68 Days of Me

68 days of commitment. I have worked out 68 days in a row and committed to improving my health and strength, and hopefully, as a by-product, my flabby hanging skin.

This week has been terrible for me. It’s the first week I just DON’T want to do it. It’s taken me nearly half the day to get off the couch. I even napped one day which I haven’t done in months (I try and avoid naps at all costs as I’m afraid one will lead to many). I found myself not doing anything in the mornings and then getting on a struggle bus to convince myself to do something on the afternoon.

Could it be because my son is on Spring Break and I’m out of the morning routine? Could something collapse so easily? Or is this just my psyche trying to win the war and push me back to lazy?

So far, the urge to shrug it off hasn’t succeeded.

I realize that anything, and I do mean anything, can screw up my day. I am so used to having allllll my time and a little schedule that I can manage. But as soon as you throw in any appointment or conflict, and my brain says: no workout today, woohoo!

But the fact is – I feel better after a workout. I have started running – which I really can’t believe – with a program called None 2 Run. I completed my second week and I actually enjoy it. It’s not easy for me, but I feel really good after my effort. I can only Run 45 seconds at a time right now, over 10-15 intervals, but that’s from nothing. I am thrilled with my progress.

I just wish my brain would stop sabotaging the one good thing I have accomplished for myself in many months. I need to create a pattern that I can find time and energy for a workout even when I’m working, I can’t continue to allow the sabotage to happen so easily. At some point I have to work again and before I do, I want the exercise routine to be ingrained and never to be replaced or erased.

I read the book Ann recommend called The Power of Habit and I notice that all of the health and fitness instructors I follow on social media also tout habit as the cornerstone to any healthy exercise regime. While everyone has different quotes on how long it take for a habit to stick, the book suggests (from their analysis) that its a minimum of 66 days to create a habit and potentially even longer.

I tend to agree with this because, at 68 days in, I THINK of exercise as something I WANT to fit in every day. No day passes without the conscious effort to exercise. However, my brain hasn’t programmed itself to say “this is a requirement, no day SHOULD pass without exercise.” If there is a way I can navigate around exercising, my brain is actively looking for it. For instance, last night I didn’t even start until post 8pm. That’s the latest yet. I was home all day. Just that one slip makes me nervous because it eeks in and then affects me the next day and the next. I still need to work on my self talk.

I want to form this habit. I am privileged that I CAN move the way I can and that I have my health back for the most part. I am getting stronger and I love it. I repeat to myself that it is no longer a negative – I can no longer say “I hate working out” – because that kind of negative self-talk is damaging. I reframe that thought into “I work out to feel good and become stronger.” I have to get the thought solid in my head that when I say “I don’t want to” or “I don’t have time” that I am really saying “I don’t care about myself”.

No one is going to care for me if I don’t start working on improving my physical, mental and emotional self. I need to keep reminding myself of that. I need to stop saying “it’s not important” and always say “I am very important” until it’s not a forced decision. Until it comes naturally to WANT to take care of myself, first. Sitting on the couch being some sort of vegetable isn’t caring for myself.

So, 68 days in, some days come easier than others. Some, like this past week, are still forced out of me. When I really feel like I “can’t” I tell myself just to do a light, active recovery day. If I still feel like I “can’t” after a light active recovery, then I don’t. But honestly, most times I find once I get past the initial hurdle of getting started, the energy comes with the sweat and I can go on to do a decent workout.

I need to set my intention to change. I have thought about making a vision board. I think they are kind of hokey, but I’m willing to give it a try.

68 days more than I’ve ever done before. That’s some accomplishment. I need to keep reminding myself every single day that I’m doing the best thing for myself.

Exercise and Activity- STREAKING!

A note: I had been writing this post before I was hospitalized….so in the spirit of positivity and creating new habits, I kept the upbeat tone, even though we hit a pretty big wall ūüėę

………………………………….

I’m doing it!

I am crushing my exercise goal!

I’m obsessing over MYSELF! I try to focus on myself and my well being for a few hours every day. I have noticed that I have better endurance than I expected, I’m still very flexible, but my balance and strength are gone. So, I focus on something different every day and try to keep going.

