Finally!

Friends, I was beginning to think it wasn’t going to happen, but it did!

My first TEN POUNDS are finally gone!! If you’re a visual person like me, that’s an entire bag of potatoes. And let me just be real…it’s been quite the battle. We’ve had birthdays, vacations, last-minute plans to be out of town…a myriad of things that cause an eating plan to fall off of its tracks.

I’ve been so far from perfect; I failed at logging in each day on MFP so my streak was broken – many times over, and missed days-worth of walking and riding my bike. So, you can only imagine my excitement this morning when I “decided” to step on the scale and find my focus once again. I thought, for sure, I’d be back up where it all began.

Let me just be clear…at no point did I feel the urge to throw in the towel on all of this. I still hung onto my goals, but dealt with a lot of guilt in my imperfection to staying on my personal plan. However, in hindsight, I am reminded of times where I made some better choices and ate much less than I normally would. I had bites instead of slices, scoops instead of whole pints. I did my best to stay away from starchy foods, and instead focused in on protein, vegetables and fruit. I drank lots and lots of water!

That’s not to say I should just keep going along this way…unfocused and trusting myself to make all the best choices…because tracking my food and exercise is definitely key for my success on this journey. That said, my wandering has helped me to see that sometimes I’m just going to have off days. Sometimes even the best laid plans fail. But what I can see, in this moment, is that my little steps are beginning to make bigger changes even inside of me, where my mind controls so much about my success.

Last night, hubby and I went shopping and loaded up on lots of healthy options. I love that our focus was there…even before I stepped on the scale this morning. So today I’m feeling that much more encouraged about planning and prepping meals for the week ahead. So this morning also serves as a non-scale victory (NSV)…that something good, that goes beyond what the scale shows, is happening inside of me.

It really is a journey…and today, I’m ready to focus in and take on the next goal!

10 lbs potatoes

 

Proof in the Pudding

Last night for dinner, I gave into a salt/fat-induced option and felt the effects of it this morning. My brain was sluggish and my body was puffy. I would have been perfectly happy sitting on my front porch for the entire morning, sipping on coffee to re-energize me. But then…I decided to take my blood pressure readings; something I haven’t done in a couple of weeks.

As they say, the proof is in the pudding my friends…

blood pressure (7-21-17)

THIS IS WHY I MUST STAY FOCUSED on eating healthy and exercising. My “before” reading (left) really shocked me. It always does when I get a reading like that, because I don’t always feel what is shows. Most of the time I’m very energetic and feel just fine. It’s a depressing reminder that I have to take medication and cannot slack off on pursuing a healthy lifestyle. As you can see, my “after” reading changed significantly. Yes, it still looks like a high reading to all of the healthy people with regular blood pressure levels out there, but for me, it’s in a good range.

After my first reading, I decided to take a brisk walk. I went two-miles in forty minutes and this is the result. If you need proof that exercise works, here it is.

I was very active in my youth. I’m not a person who grew up struggling with weight issues. I was a runner, who actually ran with the boys because I was that fast. Call me arrogant, but I could never understand how some were unable to win the Presidential Award for physical fitness, because it came that easy for me. In high school, I was doing fifty-two sit-ups in a minute. It makes me emotional to think of where I once was and where I am now, because that young girl still lives in my heart. I long to, one day, be able to run again. The road seems so long at times, but I’m continuing to focus on the little steps that will bring the big changes.

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Today…my hope is that you’re encouraged to move your body. Take another look at my heart information above. Use it as proof that moving our bodies makes a difference…a really big difference.

Simply,
Cindy

For the Love of My Heart

With various celebrations I attended over the course of the weekend and leading up to Independence Day, a few not-so-good choices got the better of me. Planning was where I fell down. Usually I can piece together a nutritious meal wherever I go, but when you’re faced with constant BBQ fare of hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, potato salad and maybe some watermelon, it’s hard to stay focused.

But…I hung in there as best I could. I didn’t get my bike riding in, but I took as many steps as I could each day to keep myself moving, and I drank lots of water. As of this morning, I am at a 9 lb. loss. Not too shabby for my first month, but definitely time to dig my heels in and hone in on my focus.

I do want to tell you a little more about me, health-wise:

Somewhere around 2010, I visited the doctor because I was having issues with my left ear. I had gotten over a cold about two weeks prior to this visit, but it seemed that something triggered a constant pulsing that was driving me insane. Sleeping was more difficult than ever with the sound of whoosh-whoosh-whoosh in my head. I thought it was a sinus issue or possibly an ear infection. My ear felt plugged and the pulse seemed to mimic my heartbeat.

