Taking Back My Power

Hello Wonderful Blog Readers!

I’m one week into focusing on my health again and I feel great! I have no technical success to speak of yet (i.e. pounds down, inches lost, etc.) but I’ve been able to meet my initial goals which are all habit-based:

  • Logging my food daily
  • Hitting 10,000 steps daily (this is big since I’m recovering from a major injury)
  • Getting back to actively thinking about what I eat

Obviously this is just a start but rebuilding my healthy habits is the only way I’m going to truly get healthy again.

I know enough about health and fitness goals to know the food I eat is more important than the exercise I get in, but I have to say it feels AMAZING to get back to a 10,000 step goal. Before my injury happened I had finally reached a point in my life where I considered myself to be athletic. Because of that, the last 5 months of recovery has been brutal. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of things I love that I still can’t do:

  • Running
  • Insanity
  • Kickboxing (although I’m close to getting back to the fundamentals for this)
  • Rollerblading

All that being said, getting back to 10,000 steps feels a lot like taking my power back. If I can do 10,000 steps, I can eventually get back to everything, including my healthy goals, my healthiest weight, and even my final ideal weight and size.

I will get there. It’s just a matter of time!

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A New Journey

Around June of last year I rebranded my blog “Healthy Rewrite” because I wanted to explore the concept of how the average person’s struggle to become healthy was similar to that of the epic hero’s journey in a story. That was after about a year of success in getting healthy myself.

As often happens in situations like that, shortly after I rebranded I started to fall off on posting. Now, this year, I’ve fallen off the healthy habits I worked so hard to build. As I sit back and think through what happened I know that part of my recent drop off is due to very real obstacles that have risen up against me this year. But a very large part of it is that I also stopped holding myself accountable through this blog.

So, I’m back. And I’m back for good. Because I need the accountability and because blogging about it helps me maintain that while also supporting others through the same struggles.

So how does all this relate to my own Healthy Hero’s Journey? Well, for the sake of really re-engaging in this blog, let’s refresh. The Healthy Hero’s Journey is made up of very distinct parts:

  • The Call to Adventure. That moment where you realize your journey is no longer an option but has become an action necessary for your own life and happiness.
  • Discovery of Resources. Taking inventory of the resources that will help you on the road to success. This step may also involve the search for new tools and resources.
  • Trial & Error. Putting those resources to work for you until you find the magic formula that meets your individual needs.
  • Reaching the Reward. The final, beautiful step, where you actually reach your goals. This is your moment of triumph!

Many of us, including myself, start the cycle of this journey over and over in our lives without ever Reaching the Reward. Or, in just as many cases, we actually to reach the final level and then fall off entirely and have to start over.

I can be honest and say that I never reached my reward. I got very close to it and had a lot of success but I never reached my primary weight loss objectives. I would have been happy to linger in the Trial & Error part of my story for a while longer but, alas, I have fallen all the way back to the Call to Adventure step.

Why is that? Because I came across an obstacle this last year, while in the Trial & Error part of my journey, which proved to be too big. It beat me down and I’m still struggling to overcome it. What was it?

A pelvic stress fracture.

Of all the injuries I thought I’d face as a runner that was the least of my worries. And let me tell you, you don’t realize how much all of your bones and muscles work together until the biggest bone right in the middle of your body suddenly has a giant (“rather nasty” as my doctor’s called it) crack in it.

I spent 11 weeks on crutches and in a wheelchair. Now I’ve gone through 8 weeks of physical therapy and the orthopedist is telling me I still need to wait 3 more months before I start running. Prior to this injury I was running 2-3 half marathons per year and had just signed up for my first full marathon so another 3 months of no running feels like pure torture. But I guess I can see their point since I haven’t been able to work up to more than 15 minutes of interval speed walking on a treadmill.

More important than all that is the impact this stress fracture has had on my healthy habits. In the last 5 months, I’ve:

  • Gone back to stress eating
  • Gotten in way less activity (obviously)
  • Fallen off of eating my fruits and veggies
  • Stopped tracking my caloric intake
  • Stopped watching my portions
  • Gone back to eating whatever “sounds good”

As a result, I’ve noticed many of my clothes fitting tighter and I’ve gained back 12 of the total 34 pounds I’d previously lost. Not a place I thought I’d be again.

Looking back now, I think a lot of this has happened because I kept seeing each piece of my injury as being a small portion of time. It was okay to eat differently because I just needed to get through the non-bearing piece of my recovery. After that, I’d be back to running in no time. After I got released to start walking again than it was just that I needed to get through my physical therapy (because it was only supposed to last 8 weeks and then I’d be “back to normal”). Now that the 8 weeks has ended and it looks like normal still isn’t going to happen any time soon, I’m waking up to reality.