I want to look in that mirror and love my body for once in my life….I am really unsure I can ever get there, but I can work to make it look even better clothed! And I have my sisters wedding in November to work towards!

I definitely achieved my goal to go from entirely sedentary to active!

I pay attention to the Peloton trainers and I can now better understand which muscles I should be using during floor exercises. They also have great bike mechanics rides to teach you better and stronger pedal strokes. I am definitely educating myself this time around so I can do well for the long haul and not a quick win. I also make sure to stretch every single day as well as learn a few yoga poses.

I have been making sure I get to that 10k steps a day. The ONLY way for me to do that in my current lifestyle is to get an active walk in. The good news is that this counts as exercise for me because I have to walk a minimum of 45 minutes on a normal day to get those 10k steps – if I was working, I would be closer to 10k without any exercise.

I can see progress!

Week 1: average of 3400 steps/day

Week 2: average of 8600 steps/day

Week 3: average of 10,535 steps/day

Week 4: average of 12,106 steps/day

Week 5: average of 11,636* steps/day

*colonoscopy this week so one day only had 3k steps so really not bad!

Week 6: average of 8200* steps/day

*Friday/Saturday of this week I was in the hospital so there were less than 500 steps each day. I also took off the Fitbit upon returning home Saturday so missed some steps. All in all, still better than where I was even 4 weeks ago!

I “agreed”‘with myself that every day must include a ride on that damn expensive Peloton bike. I bought the bike because Tony worked for Peloton and I (as crazy as I can be) thought it would remind me of him (yea it does and now that’s just another hurdle to overcome – talk about bad purchase decisions!).

Straight days of Peloton Bike:

– 19 days streak 1

– 19 days streak 2

Days where exercise is more than 60 minutes per day: 31 days

I have exercised every single day from 2/11 – today, minus the 2 hospital days where I meditated (which counts as mental and emotional exercise, right?!)

I’ve learned I still hate exercise, but am committed to starting every day. Once I start, I can keep going for some time. I should reframe that a little (very little) …. I hate getting started. And I hate working to exhaustion. I love the sense of accomplishment and energy after a work out. That’s the piece I want to get addicted to.

I am finally at a point where I can start pushing hard on the bike. I am literally dripping with sweat and my heart rate is peak zone. I can only do a push ride like this every other day. I think I have also, for the first time, discovered the “runners high”. At one point in two rides this past week I felt a surge of energy and push and don’t know where it came from and suddenly the pain in my legs disappeared and the struggle wasn’t as heavy. It was a pretty amazing feeling and I can see why people would chase it.

However -I still think I would rather take out my vibrator!!

As mentioned, I have to supplement my steps with a minimum of 30-60 minutes on the treadmill. I do some Peloton tread classes, but mostly just challenge myself to achieve more calories or a better time. I’m afraid of committing too much on the tread that my legs will be too weak for the bike. I like the tread so much better than the bike and wish I owned the Peloton tread but mine is doing its job and it’s probably over 15-18 years old. That Peloton tread is a very expensive proposition. I’ve told myself if I can really use the tread every day perhaps that can be my gift for myself when I get a full time job.

I work a small 10 minute body weight routine on my core every day. My core is weak and my form sloppy, but I persist. In the beginning I could not sit up from lying or lift my legs up off the floor while lying on my back. While I can’t see or feel the strength, I can see the difference in my capabilities for the core exercises.

I switch off light arms and legs. I purchased some nice light weights (up to 15 lbs) for various exercises, a floor mat, yoga blocks and kettlebells. Amazon Basics has a great series of inexpensive weight equipment for light home training. Since I really have no muscle tone, this should satisfy for some time.

I mean, I can’t even hold a plank for 30 seconds yet, never mind mountain climbers and burpees!!I’m sweating in a hollow hold. I have a long, long way to go!

But hey, now I even know what those exercises are and how to do them!

Here’s my favorite result, when I stretch (which I actively do after every ride and walk) I can feel form and muscle! 6 weeks and my very old muscle memory is working magic, especially in my legs. 6 weeks ago (this is no lie) the loose skin on my legs made noises from flapping around my bones. It was gross. It’s not all tight, but that ugly noise is gone. I had 20+ years of way too much weight on my body so chances are my skin never fully recovers even if I get decent muscle tone, but the same way I love to feel a mans strong muscles, I’m thrilled to finally be able to feel my own strength.

