Week 12–Sometimes It Boils Down to Just Being Good

I have been home a whole week.  Typing that sentence hurts.  For all my preparations to have a successful cruise, I did not anticipate the need to help myself get back to life on land.

Quite simply, I am depressed and it is more than just the normal post-vakay let down.

I also know I am dealing with more than just normal stress right now.

*Inhale slowly, hold, exhale deeply*

This week has been tough.

I am having a really hard time getting back into the swing of things. We’re struggling financially so that’s not helping. When I do remember to plug everything into fitday.com and there’s one vegetable all day it makes me sad.

I like vegetables.

Right now, I counted change for a few groceries and could not buy a single vegetable.  I do have a couple of bags of frozen left in the freezer, a whole cucumber, a few mushrooms, and two apples so I will be okay for a couple of days.  But the thought of empty crisper bins just makes me sad and I need to find a way to not let it be so sad.

I think I just need to be nice to myself.

*Inhale slowly, hold, exhale deeply*

My job right now is be real and be accountable.

I cannot afford to eat 12 veggies a day right now but I am still responsible for everything that goes in my mouth.

I know fitday is a tool and while it may not paint the prettiest picture right now I can still use it.  I can hold on to my good habits while knowing if my circumstances were better my choices would be better.

My body requires accountability so that is what I need to give her.

And when I forget to log my food, I need to be nice to myself because life is hard enough right now without beating myself up for forgetting what I had for lunch yesterday.  Who needs that?  Not me and yet here I am doing it to myself.

For extra fun, I think my scale is finally broken. I changed the batteries a couple of weeks ago hoping it was just weakly powered but today I never got the same weight twice.  I only weighed more than once because ‘losing’ 10 pounds this week was not likely to be accurate. 

Earlier in the week when it was seemingly working I had lost everything I gained on the cruise. 

But am I sitting here jumping up and down about that?

Nope.

I’m sulking.

At least I hope that was a real loss and not a broken scale moment. Then there’s the terror of worrying the scale is just broken and I didn’t lose a thing this week.  It’s viscious!

I honestly do not think the scale was broken simply because I was able to step on the scale and get a reading where this morning it would not balance and would error-out.  You think it could have had something to do with the ‘click’ I heard?  Yeah.  It’s broken.

Not exactly what I need at the moment but that’s even more reason for me to hold on even tighter and make sure I don’t use it as an excuse to go totally off the rails.

When I went back to school as an adult, in my very first class was a man who would be accurately described as ‘super obese’.  He was so large he needed two chairs on which to sit.  One day he commented that he would love to be a normal weight but he lacked the money to hire a personal chef.  For whatever reason, that comment has stuck with me for over 10 years now.  In his mind, the only way to be healthy was to hire a chef.  I felt bad for him then and I feel bad for him now even while I am reminding myself how easy it is to feel that way.

Being healthy–Weighing Healthy–is not just the food you eat but how good you decide to be about what you have to work with.  It is being good inside and out.

As long as that man thinks he cannot find health without a chef, it is likely he won’t.

As long as I sit here pouting because my crisper bins are empty, I am wasting precious energy.

Wasting energy when you have fibromyalgia is madness!  Madness I tell ya!

I can be good.

If I can be good even when I know I can be better, then that’s something.

Not everyone realizes just how much the little things lead to big things.

Success is about doing those little things.

Do the little things!

Just be good!  Be good quote

Week 11.5—Did I Make Good On My Promise To Go Swimming?

In a word: YEP!

However, I was entirely un-emotionally-prepared for what happened during my first two seconds under the water.

To help you understand, I need to take you back to my life 27 years ago.

I was living with my mom for the first time since I was two years old.  My mom is mentally ill so it is hard to be around her but it was better than living with both of my step-grandparents (yes, both steps).  The psychological abuse in their home was more than I could handle so one day I loaded my suitcase and a friend helped me drag it around the block, down the quarter-mile of train tracks, and around another block to my mother’s apartment.  My ‘grandparents’ threatened me that if I did not come home I’d be written out of the will.  I rather impolitely suggested they keep their money.

This is NOT the pool at my mom's apartment but it is very, very close.

