Wanting a Full Life

Trinity Choir at Salisbury Cathedral

This blog is mostly about weight loss efforts but it’s not called Random Thoughts for nothing. I get tired of thinking of my life as limited to weight and food, diets and exercise, body image and judgments based on being “good” or “bad” with my self-defined plan. I feel so stifled when my life is boiled down to those things, and narrowly focused. I want more than that for myself and my life. I want to be socially aware and spiritually connected, to explore my community and learn new things that have nothing to do with how many points or calories are involved. I want a life that doesn’t revolve around food even as I know I have to eat and enjoy good food prepared well.

I’ve put way too many things on hold and I’m bored with the limits I’ve placed on my life. The fact is that I’m not thin and it will take me a long time to get there at the rate I’m going, though going down slowly is better than going up, so I’m not complaining about that. But waiting until I’m thinner to have a life seems restrictive and silly.

This morning I found a copy of a long letter I wrote to friends 10 years ago when my choir got back from a 10-day tour of England. It was truly one of the best experiences of my life and it saddens me that I haven’t done much to figure out what I’d like to do next or work to make it happen.

I’ve never taken a cruise and would love the chance to travel and get away from it all. There’s one tentatively scheduled for 2008 that interests me – Authors at Sea – and if the timing works, I may plan a vacation to include it. Since my vacations usually involve visiting family or going to professional conferences, this would be a big change of pace.

I’ve lived small – important things, but narrowly focused. It’s time to open up my vision and broaden my thinking and my life.

Water Aerobics and the Dentist

Water aerobicsI ventured into new territory this week with an hour-long water aerobics class in the pool at my new gym. Never having taken one before, I of course looked up exercises online in advance so I’d know what to expect – I’m not big on surprises where body things are concerned.

We filled up our hour with 30 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of strength training using these cute little yellow barbells with baffles on the end to grab water for more resistance. Yesterday we used those noodles with exercises, too. Let me just say that it’s a lot harder to make those behave than you’d think. The cardio work included pool lane walking forwards and backwards, jogging, hopping, marching, different versions of jumping jacks and other things I’ve already forgotten. But believe me, we were busy.

The group is small – five one night and four the other – and I’ve been told 10 is the biggest it gets. Which means we won’t be as likely to hit each other in the pool while we’re flailing around trying to stay balanced. Since we’re all blind at bats in the pool without our glasses, it helps to have people nearby to watch to figure out whatever we’re supposed to do next. The best part was hanging out in the very hot whirlpool after class for 10 minutes or so, getting warm and just chitchatting.

I was very aware yesterday that my right knee hurt while we were doing things. Not vicious, sharp pain but more a sense that it’s just not like the other one. I’ve been aware of it all week as I walked and did my regular life activities so it’s not surprising that I was aware of it in the pool, too. But it did reinforce that trying to do a serious workout is going have to happen in the water which is much easier on the joints than using weight machines or even the treadmill.

Another part of my body was also trying to get my attention: my mouth. I’ve had a low-grade toothache off and on almost since I got here, but I’d been checked out by the dentist in Boston before leaving so wasn’t inclined to go find a dentist. I hate having people put fingers in my mouth and inflict pain which pretty much describes a visit to the dentist.

ToothacheThings have been worse in the last week or so with the toothache accompanied by an earache; I even had two short dizzy spells which were a bit unnerving. Since I have a dental degree in addition to my other ones plus I have access to the web for research, I decided that everything was probably tied to a tooth infection of some kind, pressing on nerves and giving me the earache and vertigo.

The actual dentist, who I found by doing a Google search, decided something different. My teeth are newly cleaned and cavity-free, with healthy gums. But my back tooth is apparently moving and there’s a gap between it and the one next to it. Bottom line is that I need a new crown to replace an old one and build up some of the space to keep them touching so I don’t end up with periodontal disease. That’s very good incentive. I just wish crowns didn’t cost $1,500.

So I’ve been listening to my body. Putting it in the pool, feeding it healthy things, getting treatment when things weren’t quite right. I’m contemplating whether to see someone about the knee or just deal with it; I already know it has arthritis, degenerative joint disease, and very little padding between the bones. There’s not much they can do but I’m keeping my options open.

Winter is Coming – What Can I Fit Into?

ShoppingI don’t know what the weather is like in your part of the world, but up here in New England we’re into cool temperatures with the word “frost” mentioned in the weather forecast.  Winter isn’t that far away and the the Farmers Almanac warns that it will be colder and snowier winter than usual up here.

My problem is that I don’t know what to wear. This isn’t a Stacy/Clinton type of question about what’s in style, although I am fashion challenged.  It’s much more practical:  I don’t know if I can fit into my winter clothes.

For the last months I’ve been wearing lightweight summery clothes – loose cotton dresses, jersey pants, shorts, simple knit tops, and my beloved pink Birkenstock sandals.  This is not going to work as a winter wardrobe and my morning walks in to work from the parking lot already show that I need to work on the clothes thing.

But my cold weather clothes from last year don’t fit the way they did when I put them away, plus I weeded pretty heavily before I moved, further limiting my options.  I don’t want to go buy more clothes in a bigger size and I also don’t want to be wearing clothes that look as though they’re painted on.  It’s a dilemma.

I didn’t think last spring that I would need the clothes in the bigger size going into this winter and it’s a bit depressing to realize that I do because it’s an acknowledgment that my plan to lose weight didn’t work.  In fact, I gained 13 lbs in the first weeks of the move and have yet to take them off.  I lose slowly these days so I have to be realistic about what I can change before it’s time to actually wear this stuff.

