Tuesday, July 22, 2014

still looking for solutions

The struggle continues.  I am still not weighing, but I am still clearly gaining - clothes and the mirror confirm that much. 

I am cautiously hopeful that I might be nearing the end of my inability to walk.  My daughter sent me an essential oil called "Pan Away" that I rub on the bottoms of my feet in the mornings after my shower; it does seem like the pain in my feet is reducing in the two days I've tried it thus far.  A friend also recommended "GoWalk" shoes and I've got a pair coming in the mail tomorrow.  She assures me they are beyond wonderful, and I'm willing to believe that they might help. 

Meanwhile, I continue to take my supplements and eat gluten-free to the fullest possible extent, hoping that some of that will help.  They don't seem to help.  While I don't mind continuing to take the supplements (which may be helping with other things, after all), I won't last much longer on the gluten-free plan.  I need RESULTS to motivate me for the inconvenience of dodging gluten. 

I have to admit, I have not tried every solution.  After my last blog, several of  you recommended low-impact kinds of exercise like water exercise and yoga.  Both of those would require a financial commitment from me, and my bikes are sitting in my garage, available to be used for free and always a source of joy - yet, I must note that I haven't made getting them out and using them a priority! 

On a final note, I am finally ready to at least start looking for a family doctor, in case the latest solutions don't pan out.  I just can't keep on gaining wait.  I just can't keep on not being able to exercise.  I hate being out of breath when I exert myself.  I detest feeling so awkward and unlovely and self-conscious.  And a lot of the pain issues I deal with are at least exacerbated, if not partially caused, by obesity.  My arthritis in my feet probably wouldn't be as bad, if so many pounds weren't pressing down on them.  Obesity definitely contributes to carpal tunnel syndrome.  The fatigue I feel more often than not these days is surely related to my weight and lack of exercise (I'm taking iron and 20,000 units/day of vitamin D3, so I doubt it's a nutritional deficiency.) 

I have put the plea out on Facebook, and I'll put it out here as well, to any of you who are from the Quad City area:  do you know a family doctor with a holistic approach, who doesn't just write prescriptions?  We are definitely shopping for one. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

notes from the field of defeat, which is not the final destination

It never fails to amaze me, how very derailed I am able to get from something I know, something I think I have completely internalized and woven in as part of my life.  Thus is my condition on the journey of letting God teach me to love my body. 

These days I find myself longingly remembering the confidence with which I strutted around a year and a half ago, feeling great about my body despite its plus-size condition.  I remember the runner's high, the triumph of finishing 50-mile bike rides, even if the last dozen or so miles practically destroyed me every time.  I remember the satisfaction of putting on an item of clothing and thinking that it was verging on too big and would soon need to be put away, then given away.  I remember being so tuned in to the practice of truly *loving* my body by my actions that choosing well was more or less my default position. 

I am so far from that right now.  It started with getting too busy moving from my apartment to my friends' home as well as planning a wedding for as much bike riding.  In 2012, I killed it on the bike - more than 1,000 miles.  In 2013, it was far fewer miles.  I don't think I've yet ridden 100 miles in 2014, and here we are halfway through the year. 

It continued with the adjustment to being married.  There was G's awful work schedule with his former employer, and the 8 PM bedtime that was forced on us by that schedule.  It was a lot more of a struggle, but I was battling through, changing my times for running and continually reminding myself about the things I've learned about food, even as more and more often I went into automatic mode and just ate whatever I felt like eating.  Not AS MUCH as I'd have eaten in the old days...but still, the wrong stuff, and too much of it. 

The major blow was 4 or so months ago, when my arthritis cranked into overdrive.  In the past, I would have a flare-up from time to time, and it might last a day or maybe up to a couple of weeks.  No big deal.  I'd take some time to rest, and then start up again as soon as possible with the running.  This flare is not like this.  This flare goes on and on, relentless.  I have tried to go out and at least WALK in the mornings with G; most often, I am fighting tears from the pain in my feet by the time we get home.  So I haven't tried it MUCH.  This is not because I'm afraid of the pain - DUDE - I can push through pain - but because the podiatrist was very clear, back when she diagnosed my arthritis, that I was to listen to that pain and respond with rest, ice, and ibuprofen.  She spoke of the possible need for surgery in the future, and heaven knows I am not excited about surgical solutions for arthritis.  It seems to me that would be like surgical solutions for carpal tunnel - a temporary fix, sure to be undone by returning to the original activity that caused it in the first place.  So I've tried to take her advice seriously. 

