Setting New Short-Term Goals

Check in

Current weight: 167

Lost this week: 2 lbs.

Total weight lost:  41.5 lbs.

IMG_6476 (2)

Sitting at my desk working on this blog post! Nothing like capturing the moment.

Setting goals and celebrating milestones is an important part of any weight-loss journey. My first short-term goal was to get below 200 lbs. Done. Then, I wanted to get back to the weight I was after my first child was born – 189. Done. Next, what I weighed after my 2nd child – 175. Done. Okay, what about what I weighed the first time I ever joined Weight Watchers – 169. Done. And there was all the five lb. increment goals – 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40! Done.

40 lbs down badge

So, celebrating the milestones is important. Equally important is charting a course through the weight-loss waters ahead!

On June 4th, I head out for some holiday fun. I will be spending three weeks away from home with family and friends. As July gets underway, we will have kids and grandkids with us in our home for a month. I am looking forward to the upcoming trip and to the energy I expect to have for entertaining grandkids when I return home – swimming, kayaking, hiking – all the great summertime activities.

Short-term goals for the next two months:

1.  I don’t expect to lose weight while travelling. I also don’t expect to gain! My goal is to hold steady.

2.  Though fasting is not going to be part of travelling, I am planning to try intermittent 16/8 fasting – one picks the time frame most suited to fasting daily for 16 hours and allowing 8 hours in which food will be consumed. What would work the best for me is to stop eating at 6:00 pm and not start again until 10:00 am the next day. That may have to be adjusted to when people serve dinner. Flexibility is key.

3.  I will be keeping up with activity  levels! I’m excited about how walking at least 12 km. daily for more than a couple of months has built my endurance. I am planning to be busy and in motion.

4.  I will try new things!

Next Sunday will be my last regular check-in post until into July. Being away from my own Aria2 FitBit scale means I won’t be weighing in on a regular basis until I return home. I hope to post holiday pics now and then. We’ll see how everything goes.

IMG_6462

Busy planting pole beans these days – a weight-loss staple food for me. I love green beans – fresh or canned.

The Right Doctor Makes All the Difference

  IMG_6436 (2)

In 2011, feeling desperate at 215 lbs. and having to be medicated for high blood pressure, I tried a new doctor. She was a wonderful breath of fresh air. In my 54 years of life (at that point in time), I had yet to meet a doctor I liked. This woman took the time to get to know me.

Something else was also happening. I was at a point in life where I allowed myself to be known. On my first visit, I explained openly that weight and weight loss were hugely triggering issues for me. And miracle of miracles, this doctor respected and heard what I had to say.

She knew not to push the weight loss agenda too hard. She’d introduce ideas and I’d go off and think about what she said. She asked me to consider a lifestyle plan where I would gradually cut the dosage of my BP meds. I agreed to try. I lost about 7 lbs. by changing my eating patterns and being slightly more active. I banned the salt shaker from the table. By the fall, I had managed to get the dosage of my meds cut in half. But no more weight came off. There I sat and there I stayed at 208 lbs.

In 2014, I mounted a serious attempt to lose weight. I was back up to 215 lbs. I had overcome some major barriers in my life and had managed to write and self-publish two novels. (By now, I’m up to 4 books in the series and going strong on the 5th.)

Crater Lake Series Banner

It felt like I had found a new outlet for my talents and that there would be life after the not-quite-completed PhD. I had two beautiful granddaughters and I wanted to be healthier for their sake. I wanted to be a fun and active grandma.

Aug 2014 Brit& Emma

I buckled down and lost to within sight of one-der-land – the promised weight loss land of the 100’s. But I got completely derailed at 202 lbs. I was stopped in my tracks. Life hit me full force in the teeth and eating to relieve the stress was survival 101. The time had no yet come for me to enter one-der-land.

Despite the set-back, over the next couple of years, I still managed to have the dosage of my blood pressure meds cut in half again and my wonderful doctor, sympathetic and caring, never judged me. She suggested a recumbent, stationary bicycle. I got one, set it outside on my covered deck and started riding. I self-published another two novels. My life was moving even if my weight was as stuck as that bike on the deck.

IMG_6443 (2)             IMG_6445 (2)

The Bike                                                                           The View from the Bike

Heads up – next Wednesday will be my last weight-loss story post. You will be caught up to the present with my life. Yippee! What a journey this blog has taken us on.

Ups and Downs of the Weight Loss Journey

Check in

Current weight: 169

Lost this week: 1 lbs.

Total weight lost:  39.5 lbs. – oh, so close to that elusive 40 lb. goal!

 IMG_6406 (2)

I haven’t had any ups (weight gain wise) since I started this journey over five months ago, but I sure felt like this week I might. I had three days when my calorie count was over 2000 and on one of those days, I was on that out-of-control-with-eating roller coaster that I used to ride all the time. An afternoon passed while I was engaged in mindless eating. It felt awful and shocking – a real wake-up call. Despite my successes, overeating behaviour isn’t all in the past for me. It seemed like a few tiny pebbles started slipping down a rocky slope. The pebbles loosened bigger stones, then rocks started moving and before I knew it – an avalanche was underway.

