The Goddess Weighs In

Living Large and Healthy

Random Thoughts As I Embark On An Adventure

When my father died I got a little money and thought that maybe a retreat or “fat farm” might be good for me, but when I started pricing them out the cost was unbelievable.  One such place was going to cost in the range of $40K US for approximately 12 weeks, not including airfare, incidentals and the like.  Given that one has access to personal trainers, life coaches, massage therapists and calorie controlled meals I suppose one could make the case that for what you get it’s a fair price, but it’s also a prohibitive price for most of us.  I put the idea of a weight loss vacation out of my mind for a few years and then spurred on by the experience of a fellow blogger, I started thinking that maybe I could have a similar experience if I created my own personal “fat camp”.  I considered the services that I would need like a massage therapist, a life coach, a personal trainer, a pool, a gym and I started to design a two week program that would mimic the programs I had read about. The problem with my plan was that I was going to be spending a lot of time running around to the gym, and back and forth to appointments, plus the more I thought about it I realized two things.  One, being at home meant that I would be tempted to maintain the status quo and two, that two weeks didn’t seem long enough to make sustainable changes.

When I was in Florida this May I was in the pool or the ocean daily, often several times a day, and I paid attention to my portion sizes.  I wasn’t dieting and I certainly wasn’t going without, but I wanted to avoid that overfull feeling that makes me sluggish and uncomfortable. At the end of the two weeks I felt good, my clothes felt a little looser and I realized that Florida was the best place for my personal boot camp.  I had access to the pool, several walking destinations with a trolley service that could bring me home if I got too tired, a few pieces of exercise equipment in the clubhouse and a clean slate in the kitchen since I don’t keep any food in the place when I’m not there.  I decided that a month in Florida would be great, two would be better and that I would design a calendar of activities including swimming, walking and exercise DVD’s, and maybe even finding a local yoga studio to keep me motivated and help me meet some like minded people in the area.  Then I had to figure out to make it happen.  I looked at my finances and figured that it would take me a year to save up two months salary in order to take a leave from work.  I was disappointed that it would take that long and worried that I would lose the momentum that had started in May and then in a flash of genius I remembered that I was in the process of renegotiating my mortgage and that without too much effort I could borrow a little money effectively from myself.  I am naturally risk adverse and my top priority is paying down my mortgage so that I can eventually be completely debt free, but I am investing in a long and healthy future and that is by far the most important investment I can ever make.

The next step was making a solid plan for the two months with small goals and larger goals and a daily check list of activities that increase in intensity or frequency with each week.  My therapist helped me with this and helped me keep my goals challenging, but also manageable.  Each day starts with swimming, followed by walking and then when the sun is highest I will retreat to do some writing.  Then more swimming, some yoga and early to bed. There is time for fun in the schedule, it’s not that rigid, but I do have tasks to accomplish each day.  I’ve also decided that I will actually only stay in Florida for six weeks and that that last two weeks of my leave will be back at home working to increase the activity in my 9-5 life.  This is perhaps the biggest adventure of my adult life, at least so far, and it starts on Tuesday.

– I am cleaning like a madwoman.  It’s always nice to come home to a clean house after a vacation, but I really don’t want to be distracted or stressed by clutter upon my return.  I’ve been working on decluttering for a while, but this last month I’ve really been putting on the push.  My guest room is now empty, save some boxes in the cupboard that I need to go through, I’ve completely rearranged my bedroom and got rid of some shelving that was just taking up room, and in the past month of so I have thrown out nearly 50 bags of garbage, plus recycling and sizable donations to the Goodwill.  I can think of a lot of things I’d rather do than clean my house, but I’m really enjoying and benefiting from the changes.

– I met with my blood pressure specialist a couple of weeks ago and after months of testing and poking and prodding it turns out that the biggest culprit in my high blood pressure is my weight.  It’s not like I didn’t know losing some weight would help, but knowing that it is the main culprit definitely ups the ante and underlines the need for something

– After all my planning the one thing that hadn’t occurred to me was that I might get lonely.  I will be checking out a social site meetup.com.  It sounds like a dating site to me, but I have been assured it’s a place to find like minded people who want to go out and do various activities like hiking, walking, eating out and the like.

– I’m also going to be checking out a site called myfitnesspal.com.  It was recommended by a friend and I thought I would see what it has to offer.  Hopefully it is more than just an elaborate calorie counter.

