OK, so this is my day 2 breakfast of "The Change".
I am calling my newly started commitment to becoming a healthier, happier, more satisfied with myself, albeit older, version of me "The Change". Probably should add "part MLXII" to that, as I've gone through these steps before. (Haven't we all!)
The reason I am revisiting all this is that yesterday and today I did 10 minutes of cardio each morning. I did it because my brilliant DH and I love Thanksgiving so much that we decided to have it all over again, Thanksgiving, part II. That probably would've been OK, but guess what there were afterwards? Left-overs. Lots and lots of left-overs. Gravy, dressing, turkey, 24 hour salad, bourbon & brown sugar carrots, green bean casserole. Cranberry sauce. The only thing we didn't do was dessert, because, lets face it, who would have room for it after all that other great stuff? We were little piggy children for 5 days, having Thanksgiving multiple days (no weighing or measuring, just what the dish would hold!) before I finally froze up the left over turkey and gravy and trashed the few, pitiful, tiny crumbs of the sides left in the fridge. Needless to say, the tenuous "holding action" that had been going on with my body, scale and wardrobe rapidly became an enlarging disaster. OK, I decided, I'll start doing my exercises again and get this worked off in a jiffy. I thought that, I really did, and I believed it. So I whipped out the videos. It was really scary just how quickly I started breathing hard, how hard some of the actions were for me to do, how fast I got tired and how I could feel my arm muscles complaining afterwards, when just a while back (OK, yeah, it WAS 10 or maybe 15 years ago, but still! It is very hard to accept that this ol' bod of mine is not what it used to be. I don't like how this makes me feel, not one little bit. And I can't get mad at anyone for it, because nobody but me is responsible. There were no guns to my head with commanding voices saying, "You WILL eat these cookies" or "You WILL NOT take 10 minutes to care for yourself with a quick walk outside". I did it all by myself, by taking the easy route too many times, and not using the self-discipline that I know I have because I use it all the time at work. I work when I am tired. I work when I am hungry. I work because I "have to". (This is the internal voice speaking, I guess). But I don't apply this drive or determination or discipline to any other part of my life. At least I haven't so far. And after 61 years, I'm not expecting to do the same thing and expect a different result.
So I took some time to read up on what is a safe, reasonable way to change this unpleasant state of things. The Change is the result of what I found.
The Change (somehow that title works for me) has multiple parts:
EXERCISE: I am going to spend 10 minutes, just 10 minutes on cardio three days a week and strength training 2 days a week, with 2 days (early work days) when I am not committed to doing either . This is very, very do-able on the days I don't go into work early. Those early work days are the ones when historically I "fall off the wagon and forget there is one". Today, I thought of a ridiculously simple solution to my work schedule woes: I will not exercise on "early work days"- these will be my rest days. Who says your rest days have to be the weekend?! I have LOTS more time on the weekend to get in more movement than I do during the week. So. Cardio. Sunday, Weds and Friday. Strength training on Monday and Sat. I will get off my arse and do one of the hundreds of free YouTube 10 minute videos I already have in my library or a newly written out list of upper and lower body exercises off Spark People. No cost. No gym fees. No traffic. No excuses. I have CDs if the cable goes out. Yeah, I have to give up 10 minutes of the 40 minutes I spend every morning on Spark People. I hate that. But I will still have 30 minutes to keep up with and encourage my Sparkfriends, and see what's new. I put a reminder on my phone with an obnoxious tone to go off at 6:30 am every day to remind me. Because I WILL forget. I know me.
PORTION CONTROL: I will use the SP suggested menu and tweak it to the foods that I like to eat, and fit into my cooking schedule, being sure to stay pretty close to the nutrient profile and calories they are suggesting. I will use foods I like but exercise real portion control on meals, because even the really healthy stuff I generally eat is not so healthy for me in unlimited or excessive quantities. (There is a cumulative huge difference in eating 2 whole grain waffles instead of one, half a large banana instead of whole. This stuff, like the items in my grocery cart, add up to a terrible number if I'm not careful!) My waistline, decreasing exercise tolerance and increased fatigue and joint pain, as well as those nasty numbers on the scale are rubbing my nose in the fact that what I have been doing, ie just eating home-cooked, real, clean food 80% of the time, is not enough to be as good a version of me as I age as I want and need to be. It is absolutely possible to gain weight eating only "diet food" if you eat enough of it.
