THE Plan, update #4

I have a confession to make. Over the holiday weekend, my diet got thrown overboard. No calorie counting, no walks, none of it. Believe it or not, by the time Monday rolled around, I was actually missing my routine.

My last workout was Wednesday and by Sunday I noticed a serious increase in my pain levels. It started out with a headache, but by the start of the afternoon the random pain spikes had started: my hands, my arms, my legs.. all over the place. Ugh. I hate days like that and I totally didn’t miss them.

I don’t know if it was the lack of exercise, the sudden change in diet or maybe just a random bad fibro day, but it was miserable. Needless to say, it’s back to the routine for me!

I’ve decided to try adding some basic yoga to my weekly routine, I just ordered Yoga for Beginners from amazon.com. It should be here by the end of the week, so hopefully by the time I post my next update, I’ll be able to say whether I like it or not.

I’ve tried taking actual yoga classes, but they were an epic fail. I made sure to talk to the instructor before I signed up, I told her I had fibro and that I was an absolute beginner to yoga; she assured me that her class would be perfect for me. It was, in fact a total nightmare. The class was mostly made up of advanced beginners and the instructor moved so quickly from position to position that I couldn’t keep up. Thankfully, my mom had decided to take the class with me, so I wasn’t the only one struggling. I think we gave up after only 3 or 4 classes, even though we paid for 8.

Needless to say, that experience left me with a bad taste for anything resembling yoga. I’ve decided to give it another go now only because I need to change up my workout routine and  I could use some guidance as far as stretching. Improving my flexibility probably won’t hurt either. If I try this and still hate it, I may give pilates a shot. True, yoga and pilates are similar, but they’re definitely not the same thing.

I’m really looking forward to trying something different, so here goes!

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THE Plan, update #3!

never-give-up-inspirational-quotes

I know I say this about just about every quote I post, but I love this one. It’s one of those fabulous quotes that can be applied to a variety of situations, both profound and mundane. At the moment, I’m using it to help me stick to my diet… very mundane. I want a brownie NOW, but I have to remind myself that what I want most is to lose the weight and be the healthiest me possible.

In an effort to distract myself from my chocolate craving, I thought I’d post an update about how the whole diet and exercise thing has been going. Since my last update, I’ve managed to shed another 2.5 pounds, bringing me to a total of 16.5! I did a Google search the other day for things that weigh around 16.5 pounds, and came up with this:

bowling

Yep. I’ve lost a bowling ball. How awesome is that? With that in mind, suddenly that brownie doesn’t sound quite so awesome… Hooray for distractions!

The other thing that helps keep the cravings at bay is looking at the calorie count. It takes me a good 30-45 minutes of walking at a fairly brisk pace to burn 300 calories, that’s a lot of work to make up for a snack. Knowing how hard I’ll have to work to make room in my calorie budget for something makes it so much easier to turn down all those evil, yummy goodies. 🙂

As for the exercise part of my plan, I started Week 2 of the Couch-to-5K program this afternoon. Some of you may remember that I mentioned this program back when I first started writing, but I had to stop because of a knee injury. It took me about 6 weeks to get back into the program, but today I not only managed to complete the recommended workout, I didn’t feel like I was going to die doing it! I’ve never been a big fan of exercise, so being able to complete the entire workout without having to stop is a pretty big deal for me. Hopefully, I won’t end up giving up a bunch of my spoons for it tomorrow… Wish me luck!

It’s a diet, not torture!

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about my weight loss plan, so rather than try to respond to each of them individually, I thought it would be easier to answer them all at once :).

I’ve been using the My Fitness Pal app to keep track of my daily calorie count. The app is amazingly easy to use, you can use a bar code scanner to enter foods and the app keeps track of everything for you. You enter in your height and weight, then the app calculates your daily calorie goal based on how much you want to lose and how quickly.

The hard part is watching what I eat. It’s true that I have given up some things, but I don’t feel like I’m starving all the time or that I can’t treat myself every now and then. If I know that I’m going to go out to eat, I try to make room in my calorie budget ahead of time, this way, I can enjoy my meal without feeling guilty about breaking my diet. I am proud to say that I’ve successfully managed to stay at or under my calorie goal for the last 50 days!

I have had to cut back on sweets, which is tough, since I’m a serious chocoholic, but I adore dark chocolate and it doesn’t take much of it to cure a craving. Other than that, I haven’t really given up anything major. I’ve been studying several different light/healthy cookbooks and amazingly, they’re not all full of bizarre ingredients. The Hungry Girl books by Lisa Lillien are amazing! Some of the recipes are a bit odd, but she offers a ton of advice on healthy and low calorie substitutions that help to make a serious dent in the calorie counts for many meals. I even managed to make a super yummy shepherd’s pie that came out to have only 290 calories in a very generous serving. The other book I like is The Biggest Loser Family Cookbook; it’s hard to fault a cookbook that offers a healthy version of a meatball sub, without using some weird meat substitute!