– I’m excited and a little nervous.  Just the way one should be when she starts an adventure!

– the Goddess

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Hitting The Road All Healthy-Like, Part One: Food

In a few weeks I will be careening down Interstate 75, ahem at the speed limit Officer, on my way to the Sunshine state.  While there I will be in the water every day, resting, sleeping, meditating, eating healthy and creating my own little spa experience.  The problem is that in order to do this I must endure a minimum of two days on the road.

There is a certain allure to a road trip, wide open spaces, watching towns and cities go by and counting down the mile markers as you hurtle towards the next state line.  Driving, however means being sedentary for long stretches which could cause blood clots, aggravate sciatica, and shorten muscles.  It also means the temptation of quick, easy, and often tasty convenience food sold by clowns, kings, bears and little girls with pig tails.

It’s hard to eat a salad one handed and it’s hard to keep saying no when fried food, sweet creamy milk shakes and hot apple pies beckon you, and after all it’s a vacation right, so you deserve a treat.  Stopping at a higher end restaurant may be a better choice, but they still offer fast food fare and they can be hard on the budget and on the clock.  Losing an hour to stop for a burger just makes no sense when you can swing through a drive through or order snacks while making a pit stop.

I’ve decided however that this trip will be different. My new life view is Fit, Fun & Frugal and my vacation needs to fit this schema. This time I’m going to really work on eating healthy during my entire vacation.  That doesn’t mean there won’t be a few treats, for instance whenever I go to Florida I must visit The Hurricane restaurant in St. Pete Beach and get a grouper sandwich.  This is their specialty and in fact they have one employee who’s only job is to come in and slice the grouper fillets.  There is also an Italian market that sells a lot of delicious food including buffalo mozzarella and I’m sure we’ll go there at least once, and then there is Tijuana Flats known for their hot sauce bar which allows patrons to sample their spicy concoctions including the ever popular  “Slap My Ass” line of sauces.  But even at my favourite places to eat I can make healthier choices and I love that in the U.S. I can eschew pop and get cold, unsweetened, brewed tea.

Eating on the road however is still a problem.  I’ve come up with a few ideas as to how I can make road trip eating healthier, and as always I welcome your suggestions.  I checked the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website and other than meat products and citrus fruits it appears that I can cross with a wider variety of foodstuffs in my cooler bag than I realized.

Things I will be packing include:

Cold, sweetened coffee and tetra packed almond milk. The milk doesn’t need to be refrigerated until opened and for a couple dollars for the tetra pack we can drink almond milk all day and then toss what’s left if we feel it won’t last a second day.  Ice is available at any convenience store so we can just pick it up on the road as needed.

A ziploc of veggies. Celery sticks, carrot sticks, baby tomatoes and sugar snap peas can be packed with some ice cubes to keep them fresh and cool

Bread, a small container of mustard, and a ziploc of shredded lettuce.  We can stop at a grocery store across the border and pick up some roast chicken or turkey to make sandwiches.  If we go to the deli counter we can buy only enough to make a fresh sandwich and then we can stop again should we want more later.  While at the grocery store I can also peruse the Ready Made section for items like pre-cut fruit and veggies and even prepared salads.  Still difficult to eat in motion, but assuming the weather is decent this time of year we could find a picnic table at a rest stop and take a few minutes for healthier eating.

Frozen bottles of water.  I’ve heard that freezing bottled water isn’t good for you, but it will be a good way to keep the cooler cold and I don’t think I will cause any serious harm with one or two bottles.

Almonds or mixed nuts, unroasted, and unsalted. Better than chips or other savoury snacks, if I can remember to only eat a few and not a bag full of them, plus no refrigeration required.  I may also make some Endurance crackers which will satisfy the urge to munch.

 Things I won’t be packing include:

Chips and other high salt, high fat snacks

Diet pop.  If I really need a caffeine hit I can swing through a drive through, but the iced coffee and bottled water should keep me going.

Cookies.  No I can’t just eat one so I’m going to have to leave them at home.

Candy and other sweet treats.  I’m thinking there might have to be a small bag of gummy worms in case of emergency, but I’m really not a sweets person, I just snack on them on the road because they are there.  No sweets, no eats.

 

We’ll see how it goes, but I’m hoping with a little planning I can save us some money and a lot of calories.

