Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My “Get Fit/Feel Pretty” Journey

Originally published on my blog, Soul Java, on Monday, February 22, 2010

Part 4

I still take the Phentermine, but in very small doses. Its VERY rare for me to take a whole pill, when I do its because I’m taking it early in the morning and I need it to last all day. Usually I only take a half pill and I do that around 11am after I realize I’m feeling more snackie than is good. Its common for me to go 3 months before I need a refill. Usually the pill is not prescribed to a patient for as long as I’ve been taking it, but usually patients take the pill everyday and are needed a new script every month. Because I use them as rarely as I do my doctor is comfortable prescribing to me. I also take other things to help me. Nearly every day I take Chromium Picolinate, L-Carnitine & periodically drink Protein to help my metabolism.

When I first went to my doctor weighing 214lbs we set a goal of 165lbs. I honestly was not sure I could get there and thought to myself, “I’ll be happy if I can get under 190lbs.” Today I weigh 172lbs. Furthermore, I’m not sure what my goal is anymore! Well, for sure I’m going to hit my 165 mark, but a couple months ago I discovered that to be at the right BMI (Body Mass Index) I should weigh 155lbs. So, I’m guessing I’m going to use my friends’ & family’s judgment and if I start looking “sunken” like I did in my 20’s I won’t try to reach that 155 mark.

My advice to everyone is DON’T GET OVERWEIGHT! My advice to my overweight friends is don’t lie to yourself, don’t cover up why you’re overweight, don’t pretend like it doesn’t matter. There’s no need for you to look like the models in magazines. There’s no reason for you to try to be the hottest thing at work. But you need to be healthy enough to give your family confidence that you’re going to be around for a long time. You need to feel good enough about yourself to be able to walk into a room with confidence and awareness that you did your best to look your best. We’re not all blessed with the perfect body type, nor with enough money to cut and paste ourselves into the perfect body type. There is no magic trick, (& as I have proven) no magic pill that can make you who you wish you were; a person self-disciplined enough to be the best you can be.

You may be obese enough to consider a surgical procedure to help you on your journey in weight loss. You may hire a personal trainer. Weight Watchers is a great support group. There are more helps & tools to assist in losing weight today than ever before. I encourage you to begin trying one. If it doesn’t work, drop it and try something else. Keep working at it!

I’m not at my journey’s end yet, but for the first time in a VERY long time I feel pretty. For the first time in my life I feel disciplined, fit & in control of my appearance. I’m well-aware that once I reach my destination I’ll need to constantly maintain it, but I really think it’ll be worth it.

My “Get Fit/Feel Pretty” Journey, 3

Originally published on my blog, Soul Java, on Monday, February 22, 2010

Part 3

Toward the end of the Summer two things happened that helped me go to the next level in my journey to get fit and feel pretty. 1. I got an iPhone. Now, suddenly everything I was glued to the couch to do on my laptop I could be mobile and do! I could surf the web, I could write, I could listen to podcasts, I could text, call… My iPhone really & truly made a huge difference. 2ndly , our family became friends with some of the players of our community college basketball team. This was the perfect shot in the arm for me. These guys were all about movement, activity & working out. The talked about it, they challenged each other to pushups and sit ups in my living room. It was great! I was too embarrassed to ask them questions about exercise or weight loss at first, but I soaked in their conversations and after everybody was gone I’d try to do the types of exercises they did.

We went on our family vacation in September 2009; a cruise of all things! I was dreading the loads of food that would be available. But I also knew I had more focus than ever before. I brought my tunes with me and I decided I could dance my way through the delectable temptations. But my first night away from home I had a problem; we stayed in a hotel and between my kids’ entertainment and my husband’s work there was no room to do my dancing in the room! I decided I’d go dance in the workout room. “Alas! Gasp! No way!” The exercise room was FULL of mirrors! There was absolutely no way I could see my fat self dance in all those mirrors! But I was determined to do something; so I got on the treadmill. Guess what? I really liked it! I had my tunes in my ears, the handles on the machine was hiding me from the mirrors, I decided this would work! It took me nearly 45 minutes to walk 2 miles. I didn’t care how slow it was, I wasn’t there for the challenge. The same way I determined that losing extremely small amounts of weight was better than gaining small amounts, I decided moving my body in any way was better than being a couch potato.

