Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Day 5: Pound per day loss!

I am enjoying my day off, getting errands done, and now sitting at my computer with my afternoon cup of coffee.  I started a new work schedule: Friday - Monday, which seems to work out well.  This allows time for me to get things done during the week when businesses are open, such as getting a 2nd estimate on my car.  Yes, my "new" Mazda suffered its first set of bumps, scrapes, and dents.  That first one really hurt, let me tell you.  It will be good to get that vehicle back in "like new" shape!  Of course, I resonate with the comparison of our health to how we treat our favorite vehicles.  It is time for me to get back on track with treating both with utmost care.  Our bodies require the best fuel to keep it running optimally, routine maintenance inspections, alignments and adjustments from time to time, and a good and frequent polish and buff! 

DAY 5:  Today marks my fifth day of being on the HMR Healthy Decisions (Phase I) plan.  What I luv most about this program over the Decision Free program that I was on previously, is that this plan allows for adding fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables.  This just feels better!  Decision Free is a great program for someone who needs to lose a lot of weight in a fairly short (but not unreasonable) amount of time, without surgery, in a safe, medically monitored way.  It served its purpose well when I was on it, but I am ready to move on.  I love my vegetables, salads especially, and fresh fruits.  I enjoy adding mixed frozen berries to my protein shakes, which makes for a really tasty smoothie! 
ANOTHER BENEFIT:  I do not need to attend weekly medical appointments as was required on the HMR Decision Free program.  That is convenient.  Support meetings are held once per week by phone, and program materials are shipped to me directly.  I think this will fit in really well with my current lifestyle!   

RESULTS:  Weigh in day is Wednesday.  I lost 5.2 lbs in the first 4 days.  Granted, this is probably mostly water weight and the loss will slow down significanlty.  However, the benefit of a healthy weight loss like this early on is the motivation factor.  I am very happy!  When I first began my HMR program in October of 2012, I had already been maintaining a 30 lb weight loss.  At that time, my scale read 213.9.  On 5/23/13, my weight was down to 153.4 (60+ lb loss on HMR). Since I moved up to the northern part of the state and went off the program, I gained nearly 30 lbs back; Yes, I thoroughly enjoyed the behaviors that led to every added pound.  But I am not enjoying how it looks on me or how my clothes fit, and know that it would be way too easy to gain it all back if I don't grab the reigns now.  On Saturday, I weighed in at 183.8.  Today's scale reads 178.6.  On my way back down and it feels good!              

So that's the update!  Will continue to try and post at least a couple times per month, if not more.  Thanks everyone for the support!  Have a fantastic, healthy, happy day!!

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Friday, October 18, 2013

Making Waves,...

The coast of Monterey is so inspiring,...

I never tire of California's magnificent scenery.  Every opportunity I have to put my feet in the ocean makes me feel like a little child - playful, happy, and carefree!  There is something so very spiritual about being such a tiny droplet of life in this vast stage, where land and sea tango amongst the seagulls and whales.

Speaking of whales, I saw my first this past September.  Oh, I take that back.  I probably did see whales at Sea World in San Diego in the past.  But this was my first experience spotting whales in their natural habitat.  I was dining with a special friend at an ocean side restaurant when I noticed a cloud of seagulls circling in the distance.  Shortly thereafter, I spotted a large water spout followed by a huge tail fluke.  It was so amazing!  I think my friend thought I was a little nuts, as the more I watched these magnificent creatures, the more overwhelmed with emotion I became.  (I cannot imaging working as a crew member for Captain Paul Watson.  I'd be a wreck!)  It was such an incredible sight and a moment I won't forget,...  Life is grand!     

