posting after a hiatus

I haven’t posted to this site in a long time, but I have, to me, interesting news about my health and weight. I recently weighed myself after a long absence from the scales. In August 2021, I weighed 223 pounds. On December 31, 2021, four months later, I weighed 214, a loss of 9 pounds. If you read other posts in this blog, you will find that I have had a life-long problem with weight. I last weighed 214 in 1980 when I was 26 years old.

~

~

So how did I lose this weight? I have continued my efforts to lose weight but I have also had a number of health problems that have contributed to the weight loss. In April, I was diagnosed with a cancer associated with the salivary gland. The prognosis for this type of cancer is good, so I began treatment by having the gland and associated lump removed. Then, to reduce the likelihood of recurrence even further, I underwent five weeks of radiation therapy.

~

During the radiation, I was monitored closely by my team since undesirable weight loss is sometimes a result of the treatment. By the end of the treatment, in August, I had lost only 2 pounds. For the first time in my life, they clapped when I did not lose weight.

~

However, since then, a couple of results of the loss of a salivary gland have contributed to my eating less. First, my taste was strange for a short time, perhaps two months, after the radiation treatments ended. I still have problems with the taste of cold sweet things, removing popsicles and ice cream from my diet. Second, I have lost my appetite, perhaps also a result of the lower saliva. Working with food to prepare it has become a distasteful activity and my husband says I eat only a small amount compared to past days.

~

~

There is another contributor to this puzzle. I am a Type 2 Diabetic and take several medications including insulin. My sugars have been under good control since I started taking a medication called Forxiga. This medication is associated with some weight loss and certainly contributed to an initial loss when I started taking it a few years ago. It may be that the medication is still contributing to some of my weight loss.

~

Weight loss can be bad for someone my age, especially if the loss is of muscle rather than fat. I definitely have some muscle loss due to a lot of sitting around in the hospital during my treatments. When I came home, for example, I noticed climbing stairs was no longer easy. I am happy with the weight loss since less weight will help my diabetes and my arthritis, but I have to take steps now to improve my muscle status.

~

For this reason, I have recommenced my program of stationary biking. I did a lot of stationary biking from 2015 to 2018, but then I became involved in other uses of my time. My goal now is to do 15 minutes of stationary cycling every second day until it becomes a little easier for me. Then I can consider increasing the time or frequency.

~

~

For that reason, I will start to post my experience with the biking. Being accountable helps me realize my exercise goals.

~

Until next time, take care of yourself!

All my best,

Alexandra

Advertisement

a new goal

A year ago, I decided that losing one pound per week over the next year would be a good goal. After all, one pound per week is not so hard. Right??? Right.
~
Although setting a goal was a good thing, I may have been unrealistic in my expectations. When it comes to weight loss, one year is a big chunk to tackle. I have read that aiming for a 5-10% loss of weight may be a more realistic, attainable goal.
~
So, my new long term goal is to aim to lose 5% of my weight during the next three months. That would be 13 pounds.
~
To do this, I will do the following:
1. reduce the amount of fat in my diet and eat more fruit and vegetables
2. keep track of my daily eating and exercise using MyFitnessPal http://www.myfitnesspal.com/
3. keep up my routine of morning stretches and stationary cycling
4. reward myself for progress
5. weigh myself once per week (Wednesday) and report my progress here (see Weight tab above)
~
IMG782_crop2
~
Best always,
Alexandra

update on my long-term goal

My long-term goal is to lose 52 pounds by November 23 of this year.  One pound a week.  That didn’t sound too strenuous.

Well, after over six weeks, I have lost one pound.  One pound.  I couldn’t squeeze even another quarter pound from that highly-accurate, uncompromising scale of mine.

unhappy Alexandra

When I set my one pound per week goal, I knew it might be difficult.  It is certainly harder to lose weight at 59 than it was at 29.  I can remember losing 10 pounds in one week when I was in my 30s (mostly water, of course, and it didn’t stay gone).

IMG811_crop3

I did not gain over Christmas, in spite of the constant presence of temptation, and I did allow myself many, many, many treats (many).

So one pound isn’t so bad.  One pound down and 51 to go.

IMG811_crop

Good grief.

Best always, Alexandra

IMG782_crop2

weighing in

It has been 25 days since I made a commitment to try and improve my wellness and to lose some weight.

So far, I have lost one pound and worked to improve my eating habits and the frequency of my exercise.  I have not achieved the magnificent weight loss I intended.

unhappy Alexandra

On paper, losing weight seems so easy.  Set a goal, describe a behavior to change ….  substantial weight loss is only a pen stroke away.

Then the excuses begin.  It is Christmas time and eating is part of the celebration.  Those cookies look so delicious.  And they have sprinkles!  A taste of chocolate would feel really good right now.  It is too cold outside to walk.  I need to watch this program on TV.  I will begin again tomorrow.

