Eat Well, Move More

{February 9, 2013}   Therapy


Not much to say today. I spent the entire day in bed dealing with simultaneous depression and anxiety. This is just part of what I deal with having MVPS.

When I finally dragged myself out of bed, I decided it was time for some nourishment therapy…or cooking if you will. Chopping colorful, fragrant vegetables is calming and therapeutic for me. It serves a dual purpose, nourishing both body and spirit.




{November 27, 2012}   Hitting a wall

Oh my! It’s been nearly five months since I’ve updated this blog.  Perhaps I should explain the reason behind my writer’s block.

I hit a wall.


In my last post in July, I mentioned my difficultly with completing a moderate workout, experiencing  asthma symptoms, rather shortness of breath, and dizziness.  After several more attempts at the same workout, I was still taking breaks and not completing the full workout. Even worse, I hit a wall of fatigue and pain that caused the walls to crumble in around me.

Flu-symptoms and exhaustion kept me bedridden on my days off from work.  Heaviness and burning aches increased in my limbs. The dizzy spells became more frequent. Panic attacks set in. By panic attacks, I mean full-fledged heart-beating-out-of-my-chest and feeling like my skin was crawling off of my body, leaving me unable to sit still yet unable to move. The panic attacks woke me from deep sleep at night. At one point, I felt like I might have been having a heart attack.

I suspect that the panic attacks at night were caused by nightmares, and I’m pretty certain I know the cause of those. However the frequent panic attacks in the daytime seemed to have no relevant reason.

After several trips to my health care provider, a few dramatic and frightening fainting spells, several missed work days, a referral to specialist, and a few medical tests later, I had my diagnosis. More accurately, I had a few diagnoses and a bag of new prescriptions.

My main diagnosis: Mitral Valve Prolapse Syndrome .  A fancy term for a heart condition that comes with an imbalanced nervous system.  Good news, it’s not life threatening. Annoying news, it can be life interrupting.

So, now that I’ve absorbed my diagnosis and allowed myself time to adjust to my medications, it’s time to adapt my lifestyle. And time to adapt how I will bring my lifestyle to the healthy lifestyle that I want.

Stay tuned to find out how I accomplish that.


{June 15, 2012}   The ugly truth…the numbers

This is not the before photo I intended to put up, but this is me.  I am still working on my “good-bye” photos to give better views of the “shape” that I’m in, so that I can see the progress when I take new photographs in a couple of months.

Some may say, “You don’t look so bad. You don’t need to lose weight. What are you talking about?”   The package can be deceiving. Fashion can help us hide our flaws. It’s what lies underneath that holds the real story.

This is a photo taken very recently by my daughter.  What you may or may not see is my bulging belly, my oversized hips, flabby arms. And you certainly do not the see the size of my a…, ahem, behind.  You won’t see the high blood pressure or other health issues. You probably don’t see the unhappiness deep down inside, because I am so disappointed in myself for not taking better care of myself. You don’t see the frustration when I glance in a mirror or the private humiliation while trying on jeans in the dressing room.  Perhaps you can relate?

At the time of this photograph, my weight was somewhere around 168 pounds.  This would not be a bad weight if I were closer to say 5 foot 9 inches.  I am not anywhere near 5 foot 9 inches. I am actually a petite 5 foot 2 inches, who earlier in her life had a slender frame.  Carrying this excess weight (about 4o pounds excess) is not comfortable nor healthy.  My BMI is over 30, which falls into the “obese” category. How humiliating is that?

My measurements are as follows:

  • Bust  39 inches
  • Chest 33 inches
  • Waist 37 inches
  • Hips 45 inches
  • Thighs 23 1/2 inches
  • Upper Arms 13 inches

Our bodies are not perfectly symmetrical. My right leg and arm measure slightly larger than my left, so I averaged those numbers for simplicity.  I still fall into the “pear shape” category, but I do have quite the belly these days. I didn’t have a “belly” until recent years, and this concerns me.  It’s the shape of my body and amount of fat that I carry that I want to change.

This is my starting point.

{May 15, 2012}   …with a single step

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  Lao-tzu, Chinese philosopher (604 BC – 531 BC)


Exercise, of any sort, has been a struggle for the past several months, due to pain and fatigue. “Pain and fatigue” is actually putting it mildly. I have good days, and I have not so good days.  Keeping a simple exercise plan helps me push through the pain, and work towards my health and weight loss goals.  It may take longer to reach my goals, but consistency will get me there.

It all begins with a single step, and then one foot in front of the other.  For now, I am simply walking. Not speed walking, but definitely not strolling. Every single day, I make an effort to walk. On the not so good days, I manage to walk to and from work, twice a day. This amounts to a total of 20 minutes.  On the good days, I strive to walk 30 minutes or more, and when I am able, there is a good size hill that I tackle.

Today was one of the good days…40 minutes and the hill.




{May 11, 2012}   Calories Schmalories

I don’t count calories.  What?!

Yes, you read correctly. I have not counted or tracked calories in years. Long ago, I gave up tracking and calculating the exact grams of carbs, sugars, fat, protein. Yes, I know it sounds like an oxymoron, especially coming from someone who will be blogging about weight loss, health, eating right, etc.

I do understand the concept of counting calories and the many theories of how calories play a part for weight gain, weight loss. Calories in (diet), calories out (exercise) as the simplest. The theory that our bodies metabolize different types of calories differently, and the recommended scientific ratios.  I’ve read the research and agree that what we put into our bodies to fuel and the energy we burn will affect our mass, our weight, our body shape.  Counting calories and understanding how calories work in relation to a healthy weight has its place. I simply have no desire or need to count calories and track every single morsel numerically. In school, I greatly disliked Mathematics. I am right-brained. Simply put:  I do not speak numbers.

