Friday, November 30, 2012

Recovering from the exhaustion is harder than I thought!

I'll fully admit, I did not go to the gym yesterday. I am still recovering from the extreme exhaustion I caused myself over 3 days of little sleep and lots of activity. I'm still feeling a little on the hung over side, but it's started to become manageable. Yesterday was a trail and error day for me because I wasn't sure exactly why I was feeling so vulnerable and moody. I'll give you a prime example of little things that should not have mattered at all, but bothered me too much yesterday.

I am very up front about my gluten allergy with everyone, especially people I am around often. Co-workers are included into this group simply because I spend 8 hours a day with these people and I eat at least one meal in their presence so it's just common knowledge in my group of work friends. I wanted sushi yesterday so I went to Fresh Market on my lunch break and picked some up. The sushi chef there makes up wonderful  lunch packets of the most delicious sushi and it's always fresh because he makes it every day. He always greets me and smiles when I come in and I feel good knowing that I have the option to get my sushi fix when I want it because it has become a comfort food over the years and it's one that I know is healthy and in moderation good for me too! My coworkers decided to go to Subway. I can't go into subway now because the overwhelming desire I have to taste that delicious smelling bread almost kills me. It breaks me down mentally and makes me feel bad for being different. They went and brought the food back to eat in our training room because we only get a 30 minute lunch break and that's not long enough to eat at a restaurant.

I share a desk with one of my co-workers. We are in a training room that has no windows and we have to keep the door closed most of the day so our conversations don't disturb the people working in the department surrounding our room. It's like a little closet, where we work hard to make sure that commit dates are met and that things are getting time in a timely and correct manner. There are 4 of us in there daily and we have all gotten very comfortable with one another due to the close quarters. The desks are long tables that are set up with two computers on each of them. So my co-worker and I share one of the tables, which means that we are up close and personal with each other. I have absolutely no issue with that part of it at all, I love people as a general rule. Yesterday though, I was not in the lovey mood and I got my feelings hurt over something ridiculous.

The co-worker I share space with came back with chicken fingers and potato wedges for her lunch as she opted not to have Subway. She popped open her container of deliciousness and the smell filled the room. It smelled so good. I know I can't eat that stuff, one bite will send my insides into a turbulence that I just don't want to deal with ever. Instead of staring at her as she ate her lunch, I put my nose into my book. She finished her plate of breaded deep fried goodness and then opened a package of King's Hawaiian bread rolls. Those were one of my favorites before I discovered that I could no longer eat gluten. The sweet smell of the rolls hit me and I swear my vision blurred for a moment. She turned to me and asked "Do you want one?" I wasn't sure if she was just being nice and simply forgot that bread was the bane of my existence of if she was just messing with me but either way it didn't sit right. In a slow motion show of my irritation my head turned towards her and I said "NO, bread has wheat in it!" I then began reading my book again so hurt that she would offer me something that she knew I couldn't have. I almost cried.

It's one thing when you make a choice not to eat a certain way because you want to lose weight or you are trying to eat a cleaner healthier way. Then it's your CHOICE not to have these foods. I don't have a choice, if I eat anything with the tiniest amount of gluten in it I am sick for days and sometimes weeks at a time. It's not a health choice for me, I CAN'T have these things. That makes me want them even more. Admitting to myself that breads and pastas were a total comfort food to me was a big step along my gluten free journey. I would eat tons of those delicious carb filled rolls or cakes or pies or whatever and soothe my depression or anger or hurt feelings with every bite. It was not a healthy or safe place for me to be mentally or physically as I continued to gain weight. They were a passion and a love for me and I had to give them up completely when I started listening to my body and figured out what the root cause of my pain was. Does that mean that I don't still walk up the bread aisle and take a deep breath when the bakery is making new loaves? I sure do. Does that mean that I don't oogle the dessert menu and dream of a time when I could eat these things? I sure do. I am still human, having a gluten allergy doesn't change that fact. I have wants and I occasionally want bread or cookies or pasta. I know that I can't eat them so I acknowledge my want of them and file it away for later use. I really really wanted that bread roll yesterday and the fact that I couldn't have it hit me hard and I felt like a freak that didn't belong in the "normal" person's world.

