Monday, January 31, 2011

Intermittent Fasting Experiment

So, I've managed to drop 23 pounds in the past 5+ months but I've been STUCK for the past few weeks and I am getting extremely frustrated.  I did a little research and have decided to try intermittent fasting--IF.

The last food I ate was at 10:00 pm last night--a disgusting, cardboard tasting ice cream "product"--I tossed the remainder this morning and it is currently melting in the garbage.  It is noon, so it has been 14 hours without a bite... which isn't all that abnormal as there are days where I skip breakfast (HORRORS!!).

12:00 pm:  I'm trying to stay busy...changed the sheets on the bed, did some 'chore-aerobics', fooled around online...but now it's LUNCHTIME and I'm hungry.  And so is the kitty.  Poor Leo.  He didn't sign up for this.  So...I will give him his noontime treat and then I'm going to run errands.

2:00 pm:  Back home and not quite as hungry as I was two hours ago...hmmm....I'm also not tired and considering a nap, which is often an issue mid-afternoon.  My evolving plan is tp eat after 6:00 pm as that will be the 20-hour mark.

3:30 pm:  I am very cold!!  This makes complete sense as my body has had no fuel.  I have 2 1/2 hours before I can eat and I'm playing a little mind game.  I have 5 half-hour periods to go.

4:30 pm:  I've been reading alot about IF today; Brad Pilon's "Eat Stop Eat" is very intriguing and I'm considering buying...on my budget (or lack of), that's pretty big.

5:30 pm:  I feel a little light-headed but overall pretty good.  I am no hungrier right now that I was yesterday at this time.  I have not been that uncomforatble today.  One thing that I have definitely changed is my television viewing--no cooking shows or shows about food!  One half hour to go...

6:50 pm:  Got busy working on a jigsaw puzzle and decided to push for one more hour--my dinner is in the oven and should be done in 10 minutes so it will be a 21-hour fast.  I am very, very pleased with my day.  My biggest surprise is that I truly was not that hungry...and I was relatively alert.  My understanding is that this gets easier...Tomorrow I will eat normal and then fast again on Wednesday.


So...I've been sober for a little over five months and I've managed to lose 23 pounds.  I'm still mostly unemployed and frustrated by my seemingly lack of control over my life...patience...patience.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The insanity is fading

My life as an alcoholic has taken another turn; one for the better.

Two weeks ago tonite was the last time I got drunk...and I did it up well. Not only did I begin the evening by pulling a discarded, not-quite-empty bottle of vodka from the dumpster, but I embarrased myself at my best friend's lovely dinner party by ending the evening slurring my words and nodding off at the table. I managed to drink about a half pint of vodka, a bottle and a half of wine, two wine coolers, and at least one beer. I ate very little, because God forbid that a little food in my stomach screw up a good buzz.

I haven't had a drink since. But, dear readers, it was not sheer willpower that brought me to this clear-headed state of being...oh no...not willpower at all. And, alas, AA was not to be my saving grace either. No, I stumbled upon the most amazing website that connects the most caring, capable, compassionate and competent women I have ever 'met', founded by Jean Kirkpatrick, Ph.D.; Women for Sobriety...and that has made all the difference.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010 in best friend...

Chris finally lost his battle with alcoholism on January 10, 2010. He was only 54 years old. He died surrounded by family and friends as he suffered through multiple organ failure. He died looking like an 80 year old man. I cry as I write this (which is actually on September 5th) because I loved him so much and tried so hard to help him for so many years.

His death is not meaningless. His alcoholism touched a lot of people over the years and some are sober because of it. The first time I quit drinking I did so for Chris...had I not I may have died in my 30s. In a very special way, I have Chris to thank for my life. I will honor his.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Death by alcohol

My very handsome and charming ex-husband, Chris, is hours from death as he lay in a bed in hospice care at a nursing center. He is only 54 years old and the cause of his death will most certainly be alcoholism.
We met almost 20 years ago--at a bar, of course, where we began our friendship as drinking buddies. He was, by far, the most handsome man I had ever seen--prematurely grey, wearing a cowboy hat and faded Levis. He had high cheekbones and a twinkle in his eyes, but he was getting over a recent divorce and his brother, John, warned me that he was trouble. Hah! Just the kind of challenge I needed to hear.