Sitting in the hospital for 2 days messed with my head big time. It was like I fell backwards in time to when I was so completely broken and weak. I probably could have done some exercise the day I came home but chose to rest so that the next day I could really put in the work. I know I probably imagined this, but I thought I heard my things making the jiggly noises after missing just two days.

There you have it – 6 weeks in of full-on dedication. I have all the time in the world and I’m going to stop wasting it.

Body Dysmorphia

Let’s just get this straight up front – I’m not griping. I’ve lost a ton of weight! But a couple things happened this week that pushed back on my ability to see the loss instead of the disfigurement.

We all have a little body dysmorphia, some are just worse than others. I have never been happy with my body. Scars from many years of surgery and most of my adult life spent obese, it’s a bit hard to see the rewards of major weight loss, but I have been focusing on the weight loss rather than the dysmorphia.

I started at 214 pounds pre-Mexico. Since 2013 I have swung between 185 (lowest weight in 2015 with blood clots) and 225 (highest weight in 2013 before deciding to divorce) and normally stick right around a range of 195-205 pounds. At 5’8″ the higher range is too heavy for me. I don’t look good and I don’t feel good. My eyes get small from too full a face and I can’t bend over or cross my legs. I know how to diet and lose weight but the problem was maintaining a weight loss once I achieved it. Over a period of 4+ years (where I logged weight very consistently) I had a 20-30 pound swing up and down every year. It was uncontrollable and unhealthy.

I’ve always said my weight is like and elevator, always up and down and never stationary for long.

My target for personal weight loss was always to achieve a stable 170 pounds. Never got there for all the years of trying post my mother’s death. For surgical weight loss my target was a firm 150 pounds with a potential for 140 depending how I looked at 150.

One of my closest friends just told me my face was too skinny and I need to put weight back on in my face (can your even do that? Is that a thing?). My sister in law saw my scars and screamed out loud that I need to hide those away as they were scary and she was sorry I was gonna frighten anyone away with those when I start to have sex again. Those were not the only comments, just the worst ones.

At first I wanted to smack them both – after all I’ve been through and they know I’m an emotional wreck, they make negative body comments. I know they mean well. But, really?

Then another thing happened, as I was exercising I looked down the front of my shirt and couldn’t believe the ugliness of the excess skin hanging weirdly from my middle. This prompted me to get undressed and look at myself in the mirror – naked is very, very tough now. But I hadn’t been paying enough attention until right now. My skin hangs everywhere. I even got into some “positions” or angles a man would see my from if we were having sex, and I was horrified. I didn’t realize the way the skin was hanging in my midsection. Then my boobs and ass….they just lost all their luscious, round curves and hang flat. My poor ass has terrible cellulite. Compound some seriously ugly scars to this loose skin and it is, actually, frightening. Then I get upset and wonder who will take me as I am without grimacing?

I look really good in clothes. I feel better with more narrow hips and legs. I sit easily and cross my legs with no problem. I’m no longer out of breath for no reason. I went from an XXL to a Medium in most things. Overall, my confidence is raised because I look very close to the way I want to when I’m dressed. It’s the naked part that just hit me hard over the head.

I always weigh and measure on the 20th of the month, so today was a weigh in day. I weighed 152 today. A total of 62 pounds gone.

This month I dropped 1.5-2 pounds. My weight loss from surgery pretty much slowed in Jan/Feb so, while I was hoping to hit my goal in March, it doesn’t seem like I could drop those last 2 pounds this month. I will be damned I don’t get under 150 and stay there a bit. Not when I’m this close to my adult goal weight.

So I am *so close* to my goal I can taste it. I dropped to 149 pounds for my colonoscopy and it was a little thrill! Now that I’m on liquids again for a week, maybe I will drop it this week. I’m going to get there. BUT, now I’m looking at my wasted body and getting upset. I’m trying not to. I don’t know if the loose skin would bother me quite as much if I didn’t have such massive scars (partially which hold my stomach skin by adhesion to the muscle underneath so it’s a very weird look).