I boarded that cruise ship knowing I was going to make use of their treadmills. The first place I went hunting for was the gym. I walked in… and nearly died! It was so intimidating! Guess what? More mirrors! Lots more equipment! Really healthy looking people who were obviously very familiar with a gym filled its every nook and cranny! My heart sank. I knew I was not going to be able to bring myself to use the gym. I found the walking track outside on the same deck as the pool. But I decided I’d rather walk past all those fat, half dressed bodies than use that daunting gym. (It was surprising how many “not fit” people didn’t mind getting nearly nude. Surprising and gross!)

I had something else helping me along at this point too; crazy mood swings! I’ve always been an expressive person, but never a moody person. Since around 2007 I had learned what it felt like to suddenly, without warning, be ready to snatch somebody’s head off! I could suddenly cry without warning too! Since the Summer of 2008 I was still dealing with a lack of self-worth. I discovered on the cruise that walking balanced all those emotional swings! I had always heard that exercise released endorphins in the brain that causes us to feel happier. This was the first time I experienced it. It was AWESOME! When I would get too impatient with my children I’d go walk the track. When I felt sad I’d go walk the track. I woke up in the morning before everybody else and went walking. I walked meals I’d eaten off. The favorite part of that cruise for me was walking. But one morning the wind was atrocious! I was feeling especially panicky and KNEW if I could just walk a few minutes I’d feel better. So in trepidation I poked my head into the gym; it was nearly empty! For the rest of the cruise I used the gym’s treadmills and slowly watched my speed and endurance gain momentum.

I lost 2 pounds on the cruise!

When I got home I kept walking. I got up to 3 miles but it was taking me around 40-45 minutes. At this point I was also doing some Pilates, Abs workouts, and other muscle building, flab-fighting things. I had become comfortable talking to my basketball playing friend about exercise, how to do certain ones, etc. During the Thanksgiving break in November 2009, I was telling my friend how I knew I could walk more than 3 miles but I couldn’t take more time doing it than I already was. He told me I should try running. I was completely against it. I knew right away it was too challenging. I’ve seen runners. They are strong, disciplined, and they tend to thrive on challenge. I really felt like I couldn’t run. But he told me he wasn’t saying I should run 3 miles like I was walking. And that I didn’t need to worry about how long it took me. And that I was allowed to stop and catch my breath when I needed. So, the next day I ran. I thought I was going to die! But I reminded myself that I didn’t let myself stop and catch my breath AND I made myself run a full mile when I didn’t have to. Plus there was something in me that didn’t want to tell my basketball friend that I was a wimp! So, I ran again the next day… And the next, and the next. I started running to help with my moods just as I had done walking on the cruise. Plus it didn’t take nearly as long as the walking did to have that endorphin release! There are some days when running is as hard as it was that first day, but most of the time its exhilarating!

When I went to my doctor the last time he was emotionally moved at my success and was asking MY advice for his own weight loss! I’ve not reached my goal weight yet, but I’m on my way!

I’ll write in part 4 about what my goal is, how its morphed, and what natural vitamins & minerals I take to help in my “get fit/feel pretty journey”.

…to be continued.

My “Get Fit/Feel Pretty” Journey, 2

Originally published on my blog, Soul Java, on Monday, February 22, 2010
Part 2

A friend told me she was taking a prescription for weight loss called Phentermine. (See websites below.) For her sake I did a little research and I discovered something that I really liked; Phentermine has been on the market since the 1950’s. In the 1990’s it was paired with Fenfluramine and the cocktail was called Fen-Phen. That combination was pulled from the market because of lung & heart problems. But the drug, Phenteramine, used by itself has not had the alarming fatal disasters Fen-Phen had. As with any drug there may be side affects, it may respond better in one person’s body than it does another, but as a whole I felt confident about a drug that had been on the market for forty years.

