Saturday, March 24, 2012

Grief and Emotion in a Fitness Quest

Well, it's been quite a while since my last post.  A lot has happened since that time that has somewhat derailed my quest to maintain fitness this year.  As some or all of you may already know, I lost my dad to a long battle with leukemia last month.  He put up a courageous fight, but when the body is ready, the body is ready. 

As anyone who has lost a parent can probably attest, the loss of my dad has been quite a blow to me.  Emotionally.  Physically.  All around, quite a mess.  He was the most important man in my life by leaps and bounds.  He was my rock.  While we weren't close in the physical sense, I knew I could always call him up and ask for advice on any subject (especially money, parenting, and cars) and he'd always have a straight answer for me.  Not that I sought his advice a lot, but not even having that as an option anymore is a sobering reality.  The man whose actions, beliefs, love and understanding molded me as a person is no longer living and breathing on this planet?  Say it ain't so!

Well, it is so.  Over the last several months, when it became clear that his health was declining at a faster rate than my family would've liked, I starting preparing myself mentally for that phone call that would send me to the airport to fly back home for his final moments.  I secretly and embarrassingly hoped that he might pass in his sleep unexpectedly so that I wouldn't need to face the last few days and see him in such pitiful shape.  Even when I did receive that dreaded phone call and made the trip home, I thought I'd be okay.  I had been preparing for his death for a long time.  When he finally passed, I thought I held up pretty well for the days and couple of weeks afterwards.  The fact is, it's been very hard.  I think about him every day.  I miss him every day.  I have periods of grief and emotion every day.  Never doubting his love for me, but sometimes questioning whether I did enough as a son to show my love for him. 

For people who know me, it would probably come as no surprise that my dad was not a very outwardly emotional person.  It probably wouldn't surprise you either that he wasn't someone who would participate in a lot of "small talk" and engage in typical "bull-shitting" amongst friends.  He was a no-nonsense guy who always gave an honest and straight answer and rarely let emotions cloud any decision he ever made.  It is said that between me and my two siblings, I am the most like Dad was.  Because of our similarities, I always felt that we had a fairly close bond.  The type that didn't need words to bridge gaps.  I knew how he felt about me without him having to voice it.  I assumed he knew how I felt about him without me having to voice it. 

Though I really didn't want to go back home for my Dad's final days, I am infinitely glad that I did.  Yes, it was extremely painful to see him in such a degraded state.  The big, strong, male father-figure reduced to bedpans, painkillers, and soiled sheets.  Not the way he wanted to go out.  But those final couple of days were, in a word, magical.  He was stripped down to his emotions.  Stripped down to the realization his days were limited.  Bare-boned, blunt, honest, naked, and raw.  While his body was quickly declining, his wits were about him until the final few hours.  The two nights at his bedside in the hospital before he passed, he was making jokes, offering unsolicited yet sage life advice to me and my siblings (as was often the case with him), planning for our future and making sure we were going to be okay.  The day before he passed, all of his sisters (there were 5), my siblings, my mom and I all took turns getting into the hospital bed with him and having what he termed "flesh time".  Warm body on warm body.  Hugging, sharing stories, burying hatchets, and saying what largely probably didn't need to be said.  It was an awesomely painful and beautiful thing to behold.  As difficult as it was, I know that there are a lot of people that don't get to have those "closing" moments with a family member.  I am so thankful that I had those last precious moments in those last couple of days.

So upon returning to Colorado after the memorial service, I basically jumped right back into work.  I had been gone for 10 days and couldn't really take more time.  While they would have been okay with it, I couldn't let my co-workers continue to pick up my slack.  Since then, I've had a very difficult time getting back into the workout groove.  I didn't work out at all while back in VA.  Coming back here, I didn't pick up a weight or hop on the bike for about two weeks.  So that made it about 3 weeks without exercising.  I often found myself completely drained after work.  I'd spend 10-12 hours at work, then hop in the car for the drive home and find my thoughts drifting to Dad.  I'd end up crying on the drive home.  Then get home, have dinner, spend some time with the kids and Andi and then go to bed where my thoughts would again drift to Dad.  He would say I was wallowing in self-pity.  I'm not sure it was self-pity, but it was definitely wallowing.  I think that in some sense, I didn't, and still don't, feel like I should be happy.  I lost my hero.  I'll never be able to give my dad a bear hug again.  I should be sad, right?  He would also say to "get over it, Son.  Life goes on and so should you."  It was in that spirit that I finally mustered the energy to get out of bed early one morning to begin the workouts again. 

To say that I've been faithful to my exercise regime would be a hysterical lie.  I've been anything but.  I'm lucky to get two workouts done in a week.  I keep finding myself wallowing.  I am lacking the emotional strength to give this pursuit the attention it deserves.  It's pitiful.  It's embarrassing.  I need to do better.  Dad would want me to do better.  The positive things I need to keep reminding myself of are that I actually feel very good after a workout.  Endorphin releases from exercise are an amazing way to make yourself feel better.  Also, the weather here has finally started to look like spring.  That means I can get back on the bike and actually ride outside.  I'm so looking forward to the first warm-day ride of the season.  The last and probably most important thing is that I know Dad would not want me to lose my momentum completely because of his death or anyone else's.  He would want me to continue to do the things I was doing before that were making me happy.  Because hey,

Life goes on and so should I.               

