Weekly Digest 22 Holiday Summary
12/14/18 – 1/3/19
Hello Everyone! The holidays have been hectic here and it’s been a few weeks since I have managed to write a weekly digest. So, I will summarize the weeks from 12/14/18 to 1/3/19, which will bring us up to date!
First off, I hope everyone had a nice holiday season. I enjoyed spending time with my family a great deal this year. It started in November with Thanksgiving at my cousin Heidi, and her husband Brandt’s new house near Stillwater. It’s a really great place designed with a family in mind and I think they will be happy there for many years.
This year, Christmas was at my mom’s place. It was really nice to see all the family – even BOTH of my brothers where there! That doesn’t happen too often. So we had a nice Christmas with the whole family, and enjoyed a bunch of treats! I tell you what…my family can bake! My cookie brittle was not the only baked goody there! There were plenty of other options and all of them were delicious! My family is CLEARLY not good for my diet, but they are not good for it in the best way possible.
New Year’s Eve was spent with friends over a few beverages, much laughter and some yummy food. It was a nice distraction. But now it is time to focus on the new year and get down to business.
The Baking Conundrum:
You know, with people being as busy as they are these days, nobody just bakes for the sake of baking anymore. Or, certainly, when I talk to people it doesn’t seem like anyone has time for that. So when the holidays come, and your family bakes all these wonderful goodies, you really know it’s done with love. And that, I have to say, makes me want to try everything. I know my family put a ton of effort in, the least I can do is enjoy it! How is that rationalization working? Good, I hope. I gave it my best shot!
The Short Hiatus
It actually wasn’t my intention to take any weeks off from writing, but it became necessary with the crush of holiday events and associated activities. Baking had much to do with that, but I wouldn’t trade my annual cookie brittle baking spree for anything in the world. Baking cookie brittle and giving it to my family and friends is one of the best ways I have found to say “I love you.”
Naturally, being of Norwegian ancestry, and from the upper Midwest, we can’t just come out and say “I love you.” Oh no, that’s much too personal and demonstrative. That blurs the line of what is our social comfort zone …we wouldn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable! Instead, we find ways through hard labor and tons of calories to say the same thing. Leave it to Minnesotans to come up with something that is touching, delicious and incredibly diet-damaging all in one fell swoop! “BOOM! HAVE COOKIE BRITTLE! I LOVE YOU! HERE’S TWO MORE INCHES TO YOUR WAISTLINE! Charming…just charming. Yes, that’s sarcasm.
Cutting to The Chase:
The holidays were not kind to my waistline. I know I was determined to eat healthy and do well …but I wasn’t healthy. At all. I actually felt like I did ok with intake given that it was the holidays. And exercise dropped a little, but I still kept moving. The bottom line is that everything I have been through in the past 2 months has had a big impact on my health and, frankly, it’s been horseshit. A lot of things have been out of my control, and those things that were within my control I was not fully successful at managing. Combined, it put me in a bad way.
Here are the numbers over the last month or so:
12/7 – I lost 11 pounds this week.
12/14 – I gained 4 pounds this week.
12/21 – I gained 9 pounds this week.
12/28 – I lost 4 pounds this week.
1/4 – I gained 5 pounds this week.
What the heck …
So the massive swings up and down are abnormal. And, I have to say, completely unpredictable. I have been counting my calories the entire time and logging my intake. So it’s not a case of consuming massive amounts of calories. Sure, there have been some days that have been higher than I want, but I think there have been two days in that entire month that were between 2000 and 2200 calories.
Given my basal metabolic burn rate, that should be a day in which I neither lose nor gain weight. The massive swings in weight can’t seem to be traced to anything definitive, which points to my health as a contributing factor.
The bottom line is that I am 15 pounds from my next mini goal of 200 pounds lost.
Ok, everyone has heard me talk about this enough, and I am tired of discussing it too. So I will keep this short. Prednisone is used to treat my gout. It has developed, over the past year, into something that has become very stubborn when I do get an attack. So my first attack in the fall happened in mid October. Since that time, I have been on prednisone, or ramping off of it, for the next 11 weeks. That is pretty much the remainder of the year for 2018. I would take prednisone for 10 days, it reduces swelling and gives me a chance to heal. Then I cease the 10 day course and within a week the gout was starting to come back. So I end up back on the prednisone. Rinse and repeat for the next two and a half months.
Prednisone and Allopurinol:
For those that don’t know, Prednisone is a steroid that seems to have a fair amount of effects on me. The body is inured with gout, so it resists weight loss change. It wants to hold on to the weight until it stabilizes. The prednisone itself leads to water retention, hunger, weight retention, etc. So it combines with the body to create a fairly difficult set of circumstances. Also, it works by suppressing the swelling response of the body’s immune system. That also led to a brief cellulitis infection which put me on Keflex, a sulfa based antibiotic.
Ok, so consider this a lesson learned. After two and a half months of battling gout, I finally accepted the fact that I would need to be on a maintenance drug that helps regulate the uric acid level in my bloodstream. I am hoping that this will prevent further attacks and not steal two months out of every year from me. Last year the same thing happened …two months of battling gout. The good news is that allopurinol has no side effects and should not impact my weight loss regimen.
I cannot stress enough how difficult this has been. Week after week of hard work resulting in no net gains, and knowing that no matter how hard you work, the miracle of modern chemistry is going to prevent you from achieving your goals. It’s crushing and it’s VERY difficult to keep a positive attitude. I have struggled a LOT in December with this. Going through the same thing as last year has been so disappointing. It’s stopped me dead in my tracks.
