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POOKASLUAGH's Recent Blog Entries

Getting stronger!

Thursday, September 04, 2014

I've mentioned before that my big strength goal - the one health-and-fitness-related goal I have yet to achieve on this journey - is to be able to do 5+ pull-ups again. Back in high school, I could do 20+, and I would love to at least be able to do 5 nonstop again one day. I got really close before my surgery in January, getting up to 4 pull-ups. Post-surgery, with my abdominal muscles surgically altered, I lost core strength completely. For weeks, I couldn't even sit up from a laying down position on my own, and it took three months before I could even hang from a pull-up bar. At 5-months post-op, I tested my pull-up strength, and couldn't even do a full pull-up. That was how much core strength I lost (because at heart, pull-ups involve arms and shoulders, yes, but a big chunk of the strength comes from your abdomen!).

I've barely exercised over the summer, and have done no strength training since mid-June. On Monday, September 1st, I decided to take the same extensive fitness test that I mentioned several blogs back ("I need a new me...or, Day 1"). I won't go into all of the numbers here, but I'm happy to say that I've regained most of the strength that I lost post-surgery. I'm back up to a full vertical jump height, flexible enough to reach 4.5 inches past my toes, and I can do 32 on-my-toes push-ups before my core muscles start protesting (at which point I stop, given I'm only 7.5-months post-op and don't want to injure myself!). The only place I haven't regained full strength - or improved my strength - is in pull-ups. However! I was super excited to discover that I can, indeed, do a full pull-up again!



It's only one, but I can do it now! And honestly, I kinda consider this an improvement in strength. Why? Because during my initial weight loss journey, I couldn't do even HALF a pull-up until I got below 160 lbs, and I couldn't do a full pull-up until I was at a healthy weight (154 lbs). Now, I can do a full pull-up at 164 lbs, and that extra 10 lbs of body weight makes a HUGE difference when it comes to pull-ups. Imagine what I'll be able to do when I'm back into the low 150s and high 140s!

My kids started school this week, so now I have my me-time back. I'm still doing really well on my 100 days of exercise challenge, and haven't skipped a day yet (even if some days are merely a 10-min slow walk). I've launched into an intensive pull-up program this week that I hope will help me get back to my pre-surgery level (and beyond), complemented by a full-body kettlebell routine twice weekly and lots of walking. I'm looking forward to seeing where this all takes me in the next four months.

Note: I pre-drafted the above on Tuesday, with the intention to add information about my official weigh-in today (day 16 of the challenge). Yesterday, however, my aunt passed away. She had advanced cancer and this was completely expected, but it's still rough, especially as I'm currently 2000 miles away from all of the rest of my family. I never got to say goodbye, nor will I be able to go to her memorial service next week. I did not handle the news well, and spent a big chunk of the morning eating way too much (especially kettle chips). At the same time, I'm proud of myself because 1) I still counted every single calorie, 2) I still did over half an hour of walking, and 3) though I wanted it badly, I didn't have any sugar at all (I'm now 15 days sugar-free). Today, I'm salt-swollen, so will use yesterday's unofficial weigh-in of 164 lbs as today's weigh-in. That puts me down 4.2 lbs since the challenge began on August 20th.

Thank you all for your kind words and thoughts. I am not christian, and do not believe in god/heaven, but I believe very strongly in kindness, sympathy, and each person processing death and grief in their own way. I personally believe that when we die, we become part of all of the things around us, a sort of non-sentient divinity, and this comforts me, to feel like some part of my aunt is still inside me and the things around me. Yesterday was a rough day, but today will be better. I can honor her by continuing to live.

A tribute to her: bostonblooming.blogspot.com/2014/09/
tribute.html

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FITMAMA_ 9/15/2014 9:22AM

    Awesome!

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POLSKARENIA 9/14/2014 7:38AM

    Great blog; I like the way you described the 'thereafter'... sounds like you're going forward the best way for you, and all with honesty!


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SAPHRAEL 9/11/2014 2:16PM

    Pull ups are a serious indicator of strength. Awesome job!

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DINAOREILLY 9/7/2014 11:15AM

    How funny :-) I hit 164 lbs this morning to ...down 11 since I began in earnest to get this weight off finally...27lbs to go now which feels more manageable somehow...as for pull-ups...I have not done one in years so I guess you have triggered in me a need to be able to do them again. I do body pump 2 x week using weights which will strengthen my upper arms to enable it as even a possibility......Hugs honey....hope you are getting ready to move up north soon.....