This is NOT the pool at my mom’s apartment but it is very, very close.

Like many apartments there was a small swimming pool.  I spent so much time in it I had patterned tan lines on my skin where the sun had permeated the white stripes on my bathing suit.  That’s a lot of swimming!

The pools aboard the Crown Princess are of a similar size to the one that was my second home.  When I slid under the water for the first time, I was back in that pool.

Sixteen again.  Free again.

I was not baptized by religion until I was in my teens and the sensation was eerily similar to the experience of being submersed in those holy waters.

Exhilaration enveloped my whole body.

While still under the water tears came to my eyes while I smiled.  As my head breached the surface I blinked away the salty, chlorine-y water from my eyelashes.  I was seeing the world for the first time.  Again.Neptune Pool

“I have to bring this back,” I nearly blurted aloud.

I was changed.

I knew it.

However, not only did I put myself in those healing waters I walked to them clothed only in my swimsuit.  No cover up.  No towel to hide behind.  Just me and my orange flip flops with the white hibiscus flowers on the soles which make no sense but amuse me just the same.

Cruising from our port side aft cabin on the Riviera deck, outside then up two sets of stairs to the Lido deck, through the doors leading to two moderately packed dining areas, through more doors, around several outdoor seating areas, and down the ladder my swimsuit clad body was on display.

Obviously, I did not die.

But, I know I am going to live…more of my life in the water holding tightly to the memory of that first moment of freedom.  It is both fitting and beautiful to me one of the Princess Cruise ad campaigns uses the tag line, “Come Back New.”  I did.

A cartoon by Yeni Karikatürler

A cartoon by Yeni Karikatürler

Found on http://crispychickenfeet.blogspot.com and used without permission from the blog or original image owner.

Found on http://crispychickenfeet.blogspot.com and used without permission from the blog or original image owner.

PS…I have already checked into fitness center membership options and I’ll be signing up next week.  I’ll also be using my only cruise ship souvenir: a Princess Cruises beach towel to help me remember I am always braver than I believe.

Week 11–At Sea Accountability

Let me start by saying if you ever have a chance to take a cruise JUST DO IT!!!!  I’m going to try to keep this post tightly focused but this is me so forgive me when I ramble about the awesomeness of it all.

For months–and I mean ever since my hubs won the cruise in 2013–I have been psyching myself up for being totally unconnected to BodyBugg and Fitday.com for an entire week.  Internet access is a premium service with a premium price and I was not going to pay for it.  Somewhere along the way I realized it might even be a bit unhealthy to be so reliant on these technologies to keep me on track.  I started to think of how I was going to manage without them.

Then, I stopped.

People have been losing weight for zillions of years without technology and the advances in nutrition science of our digital era.  So I started to let myself wonder how they accomplished it.  Basically, I boiled it all down to knowing when you’re full and moving.balancing

Simple enough.

I had already decided I was using the cruise week as an ultimate reset so I just ate.  If it tasted good, I finished it.  If it didn’t, I became really comfortable with not finishing it just because I put it on my plate.  With the obscene number of options and flavors available I just didn’t see the sense in eating anything that was not delicious.  Coming from a “There are starving children in China” and a “We bought it/you ordered it so now you ‘have to’ eat all” family leaving the food which was unpleasing to my palate is a huge victory.

Life is too short to eat yucky things.  So, I didn’t.

This isn't even the whole buffet!  So many choices.

This isn’t even the whole buffet! So many choices.

Life is also to short to gorge on decadence.  I would like to say I didn’t but then there was Kahlua Rice Pudding.

Over-indulging on that warm bowl of creamy, coffee-y goodness taught me a very valuable lesson: Overeating at sea is not a good idea.

I did not get sick but I was incredibly uncomfortable for several hours.  It’s different from on land because the motion of the ocean keeps your tummy churned up longer anyway.

Kahlua Rice Pudding!  Oh sweet mercy!

Okay see the hand rail just beyond the deck chairs?  That's a small set of stairs down to the Rivera deck.  Just inside the door at the bottom of those stairs was our room. The buffet is the deck above the one the pool is on.  The second story in this picture is smoking area for hubs was up one more deck.  All three flights multiple times a day.  The only time I felt it was an issue was when I tried to do them all at once.

