Saturday, February 25, 2012

What Really Matters (by Andi)

Tug's dad has battled cancer for about three and a half years now. During that time, I have been in a bit of denial. He's a young enough man. The doctors will figure this out. But with each set-back followed by a come-back, his come-back left him just a bit worse than before. He never really gained any ground. About two weeks ago, Tug's brother called to give us some worrisome news. Dad's not doing well. We have never gotten this kind of call from my brother in law. Tug went out to Virginia to be with family. To be with his dad. And I thank God he went. Tug's dad died on February 17th. Cancer claims another. But OH it was a hard fought fight!

Death. It's so hard for our culture. Maybe it's hard for humanity in general. But for us, it seems a taboo. I work in a world painted with death. We meet and support grieving families all the time. Words are hard to come by as you companion someone through grief. I don't want it to be like that for my kids. I have talked openly about death with them. Perhaps too much. My daughter thinks it will be a happy day when she gets to join her dog in heaven with Jesus and Papa Chippy. Maybe I got a little off track talking to the kids about death.

I read a very neat article about death the other day. Long before I knew we would be grieving for my father in law. It talked about energy, and the famous scientific discovery that told us that energy cannot be created or destroyed. It just changes form. I believe this. I don't know what to think about reincarnation but I do believe our energy fills hearts, makes flowers bloom, makes babies smile and makes the world go around. Dust to dust.

Over the past week full of tears, laughter, loving words, loving jesters, and manifestations of the lessons we have learned from Chippy, I have come to remember (because we always KNOW this but sometimes lose track) what really matters. We are all part of something bigger than ourselves. These connections we make with others, the choices we make despite of ourselves, it's about love. I know. How cliche. But it's true. We are not on this world to see who can collect the most toys. We are not on this world to see whose people will be the most powerful. We are not on this world to simply enjoy taking from the earth and pilfering from the loss of others. We are here to teach and to learn. To better our souls and shape the souls of others through love.

And if you have any connection with a younger generation, you had better take it to heart. We have major control over the future of this world by how we teach and learn from these little people. Empathy, integrity and generosity. That about sums it up. We need to put these three ways of life in the forefront. I am afraid we are loosing ground. These should be bedtime lessons on a daily basis for our children. These should be dinner time topics across the table (which we all should be sitting at with our kids NO exceptions). These should be ideas adults talk about and demonstrate. Ah...another part of a fitness quest. Making our hearts fit. Making our lives matter. Things seems a bit less complicated when you have your priorities in place. Interesting how a death can energize those of us still alive. Did I mention energy cannot be destroyed? It just changes form.

I am sorry? Did you think you were going to read this post to see how my weight loss is coming along? Have you ever been in the midst of the death of a family member? In southern Virginia? When we can't find the words, what's the next best thing? Yes. Sugar, butter, pork and beer (or wine). Food plays a big part in grief and death. When I do my job, I often have to remind people to care for themselves and don't forget to eat. I have never had the problem of forgetting to eat. I ate plenty. I think I gained two pounds. I don't give a hoot. Sharing a plate of snicker doodles with those you love does a fine thing for the heart.

However, I am back home. I go back to work Monday. Tug is already back today. As we teach lessons of high moral character, we also must remember to take care of the temple that carries our soul for now. I want to be able to turn cartwheels, play soccer with my kids, and hear them laugh as we fall on the grass this Spring! It's right around the corner! Baseball, camping, green grass. Ah! Get me out of this house and the company of those I love while I bask in the sun! There is a place for creating healthy bodies in "what really matters" so that we can teach and learn longer, and have some fun while doing it.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A New Addiction

Am I addicted to food? I have thought so more than once. I love food. Not all food is created equal and I do not love all food BUT I do love good food. The best job in the world would seem to be a restaurant critic. How cool but to eat, get paid and just go to new places! The TV shows I watch the most...Food Network shows! A great place for me to relax and veg out is strolling the isles of the grocery store (without kids and without a time limit) checking out all the new products just wondering what they taste like. Okay. So it appears I may be addicted to food.