Our energy leaves the temporal plane and your Aunt will continue to live around you and in the Universe.....loving her and talking to her will help....I believe she can hear you :-) emoticon

Comment edited on: 9/7/2014 11:17:27 AM

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JULIAINLA 9/5/2014 2:37AM

    My condolences regarding your Aunt, sorry you are going through this loss and grief...stay strong and determined as you continue on your amazing journey... emoticon

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C8TSON 9/4/2014 10:49PM

    emoticon Glad to see you making so much progress! So sorry for your loss though.

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GHK1962 9/4/2014 10:42PM

    Woot woot on the pull-up.

And ... is that pull-up bar totally staying in place via friction / counter wt against your pull up? It looks like that's how it works. Where did you find that? It's kinda cool.

And again ... I am sorry about your aunt ... even when something like that is 'expected,' it's never easy.

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CRABADA 9/4/2014 9:46PM

    I'm really sorry about your aunt. I can imagine how hard it is to be so far from your family right now.

xoxox
C.

PS - Good for you for everything else you're doing! :)

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EVER-HOPEFUL 9/4/2014 3:40PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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CATS_MEOW_0911 9/4/2014 11:47AM

    I'm so sorry about your aunt.

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FAIRHAVENQUEEN 9/4/2014 8:50AM

    Wow, I'm so impressed with the pull-ups and pushups! Still not there myself.
So sorry to hear about your aunt. Death is an inevitable part of the life cycle, but it is always hard for those left behind. Hugs to you!

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MEH50BEWELL 9/4/2014 8:37AM

    You rock doing that pull-up. You said it best...you honor her by living!!

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JAMIRBLAZE 9/4/2014 8:30AM

    Congrats and my condolences.

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MARYBENSON 9/4/2014 8:18AM

    Good job!! emoticon

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AJB121299 9/4/2014 8:07AM

    Nice

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Reached a milestone this week!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Today marks Day 9 of my 100 Days for Me Challenge. I've thus far done very well: exercised daily even if only a 10-min walk, counted calories daily, had no sugar at all since August 19th (though I still put a little stevia in my plain Greek yogurt in the morning). I've been doing my positive affirmations and personal tasks every day as well. Some of my favorite tasks so far have been attending a wine tasting, asking for a neck/back rub, and Skyping with my good friend Stephanie (INEEDACAT9). I've forced myself away from negative self-talk, and I've been pushing myself to spend extra time taking care of myself, from little things like spending time on skin car when I'm tired at night to harder things like smiling at myself in the mirror every time I walk into the bathroom. I don't know yet if it's helping my depression at all, especially as the situation at home has gotten even worse this week, but I'm following through, at least.

And following through seems to be helping. I started this challenge on August 20th at 168.2 lbs. My official weigh-in day is Thursday, so this morning I weighed in at 164.4, a full 3.8 lbs down since August 20th. And that's with it being TOM right now. Woohoo! I know some of that loss is water, but not all of it, because I was drinking 12-16 glasses of water daily before I started the challenge. And for a girl who doesn't lose weight easily, seeing a big drop like this in the first week is really happy-making. I'm back to the 90 lbs lost line. Only 10 lbs until I'm back at my original goal, 16 lbs until I'm back to my lowest weight, and 25-30 lbs until I'm at my final goal!

One interesting thing I learned this week: when it gets really hot out, I stop being hungry. I never noticed this in Texas, because we kept the a/c on almost year-round, so the hottest it got in the house was 80 degrees. I didn't stay outside very long when it was hot, either. But here in the Boston area, while it's been cool most days, we had several days of very hot weather - above 90 - this last week, and we have no a/c. The temp in the house was up to 89 degrees those days, and above 85 for most of the day. And on those days...I simply stopped being hungry until the temp dropped off again in the evening. Then my hunger returned. It's like a natural rhythm I never noticed because of a/c! Certainly made it easier not to snack in the afternoons that way, haha!

I wasn't originally planning to take pictures for my weekly check-ins on this challenge - just at the 25-, 50-, 75-, and 100-day marks - but since I hit a round number milestone (90 lbs lost), I'll go ahead and include an updated pic. This is me now vs me at the last time I hit 90 lbs lost (September 27, 2012).

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

2DAWN4 9/10/2014 9:06PM

    Thank you for posting your blog! I enjoyed it and was inspired to continue my weight loss journey! Keep on keeping on!

