Time Flies

It has been way too long since I’ve written about my progress. In part, this delay has been due to a waning in my motivation. It’s like I hit the 10 percent goal and gave up. (I didn’t really give up.) In talking to two of my fellow weight-loss journey pals, I realized we all hit that point at the same time. And instead of really working to motivate each other, we just gave ourselves excuses. Excuses not to work out, excuses not to eat well, excuses not to keep making progress.

One of the three of us (not me), recommitted herself to her goals this morning, She sent me a text, which is one of the tools we use to motivate each other, so I could keep her accountable. Seeing that she was recommitting herself to making positive, thoughtful choices, I know that I need to do the same thing. My preferred tool for accountability, however, is this blog. As you can tell, I have been avoiding it like the plague. I have been making excuses for not working toward my goals. But it’s time to stop and move forward.

Much like I did when I started this process, I reflected on where I am and where I want to be. I know where I don’t want to be, and that’s back in the clothes I was wearing in February. So over the past couple of days, I sorted through my closet and bagged up the clothes I had that were just taking up room. In donating the clothes I have “undergrown,” I am removing any form of permission to go back to where I was. Now all I have in my closet are clothes I can wear now, or clothes I will be wearing in the not-so-distant future. It means I don’t have much left in my wardrobe, but that’s okay. I have nowhere to go but down the scale.

In terms of moving down the scale, I am right on the verge of hitting my June weight loss goal. Because I have been lazy about eating well and exercising, and because I have been hitting my weight loss goals early, I was making excuses for not continuing the trend. But I’m tired of being right on the precipice of making good progress. Once I hit this month’s weight loss goal, I will be down a full 40 pounds from the end of February.

So this is me publicly recommitting myself to my weight-loss journey. I haven’t been upset with myself over my waning enthusiasm because I know this is a process and these times will come. But I could sure use a kick in the pants. I’m right on the verge of dropping another size, too. My goal is to be in that smaller size by the end of July. 

Here’s to progress!

Method, Madness, Numbers, and Doubt

In today’s post, I’m going to lay out what I’m doing to lose weight (hence the method and madness), my numbers, and how I’m getting through periods of doubt.

Once I had my epiphany in February that I needed to make drastic changes, I told myself I was going to join Weight Watchers. Then I looked at the price to join online. Seeing that it wasn’t in my budget, I did what any person in the 21st century with a smart phone would do – I went to Google’s Market to find a free app to do the same basic thing. What I found was an app created by about.com called  Calorie Count. It helps me track my food, water, weight, and activity. I’ve heard there are others, but I’m partial to this one. It works for me and what I need it to do.

Once I found that, I started making more conscious choices about what I put in my mouth. Rather than indiscriminately shoving food down my gullet or choosing what I ate based on how I felt, I started thinking about how the food I ate would help my body get the nutrients it needs. I also thought about what my diet would look like once I reached my goal weight. I wanted my food choices now to reflect what I see average-weight people eating on a regular basis.

In response to the madness of making changes, I cut out soda and sweets. I haven’t had cake, cookies, or pie since I began my journey at the end of February. I’m not good at doing things in moderation or estimating, so it is just better for me to say no to everything. I do have a sweet tooth, however, and I sate it by eating a Fiber One bar in the morning. I have either the oats and peanut butter or oats and chocolate variety, and it’s sweet enough that I don’t feel like I’m deprived. I did, one time, go to Orange Leaf to treat myself to some frozen yogurt topped with granola. Other than that, no sweets in a month and a half. And no, I don’t miss them.

Now comes the part that is most humbling and hardest to discuss. But if I’m going to share everything else about my process, I might as well be honest about the numbers. Once I reach my goal weight, it’s going to come out anyway, so I might as well do it now.

The highest weight I recorded for myself was 376. However, I suspect that I may have been in excess of 380 at one point. I didn’t get on the scale then, so I can’t be sure. But this last summer, I did weigh in at 376. When I started this process at the end of February, the scale read 358. As of Friday, I was down to 338. Since last summer, I’m down almost 40 pounds, and since I started actively trying to lose weight, I’m down 20. My goal is 150, which is a little above the prescribed idea body weight for my height, but it’s where I think I can be comfortable.

Now for the doubt. I tend to get complacent once I start hitting goals and can feel the difference, which is happening now. I start to think I’m good, that I can do it, but that I don’t need to. But the fact is I do. It’s unhealthy to be this heavy, and it’s uncomfortable. Not only that, I got this heavy because I was so unhappy. If I’m happy now, then why would I want to carry the reminder of my lowlier days? I don’t!

Yesterday, one of my oldest friends and I took a walk on the same track where we graduated nearly 16 years ago. We hadn’t seen one another in person since that blustery day, and it was so nice to catch up. It was nice to catch up and hear about her life. We were there for an hour and a half, chatting the whole time. We walked two miles on the track, eight laps if you don’t remember how many that makes. I was quite proud of myself for going two miles without stopping, though I did wish I could have picked up the pace. Not that it matters; what counts is that I did it.