So I came home and talked about it and tried to make sense of my irrational response to a simple nice gesture by a co-worker. I think it might have been due to my lack of sleep the past few nights and I was overly emotional due to that. My brain is doing some strange things lately so I have to reign it in and keep myself under control so the anxiety and depression don't see that as an open invite and make their way into my life right now. It's holiday time which is filled with baked goods and tons of food choices that will not be geared for me, I understand this, I accept this and I will be stalwart in my dedication to keeping my body healthy and not filling it with foods that will make it sick. One moment of happiness while chewing a forbidden food is not worth endless nights and days of pain and discomfort.

That's what's on my mind lately. Trying to get back to normal mentally so I can resume my workout schedule in the evenings and start to get on the fit train. Time and rest will do wonders and I will be back to my old self soon I'm sure.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Admitting defeat and changing the routine

Yesterday I hit rock bottom. At about 2pm the bottom fell out of my little health boat and I crashed into the shoreline full tilt. I immediately texted my husband and he agreed that getting up at 4am and working out, then working an 8 hour workday, then coming home and trying to cook dinner and do chores just wasn't working for me. I came home from work and felt HORRIBLE. I was overly tired, I didn't want to eat, I hated myself for feeling so defeated and all I wanted to do was stuff my face with crappy foods and sleep. I had hit the bottom of what my body was able to cope with and being awake all those hours a day is not it. 

So last night I went to bed just after 8pm and I didn't get up this morning until 6am. I feel like I have slept too long, like I'm almost hung over from sleeping. I can't seem to shake off the heavy feeling. I don't like it at all. I finally have to admit to myself that I need my rest, that I need downtime and that pushing myself like I did when I was younger is not going to work for me at this age and place in my life. I have to formulate another workout plan. Going to the gym in the evenings is my other option. Come home from work, get dinner started and head to the gym. That doesn't sound good to me either because once I'm home from work, I want to relax, not go strength train and do cardio. I feel like everything is against me losing this weight!

Now I know there are tons of people in this world who have full time jobs, families, homes to maintain and they still find time to fit exercise into their daily routines. You have to plan it out, you have to schedule it into the day (or evening). It is really no different than getting up early to go workout. You go to the gym in the evening, come home eat a light dinner then shower and go to bed. I am just scared that my motivation to do so won't be as great after I've worked a full 8 hour day as it was prior to me going to work. 

I have to commit to this however and the early morning routine left me feeling absolutely awful by the end of the day. It was like the worst case of depression every single evening. I cannot deal with that. I want to be happy throughout the day and happy when I come home from work so my mood is not affecting my son or my husband. I don't want to take my grumpiness out on either of them because I am having a short temper or quick to agitate moment. So I need to make a change for my health and for the happiness of my family. 

I will be heading to the gym tonight and see how well I do. Who knows, maybe it will be amazing and I will learn to love an evening sweat routine. I'm apprehensive about it now, but I won't know anything until I try it. 

Here we go again!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

4 AM wake up call!

I started my early morning gym visits yesterday morning. I must say it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I was a little grumpy at first, getting up that early. However, I felt triumphant when I completed my workout because for the rest of the day I knew that my exercise was DONE! That alone is an amazing feeling.

I altered the schedule a little this morning and I'm back to it. Going to workout and get in my strength training and cardio before I come home and get my son ready for school and me ready for a workday. Surprisingly I wasn't as exhausted as I thought I would be yesterday. I felt sleep around 9:30am, so I ate an apple and that helped tremendously. I cruised through the rest of my workday and felt pretty darn good!

I am using the My Fitness Pal app to track my workouts and food journal now. There is even a place for water consumption on there. Guess who drank over 100 ounces of water yesterday like a boss.....this girl! That sounds like a lot but for my weight I'm supposed to drink 93 ounces anyway. I am adjusting mentally to these changes and trying to find balance at the end of the day to come home from work, make dinner and do chores. Last night not much got done, I was body tired and just didn't get off the couch after dinner. I'm sure as I adjust this will get easier. (I HAVE to get those dishes done tonight, my kitchen is scary!)

Overall I feel good, for now, I'm sure everyday won't be a winner but I'll take the good while it's coming my way!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

First day back at the gym

Yesterday morning I decided that it was time to get back on the fitness wagon and head back to the gym, since I had clearance from my podiatrist to do so. I got on my gym clothes, pulled my hair up in my signature workout ponytail, wrapped my right foot in my plantar fascia strap to prevent inflammation and put on my awesome new Nike athletic shoes. I walked in the door to the gym and immediately felt ashamed. I felt like I owed the gym an apology for not using my membership properly and being away for so long. No one was judging me but I was judging myself pretty heavily. I checked in at the desk and walked towards the elliptical machines. 