The not running is a major deal.  The being too tied up with moving and the gardens and the everyday business of life to get back to a lot of bike riding is also a major deal.  Both are sabotaging me.  I suppose it sounds like I am making excuses, and maybe I am - except for this:  I REALLY, REALLY WANT to get back to running and riding.  I miss both.  I am homesick for how good both make me feel.  And I am tired of how I feel in this State of Very Little Exercise. 

I've been trying to remedy the arthritis via supplements of every sort, all of which come with strong recommendations from folks whom I either know well, or whose reputation I trust - people who say things like, "When I use this, I have no pain."  I am using almost all of them. None are taking away my pain.  I take tart cherry juice tablets with breakfast every morning, along with glucosamine.  I stir diatomaceous earth into my half-cup of juice every morning and drink it down.  I am taking a substantial daily dose of Vitamin D, and also a tablet that is calcium, magnesium, and zinc.  The pain is constant enough these days that I now automatically add a couple of Ibuprofen tablets to the pile of supplements in the morning, and take a couple at bedtime, and sometimes I take a couple more at midday.  Some days that helps a bit.  Some days it doesn't touch the pain.  Another friend recently recommended spirulina, and I'll be picking that up next paycheck to see if it helps.  It gets hard to hope, though. 

Awhile back at a family get-together, an aunt was talking a lot about eating gluten free.  I was kind of saying, "blah, blah, blah" inside of my head, trying to block it, because I truly did not want to try eating gluten free, and to my knowledge, I do not suffer from Celiac Disease.  The little "mini tests" one can take online to see if they might be celiac all say that I am not.  And I didn't want to try it as a weight-loss strategy, simply because I do know how to eat in a way that lets me lose weight - I just have lost my grip on doing so for quite some time.  So I was really doing my best not to tune into the idea of gluten-free.  But then my aunt said something that caught my attention:  though she is not celiac, when she goes gluten-free, her inflammation stops.  Inflammation?  She clarified:  arthritis. 

Well.  I must say, I was not thrilled to hear this - but it definitely held my attention.  If someone related to me by blood has a dietary solution that actually helps her, mightn't that mean that it could work for me?  Still, I hate, hate, hate the notion of figuring out the whole gluten-free thing.  So I spent a whole lot of time just considering it before I began to try to act on it. 

I have been attempting gluten-free for maybe a couple of weeks now, but it has been a very haphazard attempt.  First, we lacked the right groceries around the house, so I kept getting derailed by that.  Then, I went to help put on a kids' camp, and there was all this amazing food with gluten there, and I didn't even try to fight my way through and live on salad all week.  Since I got home last Friday, I bought better groceries and have been cooking better - but outside of home, lots of things continue to happen that make it difficult.  And frequently I fail, when it is difficult. 

My body image has taken a beating as I've put on weight.  I was already really struggling with that for months, before I lived through the great Poison Oak or Ivy Hell.  Having Prednisone swell me up like a balloon didn't help.  The way the Prednisone sent me into eating overdrive didn't help.  I put on a lot of weight in those 3 weeks that I was on that drug.  In that time, I had dreams of being in social situations where it wasn't appropriate to keep eating...and I was eating, ashamed, eating, embarrassed, eating, eating, eating all manner of wonderful choices like donuts.  So basically my body and my mind were both working against me, and I had lost my grip on all the cool tools I learned in the last 3 years of this journey. 

