What I Did With My Summer Vacation

I just had the best summer of my life. Seriously. When I was a kid, I was too busy worrying about, well, pretty much everything to have a truly great summer. (Yes, I was that kind of kid.) Rather than being able to relax and enjoy the moment, I had my gaze fixed firmly on the future -- on a time when things would be better, whatever "better" might mean.  

"Better" finally arrived this summer -- and it wasn't disguised as books on a beach, as I had long suspected it would. My summer was filled to the brim with activity, including tons and tons of work.

It also happened to be awesome.

As you may already know, I am busy researching and writing a book -- and I couldn't put that on hold for the summer. So I simply decided that I was going to make this the best summer of my life by making conscious choices about everything that was within my control, including my working location (I chose to work from my cottage), the food I chose to eat (healthy, whole foods), and the way I treated my body (lots and lots of walks, both on and off my treadmill).  

The result? I felt -- and continue to feel -- amazing.

Treating myself well has become a habit (a habit that took a mere 49 years to cultivate).

And now that I'm in the habit of fuelling my body with good food, giving it the exercise that allows it to feel less anxious during the day and to sleep better at night, I'm not about to stop.

I'm in the process of designing a new fall routine for myself that includes early-morning walks, lunch hour fitness breaks, and a pleasant new working environment. (My office has moved back home.)

Of course, it doesn't hurt that I spent my entire summer immersing myself in research about mental health -- poring through journal articles and other information in order to try to tease out what allows us to thrive (as opposed to merely survive). Officially, the research is for the book I am writing for HarperCollins Canada (for publication next year), but I'm already reaping the benefits of some of what I've learned.

I've always felt really lucky. (Well, at least since I became a grownup and escaped the clutches of the playground bullies.) And now I feel positively blessed, being able to do work that I love (writing and speaking) -- and to see my own health and happiness be so enriched by what I am learning.

A few years back, when I was experiencing my truly horrific depression, I couldn't imagine ever feeling this good again, let alone feeling fantastic -- joyful -- creative -- inspired -- filled with possibility and hope.

Life can be so good. *

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* Writer-buddies: Please forgive the totally over-the-top use of italics and dashes in this post.  

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And now for some stats on the weight loss front:

 

  • I'm now more than halfway to my goal weight. I've lost 83 lbs since early January (starting weight: 286 lbs; goal weight: 154 lbs), which leaves me with just 49 lbs. left to lose.
  • My BMI has dropped from 46.2 to 32.8. I am within spitting distance of being "overweight" as opposed to "obese."
  • I am now wearing a size 16/18 (XL) -- down from a size 26/28 (3 XL).
  • I've lost 7" from my bust, 8" from my waist, and 12" from my hips. 

What the numbers don't reveal is how fantastic I feel. The only way to measure that is by the smile on my face.  

Thanks for all your love and support, friends. I (truly) couldn't be making these changes without you. <3

 

Fall 2012: When I was at my heaviest (286 lbs.) A friend's photo, shared on Twitter. Inspired me to want to make changes. (Thanks, MM.)

Fall 2012: When I was at my heaviest (286 lbs.) A friend's photo, shared on Twitter. Inspired me to want to make changes. (Thanks, MM.)

July 2013: When I had lost 68 lbs.

July 2013: When I had lost 68 lbs.

Cinderella Month

June was a magical month -- so magical that I didn't manage to post an update. (I was afraid of breaking the magic spell.) 

  • I received the highest award granted by my professional association -- and I felt proud (not hideous) as I walked to the front of the room to receive this most humbling and unexpected award.
  • I spent three exciting days in New York City, attending the #140YOU conference at the 92nd Street Y -- a conference devoted to health and wellness. During the conference, I was able to connect with others who are transforming their lives by making health a priority and to share my weight loss journey with others. I met so many incredible, inspiring people. 
  • My fitness level soared! Physical activity has become something I do every day, like having my morning shower and making my coffee. (Hey, sometimes I don't even have my coffee every day anymore. There is some serious change happening around here!) When I first started working out at the beginning of the year, It was hard work for me to do 25 minutes on the treadmill at 2.5 mph with zero incline. This morning, I did 90 minutes on the treadmill at that same speed -- but with an incline of between 6 and 6.5 percent. Some days, I jog on the treadmill for extended bursts of time, using the interval training or weight loss settings. And I no longer feel close to death if I walk up one of the big hills at the cottage. I see them as a way to get my heart-rate up while logging some steps at the same time.