I got onto the machine and could hear the words "Don't over do it!" in my head. I tend to push myself during my workouts even on days when I know I'm supposed to be taking it easy. I stared at the glowing interface on the machine not quite sure which option to use in order to get a good workout without over doing it. I had a brief moment of being overwhelmed and I could feel the anxiety creeping up. I chose the random hill option and put it on level 1. This would allow some changes in elevation without having to use a ton of effort to "climb" the hills. I set the time for 30 minutes, popped in my ear buds and off I went.

I started off strong and felt pretty good, I was walking along at a good pace while listening to my Duran Duran (don't judge me I love 80's music). Then it happened, my calf and thigh muscles started to feel strained and tired, I must have gotten going too fast. I glanced down at the interface to see how long I had been cruising along, 9 minutes 54 seconds. WHAT?? 9 minutes in and I'm already feeling like I'm going to fall apart. This cannot be happening.

Then I got angry with myself and continued through the discomfort because I was not going to wimp out at the 10 minute mark.

I finished my elliptical workout and made my way to the Arc Trainer. I absolutely love this machine. As I hopped up on the foot pedals I once again felt that anxiety and confusion about which level and program I needed to be doing. I knew I couldn't keep up with the program I used to do so I decided to start at the beginning. I put it on program 1 level 1 so it was very simple changes in elevation and my legs wouldn't be over challenged. At first this machine made my legs sore but after a couple of minutes on it my muscles relaxed and I began to enjoy the workout again.

I did 30 minutes on each machine then happily gathered my stuff and headed home. Once I got home I was famished so I had a small plate of Thanksgiving leftovers. I also decided to start using the My Fitness Pal app on my phone and PC so I can track workouts and food all in one place. Hopefully as I am on the program more I'll make friends and be able to have folks to talk to about my fitness and daily life. Having support when you are trying to get in shape and be healthy is important.

I did have to wear my splint boots for a couple of hours after my workout because my heels started hurting. I knew this was going to happen so I was prepared. I watched TV bundled up on the couch and ended up falling asleep. When I woke from my nap I took my boots off and my feet felt better. I just needed to stretch that plantar fascia tissue that had been used for the first time in months.

Today my calves are a little tight, so I'm hoping some deep stretching will alleviate that issue. I feel good about getting back to the gym. Sundays are my "rest" day. Instead of doing gym time I spend time at home with friends while we play random tabletop role playing games. Today I am running the game and it's a Pathfinder D&D game campaign. I'm a geek and I know it, embrace it and show it off whenever I can!

Tomorrow I am going to try going to the gym in the early AM before I go into work. This will require me to get up at 4:00am in order to eat and get some water in me prior to my workout which will start at 5am. The idea of this doesn't exactly thrill me but I'm hoping that it will help me have energy through the day. I can do it, I just have to make the effort!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Falling off the wagon and chasing it down!

After I had my oral surgery and had 5 teeth removed in August I wasn't able to eat solid foods for about 3 weeks. I lived on soft foods and liquids until I was healed up enough to chew again. I dropped about 7lbs that 3 weeks and was so excited to be down to 186lbs. I fit into a size 14 jeans and was really comfortable with the new slimmer me.

Then I was able to eat solids again. Well lets just say that I ate and ate and ate some more. I was like a hungry hungry hippo and grabbing everything in sight. I was justifying my increased appetite with the fact that I was hungry and hadn't eaten in three weeks! This trend continued for 2 months though. Up until last week I was indulging in desserts (just because they are gluten free does not make them calorie free), large portions of foods that I probably shouldn't be eating (oh, Red Robin now has gluten free buns, I can eat burgers again!) and late night snacks that went well into the evening hours while I laid there watching bad horror movies on Netflicks. Halloween came and I indulged in my son's Halloween candy because those Hershey's were gluten free and I could only eat the gluten free candy. I had definitely fallen off the healthy wagon and it was moving further and further away from me with every mouthful of food I took.

