8 Weeks to Wellness

So I’ve decided to move forward with doing the 8 Weeks to Wellness (8WW) program that I mentioned in my last post (or at least I think I did).  In fact, I officially begin today…and I’m pretty psyched.

I made the decision after finding out what my end cost would be after insurance (yep, they actually kick in some coverage on this) and also weighing the importance of health to other things.

While it’s true that I want to get out of debt so badly I can taste it, I realize also that delaying my debt-free-dance by approximately 1 month is worth the sacrifice for improving my overall health & fitness.  This is something I’ve been struggling with quite a bit since I started overhauling my eating habits.

One of the areas I was scrimping as much as possible (in order to pay more towards the debt payoff) was food.  As a result, I was eating horribly…well, maybe not horribly, but not well either.  I didn’t become a frequenter of fast food restaurants (I’ve never felt right going into one since watching “Supersize Me” and reading “Fast Food Nation“), but I was just making the cheapest food choices.  Once I started eating appropriately and incorporating organic foods into my diet, my food budget has shot way way up.  This is forcing me to rework my whole budget and has thrown off the system I had for the last 18 months,  but I have no doubt I’ll figure it out.  What it boils down to is eating healthy is NOT cheap…but I believe the rewards certainly outweigh the cost – especially in the long-term.

As for this 8WW program, let me start by giving a quick summary of what will be happening over these next 2 months:

Each week I will be going into the office approximately 3 times.  2 of those visits will comprise a chiropractic appointment followed by an hour of time with one of the personal trainers.  These are not your typical Bally’s-type personal trainer, mind you.  These guys are hard-core, Jillian/Bob-like trainers.  I expect full ass-kickings.  But when they’re done chewing me up at the end of 8 weeks, I hope to see myself back into my Alaska/UK/NYC physical shape.  Can I get an amen?

The third visit of the week will be that of a 1-hour massage appointment.  Yeah, baby.  I also will be having more sit-downs with the dietitian I met with the last time.  (She was great, by the way – really helpful and basically told me that I’m doing everything right from a nutritional standpoint.)

The program is truly holistic and looks at the spiritual as well as the physical components of health so the final piece of the pie is meditation (not to be confused with medication) which I have to do on my own time, but there’s also a class and they teach yoga if I’m interested.

So, with the overall plan, I have to commit to my weekly visits, daily meditation, eating appropriately, drinking all my required water, and doing at least 20 minutes of cardio exercise on my own each day that I’m not with the trainers.

Yeah, it’s a lot and definitely a big commitment, but I’m really excited about it.  I think the hardest part for most people would probably be the eating and water, but thankfully I’ve been pretty steady since doing the detox so I’ve already been eating pretty much the way I’m supposed to for the program anyway.

The challenge for me will be making sure that all my meals “balanced” meaning they contain a protein, a carb, and a fat.  I struggle with getting the protein in…well, that and leafy greens.  I really wish I didn’t hate leafy greens so much…  The only one I can tolerate (and even enjoy) is spinach, but spinach doesn’t carry all of the same benefits as the other leafies.  So I just have to suck it up and power through arugula, Swiss chard, and the rest.

This first week is technically the hardest as you’re not allowed any carbs except for veggies.  Not a huge deal for me at this point, however I am going to miss my fruits.  But it’s only a week.

Tomorrow after work is my first personal training session with another on Thursday.  Then on Friday comes my massage.  I have a feeling I’m going to be needing the massage after Tuesday & Thursday…  I doubt the pain will be as severe as what we experienced after hiking the Inca Trail, but I’m sure there will still be pain…but hey, “no pain, no gain” is a saying for a reason, right?

Turns out my 8 weeks will actually be interrupted by my annual Seattle trip which I’m taking this year from September 17-24, but we’re going to work around it.  And don’t worry Jel, while I’m out with you guys, I won’t suddenly turn into some sort of crazy high-maintenance chick.  And, by the way, there will be coffee…oh yes, there will be coffee.

Aside from Seattle, it would seem I’ve actually timed this beautifully.  As it happens, the last Friday of my 8 weeks (and the day after I return from Seattle) is the date of the U2 concert date at Giant Stadium!  What better finale could there possibly be?

Detox Rocks

I’ve been horribly negligent. I’ve owed you guys an update post for over a week now and have not delivered. I have no valid excuse other than the classic “I’ve been busy” bit so I won’t even attempt that with this audience…so I guess that means I really have no excuse at all. Call me what you will…I deserve it.

But now, to business.

