A brief note to anyone who tried to visit this blog in the last couple of weeks: if you saw a warning about this site being a possible security risk, please rest easy. There’s nothing dangerous or untoward about this website, and your computers aren’t at risk by coming here. I wouldn’t even know how to hack a computer or send a virus if I tried. 🙂 We’re still not sure what happened, as John tells me the security certificate for the site should have been updating regularly without input, but something went awry and the result was that error. It should be taken care of now, and hopefully you won’t see anything like that ever again. Thanks so much to those of you that brought it to my attention, and I apologize for any confusion or concern that resulted from it!
My humblest apologies for being MIA for almost a month, (?!) dear readers. July came and went much like fireworks; while colorful and delightful in bursts, it was also a bit noisy and didn’t last as long as we’d hoped!
Tomorrow will mark the end of our 20th week in the program. For those keeping track, that’s 20 of a total 28, which means we’re approaching our final two months of work! It doesn’t seem possible that we’re this far along; some days, it feels like we just started. And yet, most days we roll out of bed, follow the routine that’s become so familiar to us after four months of practice, and feel like we’re been doing this forever. While both of us still have a day or two where it would be far preferable to crawl back into bed and hide, we look forward to facing the future, one day at a time. It has become easier to grit our teeth and “get it done” (No, I’m not giving Nike the satisfaction, darn it) than it is to run away from something we know is worth every bead of sweat.
Our diets have not changed since the last update, because there’s nothing to add. The game now is far more about learning to balance things well, as opposed to making do with fewer options. I’ve said this before, but there are no “punishments” for eating “bad” foods. Lectures don’t exist as far as we’ve seen. If we do it, though, we have to account for it – we have to tell them we did it, and then they will help talk us through why we might have done it, and what we might do instead if that situation arises again. Even better – we have to plan for it by balancing our other choices well for a day or two to compensate. Consciously choosing a cheeseburger when you’ve had an otherwise healthy week and you plan to exercise is different than being tired, depressed, and running to a cheeseburger because it’s delicious and it’ll help you feel better and you just don’t care anyway.
For me, I can’t even imagine a world in which I ate what I used to; one bite of anything off-plan and I’m just overwhelmed. The old stuff still SOUNDS good… but in the back of my mind, I know that even if I went out and got it, it wouldn’t taste like it used to. And I’d be hungry later. And I’d have to work twice as hard to burn it off. Doing the mental calculation to figure out if things are worth it is often enough of a deterrent that we fall back to doing what we “should” anyway. We are making plans to test out some of our old behaviors while we’re still on the program, so that we know how the real world will affect us, but I feel in my entire body that the way they’ve taught me to do things really WORKS. I have the energy and the strength I need to keep up with the difficulty of the program, I’m losing weight every week, and I’m rarely if ever hungry. As someone who used to often eat without feeling fulfilled at all, I can’t tell you how different that feels.
Our 20-week measurements will happen tomorrow, so I can’t give you that data yet – but I CAN tell you that both of us have lost an amazing amount of weight so far. John has lost about 100 pounds since January! While I have always loved his heart and mind first, and the shape and size of his body has never been a condition for my love and respect, it is exciting (and often a bit embarrassing!) for me to look at the man I married and realize that he’s getting more attractive as time goes on. Feeling like a schoolgirl isn’t something I was prepared for after fifteen years of being a couple and almost ten years of marriage, but there you have it! He’s smaller now than he was when I first met him, and I know that’s something he’s incredibly proud of. He’s done amazing work both physically and mentally to get this far, and I couldn’t be prouder of him. I’m a lucky lady to know him, much less be married to him, and every day I’m more honored to be a part of his life and his world. We’re a long way from MUDs and Gundam Wing now, but I feel as if we’re finally on our way to becoming the people we wanted to be back then in physical form, rather than just the mental and emotional ones.
For my part, I’m down about 50 pounds from where I was in January. My progress on the program continues to be slower than the average, but it continues to be steady and every day makes a huge difference. Considering that I was almost helpless when I started in March, so much of the change in me has been about building muscle and transforming fat into much-needed strength. While the number on the scale might not have changed much, the composition of my body sure has. As I like to joke, I still have “rolls” in places I wish I didn’t, but they’re smaller and smaller every day, and now there’s good, hard muscle in most places instead of just flab. For the first time in my life, I have visible muscle definition in my arms and legs – and when I look down, I almost can’t see my belly anymore! I’ve been told repeatedly not to try to compete with John’s rate of progress, since he’s a) male and b) a non-diabetic, so there was never any expectation that I’d match his progress at this point. From what I’ve seen, this is fairly typical of graduating 20/20 couples. Making sure that my brain understands this as logical, scientific fact, and not people making excuses to be kind to me, is a challenge I still face every so often.
