How Did I Get Here?

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I have always struggled with my weight. They say there’s usually a reason why people choose to look to food for comfort and I believe that to be mostly true. We all have our demons that we try to keep locked behind closed doors, but it’s when we aren’t paying attention that they somehow free themselves and whisper in our ear that we should eat a chocolate cake pop to make it all better again. This blog’s purpose is to share with you my journey to living a better, healthier life. I’ve tried so many things to lose the weight but it always comes back. I love cycling, kayaking and taking walks.  I’ve seen a nutritionist and a trainer and aside from my weight, I’m healthy. So what gives? This blog isn’t for those who want to find all the answers to be thin. I’m still overweight so I don’t have them. But I will, for me.  One way doesn’t work for all.  I do know that. But if you are here to follow someone who struggles with some of the same things you are going through, to know you aren’t alone, then you are in the right place. Just imagine, we are going on a road trip with you in the passenger seat, and there’s a beautiful sunset closing out the past so that we can welcome a new tomorrow.

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Hurricane Harvey

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Hurricane Harvey turned out to be that unwanted guest that you can’t wait to leave. He came in hot, and then lingered way too long. Normally, when Houston floods, there are some well known areas that get hit, but this time no location went unscathed.

This hurricane didn’t hit us head on, a lot of people say it was the hurricane, when in fact it was the rain that placed Houston underwater. We luckily live on some high ground which saved our home, but we were surrounded by water, making us feel like we were on an island. We couldn’t get out of our neighborhood. You may ask what does this have to do with health and eating right? Everything.

The storm hit Saturday morning and we couldn’t go anywhere until Wednesday morning when one exit out of the neighborhood finally became available. I watched the devastation, heroics and kindness of people who didn’t even live here as they brought their personal boats to rescue people.  It all felt so surreal, like it was happening to someone else, somewhere else.

We woke up Sunday morning to sirens, and diesel trucks passing by our house relentlessly.  After a couple of hours of strong storms, the rain subsided and we decided to see what we could. We passed so many trucks towing boats going the opposite direction and we wondered why there were so many going in the direction of our home. When we turned back around we saw that the bridge that crosses a nearby creek  was flooded like I had never seen before, and further down, the other bridge was flooded as well. Our daughter lives in a subdivision behind us, near where all of this water was going, so we decided to go check on her.

Just three streets behind hers, there was a police officer and several trucks with boats waiting in line for their turn to enter this raging river. The sight was so eerie and frightening, especially since I knew there were houses where the river had erased their rooftops, now no longer visible.

For months now I have been so good  with my eating habits. It’s true that I was at a plateau, but I was feeling stronger, and because of that I didn’t linger on that for too long. I have so many obstacles to jump over when it comes to the reasons why I eat too much, but I had mostly overcome them. Peer pressure eating, not wanting to waste food, bored eating and most of all stress eating. But how do you deal with the prolonged stress of this flood, not being able to do anything or go anywhere? I’m sad to say that I cheated more than once.

True, it was a hurricane induced catastrophic flood event, no one had expected that. It’s a perfectly valid excuse, but I don’t like making excuses for myself. One day we went to the grocery store and came home with a can of pringles chips, a snickers, the small reese’s peanut butter cups and Twix, We ate it ALL. Today is weigh in day and I haven’t weighed myself because I’m afraid of the damage I may have caused.

You would think, now that the storm has passed and we can actually see the sun, that the stress would have gone away, but it is still there existing in another form. Yesterday was my husband’s birthday and we managed to find a restaurant that was open, which was very fortunate. Later during the meal I found myself thinking, “Here I am eating a nice meal when so many others don’t even have a home left.” I felt so guilty. I wanted to ask the waiter how he did through the storm, but felt like that might be rude. He’s working when he may really need to be home helping his family. I’d bet that one in every five survivors we come across are going through something really bad as a result of Hurricane Harvey.

Today was the first day that Starbucks was open. There are three of them in the area and I drove by two before I spied people in the drive through at the last one. I always get an iced latte, which is just coffee and milk. I like it, and it’s one of the lowest calorie coffees you can get there. While waiting in line I looked back at the car behind me. The lady at the wheel looked even more stressed than I’ve been feeling. That’s when I thought about something I heard a long time ago. You never know what people around you may be going through, so treat them like you want to be treated. So I told my barista I wanted to pay for hers. I hope it helped. I like to do this anyway from time to time because once in awhile someone pays for mine and it makes my day and puts a smile on my face.