I am trying to remain body positive. Having to reveal myself during sex is going to be tough, much tougher than anticipated. I also realize that I’ve been actively disengaging from the dating scene because I’m getting in a funk over being sick (or even being down and out for a few days the last couple weeks) and not wanting to explain my medical marvel of a history to anyone.

Follow Through

Did I follow through on the most important goal I set for myself Tuesday?

Yes!

I wrote out 4 SMART stories before my call with the outplacement consultant. Her job is to help me finesse those stories into compelling statements that will say ” this is why you hire me and not someone else.” I actually asked a respected work friend if they agreed on those stories as my strongest in her memory – because I want to be sure this is how others view me as well.

I even sent out one resume and 2 emails for networking. It really isn’t a back-breaker but this morning made me realize it’s something I have to schedule in as a must do.

I was very distracted so it took me a period of 3.5 hours to do this task. The stories are not easy and required a bit of thinking, but I was avoiding them. The emails and networking was a no-brainer. I have firmly decided I am going to be sure to include a FOCUSED half hour each day to be done before 11am.

In my own crazy, cracked way – this upset my flow a little, my mind started thinking “how can we get out of exercise today?” Almost like “we’ve accomplished enough already!” Ummmm, no. That’s become a non-negotiable.

I acknowledge that my mind plays a game of trade-offs “If you do this Mads, then maybe you don’t have to do that other thing you don’t really want to do anyway.” It was fine to start that way when I was tired and broken. It’s not fine to stay there anymore. It’s March and I’ve got to get up off the floor. I’ve lost, I’ve hit rock bottom, I gave up and I gave in. I quit the game as close as possible. But, something (call it a greater power or my own willfulness) kept me around. I’m here. So I can continue to be a wasteful slug, or I can get going.

This is a psychological battle for me that I need to change. Because, seated somewhere deep within is my drive, my desire, to do more.

I can’t quite dig it out from under, my drive, but it’s like digging that never-ending hole in the sand st the beach ….. you know eventually you are going to hit water…. just a little further because you know in your gut it’s there – you can sense it.

As I’m sitting here having my second cup of coffee I realize I have the privilege of time at the moment – a luxury I’ve never had. I’ve already squandered a bunch of precious time in my healing and debilitating obsession and depression, but now that I am almost fully physically healed, I need to strengthen myself both emotionally, intellectually and physically. The only way I can continue to do this is by small changes each day or week.

I’ve committed to adding the half hour work focus at least 3 times a week (I don’t even need 5 days) and believe it’s totally doable to add in before I start my exercise routine.

In order to convince myself, I did find a trade-off I can make, temporarily. If I want a break, a time-out, a pity party or whatever we want to call it – I’m going to take it. But I can’t do it more than once a week. Consider it like looking towards a weekend food or drink binge after a hard weeks work. My brain and body still feel like I’m pushing them too far and too hard and they like to revolt every chance they get – so I’m gonna let them revolt, on a sort of schedule. I’m in the midst of analyzing my last 4 full weeks of effort (I am 26 straight days and refuse to do less than a 30 day streak) and come up with a plan of attack of how I can exercise, work, be lazy, and do life stuff (like any normally human does – but I’m not quite back to normal). I think getting a schedule together after this month is a good idea to begin thinking about how I spend my time and use that time more wisely.

I’ve agreed with myself that a pity party cannot include eliminating the gains I’ve made in exercise. I’ve studied up on active recovery days and that’s how I can use my “lazy day”. I get to shut off my mind and veg if I want, but I’ve got to get in a minimum amount of activity.

I got this.

March Goals (and those niggling carry-overs from Jan/Feb)

Honestly, I didn’t even get to all my January goals, but I got to most. I set a few new goals for February so I could catch up.

Now we are into March and there’s a bit of financial panic setting in, but strangely enough not to light a bonfire under my ass. I am still disconnected. And there’s a part of me saying this is still ok, I’m not fully ready to function in the real world.

Then there’s the part of me that’s saying “get your ass in gear and stop being lazy.”