Okay see the hand rail just beyond the deck chairs? That’s a small set of stairs down to the Rivera deck. Just inside the door at the bottom of those stairs was our room. The buffet is the deck above the one the pool is on. The second story in this picture is smoking area for hubs was up one more deck. All three flights multiple times a day. The only time I felt it was an issue was when I tried to do them all at once.

Normally, my body and stairs do not get along so I was prepared for hell.

It did not find me.

First of all each set are only 7-10 steps and most of them have some walking in between flights so they weren’t too stressful.  Secondly, the area of the globe around the equator and the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn are a chronic babe’s ‘golden zone’ because of the temperance of the barometer and temperature so my body felt different from when I am more than a half a mile above sea level at home.  Different was good!

So we walked a lot more than normal which made me ever so glad I walked a lot more than normal before I left.  All my preparations paid off.  I was rewarded with fairly stable symptoms and the ability to feel a lot more normal than chronic.  It was a true vacation.

With all the extra food and the extra walking, how did I do?

I came home two pounds heavier than when I left.

However, I am still retaining the same water as when I left but daily piles of bacon and hidden salt added another layer of puffiness.

Two pounds.

Honestly, I was expecting five or more.

When I say I ate, I’m not kidding.  I almost wish I had taken pictures of at least one meal so I could get an idea of the calories but only because I am confused by my body yet again.  I get the water retention.  It’s not rocket science to know too much salt equals bloat.  However, I am struggling to wrap my head around the number on the scale.

As of this morning I am barely home 48 hours and 1.2 of those pounds is already gone.

One of my long time weight loss sisters had a similar experience while I was gone and she said, “What am I supposed to learn from this?”

“Yeah body, what am I supposed to learn from this?”

I have had to work really hard to pull myself back from the “Why can’t I have a normal body for five minutes” cliff that always leads me to nowhere good or life-affirming.

The cruise was last week.

Now, it’s time to get back to work.

I have sneezed more since yesterday than I have all of the past year combined :(

I have sneezed more since yesterday than I have all of the past year combined 😦

Except…

I now have the head cold from hell so all the great motivation I had built up, all the pep talks to myself about coming home and starting strong are trapped deep in some of the worst sinus congestion I can recall.

Sigh.

“Bodies are wonderful, bodies are wonderful, bodies are wonderful,” I chant between sips of hot water infused with lemon and honey.

The upside is since I can’t taste anything food is yucky and I’m taking little pleasure in eating.  Maybe this cold is the perfect ‘medicine’ for vaulting me back into a world without eight international dishes on every plate followed by three or four petit fours-sized desserts and glasses of the most perfect lemonade I have ever had the pleasure of swallowing.

I ate.

I moved.

I had a great time.

Best of all I did not stress, obsess, or otherwise beat myself up for food, fitness, or my body (more on that later).  I need more of this.

Week 11–A Midweek Message

Dear Tanya,

It’s Wednesday morning and you’ll be catching your first glimpse of Mexico any moment now.

Please remember everything we worked on and how you’re not going to be all wrapped up in your head. Neptune Pool

Put on that swimsuit and go soak the sun.  It’s okay. You’re really the only person ‘that’ focused on your thighs.  Stop focusing on your thighs.  They’re holding you back more than you admit to yourself.  You know I’m right.

Just breathe woman.

Everything is okay.

This trip is not going to be what you planned and that’s okay too.  It really is.

What choice do you have anyway? Stay home?  Yeah, I don’t think so.

You and hubs tried your hardest.  You both worked your guts out.  Things didn’t come together the way you planned.  Let it go.

Have fun.

Read on the balcony.

Take a zillion pictures of sparkly things.

Let yourself have an extra swipe of sparkly eyeshadow when you feel the need.

Sit in the sun.

Doodle.

Eat lobster every chance you get.

Smell the ocean.

Wake up just before the crack of dawn to catch the sunrise.

Hold hands under the stars.

Make love.

Write.

Have dessert everyday if you feel like it.

Feel blessed to be with the sea.