Class attendance continues to be a thing for both of us. I’m still enjoying the heck out of my TRX classes! Alas, I’m stuck doing my own thing for a couple of sessions, as the rooms the Pro Club uses for the classes I enjoy are closed while the floors are resurfaced. According to everyone I’ve talked to, this is a yearly tradition. I’m chomping at the bit to get back to the straps, and that’s partially because I miss it – and partially because my trainer has me returning to 6-7 mile stationary bike rides when I don’t go! There’s no comparison as far as my brain is concerned. I can’t lose myself in the bike rhythm the same way that I do with with TRX. It hits that sweet spot where I’m so focused on trying to do things harder, more correctly, or sometimes AT ALL, that I don’t notice how hard I’ve been working until it’s over. I didn’t realize it until recently, but that’s also how I feel about Dance Dance Revolution when I play. I’m the obsessive sort that likes to play a song PERFECT and I get mad when I miss steps, so it’s very easy to fall into a pattern of “okay great, you didn’t fail to complete the song… but you can do better next time!” With TRX, I’ll go and practice moves I was bad at in class for the same reason.
On a similar note, I’ve now been to my first PROjam class! As I mentioned before, it is an aerobics/dance class focused on hip-hop dancing. Because of DDR and other dance games, I love to dance, but I am nothing if not a stiff dancer. People watching me play DDR were always impressed, but the going comment was always that I looked like I was Riverdancing – which is kind of cool, I love Riverdance! – but not exactly what the game is designed to produce. The little bit I knew about hip-hop dancing before class had already prepared me for the fact that I’d have a LONG road ahead of me when it came to that, and everyone I’d talked to told me that the first class is always the worst because you WILL feel like you have no idea what you’re doing. John had the chance to go to a PROjam class once by himself (since I’d gotten sick; I was supposed to go too) and he told me that the instructor is a professional dancer that makes up all of his routines on the fly, so no two classes are the same. There’s no guarantee that what you learn in one class will help you in the next; the goal is to keep you moving in a fun and enjoyable way, not to teach you specific dance routines. In some ways that makes it harder, though!
I’m not going to lie – I felt COMPLETELY out of my element. I’d screwed up enough courage to convince myself I’d be good when I walked in the door; that lasted about five minutes and change. After that, it was a matter of desperately trying to keep up without accidentally getting in someone else’s way. The instructor was a ton of fun, and despite the difficulty, I think I am going to love this class long-term… but I no longer have any illusions about having a leg up here. Being able to keep the beat is great, but far more useful is the ability to look at someone performing a move and then trying to do it with your own body. Even his slowest, “practice” pace is about twice as fast as I feel like I need – and then he picks up the pace after a few repetitions to help people learn, so you’d better hope you learned it well enough by then to do it! I don’t think I humiliated myself, but I know I’ll need a lot more practice before I can call myself anything even approaching “good.” That’s OK. That’s the kind of thing I enjoy, after all. And maybe by the time I’ve done this, and lost all the weight I need to lose, I’ll have some idea of how to dance in a club well enough to meet that particular post-20/20 goal. 🙂
John has also picked up a class of his own. The Pro Club has a tai chi class that you have to enroll in – unlike punch-card classes, enrollment classes are reserved for programs that build on themselves and expect you to retain knowledge from one class before going to the next, and the next, and the next. I was interested too, right up until I realized that they only have one class, and it’s late at night on Tuesdays – the same day as my TRX class. Part of me wanted to dive in and not worry about the consequences, but I decided that part of me was insane. The only way I survive TRX is with the help of a hot tub; I can’t imagine what shape I’d be in for the rest of the week trying to add more on that day. If they ever have it on a different day, or if/when I get strong enough that TRX doesn’t punish me quite as badly anymore, I might look into it. For now, I’m living vicariously through John, who has loved the few classes he’s been to so far. It’s a several-week commitment (with a break because of the studio resurfacing) so he’s learning more and more every week. I have yet to see him in the act of practicing, but I know he does it; I’ll have to spy a little closer sometime and see what I think of it. 🙂
Because of all the class commitments, Tuesdays have once again become our longest days at the gym. We arrive around 11:30 in the morning for me to go to TRX, and for John to work out on his own. We meet back up after that for our dietitian appointments, followed by lunch. At that point, he goes back to work, while I stick around the gym to finish getting my steps in for the day. We meet back up for dinner at the bistro, and then he goes to class. I could drive myself home at that point, but that would leave John to bus or taxi home after class; I’d have about half an hour at home before having to return to pick him up otherwise, and that’s not worth the hassle. I’ve committed to staying in the lobby and doing work of some kind on my phone, whether that’s game/story planning, emailing, blog posting, or something else, until he’s done around 9:00 PM. Again, if you’d told me I’d be happy about spending almost twelve hours at a gym four months ago, I would have laughed at you. I’m always, ALWAYS ready to hit dirt by the time he’s finished, but I’ve gotten to the point where I look forward to Tuesdays.