Healthy eating isn’t all salads and tofu and you certainly don’t have to starve. It does help to increase the amount of fiber and protein in your diet, but you don’t have to eat a bunch of things you don’t like. I have to say, I’m really enjoying the challenge of re-learning how to cook. I’m still able to make (and eat!) the things I love, and I love that they’re healthier for me to enjoy.

As proof, here’s a look at a typical day’s menu:

Breakfast:

2/3 cup Special K Oats & Honey 100 calories

1/4 cup Craisins 130 calories

Cup of tea, sweetened with Splenda and 2 tsp Benefiber 15 calories
__________
Lunch:

Ham Sandwich (Sandwich Rounds, 2 oz deli ham, lettuce) 170 calories

1/2 cup cottage cheese 90 calories

Celery Sticks 18 calories
__________
Dinner:

Grilled Chicken Parmesan 307 calories

2 ounces spaghetti noodles 180 calories
__________
Snacks:

Yoplait Light Yogurt 90 calories

This day came to a total of 1100 calories and since my daily budget is 1430, I came in 330 calories under my allowance, without exercising at all! Even if I’m having a bad day and can’t exercise, I can still work towards my goal weight. Obviously, exercise helps tremendously with weight loss and it does give me some wiggle room in my diet if I absolutely cannot resist those chocolate chip cookies, but it’s not something that has to be done every single day.

I know that exercise is pretty much a “bad” word for most of us with fibromyalgia, so for those of you who would like to lose some weight and are unable to get much exercise there is still hope.

It pays to keep trying

keep-on-trying-quotes

For the record, I’m psyched. 🙂

Today is one of those awesome days that makes all the hard work and not so awesome days totally worth it. I met one of the goals I set for myself as part of my plan, and accomplishing it reminded me that as long as I keep trying, things will get better. It doesn’t matter what kind of goals you’ve got for yourself; health, love, family, financial… as long as you keep trying, you’ll keep getting closer, and eventually you will succeed.

One of the goals I set for myself as part of my plan was to complete a 5k in under an hour. I don’t know if someone spiked my morning cup of tea or something, but I when I went out for my walk this afternoon, I decided on a whim to go for 5k. I usually set a timer for 30 minutes and get as much distance as I can in that time frame, which is usually about 2 miles or so. I managed to do the full 5k in just over 50 minutes! That’s not even at a jogging pace, I managed that with a brisk walk.

The event I plan to participate in isn’t until the end of October, so I still have four full months to try to work up to jogging at least part of it. I’m learning that goals are an incredibly important factor when it comes to keeping my plan on track. If I set them too low, I don’t get any sense of accomplishment when I reach them, but if they’re too high, I get discouraged and am more likely to give up. So, I think that my new goal will be to complete the 5k in October in 40 minutes or less, but my interim goal is to do it in 45. I may end up changing those numbers around a bit, since I really don’t know at this point if my body will cooperate. I’ve tried a program that alternates jogging and walking over a 30 minute period, but to be honest, that’s a bit of a struggle for me right now.

I think the best thing to do is to add a 5k walk to my work out once a week and keep a close eye on my pace during my regular 30 minute walks. If I can continue to lose weight, I think that will help me as well. My body won’t have as much to carry and won’t have to work as hard to keep going. The real test will be to see how I feel tomorrow…

THE Plan, update #2

inspirational-quotes-adjust-your-sails

I love this quote, because it describes exactly what it is that I am working towards. I know that there are many obstacles in my life that I simply cannot change, so instead, I’m working to change how I get around them. It sounds simple enough, but sometimes it takes a tremendous amount of effort to react to situations the I want to rather than the way I’m used to reacting to them. Some habits are hard to break, but they can be broken.

With that in mind, it’s time to take a look at the plan I came up with to help me deal with being chronically ill. Just to recap, here’s a brief overview of my actual plan:

  • Get Happy: This is kind of a mind over matter approach, I’m learning to change the way I react to situations. I’m learning to control my temper and to always look at the brighter side of things. I’m seeing a therapist, who’s helping me learn to deal with stress and the depression that comes with fibromyalgia.
  • Get Healthy: I’m using a combination of diet and exercise to improve my overall health. My goal is to lose a total of 45 pounds.

It’s that simple.

I’ve been working on these things for just over six weeks now, and while I’m nowhere near saying “I’m done!”, I am making tangible progress. I’ve been counting my calories religiously and have actually managed to stay at or under my daily calorie budget every day for the last 45 days. I’ve also been able to stick to a low impact exercise plan. I’m not able to exercise every single day, but I do average about 4 times a week.

I’ve now lost a total of 14 pounds. 🙂

One of the other benefits that I’ve noticed since I’ve been exercising regularly is my mood. My depressive episodes have decreased dramatically and it’s getting easier for me  to keep control of my temper. I’m not having crazy mood swings either. Yesterday, I noticed that I was actually completely content for no apparent reason. Today, I’m still inexplicably happy. For me, that’s a pretty big deal.