When I went back to work while trying to recover from that rash, I was still swollen, plus the extra weight, and the rash had me choosing clothes only for comfort and not for appearance - so I looked even fatter in them.  I was trying to not fall into a pit about that.  One day I stepped into the hall in front of a couple of ladies who made a very disgusted noise as I stepped in front of them.  As I walked along, they followed me, talking at what they surely imagined was a level I couldn't hear.  Only I could hear.  They talked about how awfully fat I was, and how fat others at work were, and how all of us fat folk need to figure out how calories work.  They talked in modulated, knowing, quiet tones, and I wished that it was true that I couldn't hear them.  That was a hard hit, and to be honest, I still don't know quite how to recover from it.  I still hear it a lot in my head, especially when I'm at work, where I no longer have any desire to spend time in any hall, basically ever.  I am back to feeling the way I did before this whole journey of letting God teach me to love my body - back to feeling like I owe the world an apology for subjecting them to looking at me - where I really wish people just wouldn't look at me at all.  I hate this place.  And I'm not good at eating well in this place - I'm way too handy at seeking the comfort of food numbness.  Gross. 

So I've been seeking the Lord about it, and He's been talking to me, and I think I'm probably only open enough to fully receive a tiny fraction of what He's saying.  I'm hearing enough that I'm starting to seriously choose better, food wise.  That is step one of loving my body. 

Of course there are no instant solutions.  It will take a long, long time of doing what I ought to do before I'll be back anywhere even close to the nice fitness level I was at.  I'm not sure what to do about the exercise part - my feet still hurt, of course. There must be time somewhere in my life that I can pick up with riding the bike more again...I just have to find it.  I'm not yet sure how to find it. 

This is a humbling place.  I greatly prefer coming to the naked blog to tell you how awesome it feels to love my body well.  I don't love my body well right now.  I don't love my body at all right now. 

But maybe I'm finally ready to get up and start fighting once again. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

fell down. standing back up.

Wow.  THREE MONTHS since I posted here.  THREE MONTHS! 

If you were going to guess how I'm doing on my quest to love my body while neglecting the naked blog for three months, what would you guess?

If you said something like probably not good news - BINGO.  When last I posted (in NOVEMBER), my husband and I were dealing with his brutal work schedule, which required us to get up at 2:15 AM many mornings in order to get him to work.  It was not a body-friendly schedule.  Not a sleep-friendly schedule.  Not a workout-friendly schedule.  It was sucking away his life and it wasn't much fun for me either.  Among the casualties of that battle was my focus on loving my body.  It just kind of went out the window.

So.  I am back.  Three months later, and I don't wanna know how many pounds heavier.  The pants I am wearing are so tight I almost can't wear them - and they are the ones that sat in the "give to goodwill because they're embarrassingly freakin' huge" basket for months.  That's a bummer. 

I'm not weathering it well.  I'm eating terribly and my poor husband is dealing with my daily angst about the shape I am in.

But this is not a bad news blog!  HERE'S THE GOOD NEWS:  I gave up the fight to stay outside (that just wasn't working in 50 below zero temps and icy streets) and we joined a gym.  This morning was our first time as members.  We have access to it 24/7, which should work just FINE with our schedule, no matter what our schedule does, eh?  There are enough machines that we shouldn't have to wait.  And it has tons of weights, which is very appealing to my husband (and perhaps my sucky attitude about weights will change as I lose some pounds and I'll try 'em too.) 

Starting over can be discouraging, since results come so slowly.  But I am leaning in to remember all that I have been through in the past 2 or 3 years.  I know more.  I haven't lost everything I've learned and all my growth and change during this dip - I've just lost touch with it.  I'm moving in the right direction to reconnect with it now.  And I have the love and support and good humor and constant companionship of a man who never does even one thing to make me feel bad about the current condition of my body.

That's a blessing, for sure. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

prioritizing isn't always a simple thing

Wow.  I haven't been here since September 27.  That's just about 2 months!!  Where did the time go?  Hopefully you've found me over at the other blog, where I'm more consistent about writing!

Last time I was here, I was still really struggling to adjust to changes in the schedule.  My husband Gary's job starts either at 4 AM or 6 AM, depending on overtime, which means we need to be in bed and well on our way to sleep, not just chillin, come 8 PM on weeknights.  This meant shifting from running in the mornings to running after work.  I hated it for a long, long time.  But I kept showing up and kept asking God to change my attitude.  HE DID!  I'm actually enjoying running after work three days a week now.  