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MRSRIGS1 9/9/2014 8:23PM

    emoticon

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WENDYANNE61 9/2/2014 5:11PM

    Happy for you and hoping things will improve over time! Lovely to hear you being so focused again!

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MOONGLOWSNANA 9/2/2014 11:58AM

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NASFKAB 9/2/2014 2:04AM

  awesome job great your blog is featured in Spark Mail

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ADVENTURESEEKER 9/2/2014 1:31AM

    Way to go on being focused! And the small step weight-loss goals are important and keeps you focused.
I need to reset myself and lay out my goals and small steps as well, because over the summer I let myself get way off course, to the detriment of my waistline. I need to throw away the chocolate triffle and work my way back into my skinny jeans.

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CHUBBY_MOM 9/1/2014 4:06PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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BLPRETTYGIRL1 8/31/2014 1:21PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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WRITERWANNAB 8/31/2014 12:40AM

    WOW! Excellent progress! emoticon

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MAYBER 8/30/2014 9:06PM

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us
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EVER-HOPEFUL 8/30/2014 1:38PM

    emoticon

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BLUEJEAN99 8/30/2014 2:02AM

    emoticon

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MARYJEANSL 8/29/2014 11:40PM

  Nice pics!

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JIBBIE49 8/29/2014 10:56PM

    Great to see your blog featured in the Spark Mail.

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CELLA_P 8/29/2014 9:15PM

    emoticon

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CAROLJ35 8/29/2014 9:05PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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KIPSTER52 8/29/2014 8:11PM

    emoticon You go girl

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LIVELYGIRL2 8/29/2014 7:59PM

  Your sure accomplishing a lot! Keep it up! emoticon

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PATRICIAANN46 8/29/2014 5:48PM

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JUSGETTENBY42 8/29/2014 2:51PM

    emoticon

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NONNAOF2 8/29/2014 1:17PM

  Everything you are doing is working and it shows! Congratulations! :-)

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JSEATTLE 8/29/2014 1:13PM

  Great progress and great inspiration for me. Thank you!

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IAMAGEMLOVER 8/29/2014 12:22PM

    emoticon emoticon

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FIT4MEIN2013 8/29/2014 11:26AM

    You look great!

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NEPTUNE1939 8/29/2014 11:00AM

    emoticon

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LCRUMLEY81 8/29/2014 10:11AM

  Great Job keep it up

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SARAHMANI 8/29/2014 9:33AM

  I have the same experience with hot and cold, being hot cuts my hunger or makes me want to eat only raw fruits and veggies!
For your depression, niacin (vitamin B3) in high doses has proven more efficient than anti-depressants for many people (see http://www.foodmatters.tv/content/h
ow-to-take-niacin-vitamin-b3-fo
r-depression-and-anxiety) , and other than that running is very very efficient, even if just 10 min and going very slow... getting those endorphin flowing! Hope that helps!

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MARYELA 8/29/2014 9:27AM

    emoticon emoticon

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MICKEYH 8/29/2014 9:19AM

    emoticon emoticon you looks great!

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CFMOSS 8/29/2014 9:09AM

    Looking good. keep up teh good work.

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SHOAPIE 8/29/2014 8:52AM

    emoticon

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SHERYLP461 8/29/2014 8:36AM

    you look great

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CAROL3SAN 8/29/2014 8:32AM

    emoticon emoticon

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STEVIEBEE569 8/29/2014 8:31AM

    emoticon emoticon

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DJSHIP46 8/29/2014 8:30AM

    Lookin' good... You're doing GREAT!!!

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WORKNPROGRESS49 8/29/2014 8:26AM

    emoticon emoticon

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CARRIELYN56 8/29/2014 7:55AM

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SUEARNOLD1 8/29/2014 7:45AM

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You are awesome! Keep up the great work!

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MPETERS79 8/29/2014 7:35AM

    Haha....I'm going to turn off the AC here in Florida!

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PENOWOK 8/29/2014 6:32AM

    Great job! You look wonderful and I love your self-challenges!!

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TRYINGHARD54 8/29/2014 5:47AM

    you look fantastic. keep up the good work.... :-)

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CHERYLHURT 8/29/2014 5:13AM

  You look fabulous!!!

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TINAJANE76 8/29/2014 2:51AM

    Great job, Amanda! So happy to see you turning things around and doing so well.
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TRUE-NESS 8/28/2014 1:05PM

    Congratulations!!! I love the part about the no negative self talk! We could all stand to make that a personal goal!! Great work (on self and body).