The detox. Let me begin by saying that there was definte actual “detox” involved. I had a definite reaction to not having caffiene or sugar or both. The first two days contained a mild and irritating headache. On Day 3, the headache subsided, but I was still feeling kind of “off”. Day 4 I started feeling…well, fantastic really. By Day 11 I had lost 6 pounds (5 of which are still gone) and I felt like I had been given new life. Seriously, I felt THAT good. So good, in fact, that I haven’t really stopped yet. I’ve reintroduced some foods that I wasn’t permitted on the detox (cheese, for instance) but I still haven’t had caffeine or sugar or anything else “refined.” This isn’t just because I feel so great, but also because I’m suspicious that I may have some food allergies or intolerances that I wasn’t aware of previously, so I’m trying to reintroduce foods slowly to see if I have any sort of adverse reaction to them. So far I’ve been good with dairy. Wheat is next on my list to try, but I’m not there yet.

So let’s recap.

The 11 Day Detox managed to…

  • Detox me from caffeine and sugar (which killed my sugar cravings completely)
  • Clear up my skin
  • Get me off of allergy meds (I haven’t even remotely needed a Zyrtec since I started)
  • Help me shed 6 pounds

You might say the detox was a success, and I would agree…mostly. But I still have some work to be done.

See, one of the things I was hoping the detox would assist with is the near-constant digestive trouble I’ve had since having my gall bladder removed.

I’m told most people don’t have these issues. Most people can go back to eating completely “normally” after the surgery with no adverse affects. Sadly, I am not most people. What I am, though, is sick of dealing with it. I was hoping that the detox might give my liver and colon a fresh start and perhaps they would begin to function more normally. They definitely seem to be a little better, but definitely still not “normal.” This has been discouraging to say the least.

Having the detox not make much of a dent in this problem area marked the end of my proverbial rope.

And so now I’m taking the next logical step and am going to see a registered dietitian. I have to work from home on Tuesday due to an impromptu dentist appointment, so I’m actually hoping to make my first appointment with the dietitian for the same day since I’ll have more flexibility.

I’ve found a dietitian in the area that works for an organization that actually has a variety of services – nutrition, massage, personal training, etc. So who knows – maybe I can couple the nutritional stuff with something else…like massage. Hm. Now there’s an idea.

Anyway, so next steps are calling them on Monday to see about making a Tuesday appointment if I can. I’ll continue to keep you guys posted, but in the meantime, I really do feel AWESOME and would highly recommend even a short detox like this one to anybody.

It’s A Toxic World After All…

So I have some catching up to do.  Frankly, my life has been so busy I don’t even know where to start so instead of starting, I’m just going to jump right in mid-stream.

In the last few weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about health and nutrition.  I’ve got a number of little annoying health issues that have been bugging me (e.g. allergies, digestion due to lack of a gall bladder, arthritis in my foot left over from when I broke it, etc.) and I’ve been looking into ways to help these issues by doing something “simple” like changing my eating habits.

This of course isn’t a bad thing to do…in fact, it’s something I should probably be a little more conscious about anyhow.  I’ve already made changes in my lifestyle over the past few years between not eating any artificial sweetners, cutting out soda, hydrogenated oils, etc. but I’m feeling more like maybe something more radical is called for.

I expressed this interest/desire to a friend of mine at church who had some fabulous insight and pointed me to a detox plan that she and her husband have been doing for years now called “The Fast Track Detox Diet“.  Yeah, I know, sounds a little hokey, but she loaned me her book and, upon reading as well as listening to her story, it has prompted me to give it a try.

At its core, the plan is a liver/colon detox plan.  As everyone knows, we’re bombarded with toxins day-in-day-out in our normal environment.  With cancer, diabetes, and obesity on the constant rise, it certainly can’t hurt to employ a little more deliberate action into our eating and even going through a periodic detox, right?  So I’ve decided to give it a go.

This plan seemed a lot more feasible to me than others I’ve read about…  For one thing, it doesn’t require a unrealistic eating regimen to be followed for weeks on end.  It’s 11 days.  I don’t know about you, but I can’t control my environment and pantry for months-on-end, but 11 days I can certainly handle…

So this week has been about reading, gathering intelligence, and getting myself psyched out to start the plan.  My friend has been a huge help since she’s as excited as I am.  Since I recognize that the stage for success is set by surrounding myself with everything I need so I’m also working through my shopping list, meal plans, and all that jazz.