Every week I tell myself I have to keep going. And I have not always been 100% successful at making myself do this. Yes, I still track my calories. But there have been a couple days where I just threw up my hands and had that extra piece of cookie brittle or more cheese and crackers. That’s what the struggle looks like for me. Wrestling with the anger and frustration of not seeing progress, and getting down over it. Then caving in and having the snack I don’t need, then experiencing horrible guilt over it …and in the end I feel like I failed that day.
The Mental Gymnast:
To be bluntly honest with you, I wish I didn’t have the guilt and self-judgment part of that equation. I have been working on simply looking at it like a math problem. “Ah, the calorie number is too high today. Welp, tomorrow is another day …I will do better tomorrow!” Once it is done, it is done and there is nothing you can do about it …so just make sure the next day is a good one. Mental gymnastics like that are essential to being able to stick with this plan. Managing expectations against results is critical to create something that is sustainable for the long term.
The upside is that it showed me that I do have an internal alarm that prevents me from going off the deep end. To me, after almost two years of dieting, going off the deep end is having a 2500 calorie day. Therefore, I have conditioned myself to accept the 1400 calorie diet I have been on, and alarms (with no small amount of guilt) go off when I eclipse that number. That fact tells me I have managed to change my lifestyle and sticking to it will be less difficult than I imagine.
People will tell you to “Stay Focused!”, but I think it is inevitable that you will lose focus periodically. It’s ok. We’re all human, we all have emotions, and we all have to deal with disappointment. I say it’s more important to figure out how to REGAIN your focus and continue on your path to health.
Spend some time thinking about that, friends. It’s a universal concept not linked only to weight loss. Every one of us has a goal we pursue …and all of us deal with being derailed occasionally. Figure out what works for you to regain your focus and get you back on the tracks, heading to your goal.
I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge this situation as a contributing factor to my general wellness lately. My cat of many years, Mr. Boo, started getting seizures. He ended up being diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, diabetes, and likely a brain tumor. I was giving him multiple daily medications to manage these conditions. It was very difficult watching him struggle with the byproducts of these afflictions but I was dedicated in giving him as much care as possible.
Boo spent a ton of time over the last month cuddled up with me, watching TV and or just sitting watching the snow fall. I relegated many of my normal activities to the back burner in order to spend as much time with him as I could. His comfort, condition, and working to help him rehab mobility and activity had been foremost in my mind. He was making wonderful progress!
Sadly, in the early hours of January 2nd, Mr. Boo passed on. It was traumatic and heartbreaking. Mr. Boo was not just my cat, he was a member of the family and one of my best friends. I know that may seem odd to some, but it is the truth and it effectively relays the emotional hurdles that have been present in addition to physical hurdles. And here I thought gout was a big deal…it feels insignificant compared to this.
I am not going to bore you with the details of what I ate over the last month. Instead, I will tell you where I need to improve.
The meals have been good, it’s the snacking area that I need to improve on. I made cookie brittle and can’t resist having a few pieces of that, but it’s less that than it is other choices. For instance, in the afternoon if I want a snack, I would be better off turning to vegetables and hummus or an apple. Instead I have been opting for crackers and spreadable cheese/cold pack cheese food.
Yes, it’s completely delicious, but it’s not the best choice. Crackers are awful for me, and the cheese isn’t horrid, but it’s not as good as vegetables and hummus or even just light popcorn if I HAVE to go that route.
So more often than I should, I have chosen poorly on the snack front over the last little while. It’s been less about the amount of calories being the problem than the makeup of those calories …too many carbs, too much sodium. Like the knight said in that Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade: “he chose …poorly.”
The same trend has followed in exercise. Gout has limited what I could do, and as a result it decreased the amount of time I was able to be up and physically active. Initially I did a fair amount of compensating and focused on more free weights, and things I could do sitting. As we got into the second month of this drama, I slowed down on exercise across the board. It was getting very difficult to keep motivated. So that dropped off and snacking choices were made …poorly.
The Take Away:
Wow …there’s a lot to digest here. (No pun intended…ok, maybe just a small one.) Let’s look at this critically from the data available:
- Stop eating the damn crackers. Choose veggies instead.
- Get off your ass and back on the elliptical.
- There is NO number 3. Why? …just because I wanted 4 items in the list.
- Watch for gout …now that I am off prednisone and on allopurinol, we should be going in the right direction and can move forward again.
When faced with the emotional and physical hurdles I have endured over the last couple of months, there are only so many things within your control. That short list above pretty much summarizes what I can control. The rest of it I just have to hope works itself out and ceases to impact how I feel and my weight loss regimen. It’s a new year, and if the allopurinol does its job, then there should be nothing that stops me from hitting 200 pounds lost by the 2 year anniversary of starting this project.
Over the past two months, I have had many occasion to seek more information on issues. Here’s some of the more helpful places I found:
For Cat Owners:
The folks at Diabetic Cats in Need are absolutely wonderful. There is so much information and support out there for cat owners.
This website is full of information from Lisa Pierson, DVM. She pretty much wrote the book on diabetic cats and dietary treatment. Every cat owner should read this page.
Fitness While Injured:
This page is all about maintaining fitness levels while injured. They provide workout regimens examples.
This page talks about workouts that can be done with a foot injury. I took elements from both pages to develop exercises that I could do while dealing with gout.