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CRABADA 8/28/2014 12:50PM

    You really do have such amazing follow through -- I wish some would rub off on me! :)

So glad you're feeling a little better about yourself, and congrats on the pounds lost. That's great.

Hang in there!

And finally - LOVE THOSE BRAIDS!

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xoxoxo
Courtney

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JULIAINLA 8/28/2014 12:47PM

    emoticon

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ARUNNINGKAT 8/28/2014 12:16PM

    So glad you started this journey! It sounds like it is doing wonderful things for you! You are looking fabulous and I know you are well on your way to achieving your weight loss goals.

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GHK1962 8/28/2014 11:55AM

    First - great going on all the things you've been keeping up with on your challenge. (The 10 minutes of exercise, positive self affirmations, and no sugar thing.) And good on you for taking a few 'me' stuffs for yourself too.

And wow on the 3.8 drop. I'm trying to think when I've ever seen you post a loss like that and I can't even remember.

And ... no a/c???? Does it get muggy there when it gets hot? (I also noticed you have wood floors ... do you ever lie on the floor because its cooler? The other day I lay down on ours ... seems weird I know ...but the floor stays cool! Though admittedly, the puppers then come and attack you ....)



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SBEAR5 8/28/2014 10:24AM

    So happy you're taking this journey to find joy. I have known about not being as hungry in the summer as we are in the winter. I think some of that has to do with the foods we eat in the winter as well, but yes... generally, when it's hot outside we don't eat as much. I've noticed that myself the last month or so. After I run outside in the evenings, I'm not really hungry. I end up just having a protein shake and I'm good.

You're lookin' good Amanda! emoticon

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RYDERB 8/28/2014 10:20AM

    Congratulations Amanda! I'm so glad you're doing so much better.

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18 months

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Today is technically 18 months from the day I met my goal weight, but I'm not really sure I can honestly say I'm "maintaining." The last four months have been mental hell, as I was saying in yesterday's post, and consequently, I've regained roughly 17 lbs since the beginning of May. Periodically I manage to lose a pound or two, but then they just come back, plus friends. I'm doing what I can to get myself to a better mental place (see yesterday's challenge), and to get back to where I was 18 months ago.

Yesterday, I took new "before" pictures. I'm now closer to the 85-lbs-lost line than the 105-lbs-lost line. It pains me to see these new pictures next to the ones from February, when I was at my one-year-maintenance line. Especially since back then, I was 5-weeks post-op and feeling really good about my body. I no longer feel anything like "good" about myself in any way. Sigh.


Now.


Six months ago.

That shirt that's the same? It's one size smaller in the second photo. I've gone up a shirt size, two pants sizes, and a bra size. I've taken all my measurements and they're all up - and oddly, they aren't the same measurements as the last time I was this weight. My hips, thighs, and calves are all bigger, while my upper body is smaller (not just my waist, which is lower due to surgery). I can tell I've not been a runner in some time! Apparently it really does make a difference, in body composition at least.

I'm putting this up here as truth. I've regained almost 20 lbs. I'm closer to being obese than at a healthy BMI, and my body looks it. I don't "still look good" as some people have said. I look overweight and unfit, and it's time to change that. I'm starting over. I need to lose those 20 lbs again, and after that I really would like to lose another 10-15 lbs, to get me to the 135-140 lbs range. That's a good size for my height and body shape. So I'm no longer really in maintenance. I'm in full-on weight loss mode.

**Note: I deleted the original blog and am reposting because with the responses I got, I realized I misrepresented the situation. I did not regain because maintenance is difficult for me. It is actually remarkably easy for me to maintain, while weight loss is extremely difficult for me. I regained this weight the last four months on purpose. I was in a very bad place mentally, and binging to gain weight because I thought I should look as repulsive as I feel. It was not good, and I'm done with that mentality. While I'm not nearly in a good place mentally, I really want to stop the negative cycle of punishing myself with food for something I have no control over.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PRETTYPITHY 8/29/2014 3:55PM

    I'm in the same boat (though I never quite made it to goal). It has been a crazy year for me but I feel myself coming out of it, and towards a place where I can refocus on my goals. Good luck -- you've always been a source of inspiration for me.

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TINAJANE76 8/29/2014 2:54AM

    So sorry I'm so late in coming to your latest blogs, Amanda, but I'm glad to see that you've taken the steps you've needed to right yourself again. I'll be here to cheer you on along the way!

