Competition

Competition with yourself is the only competition to focus on when you are regaining your health.  In order to compete with yourself all you need is a baseline.  When I began my journey, I used a treadmill to find mine. I was out of breath walking at a speed of 3.5 miles per hour and walking 1 mile at that speed was a lot of work.  However, I lost my first 50 pounds by walking.  I didn’t have the cardio ability to increase to a jog and my weight killed my knees, ankles and back any time I tried.  Now I am doing interval speeds that never would have occurred to me even a year ago.  We all have our own starting point and if you find yours you can watch the progress and stay motivated.  Don’t focus on what you could do when you were young or in the best shape of your life.  Focus on where you are now and take steps forward.

Last week my trainer had me doing obstacle drills that required explosive speed.  He said I had to do 5 rounds of each obstacle course but my 5th time had to be my fastest.  At first that did not make any sense but, by the end I completely understood what he was trying to do.  I competed with myself and with one of the drills I was able to drop from 14.2 seconds to 10.53 seconds.  The point was to find the baseline and then set a goal for my 5th run.  Do not set a goal before you know your own current abilities.  You will be surprised at what you can accomplish by keeping it pure and competing with only yourself.

Failure

I am afraid of failure but not afraid to admit it.  My fear has kept me from trying endless new things.  As I contemplate taking on a new challenge butterflies swell in my gut.  I told my partner, “I want to try ….xyz but I am so afraid to fail.”  He asked, “What does failure look like?”  I did not have an answer.  I know what the ideal situation is in my vision and I know what the next step down and the step below that look like, but I cannot think of any outcome that would constitute failure.

Is failure one of the reasons you avoid setting goals or taking risks?  When you set a goal to lose 25 pounds what is failure?  Anything that happens can only be positive!  Losing as little as 5 pounds is a success even just making a small step in the direction of health is a success.  So how can any outcome be considered a failure.  Next time you say to yourself, “I’m just going to fail” try to define failure with something tangible.  If you learn anything, loose one pound, do one more push up, eat one milligram less sugar in a day it is a W I N.  So, every time you slide backward stop calling it a failure because you learned something, and you did something good for yourself. Keep trying and you can get were you want to be!

Sweet Rewards

If you are trying to lose weight or just make an improvement in your health you need to look at how you relate to food.  I used to say to myself, “I’ve been so good today I deserve …”  The end of that sentence was usually ice cream (my biggest weakness).  Me being good enough for my “reward” could have been, being active, eating healthy the rest of the day, having a stressful work day or any other challenge.  The problem with this ritualistic view of reward is that excess sugar is poison for your body.  Sugar addiction is said to be more extreme than an addiction to alcohol or tobacco. 

Pay attention to your thought process when you are reaching for your next delicious sweet treat.  If you do mentally call this a “reward” try thinking about how increasing your risks for diabetes and heart disease could possibly be a reward.  If you enjoy the taste of rat poison would you call its consumption a reward or fight the urge to consume knowing what it can do to you?  I hope your answer is to F I G H T!  You are worth the effort!  We all are!  We also still need to be able to reward ourselves.  What makes you feel good that is not sugar or fat?  One friend would say massage another would say going for a walk outside, another watching a movie.  I enjoy acupuncture, the sauna, pool, walking outside or curling up on the couch in front of the fire place.  Your reward is one you have to decide on.  The only restriction is that the reward is not sugar or fat.

Does this mean that you should never eat anything sweet again?  Not exactly, but after you decide to change your self-talk the next step is to eliminate it completely for 14 days strait.  It took me 4 months before I made an entire 14 days without cheating on myself.  After 14 days more than my mind changed.  My bodies reaction to sugar changed.  I ate 2 bites of a candy bar and became violently ill.  The cells in my body realized that this was poison after 14 days of being without it and reacted accordingly.  After my body reset, I studied the glycemic index to find just the right fruits so that I was controlling blood sugar spikes.  I find personally that if I control my blood sugar I do not eat as many calories, my brain works optimally, and my energy levels are sustainable.

Please do not think that means I never have sweets these days.  I definitely slide backwards more often than I would like.  It is a life long struggle.  The important thing is that I can recognize when I need to do another 14-day reset.  If I catch myself early enough in my backslide I can reset in 3-4 days and loose the cravings.  That first 14-day reset is extraordinarily difficult and is not for the faint of heart.  But it is worth attempting!  Remember though that if you give yourself negative mental feedback in the process you won’t get through it.  Be proud of every day you succeed and count that as a win!