Because we walked two miles on a flat track yesterday, I decided on I would walk two miles on my hillier (for Kansas) home loop. For those that are unfamiliar, I live on 17 acres in the country. By walking the perimeter of the property and the neighbor’s property, I cover a half-mile. So four laps around the property today made two miles. But as I was walking up the driveway to finish lap number three, doubt started setting in. My feet were aching, and I was tired and thirsty. Did I really need to walk that last lap? Would it really make a difference?

I knew I needed to keep going, so I did. But I knew I needed some internal motivation, so I thought about what would push me to keep going. I found it. I won’t give the details of my motivating thoughts here, but it was enough to revitalize not only my resolve in finishing my walk, but it also renewed my vow to continue with my new lifestyle to lose weight and take control of my life. One thought, one goal, one determined woman.

I have had three friends, one of whom I hadn’t spoken to in more than 10 years, reach out to me through this process. Two have asked what I’m doing, and one tells me that I’m her motivation to lose weight. That was another thought I had during my walk today. There are people who are watching me do this. As a teacher, I’ve always believe in being a role model for kids. But I guess I never really thought about being a role model for my peers. If I can change others’ lives as I change my own, then I will feel doubly blessed.

To all those who have reached out with words of encouragement, support, and advice, I want to publicly thank you here. It has made a huge difference for me. Even those who have only liked a status, thank you. Though we like to think we can do things through internal motivation alone, having external support helps, too.

 

 

Internal Motivation

Three days. That’s all it has been. Three days in a row of walking/jogging. Not much, right? Consider this – three consecutive days is HUGE for me. I couldn’t tell you the last time I worked out for three consecutive days. I’m so excited to keep going and make it an everyday occurrence.

Then I looked at the weather for the rest of the week.

Rain. Lots and lots of rain. Dang it!

The path I walk is the perimeter of my parents’ and the neighbor’s land. It’s grassy and (mildly) hilly. When it rains, the depressions in the ground fill with standing water, becoming marshy wetlands. Those wetlands? Not conducive to walking. So I have to come up with a backup plan.

My first thought was to walk at the track, and that is more than likely what I will end up doing. Here’s the challenge that I need help overcoming. I hate working out with all my heart and soul. I love what it is doing for me, but I really hate doing it. Listening to music on my phone has helped alleviate that hatred and make the walking tolerable. I have no problem walking in the rain, but what the heck do I do to keep my phone from getting wet and dying on me? Buying a waterproof case isn’t an option for me right now.

I will be taking any and all suggestions to solve this conundrum between now and Tuesday, March 27 at 4 p.m. All creative (and cheap!) solutions welcome.

 

Vanishing Act

My last post was 21 days ago. In it, I talked about taking back control of my life and learning to live with hunger. I am pleased to announce that today, not only do I have more control over my life, how I feel, what I do, and how I go about things, there is less of me to control. As of today, I am down 11.6 pounds from a month ago. My goal is to lose 10 pounds per month, and so far, it’s happening.

A few friends have asked how I am doing, if I am following a plan. Well, yes but no. I am using a free app I found haphazardly on my phone called Calorie Count. Made by About.com, it is surprisingly intuitive and includes food, weight, water, and activity logs. I can access it both on the go from my phone or at home from my computer.

What has made the biggest difference is simply making smarter choices and eating less. This last week, I ate out five times. Over the course of those few days, I dropped a couple of pounds. It’s not rocket science. It is hard at times. Women will understand that there is one week a month where willpower and control fly out the window. That was last week for me. I was up all last week, but still trying to make good decisions, then my weight inexplicably fell right back down where it was.

There are a few things that keep me going. First, there are pictures of me from the summer of 2010 on my Facebook account. I am disgusted my those pictures. I don’t realize I look that bad or that big. So I look at those at least once a week. Who wants to see herself at her worst? I do. I do because it horrifies me and urges me onward.

Second, I have quit making excuses. For everything. I haven’t had sweets in over a month, with the exception of one trip to Orange Leaf for some frozen yogurt. There have been cookies and cakes and ice cream in the house, and I haven’t even wanted any of them. No sugary treat tastes good enough to keep me looking the way I did two years ago (and now). If I’m tempted to eat something sweet, all I have to do is think about those pictures and it’s enough to stop me. Instead, I eat fruit if I want something sweet. My dad has become much better about what he chooses to eat, so we always have at least three or four kinds of fruit in the house at a time. Right now, for example, we have fresh pineapple, cut up this morning, bananas, strawberries, and plums. (Okay, so I don’t get out and walk as much as I should. I do make excuses for that still. Yes, I know it’s wrong.)

