Sunday, June 27, 2010

New Landmark

I stopped off at Target on Wednesday after my Feldenkrais® Class and bought a caddy for the shower, to keep my shampoo and conditioner off the floor. It was a tension pole with wire baskets and needed to be assembled.

Saturday morning I thought we would put it together. WRONG! The instructions were terrible, but we figured we could work it out. WRONG! We got really close, but it wasn't fitting against the ceiling correctly and I couldn't seem to get it adjusted. The ironic part was that I hadn't even considered it a "project" which is kind of a dirty word to my husband. He was getting more and more frustrated and annoyed and I was becoming exhausted. I finally decided that it wasn't worth the trouble. I took it apart and returned it.

While I was out I stopped at another clothing store because there was a sale. I bought a couple of pair of capri pants and blouses. I wasn't sure about size ( I have been wearing size 22/24 and figured that I might be down a size and so I took a 22, a 20 and just on a whim, an 18. When I tried them on, I was amazed that the 18 fit quite well and the others were much too large!

So, while the scale has not changed since last week, there have obviously been some changes.

Some of my pants were getting too big and some were actually falling down but I never thought that I'd lost two sizes. So now I don't know how the ones that stay up are even doing so. On Monday I plan a closet purge.

Some of you who have visited before might remember that I was having a hard time figuring out a reward for myself for reaching the halfway point to my original weight loss goal and almost to the quarter point toward my new goal. I think I've found it!

In another piece of good news, I've gotten clearance from my doctor to begin my physical and occupational therapy again and to get back to the Y to do my swimming and water aerobics, though she did caution me not to start them all at once.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

What the last few days brought me...

It is very hot here in Brooklyn, NY and I've mostly stayed indoors the past two days.

As I mentioned in my last blog, I've been fiddling with the various nutrient numbers, but the good news is that there are lots of local (or at least more local) fresh fruits and veggies out there now. I'm now able to eat them and I'm making good use of them.

I had beautiful strawberries yesterday and this morning, had them in a smoothie. Below is a photo. Isn't it gorgeous?

This morning's breakfast:

Yesterday we washed the shower curtains and liners with some towels and added some of Meka's vast collection of tennis balls, to add some friction. Many of them were downright filthy and needed a bath. So, we got clean shower curtains and liners, clean soft towels and a bin full of clean tennis balls, which as my husband says, is the answer to the question "What do dogs dream about?".

Washed Tennis Balls:

The last of my birthday roses while still intact, are moving toward the end of their rose life. Isn't the texture of the petals extraordinary?

"Faded Rose":

As for my extended birthday celebration; today, David (hubby) found yet another birthday gift hidden away-a lovely caftan and my friend, Jane, has sent me seven books by Alexander McCall Smith, mostly one at a time, the last three, together, arrived today!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Celebrate Good Times!

I meant to get this posted two days ago, at least, but revelry and recuperation intervened.

Wednesday was my birthday. My husband, David, was very attentive. He gave me numbers of gifts all wrapped individually thought the day and made a reservation for a mid afternoon luncheon at one of my favorite restaurants in a nearby neighborhood and invited his sister and her husband as well as several other friends, five additional people, in all. We had a great time!

There were also calls, cards, emails, flowers and gifts from other family members and friends.

I am truly blessed with people who love me and show that love in many ways, not only on birthdays and such occasions.

It had been typical in my family of origin to have several different birthday celebrations with different groups of relatives and friends, so the birthday stretched on to the birthday week and even the birthday month! It's a tradition that I strive to maintain for myself and highly recommend to others.

So, last night I hosted a group of my friends who call ourselves the Fearsome Foursome and we celebrated my birthday together. We have known each other and met regularly for about 37 years.

Of course, given that I'm still in recovery mode from the recent health challenge, I had to take one day of recovery time for each day of celebration,

Below are some images taken during the day, my birthday breakfast, one of the bouquets I received, one of our houseplants and a picture of the view from our living room:

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

How I got here and how I'm doing...

It's the day before my birthday, so I thought that it might be time to reflect a bit on my history and process.

Among many other aspects of my family history and culture, I came from a family whose genetic makeup makes us very efficient at storing energy for times of famine.

Both my grandmother and mother were also wonderful cooks, as were my aunts.

Both maternal grandparents and my paternal grandmother were overweight (I did not know my paternal grandfather).

My mother struggled with her weight most of her life, but in her late 40's and early 50's she dieted and lost significant a amount of weight and kept it off. Ironically, she developed swallowing problems due to Parkinson's Syndrome in her late 60's and in her 70's became unable to eat, requiring supplemental feeding by tube.

After being an infant and young child who didn't eat very much and apparently worried everyone, (they literally believed that my survival was at stake) the family went to great lengths to get me to eat more. Eventually, I learned that eating pleased the people I cared most about; that food tasted good; that seconds were at least as good as firsts. I grew up; puberty hit and weight trended upward.