Thursday is the day I’ve set aside to hit the farmer’s markets and hook myself up with all the veggies I need.  The fruits are best gotten frozen, so I’ll probably make run to Whole Foods or the like to make sure I have plenty of organics in that department.  Veggies on the list include those which are known for being especially good for the liver & colon like artichokes, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.  Of course there are supplements involved such as whey, flaxseed oil, and other fun items like that.  In addition I can’t neglect my proteins which will include free range chicken, grass-fed beef, and farm-fresh eggs.

Another aspect to this whole process is the clarity that seems to come with detox so I think journaling will certainly be in order…  Not sure how much of it will be appropriate to place on the blog, but I will post what I can just so I can share with you all how the whole process goes.  I’m even looking at possibly getting a massage in during my detox day – it’s been over 2 years since I’ve had one of those so it would most definitely be a welcome addition to the day.

In particular I’ve been told/read that the juice fast day is one of particular mental and spiritual clarity and renewal.  Have to also admit that I can’t wait to see what God chooses to use this time for and what insight He might provide me during this time.

In essence, I am committing to “eating clean” for a solid 11 days including a one-day full-out juice detox day (7 days before the fast, and 3 days after).  The more I’ve read and researched, the more excited about the prospect I become.

Detox…bring it on!

Happiness Is

Things have been somewhat overwhelming recently. Work is nuts with 2 rounds of layoffs sweeping through in less than 6 months. My personal life is a mass of activities. My budget is rockin’ while my debt snowball is rollin’. My house is slowly having more things done to it which make it that much more like a home to me. And through all this madness, I’ve barely blogged except for the other day when I just felt the need to vent a little. I guess you could say it was a little verbal processing run amok.

Sidebar: I just was distracted by watching Chena bury some item of great value (at least to her) in the folds of a towel on the floor. But it’s cool, she’s a dog. It’s what she does. Still, kinda funny.

Anyway, despite my little online explosion the other day, I just wanted to let everyone know that I’m really doing pretty well – this especially for those of you who don’t see me all that often and might not know what to think when I don’t post for weeks and then suddenly come out with a message like I did on Monday.

But I’m good. I’m busy, I’m happy, I love my dog, I’m healthy, I have hardwood floors, I have a new patio door, I’m getting a new patio to go with it next week, and I’m employed. I’ve been thinking it over the past couple of days and decided that, despite any guy thing (or lack thereof) I’m not about to be bullied by happiness.

I should probably explain that last statement.

Dave Ramsey says in one of our FPU lessons (and he may have been quoting someone else, I don’t know) that if you’re not careful, happiness can become a “bully in a schoolyard”. Always drawing a line in the sand, but as soon as you step over that line – as soon as you obtain what you’re after – it moves. But happiness is not really the greener grass on the other side of the fence. Happiness is where you are right now, regardless of incidentals.

I think I started to learn this lesson somewhat when I was in England. I was frustrated with being in the UK – especially being so far out in the middle of nowhere. But I also knew that it was a good time in my life…something I would look back on and appreciate – although there were many times when I couldn’t wait to be “looking back” on it instead of living it! Still, I knew that this was the case, so I made a concerted effort to find things that I loved and appreciated about Leamington, Warwickshire, and the UK in general. Even now, I think back on that time and remember fondly my fabulous flat on Clarendon Square, the amazing Irish butter, Muellers Crumble Corners, riding my bike to work, walking everywhere, taking weekend trips into Europe, being so close to Stratford that I had a membership with the Royal Shakespeare Company at a “locals” rate… I could go on and on. So despite the fact that it was rough year (and I know I complained a lot), I still could appreciate it and still do. So much so that I’d go back for the right opportunity.

That whole concept of completing the phrase, “Happiness is [fill in the blank]” is really kinda difficult to do. Happiness is…uh…what? How can you define happiness if it’s a moving target? And there’s the rub.

Happiness isn’t that thing just out of reach. It’s not the marriage and kids you don’t have. It’s not the job you wished you’d gotten. It’s not the car you drive (or wish you drove). Neither is happiness a particular thing that happens once or many times over. Happiness is now. Happiness just IS.

If we don’t stop tying our happiness to the having or attaining of specific things, we’ll always be bullied by it and we’ll never find true contentment.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that sure, I’m missing some stuff from my life that I’d like to have, but ultimately, those missing items don’t necessarily detract from my ability to still see and enjoy and love and find happiness in where I am right now.

Paul said it like this in Philippians 4:11 – “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”

Rock on Paul. That’s what I’m talking about.

