Two months (ish) health report
I don’t know when to mark the exact anniversary of Heidi Reboot 2009, but this morning I realized that, rounding off, it’s been about two months since I said, "I’m going to do something about this." I thought it was worth a reflection, and so here it is.
So the reference is clear, "this" is that around Christmas I became so immobile and full of pain that I ended up in the ER on December 26. Part of that turned out to be a strep infection, but even that was indicative of a general state of Very Poor Health. Worst of all, I had been making actual, concerted efforts to improve my health since August, and that period of time, Christmas through mid January, ranks right up there with fall 2007 as Shit I Would Prefer Not To Repeat. It was more than just not fun, it was demeaning, demoralizing, and pretty much stripped me down even further than I already was, which, frankly, I felt like the world had already taken several decent strips off me. First it was mental and emotional. Now it was mental, emotional, AND physical.
I had to start at less than zero. I went to physical therapy two or more times a week to do exercises that little old grandmas and grandpas were doing. My lowest point was when I finally graduated to being able to go to the gym again I had to use the NuStep, a machine favored by heart attack patients, and a bent, withered old man with a walker could do more resistance and for longer on that machine than I could. I felt like a joke and an idiot. And I felt angry. I’m still, actually, very, very angry, but I’m working on that.
But that was January. Today it is March. It’s March 5th, and it’s seventy degrees outside. I’m running around in a thin long-sleeved t-shirt and bare feet in birkenstocks and seriously considering picking Anna up on the trail-a-bike. And I’m wearing jeans–new jeans, which are a "size" smaller than my former jeans. (I put that in quotes because theses are Layne Bryant Right Fit, which means I moved from blue to red but stayed in a three, but the woman at the store assured me that was down a size because the reds fit differently than the blues.) I feel good. I feel positive. I exercise three times a week, usually for over an hour, and half an hour of that is cardio, and I average now about 4.6 miles an hour. My goal is always to cover close to two miles and burn at least 300 calories on the elliptical, and I combine this with weights. I eat pretty healthy, though I don’t say no to ice cream or brownies or an extra helping as much as I would have to if I were Serious about weight loss. I will get there, but right now the goal is Absence of Pain, not svelte bod.
I bring this up because I think a lot lately of what the trainer I met with in September told me. She said, with a bit of a grim line to her mouth, that she gets frustrated with our culture which has hinted strongly or outright said that you can lose weight by changing what you eat just a little and walking around the block a few times. When she told me that, I admit I felt a bit puzzled, and a bit angry. She said, it’s hard to hear, but if you want change, you have to work, and you have to work regularly, and you have to work a lot. You have to work hard. She told me to ease into that gently, to work first on the habit, but to not expect much to happen too fast. I only sort of listened. But I can tell you now, with a bit of chagrin, that she’s right.
I eat well. I eat, more than ever now, very well. If I don’t have at least one meal a day that is very, very vegetable intense, I work to correct it the next day. There are rarely chips in our house. I have been having a brownie/ice cream binge right now, but I just had my period, and I’ve been having a lot of anxiety, and my goal is health, not weight loss. I only eat meat three or four times a week, so I don’t mind a brownie or three a day right now. But no, that doesn’t help my weight loss, and I know it. I don’t care. Right now it’s about shoulders and hips and NO PAIN. I get brownies. But it’s worth noting that this is the only real place I cheat. I don’t drink pop or much juice. I don’t really drink alcohol that often. The one night I had a few shots of whiskey this week was such hell on my workout the next day that I will think twice before I do that again.
When I go to the gym, I work. I mean, I WORK. When I come home I am a river of sweat. I drink a full bottle of water while I’m there, get several drinks from the fountains during my workout, and I guzzle at least one, sometimes up to three glasses of water once I get home. I sweat while I lift weights. I HURT sometimes while I lift weights, and I have to talk myself through a lot of the sets, especially those targeting the places where I’m very, very weak. I go three times a week, and I don’t miss unless I’m having a heavy relapse, but even then, I go back as soon as I can.
I still hurt. My right hand still goes to sleep at night, and I wake up a lot with stiff neck and lower back, and sometimes during the day I hurt quite a bit, enough to take a vicodin. I go to the chiro three times a week, too, and a lot of times I hurt quite a bit after.
I go to talk therapy every other week, too. It’s damn lucky I don’t have a job outside the home and have a husband who can pay for all this.
My point here is that I work. I really, really, really work at this. And after two months of working my fucking tail off, of being such a fucking good girl I should have pigtails and a plaid skirt and enrollment at a Catholic elementary school–after all this I’m slightly toned, have lost a TINY bit of weight, and went down a jeans size. You don’t look at me and see a huge change. And I can already feel myself hitting my first plateau–the next shift will be harder and take more work. My trainer, sadly, was right. It takes a long time, and it takes real fucking work.
Sometimes this makes me angry. I think it’s actually easier because if it were only for body change, I’d probably quit in a fit of pique, but since the alternative still is SERIOUS FUCKING PAIN, I keep at it. That makes me angry. And oddly, sometimes I feel vulnerable when I sense my body changing. Sometimes the extra brownie is because I’m not ready to look too good too fast, too shed too much of this. Sometimes the brownie is my fucking consolation for having to so this damn much work and never knowing if tomorrow will be the day I wake up and it’s all back, because that’s happened now twice. I have taken to saying to people when they ask how I am, "Today is good," or "I hurt a little today, but I’ll keep working." I don’t look that far forward. I stress more about would I move out of this jean size too fast so it didn’t feel economically sound to buy three pair than I do whether or not I will be hurting in a month. I don’t know how to process the idea that something–still unknown–could be seriously wrong and I’ll never know. I think about right now, because right now I feel good. Really good. So I don’t think about how little change this much work has brought, or how briefly it may stay, or how long these jeans will fit (still really working on that last one). I just do today. And sticking with that is hard enough.
I’ve moved that philosophy into my writing, too. I do the work in front of me, and when it hurts too much to lift, I do what I can, then put it down. I don’t have long term goals, though those are harder to put down that jeans or brownies.
I guess where I’m at right now is that the universe has made it plain that I am rewriting everything. EVERYTHING. Lutin has been saying that for over a year about Virgos, and I’m starting to get it. Everything, every single thing about me is changing. So, okay. The single point of control I have here is my reaction to the fact that everything is changing and that I have very little control. That’s it. So I’ll take it.
And what I have down with it so far is lose about five-ish pounds, firm up my body just a little, reduce the painfulness of my periods, and moved from six minutes on the NuStep at level 3 to the LifeCycle Elliptical at level 12 for twenty-five minutes sometimes as fast as six miles an hour. I can’t bench anything at all because I’m not allowed to lift my arms over my head, but I can lat pull-down fifty pounds, I can row at 37.5, and I do that same weight on the hip machine even when I have to breathe through it with lamaze. I sit a bit straighter, and sometimes my back and shoulders go numb and hurt, but sometimes they don’t, and more days than not all the time it’s the latter instead of the former.
I like March a lot more than I like January. And that for me right now is enough.