The holidays are over and here we are at the start of a whole new year…
Over Thanksgiving and Christmas, I picked up and lost the same 6 pounds. The only difference between Thanksgiving and Christmas is it took me 2 days to gain that much for Thanksgiving, and Christmas it took 4 days — I’ll call that improvement!
I weigh daily because although the numbers can ruin my day – if I let it – being accountable to myself every day helps me stay on track, and it helps me see how my body responds to certain foods. Instead of focusing any weight gain, I try to focus on what I’ve learned.
Especially with everything else going on in the world right now, it’s easy to get down and beat yourself up when you don’t acheive a certain goal. It’s easy to look at my own holiday gains and lose motivation, and beat myself up. The negative talk in my head is pretty loud!
Or, I can choose to focus on other things…
The fact that I’m stronger and healthier this year than I was last year.
The fact that I’m not craving bad food as much as I used to. For a food addict, that’s an accomplishment!
The fact that although I ate a lot of bad food, I found myself getting sick of it quicker than what I used to.
The fact that at the end of the celebration, I felt satiated and I was actually kind of relieved to get back to a healthy routine.
The fact that although I might have picked up a few pounds, I’m still making progress from where I was in August and September!
I know I still have a ways to go to begin having a healthy relationship with food – believe me, I know that! But you know what? Although I’m not there YET, I’m on the journey of getting there and any improvement is progress and I’m getting there. I’m further than I was.
In regards to riding, I’ve not been able to ride as well because we’ve had a ton of rain and the pasture is too slick and deep to ride at this point. Just like with getting healthy and fit, I can either focus on the mud – which I can’t do anything about, or I can focus on things I can do something about. Instead of focusing on the things that kill motivation, I’ve decided to focus on those things I can do a little something about. I re-newed my NBHA membership which I haven’t done in 4 years. I’ve lined up the grader and builder for the new barn, and I’ve got the new fencing ready to go as well. Just those little things help keep me motivated and looking forward to the good things coming this year!
I’m learning every day it’s all in what you focus on that keeps you going. So what is your focus?
The pictures above were during one of the hardests times in my life – the aftermath of a tragedy followed by a divorce, selling a farm, and losing horses. At the same time, it was the first time in my life at the ripe old age of 47 that I could look in the mirror and be proud of what I saw.
You see, my whole entire life I have had an unhealthy relationship with food. I love to eat, but food has always been a coping mechanism for me. Simply put, I am a food addict. It took me a lot of years to realize that. Although I’ve always been active and strong for my size, I have always struggled with weight. At 5’3″, I stayed in the upper 180’s for several years, but the scale kept going up as high as 208.
As the scale went up, my health went down. Blood work, paired with a biopsy from a place of my face that wouldn’t go away for well over a year, and symptoms like joint pain, fatigue, depression, sores in my nose, all pointed to Lupus. The only option the doctors offered me back then was a rhuematoid med that had horrendous side effects and made me feel like I had the flu. That wasn’t good enough, and that’s when I slowly started on a journey to get better, which eventually led me to the first set of pictures.
I was able to stick to my regime for a long time…. basically eat clean (meat and veggies) and do kettlebells. I had finally figured out that the more simple it was, the more likely I was to maintain it. I didn’t count anything and my workouts were a max of 15 minutes. I felt great, my confidence went through the roof, and I started riding the best I’d ever ridden in my whole entire life.
Even when I was in my 20’s and thinner, I never thought I was thin enough. I also didn’t ride as confident…so what changed at 47? Mindset and strength. If you want to change your life, you change your thinking – and that’s what I did!
In the craziness of building the new place however, all of that fell by the wayside over time. The day to day living in the cramped space of a camper, and the stress of having to build a house weighed heavily. I found myself eating comfort food more than I should have, and not working out or riding. I just wanted to get on to the next phase and be in the house, and if I couldn’t do that food was the next best thing! Food made me feel better momentarily – although I always paid for it in the form of joint aches and fatigue, along with depression – which just made it worse. I didn’t have anywhere to spread out so that I could work out — most of the time there was too much mud! This went on for 3 years…and I was gradually headed back to being as heavy as I was before. But I told myself once I got in the house, I would find my way back.
We finally passed the final inspection and moved in this year at the end of July. At first, I wasn’t really consistent with eating and working out. Then in August I had extreme back pain – the worst I’d ever had! (Keep in mind I fractured my thoracic vertabrae in my early 20’s from a car wreck!) I could barely move, and the only way I could get any relief was to sit or lay down, and even then I still hurt.
Being in that much pain, and not able to do anything hit me pretty hard. I didn’t want to live like that. After about 2 weeks with no relief, I finally went to a chiropractor. On a side note, it was the same chiropractor that I used for my horses – Wells Chiro Healthcare. It took quite a few adjustments, but one thing he pointed out was how important nutrition is in how we feel. He also reminded me of what I had been a few years before, when I was strong and healthy. That was the kick I needed!
So I started back on what I had done before – eating meats and veggies, and exercising. Eventually, the pain got better. But you know what else got better? My attitude!
After about 3 weeks, I started tracking my progress through pics. Right before all this started, I had gained up to 188. It was less than I had weighed the last time I decided to make a change, but if I was going to get back to that place where I felt good, I had 35 pounds to lose. More importantly, I had a lot of strength to build back as well.
The first 8 pounds came off pretty easily, but then I plateaued. Even on the days that I was good and did kettlebells, I would either not lose or I’d gain. Two years into hot flashes at 51, soon to be 52, the weight not budging was to be expected, but I wasn’t going to give in.
The whole reason what I was doing before had worked was because it was simple. I don’t like tracking anything because the last thing I need is something else to keep up with. However, working in reporting and analytics, I knew I needed to start tracking what I was eating to see if I could tell a pattern. So I downloaded the Carb Tracker App, and chose the KETO setting. I figured if I couldn’t lose on that, then I really needed to make some big changes. It gave me my ideal Macro for the day – 22g of carbs, 135g of fat, 108g of protein, and 1731 calories. The ideal Macro for me is 5% carbs, 70% fat, and 25% protein. The app calculates all that for you, and tells you when you’re going over. So, in a sense it was still simple.
There have been some days that I’ve gone over my carb level and gained a pound, but there’s also been days I’ve went 15g over and still lost a pound and half in one day. I’m learning where my limits are, how my body handles food. One thing for certain, getting enough protein seems to be the key to keeping the scale moving in the right direction. The key is athletes don’t diet and exercise, they diet and train. As a rider, even an old one, I’m an athlete.
More importantly though is building strength. That part has seemed a bit slower! The good thing is I’m back to doing crunches with 20 pound weights, but presses and building strength in my legs is taking longer than what I’d like — but I will get there. I’ve done it once, I can do it again.
At 51, I’m on another journey to get back to that place where I actually felt good about myself, and doing it as naturally and as realistically as possible. I don’t want to take a bunch of pills, or buy a bunch of expensive supplements, or spend hours in the gym. I also don’t want to look like a 20 year old. I just want to ride the absolute best I can possibly ride, and be the healthiest, strongest and most confident that I can possibly be because I want to enjoy the years that I have left as much as I can — and it’s all up to me to get it done.
With Thanksgiving coming up, I’m going to enjoy it to the fullest. I’ve already ordered a couple of pies and rolls since I don’t eat those on a normal day. But the next day I plan to be right back to eating healthy for me. I also plan on getting some more riding in as well. I plan on sharing my progress because if I can do it, anyone can! As the saying goes, sometimes you go through the darkness to show others the way. Life is worth being healthy inside and out!