Off to the First Fair of the Year

So Friday night I went to the Washington County Fair…
Kris at Washington County Fair
Whether it is a local carnival, a county fair, or the big state fair these situations tend to be very tricky for people to navigate when trying to eat healthy. As you can clearly see in the background of this photo of myself just outside the midway of the Washington County Fair, things like corndogs, ice cream, cotton candy, funnel cake, deep fried cheese curds and mini doughnuts are scattered like landmines throughout the entire event. Navigating to the healthy choices can prove to be difficult, but it is doable… but let’s be honest… it is an event. However when going to the fair… for me at least food is not the event. I love taking the camera and shooting photos of anything and everything. I take photos of animals, people, rides, abstract colors, anything that catches my eye. I also get a workout in while I am at the fair. By the time I left the fair yesterday I had over 13,000 steps logged. (I aim for 8000-10,000/day.)

So what is a person to do? Go all out balls to the wall and indulge in EVERYTHING? That will surely lead to disaster… that choice leads down a road of destruction that just derails progress. I like to head into these situations with a plan in mind. It is okay to deviate from the plan, but if you go in with a plan in place it is okay. I planned on having a funnel cake for dinner. It has been YEARS since I have had funnel cake, I am a bit fussy about it to be honest. It needs to be big fat tubes, only have powdered sugar on it. It needs to be fresh… yeah… otherwise it’s not worth it.

I planned for funnel cake… I didn’t have it. I DID have… gluten free cheese curds from one of my favorite food trucks. Sadly the truck is up for sale… I felt like it was a sign from the universe… one to have them before I can’t anymore, and two… I need to buy the truck. (Kickstarter anyone?) I split my spicy cheese curds with my friend Jennifer who I was attending the fair with. I ate a good 1/4 to 1/3 of the order, and once I felt that my craving had been satisfied… I stopped. The cheese curds tasted amazing, I wanted to continue eating them… but I know what they do to my body.
Crazy Puppy Gourmet Workshop Spicy Cheese Curds

I knew as soon as I decided to have the curds that the funnel cake was not a priority for me any longer… In fact it is entirely possible walking into the fair that it was off the proverbial menu. I practice this strategy, and it works pretty well for me, so I figured I will share it with you. If I really want something, like I can’t leave it behind or I will feel regret about not having it, I will get it and enjoy it. No biggie right? If I am only feeling so-so about something I tell myself I will just get it next time. I know I will be going to the Great Minnesota get together in a few weeks (the State Fair) and that there will be funnel cake there… but there will also be OTHER things there that I might want to try. So if I simply defer my desire for this food until it is more intense by telling myself next time, and then forgetting about it until the event approaches again I have navigated around the landmine.

I am all about doing what works for you, for some people sharing these high calorie foods is a great option at the fair… some people can eat two or three bites and throw them away (I was prepared to throw away cheese curds). For others avoidance is the only thing that works… if that means not eating at all during the fair, that is acceptable. If that means not putting yourself into a position to be tempted by the foods at the fair or carnival that is okay too. I think it is perfectly okay to make the decision that is right for you.

Cotton Candy

A Swimmers Life

I do believe that I have officially returned to my “swimmers” life. I was sitting at Starbucks drinking my coffee and I could smell the chlorine on my skin. I showered and scrubbed after my Aqua Zumba class on Saturday morning. (Which by the way I LOVED!!)

I think it must be time to start investigating some new soap again. I have some tea tree soap from Trader Joes that I guess I might try.  I am unsure how to get the chlorine off of my skin. I suppose google will give me 1000 different answers but I was hoping maybe someone that reads my blog might have a “tried and true” product they love? I know I need to find a shampoo that gets the chlorine out. The UltraSwim I have been using is killing my hair. Too many Sulfites I guess.  I may just end up having to give up the coloring on my hair.  I know that sounds like a horrible though.  I mean, I just do it myself at home anyway.  It isn’t as if I am paying hundreds of dollars to have someone put color and highlights in my hair… heck I have issues paying to get my hair cut some days.  My hair is short, my color is important.  As I get older the grey becomes more apparent and I am not vain about it, it’s been there since I was 12… henna was my dye of choice at that age… and it was MESSY!!!