Once upon a time, I obsessively counted calories, fat grams and sugars, and I would,  with much scrutiny,  calculate the exact amount of output (exercise) needed to expel the calories I had input.  This time in my life was a dark time, obsessive and unhealthy. This was a time in my life that I struggled with an eating disorder, which I will share with you another time.

A few years back, I was tasked with meticulously planning meals structured according to Phase One of the Atkins’ Diet.  Food choices were extremely limited, only certain number of grams of carbohydrates (including fiber) was allowed, etc.  Plan and preparing the meals was tedious and boring, and above all, frustrating. If I deviated just a little bit from the “prescribed” plan, well, let’s not go there. Let’s just say, that I was not the one partaking in the diet plan. I prepared the meals for someone else.  I found it extreme, incomplete, and far more complicated than necessary. It was certainly not satisfying, as I witnessed frequent binges and straying from the plan.  I was urged to join in following this plan, but instead, I chose another path.

I have been a (an on again/off again) Weight Watchers member.   Yes, there is tracking and counting involved in the WW plan, but I found it a simpler method. It satisfied the small part of me that tends to obsess; it gave me something to track.  There are fewer numbers to track, healthy goals, and far less complicated. At least, it was for me.  Most importantly, beyond the tracking points, WW taught me very valuable lessons that have made it possible for me to feel confident in eating without counting calories.

  • Writing it down and keeping a food journal made me more aware of what I am eating. This behavior encouraged me to more carefully think about what I put in my mouth.
  • Choices and options were plentiful, as were the consequences. If I chose foods that were more convenient (prepackaged, fast food, etc), then I ate less often and felt unsatisfied. If I chose “real” food, such as fruits and vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, than I could eat more frequently and feel more satisfied.
  • Moving my body “bought” extra points that I could choose to eat or not. Again, choices.
  • Thoughtful choices bring positive results and success.
  • Accountability is powerful. Support is imperative.
I haven’t attended WW meetings in several weeks, for budgetary reasons, but I have not left behind the tools. I still have them available to me, and refer to them often.  Am I tracking points right now? No. Why? Because at this new starting point, I’m keeping it simple.  I will most likely return to counting points and attending meetings, but for now, I am excited about this new freedom I have found.
I had a realization a couple of weeks ago, an epiphany. I have the tools I need to be successful in my desire to return to a healthy weight, to reach the jeans size that I will feel good in, and to improve my overall well-being. I know the difference between food that is “convenient” and food that is real and beneficial (Some would call this “clean eating”).  I know what is needed to move in the direction I want to head in.  If I eat real food and make an effort to move my body more, then I will reach those goals without overwhelming myself or stressing out about the numbers. And I can enjoy…
I have a found a new passion and enjoyment in photographing the food I cook. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with food most of my life.  I choose to embrace the “love” part of that relationship. I love food. I love to eat. I love to cook. I love to create dishes that appealing and colorful and tasty.  Seeing the pictures brings me joy and reminds me of my success with being able to make good choices in food. If I am eating well, I do not need to worry about the calories so much. In fact, when food is elegant and appetizing, I tend to eat less of it, because I savor each morsel. And I don’t like to mess up my creations so quickly.
So…I will choose to Eat Well…and enjoy it.

{May 11, 2012}   Starting Point

We all do it.  We make New Year’s Resolutions, plan to join Weight Watchers next month, promise to join the gym next payday, schedule  to start on that Couch to 5K program on Saturday, etc.  It’s noble, these plans and promises that we make.  We mean well, but the bottom line is…

We procrastinate. We delay. We put it off. We finally start. Life happens. Something gets in the way. We skip a day. We stop. We plan. We procrastinate. It’s a vicious cycle.

Often, we aren’t catapulted into following through or making changes at all, until there is an outside motivator: a family member’s health is in jeopardy, or even our own, motivates a change to be made.  Outside motivators can be helpful, especially the “scary” type.

Honestly, though, to be truly successful and not sabotage our own plans, we must find that internal motivator.  Yes. Self motivation is key.  We all have it. We just don’t use it like we should.  Simply put, it is deciding to…


My external motivator: rapidly deteriorating health and increasing pain.  Diagnosis is irrelevant at this point. I know what needs to change.  My internal motivator: I don’t want to feel like this anymore. I want to feel better and be my “old self”.  I consider myself semi-sedentary in my lifestyle, and at times “inconsistently active”. And my downfall, I love food!  The inconsistency and promises to begin exercising or eating healthier “on Monday” are not helping me.  I have fitness DVD’s, diet books, and exercise stuff. My problem is that I keep wanting things to be perfect and think a fancy program is going to help me. Sure it would, if I actually used it. Waiting for the right day or the beginning of the week or the perfect program is not helping me.  A few days ago, I simply made the decision to “do something”.  I decided to just Eat Well and Move More.  Sounds too simple? No. Not really. It’s a starting point, a realistic starting point.

It doesn’t matter where you decide to begin. Just pick something and do it. And tomorrow, do it again.  Some things should be planned and scheduled, and that’s fine. We shouldn’t wait for June 1st to begin our “programs” or for next Monday to begin to eat better. Each day is a starting point.  Now is a starting point.  Don’t complicate things. Keep it simple.  Eat well. Move more.

et cetera