This week is one of those weeks that is just going to be amazing.  Let yourself live it for what it ends up being.  You are 100-percent in charge of how you handle yourself.  Rise up to the grace you try to live by in every other aspect of you life.  Be beautiful inside because you are beautiful outside.

And just remember while you were writing this someone showed up to buy the trailer you and hubs have been trying to sell for months so now you have a little extra money and that only means extra fun.

Just be blessed honey.

Love,

Tanya

PS…I scheduled this post on Friday before I left.  I want to remember it.  I wanted to know it would be “out there” for you to see.  I figured I’d need a little push to be brave.  This way I won’t chicken out 🙂

Week 10–This Is the Me Who’s Going to Mexico

For all the moments of angst and desperate musings that have been the last few weeks of my life thanks to the wonders of social media a few things have found me to get my head back on.  I can’t say that it’s straight but then again it probably never will be…ha ha

Vanity Quote Lady GagaAnyway, last week I had my head in a space that doesn’t really exist.  I was wishing I had followed through with weight loss surgery so I could be skinny in Mexico.  I admitted last week and I’ll admit now it’s mostly a vain wish.  Yes, I do want to be healthy.  But this wishing was honestly more about vanity.  I want to look good in a swimsuit.  Who doesn’t?

Then something happened today to knock some sense back into me.  The first weight loss surgery blogger I ever liked posted the blog of another woman who has had some very serious complications.  She had the Lap Band which was my first choice.  She’s lost over 100 pounds.  She had to have her band removed because it eroded through her stomach.  Her surgeon will not consider a revision surgery to a gastric bypass unless she is back over a 40 BMI.  She’s already gained 40 pounds.  She’s terrified.  She is working with a counselor.  But to go through all of that and then be here…this is exactly my concern about the Lap Band.  It is why I changed my mind to the gastric sleeve and eventually decided, wisely, to put the surgery on hold until I could have a better measure of control over my thyroid.

From my journey, I know several hundred weight loss surgery patients.  Most are doing just fine.  But the truth is there are more than a few of that number who are having a variety of complications although none this severe.  However, my medical history does predispose me to complications.  Those conditions are not a deal breaker but they do increase the risk.  They are why I decided to put thoughts of surgery on hold until I could find better control over them.

Vanity Quote Elle MacphersonThen on Tuesday I hoped in my car and drove to Las Vegas to meet a dear friend for the first time.  She and I connected through a mutual elementary school teacher and we’ve been fast friends ever since.  As wonderful as it was, I honestly wanted to crawl out of my body and back into the one from last July.  You know, the one who looked like she was making progress.

More vanity.

Then from one of my favorite inspiring divas came this:

We all should take a serious look at ourselves and realize that beauty is everyone, everything, and everywhere. That’s just how I feel. I wish more of us will let go and be free. I’m still working on it, because my insecurities have a strong grip on my reality – and it sucks. But I’m not giving up~Lakeisha Shurn

Well of course I started bawling like a baby.  My eyes are filled right now as I type this.

This Year of Accountability has been about me stripping away the bull snot so here’s a truth I have to accept:

My milky white and dimpled thighs do not make me ugly any more than my eyes make me beautiful.

As the tide of my thoughts started to shift, I went in search of more inspiration.  Of course, I found it.  Basically it all distills down to this:

If I cannot take my love for myself with me on this cruise I am going to be miserable no matter if I am a size 2 or 22.  That number is not me.  It is not a reflection of my soul, my talents, my empathy for others, or even how I really think of myself 99-percent of the time.  If I cannot hold my head high as I face a long history of feeling bad and being made to feel bad about my size, then I have bigger problems than looking a certain way for one week of my life.

Cruises are supposed to be fun, dammit.  I will do as Lakeisha says and “let go and be free.”  I will have fun!Let Go Quote

With that, I tried on my swimsuit.  It still fits.  The last time I wore it I was on the beach in southern California so I let myself go back there and remember how I felt.

First of all, I was 10 days post-op from my hysterectomy…and on the friggin’ beach soaking the sun, looking for seashells and letting the waves lap my ankles.

Did I really care about my thighs?

Yes.  I wore shorts over the bottom of my tankini.  But do I look back and think, “Oh my God, my thighs are so gross?”  No.