Today, I awoke feeling as though I dodged a bullet and resolved that my mission for the next week was to figure out what the hell happened. But now, as I write, I am unsure of that plan. Dwelling on my mistakes can become part of the avalanche. I might be better served by refocusing on what matters to me, reviewing my toolbox of strategies and moving forward. I know it is important to understand why things happen, but it’s equally important to recognize that the path won’t always run straight. I will accept this reality and get moving!

IMG_6230

On a brighter note, another thing happened this week that really makes me laugh about the funny sign in the photo above. I had been thinking about how to step-up my exercise routine but felt I couldn’t dedicate more time to my current pursuits. I already walk a minimum of 2 hours per day and ride my bike for 50 minutes. There are only so many hours in a day one can dedicate to exercise!

My daughter suggested that perhaps I could try going faster rather than longer. I have read about the benefits of interval training – pushing up the speed for a chunk of time and then returning to a normal pace. I often do this when riding my stationary bike.

I was out walking yesterday afternoon and I was feeling like I had to hurry. Other tasks awaited me. It looked like rain coming and I had billowing laundry on the clothesline. Dinner needed to be started. I picked up my pace and suddenly I was jogging! I kept that up for about a quarter of a kilometer and then I was fast walking and finally, by the end of that three-quarter kilometer round, I was back to my original pacing. I repeated this routine one more time on my walk. It was amazing. What a feeling!

Back in the long-ago days of jogging regularly, I remember reading a quote in some running magazine.

There is no such thing as an overweight jogger … only a person on their way to their ideal weight.

Feels like those words could be true!

IMG_6282

Escape from the Ivory Tower

McLaurin Pyramid 

Where did I leave off? Hmm … right … me in the Ivory Tower – the university years. Between 2005 and 2009, I maintained a weight of 205 lbs. I never went up and I never went down but life went on!

Both my kids got married.

Getting Ready (150) cropped

Getting Ready (148)           IMG_3073

Reception (294)

I became a grandma Smile  

IMG_5064love(morph4)    

I stopped being a vegetarian. I defended my thesis, finished my master’s degree and worked on my PhD methodology.

IMG_0752

My husband and I did a lot of travelling – something we’d never had the time or money to do before.

DSC_0004      DSC_0700

I taught upper level undergrad classes, I was employed on several major research projects as well as managing a busy research office. I worked as a trauma counsellor. It was a busy and exciting life, but it was also a continually fat and stress-filled life.

Fran at Linda's     Fran at Starbucks

In the summer of 2009, my dad informed us that his cancer had returned with a vengeance and he had only six months to live. His wish was that my brother and I would help him stay in his home and die there with his little dog, Sam, beside him. I left all that I was doing at the university to help my dad.

Dad & Sam on deck

I must add that life in the Ivory Tower had, by this time, lost its lustre. I had spent a lot of time on so many diverse and exciting pursuits that I hadn’t got my own dissertation work done. I couldn’t seem to choose a topic that my supervisor and I could agree upon. I was being hassled over having to get extensions. And while I had thought the PhD was going to broaden my horizons, it turned out that I was moving further and further down a path where I would have to bust my butt and compete for a faculty position at some far away university. There was the distinct possibility that I would never go home. That bothered my husband and it bothered me, too. I loved my home.

Life had become one big stress on stress sandwich. I don’t want to say my dad’s illness came at a good time, but I did need to back up and reassess my educational path. The months staying with him allowed me to do that.

After my dad’s death, I never returned to the academic life. I went home and the stress of seeing a parent through the end of life continued as I worked to settle my father’s estate. Some families do well with death, but I suspect most struggle. Below, a pic of me and my grandmother. We do have this family resemblance.

IMG_0531

When all was said and done, I weighed 215 lbs. and felt mighty desperate. I had been diagnosed with high blood pressure and was on medication, which I hated. Even so, I didn’t have the nerve to mount another foray into weight loss.

IMG_0731

Gardening Joy

Check in

Current weight: 170

Lost this week: 2 lbs.

Total weight lost:  38.5 lbs.

IMG_6321 (2)

Above photo … our spring green bed. It’s overflowing with chard, spinach and beet tops. We’ve chowed down on huge salads out of this bed every single night for almost two months!

One of my motivations for losing weight was my desire to be a more active in our garden. I often joked to others – I don’t like gardening, I like being in the garden, though. Sad, really – that is what overweight and lack of energy brought me to. A garden is something that demands active involvement. Gardening is not a participant sport! To only be in the garden without being active is to only be partially alive.

Bean seedlings

So, now, I am not only a lover of the gardener. I am a gardener, too. I plant, nurture, weed, harvest and preserve. I’m currently babying along over 200 pole bean plants – first sprouting the seeds, then planting the sprouts into dirt in small containers and eventually they will be out to our garden. I’ve been actively involved in filling our greenhouse with plants grown from seed for our vegetable and flower gardens.

Greenhouse bedding plants

More of my babied beans, bush beans this time, in their own little bean crib are loving the sunny weather this week.

IMG_6323 (2)

Raspberry plants in the background and another raised bed with tons of yummy radishes ready to pick, along with rows of carrots.