So I guess what I am saying is to the swimmers out there, aside from winning the lottery and being able to move somewhere with my own private water source, be it a body of water that is natural, or putting in my own with lighting to treat it in addition to the chemicals does anyone have any suggestions on chlorine removing shampoo or body products?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the smell of the chlorine… I kinda like it (does that make me weirder than I am?)  I just figure it can’t be good for my skin.

*peeks head out*

Is It Safe? Just kidding! I am still here, still following Weight Watchers.  Still going to meetings working the program.  3 weeks ago I hit the 5% mark, which means I have lost 5% of my starting weight, or something like that.  I dunno I got a big sticker, and they asked me for tips and tricks.  My reply was to just keep going.  Always weigh in, whether you ate breakfast before the meeting or not, whether you went out the night before and had sushi with soy-sauce, and not the low sodium kind.  It is not a race, it is not a sprint, it is a process, an ever evolving process.

My leader, Judy, weighed me in the week I hit my 5% and we chatted a bit before the meeting, she told me that she enjoys the things that I add to the meeting, because I am often very insightful about the topics.  I am only insightful because I have spent my whole life in this never ending battle.  I have read diet and healthy eating/living books since I was a preteen.  One of hte last ones I read is covered in post it notes and actually has a notebook full of scribbles and page number references with it because it made so many good points.

I see a lot of people in my social circle online, (I wish i could see yall more) trying the #Whole30 lifestyle plan.  It sounds really interesting, and I might look into how i can use that in my life, I mean, right now on WW with my schedule the way it is I find I am backsliding into processed food, which is something I have/had worked so hard to eliminate but because it is so much easier to just grab something packaged and know itsWXYZ is a certain # of points I worry about the actual nutrition of it.

I am also off the exercise bandwagon right now.  For those that know me I have been battling a wicked case of PF, I have been icing it down, doing the at home physical therapy, rolling on a golfball, and there has been some improvement, but a week ago something bad happened.  I wrenched my back something fierce.  I could barely move, let alone twist turn or walk without discomfort.  I used every trick in my arsenal, including my fibro pain meds and nothing was touching the pain.  Monday I made an emergency appointment with the doctors office, and they think it is a soft tissue injury.  They did a few tests and dont think there is anything pinched or herniated, and I don’t remember doing anything to injure my back so *finger crossed* we are working on treatment for that.

They gave me a shot, that was supposed to work in about an hour, it didn’t work in an hour… the only thing that happened in an hour was an allergic reaction to the bandaid they put on my backside! (in big red font on my chart is allergic to adhesive, only use paper tape, and use as sparingly as possible UGH!!!) about 24 hours after the shot the pain difference is mostly night and day.  I can move again, without the tears of pain pushing on my eyes.  I am unsure if that is the shot, or the muscle relaxants they game me.  Either way the cocktail I have been downing is at least starting to work.

Friday I will have my first PT session for my back, I am not looking forward to that, I HATE physical therapy.  i need to make sure whomever I end up with understands what ehlers-danlos is, and how extra careful we need to be.  The last round of PT i had was for my knee and they didn’t understand that with my knees the hyper extension is from the disorder and is not something i can actively help and is something they need to be wary of.  *sigh* The thought of PT on my back makes me extremely nervous, and makes my anxiety level go through the roof. However I will get through this, it just means my Fridays will now be Work, PT then home to ice eat and sleep.  Sounds fun…. NOT

Have you been through PT for a back injury? Was it bad?

Sharing Circle

So in going to my meetings at Weight Watchers I have been forcing myself to talk, or rather, perhaps a better way to phrase it is that I have found myself opening up to the groups I have been with.  Offering suggestions tips and tricks of what has helped me along the way so far.  In my mind I can feel the members that have been there a while rolling their eyes at me, because I am new to their program, but I have been at this a while and have seen measurable success on my own.