All was well as my doctor checked my ears, nose and throat. It seemed that I had healed up from my previous cold just fine. He then moved put the blood pressure cuff around my arm and gave it a good pumping. It wasn’t reading, so he pumped it up again with a little more force for added tightness. Still…it wasn’t registering. I made a joke that he should wrap the cuff around my head because I felt my heartbeat just fine in my left ear. He chuckled before giving it a pumping that made my hand feel like it was going to explode and then he said, “There it is.” He took the cuff off and began to talk to me about hypertension.

“Wait. What?!” I said. He continued talking about medication to bring it down. Now let me just tell you, I do not like taking medication and began to put up a little stink about the idea of this. I told him, “My blood pressure has been fine. You can’t put me on medicine because of one high reading.” Be began to flip through my previous appointments and told me that it had actually been working its way up, but hadn’t caused him much concern because of my previous good readings. But he continued, “Your blood pressure reading today is 190 over 110 and I cannot let you walk out that door without something to help bring it down.” Shocked doesn’t even begin to describe how I was feeling. I know people who have to take medication, like, forever…because of ailments. I did not want to become one of those people.

In my first writing, I told you how I had successfully lost weight about ten years ago. This was three years after that and I had allowed the weight to creep back on (plus some), and here I was…overweight with full-blown hypertension.

Since that time, I’ve been on-again and off-again with dieting and exercise. When I’m eating well and exercising, my numbers come down to very healthy levels. But when I’m off the wagon, it shows. A typical day, without exercise, is about 150/92. It’s become a constant battle for me.

So, fast forward to our current date. I have gained additional weight and early this year ended up needing to increase my medication and adding another. I was having problems bringing my diastolic number (the lower one) down below 100, so I was sent to a cardiologist for a rigorous treadmill test. He told me my heart was very healthy, but that I needed to lose some weight. It always comes down to that, doesn’t it? That was back in March and well…my weight didn’t go down. In fact, it went up a little bit. I did some research on the new medication and it’s geared to slow down my heartbeat and can cause some weight gain. I think I’ve allowed this to happen, but now I’m ready to fight back. It means pushing myself a little harder though. Because my medicine works to slow down my heartbeat, I have to push against it to raise it up to an exercise level. While I don’t have a heart-rate monitor (something I do want to get) I know that I’m getting it up to that level when I walk and ride my bike. My gauge is my breathing when I try to talk or sing. The doctor did tell me that just losing 10 lbs. would help to lower that diastolic number…as that one really reacts to weight.

That is my added incentive in all of this. It’s not just about being thin and looking cute in my favorite fantasy pair of skinny jeans, it truly is about my health.

Before seeing the cardiologist, I had a scare. My chest felt tight one evening and I went to the ER. My numbers were off the charts, but I wasn’t having a heart attack or a stroke. They sent me home and said I should have a follow-up with my cardiologist. Umm…I don’t have a cardiologist. Those are for old people, right?!

I have a different doctor now; a sweet older gal, who’s like an older sister or mom figure. I adore her, but was a little taken aback when she said in her sweet accent, “You are going to have a stroke, and you will have no one to blame but yourself!” Wow, huh?! Her words seemed a bit harsh, but it was exactly how I needed to hear it…straight up and honest. She handed me a piece of paper with a referral to a cardiologist and thus began the direction of this journey I’m on. I walked out of her office knowing that real changes needed to be made.

I am probably more in tune with my heart than I have ever been. When I’m walking at a brisk pace, or peddling my legs off and feel like quitting…I do a heart check. I don’t even have to put my hand to it any longer because I can just feel it inside of me. My spiritual heart reminds me of my friend and family that I want to spend much more time with, but my physical heart reminds me that I’m strong and my efforts are worth every bit of this health journey. I want true heart health…mentally, spiritually, and most definitely physically!

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I hope you will take to heart making the necessary changes to keep yours active and healthy. I used to live a carefree life, and didn’t worry about things like this (my physical heart). But time has a way of catching up with you. How’s your mental, spiritual and physical heart today? Do you need to make some changes or create new habits? If so, join me on this journey.

Comments are always welcome. 🙂

*raising my glass of water to you* Cheers!