When I went to my doctor, a family practitioner, I told him I needed help losing weight. The first thing he wanted was for me to go that week and record everything that went into my mouth. When I popped one of my daughter’s French fries in my mouth he wanted it written down. If I put a mint in my mouth or ate a steak he wanted it written down. I had been in the Weight Watchers program a couple different times before. At the time of my doctor’s visit, though not officially a member, I had been practicing the Weight Watcher’s habits for three or four weeks. (I’ll write about this experience later.) So I was used to eating better plus writing foods down. When I came back the following week he liked what he saw on my list. And with great caution prescribed me the Phentermine.

He prescribed it with caution because Phentermine is a narcotic and can be addicting. I had previously read this in my research and had also read that because of its addicting qualities Phentermine not be taken one day a week. Because I’m more addicted to the notion of not becoming addicted I pre-set strict rules to myself with this pill. I determined not to take it on my fast day because that would be cheating since the pill is an appetite suppressant! And I would not take it on Sunday because the pill gives energy and I didn’t want to drive my musicians and singers crazy with me being even more hyper than I already am!

Besides the prescription my doctor did one more thing to help; he gave me a shot of B-vitamins. At first I went and weighed in every week and he’d give me the B shot. The results were no different than I had in Weight Watchers; on a great week I’d lose the maximum of two pounds. But, I kept telling myself, “Losing .5lbs is better than GAINING .5.” So I kept at it.

At this point in the game I was not exercising at all. Just eating low calorie, low fat, high fiber foods. After 2 months of weekly doctor visits I explained to the doctor that it was too expensive for me. He told me I would only need to make an appointment for a prescription when I ran out of Phentermine. (A 30 day supply would last me almost 60 days because I was so strict about my intake.) I got down to around 190lbs and fluctuated up & down 3 & 4 pounds through October and November.

In December of 2008 we got a Wii FIT and I started exercising with that. The key for me is nice-&-easy. I am not a person who thrives on challenge. If its challenging, I quit, its as simple as that! The Wii FIT was almost challenging, but not enough to turn me off. I enjoyed seeing the progress on the screen. But we were just wrapping up that long line of calorie-laden holidays so I stayed there in the early 190’s.

In January of 2009 I had a doctor’s appointment for my weigh-in, to get my prescription refilled, but I also had another matter to attend to; I didn’t want the B shot anymore. I read in Prevention magazine that “excessive” use of B has been linked to breast cancer. My doctor had not heard of this research but agreed with me that if I wasn’t comfortable with it I should stop getting the shot. I haven’t had a B shot since.

I greatly restricted my use of the Phentermine at this point because I got my script filled on January 9th, and didn’t need another script until March 23rd. But I wasn’t losing weight either. I had completely plateaued between 190-194.

Then I started REALLY exercising. As I mentioned, I don’t like a challenge. I didn’t know what I wanted to do for exercise. I couldn’t afford a gym membership. I didn’t want to walk in the stifling FL heat. So, I plugged my ipod into speakers, cranked up the volume and started dancing like a crazy woman in my living room! I thought my kids might want to join me, but they didn’t. They were embarrassed actually! My hair would be flying in all directions, my arms slinging, my legs bouncing… it was a lot of fun! Then I was forced to the next level.

…to be continued.
*I am not a medical doctor, nurse, or advisor. As I did, talk to your doctor before beginning any diet or exercise regime.

My “Get Fit/Feel Pretty” Journey

Originally published on my blog, Soul Java, on Monday, February 22, 2010

Part 1

Everybody has something about themselves they do not like. Some people may have a longer list, be the contents of the list a figment of their imagination or not. Some people don’t like their nose, others their skin, others may feel inferior because of their height, or lack thereof. There have always been things about me that if I allowed my thoughts or conversations to dwell on them they’d knock my confidence level down. But as a whole, my parents did an amazing job of making me feel good about who I am and helping me discover and maximize my strengths while working on and minimizing my weaknesses. But when you live in the culture we do there is one constant self- deprecating complaint heard more than any other; body weight.