I have been going, on average to two meetings a week.  The leader I didn’t care for at first has grown on me, I think it was more the people at that first meeting I didn’t click with, and I think that had more to do with the weather, and the bad parking that weekend in the are around the location, and the fact that I was kind-of ignored and dismissed while I sat there.

I guess one of the things I am really enjoying about the program is actually the meetings.  I like going, and interacting with other people that are trying to do the same thing I am.  It isn’t that I feel alone, or lonely in the battle to get this weight off, I have concluded that there are very few people in the world that have never struggled with weight in one way or another, I just like hearing what others have to say.  I like that it gives me a feeling of community, it sparks my thought process for things like lunches and dinners, even if I don’t take the ideas and use them that week, I know they are planting seeds in the back of my mind for the future.  I also hope that what I have to share, in insight or past stumbling blocks for myself can help someone else there.  For example we were talking about tracking food last week, and how a “3 month tracker” which is a paper tracker shouldn’t last more than 3 months.  I use an electronic tracker now.  When I first started I used paper.  I liked paper, it was safe, I could erase things, I could reward myself on the paper with stickers if I was under my caloric goal for the day.  I had a whole system that I used, and it worked for me.  Eventually I went electronic because it was faster, and easier… and easier meant I could be lazier! Eventually I stopped tracking and I was one of those people who could have made that 3 month tracker last a year! I am bring very diligent and deliberate now with my tracking, and I know if one isn’t working I need to switch to the other.  I offered the hint/tip that I learned from a PriorFatGirl event about recording life events, special occasions, thoughts and feelings in the margins of your tracker.  It helps when you look back to identify patterns and stumbling blocks.  Everyone seemed to really like that idea, so I know that I am offering the group something not just taking.

However I can’t help but feel like I am playing teachers pet when I talk.  I am certainly not trying to be, but I want to be helpful to others where I can be.  So I hush myself, until I know that I have something that is truly helpful and applicable to everyone in the room, or a goodly majority and then I go from there.

Do you go to meetings? Do you talk?  Do you feel like you talk too much? How do you strike a balance with it? I would love to know what you think!

Chocolate is for Lovers Day

Gourmet chocolates, a bottle of good wine, cream sauces covering large plates of pasta, ramekins of melted butter with lobster on the side.  Breadsticks, cheesecake, hand dipped strawberries, February 14th is so often a holiday that revolves around food that goes unnoticed as a food holiday.

So what is a girl supposed to do with the prospect of Valentines day on the horizon? Or even worse… the much celebrated discount chocolate day after holiday!  I was reading on twitter, or perhaps it was a blog, about a set of friends that actually celebrate the discount chocolate day as the holiday.  I remember buying the marked down candy just after Valentines day for my wedding many years ago. I didn’t ever really get into Valentines day, and that’s okay.  Not to say that it isn’t important to celebrate your love and affection for your partner, and also your friends.

The trouble becomes how do you stay healthy and celebrate the traditional way that most couples do?  There were a TON of 5k’s this past weekend that many of you participated in.  However a 5k really doesn’t scream romantic right?  It isn’t exactly the kind of thing you curl up and celebrate, it isn’t something that can be neatly wrapped up in a bow, or sent to someones office.

So let’s face it… most ladies, diets or not are going to be given a box of chocolates this holiday.  So what is a girl or guy to do?

Are you planning on going out to dinner for Valentines day?  Plan ahead, look at the menu of where you are going out to, or better yet, offer to cook at home!  Valentines day is very much “amateur night” in my opinion.  Everyone goes out, restaurants end up with long wait times, and by and large the service suffers because they aren’t in general equipped to handle all the 2-tops they have instead of groups of 2 & 4.  Cooking at home is a great option, you can know what is going into your food, and you can make sure you are getting great quality ingredients.  Even if you don’t know a lot about cooking, making a meal at home can be a great bonding experience for couples no matter how long they have been together.  Learning to work together and cooperate is a great skill!

