Saturday, April 29, 2017

Pillars of Salt

Are you familiar with the Biblical story of Lot's wife?

The long story short is that Lot was Abraham's nephew.  Lot and his family lived in Sodom, which was a very wicked city.  When God decided to destroy the city, He provided a way for Lot and his family to escape Sodom safely, but they were given directions to leave quickly and not look back.  As they were fleeing the city, Lot's wife looked back and was turned to a pillar of salt.
Photo from Jordan's Photo Gallery
Lately this story has been ringing in my head.  Looking back often provides a sense of nostalgia and brings good memories.  But for me, every time I get an "on this day" reminder on Facebook, I go, "Ugggh" and am sad.  Now that spring is FINALLY here, I can bring out my spring clothes.  But instead of being super happy to wear them, they are snug in all the wrong areas.  I want to scream.
This dress does still fit.  Do you see the difference?
So, truth be told, I have not gained much, if any weight in the past year.  I hover within the same five pounds.  But I have had a year that I would truly like to NOT look back on.

But one thing I do:  forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:13b-14

In June of last year I hurt my shoulder, which took over six months to heal.  Just thinking about it makes my shoulder twinge.
How it all began... A day of kayaking and paddling on a Stand Up Board was more than my shoulder could take.  Add in two years of heavy weight lifting and ... ouch.
In October I had surgery on the varicose veins in my leg and developed some post-operative complications, which meant I had to have a second procedure in December.  During recovery I had to serious limit my exercise routine.
Amazing that there are no pictures of my scarred up legs.... Go figure, what woman wants pictures of their nasty varicose veins?  Or better yet, the ugly post-operative scars?
Then in February of this year I injured my back when I was cleaning my basement.  A month later I fell on black ice in the parking lot at work and reinjured my back.

Not a day I want to remember!!!!
It has not been a fun year.
Recovery got me like...
I can't really even tell you what that does to a person who has worked so hard to lose weight and become fit...

Stop feeling sorry for yourself, Tracey!!
I feel like my lean body has turned to complete flab.  So now I get to practice what I preach on myself.  It's no longer about giving you all kinds of tips on how to be motivated, it's a giant transition back to find the inspiration, courage and determination to move forward for ME.

Big ol' grin as I write this post...
At 5:00 a.m.
I no longer have a personal trainer to kick me in the butt, so it means I get to do that myself.  And THAT is its own challenge.

So, if you notice some changes in my blog the next few months, it will be all about moving forward in my own journey.  Looking back does not help me.

Goal #1 is to be able to do three sets of 10 push-ups again.  I honestly think that won't take long to do, so I'm setting a small goal.

April 20, 2015 was when I first accomplished this goal!  Back to basics for me.

I have several other goals too, but let's focus on one thing at a time.  Learning to "listen to my body" and to not overdo it means baby steps.  I'll share them here.

Finding motivation to go forward means a working on a few things too...
Developing a routine and sticking to it.
Nutrition, nutrition, nutrition.
It's time to stop all the night time snacking.  No more ice cream!  At least not every night.
Accountability is a huge one for me, so tag, you're it. I'll be looking to you, my readers, to be my cheerleaders.

It's 5:25 a.m.  I am going to make myself some eggs and get to the gym for 6:00 a.m. when they open.  Normally I don't go this early, but I've been up since 3:00 a.m., I feel pretty good, so let's seize the day!

Here is my song for today...not such a workout tune, but definitely one to live by...
How You Live by Point of Grace
"It's not what you did, it's how you live."

Questions for you: (answer in the comment section below)
What motivates you best to work out?  To eat right?  What do you have planned for today?

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

How to Beat the Munchies

Out in the real world, a lot of people ask me questions about how to lose weight and various other ideas.  One I seem to be fielding the most lately is, "How do you deal with snacking?"

So, let me ask you...

Do you find that you eat well all day, only to come home and want to eat everything in sight?
Do you go searching for anything you can have to satisfy that need to munch?
Is night time or after work the hardest time for you?  
Or is it resisting the goodies everyone brings into the office to "share"?

I'll be honest, I love to eat and the more I think I've got snacking figured out, the harder it is to control.
There are a few tips or strategies you can follow to help with the munchies, but they require a little forethought.  Failure to anticipate your needs will lead you to self-sabotage, so the trick is to know what will satisfy your cravings, while simultaneously satisfying your needs.

The first trick is to plan healthy snacks.  Think about it, if you eat breakfast at 6, lunch at about noon and dinner at 6, or so, that's a long time between meals.  So, to keep yourself satisfied, you really should have mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks.  Nothing crazy, but a couple healthy snacks on hand. Planning basically means you have the food accessible.  Most of my snacks don't require any prep, just making sure the fridge / shelves are stocked.