Some thoughts that came up as I was working on all this (gotta love those internal dialogues we have with ourselves, right?) :
"Three days a week of 10 minutes of cardio. 10 minutes?! That's gonna make me lose some unwanted fat?! Nah. " Yep, sure is. And actually doing it for more than a couple days then stopping will show some serious health benefits, like decreasing my risk of type II Diabetes, high blood pressure, and making "old lady noises" when I have to get up off the floor. Or out of a chair. Or move after being in one position for more than 5 minutes. And you will feel proud of yourself for doing it, too.
"Strength training. Boy, is that name misleading! Waving around some little hand weights, leaning side to side, THIS is strength training?! This will make a difference?!" Yeah. It is. It will. Because it's more than my flabby little baby muscles are doing right now. So, if I do it regularly, and let it become a habit, the benefits will start showing up. I will be more flexible, more agile. I won't need to have a sturdy table or wall nearby to simply stand up after sitting for too long. And I'll feel proud of my body again.
"But you eat pretty much healthy food now! You'll get muscle atrophy. You'll be hungry. Hungry! OMG. Hungry! Danger, danger, Will Robinson! What are you thinking?!" I'm thinking If I eat the salads and veggies I like, I drink all the water daily that science says my body needs, and I make sure I am getting about 65 grams of protein (as opposed to the 90 to 100 I am currently getting, or the hundreds of extra fat grams I am eating because, at the first sign of fatigue, I grab pieces of cheese or bread or meat as a "need more protein" excuse), then I will be fine. I think that the sweets I grab at night, when I am tired, are not going to give me energy or stop the fatigue, they are just going to make me bigger, heavier, less healthy. I think I need to allow myself to rest when I'm tired. I think it is not a sin to go to bed earlier than usual because I am tired. And yes, of course at first I will feel some hunger. It won't kill me. I won't collapse. It won't make me sick. AND, what I'm feeling could be appetite instead of hunger, or habit instead of need. Or maybe it's thirst. Sometimes it's hard to realize I'm thirsty until I count up that I only had 1 glass of water in the last full day. Jeez, no wonder I feel like crap! It's not hunger, it's thirst! Or I may be just tired. Or stressed. Whatever I'm feeling, I need to remember that my body is an amazing, versatile machine that has developed over the entire history of man to keep working well enough to keep me alive. All that extra padding that makes me "thick" is saved up energy for me to use when and as my body needs it, whether my mind knows it or not. I will NOT starve to death if there isn't food available the nano-second I have the first thought about eating. My body, if it needs energy, will burn up the fat all over my body long before it causes my muscles to wither away and make me weak.
Wish me luck, send me good vibes, as I am probably, no make that definitely, going to need strength and motivation from every source. I am posting this today to make a public commitment to my action plan, so I will feel accountable. Since I get on SparkPeople every single morning, I will know you know what I said I would do. So if I don't want to look or feel like a slacker, don't want to be less than a great example to others, don't want to be a detractor to anyone else's journey to a healthier them, then I better stick with it! I recognise that accountability is not the loftiest or probably best of motivators, as basically it is fear of "what will they think of me", but at this point I will use any motivator that will help get me and keep me on the path I need to be on. Apparently just telling myself is not enough, at least based on the last several years track record.
Just to set the record straight, in case you're worried, I really like me a lot. I think I am a wonderful, loving, compassionate, articulate, bright, gregarious soul who, while maybe not beautiful, is certainly not ugly, and who is happy and grateful to be aware, breathing, loved and safe. Some folks might think this is arrogance. It's not. Arrogance is if I think I'm better than somebody else. I am most assuredly not. I have lots and lots of things in me and my behavior that need work. One of the big areas I want to improve right now is what's happening to my body as the years (and calories) roll by. Since my motto has always been "If you don't like something, don't complain, do something about it!" I am just doing something that I think will change and improve the stuff I'm not so happy about right now. I'm trying to build in accountability, so it is more comfortable to do what I'm supposed to than not.