Back to blogging:  I'm looking at the date of my last post and find it hard to believe that was back in May!  So much has happened since then.  I spoke with my father on the phone a short while back, and God bless my biggest supporter; he asked why I haven't posted for so long.  So it is he that inspired me to write tonight.  I haven't posted because I took a break from my HMR diet in July, have gone through an increase in stress due to some life transitions, and just didn't have the energy or motivation to blog.  I moved to the northern part of the state in order to accept a job transfer to a large, new state facility.  It was an opportunity that I could not pass up. The job decision, hunt for a home, and move came rather sudden.  The area I moved to did not have an HMR clinic nearby.  As well, I decided to "relax" a bit with the diet.  A few close friends/colleagues also made the move, so it was time to celebrate our journeys.  My intent was to allow myself some freedom for the month of July, but that quickly turned into August, September, and now we're into October.  So while I have thoroughly enjoyed indulging in food and beverages, seemingly without much care or concern, another part of me has been keenly aware that I have not been taking care of my body as well as I should.  It's like putting low-grade fuel in a 2013 Mazda Special Edition - you just shouldn't do it!  Now my clothes are getting tighter and not at all in a flattering way.  I am more aware of my joints, my heart rate, and some bulges where bulges should not be.  I feel down more often when I don't get in an exercise routine.  It's time to make some waves in my life and get back on track. 
Speaking of health,... October, coincidentally, is National Liver Awareness month.  The American Liver Foundation posted a timely newsletter on the importance of this organ's role, and the threat imposed by obesity.  Click here to read NLF's short 4-question quiz on liver health & disease.

I had been planning to get back on a healthy diet routine for a while.  I only started putting action behind that plan a few weeks back when I made some calls to HMR.  I received my shipment of program materials and food last week.  I will be starting the at home "Healthy Solutions" plan, which is a little more lenient than the "Decision Free" medically monitored plan I was on previously.  The main difference in the diet itself is that it incorporates fruits and vegetables along with their foods.  I am hoping it will be more conducive to my current lifestyle.  I'm actually looking forward to it.  So in agreement with my dad that I "shouldn't wait so long" before getting back on track, I am starting my program on Saturday.  I have come here to blog in order to be accountable to that goal.  
That's all for now.  Every new day of life is like an ocean wave ~ ~ ~ Nothing stays the same, but it's worth the ride!  

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Click HERE for Hep C resources.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Dylan is my Rock!

Before I get into the heart of today's post, here is a brief update on my weight loss journey: Last night's weigh in was a success.  I am down another 2.6 lbs after returning from a week-long trip home to Wisconsin.  At 153.4 lbs, I have about 15 lbs left to lose until I reach my goal weight range.  I have lost a total of 60.5 lbs on HMR since starting this program last October.  This equates to a total weight loss of 91.8 lbs over the past 2.5 years.  It is good to be seeing tangible progress in a healthier direction.  
During my week in Wisconsin, I spent a day in Waupaca with a brother.  After our hike, we took our shoes and socks off and walked in the sandy lake that we frequently visited growing up.  I used to love collecting stones, rocks and shells.  I still do.  The vast colors and shapes remind me of how all of our lives have rich unique color and stories - some smooth, some jagged - yet despite the diversity, we share a commonality.  Sometimes I will carry a small rock with me, in my pocket or purse.  That may seem like a silly thing to do, but it serves multiple purposes.  A pebble endures harsh conditions, yet years of wear and tear contribute to its beauty.  A pebble reminds me to be strong; that, despite adversity, we must continue to not only carry on, but to shine in our own truth.  It is a reminder to stay grounded in life to what is important; family & honest friendships,...  It reminds me to stay in the here and now, savoring the gift that is today.  It reminds me that sometimes you have to let the inner child out to run on the beach or to put your toes in the sand.  A pebble from this lake also triggers pleasant memories that I will cherish a lifetime.

I am torn writing this blog today, about dieting and a number on a scale - something that seems so trivial as I reflect upon the past week.  My trip home was both stressful and relaxing; there were happy moments and incredibly sad ones as well.  I spent time with relatives who are losing their 21-year old son/brother/grandson ("Dylan") to bone cancer.  His mother, a single parent, is battling breast cancer.  A teenage daughter/sister is left to wonder "What is next?" and "Am I going to be alone in this world?"  Several other relatives are facing chronic/terminal illnesses.  I am so grateful to have the time and opportunity to travel back to spend precious time with loved ones.  Yet my heart breaks for the painful struggles they are going through.  Life is not easy.  It is especially tough to witness a young man facing death when it seems his life should just be beginning.  Situations like this tend to bring about more questions in life than answers.  There are no good reasons.  Life just happens.  And it really stinks when life is cut way too short.