I’m doing better with the stress today. I bought a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit at McDonald’s this morning, wanting to find comfort in food, but by the time I got home I decided to reduce the 450 calories by only eating half of it. I have to remember to take and applaud one victory at a time. I was able to work out the past two days and I’m going to do it again today. There’s two more victories. I got this.

I’m so proud of Houston and to be able to call it my home. Please remember to think of others. If they are rude or on edge, remind yourself that they may be going through something that you are unaware of.

I apologize if this post seems off topic. How can I not talk about something that devastated our city. I also faced the ultimate stress eating test, and in the end I got back on track.

I also heard this on TV this morning. It goes something like this. “Be kind to those around you. You may be able to put your shoes on this morning, but you don’t know who will be taking them off tonight.”

Eat Well. Live well. Be a survivor, and prosper.

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Plateau Wonderland

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Hi there. Things have been so hectic lately that I haven’t been able to blog much. Good news though, my husband is on the mend from his knee surgery and is doing really well, and I’ll be hanging around the house all weekend so hopefully I can get caught up. That is is we have power. Hurricane Harvey is coming into the gulf coast and the rain is going to be crazy.

For the past four weeks I’ve been at the same weight, reaching my first plateau. Part of it is my fault. I’ve been good during the week, working out in the mornings religiously, altering my Hello Fresh meals to the right calorie count, but the weekends have been hard. I haven’t been sleeping well either and it got so bad that I experienced a TFM (Total Food Meltdown). More on this in another post.

With all that said, my weight is currently 218. I went through all of the denial talks with myself, and trying to make excuses. The first week of the plateau I became really sad. I search the internet for answers and actually found an inspirational blog post. It was about this guy who was focusing on getting healthier. He showed a picture of himself four years ago at a certain weight, and then a current picture where he is at the same weight, however he has more muscle tone and looks a lot better.

It was then that I realized I needed to reconsider just why I decided to do this.  I wanted to be stronger, healthier and to hopefully live longer. I can see my legs taking on more shape, my tummy getting smaller, my knee doesn’t hurt as bad on the stairs and the last time I took the kayak out I was able to handle lifting it a lot better. Sounds to me that I should be celebrating my success, not berating myself over a number on a scale.

After realizing all of that, I told myself, “Self, don’t focus on the scale, focus on your goals and the rest will come in time.” I think my self got the hint. I’m going to keep pushing through this. I can still make this happen!

EatingWell

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There are mornings where I don’t have time to assemble my lunch. Normally lunch consists of chicken that we grilled on the weekend, veggies and quinoa. Here lately though, we haven’t even had time to even grill the chicken. When this happens I need something quick to grab out of the fridge or freezer to stuff into my lunch bag.  I’ve eaten Lean Cuisine’s before in desperate times, but usually end up hungry in an hour. The sodium in these are also sky high. I’ve even tried the Perfect Fit meals that are refrigerated and vacuum sealed. They were just ok and many times the chicken was so dry I could barely get it down.

I had all but given up on finding something healthy, and already prepared, until one day I walked down the frozen aisle looking for something else and found a bunch of meals from a company called EatingWell. They are also vacuum sealed and have a cut out in the box so you can see the ingredients, which looked really fresh and yummy. Intrigued, I took one out of the freezer and turned it over to see what the calories were and was pleasantly surprised to find it was just 300 calories. I blinked a couple of times to make sure I was seeing it right -I’ve had some trouble with my contacts lately- and read the same 300 calories. The sodium was also half of what the Lean Cuisine meals were. Convinced this was just luck of the draw I checked out three more and the highest calorie count was 350. This was perfect for my calorie limit for lunch so I grabbed two different ones.

Now, yes they checked out on nutrition and calories, and they looked great in the box, but what would they actually taste like? The first one I tried was Korean Inspired Beef and it was fantastic. I hesitated on writing a blog post because again this could be luck of the draw. Excitedly I pulled out the Creamy Pesto Chicken meal from my freezer, stuffed it into my amazing lunch kit, and ran off to work. I have to say this meal was just as good as the first one I ate. Lunch was a blissful 310 calories, 22 grams of protein and only 4 grams of sugar and 450 mg of sodium. The freshness of the food that shows through the little window of the box even remains fresh looking after heating up and tastes so fresh when eating it. Below are some pictures of what the meal looks in the box, out of the box before microwaving, and lastly after heating. I’m so excited to have found these. I encourage you to try them out.