– the Goddess

 

 

 

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Sick As A Dog In Paradise

That phrase conjures images of one’s head in a bag, a bin or a bowl so I guess it’s not exactly apt, but I don’t recall ever being this sick or feeling this bad.  My friends Amy and Leah headed back home from Florida last Sunday and I planned a few days to myself to write and swim before starting my two and a half day drive back home.  But Monday I had aches and chills and a pretty serious fever – forehead white hot, the A/C turned up to 77 degrees Fahrenheit, a double thick bedspread up to my chin and yet freezing cold and my teeth chattering.  The fever broke some time in the night and I felt a bit better until the fever started up again midday.  It broke in the evening and I hoped that was the end of it.  Wednesday I was worn out and in no condition to start driving and developed a cough so bad that I was peeing my pants or nearly vomiting so I laid about.  I did pull out my travel insurance, but didn’t feel like going through the hassle of calling and asking what to do and where to go, plus I was pretty sure that I once the fever was gone I was on the mend.  Then the breathing difficulties started in earnest.  Even the slightest exertion caused me to wheeze and struggle for breath.  By Thursday I realized that I felt better in humid air and could breath easier which explained why I felt better in the mornings after a night with my CPAP and its humidifier.  I figured if this was a bout of the flu that the worst was over, the breathing could be managed and Friday I set off for home.  As I was moving at a snail’s pace I didn’t leave until nearly 4pm, but I decided that I could at least get myself to Georgia the first night and hopefully Ohio on the second night.  I made those milestones, but  by Saturday night I was getting really worried because my breathing was getting worse and not better like I hoped.

I asked my mom to check with the clinic to see if it would be open on a Sunday when I got in and she told me to go straight to her place before going home.  I got in at 3pm and like a cross between a buddies film and a good caper from the 1970’s I parked in my mom’s underground just as she started up her car. I grabbed my wallet and health card and jumped in.  She took off and after a quick discussion because she wanted me to go straight to the ER, we went to the clinic which was open until 4pm.

It wasn’t pneumonia as I suspected,  but a really severe lung infection for which I got heavy duty antibiotics, a week off work and directions to get myself straight to Emergency should my breathing become worse or my fingers take on a blue hue.  So now I’ve been home for a day, my lovely boyfriend brought me some groceries and then bolted since he can’t afford to get sick and I’m bored and a little lonely.  A friend suggested that I take this time to do my 48 hour bed in challenge, but I think that that’s a bit of a cheat since it’s not really a choice, I’m just too weak and too winded to go very far.

I’m bummed that I missed so much pool time in Florida, and I’m bummed that I’m sitting here wheezing and can’t really be around people for fear of getting them sick, but I am once again surprised by the strength that we humans possess.  The slightest exertion and I’m gasping for air, I get up and cross the room and I have to sit down and rest before going on, but sheer determination and possibly some dumb luck allowed me to drive home from Florida.  Now to be honest, much of the drive was me sitting quietly with cruise control and listening to Harry Potter audio books, so it’s hardly in the class of those women who lift cars off their kids, but still I’m sitting here today wondering how I ever did it.  I also wonder how people who have chronic illness or long bouts of illness do this.  I am gasping and fighting for breath and I am exhausted, but there are people with various lung conditions who struggle to take a deep breath and manage to do more than surf the couch which is about all I have managed.  My brother was sick for over a year and is still recovering and while I know he read a lot of books and watched movies and had visitors and his wife was by his side throughout, I’m really not sure how he survived the frustration of not being able to do simple tasks and come and go as he pleases other than acknowledging his tremendous strength and perseverance.

Now I am going to muster up some of mine and heat up some soup.

– the Goddess

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On The Road Again

This morning I left for Florida.

While it is bittersweet because I inherited my condo when my father died three years ago I recognize how lucky I am to have a second home somewhere warm and sunny.

When I am in Florida I am in the pool daily, I eat light, I have the time to do exercise videos and I sleep.  A LOT.  I am refreshed, re-energized and I really don’t want to go back to the daily grind.

The problem is the travel.

If I could be teleported a la Star Trek all would be well, but instead it’s either a 2 hour flight or a 22 hour drive.