Simply,
Cindy

my heart

 

Creatures of Habit

The old adage goes, “It takes three weeks to break a habit.” This brings to mind negative things we do in our lives like, smoking, drinking, biting our nails, overeating…or any other bad habit.

But, what if we were to change this up? What if we wanted to begin habits? Wouldn’t the amount of time be about the same? I think, yes. So I’m putting my own little positive twist on this. I want to use the next three weeks to “change” or ever better, to “begin” a few habits…new and improved habits. I’ve done enough focusing on the negatives that I shouldn’t do, so I’m going to turn my focus to positives that I want to do.

This blog is about my little goals on this journey. It’s not all about just losing some weight. It’s about changing in many other positive ways to find victory in my health and wellness. I believe that by taking these little steps they will lead to big changes as they begin to piece their way together and that doesn’t seem so overwhelming for me. I am more than numbers on a scale. I need a health body, mind and spirit. So, I thought of three habits that I want to accomplish over the course of the next three weeks.

My first one:

Drink Water! I plan to drink it from the time I wake up until I go to bed at night. I don’t know what it is about water, but it’s something that I struggle getting enough of. It’s one of the most important things our body needs and something that is so easy to get, yet, I fight it. I’m probably dehydrated most of the time. Ten years ago, when I lost a lot of weight, it was the number one thing on my list then and it became something that I practically craved. I want to know my body well enough to be able to feel when I’m dehydrated. They say a lot of people eat when they are actually thirsty. That’s a theory I definitely want to test.

How will I do this? I’m a very visual person. I’m all about setting the scene and mood. For instance, a lot coffee/tea drinkers have an assortment of mugs in their cabinet. They don’t just grab the first mug they see. No, they usually find the one that feels right for that morning. So, that’s what I’m doing with my water…making it feel somewhat special. I have a certain glass and a pretty water pitcher (to aid me in getting my daily amount) that I’m going to use each day. I’m setting the scene and the mood for my personal success. And because water can feel a bit boring, I’m going to add flavor with fresh lemon, lime, cucumber and/or mint…and work on some other refreshing flavors using fresh fruits.

Which leads me to number two:

Eat Your Fruits & Veggies! This is the other area I struggle with; getting my fruits and veggies into my meals. Again, our bodies want and need the nutrients from these, yet, I fight it. Just like water, I know when I become better at eating these, I will begin to crave them instead of the sugary-carb-ridden options that I tend to go after.

How will I do this? For me, success comes from planning. I sit down every morning, log into My Fitness Pal, and write out my eating plan for the day. I have found this keeps me focused on my entire day and I actually look forward to each meal because it’s already planted in my thoughts and tends to keep me from straying. I’m going to make sure I have an assortment of vegetables and fruit options in the house. Because I know I’ll gravitate more towards the fruits (remember…I’m a sweet-eater), I need to have a plan. They do have their own source of sugars, so I need to make sure I’m getting my vegetables in there too. In my opinion, fruits always compliment breakfast…so I’m putting something there. And because I get an evening sweet-tooth, I’ll have some fruit as my evening snack. Vegetables will be included in my lunch and dinner plans.

And my third habit:

You’ve Got to Move It, Move It! Yep, exercise! I really do love to get outdoors and I enjoy a really good walk or ride on my bike – that is, once I’m out there doing it. But before I set out, my brain tends to think about the distance.

Here’s what usually takes place inside in my mind: I start out and I’m feeling pretty good, but at almost the half-way point I’m feeling ready to be done. All I can think about is, “Wow…I still have this far to go.” But then, as I pass that half-way point, I find myself digging in and pushing harder. My feelings of, “I don’t like this” turn to, “Wow, I’m feeling really good about what I’m doing!” Again, positive feedback.

How will I do this? Little Steps to Big Changes…that’s my focus. Honestly, the thought of exercising for an hour each day doesn’t sound all that appealing right now. I read somewhere that thirty minutes each day is good for your body. Thirty minutes? It sounds good and totally doable! I can do thirty minutes!

For me, that’s about a two-mile walk or a four-mile bike ride, depending on my speed that day. It burns the amount of calories I eat for breakfast. By the way, I rarely eat back exercise calorie credits. It doesn’t feel or sound overwhelming. I can easily give up thirty minutes of my morning. And you know what happens from there? It causes a mental switch to flip. I will feel so good about myself that I’ll want what’s healthy throughout my day. I will come back wanting water, wanting my fruits and veggies, and wanting to exercise more! Crazy how that works!!