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SAPHRAEL 8/28/2014 7:33AM

    I'm here cheering for you, Amanda. I know you have the determination to make it happen.

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HOLLYS_NEW_LIFE 8/22/2014 9:18AM

    I completely understand how you feel. I've regained exactly 30 pounds due to some incredibly heinous life situations over the last 9 months. I feel crappy, I look worse, and I need to refocus. We can do this Amanda!
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DEB62BIE62 8/21/2014 9:42PM

    It's probably not a good thing to go up and down weight wise. You might get to an age where you can't loose so easily. However, I think that is why I stayed as heavy as I did. I hated myself. I have gained a few pounds myself, but not on purpose. I am eating the same, but not exercising at all. I'm just not motivated to do it. However, I am going to h ave to motivate myself cause I don't want to gain any more.

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MINERVASPARKING 8/21/2014 4:50PM

    *hugs*

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FORMYDARLINGS 8/21/2014 3:46PM

    1 day at a time, Amanda. That was what worked before and, if you are consistent, will do it again. As for your running, I wonder if you can restart something, maybe running, that is NOT weight focused but mentally healthy focused. I have heard, and I really don't know as I do little exercise, that sometimes getting into a routing, short or longer, is mentally freeing and maybe this would serve you well right now. If it helps with what you are working on, great, but look at it more as some free head space.


Gini emoticon

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CRABADA 8/21/2014 1:36PM

    First of all, where exactly do I get a "Color Me Rad" t-shirt? I mean, that is AWESOME!

Second, you can and will succeed.

Third, I'm here for you. We're all here for you.

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xoxox
Courtney

Comment edited on: 8/21/2014 1:36:49 PM

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UNSTOPPABLEJEN 8/21/2014 12:06PM

    I admire your courage to honestly assess the negative cycle you are in. By identifying the triggers and creating a solid plan of action to lose this weight, you have set yourself up for success. I'm cheering for you - I have seen you lose weight before, and I know you can conquer it this time!
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ARUNNINGKAT 8/21/2014 11:55AM

    It is SO hard to realize and admit out loud that you have gained weight back. But I also know that you have taken the first step by admiting it and with your determination I am sure you will get it back off.

Continue to take care of yourself, dear Amanda! You SO deserve it! emoticon

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RINLYN 8/21/2014 10:06AM

    The mental battles are always harder for me than the physical battles. I know you can handle the physical, no problem, but I hope you can get to a mental place that suits you, in a way that is best for you in the long term. Well, I know you're capable of it, I just hope that it happens for you smoothly and in a timely manner!

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ANONSI 8/21/2014 10:04AM

    I'm proud of you for realizing the negative cycle you've been in and for stepping up to stop it. If it helps, you're not alone. The numbers on my scale have been steadily climbing as well, and I need to do something about it too.

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SBEAR5 8/21/2014 9:49AM

    Amanda, I'm so sorry for your struggle. I will be praying that you find joy in Boston and most importantly with yourself. I've started praying during my runs, oddly it keeps my mind off the screaming body. haha emoticon



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TANYA602 8/21/2014 9:18AM

    I'm just coming back to SP slowly myself after the summer off and sending out my heart-felt hugs to you. I've missed checking in and guess I've missed quite a bit. I love that you emphasize the fact that you know what to do to lose the weight, and you will. You have always been a role model to me in your strength and attitude toward your journey and I hope that you are rediscovering the "you" that the rest of us have marveled at. Hang in there and know that we are all here to support you.
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MOMTO6CUTIES 8/21/2014 8:13AM

    I'm sorry you gained back some of the weight but I know you can lose. I'm here for you to help support you on your journey.

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100 Days For Me

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Originally, this new challenge started as a fitness-only challenge. My friend Stephanie (INEEDACAT9) began a 100-Days-of-Exercise challenge, posting a picture of her fitness daily on Instagram. I loved the idea so much that I decided to copy her, and invite other friends to join a secret facebook group dedicated to the 100-day challenge. My hundred days of exercise start today, to end on Nov 27th - both Thanksgiving, and my 5-year weight loss anniversary.

But this challenge has come to be about more than just fitness. This is about reclaiming myself. The last 13 months have been VERY hard for me, especially the last 4-5 months, because of the things I mentioned in the Truth blog. (Blog is deleted now, because it discussed very sensitive things.) My self-esteem reached an all-time low, until I felt worthless, ugly, repulsive, defeated. Things haven't gotten any better in my situation, but I can't keep living in this place of fear, depression, and self-loathing. I need to reclaim myself. I need to learn to love myself despite the weapons being used against me.