Here are some suggestions:
Almonds (1 oz. = 160 calories, 6 g carbs, 14 g fat, 6 g protein)
A protein bar (depending on the brand = 200 calories, 16-23 g carbs, 6-7 g fat, 20-21 g protein
An apple with peanut butter (270 calories, 29 carb, 16 g fat, 8 g protein)
Greek yogurt with 1/2 serving granola (I use Bear Naked granola)  (195 calories, 22 g carbs, 4 g fat, 18 g protein)
A protein shake with a frozen banana (235 calories, 30 g carb, 2 g fat, 28 g protein)  I use left over cold coffee for my liquid and it makes a great pre / post-workout snack! (Not pictured)  Leave it in the blender a little longer than normal and viola!
Note one common thread: these just about ALL have a decent amount of protein AND healthy fats.

Things to avoid:
  • Trigger foods (for me, that's raisins, chocolate, cookies). What do you eat that makes you want more and more?  You may want to keep these kinds of things OUT of the house completely.
  • High carb foods with little to no protein or fat - while an orange or baked potato chips may taste good, they may not sustain you.  Try some fruit with cottage cheese or nut butter instead. (That's why I'll have an apple with peanut butter.)
If you are truly hungry, make sure you are eating enough for breakfast and lunch.  Skipping meals, or not eating enough, lends to hunger.  If you find that nothing satisfies you, binging is a potential hazard, which is an entirely different problem in and of itself.

When you feel hungry, but you know you shouldn't be hungry, ask yourself if you really are thirsty.  Chances are a glass of water will take care of your need to munch.  I just had a handful of almonds and two glasses of water and I feel much better.
I keep water in the fridge all the time, with sliced lemon.  It taste much better than straight from the tap and is a lot less expensive than drinking bottled water all the time.
When all else fails, try gum.  Yep, sugarless gum might just satisfy your need to chew and your need for something sweet.  One slice of Extra gum is only five calories.

If it's ice cream you love, try Skinny Cows.  I recommend you keep them out of reach, so one is enough. I keep these in the freezer in the basement and save them for my night time snack.  It satisfies my need for ice cream without a ton of bed time calories.
160 calories:  28 g. carbs, 3.5 g fat, 4 g protein

Thought I'd start sharing my favorite workout tunes with you.  Share yours in the comment section.  Here is my absolute new favorite workout song:
Chained to the Rhythm by Katy Perry, feat. Skip Marley

Questions for you: (answer in the comment section below)
How do you beat the munchies?  Do you prefer sweet treats of salty treats?  What's your one major trigger food?

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Little Things

So, I disobeyed my doctor yesterday and I pushed myself more than I have in a long time.  Yep, probably over did it a little.  I didn't push through pain, but I did lift weights, go hiking and take a bike ride.  Two years ago, that was my definition of a perfect day, only my bike ride was 40 miles and I was lifting 100 lbs.  It's 2017, let's try 15 lbs and a 5 mile bike ride.  A month ago I couldn't even tie my shoes, so that's a huge improvement!!!  I'll take it.
Monument Mountain, Great Barrington, MA
A friend of ours ran the Boston Marathon yesterday.  I'm so proud of him.  He hurt his knee in January, tore the meniscus and was told, "No running."  He trained for the marathon anyway and did it, even through the pain.
Here's a picture of the medal he got!!!  He texted this to my hubby last night.  I bet he didn't know I'd put it up on my blog.  Go Marty!  Super super proud of you!!!!
On Saturday I did a 5K race, only I walked because of my back.  This race welcomed walkers, so I was happy to participate.  There was a group there from Achilles International, which supports runners with disabilities.
Some of the disabled runners had special bikes designed just for them.
The lady in the middle here is a blind runner.
I was super impressed with this group.  Each athlete has guides that run along side of them.  I have to be honest, as "happy" as I was to be outside on Saturday, walking and participating in this race, I really wanted to run.  I could feel it in my soul.  I just wanted to run.  Participating in this race with these athletes really gave me a fresh perspective.

I am not disabled.  I am well.  I am healthy.  Sure, I have a sore back.  Yes, I'm dealing with this and it sucks to go through this.  But I will get through it.  I will recover, this is not permanent.

While I didn't run, I did walk as fast as I could and I was keeping a really good pace.  Just about 14 - 15 minutes per mile.  My normal walking pace is about 18 - 20 minutes per mile, so I was pushing it.  In fact, I was at the front of all the walkers.  Not trying to compete with anyone, just myself, I took advantage of the beautiful day and I totally turned my self-pity upside down.

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:13-14

I'm not entirely sure why I ever even started running.  I have a bum knee and the doctor told me, "No running!" years ago.  In fact, he lectured me sternly about it.  But last summer I just sort of started doing it.
A post-run selfie last December
Saturday I was inspired by the people who were run-walking in front of me too.  I was able to keep up with them for most of the race because, well... I guess it just worked out that way.  Witnessing their determination was good for me.
This couple would run about two - three house lengths, then walk, then run, then walk.  I reminded me of when I started running...that's what I did.  I measured my distance of running by driveways.
The ladies on the left of this picture were run / walking with the little boy.  He was such a trooper.  3.1 miles is a LONG way to run for me, let alone this little guy.  He tried with all his might.

