Friday, June 27, 2014

Of Health Habits and Food and Fitness in Mid-Life

I am blogging about systems updates in different areas of my life.    Summer seems like a good time to do that, especially since that's one of the major things on my mind and in my daily life right now.   The first topic was Housekeeping Routines.

Second Topic:    Weight Loss and Maintenance

So, in spite of sporadic attempts to lose a few pounds from time to time, I have managed to gain almost 35 pounds in just about 4 years.    That's an average of close to ten pounds per year, though the graph wouldn't be nearly that smooth (see starting clause about sporadic attempts to go the other way).   I guess I should be glad it isn't more than that.  But exceeding my former all-time maximum non-pregnancy weight by 5 pounds this May was a wake-up call, and kind of scary.    I decided that I really needed to put the whole food & fitness  issue on the front burner for a while and pick up some lastingly better habits that will hopefully last to menopause and beyond.

It helps that my husband, too, wants to lose a few pounds and increase his fitness level.   So we have made a daily habit of walking to the post office -- it's only 2.5 miles for the round trip, but since we live in the mountains,  it's more like a cross-country hike than a stroll, with plenty of up and down hills and granite upcrops on the trail that will trip you if you don't pick up your feet (I didn't and they did, the other day, so that's how I know).

Since it's summer and I have a little more time (we school year round now, but the summer is lighter and more review/consolidation oriented) I usually try to add in some other kind of exercise several days a week besides or instead of the post office walk.   X Box Kinect has been a pretty good supplement.   There are a few fitness programs you can use -- my husband uses Nike + Kinect Fitness.   I have tried it but the regular program is kind of hard for me (here you may visualize T Rex push-up fail).    I like Fitness Evolved 2012.    There aren't compulsory push-ups in that.   We have a stationary bike that I use sometimes when reading or watching something, though it kind of hurts my knees if I use it for more than a few minutes.  

My friend Chari has managed to lose and keep off a significant amount of weight during the past couple of years mostly just by being somewhat careful with portions and (the key, I think) exercising vigorously -- walking 4 miles most days and taking a fitness class here and there when she gets the chance.    That's my primary goal, to become stronger and more fit, so the take-away point for me was that I have to put exercise high enough on my priority list so that I get to it almost every day.     Having my husband on board helps a lot with that.

I think I mentioned it, the last time I talked about weight back in January:  my favorite place for weight loss inspiration and sensible strategies is bearing blog.   She is Catholic and takes a cognitive behavioral or engineering approach.     Though the details are different, the general approach is the one that works best for me, and so I've been reading through her archives for about the third time since I found them a few years ago.  

Back then, in January, I said I was going to try Whole30 plus No-S, but that was too loose a strategy for me.  It might work for a maintenance tune-up, but not for real progress on the scale.   I resent it, but to make real changes in ANY area, I have to (1) research (2) plan my own customized strategy with specific strategies and contingency plans and mini-goals  (3) keep a journal and record book.    In other words, I have to focus.... put the whole thing on the front burner, go through a whole small-scale conversion process, basically obsess a little.    And journaling, record-keeping, researching and planning are my tried and true ways of putting things on the front burner.  

After all the hours of all that, I ended up with... basically something like I started with.  In other words, I am eating modified low-carb,  maximizing vegetables and minimizing other things, putting my mealtime servings on a small plate, avoiding junk foods, except on special occasions, and staying away from trigger food and behaviors.    So pretty much exactly as I described in January, except that I had to do all the other stuff to internalize it and make it mine and actually carry it out.  Sigh.   This is the same thing that happens to me with homeschooling and organizing and housecleaning and my devotional life and almost everything.      I am not sure if this is a temperamental thing, where melancholic-phlegmatics who are short on energy and internal motivation have to summon it up by doing all these incubation rituals, OR if it's just basic slacking.     But either way, right now it is the only way I can carry out a long term purpose.

On the bright side, once I pull together that kind of energy and focus, I can generally do what I set out to do.   I have lost about 9 pounds so far, which at least brings me down to my ordinary heavy-side weight.    And I feel way more fit (though that's partly just summer -- easier to be active and resolute when it's not snowing and dark all the time).

So that's the systems update for health and fitness.  

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