Lookout food! I have a new addition! It's an addiction that feeds into my control freakiness. It's called "My Fitness Pal." This is an application to my phone. It was free, which was a big "selling point." I downloaded it a few months ago but did not get past a half day of food tracking before I got bored. Last week a co-worker told me she was using it and I decided to give it another shot. I played around with the various things it could do and I quickly found this was a very easy way to track what I eat, how much I exercise, when I reach my calorie limit for my weight loss goal, and it even tells me how I measure up to eating the right amount of vitamins, carbs, fat, cholesterol and sugars as recommended for my size and gender. It has changed me.

My Fitness Pal allows my complete control of how what I eat will impact my weight. And health. It's nice to know that I have gone over on my protein but need a little more calcium and I only have 58 calories until I reach my daily limit and I have plenty of sodium to work with and I only had a quarter of my fat for the day. I can even add my exercise for the day and it recalculates my calorie limit to provide for the physical activity. I could go on and on. And when I am done for the day, I "complete" the day on the program and it tells me what I would weigh if I ate like that for the next 5 weeks. So cool. I am excited to weigh myself come Monday morning and enter my new weight into the program. Then I can see a decline on a graph the program has. Now here's the best part...after I reach my goal weight, I can fix my profile to "maintain" weight and follow the program that way! I am very excited about this because maintaining weight has been my problem. And now I have a plan for post diet fitness.

My Fitness Pal had added a lot of ease to this process. Another helpful tool I am considering is a weight loss challenge at work. There are about 20 female coworkers of mine who plan to play this challenge. We all put in $25 and weigh in every week to another co-worker NOT partaking in the challenge who is sworn to weight secrecy. The three people who lose the most percent of weight split the pot of money accordingly. This is an eight week challenge. I am already very invested into fitness and weight loss, I don't think I need the motivation like some others. I have also already lost 11 pounds (yes eleven! Read it again, 11) and I do fear a big plateau coming up. So I am not 100% committed. On the other hand, I am committed. I know I will be losing more weight. I already got my metabolism working well. The first weigh in (and money due date) is next Wednesday. I need to decide by then.

One other thought on the issue of sustainability. Even though I have this new plan with the My Fitness Pal to maintain weight, I still need to remind myself that's it's okay to let go now and then and not be slave to the calorie counter. Yesterday I was invited to lunch with some friends. I have not been out to lunch for WEEKS. Probably since the first week in January when I went to Red Robin for that birthday lunch I mentioned a few posts ago. Yesterdays invitation was to a Thai restaurant. Oh yum. I have not had Thai food in forever and I love it. I accepted thinking I could just have some low calorie salad for dinner and forgo the after dinner snack. I slightly indulged on a Thai soup, a spring roll (which I was disappointed to see it came fried, not steamed), some steamed rice and half an order of KAPOW! You should know that KAPOW is pretty spicy. I should have taken a clue in the name or in the three chilies on the menu that followed the name. But it was the only option not stir fried and without coconut oil. It was a spurge that left me with a whopping 120 calories left for the day (even considering I worked out in the morning).

By the time I got home, I was pretty hungry. I considered the salad with some chicken. But not for long. I really wanted something warm and tasty. And as I was digging through the pantry for some light soup and the freezer for a small diet frozen meal, I felt crummy. It really felt like I was on a strict diet and I could not have what I wanted. So I said "fudge it." Sorta. And I went for my lunch left overs. And it was good. I was satisfied. Well nearly. I also had two of those WhoNu chocolate chip cookies and a valentine chocolate. And at that point, it did not feel like a diet. (Duh. Chocolate does that.)

Eating well all week and having a couple hours of controlled off track eating is sustainable. Much more sustainable than depriving myself. And even though My Fitness Pal has me in the red for my caloric intake for the day, I also lost 2.8 pounds this week. So put that in your pipe My Fitness Pal!

Onto another week! And a good one! Tug and I have a special three day trip planned. I am anxious to see if I can find a way of enjoying food and drink with my man while indulging in the beauty of Estes Park and the fun of SNOW SHOEING (and not gain weight).