I remember sitting in a Marie Calendar restaurant when I was about 12 or 13 years old listening to my parents talk. We were visiting my grandmother in San Jose, CA. Me and my mother had been out shopping all day. We had only been sitting with my dad at dinner for a short while when I realized he was upset at my mom for shopping only for me and not getting anything for herself. She tried to push it off lightheartedly; she didn’t need anything, she couldn’t find anything, it’d be too hot to wear at home in FL. But my dad could tell these were not sincere excuses and so he pushed, wanting her to splurge on herself, put herself first. Then I saw my mother do something I’d never seen her do outside our house or church; she started crying in public. She told my dad she didn’t buy anything because she was too fat to try on anything. I was in shock! Not only was this the first time I’d seen my mom cry in public, but I had no earthly idea she cared that she was fat! As a matter of fact, she wasn’t “fat” to me; she was just “mom”! It had honestly never crossed my mind that she was not perfect. In her pain, through sharp intakes of breath, attempting to stifle the tears my mother told my dad, “You have no idea how hard it is to love everything about yourself, your life, but not be able to completely enjoy all that you love because the one thing that you hate overrides the good.” That broke my heart! I had no idea mother dealt with this because she did such a good job of focusing on what she did love, but somewhere in the center of her mind she spent a lot of energy to push back, as it were, a raging bear poised to destroy her happiness.

I was a skinny baby and child. By the time I was eighteen or nineteen I had signs of my ancestral DNA showing itself in the form of extra, unneeded fat cushioning my frame. I had never been obese, maybe not even overweight, but neither had I ever been petite. I had never had the “look” of the models I saw in every magazine, or the “hot” girls at school or camps. I was never fat, but I was never happy with what I saw in the mirror either. Around 20 years old I began exercising and a fat-free diet and, wow, did I lose the weight! I really liked how I looked and felt. For the first time in my life I wore less than a size 10/12. (I’m not sure how I passed those sizes but I went from wearing kids’ department clothes to wearing a ladies size 10!) I had been a size 12 but I tried on a size 10 suit and it was too big! I got an 8, too big! In shock I asked the sales attendant to get me a size 6, even it was too big! I walked out of the store with a size 5 suit that day! Granted, I didn’t realize it, but I was too skinny. When I look back on pictures my eyes look sunken, my face was too thin, but not to worry; within a year I was married and immediately began to put the weight back on, and then some.

Before my first pregnancy I got the all dreaded, “I hear congratulations are in order!” Knowing exactly what he meant I defiantly stared back into the offensive man’s eyes and asked, “What for?” He stammered, “Aren’t you expecting?” After I actually was pregnant, during my last two months of pregnancy I couldn’t sit in a booth at a restaurant anymore because I couldn’t fit in. It was the first time I weighed over 200 pounds. The same thing happened in my second pregnancy. But I found the same cure as my mom did for pushing that ugly, old bear back into his cave so he didn’t mess with my self-confidence; busyness!

I’m a very creative person. Ideas pour from me like water from a spigot. I have more ideas than anybody could actually put to use. I homeschool, I write, I sing, I teach… it was not hard to get busy and stay busy. The idea of “me time” was a joke to mock at. Not because I couldn’t have it, but because I WOULDN’T have it! The very phrase is the height of selfishness! Why would I participate in such a low, self-gratifying activity when there are so many people in need of my labor of love? And so I pushed that bear down by working too much, which would put me in the position of eating too much of the bad stuff too fast. I’d pour ALL my love into others and then try to love myself with comfort foods. I’d give so much of myself to people and projects that I’d be too exhausted to do anything except sit and munch. All of my productivity AND entertainment was on my laptop so there was no need to move. Consequently, I came into the Summer of 2008 weighing 214lbs. For the first time my busyness couldn’t override my self-loathing. I’d heard of some people having results with their weight loss by going to a doctor for help and so I pushed back my tears and called my doctor for an appointment.

…to be continued.