A New Journey

The reality is that I need to follow the Healthy Hero’s Journey I started talking about more than a year ago. I need to accept this new Call to Adventure, take the time to Discover New Resources, and work through an all new type of Trial & Error before I’m going to Reach my Reward.

This post is my commitment to this new journey. I hope you’ll come along with me as I start to explore the facets of this adventure from a whole new angle. I look forward to sharing my story!

 

Vacation Prep

A while ago I talked about how much negative impact traveling and vacations have had on my weight loss journey in the past. Last year, for example, I was doing awesome getting healthy and then went through a string of back-to-back work trips which resulted in me falling off track for 6 months and gaining all my weight back.

As a result, I’m really trying to approach every trip with more mindfulness so I know how I’m going to keep myself on track. Next week, I’ll be going home to Colorado for a full week, so this is my planning session for getting through that week.

Before getting into my plans, I have to preface everything by saying I expect this trip to be rather difficult for several reasons:

  • I lived in Colorado most of my  life and was unhealthy the majority of that time. I worry that it’ll be easy to slip into old bad habits.
  • I’m visiting family who are, by and large, unhealthy – which means they may be inclined to suggest food/activities that go against my weight loss plan.
  • The family members I’m staying with are also not extremely healthy, which means the food in the house has a high likelihood of being unhealthy.
  • It’s a vacation, pure and simple, so I expect a lot of eating out and temptation to be lazy instead of active.

All that being said, I’m determined to at least maintain my weight and come out the other side of this vacation still on track and happy to be so. 🙂

So, with that in mind, I’m starting my planning with my minimums. These are the items I want to hit every day of the trip:

  • My normal 12,500 daily steps
  • My current 500 calorie deficit
  • The normal 3-5 servings of fruits and veggies each day

I’m trying to start incorporating some HIIT so if I can do small doses of that daily I’d be happy, but I’m not going to consider it a minimum requirement.

So, in thinking of those goals, my next step is to think through the resources I can use during the trip:

  • My Fitbit
  • MyFitnessPal
  • Running gear
  • The family we’re staying with has a basement with a TV/DVD player, if I want to use the space for working out
  • I’m familiar with the area we’re staying in so I know I have sidewalks/parks I can run in.
  • Since we are staying with family I’ll have access to all the normal household items, like a stove, refrigerator, microwave, etc.
  • Colorado itself – it is, after all one of the healthiest, most active states primarily because there are so many opportunities for outdoor recreation.

Considering all of that, along with the challenges I anticipate facing, here is my plan:

  • Work in a minimum of a 3-mile run, walk, or hike every day. Some of our plans – visiting parks, hiking in the mountains, etc. – will already account for this so I just need to work it in to the less active days. I chose 3 miles because I think that, combined with just regular activity in a day, would get me to my step goal.
  • All food gets tracked in MyFitnessPal just like normal – no slacking on vacation! Whenever possible, restaurant food should be entered in advance to avoid inadvertently eating more tha I should.
  • Our first day there I’ll get the scoop on what kind of food is in the house. If need be, I can go to the store for items I know I’ll want.
  • I normally make fruit/veggie shakes to get my daily servings in but I don’t think I’ll have access to a blender. So I’ll replace this with low-sodium V8 since I can easily pick that up at the store.
  • If my family wants to do dinner at home, I’m going to come prepared with healthy recipes I think they’d enjoy. If I offer to cook as a thank you for staying with them I’ll have a little more control over what I eat.
  • I’m going to look for the active things associated with Colorado and suggests those over lazier activities.

In all honesty, I’ve been mentally preparing for this trip for some time, so I think I’ll be ok. But going through the steps above helped a lot with my last trip. I think there’s a lot to be said for having an established plan that’s written down for reference. And, of course, I’ll periodically check in through my blog to remain mindful and course correct as needed.

Planning Ahead to Stay Healthy

Last year I was doing really well with losing weight until the end of the year hit and work became crazy. I was traveling a lot and working long hours so it became harder to workout and plan healthy meals.

While that might help me understand why I fell off track, it certainly doesn’t excuse it. I thought I had a good plan going into my busy season but I couldn’t stay steady. If I’m going to change that, I need to understand what went wrong. And, even better, determine a better plan that can be tested real-time.

healthy plan, getting healthy, healthy habits

Analyzing the Breakdown

First off, when I think back on my “plan,” I realize it wasn’t really a plan at all. I did a few things to set myself up for success, such as:

  • Booking hotels that had gyms.
  • Packing workout clothes and shoes.
  • Planning plenty of time for travel to keep my stress low.

Beyond that, I honestly didn’t do much. I thought I had built up my healthy habits and mindset enough that I could rely on that. The problem is a few things occurred that I hadn’t planned for:

  • My “workday” was taken up by the projects I was traveling for more than I expected. As a result, I skipped workouts so I could knock out emails and my regular work in the evenings.
  • The buildup of work and travel stressed me out more than I expected, which triggered old habits of eating food that was “easy” or “comforting.”
  • I took too much advantage of being on my own, where no one but me knew how much I was eating so it was easier to hide.