I haven't been near a scale lately (my trusty digital scale is back home, whereas I have been up at the cottage, working on my new book, so my weight loss stats are about a week-and-a-half out of date). I'll be updating them tomorrow when I weigh in again back in the city. But I can tell that I'm still making steady progress, simply because of the way I am feeling: so strong, so healthy, so alive.

I am really looking forward to buying some new clothes. My wardrobe options are pretty limited right now. It's a good thing it's summer time. Right now, I'm surviving on a couple of pairs of shorts, a handful of denim skirts, and a few tank tops. While I'm going to postpone any major wardrobe acquisitions until fall, I'm going to have to pick up at least one summer dress -- and soon. I've got two family get-togethers in the coming weeks.

Some family members haven't seen me since I started on this journey. It will be interesting to see how they react. I'm realistic enough to know that some of their comments are likely to be less than fairy-tale perfect. I can't let what they say (or don't say) throw me off course. After all, I don't have anything to prove to anyone but myself. Unlike Cinderella, I don't need to have a handsome prince or a fairy godmother tell me that I'm beautiful or worthy or good enough.

I can do that for myself.

 

My Great Disappearing Act

I've been quieter than usual for the past few weeks. That's because I've been spending at least as much time thinking as I have been working out -- and that's been a lot.

I've discovered that the mental part of this weight loss thing is at least as challenging as the physical part -- that I need to eliminate a lot of outside distractions and stress in order to maintain my focus as I continue to change my life. 

It takes time to read up on the science of weight loss, check out new recipes, log my food, and play with my new workout gadgets (my Polar Watch and heart-rate monitor and Fitbit Flex).

Sometimes I feel a bit guilty for going AWOL from Facebook and other social media channels, but then I remind myself that there are only so many hours in a day, and I have to make the healthiest possible choices about how I invest my time and energy while I'm working hard to change my life. After all, not setting healthy boundaries for myself is what got me in this mess in the first place. And now that I've had a chance to stroll on the healthier side of the street -- to experience what my body is capable of doing and how much better I can feel -- there's no turning back.

* * *

The scale showed a total loss to date of 49 lbs. as of this morning. I had been hoping to reach the 50 lbs. gone mark, but obviously the universe wants to teach me a lesson in patience (a lesson I admit I still need to learn). After all, what's the rush in losing the weight when I'm going to be spending the rest of my life maintaining the weight loss? It's not as if the game is going to change dramatically when I reach my goal weight sometime next year. 

That said, I don't think that celebrating my progress once every 50 lbs. is nearly often enough. For that reason, I've come up with a list of mini-milestones that I plan to celebrate between now and when I reach my goal weight. I've also recorded some of the milestones that I've achieved on my weight loss journey to date. Thanks to all of you who have been celebrating with me every step of the way.

Being Active = My New Normal

I'm now 100 days into this thing. (I'm not obsessive enough to count days on a calendar. MyFitnessPal (the app I use to record my food intake and to track my exercise each day) cheerfully announced to me this morning that I've been logging my input/output for 100 days as of today.

The most noteworthy thing that has happened over the course of those 100 days is that I've started seeing being active as my new normal:

  • It feels strange -- wrong -- if a day or two goes by without my squeezing in a workout.
  • When I head out of town, I plan ahead to figure out how I am going to manage to work in some physical activity while I'm away. 
  • I no longer feel horribly out of place in an athletic store. Heck, I walked into one on purpose two weeks ago to order myself a sports watch and heart-rate monitor (so I can track my workouts a bit more precisely). 
  • My body feels stronger and fitter than it has in my entire adult life.

I still have a long way to go before I reach my goal weight, but I'm already reaping huge dividends from having lost the first 37 pounds. I am truly loving this journey.

Note: I will be speaking about my fitness journey at #140YOU in New York City in June. I will be one of the members of The One Ton Panel, a panel made up of "people who have collectively lost a lot of weight."

My Body is Not The Enemy

The scale didn't move this week, but that doesn't matter. My body and I are on a journey that's about so much more than a number on a scale.

I am treating my body with kindness, respect, and patience and it is responding by telling me what it wants and needs.

My body can run -- for 30 second bursts on a treadmill.

My body loves strength training.

My body prefers whole foods to processed anything.

My body and I, we're in this thing together.

My body is not the enemy.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
— Lao Tzu