On health and fat

My work place offers great incentives to stay healthy: Affordable exercise classes, free access to the gym, nutrition workshops, finance workshops, how-to-deal-with-stress workshops, etc. When I saw they were offering biometric screening, I signed up right away. For along time now, I’ve been interested in my health numbers and I’m always grateful when they’re good.

I went to the faculty house and met the nurses, signed in, and went to a private room for the blood draw. As I sat there talking to the nurse, she asked if I had any health goals I was working on. “Losing weight,” I said. “It’s a continual effort. I take a total body boot camp here at work and I’ve started counting my calories again to try and get a better handle on how many calories I’m taking in.” I told her I was trying to give up cheese and sugar, though I’d been finding it difficult, and she said sugar is particularly hard to get out of our diets. I had just learned a few minutes earlier that my weight is the highest it’s been since high school. I weigh now what I weighed in high school and for a lot of people that would be a good thing. But not for me. I didn’t start becoming active until I got into college and more so once I got my first job and joined a gym. For most of my twenties and thirties I maintained an ok weight, though I always, always, ALWAYS was in the process of trying to lose more. I’ve never not been trying to lose weight. But now that weight I wanted to lose when I was 30 looks like skin and bones today! As the saying I found on Pinterest goes, I wish I were as fat as the first time I thought I was fat. Ha! Cracks me up. 

In hindsight, and thinking about the struggles I have now, I wonder if part of that weight maintenance was due to my terribly low metabolism working as fast as it would ever work. Excess weight and low metabolism are two traits that reach throughout my father’s side of the family. Now I’m wonder if my metabolism is slowing more (is that possible??) as I age and making it harder to lose weight. (Though I’ve heard doctors say the notion that one is doomed to gain weight as she ages is a myth. 

But back to today. It turns out all my numbers are great and my good cholesterol is really excellent. I was particularly pleased with that number because good cholesterol is a strong reflection of your diet, so it’s good to know I’ve been making good food decisions most of the time for the last year or so. Blood pressure and sugar levels were normal, too, so other than weight, I’m in good shape.

And I can’t help but think of all those body positive activists who try to tell you that you don’t have to be skinny to be healthy. I guess I’m a living example of that now. I’m at my highest weight but my numbers are excellent. So my innards are healthy, which makes me happy. Now to keep kicking ass in that total body workout. Maybe I can start blaming the number on the scale to my huge muscles. 

Movement

Post-workout ponytail…


At the start of the month, I joined an exercise class (total body conditioning) offered on campus. It meets twice a week after work and costs only $60 for the entire session and goes until June. I tend to delude myself into thinking that I’m in reasonable shape. I can walk two miles to work in no time, and I can get on elliptical machine for 30 minutes and feel fine and, hey! I ran a half-marathon last year. I can hold a plank for 30-60 seconds. I can climb several flights of stairs everyday. Yeah. Good shape.

I went off to this class, where I learned quite quickly that I have no idea what I’m talking about. I knew I might be in for trouble when I was totally and utterly winded by the WARM UP. The warm up, people. And the hour of work got harder as it went along. I left with mat burns on my elbows from planks. Two days later, I could barely walk the stairs. 

But today–two weeks in–I’m starting to feel the benefits. I had a searing headache yesterday for much of the day and kept thinking I might skip the workout. Not only that, I might go downstairs to the vending machine and get some cheeze its and a chocolate bar. (Did I mention I haven’t eaten chocolate in the month of January? And I know we’re only 17 days in, but that’s remarkable for me. I could eat chocolate for every meal. It’s part of my effort to give up as much sugar as possible.) So, yesterday afternoon, I was on the verge of throwing in the towel and gorging on chocolate and going straight home from work and taking a nap. But, I decided to take an ibuprofen instead to see if that would make me feel any better. Slowly the pain faded and I ate my oranges instead and thought, well, I may as well go and do my class since I’m paying for it anyway.

And I did. And I’m getting better at some of the exercises. I was able to do four regular form pushups, which is nothing short of staggering improvement because I have no upper arm strength at all. And this morning I realized I feel really good.  A bit more energy, my body feel sore but loose and flexible. I feel good and I’m thankful for it.

A new year

Happy New Year, friends!

Ours was subdued but enjoyable. At home, watched Ohio State get their clocks cleaned by Clemson. Once that game reached the point of no return, I turned to a book, hubby turned to a show, and we sat next to each other, drinking champagne. The dogs kept us company, too.

Today I woke up a bit blue. I can’t pinpoint the cause. I woke with a headache, likely due to the beer and champagne from last night. Aleve hasn’t done much to help. I got my nose pierced the Thursday before Christmas, and I’m dealing with a bump that’s started to rise around the top of the piercing. A part of the healing process, and it will likely go down soon, but I’m bummed that it’s there. My husband said it’s not really visible, but I think he’s legally obligated to say such things.