IMG_6322 (2)

Having the energy to be an active participant in gardening is pure joy Smile

Grad School Ups and Downs

Me on bike (2)

I’m sharing this pic because I am seriously considering bike riding again – this time with my granddaughters. Strange about old pictures. I still remember how much I loved that white dress with the big double scoop ice cream cone on the front. Part of my weight loss journey is about recapturing something of the girl in that picture – carefree bike rider in a pretty white dress.

The weight-loss saga continues …

Remember that doctor I spoke of last week? She was condescending in her admonition to keep the weight off, but I do wish I had been able to heed her words.

I came out of the hospital after my gallbladder ordeal in early Feb. of the year 2000. By that summer, I was still under 150 lbs., but barely. I began a recurring cycle. I would start each Sept. weighing 150 – go through the school year and by June, I would weight 170 lbs. Though I had moved on from my first paying-my-dues position to another school, my lack of seniority (which I had hoped to balance by being over-qualified) created job insecurity. I was often stressed about that! And being over-qualified had its own drawbacks. Because I was qualified, I often took on more than required and I managed to stress over that, too.

Once the summer months came with sun and time off at the cabin, I would lose 20 lbs. and be ready to start the cycle all over again in September. As you can imagine, that wasn’t a fun way to live.

On the third round of my 20 lbs. on and 20 lbs. off regime, in Sept. 2003, I moved away to a bigger center to attend a ‘real’ university for what was to be a two-year master’s degree in counselling psychology. I had spent what seemed like forever taking prerequisite courses and going through an arduous application process while working full time. When I was accepted it was like something out of a fairy tale. Over so many years, all I had wanted (besides to lose weight) was to have letters after my name. Having done my undergrad through distant education, I felt my achievement second class. (The old what is real thing was at play in my mind again.)

Fran smiling

So, I got my chance to be on campus at a real university and in so many ways it was everything I had dreamed of. But, whew, let’s talk about stress, baby. Those days were filled with a special type of anxiety from the moment I got out of bed until the moment I threw myself back into the bed at night. I loved every moment of it, but I was weighing 170 lbs. by the summer of my first year and there was no idyllic break by the lake when I would relax and take that weight off. I stayed on campus to work and do extra courses. By Sept. of 2004, I was 180 lbs. The next summer, I was 205.

Sometimes, I try to imagine what classmates and instructors who had seen me start grad school weighing 150 lbs. thought of the me who had ballooned up to 205. They had no way of knowing I had been up and down all my life. For them, I was a totally new (fat) me. Putting on 55 lbs. makes a difference in how people view you. How could it not?

Meanwhile, the two-year program I had originally signed up had morphed into a three-year MA with a smooth transition into a PhD program that saw me teaching undergrad courses, taking on several research positions and running a busy research office.

Going home started to seem more and more like a far-off fantasy. I had some letters after my name – dream come true – but losing weight was not on the table at all.

Gazette Grad photo (2)

Why Not Be the Star of Your Own Story?

 

Check in

Current weight: 172

Lost this week: 2 lbs.

Total weight lost:  36.5 lbs.

IMG_6208 (2)

Sometimes, I’m along via the speaker phone in my daughter’s car when she drops my two granddaughters off at school. I always hear the same refrain. The oldest says, “Is my hair okay? Is my face clean?” Her mom assures her she is fine and away she goes. All I hear from the younger is a quick, “Bye, Grandma,” and the door slamming shut.

The younger is self-assured to a fault. It would never occur to her that anything is off about her appearance and if she found out something was, she would simply shrug her shoulders make a necessary adjustment (or not) and move on. She is the star of her own life story. Firmly placed right in the center, sure of her direction.

And why shouldn’t she be? Why shouldn’t we all be for that matter. After all, our life is the only one we will ever have. Why not take a starring role. No hanging back on the sidelines waiting to live. The moment is now, the time is at hand.

Capture - Brene Brown

We recently watched a Brene Brown  special on Netflix entitled, The Call to Courage. Do see it if you get a chance. Brown is a researcher, a five times New York Times best-selling author, a Texan and a powerful speaker. Her TED talk on vulnerability is one of the most viewed TED talks ever.

Brene has spent the last two decades studying shame, fear and the links between courage and vulnerability. In my opinion, she is a unique academic who brings as much passion and oomph to presenting her research as she has to the work of gathering the data.

“Owning our own story and loving ourselves through the process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.”

Here are a couple of nuggets I took from listening to Brene Brown speak. Courage and vulnerability walk hand-in-hand. Better to be the one who dared greatly and truly lived than the one who stood on the sidelines of life and watched the years flow by. And this wonderful anecdote she told about her daughter at a swim meet. The girl was crying that she could never win her upcoming race. Her mother said, “No, you can’t win. But maybe winning for you doesn’t mean coming in first. Maybe it means getting out to the blocks and into the water.”

Thought for the upcoming week – we are winning in so many ways everyday without ever seeing those wins for what they are. Let’s allow ourselves to be vulnerable, let’s walk through that minefield where we will be seen – warts and all – and keep right on walking to the point where we find the courage to be the star of our life story!

35 lbs lost

Got this little nugget of joy last week!