So my challenge, which starts today, will incorporate more than just an exercise streak. Every day for the next hundred days, I will:

- exercise at least 10 mins per day
- eat no processed sugar, and avoid other sugars as much as possible (Note: I'm giving myself ten instances - not days, but instances - off this rule, to accommodate birthdays and holidays and such. I don't have to use all ten.)
- count my calories no matter what I eat that day
- do one positive-image affirmation thing for myself
- do one thing off a list of 100-for-myself tasks that I've created

As a reward system, I will give myself $1 for every daily goal I meet, for a total of up to $5/day, up to $500 for the whole challenge. Yes, that's a steep reward for something so simple, and for people who have just used up their savings to move across the country, but I want to believe that I'm worth it, and that this challenge - which will be a MAJOR challenge for me - is worth it. The reward will come on the last day. I will use the money on something that makes me happy - independently happy. My hope is that by the time the last day of the challenge passes, I will be a happier and healthier person, no matter what my external situation looks like on that day.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WORDLILY 8/22/2014 12:26PM

    I thought you started last week. I started a 10-minutes-a-day program today, might need to join you in the rest of that, too ...

We can do it!

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MINERVASPARKING 8/21/2014 4:47PM

    WOW! I LOVE this idea!!! emoticon

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CRABADA 8/20/2014 5:22PM

    As always, I can't wait for your reports on your progress. Wish some of your experimentation and orderliness would rub off on me -- I'm trying to incorporate more structure, and you're always the inspiration for that.
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:) Courtney

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ARUNNINGKAT 8/20/2014 12:29PM

    LOVE this challenge! You are SO worth it and I think the results will be amazing. You definitely deserve the reward at the end! And you inspire me to come up with a challenge for myself. emoticon

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BRONXBABE 8/20/2014 10:58AM

    WOW, I am cheering for you from the sidelines!
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OMMAMA7 8/20/2014 10:38AM

    emoticon

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C8TSON 8/20/2014 10:19AM

    I think this sounds like a wonderful plan! I think you need it too. Treat yourself well every day no matter what. emoticon

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UNSTOPPABLEJEN 8/20/2014 10:15AM

    I am always inspired by how you find a way to turn adversity into opportunity. I'm cheering for you!
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GHK1962 8/20/2014 10:05AM

    emoticon

If you post tomorrow or other days about this ... then I am afraid Spark emoticons do not have days other than Day 1 ... they really should make them so that you can put the numbers in. Or put in an encouraging word. Or a picture in the emoticon picture of a turtle or something.

:)

I am rambly here ... I really wanted to say, "go get 'em" ... but I figured if I wrote something absurd it might make you smile. (Or unfriend me...ack!)

Anyway .... go you! (Though I still think a emoticon allowing insertions of emoticons of a flag or something would be cool too.)

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RYDERB 8/20/2014 9:14AM

    I'm so sorry things haven't gotten better emoticon But ....
I'm so proud of you for taking this big step to reclaim your happiness. It sounds like a fabulous challenge.
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JAROL7 8/20/2014 9:00AM

    Work your plan.

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HOLLYS_NEW_LIFE 8/20/2014 8:34AM

    You can do it! You deserve to be happy! emoticon

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Stress vs Depression

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

One fact about me: I'm extremely susceptible to stress. Actually, chronic stress is pretty much a way of life for me. And chronic stress? It doesn't make me gain weight. Because it is my state of being for 90% of the time, it's the place when I'm most stable, the place when I maintain my weight without trying, and when I can lose weight very slowly and with a lot of effort (more than losing normally takes - losing at about half the rate of my calorie deficit). It's my "neutral."

That other 10% of the time? Roughly split at 2% happiness, 8% severe depression. Let me clarify this.


(Don Knotts flashbacks, anyone?)

I have plenty of little happy moments and little sad moments during my neutral periods. This is not to say I'm only happy 2% of my life, and only sad 8% of my life. The 2% happy periods, however, have a distinct biological as well as psychological change. They show up rarely, and often last for about 4-8 months, though they are strongest for about 3 months, then start mixing with stress thereafter until the stress/neutral takes over completely. During that time, I am happy almost constantly, and nothing can damper that. In addition to being happy, it's like my body comes to life. I see more clearly, I sleep better, I have more energy, I laugh a lot, and I get stuff done without effort. (I'm always getting stuff done. It just takes effort during the neutral portions of my life.) And my body starts dropping weight pretty quickly, no matter how inactive I am, or how badly I'm eating. If I eat well and exercise well, I drop weight even faster, at a rate that is above my calorie deficit. My theory is that hormonally and chemically, my body is simply running very efficiently, and thus burning a lot more calories just in every day living, plus it's dropping all the calories it stores up during chronic stress periods. Note: I do not become happy because my weight drops, but the opposite - I become happy, and then the weight starts dropping effortlessly until the happy period is over.