Last but not least… I have an update on John’s health. I haven’t talked a lot about it here, just because I haven’t wanted to overshare things without running them by him. He’s been OK with it though, and I wanted to be sure that worried folks know what’s going on. Long story short, John has been slightly anemic since the beginning of January. His doctors thought it might be a testosterone issue, which he’s being treated for, but despite the treatment working well overall, his anemia continued to worsen. They decided that in the absence of any visible, obvious cause of the anemia, they wanted to do a combined upper endoscopy and colonoscopy to rule out any internal bleeding. Those procedures happened a couple of weeks ago. He came through them with flying colors, and I got to play nursemaid to the best of my ability for a couple of days while he recovered. 🙂
The results from that have borne fruit. They found and removed several small polyps. However, one larger polyp in particular was very quick to bleed during inspection, enough that they had to place a small clamp on it to stop the bleeding while they proceeded with the test. While the tests didn’t indicate anything dangerous about it, the frequent disturbing of that polyp is causing enough blood loss to translate to anemia. Because of the length of the procedures, they decided not to remove that one while they were in there, but they want him to go back and have it removed under deeper anesthesia at the end of August. In short: we have a culprit and we know what to do now, though it will involve another trip to the hospital and another sedation – this time in Seattle. (Yes, that means I’ll be driving us back. From Seattle. Yes, I am terrified. But I’ll do it.)
That said… while the vast majority of the polyps they found were 100% benign, they did find one adenoma. They removed it, but they want to repeat the colonoscopy in five years to make sure that it doesn’t grow back. Neither of us have thought about this finding much, because the idea that it might have developed into cancer if left untreated is too scary to even begin to process. It’s important to remember that an adenoma is not cancer; it’s a growth that has the potential to become cancerous in the future. It’s a definite red flag and cause for concern, but by no means does it indicate an imminent threat. That doesn’t make it less scary, though.
There has always been a part of me that looks at how fortunate John and I were to find each other and fall in love in this life, and applies the writer’s lens; in all the stories, these are the impossible, amazing kinds of things that are not meant to last. It’s a fear that I’ve only recently been brave enough to put into words, through therapy and with the rest of my 20/20 team. It’s not as if I don’t know that terrible things could happen to anyone and everyone I love; I’ve seen enough of that in my thirty-two years on this planet. I just don’t know if I could bear losing this man that means everything to me. Don’t misunderstand; if it ever came to it, I have every faith that I could survive on my own. I’m strong, I’m independent, and I don’t give up easily, and that would take me far in life. But John has been more than my husband; he’s my best friend and the person I love and respect most in my life. There is nobody that understands me, and nobody that I understand, more than him. Maybe I could survive, but I can’t imagine ever being happy again if something were to happen to him. He’s more a part of me than I could ever have imagined or dreamed of as a kid. Without him, my world would be a darker place.
If nothing else, all of this has served as a reminder to treasure even more what we have together. We’re still young in the grand scheme of things, and I have every faith that we still have another forty or fifty years of joy still ahead of us – even moreso, now that we’re getting healthy and eating right! But the unknown is always out there, and always has plans that none of us can foresee. I’ve wasted enough time through suffering at the hands of my own mind; I want to spend the rest of my life making sure that I know what’s really important and fighting for the things that I love and cherish most. I don’t know how I would make it through the day without John by my side, and I’m more grateful than ever to be blessed with the honor of his love. You’ll have to forgive me for being sappy, because as shy as I am about public declarations of love, I don’t ever want to wake up one day and realize that I left it all unsaid because I was afraid of what people would think of me for saying it.
As a final, more uplifting note… our shared EXPER3 plans continue to develop. We thought we’d have started officially by now, but all the health scares and gym stuff continue to take precedence. We still plan to do it this year, but we’ll be starting later than our usual plans would suggest. I’ll be happy to share more details with you all once we’ve started the process in earnest! Until then, keep your eyes peeled. I don’t want to wait any later than this month to start the ball rolling, so things should happen soon!
I’ll check in as soon as possible to let you all know the results of tomorrow’s measurements. Until then, please take this opportunity to remind the people you love that they mean the world to you. What starts as a minor, routine health procedure can sometimes force you to face the unthinkable, even at a distance. Every moment is precious to all of us, and now is the time to say the things you need to say. Too many of us wait longer than we should, and that road is paved with regrets, blame, and self-loathing; it’s far easier to say it now, when the people we love are still lucid, aware, and able to hear and understand the words we say to them. Fearing the future isn’t going to change or stop whatever’s going to happen to each of us someday, but what we say while we have the opportunity will speak far louder than the final word in the end.