I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Time for a change

Cindy's picture of me last Thursday
My friend Cindy took this picture of me last Thursday, while we were hiking on Hannegan Pass. She didn't send me the picture but posted it on Facebook, where several of my dear friends commented on it, and how beautiful it all looks. Uh-huh. That's not how I felt when I saw it. Can you guess why?

That roll around my middle is NOT the look I was hoping for. But it has finally made me face the truth: I need to lose some weight. As hard as I have tried to deny it, I am getting fat, once again. Yes, I weigh myself every morning, hoping as I step gingerly on the scales that they will not tell me what I already know. A careful step while holding onto the wall before allowing all my weight to be measured, not being happy at the number but rationalizing to myself that it's not so bad. This picture finally has given me the incentive I've needed to fix it.

In January 2011, at my annual wellness exam, I realized that I had gained more than ten pounds over the years, and they were all right there, around my midsection. One thing about exercising a lot is that my arms and legs don't tend to accumulate the excess fat; it all goes to my middle. I'm what is called an "apple" shape: excess poundage makes me round, and my rear end and hips don't grow much, if at all. Apples tend to be more prone to diabetes and heart disease, which makes sense considering my family history. Yes, in my family we are all apples. I come by it naturally.

I lost almost fifteen pounds over the period of a year back then, more than five years ago now, and gradually it has begun to accumulate. A real positive side effect of keeping a blog is the ability to go back and remember when things happened, decisions were made and followed through with, and I remembered something while looking back: I used an app on my phone to help me count calories at the beginning, and then I picked up a book recommended to me by a fellow blogger: Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis. I have it on my Kindle and I read it avidly and became a believer that wheat is one of the insidious foods that help to make us gain weight. I changed my diet to remove wheat (not an easy task!) and found that I was able to keep the weight off, and even lost another few pounds without trying.

But that was then, and now I realize how often I consume wheat. What started as an occasional treat has now changed into a daily habit, and I find that I want more of it. Maybe it's true that certain foods make it harder to lose weight, but more than anything I know that the amount I take into my body and the calories I expend are no longer in balance. Something has to change, or that roll around my middle will only expand, and I'll be forced to come to grips with it at some point. Why not now, this minute?

Sometimes change comes gradually, and other times all at once. When I decided to lose the excess weight six years ago, I did it without much difficulty. In fact, I find that when I get into the mode of wanting to see the numbers on the scale recede, I can become unwilling to eat anything extra, the opposite of where I am today, wanting to eat everything in sight! I struggle these days to stay away from ice cream, especially in the summertime, because I love it so much. Just one little ice cream cone won't hurt me. And of course it doesn't: it's the accumulation of an entire summer of just one more.

I cannot imagine how it must feel to have to lose enormous amounts of weight, like fifty or a hundred pounds. It must seem like a huge mountain to climb, impossible to achieve. Yet people do it all the time, although few of them keep the weight off. They must get into that same mindset I sometimes can find of not wanting to get derailed, so they eat less and less. I do have one blogger I follow who has managed to lose a great deal of weight but struggles over the long haul not to fall back into her old habits when under stress. She has always been one of those people who yo-yo's up and down the scale, and as I read her posts I can recognize myself in her words. However, I also am so uncomfortable when I've gained ten pounds that I usually get to where I am today, looking for ways to push myself into action.

After having said all this, I realize how fortunate I am that this is what is on my mind today, rather than some awful calamity like my house being washed away by a hurricane, or having been diagnosed with a terrible illness, like my friend in Portland. She has recovered from her ordeal of the operation and is now beginning chemotherapy. I am worried for her. She recently put a picture of herself on her blog after having gotten a port implanted in her chest to receive the chemo. She wrote about having to become a professional patient, something she never wanted to happen to her.

She is struggling now to keep weight on, after that awful surgery and being unable to eat more than a few bites, even of foods she loves. She had written about looking forward to eat all the ice cream she wanted, but now she doesn't want it and wishes she did. So I am feeling just a little ashamed of myself for being so obsessed about losing a little weight. It could happen to me tomorrow, and I'd be looking back on the times when I was able to hike ten miles and shaking my head for having gotten stressed out over a few excess pounds.

As far as I know, I am in good health, and at the last doctor visit I had only gained a small amount of weight, nothing to be concerned about, according to my doctor. Of course, before I went there I had donned the lightest clothing I own (since I knew I was going to face the scales) and had removed my shoes, phone, wallet and loose change from my pockets before stepping up to see the dreaded number. That was six months ago. This summer, however, I seem to have picked up some bad eating habits and had not really noticed the change until I couldn't find any way to rationalize the morning visit to the scale into something positive. I still weigh myself daily, because it's become part of my routine, and you know how I am about routine.

One thing I have learned over the years, that making resolutions about dieting is not the answer. They come and go, and it's impossible to maintain a diet for the long haul. For me, the trick is simply stopping any and all between-meal snacking and thinking about what I put into my mouth, rather than eating mindlessly. That's an easy thing to do when I'm binge-watching a new exciting show, or when I'm choosing to forget that I got full quite awhile ago and am still eating.

Another thing that helps me is writing it all down, like I'm doing this morning. I'll be forced to confront myself with whether or not I make any progress or just forget about it. It sure would be nice to be going down the scale rather than up, that's for sure. You, my dear friends, will notice, won't you? And you don't even see my physical self, just the parts I choose to reveal. It took a little courage to put that picture on the front of the post, because I really don't like it at all. Maybe someday I'll be able to look at the picture and take in all the REST of it, like where I am fortunate enough to be standing.