My encouragement to you: 1) Think of three things that you could do over the course of three weeks to change, replace or create a habit. 2) Write a short “love” letter (yes…I want you to be gentle and kind to yourself) as a reminder of why you want and need to take this journey. Go back to it as often as needed! I go back to mine all the time.


Friends, this really is a mental journey. To succeed at anything requires some learning, planning, research and commitment. I continually remind myself of why I want and need to do this. I want to live a healthy life. I want to enjoy my retirement years with my sweet husband. I want to be a good example to my kids and grandkids. More than anything, I want to feel good about me…on SO many levels.

Setting some Little Step Goals will bring Big Changes for a healthier future. So let’s do this and begin some habits!!

*lifting my glass of water to you* Cheers!

Simply,
Cindy

habits2

We Danced

As I have put weight on, I know that there are parts of me that I have stuffed away. Self-esteem (or lack of it) can cause a person to not do and enjoy the things they once did. At least that’s the case for me. Even though I lean into introvert tendencies, there is this other side of me where I’m very sociable. That is the side of me that suffers the most when I don’t feel good about myself, so introversion can become worse.

I had a wonderful Saturday with my husband. We did work around our home in preparation for one of our granddaughter’s birthday parties, ran errands, went to see a good move (“Wonder Woman” – loved it!) and then we went to an evening concert in the park. I love summer nights and the weather that evening was perfect for music and dancing.

Yes, dancing. We had been there just a little under an hour, when I turned to my husband and asked him if he wanted to dance. He had a shocked deer-in-the-headlights expression at my request. I had been sitting there rocking away to their music and watching all of the other brave souls on the dance floor. A few made me giggle, but I more admired their unabashed courage to just have fun. I wanted to throw my own self-conscious anxieties out and have some fun of my own. I wanted to reclaim a little piece of myself.

I can keep a pretty good beat and was blessed with a bit of rhythm, so in my mind I pictured myself going out there and really showing some moves. HA! My first steps felt awkward, like I just couldn’t get my flip-flopped feet to move the graceful way I had envisioned. For a moment, I thought, “What the heck was I thinking?! What am I doing out here in front of ALL of these people?!” Red-faced, which fortunately people would have thought came from the warmth of the air, I looked at my husband who was also awkwardly trying to work out his moves. Once we got eye-contact we laughed out loud and something inside of me switched on. My relationship with my husband began on a dance floor and other than a few slow dances at weddings we’ve attended, we hadn’t been out on the dance floor, like this, in years. At that point, my awkwardness left and I allowed myself to just enjoy and embrace this piece of time with him. I’m sure we still looked awkward up there, but we didn’t care. The whole world went away and it was us…it was me. I felt like I pulled a big piece of the shell off, that I have covered myself in. It was freeing.

That piece of shell that I peeled off set the course for the remainder of my weekend. I didn’t go out and hit more dance floors but I took that moment with me into everything else I did. I felt like I stood a little bit taller and felt a lot braver. Oh, what a good feeling that is.

Life can be such a mental game…and for me, the extra physical weight causes the mental weight to become very heavy, as well. It’s so true that we are our own worst enemies. If someone said to me what my internal voice says, I’d throat-punch them. This weekend really reminded me of how unkind I can be to myself and that was my biggest take-away…I’m going to be kinder to me.

You know, some of us (usually people who journal like me) make notes of what our “Plan of Attack” will be as we step into the healthier living lifestyle. It often goes something like this:

1) Eat breakfast (stop skipping).
2) Exercise.
3) Drink more water, etc.

…a list of bullet points to begin our plan of attack. But over the weekend, mine has been re-written. My list looks like this now:

1) Remind myself of what is good in me.
2) Pay attention to the parts of me that I like.
3) Be gentle and kind to me.
4) Nourish me in a way that says, “I care about me.” etc.

Do you see the difference? Instead of starting my morning like a mental drill sergeant, I want to feed the deepest parts of me. I believe that as I do, the other things that I need for this journey (eating well, exercising, drinking my water…) won’t feel so much like chores, but will cause it all to begin to fall into its proper place. Caring for my physical heart health has to begin with caring for what’s in the depths of it.

My hope was to have my first 10-pound loss by this morning. It didn’t happen. Had my Saturday played out some other way, it’s possible I’d feel a little discouraged this morning. But I’m not. I’ve made good headway and I am holding steady at my 8-pound loss (in spite of allowing myself a yummy coconut cupcake at my granddaughter’s birthday party yesterday). But…as I reflect on my weekend, I’m reminded of the great time I had with family and friends…and that moment, of reclaiming a bit of our youth, as my sweet husband and I danced our awkward legs off. I think that’s a little…or actually, a really big, victory!