So I go on with my life while at the same time being very keenly aware of others who are hurting so deeply.  I can relate to the pain of grief - of losing my mother to breast cancer at 15, and almost losing a brother to cancer a few short years afterwards, of losing grandparents and other relatives, and of losing my only child to estrangement,...  I can relate to the desperation of wishing I could ease someone's burden -
  • a brother who feels helpless as his wife battles brain cancer; 
  • his wife who tries to hold back tears as she attempts to articulate her thoughts and feelings while fighting an uncooperative brain; 
  • another brother who embraces his ability to care for his disabled wife day in and day out; 
  • that brother's wife who, in return, cares for his special needs; 
  • another who chooses a selfless life taking on the demands of being an active grandparent and family man; 
  • a stepmother who battles chronic pain; 
  • a father who, despite his own aches & pains, puts up a strong front for his wife, loving her endlessly; 
  • a friend who keeps on keeping on as she advocates for her husband's care while he battles the effects of chemo; 
  • that friend's husband who, despite his illness, finds special ways to let his spouse know she is loved and focuses on her happiness; 
  • an aunt & uncle who somehow divide their attention between their own serious medical issues, the grandson and sister who are both dying, and the daughter who has cancer; 
  • my friends who, despite losing their own loved ones to tragic violence and illness, continue to be a presence and sit selflessly with my stories,...

The list could go on.

My blog today is dedicated to Dylan.  At 21 years old, he is aware that this month could be his last.  He is aware that those around him have opportunity that he will never see during this lifetime.  He is aware that life is painfully unfair.  Yet he does not dwell on fate's iniquity.  Dylan is a brave young man.  He endures.  He knows the preciousness of relationships.  He knows that actions speak louder than words.  He values family, especially his mother who is the only one who can wet his wash cloth the right way, and his sister, who continues to find reason to lift others' hearts and smile.  Dylan lives on in his own truth.  He makes the most of today.  He is sincere.  Dylan shines, and today he is my rock.        




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Saturday, April 20, 2013

April Challenge / Self-Care!

 April is my month to refocus on the concept of self-care. Last week Saturday, I decided to take a day off of caring for others or working from home and drove myself to Yosemite National Park.  I have been to the Sequoias several times but kept hearing how fantastic the water falls in Yosemite were this time of year.
I had never been to this part of the country before, and it is practically in my back yard.  The drive to the gate was 2 hours, and then another hour drive to the valley floor and trails I had decided to hike.  "Awe" is the first word that comes to mind.  It truly was a religious experience.  When I began my 10+ mile hike, I couldn't help but smile.  This is simply a breathtaking park of the country.

My friends at HMR offered some useful suggestions with regards to hiking while maintaining an HMR diet.  I brought plenty of water, of course.  I purchased a small thermos (remember those?) and mixed the turkey chili entree with the 5-bean entree.  It remained hot for several hours.  I also packed a few HMR bars.  When I hungry, I sat out on a rock and nibbled on one of my bars, with the river churning and babbling by.  "What diet?" I thought, as I sat in a state of contentedness, surrounded by nature's animated yet serene beauty.  "Spectacular!"

Occasionally on my hike I would pass another hiker, or several in a group.  Some had headsets on.  "Your missing this!" I thought, but then just a quickly let the thought go.  That was none of my concern.  Soaking it all in was!

So I had one day to "recover" and then back to work.  I felt renewed!  I mentally was more prepared for the week ahead.   

It is surprising that the idea of self-care is still controversial to many.  In the mental health field, it is astonishing how many people appear to ignore this concept.  Or more likely, we preach the concept, but frequently fail to apply it to our own lives.  I am guilty for often burning the candle on both ends, but am making a concerted effort to schedule in "me" time frequently.  In fact, succumbing to the idea of putting oneself first has helped me to lose and maintain the weight loss that I have had.  I take time out of every day to exercise in one way or another, even if it means rejecting a ride and getting in some extra steps at work.  That IS making a decision to make my health a priority.  
Self-care is not a selfish thing.  The concept is similar to the flight attendant safety instructions we are given upon waiting takeoff, indicating we need to "secure our own masks first" before helping others; we need to take care of ourselves before taking care of others.  If we run out of oxygen (actual or metaphorical), we are no good to anyone else around us.  In fact, we become dead weight.  We need to keep our bodies, minds, and spirits healthy.  Then, when we do reach out to others, we can put our very best selves forward!

