With my 17 year old daughter's strong encouragement, I am going to pick up blogging again, mostly to focus on healthy eating and fitness over the next four months. I will throw in some other subjects like my favorite books or a movie I've enjoyed or just life themes like happiness, etc. but the primary impetus at this point is to connect with others who want to take exceptional care of themselves, but sometimes fall short.
Why am I picking four months as my time-frame? Well, in four months exactly from today, I turn 48. And I want to do it with pizazz. I remember celebrating my 40th birthday with a sunset swim with about 20 or so of my friends. Many things were going very well for me at that time. I was a long-distance runner. I was fit. I was publishing articles as a freelance writer and, more importantly, having a great time as a mother to my children. I thought I had the world by the tail. A friend and I vowed to make our forties the fabulous forties...well, they have been fabulous in many regards, but they have also been challenging.
On the bright side, I went from being a freelance writer to a published book author at the age of 42. On the crazy side, the month my first book came out (September 2007) was the same month I was in the hospital after major surgery for ovarian cancer. I came out of that surgery very weak and injured myself badly shortly after which resulted in back surgery only months later and years of struggling with nerve damage that went from my back down through my left leg and foot. I wasn't able to run during that time and ended up putting on a lot of weight. Not helping matters any were other very stressful events like the serious illness and death of both of my husband's parents and my father and a very dear friend in rapid succession. I never thought that I would write and deliver two eulogies in a matter of weeks for two people I love as much as I love my dad and my dear friend Mary. We struggled through it all with lots of prayer and, in my case, lots of food.
A little over a year after I was declared cancer-free, I had weighed almost 40 pounds more than I weighed when I was in the hospital. A big breakthrough came when I was able to start running again in June of 2011. It was not easy and I still deal with residual nerve damage that is worse sometimes than others, but I felt soooooo free being able to run again (jog, I should say). I have even run some road races again in the last year or so. Not as fast as I used to be...some of that because of age and some because of my nerve damage, but I may be the happiest slow runner out there.
With a return to running, I lost about 15 pounds in a matter of months and I felt so much better. During the same time period, I made stabs at eating healthier, but I didn't go all out (though I intended to). The next big breakthrough came about a year later in May of 2012 when I was visiting the local YMCA for my regular weight workout. My friend Debbie Wog who is an amazing fitness trainer, teacher and expert invited me to attend her Body Pump class. I have never been a fan of exercise classes (I feel a bit uncoordinated trying to stay in sync with other participants), but I thought I'd give it a try and the first time out I was hooked. It is basically a very, very challenging free weight class where you exercise everything in 55 strenuous minutes - biceps, back, thighs, abs, everything. With that class, I have gained more strength than I have had in years. I didn't lose weight, but I am pretty sure I lost some inches and just felt better about myself overall.
Part III of my get fit and lose weight program came into being when I finally got motivated to rework my diet. I have always loved healthy food but not exclusively. I am also a really big fan of combos that include sugar,flour and butter in yummy homemade things. But between my husband's heart attack a year ago and my own terrible LDL Cholesterol level(categorized as severely elevated in my lab work), I was finally motivated to work on the diet. Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn's book, "Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease," was a life changer. It argues for an extreme diet, focusing on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans, but he says that even if you do it about 85% you will have dramatic results in weight loss and cholesterol. And I have definitely had positive results in weight loss with another 12 pounds lost which brings me to a 27 pound total weight loss since June of 2011. And I want to lose 5 to 10 pounds more between now and my birthday as well as have my LDL cholesterol test in the normal range.
Another motivator for finishing the weight loss strong by June 20th is that two years ago, my oldest daughter Amanda told me that she wanted to take me shopping and buy me a new outfit for my birthday. I told her how touched I was by her offer and that I really wanted to take her up on it, but needed to lose weight desperately before I would feel good about getting a new outfit...so she's been waiting patiently overall and I think that this year is the year! I even told my husband that I would like him and the rest of the kids to help pick out another outfit or two for me for my birthday!
So, yes, I am motivated. I have worked hard the last 20 months to take better care of myself and I want to be especially focused on driving the weight loss to the finish line in the next 4 months. When I celebrate my birthday, I want to feel strong and energetic so I can make the most of all the years yet to come.
What about you? What's your story as far as nutrition and fitness? What are your goals for the next week? The next month? And the next four months? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
As I close this letter to you, just let me say that I have learned for myself that we don't have to be perfect in our efforts to have measurable progress. Heaven knows, I haven't been perfect since June 2011, but I've lost 27 pounds and feel better than I have in years, including feeling better about myself.
If you'd like to feel better and do better when it comes to your health and well-being, join me. We can do it together. Here's a no-fat salad dressing to get you started. It's scrumptious. Jane's 3,2,1 Salad Dressing (from Preventing and Reversing Heart Disease):
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons mustard of your choice (I use plain yellow)
1 tablespoon real maple syrup
Mix and pour over salad. Delicious!
That's it for now. Happy, healthy eating ahead!