Schlotsky’s Hack

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Back in the day, when I ate freely without a care in the world, I liked going to Schlotzsky’s and getting The Original sandwich. Oh how yummy that was. And the bread? To die for. You can imagine the shock that surely registered on my face when I checked the calories on MyfitnessPal and learned that The Original was 780 calories! For me that would count towards my breakfast, morning snack and lunch. I was devastated. Would I never get to eat Schlotzsky’s again?

After I was able to settle down from the shock and despair- ok that’s a bit dramatic, but the idea of not getting to eat it again was sad- I decided to check on the calories for the small. The small Original still comes out pretty high at 540 calories. This is still quite a bit. I guess I could forgo my afternoon snack to make up for it, but I usually get hungry around 3pm, so this still didn’t work.

I’ve been on a quest to find a way to eat the things I love, but to do it in moderation, so I started devising a way to make this happen. As it turns out, the majority of the calories are in the bread. No surprise there really. If it’s scrumptious,then it’s usually the culprit. Once I realized the bread was somewhere around 200 calories by itself, I decided to alter it by taking the meat from one side and adding it to the other side, making the now half sandwich feel like a deluxe original. I just didn’t eat the other half of the bread.

I didn’t feel cheated by doing this and actually felt full when I was done. I even did this in front of co-workers, conquering my peer pressure eating, even after answering the question, “What the heck are you doing do that sandwich??”

 

Chocolate Mutiny

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Chocolate had always been my achilles heal. I didn’t even discriminate. Chocolate can be in cookies, cakes, cupcakes, candy bars, cake pops, I don’t care.  I want it. Half a year ago I decided to detox from sugar all together and quit cold turkey. I had no choice. I was an addict, and there was no limiting myself. Once I had sugar, it was on. One time my daughter and I made chocolate cupcakes with chocolate icing from a box. I don’t know what happened. Maybe I blacked out, because in an hour’s time, half of them were gone. After some detective work we came to the conclusion that I was the perpetrator. Yep it was that bad.

After the initial melt down of detox, the cravings were manageable. I really don’t crave sugar that much anymore. That’s both good and bad. I used sugar and chocolate as a reward and crutch, and now it’s kind of sad because what do I do now? I have to find a new way to reward myself or deal with stress, but that’s a whole other blog post.

So, today when I walked into the Randalls grocery store, I was surprised when my thoughts instantly darted to the idea of getting a chocolate iced donut. Now where did that come from? You might say to yourself, “If I’m going to eat those calories I’m getting a real donut from Shipley’s or Krispy Kreme. Might as well do it right.” Oh no my friend. Try one from Randall’s if you have one near by. You will be shocked. That’s where it’s at.

Thankfully, after peering longingly into the donut case – it was really getting kind of creepy from an outsider’s point of view- I walked away. In my infinite wisdom, I rationalized with myself. If I was going to be bad, then how could I still have chocolate, but minimize the damage? Great thinking! My brain is learning to think myself out of unhealthy situations. I hadn’t had a chocolate cake pop from Starbucks in forever, and I know they are 160 calories, so why not do that? Score! So I go up the elevator – yep lucky me there’s a Starbucks right upstairs- and asked for a chocolate cake pop. Guess what? They were out!! I was horrified. After all of that? Wow. I was speechless. The barista tried to help me by telling me they still had birthday cake pops available. But you know that feeling when you have your mouth ready for something and you can’t have it? Where nothing else is good enough? Once the shock subsided, and I was able to speak again, I kindly told her no thank you.

In the end it was for the best. I’ll take it as a win, even though the forces around me were what saved me from myself, and not me doing it.

I used to love chocolate iced donuts so much that I can tell you from looking at this picture from google images, that this fine specimen, is from Krispy Kreme.

BPPV Strikes Again

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Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) is to me what kryptonite is to Super Man.  A decade ago when I was training for the MS150 I fell off my bike and hit my head really hard. I spent the next 9 months trying to find a doctor that could cure the horrible spinning vertigo I was experiencing every time I looked up or bent down. And this isn’t just being off balance, this is the world is spinning and you can’t see anything dizziness. Needless to say it I didn’t get to do the MS150 that year, or the next. This website http://www.dizzyfix.com/bppv does an excellent job explaining what BPPV is.