If I fly it means that I need to rent a car while in Florida and I hate going through security and all of the usual things that people dislike about flying like being shuttled around like cattle and travelling on someone else’s schedule, but the real issue is my size.  The last time I flew was in 1999 and I was lighter than I am now and it was really, really uncomfortable for me and for the people sitting beside me.  I could splurge on a first class ticket though this still may not guarantee that I won’t be hassled because apparently the standards used to determine whether or not one needs to purchase a second seat include being able to sit with both armrests down throughout the flight if necessary and I’m not sure how comfortable that would be or if it is even possible (http://www.rodale.com/airline-seating?page=0,0). So the alternative is to purchase two coach seats which, obviously,  doubles the cost of the trip.

So I drive.  But driving means more than 22 hours of sitting in essentially one static position.  Because I had to settle the estate, the first year or so I had to make the trip three times and when I got back the third time I noticed that my left baby toe was numb.  I also noticed that I would get jabs of pain in my rump as if my hip was slightly out of joint.  I asked a few people if they thought it was sciatica, but I was told that no that was pain down the leg.  It turns out that what I was experiencing were early signs of sciatica and by the time the pain went down my leg I was in complete agony and it took several weeks of deep tissue massage, anti-inflammatories, and heavy duty pain killers before I could even function.  I also have developed a circulatory problem in part from my weight and in part from working jobs that either require long hours of standing or long hours of sitting both of which can cause varicose veins and malfunctioning valves.

In order to keep healthy while stressing my body with 22 hours of driving I stop roughly once an hour.  That sounds excessive, but I don’t stop for long.  I get out and get a drink or buy gas or just get out and walk around the car and then get back in and get back on the road.  I use speed control when I can, one because I have a tendency to speed (thank you for the $250 ticket State of Georgia) and two because it allows me to wiggle around a bit and flex my feet when driving.  Safely of course!  When I do stop for the night I get my feet up, I stretch and I get to bed early.  Tonight I’m at the Hampton Inn in Dry Ridge Kentucky, where I also stayed in January, and I stopped early so I could have gone swimming which would have been great for my back, but I didn’t want to carry a wet suit in the car tomorrow so I decided to pass.  Plus this time I’m travelling alone and I didn’t really want to wander through the lobby in my bathing suit.  Yes I have a cover up and yes I’m the one who stares down the rude people at the gym, but today I’m tired.

Tomorrow I’m up at 5am and back on the road and I figure I will get to Florida around 8pm.  It will likely be too cool to go swimming, but you can bet I will be in the pool stretching out my back as soon as possible.

– the Goddess

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Not Disabled, Just Fat

I take the Go bus to work every day and most days one of a few kind souls who shares the bus with me daily saves the front seat for me.  Now I do prefer the front seat, as in Go bus etiquette the front seat gets off first and it’s a little roomier, but I realized that they don’t save or vacate the seat for me just because of my charm and good looks.  It is the seat for disabled passengers and they must consider me disabled.

I have to admit I have never refused their kind offers.  One it seems rude and two I do prefer sitting there, but I want to make it very clear that I am fat, not disabled.

Excess weight can damage knees and hips or cause a variety of health issues which may themselves be a disability, but being fat is not a disability.  I once met a guy who was interested in dating me and we talked about our lives and our dreams and then I asked about his job and he said he wasn’t able to work.  I looked at him and saw no obvious physical issue and in our conversation I hadn’t detected a mental health issue so I asked why he couldn’t work and he very clearly told me that he was too fat.  His arms appeared to work, his legs, his mouth, his ears, his eyes, but he considered himself disabled and it boggled me.

Some years before that conversation I volunteered in a hospital downtown and a woman came in for some tests. She was on a stretcher of sorts that had big wheels like a wheel chair at one end and even though she could not sit up, she was able to move herself about with minimal assistance.  This woman who was disabled, who did not have control over much of her body worked in telephone sales.  That may not be the most lucrative job, I really don’t know, but she was in the world, living her life, and being productive.  An able-bodied man telling me that he couldn’t find a job solely because of his weight needs a reality check.  I did recently come across this article http://www.workopolis.com/content/advice/article/2096-the-skinny-on-salary-how-your-weight-affects-your-paycheque which shows that those who are obese make, on average, less money than our thin colleagues, but they said less, not none and a lot of that is no doubt based on negative stereotypes of fat people being slovenly, lazy, dirty and unintelligent.  Certainly losing weight will help, but so will getting out and being productive and breaking down the stereotypes.

We are all working to get healthy and whether or not that leads to weight loss and a smaller pant size or just being able to walk up a flight of stairs without huffing and puffing we are active, engaged members of society and we need to prove this not only to others, but to ourselves.

– the Goddess

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