I will always have excuses.  However I have made some changes for the better and I need to focus on maintaining these.  I have been drinking more fluids. I have brought my evening eating under control most of the time.  I did not over-indulge at the parties I have attended.

What I have not done is reduce my caloric intake to match my metabolic requirements.  Calories in, calories out.

When I went to the dietician, she said increasing my metabolism would occur if I:

  1. exercise more regularly
  2. eat regularly through the day
  3. include protein at every meal

If I look at my goals, both short and long-term, they are designed to help increase my metabolism.  All I have to do is keep working to reach them.  So easy on paper.

Best always, Alexandra

IMG782_crop2

protein for breakfast

Another short-term goal!

Goal #8: To eat a serving of protein with breakfast each morning.

I always eat breakfast.  I usually have toast or cereal, milk, and fruit.  Sometimes I have protein.  Sometimes just carbohydrates ….

I know that adding protein to my diet early in the day helps get my metabolism going, and provides the building blocks for muscle.  It also gives me energy and makes me feel full for longer.

I have to take some cautions with proteins since I have gout.  Too much protein can aggravate this condition.  A flare-up for me means very painful toes for a few days.

Examples of protein for breakfast:

  • peanut butter
  • Greek yogurt
  • kippered snacks (my Dad often ate fish with breakfast)
  • almonds or other tree nuts
  • cottage cheese
  • eggs ( usually in an omelet with red peppers and onions)

Here is the scrapbook page I will use to keep track of my progress:

IMG808_crop

Do you eat protein with your breakfast???

Best always, Alexandra

IMG782_crop2

drinking water for health – results

This week I kept track of the amount of fluids I drink during the day.

I learned:

  • I need to drink more milk
  • I need to remind myself to drink water, especially early in the day
  • I usually add some lime juice to my water (makes it taste better)
  • I had a hard time staying away from soft drinks but overall I did well
  • I drank juice every day, but in small quantities
  • I do not drink tea every day

IMG803_crop

Best always, Alexandra

drinking water

reminders

When I am on a wellness program with specific goals, it is easy for me to ‘forget’ those goals and ‘forget’ to pay attention to my behavior.  Sometimes it is an excuse for why I am not following my program.  Sometimes I get busy and I do forget.

It helps me to keep reminders in plain view.  Some people need to file things away, some people need to have things out where they can see them.  If I file things away, they do not exist for me.  ‘Out of sight, out of mind’.

So far, I have kept four reminders of my program in plain sight:

1. my spiral notebook – a workbook where I record progress on my current short-term goals

workbook

2. my sticker rewards – old business cards that I gradually fill with stickers as I make progress towards my goals – once a card is full, I can claim a small reward for my efforts

rewards

3. a bulletin board with short reminders of the goals I am working on

bulletin board
the toadstool is one of my evening knitting projects

4. my bowl of ‘finds’ from my walks

'finds' from my walks
since I walk in the woods, my ‘finds’ so far are lichens, leaves and acorns!

What do you use to remind yourself of the progress you are making towards your goals?

Best always, Alexandra 

IMG782_crop2

drinking water for health

Drinking water is so good for me.  It fills me up, keeps me from being dehydrated (and thus keeps my metabolism going), keeps my joints lubricated and flushes toxins from my body.  It is just about the easiest thing I can do to keep well.

drinking water

I try to drink 6 glasses (cups) of water per day.  The Dietitians of Canada website (http://www.dietitians.ca/Nutrition-Resources-A-Z/Factsheets/Miscellaneous/Why-is-water-so-important-for-my-body—Know-when-.aspx) suggests that women drink 9 cups of fluid a day!  Some of the fluid can be supplied from milk, tea and coffee, juice and so on.  I limit tea and coffee since they contain caffeine.  I rarely drink soft drinks since they contain loads of sugar.  I go through bouts when I drink sugar-free soft drinks non-stop, but I always wonder what the sweeteners are doing to my body.  I also rarely drink juice since it makes my blood glucose too high.

I usually have one cup of tea per day and at least two cups of milk, so on an ideal day, I am at 9 cups per day.  On an ideal day…  well, there are certainly days when I don’t drink the fluids I should.  For some reason, I also have a hard time drinking fluids early in the day.  So I can always use some encouragement and a few reminders.

Over the next five days, I am going to keep track of my fluid intake.  I can do this with both of my I-Pad tracker apps, MyFitnessPal‘  (http://www.myfitnesspal.com/) and  ‘CheckOff Diet Tracker’ (New Angle Technologies LLC).  However, I also made a page in my notebook to keep track of the water and other fluids I am drinking.  Since I can keep my notebook nearby, I can keep my goal of drinking fluids literally ‘in sight’.

Goal #7: to drink nine cups of fluids each day for five days, including at least two cups of milk, one cup of tea and no juice or regular/diet soda.

drinking water

In five days, I’ll tell you if I achieved my goal of nine cups of fluid per day.

Follow along with me if you like.  Let me know how you do!