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Self-check. A Bit Behind Schedule... (by Tug)

Forgive me it has been about a week and a half since my last post.

February is here and Andi and I are one month in to our fitness journey for the year.  An honest assessment finds me a bit behind of where I want to be.  In terms of eating healthier and exercising more, I'm definitely on the right track and I'd categorize that challenge as a success thus far.  However, looking at the goals i set for myself, I'm lagging in just about every other department. 

I have yet to find a bike "race" to enter.  I looked into Elephant Rock, but I'm a bit put off by the steep fees.  What's more imposing to me though is the amount climbing in the route.  I can easily ride the 50-60 miles, but there's a lot of hills in the route.  I hate climbing.  There're moderate and short climbs on my normal ride route to downtown Denver, and I've hit the big climbs at Chatfield Dam a few times.  I can do those.  But sustained uphill climbs of over a mile at 6% plus, and I get nervous.  It's not that I don't think I can do it.  It's just that I'm afraid of the challenge and the pain it brings my legs.  I have to find a way to conquer this fear, because just about every charity ride event in Colorado has some sort of climbing on the longer (40+ miles) routes.  As soon as the weather gets a little warmer and we get some snow melt, I am planning on hitting the C-470 trail that goes from Littleton to Golden.  For those of you not familiar with it, it is basically all uphill for about 8 miles or so.  I great reward for making that ride would be a lunch date with Andi.  If she can stand the look of me in my spandex shorts. 

I also haven't found a running race to enter.  I haven't even looked.  This may be a goal that i set that i don't meet.  I absolutely loathe running.  The cardio doesn't bother me, but the pain in my knees can get pretty bad after about 1.5 miles.  I can deal with muscle fatigue, but sharp pains in the knees are not fun.  Tendinitis is not fun.  My cycling can cause mild flare-ups, but running really brings it out.  This is something that I'm just gonna have to get out and do.  I have a feeling that once i start the training, it will get easier.  That's usually how it works, right?

I also haven't found a Tough Mudder or Muddy Buddy to enter yet.  I've gotten some offers from some friends to run it with me, but haven't found any yet.  It's only February, not really the season yet, and so I'm not overly worried about this one.

I have a goal to climb a couple of 14er's too.  That shouldn't be too difficult to do either.  One of Andi's friends has a cabin near Fairplay that is pretty close to half a dozen 14k ft peaks.  We stayed there a couple summers ago and I was able to bag two in one afternoon.  I envision a similar trip this summer with two other peaks on the radar.

Since my fitness quest for this year also includes bettering my family life and having more quality time with Andi and the kids, I've started planning on a week long camping trip, likely in July, to visit a couple of the National Parks that are within 8hrs of home.  There must be about a dozen of those that would meet that criteria between Colorado, NM, Utah, Wyoming, and South Dakota.  On the radar this summer are Arches and Canyonlands in Utah, and Mesa Verde in SW Colorado.  This may turn in to a SWestern Colorado trip that focuses on the areas around Durango.  This is an area of the state I've never visited but have heard fantastic things about. 

For Andi, she's kicking butt.  I couldn't be prouder of her.  How she continues to get up at 4am, workout, do a full day of work, get home with the kids and still find time for mom and wife stuff is beyond me.  Women, and particularly working moms, are simply amazing beings.  She's lost 9 pounds so far and you can tell.  Hopefully she'll get to where she would feel comfortable in a bikini for the next time we go on a cruise (which we're aiming for fall of 2013... which would be celebrate my 40th birthday and our 15th wedding anniversary).  I haven't seen her in a bikini in about 10 years.  I've always seen her as beautiful.  I'm hoping she can get to where she sees herself as beautiful.  I suspect this is a challenge for women in general.

For this week, i am going to continue to do what I've done over the last 4.  Early rise for exercise.  Bike rides at night and/or days off, when time allows.  Cutting out fast food and eating more fruits and veggies.  In two weeks, we'll be heading to Estes Park for a little snowshoeing vacation.  I'm really looking forward to getting out in the mountains and having an active vacation.

Thanks for reading.  I hope that time finds you all doing well...