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mind Games: Losing While Pigging Out! (By Andi)

This past weekend was a major challenge between eating healthy and letting loose. I let loose. It was my son's birthday. He had a large sleep over party where we faked camping. I had over to my house eight boys, all eight years old. We had a tent in the living room and make smores in the fireplace. Knowing this was going to be challenging, I decided to make the food part of the party as easy as possible. I made cupcakes and bought lots of chips and trail mix. In all me pre planning cleaning (we'll get back to that in a moment), I forgot to prep me some good food. So not only did I have lots of chips and trail mix, I drank margaritas. I would have gone with wine but we had none. I had instead zero calorie margarita mix. This does not make the tequila calorie free mind you. I estimate I had close to 500 calories of my 1200 calorie limit in margaritas. The remaining 2200 calories was had with the rest of the junk food. So at this point I planned on bringing $5 to the work weigh in figuring I blew it. But I was resolved to enjoying the gluttony of Cool Ranch Doritos. That was Saturday. Sunday started with another cupcake, finished off the Cool Ranch and had no work out all weekend. I was back to my routine Monday and weighed in today (Wednesday). Down 1.2 pounds. Yes, I am thrilled. But I am worried. I'm having little mind games with myself. So, I can eat nearly a bag of Doritos and have 3 cupcakes and four margaritas and lose weight? Sweet! No. Not sweet. It would never continue to work this way. It's a darn fluke and I cannot get into that habit. But it was nice to let loose for a weekend.

Back to this "pre cleaning" for the party idea. Prior to having eight boys over for a sleep over, I cleaned house. I mopped the floor, cleaned the toilet, picked up all around the house, dusted, made my husband do things like vacuum and I hired a high school student to pick up the patio and rake the dead grass and dog poop in the yard. Okay, I am glad the poop was taken care of, but needless to say, Sunday when the parents came to pick up the boys, no one would guess that I cleaned house. Why do I do dumb things like that? Heck, why do I allow eight boys to have a sleep over in my home? Next year, I think my son can invite two friends to the movies.

I have three more weeks to go on the work fitness challenge. I think I am around 6th out of 15. I'm not sure I can pull off a 3rd place win but at this point, I don't want to have to add $5 each week I am over. I am anxious for the challenge to be over. Not that I plan to eat a lot and stop working out. Rather, I need to bring it in a little or else I will loose all interest in making this a forever change. I'm also sick of worrying about the scale each week. The pre weigh-in thoughts are so annoying! (I need to pee first. I need light clothes for Wednesday's weigh-in. Should I get my hair cut before the weigh-in? How much weight would I take off if I shaved my legs the morning of the weigh-in? Should I workout that morning? I need to forgo water during the workout the morning of my weigh-in. What should I have for dinner the night before? Should I go by the bank and get money in case I gained?) As you can see, I'm crazy.

I digress. Let me tell you what I DO like. I like the way clothes fit. I like the way I feel after a workout. I like my workout play lists and "me" time at the gym. I like how my knees are less sore climbing stairs. I like feeling in control of my intake. I like talking to my friends about workouts and new foods. I like the splurge of a drink or real desert now and then. I like feeling just a little engulfed in my husbands arms. I like that I have kept this going for nearly 4 months. I like that I am not even close to giving up. I like that I won't give up!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Truckin' On! 10 Weeks and 14 Pounds Later by Andi

It's been about 10 weeks since I made the commitment to myself to turn my health around! I have lost 14 pounds and a size or two in my clothes. I feel really great. I decided to go ahead and join the work "biggest loser" challenge about 4 weeks ago. I'm right in the middle of the pack with my total weight loss but that's no big deal. I know I lost most of the weigh so far in January. It's harder now to lose. I'm not putting up the big numbers like before. But that's okay. We have been a big support to each other. Almost every day you can find me and my work diet friends around the work conference table comparing lunches and talking about challenges we are having. Oh and also glaring at the sweets one of the contestants keeps bringing to work and leaving out for all of us to partake in.

I'm still right in the thick of feeling good and confident about the direction of my health. So good in fact, I am considering joining a challenge called "Dirty Girl!" This is a mud race/obstacle coarse for women to raise money for breast cancer research. It's in September. That will be so fun! There are around 8 of us at work looking to do this.

Something that has helped me kick up my work-outs...Tug gave me his old i-pod! It's my first i-pod ever. I learned how to search for and purchase play lists. Shape magazine has cool work-out play lists. I really like 80's music and one list combined some great 80's songs to a techno/work-out beat and I love it! It makes my work-outs nearly fun. I kinda get lost in the beat and time flies by so fast. Having the beat also helps me keep my pace up. No more angry gym guy music!

Finding healthy, easy to fix food has still be a little challenging. The bottom line is it requires time and effort. The i-phone program My Fitness Pal has been so very valuable tracking my intake. Still loving that! I recently bought the Skinny Girl margarita drink. It's 100 calories per serving but they think a serving is 4 ounces. That is NOT a serving. That's a taste test. So I can count on 200 for a decent sized drink. I am trying to keep my net caloric intake at or under 1200. With my workouts, I usually get up to 1400. That's is very doable. 1200 is hard. So working out is a must for me most days.

I am still getting up at around 4 am to get to the gym before work. I was worried about the recent time change thinking my body will think it's only 3 am. It was actually not too bad. As it turns out, 3 am is not that much different than 4 am. Both suck equally! Lucky me! In addition to increasing the time on my workouts to 45-50 minutes, I have increased my arm weights. I'm not trying to bulk up but I would like to build enough muscle to allow me to increase my calories. Again, I admit I have a slight food addiction.

So that's the 10 week scoop. It's all become part of what I do. It's not easy but it is easier to fit all this into the rest of my life. I am looking forward to celebrating my son's 8th birthday this weekend with him and too many of his friends in an "indoor camping" sleep over. Ballet has started for my daughter, which is a blast to observe and baseball for my son is just a few weeks away! And life goes on!