Best always, Alexandra

IMG782_crop2

rewards of a wellness program

These days, most stores and businesses invite you to join a rewards program.  There are various programs for air miles rewards, points to collect to earn sets of dishes in grocery stores, store dollars to earn gift cards and point systems to earn store merchandise.  I think I will develop my own system of rewards, to recognise the work I do to try and improve my wellness.

Long-term rewards

I expect some of the significant, long-term rewards of exercise, healthy eating and weight-loss will be:

physical rewards – these, of course, are the most worthwhile rewards.  Since I started stationary cycling in January, my blood pressure is down, my blood sugars are under control, my bad cholesterol is lower and my good cholesterol is up.  These may not be directly due to the cycling, but my dietician says my exercise is at least partly responsible.  Also, my stamina is up.  I am more likely to go shopping, do a bout of house cleaning or volunteer to get the mail than I was a year ago.

years of life – the very best reward for my program of wellness will be more time – more time with my husband, time to watch my son grow and build his life, more time to spend doing the things I love.

days of good health – a healthier me will mean fewer days of illness.  The reward may be one less cold to drag me down, stronger bones so I don’t break anything if I fall, and better balance so I won’t fall at all!

Since I have diabetes, exercise, weight-loss and proper eating will help me to avoid so many bad problems associated with this disease.

Quick rewards

The longer-term health-related benefits of a wellness program aren’t always easy to grasp.  Although wellness is so important, more tangible, short-term rewards may be more motivating.

My approach is to reward myself and remind myself at the same time. Ways to ‘count’ those positive actions:

  • gradually fill a small jar with buttons
  • add a nickel to a piggy bank
  • sharpen a pencil from a bundle of dull pencils
  • add a bead or a piece of macaroni to a string
  • put a magnet on the refrigerator

As I’ve said before, I find stickers to be both a reward and a good way to keep track of my good behaviors.  Stickers are inexpensive.  I also save and use the stickers and stamps I receive in the mail as promotions.

My rewards program will be to add stickers to a card, the way I do when I collect rewards at the grocery store.  For cards, I am using the stack of extra business cards I have accumulated over the years.  Each time I do something positive towards my wellness (eat a vegetable, drink milk, go for a walk, and so on), I’ll add a sticker to my card.  When I fill a card so none of the printing on the business card is visible, I will reward myself.  For example, the card I am working on now will earn me a new e-book.  I write the reward I am working towards on the card so I will be motivated to work harder towards my various goals.

stickers on a business card
a rewards system for working towards wellness – stickers on a business card

There are lots of inexpensive items I can work towards with my rewards program:

  • a new e-book
  • a yard of material for a new sewing project
  • a ball of yarn
  • a bar of home-made soap
  • a scented candle
  • a trip to the salon
  • a magazine
  • a new bunch of stickers!

I’d encourage you to design your own rewards program.  It will help you keep track of the positive changes you make and it will teach you to reward yourself with something other than food!

Best always, Alexandra

IMG782_crop2

going for a walk

At the end of January, I began a program of biking on my stationary cycle and nine months later I can report that I have biked for 30 minutes every two or three days.  This has helped my health in so many ways.  For example, my blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol readings are all close to normal and vastly improved over what they were a year ago.

However, I recently had the experience of navigating the Toronto International Airport.  After two hours of trying to get to the next gate in time, I was a red-faced ball of sweat.  In spite of all my cycling, my exercise had not prepared me for strenuous walking carrying luggage over a long distance.  I think this is because my stationary cycling has not been weight-bearing exercise.

Osteoarthritis in my knees prevents me from doing as much walking as I used to do.  Most days, I walk to do errands or to work around the house, but I have not been walking for exercise for a long time.  In spite of my knee pain, I know that it is good to keep moving.  Walking within my abilities would be good for me.

Ten minutes of walking is about all I can do at the present time, but I think a regular walk outside would make some improvement in my stamina and cardiac health.  Weight-bearing exercise is also good for preventing bone loss as I get older.

Goal #4:   My third medium term, four-week goal is to begin to go for a short 10 minute walk outside every day (November 23 to December 23, 2013)

Tonight, I went walking after supper.  It was dark, cold and windy, but I bundled up in layers and out I went.  The wind was wild in the trees and there was a dusting of new snow on the ground.  It was good to see our neighborhood lights and know that everyone is settling in for the night.  We live in a rural area and some of those lights are at a distance, through the trees. A few cars went by on the road, but no birds or animals were about, so I felt alone on my walking quest for wellness!!!

IMG787_crop

Usually I try to bring back something interesting from my walks.  I put a big bowl by the entryway and I intend to fill this with the things I find.   This will be a visible reminder of the walks I have taken.

From my walk yesterday, I brought in a bit of Old Man’s Beard, a lichen that grows in dead trees in our area.

Old Man's Beard on a twig
Old Man’s Beard on a twig (the paperclip is for scale)

Do you walk outside every day and where do you walk?

Best always, Alexandra

IMG782_crop2