After 9 months of seeing doctors, and trying things that didn’t work, I finally found a specialist who put me through a bunch of tests, and did a maneuver on me called the Epley Maneuver. The night of the maneuver I had to sleep with a neck brace sitting up, and then for two weeks I couldn’t bend over, look up, jump or run, or sleep on the “bad side”.  Surgery had a 50/50 chance of making me deaf without the guarantee of it never happening again. So over the years, BPPV has struck like a snake numerous times, so many times that I don’t go to the doctor anymore, I just flip myself (if you check out the Epley Maneuver you will know why I call it that)

The last time it happened was four years ago. I was feeling so good… until yesterday. I was on the mat doing my core workout and the world suddenly spun out of control. I realized, with tears in my eyes, that it was happening to me again. After four years! There was nothing else I could do but flip myself to ease some of the vertigo. This is very discouraging, especially because I’m not going to be able to follow through with the whole procedure after the flip (due to my extra workload at home) and it will affect my ability to do my workouts that have been SOOO helpful in my weight loss and building strength. I’ve lost 15 pounds do far! I’ve made so much progress and I keep asking myself, “Why Now?” But I refuse to give up. At least I know what to do.

With BPPV doing simple things like walking, being under fluorescent lights (can’t ever go into Walmart),  mowing the yard (vibrations from the motor) and riding my bike become challenging and sometimes nauseating.  I mentioned earlier that I won’t be able to finish the last part of the process that ensures a more stable result after the flip. The part where you don’t bend, look up, jump around, run or do anything else that could knock the rock lose is bound to happen with my current schedule and extra workload at home. I’ll have to wait until a later time when I can finish the process. Until then I guess I just keep flipping. For some reason that last sentence brings to mind the song Dory sang during the movie Finding Nemo. Just keep swimming swimming swimming…

BPPV has been a part of my life for over a decade, so this is nothing new, but still frustrating. But I’m not going to give up. Working out will be more difficult and uncomfortable but it’s going to happen. Nothing is stopping me!

I was going to put an educational picture of an ear here, but a picture of Dory seemed more fun.

ElliptiGO

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What is an ElliptiGO? Is it some kind of food? Not this time. I’ve been on a foodie review kick lately so I understand if that’s the first thing that comes to mind. I’ll give you a couple of  hints. It’s a tool you use for exercise, it rides the streets (manned by a human) and it’s a cross between an Elliptical trainer like the ones you see in a gym and a bicycle.

This morning as I was taking out the trash, one of my new jobs since my hubby had knee surgery, and a man on an ElliptiGO stopped to ask me a question. He’s been riding in our neighborhood for years, and it seems like he’s ALWAYS out there. Not matter what time it is. I’ve never talked to him before, mostly because I know that once you are in your groove riding, you kind of want to keep going. He asked about a kid in our neighborhood that was giving him some trouble every time he passed by on that street, so I took the opportunity to ask him about the bike.

I’ve never seen one an organized bike ride out in the flats or the hills, but after looking this one up on the web on the ElliptiGO website, I found out that the Long-Stride is made so that it can go up hills. He said the price is kind of steep. This model is $2,500.00.  Well maybe not too shocked. My road bike cost me $1,000.00 but I’ve had that bike for 10 years and this guy has had his for at least that long. I believe if you are going to use it, then invest in something that will last. He even told me that the next time he sees me, go ahead and flag him down and he’ll let me try it out. Whhhattt?? OMG that would be awesome! When I get to test drive it I’ll write up a review.

Another interesting thing he said to me was that it doesn’t matter how much you exercise, or in his case ride, nothing helps you lose weight if you have a bad diet. Hmmm….this sounds like something my boss told me a few blog posts back. My boss is a runner and he said something to the effect of, “You can’t outrun a bad diet.” I have to admit that over the years I wondered…how does he keep the weight on when he rides all freakin day? He said years ago he was riding 25 miles and still weighed 300 pounds. He still had some powerful great looking legs i must say. Today he just rides 14 miles a day. Again   JUST 14 miles you say?? But he looks much healthier now that’s he’s also watching his diet. I’m so glad he stopped by and we talked after all these years of passing each other by on our bikes and merely waving.

Hopefully, crossing my fingers, I will be posting a review on the EllptiGO from the driver’s seat soon.

Ride Well and Prosper!