Greetings, folks! Sorry I missed you for a week, but I’m back in the saddle now! (TLDR: we’re fine – just busy!)
Things this past week have been pretty crazy for us, hence the missed weekly update. Most of our free time has gone to grocery shopping and mandatory housework, plus the gradually-increasing role of exercise in our lives. I’ve been working toward getting the official 10,000 steps per day on workout days (I manage 9 out of every 10!) and I’m now aiming for 6,000 on other days, including weekends.
That’s still a LOT at my current fitness level, and trying to get more in on the weekends has proven to be quite the challenge. It’s so much harder for natural homebodies to achieve that kind of step count. Even though we’ve taken to visiting parks each weekend, and we do a lot more walking/standing than we used to, it often takes multiple circuits – or a lot of smaller walking tasks – to get the job done. All this, of course, takes time.
We are both still thrilled to be doing this program, and the “honeymoon stage” has yet to wear off despite how tired and sore we’ve been – we’re continuing to improve in leaps and bounds. The weight continues to drop, and our diets continue to evolve, and our bodies change in big and subtle ways every day. That said, the time commitment has been starting to get under our skin a little bit this week. Living at the Pro Club six to seven hours a day doesn’t leave a lot of time for other things, even the important ones like dishes and laundry, without forcing yourself to commit to those things immediately when you get home. That means dragging your tired, sore, and often sweaty behind to the kitchen, or the laundry room, without sitting down at all when you’ve just spent the last several hours on your feet. There’s no time to even breathe until you’re falling into bed.
I’m well aware this is how most people live. They have to, or things don’t get done. But that doesn’t change the fact that this is all still new to me, and I’ve never enjoyed this sort of intense time commitment. Being an introvert, and a heavy person for whom constant activity is not a natural state, I tend to prefer scheduling things so that I have an hour’s rest between tasks – enough to wind down, get my bearings, and just breathe. They tell me this will get easier, and that the effort needed to maintain the constant motion will lessen as time goes on, but that seems so far away at the moment. 20/20 is big about encouraging folks to manage their time well, and they do ask people to change their habits when it comes to living over-scheduled lives, but during the program, it’s somewhat inevitable that your entire life ends up on your feet.
Someday, when I can just go in, do my hour of gym time, and come home, it’ll all make sense. Right now, it just makes me want to SCREAM! But I’ve had my once-a-month day of frustration, and I’m mostly over it now. I’ve made my peace with the things that aren’t getting done, as much as it bothers me to know that I’m falling behind. My first priority right now has to be on my health, and that means the dishes will be a little backed up. The laundry will get done as needed. The dust might build up a little. My career will be a little slower than I had hoped it to be. My cats will have to forgive me for the amount of time I’ve been gone. The time I’m spending now is the time I should have spent on myself and my health over the last 30-some-odd years of my life, and if it’s uncomfortable – well, maybe I’ll remember not to do this to myself again next time.
Since I updated last, both John and I have added Stages 5 and 6 back to our diets. Stage 5 gave us access to milks, non-Greek yogurt, and flavored yogurts of all types. It wasn’t a particularly major milestone for us, since neither of us uses a lot of milk on/in things to begin with, and neither of us drinks it as a matter of course. Most things we think to add milk to are sauces and gravies, most of which we’re still not able to make because of added grain/corn thickeners. Cereal is still unavailable until Stage 7. The extra yogurt options have been nice, but so much of what is out there is SO SWEET! (Y’all are going to get tired of me saying this…) I’d much rather add my own fruits to plain yogurt these days, which is what the folks at 20/20 would prefer us to do as well. The flavored options are nice shortcuts if you need fast snacks or additions to meals, but they’re not really ideal choices.
We just got Stage 6 back today, which gives us beans and legumes. I wouldn’t have expected this when I first started 20/20, but this is the stage that I’ve been most looking forward to! Hummus used to be one of my favorite things to make and eat pre-program, and I’ve missed it terribly. Falafel, too. Both are healthy things to include in most diets, but because beans contain so many carbohydrates, they’re a late addition to the party. Regular beans and low-fat refried beans are also back, which I’m thrilled about – the minute I get my hands on the ingredients, there will be chili in this house! I still can’t do much with refried beans since tortillas aren’t viable yet, but rest assured, I will find a way, even if it’s just as a side for some shredded Mexican beef and veggies. There are lots of lentil soup recipes that I’d love to try making too.