About two weeks ago I went shopping for some more jeans because the one pair I had wasn't enough for my work week. I skipped into the thrift store, grabbed an armload of size 14's and headed for the dressing rooms. Well, not thinking about all those weeks of eating crap and lots of it I tried on the first size 14, it didn't fit. Well maybe it's because it's sized weird, so I tried on another size 14. It didn't fit either. Out of the 6 pairs of size 14 jeans I had in there NONE of them fit. I was pissed. How could this be. Just a few weeks ago I was slim and trim and no longer in "plus" size pants, what had happened. I took a brief moment to actually look at myself in the full length mirror in the dressing room and realized that all those indulgences had found their way to my midsection and thighs. I had let food win. I grabbed the jeans off the floor and went out of the dressing room like a kicked puppy. I put them all back on the hangars and put them back on the rack, the whole time thinking about what  failure I was and how much of a fat loser I had become. I grabbed the oh too familiar size 16 jeans that I have worn for years and went back into the dressing room, head hung low. Wow, they fit, go figure! I purchased my jeans and left the store feeling awful about myself. I blamed everything but myself for the recent weight gain. I blamed hormones (stupid period makes me eat chocolate), I blamed work (stupid job makes me snack all day), I blamed stress at home (dealing with the needs of my family makes me sneak into the bedroom and eat candy at night). I never once blamed MYSELF for what I had done. Erin could not be responsible for eating all those bad things or even the good things I did eat that were in huge quantities. Oh well at least I had pants to wear to work right?


I had returned to the place of comfort eating and self soothing with food. For medical reasons mentioned in previous posts, I haven't been to the gym since September. Without being able to work out the large quantities of food I was consuming had nowhere to go other than on my body as stored fat. I wallowed in self pity for a few days then I looked at myself in the mirror and told myself off. I got angry. I finally took responsibility for my actions and stopped blaming life for happening to me. It was time, time to arm myself with the tools I had at my disposal to track my food and fitness and get back on that wagon. I wasn't going to spend another Winter miserable and self loathing. While everyone is indulging in pies and cookies and foods of holiday cheer I want to be indulging in weight training and cardio. When New Year's rolls around I want to look at myself and know that 2013 is going to be the year that I continue to be a success story in my own life and not a failure to myself. I have to do this for ME first and then those around me get the benefit of my health and happiness too. It's time to climb back on that wagon and continue on the journey.

With all that said, I have lost 5 of the 9 pounds I gained back. I am tracking my food daily as well as tracking my water intake to make sure I get my 93 ounces a day in. I am following doctor's orders for my health issues and taking it one day at a time. Tomorrow I am going to go to the gym and not make excuses or think about how much I hate weight training. I need to strengthen my body, not just lose weight. Honestly it's not really about weight loss at all for me at this point, it's about becoming strong and happy. The weight loss will come with time and once I build lean muscle to burn off all that stubborn fat. I have to be consistent and persistent with it. I have to be an advocate for myself because no one is going to advocate for me. I need to realize that gluten free isn't calorie free and pay attention to what I put into my body. (I am still floored by the fact that 9 pounds is a pant size, I mean 9 measly pounds? Really?)

I have started packing my lunches for work, bringing lots of fruits and vegetables with me along with my lean protein for lunch and my chocolate rice cake for my afternoon snack. I am in love with apples and eat them every chance I get, at least twice a day. I am training myself to eat slower and chew my food. Not gulp it down so I can move onto what I need to do next. I take a bit and put the utensil down as I chew. This allows my body to tell me when it's had enough. If I eat everything on my plate great, if I don't it's leftovers for another time. This is a hard thing because for as long as I can remember I have "inhaled" my food and eaten fast. My body never registered full and I was eating way more than I needed to. Now that I have identified this behavior I can make the changes I need to in order to correct it.

I have everything I need to succeed in my goal to regaining my health and strength. Now I just need to use my tools!

Tests, appointments and waiting....oh my!

The past month has been a jumble of appointments, tests and waiting for results. It's been hectic and some of the tests were very uncomfortable but at least now we are headed in the right direction with my health and hopefully will have me back on track soon.

It all started a couple of months ago when I started having extreme pain in my legs and feet. This pain would come on when I exercised, when I walked any sort of distance and especially when I would try to sleep at night. It got the the point where I wasn't falling asleep until 2 or 3 in the mornings and getting up at 6am. It was not healthy and I knew something had to be done.