Skipping the wine is, in my opinion, always the best option.  I’m not big into drinking calories unless they come from coffee drinks.  There are lots of no calorie and low-calorie sparkling beverages out there that you could swap out for.  Lately I have been enjoying the sparkling diet cranberry ocean spray juice cocktail drink.  It would make a great treat with a roasted chicken dinner!

Think portion control!  I know personally I would much rather prefer to have 4 pieces of really good expensive chocolate than a HUGE box of cheap chocolate.  This way it makes it more savorable, not to mention portion control is built-in.

Chocolates that are darker, (dark over milk) have more or the good stuff in them, (flavonols) that makes eating them better for you.  Opting for dark chocolate that isn’t loaded with creamy centers and jellies cuts out added sugars that your body doesn’t want or need either.  Dark chocolate nut clusters pack an added heart health bonus.

If you are looking for a more calorie friendly option with a chocolate punch think about some chocolate drizzled fruit.  I say drizzled instead of dipped because it allows you to still have the same taste with less of the chocolate. So take your traditional strawberries and drizzle some melted chocolate over them… but lets step outside of the box and grab a few oranges, after all it is citrus season, and you can get creative too and use any other fruits you like!  You can drizzle kiwi, pineapple, bananas, and raspberries too and it is a super satisfying sweet treat!

Now, we all know activity burns calories… so remember to burn off a few extra calories with a walk… or a dance… or whatever other activities you can think of!

Happy Valentines Day Everyone!  May you celebrate as you see fit, and may you find a way love and yourself!

One Breath, For My Roots

The second person to speak at #OBOS was Philly D, who I had never met before, mostly because my schedule has never allowed me Friday nights to go hang out with all the cool kids at hot yoga.  Happily that is changing and I will soon head off to my first Hot Yoga class in the near future!  Anyway, Phil had me in tears for most of his discussion.  He shared some very personal stories about his sister and some volunteer work that he does at a Children’s hospital with cancer patients.  A boy who communicates only by RAWR-ing because he thinks he is actually a dinosaur… because they are strong… I can relate. #rawr.

Do you know what the difference between being and doing is?  So many of us say I want to be BE healthy.  The dictionary defines being as something that exists.  That is something that I did for SO MANY YEARS in my life… I existed.  If you look back on this blog you see me talk about feeling like I was watching life pass me by because it was.  However doing is defined as action, performance, and execution.  I don’t know about you all but I sure want to be doing not being.

Remember the human doing project at Mall of America last year… they had him DOING… so think about that… to be healthy you have to DO.  There is a local health insurance company here that has a DO campaign and they truly have hit the nail on the head.  To be healthy you have to DO.

I am sure you are sitting there going so what Kris… we all know we have to workout, so Phil said go do Yoga right?  He owns a studio this is what he wants you to do right?  No.  It is hard to explain exactly what he was talking about in general or specific terms if you have never had that moment that wakes you up from that dark place, so forgive the bulleted nature of this.  I am going to try to not weep as I think about how much impact his words had on my heart.

Phil’s wish for each of us is that we can learn to be more awake in our lives, that we can me more aware of what is in front and around us.  In order to Rise Up and meet life, you must first wake up to your surroundings.  You must tune into yourself, make deliberate choices about your breathing, and movements, feel your body, feel your breath.

As you move through this life and become more aware of things you will know when something feels wrong, and when something feels wrong you will learn that you need to step up and stand up for others.  As you rise up you will see things that are unfair and unjust and you cannot ignore them.  They will not change unless someone speaks up.

As you rise up you must reach out and down to others, this is part of why Jen (@PriorFatGirl) shares her story, and a very big part of why I am so open and honest on my blog about my struggles.  When you reach out to others you let them know that there is hope, help and strength.

Be what you love in life, and use what you love to make a difference because it isn’t actually the length of your life that makes the biggest impact it is the width.  The more people you reach, and they in turn reach creates waves and ripples that will effect more people than you ever intended.