The answer is, not much.  The smart thing to do is to have a “try on day” soon, before I need to actually bundle up, so I can realistically assess what I have. Being afraid of having no clothes is not a reason to not deal with it and in fact, it’s probably not as bad as I’m afraid of.

Tight clothes can be a trigger in two directions.  They can be a wake up call to get serious about working the food plan and exercising so that the clothes fit again.  Or they can be a signal to buy something bigger because, let’s face it, we have to wear something.  Buying up feels like a sign of failure and can open the floodgates to giving up and just filling out the larger sizes until there’s a whole new wardrobe again.

I want to avoid the latter but I also don’t want to look like a What Not to Wear candidate, either.  I need at least a few pieces that will fit well and look good so I feel good about myself going into the winter.  I hope I can do that with clothes that I already have.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Subject to the Lures of Impulse Grocery Shopping

Grocery Store AisleThere are two grocery stores between my office and my apartment and I go by both of them on the way home from work every day. I’ve gotten in the habit of stopping to pick up a few things several times a week instead of relying on a heavy weekend shopping event.

This is proving to be a bad idea. Oh, it starts out with such a lovely virtuous premise: “I’ll just stop and pick up some more yogurt and sweet potatoes or broccoli for supper” or “I just need FiberOne bars and toothpaste” or whatever. But I am showing myself incapable of not picking up other stuff, too. Stuff like reduced fat gingersnaps, Edy’s slow churned yogurt blend ice cream, single-serving Entenmann’s cinnamon rolls or the ubiquitous 100-calorie pack snacks.

I am incapable of buying these and eating them in a reasonable manner. Why I’m even buying them at all is a mystery to me and it’s why they are not on my regular weekly shopping list. They slip in on these mid-week stops, though, magically finding their way into my cart and coming as a surprise when I get to the register.

Tonight’s splurge – a bag of reduced fat gingersnaps – proved to be my undoing. I was into them in the car and instead of dinner, finally deciding to stop and squirt Worcestershire sauce on the remainder to diminish the tasty lure. I’m full now but I’m annoyed at how little control I have over something as little as a gingersnap.

Taken by themselves, these “mid-week treats” are not bad foods, being lower point/fat/calorie versions of the originals. No one is holding a whip over me if I eat one. But it’s become obvious to me that buying them during mid-week drop-in shopping is a guarantee that I will not eat them wisely or in proportion. On a weekend planned shopping event, I’m more in control and less susceptible to snacky impulse shopping.

I’m not happy with having eaten 1/2 a bag of gingersnaps, no matter how tasty or reduced-fat they were. A friend of mine in my first WW meeting used to say, “The last bite tastes the same as the first” and she was right about these. No matter how many I ate, they never tasted BETTER. So I finally stopped. Let’s hope that next time I can stop earlier. It will help if I don’t buy them in the first place.

I think starting tomorrow I’ll plan to turn right instead of left on that road and go to the gym for a water aerobics class instead of doing some drop-in grocery shopping. It’s a much better idea.

Shopping for Clothes and Apples

Cute Girl with a Basket of ApplesI went shopping this morning at the Large Lady Stores – Catherine’s, Avenue, and Lane Bryant. The goal was to find pants and a bathing suit, since the one that came from Junonia was too big. Sizing is just odd, don’tcha think?

I was armed with sale flyers, motivation, and a credit card, prepared to buy something things that fit that would work with my lifestyle. It was a total disaster. Pants with zippers that fit around the hips are proportioned badly so the waistband is up about 4 inches above my actual waist, making them awkward and lumpy. They’re also too long, which could be altered, but trying to take out zippers and remake pants is just more than I want to contemplate.

Bathing suits were out of the question. Here in New England it’s fall and the stores are stocking heavy winter coats. Although people go on cruises and vacations and take water aerobics classes year round, I guess there isn’t room enough in the stores to manage all seasons at once.

I went home with nothing at all. The sweaters and jackets I tried on were too long and/or weird at the arms because I’m petite and the clothes simply weren’t. Petite women have different proportions and it’s not enough to shorten a garment by 2 inches and let that be it. Normal size women have a whole section called Petite where they have lots of options; large size petite women are oddballs when it comes to shopping.

Since shopping makes me hungry and I hadn’t eaten much because of WW in the morning, I treated myself to pad thai for lunch and then took to the road to track down a “pick your own apples” place. That was the plan anyway, but my knee has been acting badly and I wasn’t sure that it would be a good idea when I actually go there.

Fortunately for me, the “apple picking” place also had “apple buying” as an option and I was delighted to find big baskets of honeycrisp apples just begging me to take them home. They are my very favorite kind of apple to eat – Cortlands are my favs for baking – and are not widely available or around for long, so I like to grab them when and where I can. If you find any in the store, give them a try. They will likely cost more but they are wonderful!

The store also had fresh picked corn, big fat field fresh tomatoes, nectarines and peaches, and other vegetables as well. I picked up my produce and two big jars of apple cider butter and headed home. Since I had such a big lunch (I ate the whole plate of pad thai), I just had a big tomato and an ear of corn for supper and it was divine.

Tomorrow I really want to find a way to get into the pool at the gym. My knee hasn’t been happy since the last time I was there. I can’t just sit around like a lump in the chair; I need to be doing something and the pool is the best place to do it. A bathing suit is necessary, however, so it may have to wait. Maybe the Exercise Fairy will leave me one while I’m sleeping.