We've been working our way through the C25K (couch to 5K) program all this time, since that's a nicer, much less painful way to get Gary up to running 30 continuous minutes than just plunging into it.  With life cancelling some runs for other events, and my arthritic feet cancelling other runs, it's been a long, slow process, working our way through it.  We just finally advanced last night to this rotation:
  • 5 minutes of warmup walk
  • 20 minutes of run
  • 5 minutes of cooldown walk
Before last night, we still had little walk intervals in the middle.  Using C25K to get there was very effective for Gary, just as it had been for me.  No major soreness, no feeling like dying, no massive discouragement.  It's a good program.  

Along the way, I have been noticing myself getting fatter and fatter.  SOME of that has been a food thing - it's harder to be a veggie-consuming machine when our communal-type living arrangement means my meals consist of:
  • meals out
  • meals cooked by our friends with whom we live
  • meals in our room
Meals out are fun, but one loses a large degree of control over how stuff is prepared, even when one orders pretty healthy stuff.  Meals with our friends are amazing - their table is like another very nice restaurant - and they include meat most days and some really marvelous sweets and other carbish yummies sometimes (and I'm an eat what there is kinda girl, you know?)  Meals in our room need to be stuff that doesn't take refrigeration, as our mini fridge is very, very mini and is maxed out by breakfast stuff and stuff to pack for Gary's lunches.  So it ends up being canned soups, crackers, chips, etc.  

So SOME part of why I'm getting fatter is I can't be the veggie maniac I was in my very own apartment.  But MOSTLY why I'm getting fatter, I think, has been the reduced exercise.  C25K is great for getting someone up to running.  But I used to run about 50 minutes at a time, on my 3 run days per week, and then I'd bike maybe 50 miles most weekends.  The routines of married life have knocked out most of the biking miles.  And until yesterday, the C25K added up to about 15 minutes of running, with about 15 minutes of walking interspersed throughout it.  

Along the way, I was moaning to Gary about my body falling out of condition.  He swears it's not true, but I'm the one who buttons my jeans.  I'm intimately aware, even despite my refusal to step on a scale, when I am getting LESS fit.  In his well-intentioned efforts to give me a pep talk about this, he said things that my mind heard differently than his mouth meant to say, and HOO BOY did I get ticked off.  I sat quietly on the irritation, refusing to respond to it, knowing my husband is kind and doesn't set out to offend me.  After a couple of days, I got the truth out of what was said, which was:  I need to do what it takes, to help my body.  It's really that simple.

So for the last week what I've been doing is running the C25K part with Gary and then leaving him at home while I go out and run 20ish more minutes uninterrupted.  It gets me closer the the workout my body had become accustomed to doing daily.  It makes me late for supper and it takes 20 minutes of our very-little-time-together away, but I've returned to the place of being willing to do what it takes to love my body well, even when it costs such prices that I wish I didn't have to pay.  

It feels good to be back to running more.  My body is celebrating already.  I think it will help me with motivation to return to improving my food intake, even within the limitations of the lifestyle we have chosen for this portion of the journey.  

Friday, September 27, 2013

getting back on track after a derailment

It has been a week of noticing my weakness.  

Noticing my extreme reluctance and general bad attitude about changing our run time from pre-dawn to post-work.  Noticing my body not adapting quickly to the change. 

Noticing how slow I am in adapting to a new sleep schedule.  

Noticing how hard I have to fight to eat in ways that will work with the new run schedule and the new sleep schedule. 

And then today I was just WEAK and GREEDY all day long.  A coworker brought donuts.  Know how many I ate?  THREE.  Two in the morning, one in the afternoon.  THREE.  FREAKING.  DONUTS.  Cuz once I had had one, then I NEEDED more - such is the nature of the sugar junkie, and I know this, and I know the only way around it is not to start down that road.  But start I did, and oh BOY did I run hard down it.

Furthermore, I was in a lunch meeting where we were served A LOT more food than I needed.  Early in the meal, I reminded myself that I COULD just eat a small amount and let the rest of it go. 

