook every single thing without exhausting myself (I’m the only adult in this house) so I settled on the few things I would get premade – like turkey burgers, veggie tots (thanks, Lexi), beef jerky, and a few other things. But…the trade off is SODIUM. Processed foods are higher in sodium, and that can cause you to retain water, and it did do exactly that to me… but I survived without drinking a cotdamn gallon of water. Barely.
- There came a point near the end of my first week that the scale stopped moving downward and took a turn upward. I was devastated! I gained three pounds nearly over night. Normally this is where I would have quit in the past, so I chilled the eff out and told myself to just keep doing what I was doing and that if it went up any higher than 5lbs I would make an appointment with a nutritionist. I also reminded myself that this is the price you pay for weighing yourself EVERY DAY. And so I went up 3lbs, stayed up for days into the next week, dropped back down to where I was before I went up, and ended the week a full 1.8lbs lighter. So.. it all worked out. But I would have quit if not for seeing Lexi’s full body pics and stories on my Instagram feed every day and if not for the fact that I have already quit before…so I wanted to know what would happen if I kept going.
- I have a treat if I want one. I had delicious bread pudding made with French vanilla cream brioche bread that I made for the kiddos earlier this week. Two servings! But I made sure to really increase my protein and veggies that day, and I made sure to do my elliptical and a few little extra exercises that really didn’t amount to more than 34 freaking calories burned LMAO, but at least I tried! I had a candy cane last night, and it was DELICIOUS. And my savior of sweet has been Coke Zero. It tastes just like regular coke to me. I also put whipped cream from the can in my coffeesometimes for a little decadence (it’s like 15 calories) and then use sugar free creamer along with a tbs of heavy whipping cream. My coffee is amazing every single morning. Mmmm.
- I made myself a little diary out of my memo app on my phone just for everything related to losing weight. I love it. I can go back and reread that time I almost gave up but didn’t. I can easily find that recipe I liked. And I can read all of the good advice and inspiration I’ve found on the innerwebz whenever I like. It’s been a very helpful tool.
- Lastly, I track my weight and my waist because everything doesn’t show up on the scale. Heck, I know I lose from other places, too, and not just from my waist, but honestly I just don’t have the time to measure all of that. It’s exhausting. I’ve done it before and I tend to get obsessed and it’s just not worth it. So weight and waist it is!
And that’s about it so far!
Yes I’m only starting my third week, and no I don’t think I’m some sort of expert. But I am an expert on ME – a very goal oriented and determined person who is nowhere near the person she used to be and likely never will be again due to chronic pain and invisible illness. But I am smarter, more compassionate towards myself, and more understanding than I used to be, too. So determination + patience + willingness to learn + creativity + planning ahead + keeping it simple + trying something new = results. Or something like that.
Oh, I forgot to mention one more thing. I went ahead and joined a DietBet with Lexi. Why? Because I was afraid to do it, so I did it. Trust me, it doesn’t make sense yet it makes perfect sense to me. I am also waiting for the day I wake up 15lbs heavier because it has happened to me so many times now… and I just can’t wait to see what happens if I don’t quit this time.
So am I going to be one of these irritating people who only talks about weight loss now? Hell to the no. But I am going to talk about it, because losing weight when you have chronic pain and invisible illnesses is, like I’ve said before, pure hell. And if the info I share can help or inspire one person to keep going when they want to quit, or to be more kind to themselves, or to try something new, or to take it down a few notches so they don’t irritate their symptoms, then I am satisfied. Completely.
I think the last thing I want to say is that I have done a lot of work on myself – learning my limits, learning how and when to rest, being proactive so as to not cause myself any extra pain, and putting in the emotional work in therapy to deal with everything that comes along with living with chronic illness. I don’t think I could embark on this current journey without having done all that first, and I truly believe this is most of the reason why I will succeed this time. Knowing yourself is half the battle, and being used to doing what is best for you is probably the other half. And it’s just not something you can do when you are constantly fighting against what your body needs.
At least in my humble opinion.