Let’s see what I did accomplish in February : (J) means it was a January goal, (F) February and so on…

Work

(J) Review and edit my resume and social profiles: complete

(J) Make a list of contacts and actively begin a search: have not started

(J) Utilize outplacement website and webinars: have completed 3, did not not schedule the 2 I said I would.  I need to pay attention.

(J) Ensure all job search sites are set up properly for my searches: have not completed, needs fine tuning – remains the same

(F) Commit to Mindfulness and set a clear intent: I took a bulletproof confidence webinar AND I won a free 1:1 consulting session based on my participation.  This is something to look forward to! Not started.

(M) Create a Personal Value Proposition (PVP) for interview storytelling Рsomething the outplacement advisor has given me to do for OVER a month.  I keep postponing our TB.  I am determined to knock this out on Tuesday March 5.  Period.

*Not a good track record, really.  WTF.

 

Personal

(J) Choose an exercise to stick with and develop a routine: I set up my screen sharing, turned on the Peloton service, bought a small weight set and set the room up for success. Now, just to actually exercise. Done! 22 days straight of healthy, sweaty fitness!

(J) Learn yoga or meditation: I need to keep reminding myself this is good for me. Done! Started a little of both and still in the practice stage but incorporate into my routine each week.

(J) Migrate addresses and birthdays to phone: started, not completed. No movement.

(F) Fine tune Keto eating by logging and watching macros – I was consuming too many calories. Done! Most of my carb cravings are done. There’s some emotional craving when I see bread, pizza and pasta but not a physical craving anymore.

*Big win here!  Hooray!  Go me!  I am making a new habit.

Finance

(F) Remember unemployment Monday’s. Missed one but otherwise on track.

(F) Follow up on Bond processing. Done! It’s in the treasury hands and complete, just waiting on processing.

(F) Sort out parents trust and accounts. Started with their largest accounts, about halfway there.

(M) Taxes: Did Dad, next is mine.

(M) Determine finances for potential 3 month unemployment ahead: yikes.

*Can I avoid this list altogether?

 

 

Home

(J) Deep clean: bathroom floors/grout: still haven’t given this a second thought. Nope.

(J) Put away Christmas decor: some things were still lingering but got this done yesterday. There are 2 things lingering.  I will get to this before the end of this week.  Period.

(J) Help son re-arrange bedroom: when he’s ready, otherwise, I am not pushing. Nope.

(J) Purchase rug for basement and mop floors: haven’t given this a second thought either. Mopped and bleached the floors! Now for a rug.

(F) Deep clean couch in living room. Done! This felt so good.

(F) Purchase new washer and dryer. Done! They come this week.

(F) Call the handyman for a few necessary repairs. Need to do and have hesitated due to money.

(M) Choose 2 cabinets, drawers or closets a week and clean and purge: have started this and it feels great!

*Ok, half done.  I am going to get to the grout because I realize its really good exercise and counts to my daily activity!

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Wow! After assessing my list I actually accomplished so much more than I thought I did! I feel relief and a little bit of pride!

The true stress of the situation is the job search. I need to now incorporate 30 minutes every day for actively searching.  At least an active 30 minutes if not an hour.

I also need to think about a couple more significant ¬†March goals that I should set ¬†(taxes get me so stressed I didn’t think about much else).

First Real Signs of Strength = Small Wins

I do not know where it came from, but it’s very welcome.

I think it started with Maggie’s idea to get dressed in workout clothes first thing. And then just one small thing (I charged my Fitbit). Piled on top of Ann’s suggestion to read the book about Habits.

I have a whole day, every day to myself. I could be filling it with many things, but I don’t. The worst usurper of my time is digital. The TV is now relegated to post 6pm only. I’ve had small, barely noticeable tinges of regret for wasting this much time. The feeling is fleeting. The heaviness of emptiness is pervasive. I still feel dark and empty on the inside.

But there is a very small, yet immensely strong soul inside me that refuses to give up. Yea, she’s the same one who never gave up on Tony, too so she’s delusional but when put to good use she is mighty.