Say Anything

I have no idea what to write about today.  None.  In fact, I’ve had no idea what to write about for the last week – hence why I’ve posted nothing.  But my blog keeps staring at me (that’s right, it has eyes) and telling me I shouldn’t neglect it (it has a mouth too – sometimes it’s right, but sometimes I wish it would just stuff a sock in it).

Here’s the thing – I’m a writer.  No really, I am.   I’m not a writer in the sense that I actually publish stuff (unless you count my blog – my blog would probably count itself, but I would disagree because I control the printing).  So maybe I’m not a writer in the Pulitzer-Prize-winning-New-York-Times-Bestseller-Hollywood-wants-the-movie-rights sense, but I do write and always have.

I wrote my first full-length book at age 11 called “Dana of Warm Springs” which was inspired by and shamelessly modeled after – you guessed it – “Anne of Green Gables”.  I should probably mention that my first full-length story at age 7 called “The Oddness of Andrew” was inspired by and shamelessly centered on a boy in my 1st grade class named – you guessed it – Andrew.

Given these real (and somewhat embarrassing) facts, I feel like it just shouldn’t be that hard to string together enough words to create a new blog post.  And yet, it somehow is.

This is partially driven by the fact that I know I have readers, and I don’t want to disappoint you.   I don’t want to bother writing something that would either offend, annoy, or cause any of you to fall into a coma or wish for death.  I would hate to think that anyone would read my ramblings strictly out of a sense of duty either – I want this to be a fun and (dare I say) engaging experience for all. It would break my heart to think that reading one of my posts would be second only to a root canal in the amount of pain and anguish caused.

My blog is now telling me to shut-up and change the subject or it’s going to walk.  Fine.  Maybe if I just keep typing, something of interest will come to me.   I can’t believe I’m listening to a stupid blog.

Okay, so I’m just going to aimlessly type now.  Here goes…  Wish me luck!

So, the bulk of 2008 is behind us (phew!) and the future is in front of us (isn’t it always?), and I find myself again staring at the calendar in bewilderment wondering where the time has gone.  Seems to me I do this every year.  How very déjà vu.

I love November in general, mainly because it’s Thanksgiving month which is one of my favorite holidays. Christmas would be top of that list, but Thanksgiving is just plain fun with its pre-Winter weather and fabulous food. Yum. I think Americans (or at least this one) tend to see Thanksgiving as the official start of the “Holiday Season” which of course runs through New Years.

Since we’re nearing the end of the year, I’ve been taking a look back and trying to see how I’m doing on my 2008 resolutions overall.

For those who haven’t been following along all year, my resolutions were:

  • Lose weight
  • Live on a budget

To-date, I managed to get (and mostly stay) on Weight Watchers since January.  From January through July, I got myself almost  back to where I was when I moved from NYC.   To be totally honest, I fell off the proverbial wagon and into a vat of junk food for about 2.5 months, but a couple of weeks ago I got my slightly-fatter ass back on track and am almost back to where I had landed in August.  Of course the holidays will be tough, but I think I can do it.

The budget has been even better.  For quite possibly the first time in my life, I can actually tell you where every single cent that has come into my possession this year has gone.  I know what I’ve spent and where.   I know how much I have currently, and I know exactly what my last 3 paychecks of the year are going to do.   It is an amazing the control & peace that comes with being able to say that!  Part of this budget living has been with the objective of paying off as much debt as possible this year.  As I’ve said previously, my ultimate goal is to be debt-free by the end of 2010 (if not sooner) and I’m definitely on track to achieve that having gotten almost 50% paid off in 2008 alone.

Can I get a “WOW!”?

Now I know that 2009 will probably not allow me to make as huge a dent in this mountain – we’ve already been told that bonuses will be down and we may not see any raises this year.  Additionally, it’s looking like thanks to a miscalculation on my part, I may end up owing taxes as well.  But none of that matters right now because 2008 will still have been a smashing success in this area, and I am primed to at least keep moving forward.  Considering I have acquired no new debt since January and my credit cards were hacked to pieces in February, I think it’s safe to say that I will end in a much much MUCH better place than I did last year.

It’s still too early to start writing my 2009 resolutions as 2008 isn’t over yet.  But for what remains of the year, I just have to keep playing that line from the end of Star Wars where Luke and the other members of the Rebellion are out to destroy the Death Star and the one fighter pilot keeps saying to the others in this oddly calm voice: “Stay on target, stay on target.”

That will be my mantra for the next 7 weeks.  I promise I will write before then, but in the meantime, “May the Force be with you.”