He also spoke about how important it is to be aware of your word choices, which was also something Mary spoke about.  The words you choose to define yourself, your life your goals and the things in your mind can really set yourself up for success or for failure.  Do you remember my Can’ts Won’ts and Don’ts post? Go back and read it… I felt like they both took a page right from my blog and were telling me to go back and read my words… Kris make sure you are picking your words correctly.

After hearing both Mary and Phil speak about how can’t and and won’t and don’t are so often confused I really felt like I had a grasp on something strong.  I know when I first had that moment of clarity about those three words back in August it really was something amazing.  It really becomes a more about DOING what you have to do and less about what you want.  I can’t cook healthy meals for my family is actually I don’t because my family won’t eat them.  Well guess what you CAN because you make those decisions.  I can’t workout because I don’t have time is really I don’t workout because I would rather watch tv, and I won’t give up that addiction to finding out what happens on that next episode of Lost (okay, I am out of touch but so what!) You get it right?

Who has control of your life?  Do you have control?  Who did you give the control to?  Are you ready to take it back?  Only you can!

One Breath, Because It’s Hard!

Let’s be honest, my head is still swimming, or moreover my heart is still in overwhelm from Saturday.  The #OBOS events always hit me right in the chest.  I think it is because I let myself be vulnerable, because it is a necessary part of getting to the root of why I became 400+ pounds.  I think it is also crucial to helping others along the way.  So that being said, once again the topics covered hit right a bit too close to home, which of course were just what I needed.

Jen started out the morning having us close our eyes and raise our hands if we had felt recently that our journey was overwhelming or hard etc.  With my eyes closed, (but wanting to peek to know for sure) she assure us that we all had our hands raised.  I always secretly don’t want to raise my hand just to be “That Asshole”.  The point of the exercise isn’t about raising your hand anyway, it is about knowing that we are all there together, and I get that.  We all struggle, whether it is with motivation, or finding time to *whatever*.

Mary took over the conference just after that, and the topic she first brought up was, “Is being healthy hard?” Well, yeah! Duh! If it was easy there wouldn’t be the multi billion dollar pharmaceutical industry that exists, and the search for the magic-cure-all pill wouldn’t be happening.

This made me think about how we define healthy though.  Is healthy, the right weight, is it being fit, is it being off medications, is it fitting nicely in a box, or a certain definition?  It isn’t the same for everyone.  So it becomes very important for you to define your health your own way, and plan your goals and strategies the right way.

Mary started speaking about how sometimes our ideas and situations change, and that sometime the changes we make that are intended to be lasting changes aren’t always lasting changes.  For example, I joined the YWCA, it was awesome when I started out.  Since my new job started however it is not as convenient for me to work out there.  The hours are less convenient and I started using that as an excuse.  So my change to working out several days a week was no longer a part of my life.  This change didn’t last. Do I view this as a failure?  No Way!  This is a setback.

See, life is fluid, this is why all those checklists in magazines and 10-step’s to the perfect life type things don’t work out for any kind of long-term success.  You have to be prepared to be flexible and change your plans as life throws you a curveball.

Mary touched on a lot of things that I have come to on my own, but I have this problem… see I, like many of you I imagine, have these amazing moments of clarity and then they just pass, and I forget, or think perhaps they aren’t as great as I think they are.

Some examples of this are, Keeping an eye on “Your Bottom” line.  This is mostly about maintaining weight, but also pertains to when you are stuck in a plateau.  If you get comfortable in a place you become complacent.  Think oh it’s okay I am staying within these 2-lbs so it isn’t a big deal.  My lifestyle is changing and I am not.

I JUST went through this, I started my new job, and I wasn’t going to the gym because I was just plain exhausted, but I was eating the same.  The scale creeps around, and before you know it things are headed in a bad direction FAST.  You always need to be pushing the envelope, not necessarily to lose weight, but keep your eyes on the prize at all times.

Remember setbacks are going to happen, this is a part of life! They happen to everyone! Everyone falls, get back up, keep moving forward. You need to be prepared for this.  Remember everything takes practice which means that everything that you are doing is practice! So be prepared with a backup plan, know what tools you like, and what tools in your arsenal work best for you and use them.  Also be on the lookout for new things to try.