-References concerning the risks of sugar are coming soon-

Self-Care

One thing that is so easy to forget is that health and fitness require time and energy.  Are you one of the many is this world that feel the need to care for others first?  What do they tell you just before the plane takes off?  If the plane goes down, put your oxygen mask on first, then help those around you.  It is no different in every day life. 

               As a child I was raised in a very conservative home where the woman’s purpose was to be the care taker.  I was taught to serve first.  This philosophy is as tangible as if it made up my physical being.  I see this issue in so many men and women that struggle with their health.  Many of these people I greatly admire!  The issue is that it isn’t sustainable!  I know someone who owns a growing small business.  Who do you think he puts first?  He treats employees as if they are family and clients like best friends. He works himself to levels of exhaustion that very few of us can even imagine.  When I was in the worst of my decline I worked in Social Services and fought to help those that needed help but fell through the cracks.  My entire day was filled with desperation and my nights spent searching for solutions for the those that did not quite qualify under program guidelines.  If I spend 9 hours a day at an office, then 4 hours collecting food, gift cards for necessities and cooking and cleaning for elderly neighbors what is left?  Not only was the time gone, but the energy depleted.  I didn’t even give myself enough to cook a balanced meal or take a walk.  I was sick all the time and didn’t give myself a day to rest even then.

               This does not mean that those that are healthy are selfish by any means.  They more easily practice proper self-care.  In this way they can sustain higher levels of care for others.  Those of us that struggle with this often make ourselves sick before we take a break.  It is our bodies way of forcing us to focus on our own wellbeing.  Who do you think I rely on when I get sick?  Someone, who understands this philosophy and is strong enough when I am worn out. 

               Write down 3 things that make you feel peaceful and energized.  I challenge you to begin your journey here.  Practice 3 things that make you feel good about yourself and your life on a regular basis.  My hope is that you experience the importance of viewing yourself outside the realm of caring for others.

What is a health crisis?


Generally, it is only a phrase which refers to major public health issues.  They are major health concerns that affect communities both from a medical and economic stand point.  So how can we define a personal health crisis?  Is there such a thing?

According to the World Health Organization: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”  https://www.who.int/suggestions/faq/en/

Dictionary.com defines crisis as: “a stage in a sequence of events at which the trend of all future events, especially for better or for worse, is determined;turning point.” https://www.dictionary.com/browse/crisis

With these definitions I am pretty sure that each one of us can have a Health Crisis at any point in our lives!

Finding out your blood pressure is through the roof or you have diabetes.  What about cancer, blindness, paralysis, severe depression.  Only you know if your situation is a crisis!

My “Health Crisis” was the day I had my hysterectomy.  Before that moment I was falling; after, I decided to climb.  Do you have the courage to reverse the fall before you hit the bottom? I did not!!!

I admit my eating habits were far from great and my physical activity relatively low but not in a way that could, on its own, result in 300 pounds.  I turned to MDs saying begging for help.  After several tests they were banging their heads against the wall as was I.  One gynecologist said “this is not going to result in anything but, it’s the last guess I have.”  I had a biopsy, the next day pre-op labs and the following day was on the table.  Before surgery the surgeon and I sat facing each other one last time.  He said, after we remove your uterus and cervix we will be able to take a closer look at the tissue and know for sure if it is cancer or not.  If it is cancer we will remove your ovaries as standard.  However, if it is not positive do you want me to remove the ovaries or leave them.  Because I was in severe pain for 10+ years and I did not want to risk future problems I said, “take them out no matter what!”.  For me that was the ONLY option.  I was desperate for the pain to stop and I knew if they remained the pain would continue.

That morning I was 34, with a 56 inch waist, unable to sleep, taking 7 prescriptions, in excruciating pain all the time and suffering from severe depression.  4 hours later the situation remained, but my mindset changed.  Finally, a doctor listened to my cries.  I decided to continue the hunt for solutions, questioning MDs until they provided an answer! One at a time, solutions were discovered over a span of several years. Now I’m 42, with a 26 inch waist, taking only 1 prescription on top of my HRT, no longer suffering from constant pain and my depression is under control.  One day, one moment in time, changed my view of what was possible and that saved my life!