It’s good that we’re both excited for this stage too, because it’s likely that we won’t be seeing Stage 7 – the final stage – anytime soon. That’s the stage that adds back whole grains, and it’s broken up into several mini-stages so that they can monitor whether specific things (potatoes, rice, wheat, corn) affect us differently than the others. This stage tends to cause trouble for a lot of people, and many find that they really can’t tolerate certain kinds of grains without halting or reversing their weight loss, so it’s kind of the “proceed at your own risk” stage. I’m a little scared to know that the possibility of permanently removing something from my diet is on the table, but I also know it’ll be so much better for me in the long run if/when I do it.
Until we’re ready to run the risk of encountering these problems, there’s absolutely no reason to try pushing ahead to Stage 7; we can make fantastic meals that are safe, calorie-friendly, and still have enough carbs to keep up our energy levels. It’s exactly the way of eating that I was focused on prior to 20/20, and I don’t think I’ll struggle much staying here for awhile. Maintaining form on the stages we do have access to, and continuing to prioritize good weight loss, are our main goals for the time being.
Going forward, this week should be a good one. Lots of catching up with friends, continued work on phone and driving things for me, and lots and LOTS of hard work. I’ve been warned that tomorrow is going to be my tough exercise day; all Erin has to tell me is that I’ll be doing the elliptical and I know I should make sure my affairs are in order. If I don’t make it, just make sure that this blog lives on in memory and data, would you kindly?
I do have two major announcements, though. First: guess who has been on her first official stair master? That’s right… moi. I’ve never been more terrified of anything in my life; it was the one thing I admitted flat out I could never see myself doing while meeting my trainer. Maybe it’s because stairs have always been incredibly difficult for me, or maybe it’s because I’ve fallen down a couple flights of stairs in my life, at my biggest size, with not-insignificant injury; I don’t know. All I know is that when Erin suggested I try it last week, I stared at her for a full minute. Unblinking. And then… I agreed to try. I know she would have been patient with me if I’d refused, but I’ve learned something about myself over the last eight weeks – I can do anything I set my mind to doing. I was never going to get LESS scared of it without trying it, and I’m in this program to learn to fear things less. Period.
I only made it about a minute and a half on the slowest possible setting before begging off (it was the end of the session anyway) but that was a) more than I had to do, and b) longer than my first experience on the elliptical! I’m not going to say I enjoyed it, but I’m so proud of myself for trying despite the fear. I want to keep trying more as I get stronger, too. As the Bosu balance trainer has taught me, I have a tendency to want to master those things I used to fear; I’d like to have this become the same thing again. (I bought a Bosu for home use, and Erin knows it and has me do homework with it. It’s a challenge, but it’s actually kind of fun!)
Last but not least… the big one. Seriously. I saw my endocrinologist last Thursday for my first official checkup since starting 20/20. That, of course, means a new hemoglobin A1C test to gauge how well my diabetes is under control. First, a breakdown: for those that don’t know, the normal human body maintains an A1C value lower than 5.7. Type 2 diabetics often aim for this threshold and are expected to be able to achieve it. Type 1 diabetics are generally considered to be in good control if their A1C is less than 7.0, though lower is always better. A diabetic wishing to get pregnant should aim for 6.5 or lower to minimize risk of birth defects, potential complications, and potential transmission of the disease to the baby.
My last test back in early February was already the lowest A1C I’ve ever had in my life, at 6.3. That’s miles better than my previous record of 7.0 exactly, and my endocrinologist warned me that the results were probably a little bit skewed because of the low blood sugars I’d been getting at the time. Still, that DID put me within range of a safe pregnancy, which was amazing to me – I’d never believed I was capable of that, much less seeing it with my own eyes! Needless to say, I was prepared for this checkup to be higher than 6.3 – perhaps just a little, like 6.5 or 6.8. That’s what I guessed when my endocrinologist asked me to guess without telling me first – I should have known there was a reason for her asking me that. Normally she’s eager to tell me so she can suggest changes. 🙂
I nearly fell off the exam table when she said it.
Five. Point. Nine.
I do know that I’m still getting lows from time to time. This is almost certainly an optimistic view – but it’s a view nonetheless, and it’s a view of a diabetic that has completely taken control of the disease instead of getting steamrolled by it. There isn’t much that I could do, in the diabetic body that I inhabit, to make this value any better than what it is. Coming from a girl who used to be somewhere in the 13.0 range at times in her life, and more recently could only say she’d ranged from 7.5 to 8.5, I am still trying to process the ramifications of this in my own brain. Those just aren’t numbers I’ve heard before! It sounds like people are talking about someone else still, not me. It was just last year that I was still apologizing for all the things I was still doing wrong, or refusing to do, or unable to do, in regard to my health.
If there was ever any doubt that I’ve changed, the proof is in my blood now, and not just in my brain. Now the goal is to maintain it for as long as possible, so that I’m here to meet whatever kids and grandkids may be in my future! I’m looking forward to it, one day at a time.
The door is finally open.