When I look back, do you know what I see?

A woman living anyway.

Fibromyalgia had been pronounced.  My soon-to-be ex was harassing me to the point I had to call the police twice.  My aunt offered her home as a safe haven so I leaped at the opportunity to put myself and my children as far away as possible.  If ever there was a moment in my life when I needed the beach, it was that one.

I remember sitting on the beach munching mini sweet peppers, watching the waves, and the seagulls and thinking, “I may have an elephant ass you asshole but I can lose this ass and change but you will always be the same” (The 450 pound man had the audacity to tell me one of the reasons he wasn’t happy with me was because of my ‘elephant ass’.  At the time, I was wearing a juniors 19 pants to his 56 waist).

I remember feeling happy.  Really happy.

Sitting on the beach

I also remember thinking I wasn’t very comfortable because of the false skirt on the bottoms was bunched up and bulky and about how silly I was being.  And by silly I mean giving into years of programming.  But, I also did not take the shorts off.

Then there’s the little matter of my July photo.  Whenever I see it, I am sad and angry so I need to let it go.FB Pic

The real me needs to go to Mexico.  She’s pretty okay in my book.

Picture 25

Week 9–About a Quart Low

It’s so easy to stop doing good things without really noticing.

WP_20150108_001Case in point: Several weeks ago, likely more like two months ago, I was excited about finding flavored, non-sweetened (no sugar or sugar substitutes) sparkling water.  It’s a store brand to boot so it’s super affordable.  Each bottle is a quart.  Each day I was drinking one at my desk while I worked.

How many have I consumed since I quit?  Two.  Maybe three…IN THREE WEEKS!

Am I drinking?

Yes.

Am I drinking water?  No.

Unsweetened iced or hot tea, yes.

Sports drinks, sweetened or zero calorie, yes.

Hot lemon water in the morning, yes.

An occasional small glass of water, yes.

This dovetails with my issue of not eating extra veggies that were no problem in my lunch bag but nearly absent when I’m eating at home.

For several weeks I have been exploring the whys of this shift in behavior.

This week I stumbled on something which gave me pause.

For about half of my life I was a stay-at-home mom.  For more than half of my life, I was not making my self-care a priority.  What the kids needed came first and then if there was anything left over for me it felt like I was over-indulging.Habits

At this early hour I cannot remember what triggered me to think, “Hey this is just like all those times you would go without because money was tight or you felt you weren’t worth it.”  Even though I cannot remember what triggered the thought, I am glad I thought it.

I’ve caught myself in the shadows of my consciousness denying myself little things because money is tight, because our cruise is now SIX DAYS AWAY, because I am struggling with knowing I do not have a paycheck coming in and so this old, deep-seated sense of not earning my keep is simmering so low I almost did not recognize it.

I have even considered maybe I’m reaching too far to find “a reason, the reason” and so maybe this is all a bull snot excuse.  But, I don’t really think so simply because of how many times my hubs and I have had the “This feels like old times” conversation about our former lives.  I do believe those moments of brokenness from my past are screwing with my head right now.

Crap.

Friends, this is why the struggle is such a struggle.

No One Saves Us--BuddhaOne much-needed, incredibly healthy shift to my schedule uncorked a few bad behaviors and whispers of my former life and if I had not been so vigilant I might never have noticed.

I am also have a tiny–and yes I mean small–struggle with wishing I had gone through with having weight loss surgery.  It’s all vanity.  But it is also real.

In six days we will be on the adventure of a life time.  In six days, the photos of that journey will be of a fat woman and it breaks my heart.

As real as that feeling is I also know it is tainted with lies.

I know without a smidgen of doubt that weight loss surgery two years ago would have been a bad idea.

I know my body and my thyroid were struggling so much that they would not have been able to keep up.

Doctors agree.

Yet, in my head there still lives a skinny girl struggling to break free from the body who won’t cooperate and the lure of weight loss surgery is strong with her.

It’s not helping that the weather is warming so I am getting used to seeing my arms again.

Now even as I can put those thoughts here in this space for all of you to see I can also take a step away from those words and see my body is still struggling so weight loss surgery even six months ago to be skinner today would still not have been the right choice for my body.