In my adult life, this has happened to me three times: the summer/fall of 1999, the summer of 2006, and the spring/summer of 2011. Each instance is proceeded by some sort of "waking up," a moment when it's like my brain chemically transitions from its normal state to one that is happy and active. Two of those three periods, the waking up moment was so dramatic that it was literally like waking up from one mental state to another, while my body was already awake. Also, I can trace these happy periods and waking up moments all the way back to puberty, though they were more frequent and shorter during my adolescent years.

The transition to severe depression is not as dramatic, and it often creeps up on me unaware. The periods are a lot muddier, and can last a very, very long time. The best description I've ever heard for this sort of depression comes from a book called The Believers by Zoe Heller: "a toad that squatted wetly on your head until it finally gathered the energy to slither off." Yeah. And just like my happy periods, there are distinct biological changes when depression claims me. It's like my body shuts down. I become absolutely still. When I'm happy, my body seems to vibrate even when I'm lying down reading a book, like I just finished a workout and the blood is running through me. When I'm depressed, I can barely get my heartrate up when I work out, and it drops down to below normal immediately afterwards. It's like my body has pulled into itself, sluggish, and is conserving every ounce of energy possible. Of course, there is the corresponding physical result: no matter how well I eat or how often I force myself to exercise, I just keep gaining weight. It's not the stress - I can deal with stress - it's the absolutely shutting down of all unnecessary activity within my body. My personal theory is that my metabolism goes into overdrive when I'm happy, and virtually shuts down when I'm depressed, so that my base calories burned every day differs enormously.

These depression periods happen far more often than the happy ones, sadly, and often much longer. I've not yet found anything that can lift them. Medication hasn't helped in the past - it just sends me into a sort of manic energy that is miserable and painful while I'm still sad and exhausted - but it's possible that something might work someday. I won't stop trying to find a solution, of course. And, I do have to say, since my teeth were fixed in Sept 2009 and I got off the emotional roller coaster those symptoms gave me, I haven't once suffered from severe depression - until now.


(My new tattoo, upper left shoulder blade)

In late April and early May, depression claimed me, and continues to get worse every day. Unfortunately, this is a depression caused by outside factors, rather than anything internal. I still can't talk about it here, no matter how much I wish I could, because it involves other people and is very private for them. I will say, though, that it has nothing to do with moving across the country, and I would be thrilled and excited about the upcoming move if there wasn't this painful thing happening at the same time. I can only take so many blows, however, and April/May delivered enough of them that I bowed down, and that toad climbed back onto my head. Or my neck, is really what it feels like, because the weight is so heavy that I can't unbend my back.

Periodically, I get a little burst of energy. I am nothing if not determined, persistent, and aggressive about trying to control my body and mind. I can't sustain the energy, though, and go back to being very, very still. And I'm scared. I've now gained 15-20 lbs since the depression took over. Anything I lose, I gain back when I no longer have the energy to keep pushing. And right now, there's nothing I can do about it. I can't change the circumstances around me that have led me here. I can't just will myself out of a chemical problem in my brain that is exacerbated by problems outside my control. I have no doctor to go to, and I don't have time to find one in town, so I will have to find one after we move up north, and then hope that I can at least get on a medication that *might* bring my BODY back to neutral, if not my MIND. The mental part won't improve until the external situation is resolved. :(

I have worked so hard. I've discovered things about my body, about how the right foods and the right amount of exercise really helps keep depression at bay - when there aren't outside factors that are pretty much forcing me into it. It's been five years since I last fell into this kind of dark chasm, and eleven years since I fell this badly. I have no idea what to do or when this will get any better, and I can't tell if that frustrates me into a sort of anger-induced burst of short-term energy, or makes me want to give up completely.