I started with a visit to my primary care doctor and explained my situation to her. She began ordering tests immediately. I was tested for diabetes, which came up negative. My thyroid was tested and the results came back completely normal and healthy. I had an X-Ray of my back and it was found that I have degenerative arthritis in the lower lumbar region. That was more than likely one of the causes of my back pain and could possibly be causing my leg pain, however more tests must be done. I had a nerve conductive study done for my legs and feet to see if I had nerve damage in my lower extremities. This test consisted of them shocking me with electricity to see if my nerves were functioning properly. Even though the current was tiny it still kinda hurt. Then I had needles that are similar to acupuncture needles, inserted into my nerve bundles so the doctor could listen to them to see if they were firing correctly with stimulation. This process sucked and it hurt pretty badly. Well I do not have nerve damage but it was discovered that I am missing the reflex in my right ankle area. It's simply non existent, which is rare. Even people who have damaged their ankles, have a slow reflex where I have zero on that side. My legs ached for most of that day but at least I knew I didn't have nerve damage.

I had a circulatory test run to make sure I didn't have any blockage or blood flow issues. My circulatory system is in perfect healthy with no blockages or slowing of any of the arteries.

I just recently had the MRI done on my lower lumbar region in order to determine just how advanced the degenerative arthritis is. I'm hoping it's in it's early stages and with proper exercise and back strengthening I can quell the symptoms and continue to be as active as I was previous to all these tests.

That brings me to my podiatrist. I have seen both of the podiatrists in the office I go to and they are both not only knowledgeable but extremely nice and funny. My first visit was to determine if I had any problems with my feet. The moment I started describing my symptoms the doctor was shaking his head and he knew exactly what my problem was. He then did an ultrasound of my feet to see if his hypothesis was right and it was. I have a condition called plantar fasciitis. That is when there is damage to the connective tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot from the heel to the toes. What the ultrasound revealed was that I had extreme inflammation and that was the culprit of my awful foot pain and inability to exercise or walk distances. A normal measurement for the plantar fascia tissue is around 2cm. My left foot was over 4cm and my right foot was almost 7cm. He said he was surprised I could walk at all on that right foot. My treatment began immediately. I was given plenty of information packets about the condition. I was given a cortisone shot in each foot to help with the swelling (oh my lord this was painful, needles in my feet no thank you!!!!) . I was given my lovely boots that I needed to wear 4 hours a day in order to take the pressure of the plantar fascia and give it time to be in a neutral position so it could heal. Then a follow up appointment was made and I was sent on my way.

My follow up appointment with the podiatrist was not near as scary and I had lots of questions for him since I was too taken aback at my first appointment to even think of questions let alone ask them. I was at a point where I don't have to wear the boots for 4 hours a day anymore, I just need to wear them when I have time or when I have flare ups and need to rest my feet. The more time I spend in the boots though, the healthier my plantar fascia tissue will be. (did I mention I really really really hate those stupid strappy boots from hell?) I was also cast for orthotics which luckily my insurance covers. I will have my super custom orthotics in approximately 4-6 weeks. In the meantime I will have to continue to do my stretching exercises, wear my boots as needed and invest in decent supportive footwear that I will eventually be putting my orthotic in. Plantar fasciitis is a condition that will go away with the proper preventative measures. If you don't take care of your feet, the condition will flare up and you will be miserable again, plain and simple. I now have the tools to take care of my feet properly and I will be doing so because I don't want shots in my feet ever again!

On a good note I was told that I could go ahead and start exercising again. If it was something that involved impact on my feet I'd have to take it slow and only do about 1/2 of what I was doing previously. No marathon running or super trail hiking for me just yet. I need to stick to machines with low to no impact like the elliptical or arc trainer. This means that all upper body workouts not requiring me to use my feet for anything other than a base to stand on are OK for me to do. This was a huge deal to me for many reasons. I haven't been to the gym since the first week of September so all the weight I had lost is slowly starting to creep back on. I also suffer from seasonal depression which hits me right around this time of year and lasts until Spring. I refuse to sit around feeling anxious and depressed all winter this year, I want to be able to work out and get healthy so when Spring comes I can take part in all those fun warm weather activities. I also know that if I lose more weight that my feet will have less to carry around and be burdened with and that will make the plantar fasciitis much less of a worry for me in the future.

I have answers to all those questions I had and now I know what to do in order to ensure that my future is a healthy one.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Where oh where did she go?

I promise, I have not fallen off the face of the Earth. You can't get rid of me that easily folks! I have just been busy with life, dealing with emotions and coming to realizations about myself that were long overdue. In other words....there is a really long blog post coming soon so I can catch my few readers up on what's been going on in my frazzled busy life. It may not be as epic as the upcoming Hobbit movie, but I will do my best to make it as entertaining as I can! Stay tuned......