So what’s up with the wishing?

Inside, in my own thoughts, in the way I want to see and be seen I am a skinny girl, not sickly skinny but healthy and maybe even a little buff.

A few days ago someone I’ve know for a long time shared with me that when she is waiting for the microwave she marches in places or does squats and my first thought was, “I used to do stuff like that when I wanted to be anorexic.”

Yeah, there was a time in my youth when I was hell bent on starving myself to that point.

Her words tempted and frightened me.

Could I add a few marches or a squat or two?

Could I do it and let it be a healthy thing?

Right now, right in this moment in my head my honest answer is, “I don’t know.”

But I am going to think about it.

I am also going to add a bottle of the sparkly water each day this week because I am worth it.Drink More Water

Other than letting myself think while I drink this week is all about making sure all the last minute housework and errands are done by Thursday so we are not running around like crazy people on Friday.

Interestingly enough, I talked to my hubs about this after I wrote it.  He also struggles with eating unless he is “on the job” but neither of us could put a finger on why it is an issue.

Week 8–Part Two–Late, I Know

Yes, I know…it’s the Tuesday after Week 8.  I am well aware I assure you.  If you know me at all you know I am NEVER two days late publishing a post in a planned series.

Never.

Well, as they say, “There is a first time for everything.”

So here’s the deets…

As you know I quit my job two and a half weeks ago after my boss decided it would be super cool to talk down to me like I’m slow.  Of course, that is not the only reason.  Quitting has been long coming.  Our plan was to at least wait until after our cruise.  Anyway, that obviously did not happen.  Me quitting also left a huge gaping hole in our already meager finances so my hubs started delivering The Wall Street Journal.  I have been out every day since last Wednesday helping him learn his route.

3 a.m.3 a.m. wake up calls.

Do you know what 3 a.m. wake up calls do to a chronic body?

In case you’re a normal person, one early day can send a chronic body into a symptom-filled tailspin that can last for days, weeks, and even months.

If you’re a chronic kid, then you’re thinking I’m totally insane for being willing to wake up on purpose at that time.  It’s cool.  My man supports me so I support him.  I know many of you would say “I can’t do that because I have ___” and that’s cool for you but for me I need to live, to THRIVE even if it means a whacked out body for a few days.

Thankfully, fibro decided to play nice, mostly. I have that ‘punched’ feeling on my arms and shoulders and the allodynia–hyper-sensitive skin–is more active than normal but otherwise it has been nothing too far above my normal baseline.

But the vein in my left leg which was damaged by a fall about eight years ago, not so much.  If I sit too long, blood flow is compromised and can even result in a blood clot.  It is part of why I am so adamant about moving.  That struggling vein actually helped me realize hour-long treks to the gym were not as beneficial to my fibro body as periodic movement throughout the day.  Hubs’ route takes about three hours.  Damaged veins do not like to hold still for three hours.  Damaged veins do not sit in cars for three hours.  As a result, I am having some numbness, tingling, swelling, and pain but not blood clot type pain.  Actually the experience has been a good practice run for traveling to California for our cruise.  We’ve had my car about a year but we’ve never taken a long road trip.  I am glad I decided to put myself out to help him because now I know exactly how riding in this car is going to hurt me.  Better I find out now than 10 days from now.

Umm, holy cannoli….TEN DAYS!!!

Ten days from right now I’ll be figuring out how I’m going to fall asleep knowing we leave on day eleven.

Squeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!

Pardon my little reality check.

Back to last week.

Let’s see 3 a.m. wake up calls also threw off my thyroid meds and my eating schedule in addition to a wonky sleep pattern of two ‘naps’ of about five hours each.  My leg is also puffy.  By Sunday morning, I’d settled back to where I was the week before (but now I’m back up again).  In other words, last week’s plans didn’t go according to plan.

Are you noticing this theme in my life?  I am.

I’m not quite sure what to make of it.

I think I have decided this past week was just an anomaly, a unique situation.

It’s also been raining buckets so my walking has taken a serious fall off the curb.

Week 8 was not the week I was hoping for or the one I set myself up to have.  And, I’m okay with that.

Life happens.