And it has finally come to this: the end of the post, with my tea gone, partner still fast asleep next to me, and the day ahead stretching out with infinite possibilities. It's another beautiful summer day, and I can spend it however I wish, now that I have fulfilled my one daily obligation of writing this post. I think I'm feeling better, now that I've come clean about what's on my mind. And we'll see if I actually am at the beginning of a change, or whether it will simply evaporate as time goes by. We'll see.

Until we meet again next week, I do hope that you will be well and that you and your loved ones, near and far, are safe and sound. And don't forget to acknowledge all that you have in your life that is good. You are part of what's good for me. I send my love and wishes for all good things to come to you.


Dee said...

Dear DJan, thank you so much for this posting. I planned to devise an eating plan today that would help me lose the 10-15 pounds that I've accumulated in the last four years. But that plan included wheat--lots of bread and cereal. So I'm going to look at that book that helped you so much before and see if it can help me let go of my life-long wheat addiction. Let's lose together! Peace.

Linda Myers said...

I didn't notice any extra pounds in the picture you posted, but you know me - not terribly observant. I have been watching what I eat myself for the last several months. I find the bread here in Greece almost impossible to resist, so I try to keep fruit close at hand. And I have skipped dinner a couple of times in the last week without difficulty.

Do it now, though, the weight loss, before you have more pounds to lose. Even four pounds gained each year for the last ten or 15 years is a large challenge.

Marie Smith said...

You look marvelous to me, Jan. Only you will notice anything extra there. You must please yourself however. Good luck!

Rian said...

DJan, I find it hard to believe that you could ever gain weight... when you seem so careful about what you eat and EXERCISE so much more than most of us. But I do understand that it pays to stay at a healthy weight. I read somewhere a long time ago this phrase... and it stuck with me, "nothing tastes as good as thin feels". Now I'm not pushing "thin" by any means, but a normal healthy weight for height and build is something doctor's advise. But I also think the shape of our bodies are going to change as we age no matter how hard we fight against it.

Gigi said...

My first thought when I saw your photo was "how pretty!" I would have never noticed anything else had you not mentioned it. That being said, I know you are a woman who can accomplish anything she puts her mind to - so I know that you will succeed in this endeavor.

Have a great week!

Anonymous said...

Well, your waistline looks better than mine, DJan. Be grateful that you are healthy enough to hike and walk. Many thin people can't do what you do.

Elephant's Child said...

You look pretty good to me, and put me to shame.
That said, I can understand (and applaud) the decision you have made. Good luck. And good management.

Arkansas Patti said...

I didn't even notice and had to go back to see what you were talking about. Barely noticeable. Hard to imagine with all the exercise you do. When my heart went kaplooee is when I dropped 42 pounds and have kept it off for over 2 years. I did it by only eating heart healthy foods. Fear is a great motivator. It really was easy and I have always felt that when I fed my body right, it didn't keep asking for more. Good luck.

Red said...

This post is what you could call "facing the music". There comes a time to bite the bullet and shape up. I think cutting portions and extras like ice cream are the way to go. You are actually changing your eating habits. You have no problems on the exercise part of the equation. I haven't weighed since my last annual check up.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Like Patti I had to look twice and I see a tiny muffin top trying to pop out. Funny I have the same thing happening. And mine is much like yours. Treats ever since middle of April have made both Buddy and I struggle. His is the skin while mine is the weight. Sugar and bread are definitely to blame. I am now back on my anti cancer diet but it will only work well if I stop sitting around so much. We have not kept up our daily walks and that is really not smart of us. We only manage two or three a week.
You mentioned a while back that you now use a bit of pot now and then for your aches. It has the effect of changing eating habits and weight gain is common. I even gain weight if I drink a daily glass of wine so thatvwas stopped a year ago but then I began junk food more frequently. I feel that a bit of my issue is related to a depression that wants to settle in my head and I must stave it off. My hubby does give me much to worry about as his behaviour jumps around.
I hope your week is another good one. And I too am thankful that no major storm hit here.

Rhapsody Phoenix said...

Good luck with the shift. If you did it once you can and will don't again.

Have a grand week

Marianne said...

Same thing happens to me when I give in to sweets. It is hard to stop after giving in just once. But recommitting to eating healthy is the best thing. Right there with you.

Lucy said...

Hi! So glad to again read your post! I'd also like to say that you still look fabulous! Ya, ya... We all could stand to lose some weight, but with your hiking, you've got it covered so much more than those of us who don't. Stay well....

C-ingspots said...

I think you look beautiful in that picture! Yes - beautiful! I didn't even notice that tiny little bulge around your middle and had to go back and look again. Good grief, we are always our own worst critics!!

As others have said, we can all (or almost all anyway) afford to lose a few pounds...good Lord knows that we all want to be perfect - whatever that is, but we never will be. That's the truth of it. We will never be perfect. No matter how hard we try. But, if we are careful about what we eat (most of the time), don't let our weight get out of hand, and keep active, we are doing what we can to remain healthy and fit. A few excess pounds is not of much consequence in the long haul. You my friend, are kickin' ass and takin' names!!! Just keep enjoying your life, your loves, your friends...and your damned ice cream cones! :)

Midlife Roadtripper said...

"And we'll see if I actually am at the beginning of a change, or whether it will simply evaporate as time goes by."

I can so appreciate this. Knowing we need to pursue it, make it a quest, and then getting gumption to set it in motion. Once in motion, so much easier. It's that getting there part. Good Luck - to both of us.

Far Side of Fifty said...

I just see a beautiful you! perhaps it is the vest...or the way you are standing...I am certain you will nip it in the bud:)