Find Support

Really look around you and see who is there.  When I started my journey, I was essentially alone in my desire to feel better and my goal was to be able to buy clothes from a regular store.  That was my ultimate vision!  Now I am in a completely different place with a new, fresh, more powerful mind set.  I was speaking to a woman at the gym a few weeks ago that was about the size I was back in 2010.  She was just getting started with her healing process.  She asked a question that triggered an in-depth conversation about our past struggles and she was shocked when I told her I used to be 300 pounds.  She asked, “How did you do it”? My answer is always the same, “hard work, patience with myself, and personal support”.  There are many pillars involved with success but the topic here is personal support.

There are varying degrees and styles of support.  Your personal needs will change as you progress and as the vision of yourself and your path adjust to the moment.  I went through 3 major support levels.  At the beginning of my exploration I was on my own!  The I was surrounded by those that provided as much emotional support as anyone could ever ask for but simultaneously, surrounded me with fresh baked goods and comfort food.  My current level of support is as good as it gets!  My partner makes sure I have everything I need to succeed.  He understands fitness and the dedication it takes!

When I was starting this path alone my goal consisted of being able to buy clothes from a regular store.  At the time it seemed like a big deal and when I managed to reach that check point I stagnated.  Alone I was not able to see the potential I had.  If you do not envision your future then how can you reach it.  This is one of the reasons you need people that know and care about you.  If you stand at the base of mount hood how far will you climb if you are on your own?  If someone knows where you are but is unable to be by your side, you will push harder and feel safer.  But think for just a moment, what if you have someone that not only holds your hand but carries the climbing ropes and the ability to catch you if you fall and lift you when you’re struggling. 

Alone I was able to do the baby steps but since I couldn’t even see the possibility of reaching the peak I didn’t set goals that would get me there.  Once I was surrounded by those that deeply care about my wellbeing my steps grew but I was carrying all of my own equipment and slipping on the ice.  Sometimes I slid miles backwards, went home, took a break and when I was ready to try again I went back to mountain and started climbing the same part of the path that I had already conquered.   Regaining one’s health is not always direct and the struggles are what make us strong enough to go further.

Now, the goals I am setting are much bigger than I ever imagined they could be when this whole process began but it took someone to push me to see what was possible.  It isn’t just any push though, it took someone who knows fitness, knows his own value and could see what I could become before I could see it myself.  It took positive feedback from someone I value and respect.  Now I am setting goals concerning the amount of weight I can lift and how fast I can run. I am not standing on the top of the mountain yet but I can feel it.  I’m breathing in possibility and exhaling doubt.

What each of us needs is different.  There is no prescription, which is why I push searching within yourself.  Figure out what you need to succeed and reach out.

How does your life effect your ability to achieve your health goals?

Anyone can prescribe something for weight loss, muscle toning/building, or cardio improvement. If are already in the process of regaining your health this type of information can be helpful. However, if you are like most people sitting on your couch thinking, I’m going to lose 10 or even 100 pounds and are searching for a starting point or an easy, quick fix then take a moment and search your soul before searching Google. There are endless reasons that you got to this point. Figure out what those are first. So often we see weight gain summed up to poor diet + lack of exercise. Well, guess what folks, it is a lot more complicated than that!!!!

Questions to ask yourself:
1) Am I experiencing, or have I experienced too much stress?
a. If you live in the US, work full time and support yourself and family, chances are the answer is YES.
b. Are you always busy taking care of others or do you take time for yourself?
2) Is there a medical underlying cause?
a. A few examples from my personal experience include hormone imbalance, ovarian polycystic syndrome, sleep apnea, adrenal failure and low thyroid. Also, a huge part of my health decline was caused by overprescribing MDs.
b. If you believe that something is seriously wrong have you accepted the information provided as gospel or are you asking questions and fighting for yourself?
3) Is my life stable?
a. Is your housing situation comfortable?
b. Are you in an unhealthy relationship?
c. Is your job secure?
d. Is your family healthy?
e. Are you concerned about basic financial needs?
4) Do I have support?
a. Are the people that surround you going to push you to make unhealthy decisions?
b. Are you surrounded by people that say things like; “I support you” “I believe in you” “Go for it” buuuuuuuuut…..in action, they are being less than supportive?
c. Lastly, are the people that you rely on for emotional/mental support providing only negative feedback or do they provide encouragement.