 Self-care involves many aspects of one's life.  It includes saying "no" when we need to.  It means setting boundaries and protecting your self and time.  It doesn't mean becoming an island onto yourself and not reaching out to help others.  But when we do so, it should be out of a place of love, caring, and respect, and not simply out of a place of self-sacrificing obligation or guilt.   
Self-care includes giving yourself a voice, being assertive, and allowing your voice to be heard.  Be aware of where you are and who you are with when you feel free to be yourself.  Are there times and situations where it is not okay to be your genuine self?  Do you need to set boundaries for yourself to limit the times that you find yourself in those situations?  Being genuine for me means having free open and honest exchange of ideas with those around me.  It does not mean that I bully others or that I allow myself to be bullied by others. 

Self-care means taking care of the environment we live in.  In particular, I look around my home and realize that there are particular spaces that feel cluttered.  My goal this month is to permanently declutter one area of my home, and make it a more inviting space. 
As for weight-loss goals, my April challenge was to get into the 150's.  I am happy to report that I am almost there!  My last HMR weigh-in indicated that I have 0.3 pounds left to go!  So close!  I am optimistic that I could make it next week.

HMR's concept of "more is better" is still challenging for me.  Basically, if you are hungry, you are supposed to eat more HMR foods.  The idea is that if you feel hungry or deprived, you are not going to sustain the diet for very long.  Certainly that has been my experience with diets in the past.  So the HMR foods are designed to fill you up with high volume shakes, oatmeal, and entrees.  If the foods are high in volume but low in calorie, you can eat quite a bit before you actually gain weight.

My mood continues to fluctuate.  For example, when I hit several days last week in which I felt "hungry", I doubled and even tripled my food intake.  That was followed by self-deprecating thoughts of "you blew it" and "you failed".  I anticipated a gain on the scale this week.  It has been harder and harder to lose weight the closer I get to goal weight, so that has also been part of the battle.  Surprisingly, I found that I lost 2 pounds this past week!  That was worth a happy dance!  At this point, if I continue to lose 4-5 pounds per month, I will be right on target.  Overall, I am hoping to get down to 138-140.  However, I will reevaluate that goal with my health team when I hit 150.  I may just be satisfied at a little higher weight.

I will continue to trust the program and not get too concerned about the scale.  Again, it is an overall 4-week total weight-loss that I will use to gauge if the program is still working.  In reviewing my current weight-loss statistics, I continue to meet the 4-5 lb loss monthly, so I will continue with Phase I of this program (probably through August).                

Weight (pounds):
Amount Lost on HMR:
Total Amount Lost on HMR Program:
Monday, 10/08/12
Thursday, 10/11/12
Thursday, 10/18/12
Thursday, 10/25/12
Thursday, 11/01/12
Thursday, 11/08/12
Thursday, 11/15/12
Thursday, 11/22/12
Thursday, 11/29/12
Thursday, 12/06/12
Thursday, 12/13/12
Thursday, 12/20/12
Thursday, 12/27/12
Thursday, 01/03/13
Thursday, 01/10/13
Thursday, 01/17/13
Thursday, 01/24/13
Thursday, 01/31/13
Tuesday, 02/05/13
+ 0.6
Monday, 02/11/13
Thursday, 02/21/13
Thursday, 02/28/13
Thursday, 03/07/13
Thursday, 03/14/13
Thursday, 03/21/13
(No weigh-in; out of town.)
Thursday, 03/28/13
2.6  (2 weeks)
Thursday, 04/04/13
Thursday, 04/11/13
Thursday, 04/18/13

And check this out!  Total weight-loss: 85 pounds!  That's a whole other mini-person! 
Weight (pounds):
Total Amount Lost:
Wednesday, 10/06/2010
Thursday, 03/14/2013
85 lbs

When the term "self-care" comes to mind, what is one area that jumps out at you as an area that you would like to work on, or continue working on?  What are you going to do during the remaining days in April to take better care of you?

To my friends and family in the Midwest, warm thoughts are sent your way!  You sure have had your share of drastic weather this year!  Healing thoughts sent out to the victims and their families in Massachusetts.  As well, healing & loving thoughts sent out to the numerous friends and family who are dealing with life-threatening illnesses and difficult situations. 

On your life journeys, be sure to take good care of you!  You are the only you there is!  