The thing is, every Fall will be just as busy so it’s really important for me to figure out a healthy plan that WILL work. And out of the blue, I find myself in a perfect situation to work towards that.

Next week I will be attending a conference out of town, followed by a weekend trip – also out of town. That’s a whole lot of time out of my routine and away from my refrigerator, stove, and blender!

Thinking Through the Details

Looking back, I think my biggest mistake in the Fall was relying on my regular healthy habits to pull me through a highly irregular situation. So this time around I intend to plan quite a bit more.

To successfully plan for something unusual like this, I think it’s important to know a few things:

  • What will the schedule for the day/trip be? How can you use that to your advantage?
  • What resources are available to help you (i.e. Refrigerator in the hotel room, access to a supermarket or a car to get to one, a gym, etc)? How will you use those to serve your needs?
  • How much free time will you have and when will it be in the day? How will your food/exercise needs fit into that?

For me to make an adequate plan, I also need to know what my primary goals are. In reality, my goal is to not deviate from my plan at all, which means hitting these goals at a minimum:

  • 10,000 steps per day
  • Tracking my calories and hitting my 500 calorie/day deficit
  • 15 minutes of strength training

If I completely have my druthers I would get a full workout in instead of just the 10,000 steps and 15 minutes of strength training. Especially since I’ve really started hitting my workouts hard this week and I don’t want to lose that momentum.

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After doing a little research, here’s how next week will look for me based on the above questions:

Schedule

  • Monday I will work from home for the first half of the day, then drive an hour to the conference location, where I’ll be staying. After arriving, I’ll be tied up from at least 4pm until 9:30pm.
  • Tuesday our conference breakfast starts at 7am and every hour from there is scheduled until 4:45pm. Then I will have a two hour break and be busy again from 6:45-9:30pm. Dinner will be provided by the conference so those 2 hours are completely mine.
  • Wednesday I’ll be tied up from 7am-5pm, at which time I’ll travel home and have the rest of the evening to myself.
  • Thursday will be a normal day.
  • Friday I’ll leave for work at 7:30am like normal. That afternoon, I’ll catch a flight so we can start our trip with family. We’ll land at 7pm, in time to go to dinner with family. We’re also staying with family for the weekend.
  • Saturday and Sunday should be easy enough to figure out. We’ll be spending time with family and traveling home on Sunday but we’ll also have a fair amount of down time.

Available Resources

Unfortunately, after doing my research I found that I don’t have as many resources as I was hoping for during my conference. But everything is workable. 🙂 Here are the resources I do have:

  • The hotel I’ll be staying at for the conference has a complimentary gym.
  • The family I’ll be staying with over the weekend also has a treadmill and weights available to use.
  • The family I’ll be staying with also obviously has a refrigerator and other kitchen items.

The hotel, surprisingly, does not have a microwave or mini fridge. Fortunately I do also have a few other things at my disposal, such as my Fitbit and other tracking apps I normally use. Long ago, I also wrote down most of the videos I’ve used from programs like P90X and Insanity. This makes it very easy to use them wherever, whenever I want.

strength training, getting healthy, healthy habits

The Plan

Given all of the above, here’s my plan:

  • For Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday I’ll do my workouts in the morning. I normally get up at 5am to work on this blog and other personal items so it shouldn’t be difficult to keep that same morning alarm.
  • Since I don’t have much awareness of what type of food will be served, I want to be sure I’ll get my fruits and veggies in – especially because these are usually this first things to go when I’m in a tight spot with food. Since I won’t have a refrigerator, microwave, or any other way to prep food I’m going to relay on apples and canned green beans for the two full days I’ll be at the conference. The rest of the week days I’ll at least start my day at home so I can prep those days like normal.

apples, healthy food, healthy choices

  • My family is pretty healthy so I don’t need to stress too much there. The only exception is I know we’ll be celebrating Saturday night so I’ll have to watch my portions with dessert.
  • I’ve already made plans to go hiking with my family on Saturday, so the only thing I have to worry about is doing an alternate workout if the weather doesn’t hold out.
  • If all of the above works out I’m not worried about skipping my workout on Sunday, as long as the above minimums (10,000 steps, calories, etc) are met. If something goes awry with my plan and I need more workout time, I’ll take advantage of my family’s workout space or entice my mom into a long walk or run.

Most likely, no one else will care about this post but I already feel immensely better about how next week will look, having done some planning. Fortunately the habits I’ve learned should help in a few ways (avoiding temptations, staying motivated, etc).

What do you do when you’re in similar situations? Have you found any tips or tricks that help you stay on track when your routine is disrupted?