Thursday, June 30, 2011

Days 1 & 2: The Beginning of the Journey

Posted by Carla B. at 8:33 PM
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The past few months have been life-altering in many ways, which also explains my long absence and infrequent posts on the blog. Last September, my mother was diagnosed with Stage II stomach cancer. After a round of chemotherapy, she finally had surgery this past February to remove her entire stomach and part of her esophagus. The aftermath of that has been quite challenging, as she doesn't even have the pouch most gastric bypass patients have. This makes eating and maintaining a healthy weight difficult.

If that wasn't challenging enough, during my mother's recovery my father was diagnosed with Stage I Merkel Cell Carcinoma. It's a type of skin cancer that is below the skin, at the tips of the nerve cells. It is rare and very aggressive. Fortunately, my father's was found early and he had immediate surgery to remove the cancerous tissue as well as two sentinel lymph nodes (for biopsy purposes). They got all of the cancerous tissue, and the lymph nodes were clear. However, he developed a MRSA infection during recovery requiring emergency surgery and week-long hospital stay.

For several months, I was maintaining two households as I spent a great deal of time helping my parents through their illnesses and recovery phases. This definitely took a toll on my health, as well as my weight. After battling my weight for years, I have encountered a whole new level of challenge in the aftermath of a hysterectomy and forced menopause - all metabolism seems to have ground to a halt which means every calorie winds up on my hips, stomach or other body part. My stomach looks like I am six months pregnant, and let's just say I have nicknamed my backside "Jabba the Butt".

After getting diagnosed myself with a Vitamin D deficiency and feeling worse every time I gained weight or saw my fat shift from my legs or arms to my belly - well, it was time to take care of me. Yesterday I went for a training session at my gym, and I started an honest approach to changing my habits. I have had a trainer since May. A BodyFit device since January. Multiple free and low-cost diet book downloads on my Kindle since last year. And finally, it clicked yesterday. I saw another episode of Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss, and I decided to chronicle my own transformation on the blog.

For the next year, you will see my daily updates about my experiences along this path to transformation. I will be not only transforming my body, but I will also be transforming all other aspects of my life. It's time to look deep within to find out why I allowed food such power in my life. I also want to look at re-entering the work force, as my baby girl (now 5 and not much of a baby) will be going to kindergarten in the fall.

My gym is the local Anytime Fitness (http://www.anytimefitness.com), where my H and I have a discount for membership. I love the fact I can literally go anytime since it is available 24/7, 365 days a year. That is a huge bonus considering my lifestyle right now, and it's right across from where my parents live so convenience there is a plus as well. I invested in a trainer there, and we do circuits. Yesterday I had my first "Biggest Loser" moment when I literally fell off treadmill. My mini-Jillian was doing the treadmill countdown, and then pressed stop - at which point I forgot to jump and my feet went one way while my upper body went another and down I went. It didn't help that a Vin Diesel look-a-like was bench pressing not too far away. I might be a fat, middle-aged, married Domestichick but I can still dream - and falling off a treadmill is a too sharp return to reality.

I use a BodyMedia BodyFit device (http://www.bodymedia.com) to monitor my calorie expenditure each day. I got this as a delayed Christmas present in January of this year, and I love it. I hardly notice the presence on my arm, which is surprising. I have used all the data, but I really enjoy the way it also monitors my sleep. It also keeps me going, as I like knowing pretty accurately just how many calories I am burning. I set goals for calorie expenditure, and it's fun to see how close I can get or even go over. It also measure how many steps I take, and I am still aiming (but falling miserably short) of 10,000 steps a day.

I do not use their site to track my meals. I used to use SparkPeople, and I still like it. However, I find that I prefer My Fitness Pal (http://www.myfitnesspal.com). It has a large data base, and I can use the Android application with my Droid phone. The best part of that, and what kicks it ahead of SparkPeople for me, is the ability to use the bar code scanner to enter foods. If I eat a protein bar, I can just scan the bar code for entry - super easy and fast, which makes the record keeping a cinch. That's huge for me with a busy schedule.

I am a FlyLady (http://www.flylady.com) follower, still taking Baby Steps. As a result, I also follow the Saving Dinner Diva Leanne Ely (http://www.savingdinner.com). She has a FABULOUS deal right now, which was perfect timing for me. I invested in the 28-Day Break Free Boot Camp (http://savingdinner.com/breakfree/) at a ridiculously low price. I will be blogging my daily endeavor to break free of some of the foods that hold me hostage. I can't encourage you enough to join me on this quest for better health!

If you have made it this far, thank you. For your reward, you are privileged to know my starting weight: 249 pounds. My highest weight was 285 pounds back in 1998. I successfully lost down to 220 pounds before I met my current H. I have bounced around between 220 and 199 until the past year when I started gaining. Since January, I have gained the other 29 pounds and I am miserable. I am not the least bit proud, and I am quite embarrassed to reveal my actual weight. But, transparency is part of the process and I think it will be key to keeping me real and on target. If you have something negative to say, I pray for you. No more negative energy comes from me. If you have something positive or encouraging to say, I thank you sincerely.

Until my next entry, health and happiness to all.

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