I was a tad overweight but managing within a few pounds. I was not particularly devoted to sweets or junk food, nor did I do a lot of emotional eating (though, one might argue that the learned behaviors around portion size had a basis in emotion).

While at college, I hurt my back, and, in retrospect, probably had my onset of MS.

I ended up having lots of medical intervention and medication and less and less physical activity.

So, between my skewed sense of portion size and my limited ability to exercise on a consistent basis, I began gaining weight in earnest. I spent numbers of years gaining and losing the same 20 to 30 lbs.

After a while, I stopped dieting and stayed within about a 25 lb. range without it but was unable to either lose weight or exercise.

In 1973 I had back surgery, which stopped the worst and most persistent of my pain but did not stop all of my issues.

Sometime in the early 1980's I was diagnosed hypothyroid and a couple of years later, with osteoarthritis.

In 1983 I was diagnosed with MS.

In 2005 I had knee replacements and have gradually been able to increase my ability to move with less pain.

Between 2006 and 2009 my blood pressure and cholesterol were creeping up.

I knew that by losing weight, I would decrease those factors and I worked really hard but the going was extremely slow. I was still only able to do exercise episodically.

Late in 2006, I joined Spark People but there were lapses in my tracking and I didn't use many of the other tools on the site except for reading some of the articles.

Still, between 2007 and 2009 I lost 25 lbs.

Late in 2009 I began being much more assiduous about my tracking, got access to the services of a nutritionist, who made some very specific suggestions about portion sizes, gave some good feedback and provided some personal accountability, and found a way to get back into exercise in a way that didn't set me back.

I showed the nutritionist the Spark People site when we were tracking and charting intake. She was quite impressed, not only with the tracking and reports but with the information available.

More recently I began to consider seriously the things I was reading here about better results being obtained by people who use more of the Spark People tools and resources, including the Community features. I began to consider that many aspects of this advice are very familiar to me and that I believe them to be valid in other areas of my life. My education and training is in Clinical Social Work. I do educational and support groups because I believe in the power of education and mutual support, so why maintain my heretofore "lone wolf" approach to weight loss? Wasn't that a self-defeating blind spot?

I began to use the login point wheel, to read and respond to other members' blog posts and messages. I resumed posting on my blog.

I also began to do more than pay lip service to looking at this process as more than a "diet" and to commit to a lifestyle change over a long period of time. Seeing it that way makes it less discouraging when setbacks occur and easier to see them as mere setbacks rather than moral lapses or defeats.

I had been making steady, though slow progress, until my recent illness at which time, even though I was unable to eat adequately or exercise at all and was stuck for a month at the same weight. I received wonderful support from my family and friends and from my SP friends, of every vintage.

I think that at another time I might have let myself believe that it wasn't worth continuing the process. Instead, I took the counter-intuitive step of building up my intake to the lower end of my calorie range while maintaining a balance of nutrients and doing whatever minimal level of exercise I can, when I can.

Today, at my weigh-in, the scale finally moved; down 2 lbs!!!

It's just another step, but one in the right direction.

Some "historical" photos:

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Using My Down Time

At the time of my last post, I was coming back after treating an MS flare with steroIds. Less than a week after that, I became very ill with a sinus and gastro-intestinal infection, and required a ten day round of antibiotics. I am still in the process of convalescing, so I have to proceed slowly with my plan to increase my exercise. I have an appointment for a follow-up visit with my doctor tomorrow so I'll see if I can get an "all clear" to resume physical therapy and swimming.

Because of these issues, I haven't been doing much in the creative realm lately, but I have been getting the urge, so I've begun some sketches which I might be able to carve into stamps. This is a project that doesn't require a lot of time to set up and clean up, so it allows me to work within my current energy levels. Once I've got something completed, I'll post some photos.

I'm looking forward to being able to do some fabric dying and painting again in the not too distant future.

Since I haven't had a lot of energy for anything else, I've been watching the sky a lot, clouds, changing light, sunsets; stocking up on inspiration for when I'm ready...

Another thing I've been doing is listening to podcasts. Among those I check in with regularly under the craft heading is CraftyPod. I really enjoy the wide variety of topics covered and the thoughtful way they are handled!

Here are a few sky photos by my husband, David, which can serve to illustrate some of my sky watching :

Thursday, June 3, 2010

My (Re) Debut

Today was the first time that I taught my Awareness Through Movement® (Feldenkrais Method®) class for more than a month.*

* for more information on The Feldenkrais Method® and my practice you can check here:

It's just an hour class with a half hour travel time each way, but it was the first time that I was able to even think about the process of getting out, much less manage to teach.

It helped that the weather was good, although quite warm, but with the air conditioner on, it was comfortable.

I was able to stop by Target on the way home and picked up a few things I needed.

I hope that I can manage to keep it going...