Less Fit & Less Active October

This is not the month I envisioned when I set up our editorial calendar. That month was more of a “Rah rah! I can do it, and you can, too!” kind of month. Instead, it’s turned into a standing-at-the-fork-in-the-road kind of month where I keep venturing a few steps down one path, turning around and doing the same thing down the other.

Needless to say, spending time at the crossroads has led to a lot of reflection. I can’t be smug and say, “This is what I have learned this month,” but I can share what I’m learning.

Changing Seasons, Changing Priorities

In an early meeting with my nutritionist last year, I told her, “It’s a good thing I’m not too busy because I can concentrate on planning my meals and getting to the gym.” She looked at me like, “Huh? What’s the big deal?” and I wondered if I was exaggerating the requirements for a lifestyle change.

Now I know I wasn’t. That’s because other things have become a priority for me this fall. It’s super difficult to tear myself away from my sewing machine so that I can change into workout clothes and walk a mile to the YMCA in time for class. And as dinner time approaches, I keep hoping a balanced and delicious combination of protein and carbs will assemble itself without me so that I can keep blogging. That power walk I said I’d take at the beginning of the month? I meandered along the beach with my 9- and 6-year-old niece and nephew instead.

Each day has a limited set of hours, and sometimes I just don’t want to spend any of them exercising or creating nutritious meals.

Small Choices are Still Choices

I tend to be all-or-nothing about things, but thankfully, our options in life aren’t always either-or. For example, I’ve only been going to the gym once a week this month, but guess what? I’ve been going to the gym once a week this month! I haven’t stopped!

And I finally made an appointment with my nutritionist for her next available opening–October 31, the final day of Fit & Active October. I’ve also set up a physical with my doctor the week before Thanksgiving. The plan is for the impending blood test to scare me straight from saturated fats (and not be hanging over my head as I sit down for Thanksgiving dinner).

My fitness routine has become a bit rigid, so I’d like to introduce a little variety . . . gentle yoga instead of spinning, for instance, or weight machines instead of a formal class–I don’t have to push myself or raise my heart rate every time I go to the gym. And we’re taking the Lehigh Gorge bike train next month. Just making that plan was its own small victory.

Even though I’m not at the top of my physical game this month, I’m glad we have Fit & Active October. Taking care of health requires intention, and sometimes I need (or want) to divert my focus to other priorities. Having this month in our editorial calendar makes me more likely to find ways to stay fit and active for the rest of the year.

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This means that we’ll have more sports bra and active wear reviews for you throughout the year, but if you’re looking for a new sports bra right now, I highly recommend Sweets’ recent Enell review and Curvy Wordy’s recent write-up about her Panache sports bra in a 34J.

 

Off the Rack ~ Reconciling Weight Loss & Body Acceptance

My husband and I recently decided we needed to make more of an effort to lead healthier lives. We set goals of eating better food (less pasta and meat, more veggies and fruits) and going to the gym twice a week (it’s located in our apartment building, so there’s really no excuse not to meet that bare minimum). It started about a month ago, so it was perfect timing for Hourglassy’s “Fit & Active October” series. And I was keeping up with that goal…until last week.

Unfortunately, a week ago, out of nowhere, my lower back was suddenly so debilitatingly painful that I could barely walk. Even now, sitting or standing for long periods is excruciating and it’s difficult (and painful again) to do much bending. For a few days, I actually had to have my husband help me dress because there was no way I could get socks on or tie my shoes.

I went to my primary care physician, and he thinks it’s a herniated disk. I have to go to more doctor appointments before anyone can really help me (physiatrist for an x-ray, then orthopedist for an MRI, then finally physical therapy if necessary), it takes several weeks to get each appointment, and I can only make each one if the previous doctor says I should. So it could be two months before I’m even able to start any course of therapy. The American health care system at its finest!

Anyway, the point is, my exercise regimen has been put on a major hold. I’m doing stretches every night and I’m on (non-narcotic) pain meds prescribed by the doctor, but I definitely don’t feel anywhere near ready to go back to the gym. So my contributions to this month’s theme may be a little slim.