Thanks for listening, those of you who are. I'll see y'all again when I've made it to Boston in a couple weeks.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HOLLYS_NEW_LIFE 8/5/2014 8:50PM

    I'm sorry I've been such an absent friend. I've been dealing with my own battles as well, including gaining about 30 lbs. I don't know what kind of help i can be, just know I'm back and I'm here for you.
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ADVENTURESEEKER 8/5/2014 6:54PM

    emoticon
I wish I had some great advice, but I can say that I'm here to listen.
There's a dawn after even the darkest nights.

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SHIRE33 7/28/2014 6:36PM

    Hi, Pook. Just checking in and saw this post. So sorry that you are in this struggle. I wish the best for you. emoticon



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CRABADA 7/26/2014 4:37PM

    xoxoxoxo to infinity.

I'm here if you need anything.

And -- I freaking love your tattoo.

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C.

Comment edited on: 7/26/2014 4:38:04 PM

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MEH50BEWELL 7/24/2014 8:06PM

    Good luck with the move and I hope the new surroundings spark a new energy to help you overcome your depression. Peace.

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FORMYDARLINGS 7/23/2014 6:49PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

Been way down there, Done that. xoxoxoxo


Gini

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MINERVASPARKING 7/23/2014 3:06PM

    *hugs* you're not alone. I wish you the best on your move.

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C8TSON 7/23/2014 11:29AM

    Amanda, I'm so saddened as I read this. I keep hoping that things will get better for you soon. I'm just going to keep my hope alive that things will turn around for you and you can find some answers. I'm always here for you. emoticon

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TENNISJIM 7/23/2014 6:22AM

    Good luck. Wishing you the best.

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JERSEYFLOWER 7/22/2014 10:17PM

    I'm sorry you are feeling this way. As someone who has struggled with anxiety and depression, I feel for you - I really do. Sending lots of warm wishes your way.

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UNSTOPPABLEJEN 7/22/2014 7:51PM

    I'm so sorry you are going through this. It sucks - there's nothing that can be done about it sometimes except ride it out. Please know that even though you are hundreds of miles away, you still have the love and support of your San Antonio Spark family. I'll be sending positive thoughts and energy your way.
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ARUNNINGKAT 7/22/2014 1:57PM

    I wish that I was filled with fool-proof advice and help for you, but unfortunately all I can offer is a supportive friend. I am here for you along with your other commited Spark friends. Good luck on the move! I know that you are indeed a very determined woman and I know that you will pull out of this, if for no other reason than you won't stop trying until you do even if there are some days that you want to give up. emoticon emoticon

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MJ-SHE-BEAST 7/22/2014 12:02PM

    I have no useful advice. All I can say is I'm sorry for the blows you suffered a few months ago and I am here if you need me...and even if you don't. My thoughts are with you.

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PEGGY11 7/22/2014 10:58AM

    Sending prayers of healing to you. You will get better soon. We love you and wish you well. emoticon emoticon

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WORDLILY 7/22/2014 10:23AM

    I'm here.

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FAIRHAVENQUEEN 7/22/2014 9:56AM

    Although I've never analyzed it and figured it out as well as you have, I have "been there, done that." My heart goes out to you! Depression is just the worst, and like you said, it doesn't go away very easily. You are in my heart, and my prayers. And also whatever the situation is that is inducing the depression!

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MOMMACASSEY 7/22/2014 9:53AM

    Your friends will never stop being here for you. I know I appreciate the update--it amazes me how well you're able to verbalize what you're going through; when I'm at a low point my brain stops making words possible to describe myself.

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RYDERB 7/22/2014 9:43AM

    emoticon emoticon

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RADOOGA 7/22/2014 8:54AM

    Good luck in Boston. I know that there are no words that will comfort you, just know that you are supported here. It may not mean anything to you now, but know that there is support and understanding, compassion and empathy here. The only crumb of comfort I might be able to offer, as someone who has suffered badly in the past from this, and you will know yourself; it will pass. Probably a lot slower than you would like, but the sunshine will return my friend, it always does. x

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ANDSHEEWAS 7/22/2014 8:48AM

    Sending you good thoughts that when things get settled you'll be able to get the help you need. My husband just began his journey to better mental health yesterday, literally the day after hitting bottom emotionally. If kismet hadn't had his first therapist appointment already set up, I don't know where we would be this morning. I hope you'll find the light at the end of the tunnel that you need.

If you don't listen to it, I cannot recommend The Mental Illness Happy Hour podcast enough. It has helped me better understand what my husband is going through, and it gives a voice to mental health. The website is mentalpod.com. I hope that can help until you can find a doctor.

Best wishes to you and your family during this time.

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