Click HERE for Weight/Nutrition/Health resources.
Click HERE for Hep C resources.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick's Day! 
How are you celebrating the day?  I enjoyed seeing & reading how my Facebook friends are commemorating the Irish holiday.  Several people posted pictures of themselves and/or their children decked out in green.  Some even donned elaborate costumes.  Many appear to be enjoying each others company via the local Irish pub, downing the green suds!  Friends in Chicago reported that the river is dyed a "different" deeper shade of green.  Those reporting from the San Antonio River Walk also experienced the dying of the river.  I am thinking of my maternal grandmother today.  She celebrated her birthday on St. Patty's Day.  She also had Irish blood, so I recall fond memories of green celebrations, shamrock cakes, & Irish music to honor her this time of year.  I also have fond memories of "What Bernie Did to Win an Irish Jersey" at McGuinness Irish Pub in Appleton.  Only a few of you may have been privy to that moment, but I am sure it will bring about a smile! Whatever you are doing today, I hope it's memorable!  

Although I cannot partake in the green beer ritual this year, I decided to make my own "Irish HMR shake".  I attempted to make a shamrock with fat-free pistachio pudding powder yesterday.  It didn't turn out as well as expected, so I switched it up today.  This time, I turned the pistachio pudding into a paste (HMR diet-friendly) and painted a shamrock onto wax paper.  The shamrock set in the freezer while I went for a walk/run.  Then I made a blended HMR shake, let it set for about 12 minutes in the freezer, and VoilĂ !   Sham Shake!  
I have been missing my California oranges as I drive by the numerous fruit stands on my daily commute to work.  That inspired my new favorite shake recipe of the week: Lemon orange cheesecake.  (Ingredients: HMR shake mix, lemon fat-free pudding mix, fat-free cheesecake pudding mix, & orange extract, water & 8+ ice-cubes blended.)  Very refreshing!  (Wouldn't it look nice with a slice of orange on the glass?)  Did you happen to notice the tulips blooming in the background? 

I still am amazed that they bloom in March!  I guess I am still mentally accustom to the Midwest growing season.  

I am happy to report that I met my St. Patty's Day goal of getting into the 160's!  Two weeks ago I had a minor setback on the scale.  It reflected a gain of 0.6 pounds.  My HMR educator reminded me that we can still be losing weight but not see it on the scale, due to normal fluctuations in the water that our body retains. That's why it is SO important for weight loss progress to be focused on a 4-week total, rather than week to week.  Last Thursday's weigh-in resulted in a 4.4 pound loss on the scale, for a total weight of 166!  That more than made up for the slight gain.  I have lost a grand total of 79.2 pounds, of which the last 47.9 was lost on the HMR Program.  I am one pound shy of moving from the "obese" category to the "overweight" category.  That is a huge milestone for me in my quest to get healthier! 
A friend challenged me to consider running a 5K.  Although I have had knee and foot issues in the past, I have been feeling pretty good the last year or so.  I decided to give it a try and start training.  I have walked a 5K in the past, but the thought of running is daunting.  But I cannot ignore that challenge!  Today I managed to get in a 4.73 miles walk with several minute bouts of running.  It is so nice to walk outdoors when the weather is nice, and to take in all the blooms.  I started using the C25K app (Couch to 5K) that a friend recommended.  I also track my distance and speed using the Map My Ride iPhone app.  The C25K allows you to listen to your own music, while a vocal coach tells you when to run or walk.  It is designed to help get you ready for a 5K in one month.   Both apps work pretty good and both have a free version to download.

I wanted to say a special word to my friends and family who are suffering health problems right now.  Unfortunately, there are too many of you, but my heart goes out to you in your struggles.  Several people are going through surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation.  It seems so many lives are touched by cancer in one way or another.  Know that you are not alone and that you teach us how to be brave.  You teach the rest of us what it means to be strong and fight!  You teach us that whining over the little things in life is not worth it.  That we need to look at the bigger picture from time to time, and always put our best foot forward.  And as a colleague/friend put it, "It makes one take toll of the fact that each day could be your last, and, therefore it is really important to say I love you, do a kind deed, and spend time with the people in your life who really matter" (C.M.).  Sometimes we cannot always manage to be there in person, with those who matter, but there are numerous other ways to stay connected.   

Be the best you that you can be today!  Be a little "selfish" with your time on occasion, taking  time out to rejuvenate & play!  Take care of you so that you can also reach out and do good for others!

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