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No matter what the weekend held for you, keep your focus my friends. Be reminded of what is good in you. And hey, dance!

Simply,
Cindy

couple dancing

The Journey Begins…

Welcome Friends! This is my first day of blogging my health journey, however, my story began on June 1st. (See more on my About Me page.) It just took me this long to decide to blog about it.

My name is Cynthia (my friends and family call me Cindy) and I look forward to sharing the road ahead with you. Here you’ll find the realness, and often rawness, of setting out to make Big Changes with Little Steps. Years ago, I successfully lost a lot weight, coming within 20 lbs. of my goal weight. I did it by focusing on little goals. Instead of looking at that gigantic number I needed to lose, I only looked at 5 lbs. at-a-time. That was seven years ago and I have since put all of that weight back on, plus some. I’ve struggled in finding my focus and motivation again, the way I once had it. I allowed myself to believe that it had just slipped away, but I know those are the lies I listen to when the battle just seems so difficult – and so far away.

But as I said, my journey began on June 1st, 2017 and I’ve been on a focused road to claiming my life – my healthy life, that is, once again. When I stepped on the scale that morning, I just couldn’t believe my eyes. “How did I get here?!” But I knew the answer to that. Somewhere I had just stopped caring for myself. I mean, I really like who I am. But, I can somehow look in a mirror and see something different from the reality. I somehow see myself much thinner than I really am, and then I walk past a mirror in a department store, or I see my reflection in a window and I’m dumbfounded, “Who the heck is that?!”

That first morning in June, I immediately logged into my old My Fitness Pal account and updated everything. Ouch! But, it began something else in me. I saw “Hope.” It was a beginning to the journey and I truly felt ready.

I used to walk five to six miles a day with a close friend. I don’t really know what happened, but we no longer walk together. She has found others to continue on her journey. I guess I just needed to walk another path for a while. My walking decreased to the point where it became non-existent. I no longer woke up feeling passionate about what I was doing. It felt depressing and like a big chore.

But earlier this month, a light began to flicker again and I began walking, just a little bit, each day. There are many people out there who love to walk in big groups. They say it makes the time go by so much faster and they love the accountability. While this is true, I am someone who likes to do a lot of things alone. I’m a deep thinker and when I’m alone, I can sort out my thoughts, my dreams, my struggles, my life. It’s free therapy for me. And I guess I’m not good in the accountability part of it all. I like being accountable to myself. I feel like when I’m in a group, comparisons begin to happen and this begins to feed my feelings of doubt and self-esteem. I hate competition in this area of my life. Plus, I’m someone who leans in the direction of introvert (probably why I love to write) and my time is a great treasure to me. I struggle with schedules and routines. I like my days to flow. I exercise in some fashion almost every day now, but it’s not always at the same time. I fit it into my life, and my life is often a moving target. Let’s just say, the wheels are always turning in my head, the dialogue is always in motion, and I beat myself up internally more than anyone even knows.

So as I began doing little walks again, my mind began to think about my super cute beach cruiser bike that was just collecting dust in the garage. Back in the day, I road a mountain bike and would even hit the trails with my husband. I have since gotten rid of that bike; trading it in for my cruiser.  When my husband came home that night, I asked him if he would help me get it down from where it was hanging. We cleaned it off, he made sure the tires were full, and I was on my way. It has rekindled an old, but new, passion of mine. Taking my morning rides is the highlight of my day.

Since stepping on that scale, I’ve been diligent about visiting my Fitness Pal (Cynthia_Sunshine) account, logging my bike rides (and any other exercises I do), and inputting all that I eat and drink. This was key for me seven years ago, so I know it is key for me today. If I don’t write it down, I will lose track of what I put into my body.

I’m happy to say that the scale is already moving in my favor. In 23 days, I’ve had a couple of slip ups (and I’ll admit, they discouraged me) but, to date, I have lost 8 lbs. 🙂

Oh, dear friends, I have so much more to share with you…but for the sake of not writing a book right here, I’ll save it for tomorrow.

Thanks for reading. I wish you the very best on your own journey! Don’t listen to the negative talk going on inside of you. We can – and WILL – earn our champion belts as we take Little Steps to Big Changes!

Simply,
Cindy

 

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