Did you read that…

Everyone falls, get back up. Keep moving forward. Falling is not failure. Failure is giving up, not getting up.

These words are a gift to you.  Let them sink in.  You need to remember them.

Another important thing to remember is that it is important when trying to do anything, whether it is lose weight or run a marathon, that you have to be doing it for the right reasons.  The right reason for me isn’t the right reason for you, and if you aren’t doing it for the right reasons you aren’t going to find lasting success.  That class reunion that you want to look awesome for, what happens when you go, and no one cares that you lost all that weight from when you were 15?  What happens after you break up with that girlfriend that had been making you go to the gym or train for that 5k?  Was the reason that you wanted whatever it was yours or theirs?  You can’t do it for someone else, you can only do it for yourself.  Looking back on my life, I WISH someone could have stopped me before I got to the point in my life where I knew I was going to die.

There were so many dark days in my life where I was so miserable, depressed, in so much pain, and I thought I was at rock bottom, and I just kept going down.  There are also so many people in my life who I see, and I want to push to rock bottom so that I can help build them back up, and make them want to save their own lives.  Sadly all I can do is offer a hand up when the time is right and hope that I can inspire them by doing what I need to and want to for my own reasons.  I got a taste of what I like to call the good life and I know what I want now.

Nike says “there is no finish line.” Which I totally agree with.  When it comes to things like living a healthy active life there will ALWAYS be something to do, try or achieve, however this brings up a great point… when there is no finish something is not a race which means it is perfectly acceptable to go at your own pace!  While at times I feel as thought I am sprinting towards my own goals, there are other times where I feel as thought I am sitting still on the track and lately I feel as thought I have turned around and am headed in the wrong direction altogether I need to be reminded that this isn’t a race.  The path I am on may have a loop or two but if I keep moving forward I will make progress.  Baby steps are still steps, I just need to keep making them.

One super alarming statistic that I heard during the event was that if you do not act on a new idea or concept within 48 hours there is a 50% chance that you will NEVER act on it.  This wasn’t surprising, as much as alarming… and I suppose it is very true.  This is why it was SO IMPORTANT that I act on switching my gym before I just decide to keep sitting around of going and using the hours as an excuse to not go!  When I first joined the gym in 2009 it was also an ACT NOW moment.  I drove past, and thought… I should probably check that out sometime… pulled a U-turn and headed back.  Enough waiting… if life has tought me nothing more it is that time is precious and it shouldn’t be wasted.  If you want something you MUST go after it… and don’t wait!

There was a bit of talk about setting goals, and knowing what goals actually are.  I personally really like the idea of setting up “S.M.A.R.T.” Goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely)  and I think that is what Mary was trying to get at in her discussion about pushing for deeper goals that allow you to form strategies with them. For example, I want to be healthy is an extremely vague goal.  However I want to get off of my blood pressure medicine by losing 15 pounds is a much more specific measurable goal.  With those things you can then formulate a plan of attack with diet and exercise.  Make lists of a few things to try, keep trying, and you will make progress on these goals and before you know it your goals become a reality!

Sometimes you have to learn to accept that your lifestyle isn’t going to match what your goals are, and something has to change.  Each situation you are in presents an opportunity for you to learn something.  You always have the opportunity to take something away from a situation, and it is your job to figure out what you are going to take away from it.  Sometimes it is very easy to spot what you are taking away from an interaction or situation.  Every interaction with a person or people can teardown or create a new level to your relationship, so be sure that you are doing all you can be, be present in that moment to foster what you want from that relationship, and this includes the relationship you have with yourself.  Don’t treat yourself poorly!

You need to acknowledge your feeling, learn to see them, feel them and lost of all how important it is to accept them.  It is perfectly okay and acceptable to feel sadness, or frustration, even regret is an acceptable emotion, everything you feel is okay as long as you let yourself feel it!  You know what is not okay?  Letting yourself eat these feelings,