I had a great visit with my mom, brother, and stepdad and I’m sad I don’t know when I’ll see them next. Madre was feeling quite like herself when I left to return to Massachusetts, but on Christmas Day, three days after her chemo, she felt absolutely dreadful. Her tumor markers are going down with each chemo session, but she told me the side effects are lingering longer and longer, and on the third day, she feels like she would like to lie down, close her eyes, and not wake up because she feels so terrible. It’s those moments when she considers the necessity of all the treatments and whether she wants to keep going. By the fifth day, she’s pretty much back to herself, only to have to start the process again a few weeks later. This next session will be her fifth in this series. She gets a total of six sessions in each series, so we’re hoping she can take a few months off after the last session, particularly since her numbers are low, low, low. 

I don’t really set new year’s resolutions anymore because I’m a believer than you can change the path of your life any day of the year, but it’s always a good time to think about larger goals. I think the primary goal I want to work on is becoming a better cook. I’m always struggling with weight issues and I’m confident if I took control of the food I’m eating by cooking it myself, some of these struggles would ease. I’m reading a fascinating book on the ways sugar destroys your body overtime, and I know I eat too much sugar–both directly in the form of chocolate and such, and indirectly in the form of sugar added to processed foods. I also eat a lot of pasta/carbs, which turn into sugar once you’ve eaten them. So, my larger goal is to focus on cooking and to become decent at it. To enjoy the process of cooking and maybe make some good stuff.

I have my jar of Good Things from 2016 sitting next to me. Here are a few highlights:

1/10/16 Delicious lunch with Meagan/Holly/Spence/Anna

1/19/16 So grateful for another birthday for my mom and for the selfie she sent me and Gary.

4/2016 Ran a half marathon. What?!

5/15/16 Got my dream job!

6/2016 Said goodbye to Paul cat in June. So thankful for 17 years with him and for our last morning together.

6/28/16 Spent two weeks with madre while relocating to Massachusetts.

8/22/16 Cydney is first friend to visit! We go to Mt. Greylock!

9/5/16 Finally reunited with my baboo and puppers.

 Here’s hoping to more good meals, good conversations, and good trips in 2017.

afraid of nothing

I have been repeating this Audre Lorde quote over and over since the election results. I have been forlorn, scared, inconsolable. Angry. 

Angry. 

I am deliberate and afraid of nothing.

I will not give haters the pleasure of my fear.

I thought that when I read about the possibility that poll watchers would be out on election day, trying to intimidate voters. Fuck them, I thought. I saw a photo of a guy with a gun in his holster and a Trump shirt, and a woman had called authorities because she was fearful. He may have asked her who she was voting for…I can’t remember. Fuck him, I thought. I’m not going to be intimidated by poll watchers, guns or no.

After Trump won, my mom texted me her fears about discrimination. She’s experienced plenty and is concerned it may get worse. She asked if I’d seen on the news that these white kids at an elementary school in California (I think) were chanting Build the Wall, and the Mexican kids were crying. She was angry about this. She said she’d like for those white kids to get their DNA tested to see how mixed we all are. (She and I have both done this and were floored by the results. I have more sub-Saharan African blood than I knew; she has more Native American blood than she knew.) 

Those poor kids are scared. It’s nauseating and terrifying being picked on for being who you are…something you have nothing to do with.

I was scared once.

I’ve written on this blog about my experience with racism, particularly when I was growing up in rural Ohio and attending a primarily white school. It was not as bad as it could have been, but there was enough nastiness to shape my views of rural life and my interest in getting as far from that life as I could. 

I was a fat couch potato during this time. I would ride the bus home, find something to eat (typically a box of mac and cheese) and flop on the couch to watch television. I turned often to the Geraldo Rivera show, and he often had on neo-Nazis on. They frightened me. Truly. Everyone would be screaming and yelling, racial slurs and spittle everywhere. It deeply bothered me. The idea that these white guys hated me so much. Eventually I would turn it off, roll over on the couch and bury my face in the cushion, pushing out all the hate I had just heard. Trading fear for sleep.

When you’re a young person, racial hatred is inexplicable and frightening (not to say it’s not frightening as an older person, but as one ages, one sees these actions and words differently).  My fear of it shaped much of my life as a teenager–the downcast eyes, the hunched shoulders, the desire to blend in with the walls.

My experience studying at a large college and working as a journalist in diverse communities (along with encouragement from my mom) helped me shed those feelings of inferiority and helped to reshape me into who I am today–proud of my brown skin, my mixed heritage, my thick lips and broad nose. 

So much improves with age, including developing the intellectual understanding of what racism means, how people use it, and why they use it. It’s not as scary. It’s not the boogeyman in the closet in the way it feels like when you’re brown kid. 

Looking back on the Geraldo Rivera episodes, I see them for the absurd clown shows they always were. They are laughable. 

I hope those kids suffering through the stupid comments by their classmates–comments their classmates likely don’t comprehend themselves–have the support they need to overcome the stupidity with their self-confidence in tact.

As for me, I am deliberate and afraid of nothing. 

I am deliberate and afraid of nothing.

Middle fingers up.