However, he really was in trouble--his drinking was infamous at his favorite drinking hole, where I tended bar. In fact we kidded about Chris punching a timecard as he spent more time at the bar than the employees working it. We were young and irresponsible and made fun of him, which he took in his good-natured way...heck we made fun of everyone at that age, but one thing that really impressed me about Chris was his very strong disapproval when I made derogatory comments about others.
Eventually, Chis ended up in a treatment facility for alcoholism for 28 days, and emerged a very changed man. He still stopped in at the bar for a soda or two, but he looked even better--healthy and alert, and I made it my goal to take our friendship to another level so I quit drinking as well. Chris used to ride his bicycle around town, stopping at the park that bordered Lake Winnebago, dreaming of fishing later that spring, and in weird way, I started to stalk him.

Ultimately we started to 'date' and I recall a movie we went to see--well, I can't really recall it because I was so distracted from Chris' nearness that I had no idea what was happening on the big screen. anyone who is familiar with alcoholism, a 28-day stint in a rehab facility often does not prepare one for the real world beyond the safe haven of treatment, and Chris began drinking again...and I with him. Of course, only on the weekends, but then Sunday counted as the weekend also, and soon Wednesdays crept in, and before we knew it...well, you get the picture.

Two years of hard drinking later, I was on the verge of leaving Chris--we were both spiralling down into an emotional and physical hell. However, Chris, was in a very, very bad way--jaundice and thin. I remember we were at a gas station in mid-November; cold and blustery in Wisconsin, and I waited in the car as Chris talked to the attendant. I knew at that point that someday I would bury Chris. It wasn't more than two weeks later when that became a very real possibility.
The day before Thanksgiving, Chris began to hallucinate as his liver was no longer filtering the toxins from his bloodstream. He thought that his son, Josh, was hiding from him in his golf bag, and that his daughter, Tiffany, was inside a large glass vase. The family was quick to act and had him into an emergency room by that evening. Chris was confused and somewhat combatant so he was sedated to ease the alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Unfortunately, when it was time to wake up, Chris did not respond and instead lie in a coma for three weeks. The doctors told us that he had about a 30% chance of recovery--70% chance of not.

I used to tell Chris that even a cat had only nine lives and Chris used one when ever he had a chance. He used a few lives on this occassion.

Chris lived in the limbo that a coma must be for three weeks...and finally, and very slowly, woke up. He spent the next three weeks in the hospital learning how to swallow again; how to lift his arms; how to stand; how to walk. He was extremely frail and relatively helpless. He was also often confused but he had a determination in spirit that was amazingly undeniable.

Chris spent the following three months in a nursing facility, the six after that in a halfway house for alcoholics, and landed on his brother's doorstep almost a year after his initial 'crash'. One might think that a scare like Chris lived through would be enough to keep him away from the evil, liquid demon...but was not to be.

For the next 15 years Chris was in and out of treatment centers, maintaining sobriety for shorter and shorter periods of time. As his wife, I sadly had to leave him--my co-dependence had led me down a very sick path and ultimately led to my own return to a drinking be continued...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Healthy or Underweight

I had a more than a civil discussion with a friend the other night about food, diet, and women. The conversation arose when I told him that I was keeping this blog. And I also admitted that I was becoming obsessed with food, my weight, and losing it. Of course, he was concerned--especially because he is a man...and because his perception of female beauty has been dictated to him since he was in knickers by the media.

As my earlier posts indicate, I have not had a healthy relationship with food nor my body image since I was a child. I was a healthy baby, just under 8 pounds, and as my Mom tells me, I had a robust appetite--always quickly sucking down the last drop of my formula in record time. As a toddler, I was taught to clean my plate for fear that the starving children of Africa would not have enough. I happily obliged! I loved food!