I noticed on the first day I convinced myself to exercise it was because I talked myself into sleeping the rest of the day away. I didn’t do that, but the self-talk convinced me I could, should I want to. Based on that inkling of promise, I reframed the amount of time I have to myself and I was able to make some positive steps forward.

Go to bed by 10pm, period. Get up 7:30am consistently to get the kid off to school. Get dressed in workout gear before leaving bedroom (put it out night before so no excuses). Wear the Fitbit (no monitoring steps yet) Then, come home and enjoy a quiet morning scrolling media or reading with my coffee. Finally, Peloton workout. 30 mins is the requirement.

If I can change this one thing, getting dressed and then committing to some exercise for 30 minutes daily, I will not require myself to do more during that day unless necessary.

Nice deal I made with myself, right?

I can do this well before 11am. And, so far when I do, I see the energy to do other important tasks such as work related or finance related items. I won’t force myself to do more, I just seem to be more restless doing nothing after the workout. It’s a bit harder to sit still when I created good energy.

I also know the absolute best way to manage my food intake and stick to my keto macros is to log my food. I have been doing this on and off since surgery but I’m paying more attention now. I have an app that I can scan the UPC code and it makes it super easy to keep track. I’ve also knocked almost all my sugar cravings and have found the right kind of food substitutes. It helps that I don’t go out drinking and eating as often as well!

I realize this isn’t a big commitment. But it’s a start to getting my head screwed back onto my shoulders. I’ve been off the rails for close to a year. By the end of April last year I began to lose the will to live, so time slipped right through my fingers. I don’t think I will be remembering my 51st year with any fondness.

I’ve learned to avoid making morning commitments so I can adhere to my small routine. I still overwhelm easily which is worrisome considering how much I’ve been able to shoulder in the past. I still feel like part of my mind (as well as my soul) is broken and disconnected.

My small win this week has been rewarding. Every day I remind myself I’m doing this for me. I had surgery and lost a ton of weight, no reason I can’t tone up and be strong also. I want to be strong again. So while I’m fragile emotionally, the least I can do for myself is begin to make my body stronger. I’ve misused my body, mind and soul this past year but only I can recover what I’ve given away.

By the time this posts, I will have completed and entire week of routine. Good eating, good sleeping and exercise. Other than pure physical recovery (which was no small feat based on my surgeries) this is the most I’ve accomplished since surgery. I am happy it’s a start.

I’ll take it.

January Goals

Yes, its February.

I’m still trying to reconcile that I didn’t get to half of my January goals, and new ones seem to come at me almost daily.

Certainly the Tony-textacle threw me off track 2 days.

But, in an effort to log and track…here goes (notice I didn’t add many to February since I was so lax in January)

Work

(J) Review and edit my resume and social profiles: in process, in a much better place

(J) Make a list of contacts and actively begin a search: have not started

(J) Utilize outplacement website and webinars: have completed 3 webinars, scheduled 2 more next week.

(J) Ensure all job search sites are set up properly for my searches: have not completed, needs fine tuning

(F) Commit to Mindfulness and set a clear intent: I took a bulletproof confidence webinar AND I won a free 1:1 consulting session based on my participation.  This is something to look forward to!

 

Personal

(J) Choose an exercise to stick with and develop a routine: I set up my screen sharing, turned on the Peloton service, bought a small weight set and set the room up for success. Now, just to actually exercise.

(J) Learn yoga or meditation: I need to keep reminding myself this is good for me.

(J) Migrate addresses and birthdays to phone: started, not completed.

(F) Fine tune Keto eating by logging and watching macros – I was consuming too many calories.

 

Finance

(F) Remember unemployment Monday’s

(F) Follow up on Bond processing

(F) Sort out parents trust and accounts

 

 

Home

(J) Deep clean: bathroom floors/grout: still haven’t given this a second thought.

(J) Put away Christmas decor: some things were still lingering but got this done yesterday.

(J) Help son re-arrange bedroom: when he’s ready, otherwise, I am not pushing.

(J) Purchase rug for basement and mop floors: haven’t given this a second thought either.

(F) Deep clean couch in living room

(F) Purchase new washer and dryer

(F) Call the handyman for a few necessary repairs.

With about 8 days into February the month will fly by so I need to get my ass in gear.