But that's not what I did.  I ate it up.  All the spinach salad.  All the big bowl of pasta with breaded chicken and marinara sauce.  All the buttery garlic bread.  All the pineapple upside down cake.  All, all, all.  

I finally did better at supper, managing to eat in a way that shouldn't derail early sleep (I'm already 20 minutes past our bedtime, but hey, it will STILL be early when we get the lights turned out.) And hallelujah, thank you JESUS for my friend who made such a body-loving supper.  A nice end to the day!

So.  Tonight and tomorrow and all the days going forward, I can focus on the many failures of this week in my behavior, attitude, choices, etc.  


I can say that I have a fresh start right this minute.  I can refuse to speak condemning words to myself.  I can go as gently with me as I would with you.  I can do better NOW (which is the only thing I have the power to change - can't change the past or even the future - yet - but I CAN change NOW.) 

So that's what I'll do.  So long, suckish choices.  Sorry we hung out so long.  Hope I don't see you again soon. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

outriding fear

I used to be a lot more fearful than I am today.  I had a chance to reflect on that over the weekend as I rode my bike with G. 

First, we came to Credit Island, which was the first place that I gathered my courage to ride with traffic here in the Quad Cities.  Riding the Critical Mass in Chicago with hundreds of other riders had emboldened me enough to think I might one day manage to ride on the streets without the wall of bicycles on all sides of me.  So when I got back to Rock Island, I would put my bike on the rack on my car and take it to a park in Davenport.  From there, I could ride directly on the bike path to Credit Island.  It is a quiet road, but still I was terrified when cars and trucks would pass me.  I had to ride it a lot of times before I could consider riding other, busier roads.

We crossed the main Arsenal bridge, and I remembered my first time to cross – how I stood trembling, barely able to make myself get on and pedal, so sure I was that I would somehow slip and slide and fall over sideways, getting a head injury on the metal edges that are everywhere on all sides. 

We crossed the other, smaller bridge for the Arsenal, and I remembered countless rides across with terror of heights clambering inside my head and twisting my belly in knots.

We did a little sharp u-turn to exit from that bridge to head north-bound on the bike path, and I recalled how I used to have to stop and get off to make that turn, so sure I was that I would fall over otherwise. 

We crossed stoplights, and as I properly took the lane for maximum safety, I felt calm certainty inside, rather than the fearful notion I used to have that some driver was probably going to mow me down in a fit of road rage.

I stood on the pedals as we rolled down a big hill, and I remembered the days when I couldn’t even summon the courage to stand on them while riding on flat ground.

The thousands of miles I have ridden my bike since April 2010, when I first purchased Lulu, have been among the most empowering, liberating forces in my life.  I would never have gathered up what it took to start running, had I not started with biking.  My confidence and competence in all modes of travel – even driving – have been boosted immeasurably by my bike time.  My comfort level with my body has vastly improved – I am more graceful, more sure, and that has chip, chip, chipped away at my self-loathing over the years.

It makes me wonder – what physical challenges will the Lord throw at me in the coming year (because YES I believe the bike was a God idea) to continue to stretch and grow me?

May I meet it with gladness and courage, even if only just barely.

Monday, September 23, 2013


G and I changed our plans to run at 3 AM.  Upon further review, we have decided it is worth attempting to run after work, despite my many and strong objections to running at that time of the day and in daylight.  My objections are not as strong as my aversion to rising at 3 AM.  So we're giving it a go.  

Today was our first after-work run.  Like all runs (for me) after being off running for a week or more, it was miserable.  I lose so much momentum when I don't run.  And then there were all the things I hate about running at not-before-sunrise:  sunshine, warmth, traffic, lots of other pedestrians/runners. On top of that was that my tummy isn't nicely empty like it is first thing in the morning.  So my belly felt HUGE and HEAVY and HORRIBLE and it slowed me down.  I will need to adapt my lunch, I think, to something smaller to accommodate this new run schedule.  

I can do that.  And I trust I will have a better attitude after a week, when I've regained some momentum.  Meantime, I will run and piss and moan and you can feel free to smack me when you see me for my bad attitude.  If you see us out on the street, my husband will be the one smiling and easily outrunning me.  :-)