Is THIS Bliss?!

Lorina's Blog

health

In which she comes crawling back…

Hello? Anyone still there? I’m back.

When I last wrote, I was just about to turn 42. I was getting back into running and feeling good, trying to find a happy balance between being obsessed with fitness and being a sloth. Well, the fates had other plans for me, and I was forced to be a sloth for months.

Long story short, it was something with my Sacroilliac Joint, where the spine connects to the hips. It caused shooting electric jolts of pain from my bum down my thigh. It hurt to walk, to stand, to sit, and sometimes even lie down. Forget about running and lifting weights and all the other things I wanted to do.

But during that time, I was diligent about what I ate. I rejoined My Fitness Pal under a new name, since I’d deleted my old account, and begrudgingly went back to counting calories. Over the summer and into the fall, I slowly lost about 10 of the 20 pounds that had crept up on me. I began physical therapy, got a very painful injection in my bum, and began to heal. I even started running again in October.

That damn injection in my bum, however, was a steroid injection. I’d had a few rounds of oral steroids in the previous months, which made me hyper (so much fun when you can’t MOVE) and a bit gassy (so many burps!), but that’s about it as far as side effects. The injection, on the other hand, thought it’d play a nice prank on me and bring back those ten pounds I’d worked so hard to lose.

I know there’s people who say that medications can’t cause weight gain, only over-eating does. I’m here to say to them, “Fuck you.” I was logging, weighing and measuring everything I ate. I was keeping to the exact same calories as I was when I was losing. I didn’t suddenly become stupid and forget how to math. My weight jumped up ten frickin’ pounds in three weeks. I certainly didn’t have 350,000 extra calories in that time frame.

By then, the weather was turning suckass and the holidays were fast approaching. I threw in the towel. I wanted to enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts and cookies and wine and not give a damn about calories for a few weeks.

I started up again at the beginning of January, as much as I hated being a New Years Resolutions Stereotype.  Since then, I’m down about 12 pounds, able to stop taking Vicodin for my back, able to do some (very careful) weight lifting, and have been running outside at least twice a week, which can be quite a challenge in the winter in the Northeast. I’m a lot slower than I used to be, but I’m still about 10 pounds above where I want to be and almost 20 pounds above my lowest weight when I ran the fastest, so I’m not expecting to be Speedy Gonzales. I started Bret Contreras‘ Strong Curves workout about 6 weeks ago, and will be taking a new set of progress pics next weekend.

 photo IMG_20150306_131018_zpseyzb94pp.jpg

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Affordable Care Act

No, I won’t call it Obamacare. I don’t like that nickname, and won’t use it. But I do like the ACA and I will use it. Happily.

I normally don’t talk much about politics and religion. Those are very personal to me. Kind of funny where I draw the line… I’ll show everyone how my droopy ass perked up from doing squats, or how horrible I look trying on a bikini in a dressing room, talk about my insecurities and neuroses, but I don’t like insulting other people, and it’s really hard to talk about being a liberal and atheist without insulting someone else.

But I’m really happy about the Affordable Care Act, and I see a lot of people slamming it regularly. When the early discussions of ACA started, I didn’t pay much attention to it. I thought it was a good idea, because there’s been times I’ve gone without health insurance, and it’s scary. But it didn’t apply to me, not directly. We had good insurance through my husband’s job.

Our situation changed. First, my husband hurt himself at work, and was on disability for a while. His insurance premiums were no longer deducted from his paycheck, and we had to pay it out of pocket, and the money in our pocket was significantly less while on disability. It hurt… it wasn’t adding insult to injury, it was adding financial injury to physical injury.

Just a few months after he was able to return to work, he lost his job, and our insurance. To continue paying for his insurance was completely unaffordable… when it’s a choice between insurance and mortgage, or food, or utilities, it’s not a choice. We don’t qualify for any kind of assistance… too “rich” to get help, too poor to afford it. We’re both looking for work, but there’s not much out there. Everyone always says, “Just take any job,” but even finding the “just any job” is hard. Employers don’t want to hire and train someone overqualified who they suspect would likely leave the second something better comes along.

We’ve been without insurance for several months now. It’s scary. We know we’re not invincible and immortal. I just watched my brother, only eight years older than me, a strong, healthy moose of a man, die just four months after a cancer diagnosis. Thankfully, he had insurance, or things would have been even worse. Hard to really imagine a worse outcome, but if he’d been unable to get care and his wife had been left in a mountain of bills, it would have been worse. At least we know he got all the care he could, had every opportunity to get better. Any one of us could have a ticking time bomb inside us and we might not know until it’s too late.

We don’t want to be without insurance. But still, when we heard that we’d be fined if we didn’t have it, we were scared, and angry. If we can’t afford insurance, how can we afford to pay a fine?

When October 1st rolled around, I thought I’d wait a while to even try to sign up for ACA. I knew there’d be bugs and kinks and traffic issues. There always is. I tried for the first time a week or so ago, and got error messages. I wasn’t surprised. I tried again two days ago, and was surprised I got in.