As I went through grammar school, I went through 'pudgy' stages; especially about the time that I lost baby teeth to be replaced by adult teeth that were clearly too big for my 9-year-old face. And...way too early...I developed acne. I was in 5th grade--10-11 years old and I had acne! And when Mom took me to the local dermatologist--he gave me a bottle of make-up/foundation and gave me treatments under a sunlamp.

So much for a budding sense of self-confidence...then Dad took off and I was on my road to anorexia. Thankfully, this disease did not get hold of my like it does some young girls, but I did get down to a ridiculously low BMI of 16 with ribcage, spine, hipbones and collar bones prominent. But for me the critical indicator of something very messed up in my stubborn little head was when I was standing in front of a full length mirror. My mom stood behind me and heard me say, "I look fat". She asked, "Don't be silly. Do you want your stomach to go in?". My reply: "Of course".

During this time period, about a year, I ate very little--maybe 800 calories a day, and exercised like a fiend. I stopped menstruating...not a good sign. But ultimately, I snapped out of it. I don't recall why...possibly because I met a boy who introduced me to beer!?! Hmmm...imagine one addiction for another...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Deep water Exercise, aka, Water Aerobics

I have struggled with osteoarthritis for the past 10 years--yup, I had a slight limp that began when I was 38 years old. My mom noticed it as I maneuvered my way down a flight ramp when I paid her a visit in Tennessee in 1999. Once I returned home to Wisconsin, I made the necessary appointments with the medical community; beginning with my primary care physician, through orthopedists and rheumatologists, to ultimately a scary bone test of some kind to rule out any kind of carcinoma.

When all was said and done...the verdict...early-onset, idiopathic (cause unknown) osteoarthritis. I was given prescription strength, non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs like Advil/ibuprofen, but Rx) in the form of Arthrotec (like Celebrex--kind of). This drug has, and continues to be my saviour.

However my exercise regime of obsessive walking had to change. At one point in my life I had walked on 982 consecutive days! I'll address my struggles with arthritis and pain medication addiction at a later date, but the long story short is that after having both hips replaced, and putting on 25 pounds in the last two years..that's one pound a month, or about an extra 125 calories a day...I had to find some exercise that I could do--especially during the winter months in Wisconsin when an outdoors walk is not always welcome.

So I joined my local YMCA and discovered this:

At my Y, they call it deep water exercise, but it's also known as water aerobics. It is a 60 minute workout that includes 30 minutes of cardio, 20 minutes of strength training with foam dumbells, and 10 minutes of a very lovely and soothing stretch. The first class that I attended was three weeks ago--a spry, little 70-year old lady named Joyce, taught the class--showing us what to do from land as we tried to copy the moves in the water. There were five women in our group and we all wore life-belts as we were in the 'deep end'! Joyce warmed us up with jogging, wheelchair-ing, canoeing, and all kinds of other awkward moves--at least for me. As this was my first class, Joyce was very attentive to me, reminding me that I should "pace myself"--which I did. I really felt good about the whole experience and couldn't wait to come back the next morning.

However...and doesn't it seem that there's always a 'however'...I came down with the H1N1--oink-oink flu. As a side note--this flu didn't take me down and out so much as just kept me down for a looooonngggg time--like two weeks. Sore throat, desert-dry hacking cough (that I still have) and a general feeling of weakness and malaise. So I wasn't able to get back in the pool until this Monday--three days ago. And of course, the schedule had changed and there was no class on Monday, but I did my own thing for a half hour and swam breaststroke laps for 15 minutes.

But yesterday and today, classes were held and I can already feel an improvement in my energy level, my mood, and my muscle tone. On both days, I took the entire class and then swam breastroke/backstroke laps for an additional 15 minutes. I am obsessive about tracking calories consumed and calories burned and I discoved that 15 minutes of lap swimming burns--for me anyway--268 calories. That is more than what I could burn walking at 3mph for 40 minutes...and feels good.

I also have arthritis in my shoulders so I have to be careful in the pool, but I'm hoping that strengthening the muscles around my shoulder joints will help.

Another positive for water exercise--and we all had a good laugh about this--is that you can be as awkward and as 'bad' as you want when trying to figure out these moves...but no one can see you! No making a dork out of yourself in land-style aerobics!!!