The lady on the right was such an inspiration.  She just kept at it, never giving up.  Towards the end there was a pretty decent sized hill and she went up that hill as fast as she could.  The last 1/2 mile, her friend came out and ran the last trek with her, cheering her on.

Okay, so I have a sore back.  And it's no joke.  When tying your shoes is a big deal, you treasure every little accomplishment.  So, it's time to stop feeling sorry for myself.  Today is the day.
More pics from our hike.  Joey, Leia and Sam
Princess Leia
Treasure the little things.  You are blessed.
O praise the name of the Lord our God
O praise His name forevermore
For endless days we will sing Your praise
Oh Lord Oh Lord Our God

Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God.
Psalm 146:5

Questions for you: (answer in the comment section below)
Are you a runner?  How do you deal with injuries when you are training?  What's the worst injury you've had?

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Monday, April 17, 2017

Square One

Looking back is such a thing these days.  There are #ThrowbackThursdays and #FlashbackFridays.  Timehop reminds you of what you've posted on various social media sites.
Even Facebook has an "On This Day" reminder of the things you said over the past x number of years you've been on Facebook.  Sometimes it's embarrassing and you think, "Did I really say that?"  Usually  it's kind of nice to reminisce and think about where you've been, what you've done.

When the New Year rolled around, I was excited.  I thought to myself, "This is YOUR year!"  I was committed to regaining the strength I lost between my shoulder and recovering from multiple surgeries on my leg.  I was finally cleared to go all out and that's exactly what I did.  Until this happened: Down and Out.

Over the past 3+ years, I have been so focused on fitness that going from 100 to zero is a major blow.  Now I measure progress in terms of tying shoes, taking a walk without pain, cleaning the house, and picking up the laundry basket, and simply making it through the day.  I am restricted from doing just about everything that makes me happy.  No weight lifting, no running, no cycling. My doctor told me, "Back pain is tricky.  You have to listen to your body."
I couldn't run this race, so I walked, while my running buddies ran.  They were good sports and didn't mind waiting for me.  It was a BEAUTIFUL day for this race.l
Listen to my body?  What does that mean?

I have ALWAYS adhered to, "No pain, no gain."  "Give 100%"  What happens when you can't do the things you love?  What about when you were obese for your entire adult life and busted your butt to get in shape and now the rug is pulled out from beneath you?  Literally.

I wish I had all the answers to my own problems, but the thing is, "Back pain is tricky."  What works for one person, doesn't work for the next.  What worked yesterday may not work tomorrow.  But I do know, pushing through the pain will make things worse.  So, in this case, pain means "STOP."
Happy Easter from me and Sam
My doctor told me it could take a year.  A YEAR!  Are you serious?  He said, "You cannot put a time line on your recovery.  You have to listen to your body."

Listen to my body?  Here we go again.  What does that mean?

A year...

So, it's spring and I had already signed up for all kinds of races and other events, which I had to bail on:

  • A bunch of 5K races that I can't run.
  • The Run to Remember at the end of May.
  • The Tour de Cure and the Tough Mudder in June.

I have the Ride to Remember and the Rugged Maniac in September and I can only hope I am well enough to train for these in time.  But..."Back pain is tricky" and "Don't put a timeline on recovery."  So, I'm calculating how long I think I need, minimum to train for the Ride to Remember.  I'm not sure.  I think it depends on how well I can hold up riding for extended rides, once I actually can start riding again.

So, to answer your questions...
Yes, I am going to Physical Therapy.  Yes, it is helping.
Yes, I do still see my chiropractor, but this is a muscle injury, and there's not much more he can do.  It has to heal.
No, I haven't gained weight.  Not at all, really.  But my muscle mass has diminished and my clothes from last spring don't fit as well.  Great, just great.  It really is true, muscle weighs more than fat.
No, I'm not going to give up.  I realize that I am starting all over again.
My motto!
Back to square one.  And I also know I may not be able to move from square one for a while because, "Back pain is tricky." and "I have to listen to my body."
Today I did some very light weight lifting.  I mean, very light, like 10 - 15 lbs. light.  It felt good to just hold the weights in my hands.

While I already track my food, I am going to start tracking my workouts again, as well as my pain to see how I do every day.  I have to learn how to listen to my body.

I also realize that #FlashbackFridays and #ThrowbackThursdays are no good for me because all the retrospective is doing me in.  Looking back isn't doing me any good right now.  So it's looking ahead.  Starting over from square one.  Ground zero.  It's only up from here.

Question for you: (answer in the comment section below)
If you celebrate Easter, what did you do?

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