It was easy. Painless. No errors. No problems, aside from my computer being a slow-moving dinosaur at times. With the tax credits, we’re getting much better coverage than we had at my husband’s job, for a fraction of the cost.  There were options where we’d have no monthly premium, and ones that would cost a little more a month but would save us money if we were on a lot of prescriptions. Like Goldilocks in the Three Bears’ House, we chose something in the middle that was juuuuust right. We’ll be getting coverage – including dental and eye care – for a fraction of the cost we were paying previously.

It’s not a handout. It’s affordable. Like it should be. No one should slip through the cracks because of temporary difficulties. You can’t imagine the relief to know that we’re not going to be screwed, physically and financially, if we have some kind of health problem. I’ll be able to get a new prescription for my contacts, so I won’t have to wear my two week disposables for four weeks to stretch them out. I have a tooth that needs a filling. If the suspected bursitis in my Achilles flares up again, I don’t have to ignore it and hope it goes away. We’ll be better able to afford our prescriptions. If we end up with the nasty upper respiratory infection we seem to get about once a year, we can get our cough syrup with codeine and an antibiotic to kick it’s ass.

And when the time comes to fix our leaky roof, I’ll be up there with a hammer and nails and box of shingles. I’ll still worry that I’ll fall off and break my leg, but if I do, I’ll at least be covered.

So I say this non-ironically, “Thanks, Obama!”

Thanks, Obama

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Pink and Blue Hydrangeas and Body Image

Lots of rambling here, bear with me. 😉

I’m at the end of my No Logging in September Experiment. For the past month, I’ve been eating intuitively, and not logging my calories, because, quite frankly, I’m tired of it. I started the month at a weight of 140.8 pounds and weighed in Saturday at 141.4 pounds. Which, in my mind, is a win. Especially since I started the month not being able to get a certain pair of jeans over my hips, and can now (uncomfortably) button them again.

Plus, I’d been recovering from an injury at the start of the month, and not exercising. Now that I’m easing back into it, I’m very likely sporting a few extra pounds of fuel storage and some inflammation from exercise. So I’m feeling pretty good about things.

I’ve also used this time to do some thinking about body image and the things we do to achieve our goals. On one hand, I know calorie counting works. Damn well. I can be quite lean and look fantastic when I’m counting my calories (as long as I don’t fuck up my body with frickin’ hormones again). But… is it worth it? Is being a little bit leaner that important? Does it really make any difference in my life? Am I just fighting what my body naturally wants to be? I can rather effortlessly maintain being a size 6-8. If I’m counting every calorie, I can be a size 2-4.

I mean… I’m still fit and healthy. I still run. I still lift weights. My husband thinks I’m sexy and wants to boink me no matter what I weigh. Being leaner doesn’t make me smarter, kinder, a better artist, a better wife. I still have to pay bills, scoop the litter box and have ninja fast reflexes to keep the dog from biting me while I groom him.

The only thing that’s different is that I’m somewhat smaller and wear somewhat smaller clothes.

So why do I feel like a failure or quitter? It’s silly to feel that way. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the way I look now. I liken it to being a blue hydrangea. I can change the pH balance in the soil and make it a pink hydrangea. But WHY? Why go that extra step, when the blue hydrangea is just as beautiful?

Blue and Pink Hydrangeas

Or if I’d been bleaching my hair blonde for years, and decided that it was too much upkeep and went back to my natural brunette, I wouldn’t feel bad about it. There wouldn’t be anyone saying I was wussing out or lazy because I stopped coloring my hair.

For what it’s worth, I didn’t feel deprived or hungry while logging my calories. I ate well. But I was obsessive. I know the fitness industry likes to say, “What you call obsessed, we call dedicated,” but it sure felt a lot more like obsessed. Every day was like a game of Jenga, a balancing act, trying to get the calories and macros all in order. It was just an extra layer of pressure I was putting on myself. Just like altering the pH in the soil or changing the hue of my hair. One extra, possibly unnecessary, step.

If I compare my current photos with photos from before I started lifting weight, I’m happy. Very happy. I weigh more, but it doesn’t show.

July 2011 to September 2013

But then… then I look up photos from last year at this time and think, “Holy shit! I never realized I was that small!” That’s when I start feeling like a big old lazy lump, even though I’m not that much bigger.

(And I realize that everyone hates the size 6 girl complaining that she can’t fit in the fours. I realize it’s stupid and petty. But falling short of reaching a goal is disappointing, for anyone.)

Oct 2012 to Sept 2013

Smaller, sure. Better? If I’m honest? Yes, but why is smaller considered better? I don’t know. Is counting every calorie and feeling slightly crazy worth it? I don’t know. Do I want to get back there? Actually… yes. And I don’t even know why, because I logically don’t think it should matter.

Right now, though… No. Right now, I’m going to be stubborn and see if I can’t get back there without going nuts. I’ve seen and felt improvement in the past month, and up until I was masochistic and did a side by side with last year’s photos, I felt great, so I’m just going to continue on that road and see where it leads.

Because, you know what? I had just as much self-doubt about how I looked a year ago as I do now. Then I thought, “My thighs are still big. My abs don’t show like some other women’s do. Why do I still have chins??? Uck… my chest looks bony.” That’s something else that doesn’t change. Same tunes, in a different key. That’s something I have to work on inside my head, not on the outside.

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