My pain levels are down, but the pain isn’t completely gone. Prior to starting my new routine, my average pain level was an 8 out of 10. Now, it’s about a 4-5. I still have the debilitating flare ups, but they don’t seem to last quite as long. Last night, for instance, my right hand/arm got so bad that I literally couldn’t use it; we’re talking an 11 out of 10. I’ve had many, many instances like this before, but thankfully, they have become less frequent.

The fibro fog is still a major issue; I’m having difficulty concentrating on conversations, I forget what I’m doing in the middle of tasks, words get jumbled when I speak… yeah. The fog is pretty frustrating, but given the choice, I’ll take the fog over the pain any day.

I really can’t complain, life is good. The best part is, I know that as long as I keep fighting, things will only get better.

THE Plan, Update #1

It’s time for an update on THE plan!

Let me start by saying that I am thus far, totally thrilled with the results! If I seem like I’m bouncing off the walls, its because I am. 😀
It’s been about four weeks since I started this little experiment of mine and I truly couldn’t be happier. I’ve lost 10 pounds so far, as well as, (drum roll please!), one jeans size!! Holy crap, Batman!

I’ve successfully managed to exercise at least four times a week, even with my previously injured knee, although that has been something of a struggle for me. Overall, my mood has been much better, but I still have at least one or two days a week where I feel totally overwhelmed and/or depressed. It takes a major amount of effort, but so far, I have been able to stop myself from giving into those moods, most of the time. Quite honestly, while the weight loss is amazing, it’s knowledge that I don’t have to feel miserable that’s really making the difference for me.

I know I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say many more times in the future, but if the only variable in this situation that I can change is me, by God, I’m going to change it. I WILL NOT allow myself to become surrounded by hopelessness and misery ever again.

So, now that I’ve gotten my little affirmation out-of-the-way, here are some of the things I’ve noticed since I started this experiment.

My pain levels have dramatically decreased. I’ve had fewer instances of debilitating pain. I’m still in pain, but rather than being at 9-10, it’s been a more manageable 6-7. I have actually had at least one, if not two days over the last few weeks that have been completely pain-free. It’s kind of strange, I’m going through my day, doing whatever it is I’m doing, and I suddenly stop, because I have that feeling like I’ve forgotten something major. Anyone who’s ever suffered from fibro fog knows that feeling; it usually means you’ve forgotten to feed the cat, to pay the electric bill or worst case scenario, you forgot to put pants on before going out to get the mail. After a few confused moments of trying to figure it out, I realized that I wasn’t in pain. I’m so used to the “background noise” of my own pain that it actually startled me when it wasn’t there. It was like someone handed me a whole box of brand new spoons, (If you haven’t read The Spoon Theory, you totally should)!

Unfortunately, as with everything in life, there is a bit of a downside. While my pain levels have decreased, for some reason, the fibro fog has gotten worse. My best guess is that because I’m being more physically active and draining what little energy I usually have, my brain is being forced to conserve energy and is making cut backs. I’m forgetting even more words than usual, losing my train of thought in mid sentence, and stuttering and stumbling over words when I speak. My attention span has also gotten shorter (it’s taken me two days to write this post). It’s really very annoying.
I’m used to having these things happen on a regular basis, much like I’m used to dealing with a certain level of pain at all times, but the increased frequency is just downright embarrassing. Especially when in the space of a 5 minute conversation, I have to say “you know, that thing that does the…” 10 different times.

Overall though, I couldn’t be happier. If the fog issues continue to be a problem, I might see if a medication adjustment might help. Hopefully, it won’t come to that, I hate changing my meds around; I hate having to get used to new side effects. For now, though, I’m going to focus on the amazing results that I’ve achieved, and put the worrying aside for another day.

Until next time!

THE Plan, pt II

Just in case anyone was wondering, there’s more to my plan than just thinking happy thoughts. I don’t have any fairy dust, but that’s ok, I’m not leaving for Never Never Land just yet. Part II of my plan basically entails getting healthy. I can’t cure the fibromyalgia, but there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that losing some weight might help. Convincing your body to go for a walk or do some sit ups when you’re in excruciating pain is no easy feat, but I’m just stubborn enough to try. I’m also working on improving what I’m eating, so even if I can’t exercise every day, I can still make some progress.

My current goal is to lose 45 pounds. No, I’m not sharing any other numbers 🙂 and it’s not polite to ask a lady how much she weighs! I’m already 5 pounds closer, after about three weeks of calorie counting and walking. With the support of my best friend, I’m going to participate in a 5k this coming October. Ideally, I’d like to jog the whole thing, but as long as I cross the finish line in less than an hour, I’ll be thrilled. I’ve already started a beginner’s training program and up until my knee decided to give out last week, I was pretty happy with the results.

I’ve had to put the 5k training on hold for a bit, to give my knee time to heal. I’ve discovered that working out on an elliptical machine is considerably easier on my joints than walking on solid ground. I’m going to try alternating the two for a while to see how that goes. Hopefully, in another week or two I’ll be able to pick the training program back up.

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