However, there was one thing I was thinking about before my exercise plans went awry: How to reconcile positive body image with the desire to lose weight for health reasons.

I mentioned in a previous post that I’m currently the heaviest I’ve ever weighed, but also have the highest self-esteem I’ve ever had. On the other hand, after several months of hot weather and wearing nothing but dresses, I recently pulled on a pair of jeans that I hadn’t worn since the spring and discovered that I could barely close them. It was a bit of a wake-up call that even though I like my body, I could still stand to make better choices, and that includes losing just a few pounds—not enough to visibly change my shape, maybe 3 – 5 so my existing clothes will continue to fit properly.

Still, there’s something about the effort to lose weight that makes me feel like I’m giving in to societal pressure, or turning my back on body acceptance. I have to keep reminding myself that health is the most important thing, and I shouldn’t maintain bad habits just to be stubborn or in some misguided attempt to make a point.

It’s very frustrating. As a woman, I feel like we’re either told that we’re fat and disgusting, or if we try to make improvements then we’re vain and self-hating.

I guess I just need to tune out everything around me and do what’s best for myself no matter what!

 

Fit & Active October Begins . . . Tomorrow?

It’s time for Fit & Active October, and it couldn’t come soon enough. My enthusiasm for exercise has been dwindling, and last night on the way back to our condo (after a platter of fried seafood), we passed the “hot” sign at Krispy Kreme. Of course we U-turned and bought a dozen.

krispy kreme

I’m counting on Fit & Active October 2015 to get me back to the level of fitness that I enjoyed after Fit & Active October 2014. It’s time to make an appointment with my nutritionist for help combating the twin enemies of healthy eating: boredom and hunger. Also, sports bra review samples are on their way–just what I need to feel excited about going to the gym again.

However, two more Krispy Kremes for breakfast means October 1 wasn’t the fresh start I promised myself. But I did make it to the weight room. And tomorrow I plan to power walk on the beach.

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Leah hurt her back this week, so her start to Fit & Active October is also delayed. Mia is busy with kids, work and training for the NYC marathon in November. I’m really hoping she’ll be able to squeeze in a post about the experience.

Mammogram Monday

My friend Carrie had a lumpectomy today, and I just received word that everything went smoothly.  How fitting that her day for surgery coincided with my annual mammogram and ultrasound. When she told me she was having her lump removed on December 8, there was no way I was cancelling my appointment for the same day!

mammogram prep 32FF

Carrie found her lump because she followed her doctor’s instructions to have another mammogram in six months. They’d seen something earlier this year, but it didn’t look serious enough for a biopsy at that point. For the past month, however, she’s been congratulated by every new doctor she meets because she followed up. It turns out that not every patient does.

Our family knows this from experience. My husband’s sister found a lump this past spring, and the doctor wanted to operate immediately. She refused. Instead, she started drinking “green drinks” (kale, spinach, etc.). Supposedly, the lump has disappeared. If I were in her shoes, I’d be pounding down the door for an ultrasound every month!

You’ll notice I said ultrasound. That’s because, as I discovered and shared with you last year, mammograms are almost useless for women with dense breasts. Today’s appointment confirmed this. My mammogram showed nothing. My ultrasound, on the other hand, showed a few almond-shaped places that they’re going to compare against last year’s ultrasound. After the comparison, they’ll either tell me to come in for a biopsy, suggest I return in six months, or tell me there’s nothing to be concerned about. If they tell me to return in six months, you can bet I’ll be there!

Our health is nothing to fool around with, ladies, and as I prepared for today’s post, I found an important reminder in this post that I published five years ago. I highly recommend reading it again for the inspiring lesson to trust your instincts and appreciate your value.

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As an aside, here’s something interesting that I learned about breast density at this morning’s appointment. Since my breasts are a lot less full on top after losing weight, I wondered if my tissue was less dense. Not so. I still have dense breasts. Evidently weight doesn’t have a lot to do with breast tissue density. Also, it turns out that although women’s breasts become less dense with age, the change is usually only slight rather than dramatic.