Third, I let myself balloon to this size because I was unhappy. I didn’t like who I was. I hated where I was in life. Well, guess what. I do like myself. I get to control where I go from here. I’ve resolved the issues that bothered me the most, so there’s nothing holding me back. I’m not numbing pain by eating anymore because there’s no pain to numb.

Fourth, I live with hunger. If my tummy rumbles, I fill it with water if it’s not time to eat. Wouldn’t you know it, I haven’t died of starvation from it. Who knew?

I have a long way to go to reach my goal, and I’m sure I’ll stumble along the way. To ensure my success, I laid out all my mini-weight goals in my planner along with a blank space so I can date them as I reach them. I have also committed to either walk or run in a 5K with a friend at Thanksgiving. I would like to think I’ll be able to run/jog it (even if that pace is a jog slow enough an average-weight person could pass me). But even if I have to run, I’m committed to doing it. So that means no more excuses. Our bodies were made for moving, so that’s just what I’ll do.

The progress I see so far is further motivation to keep it up. I will lose this weight, and I will find the girl I never knew existed.

Living With Hunger

I haven’t been hungry since I don’t know when. Depression and anxiety have acted like two monsters overshadowing my ability to take control of my actions for years. They convinced me I was a victim of circumstance, that I had no way to manipulate what happened to me. That loss of control drove me to the point of not caring about much of anything, least of all my health.

But now, after these last years of adversity, with the clouds of depression and anxiety lifted, I care again. I spent years feeding hunger, both of the stomach and the mind, by anticipating the pain and feeding it crap before it arrived knocking on my doorstep. Whatever was available, I didn’t discriminate.

And yet I never felt sated. It was never enough to keep the monsters at bay. Why would it be? I had no self-control in any aspect of my life.

All that has now changed. I have grabbed the proverbial bull by the horns, and I am making all my decisions now by carefully considering all the consequences before and not after I choose.

Out of this, I am learning to live with hunger. I am learning that it is okay to have grumbles in the tummy. Nothing catastrophic will happen if I shove water down my gullet instead of greasy, fried, or sugary food. Likewise, I am relearning what it felt like to have dreams and aspirations and to work every day, just a little bit, to reach them.

While my primary goal right now is weight loss, a secondary result has been the miraculous reappearance of the Megs I used to be. I forgot how much I liked her and who she was. Megs is making a comeback.

I don’t know that anyone will recognize her once I’m done with her.

Rewriting

I don’t even have five chapters of my book down, and already I’m rewriting. I realized I didn’t like the way my two main characters met, so I am currently rewriting their first interaction. It felt wrong the way I initially wrote it. My main character, Evvy, is a strong, independent girl. But I had written her as a dithering fool. No thank you!

That’s all I have to update for now. But I feel big changes coming.

Progress

Last week while subbing, I wrote, in tiny handwriting, five and a half pages of my first novel in a steno notebook. I just typed those pages into my master manuscript tonight. Those five and a half cramped pages translated to 12 typed, double-spaced pages. As of tonight, my word count sits around 3,700. Since I intend for this book to be a Young Adult, or YA, novel, that means I need to shoot for between 40K-60K words. So I have written approximately 6% of my rough draft, if I aim for the higher end of that scale.

While the going is a bit slower than I would like, I am proud that I am making forward progress. I’m sure I’ll have continuity issues among the to-be-expected typos, but I can feel my characters coming to life. It helps that the story is set in my hometown; I can picture every place my characters go with vivid detail. But it’s more than that. I know my characters. I’m starting to think about them like I do my friends, wondering what they are doing, wishing I could call to catch up. They are (yes, they’re fictional) in my mind, living and breathing.

I’ve always felt, and I think I’ve said this before, that I would always write a novel. But it wasn’t something I could force. I tried a few times, but I wasn’t ready. It’s always been as if I needed more experiences before I could write with authority. I needed to have so much more input before I could produce any output. Output, now, I have. (And Yoda, yes I am, apparently.)

I’ve toyed with the idea of sharing bits and pieces of my story here, on my blog. But I don’t want to. I’m so protective of my characters and my story right now. They’re not mature and ready for public consumption yet, and I don’t want anyone honing in on my idea or sampling my writing. I’m not ready for any of that.

Tonight, after typing up what I had left, I searched for literary agents. I found an agency in Northern California with two agents whose descriptions matched with my novel. This particular agency only allows submission to one agent, so when I get closer to my end goal (say around 12% – just kidding!), I will undertake the serious task of lining up literary agents to submit to. Then I will roll around on gravel for a few weeks to build up a thick skin, since I fully anticipate an onslaught of rejections, per the norm in publishing.

But all of that is in the future. For right now, I’m heading to bed after introducing my two main characters. To quote a video game I got really tired of hearing from once upon a time, “And so our story begins.”

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