It Got Real Really Fast

Weight Loss Endeavors No. 11

I must offer a sincere apology to my faithful readers. I haven’t posted a “Weight Loss Endeavors” update in two weeks; because my schedule changed and I hit a bit of a down period due to PTSD triggers.

I’m also going to have to change the day of the week that these posts hit — once again. (I know, I know… but I truly appreciate those of you who have stuck with me, as the previous shift was made.) I will now be posting these pieces on Fridays — when I am free of academic obligations.

So let’s get started with the nitty-gritty.

Weigh-in History

Thursday, August 18th: 264.2 lbs
Sunday, August 28th: 263.4 lbs

Contrary to the thought that I had gained a little over half a pound, I actually lost a lil’ more than half a pound. Seems I was stewing over a mathematical mistake (due to the unstable memory of an aging brain) rather than my weight πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈ.

Unfortunately, that brooding caused some unhealthy food choices over the past week; so I’m not sure that I’ll see an additional loss on the scale the next time I sack up and step on to the damn thing. Sigh.

Fast Food and Snowballs

I’ve been so busy with school that I can’t honestly recount what or when I’ve eaten over the past week; but I can remember what I ate yesterday.

After school, I was craving salt and fat; so I had a twenty-piece McNuggets, french fries, and a Hi-C Orange drink. It tasted good for all of about a nanosecond, and then I just felt icky and sluggish for the rest of the day (a sentiment that Mitchell shared).

We didn’t make dinner due to exhaustion and the previously mentioned “icky” feelings; but we did snack throughout the evening. I had Chex Mix, pretzel sticks, Snowballs and Krispy treats. (I know, why would you eat all that junk when you’re feeling like crap? Because you have a binge-eating habit that’s really hard to break.)

Needless to say, I wasn’t very happy with myself by the time I went to bed.

I’ve mentioned before that counting calories doesn’t really work for me, because I view it as a challenge. (i.e. If I can eat 1700 calories/day and lose a pound each week, then I will eat 1700 calories/day! Hungry or not!) But I think I can somewhat modify this type of thinking.

I’m hoping that if I pay attention only to the unnecessary items that I eat, like Krispy treats (they really are my favorite thing in the whole world), and then add those calories to my workout (if one treat is X calories, then I need to work off an additional X calories the next day), I might end up with a better understanding of how these poorer choices are affecting my weight. I could also decide that an extra X minutes on the recumbent bike really isn’t worth that next sugary snack.

So here is my promise to you Dear Reader: I will keep track of the calories I’m consuming that truly aren’t needed for my everyday activity level, and will add them to my workouts this week… at least, until I get dizzy and fall off the treadmill 🀣. I will report back to you about how much additional time it takes to keep the Krispy treats from taking up residence in my already-sizeable thighs… and we’ll decide together if it’s really worth it.

Shifting My Perspective

It would be easy to sit and mull over the fact that I haven’t lost a great deal of weight over the past couple of months, despite my toiling at the gym… and I did do that for a while; but recently, I thought about the history of my weight.

Over the past five years, I have put on approximately twenty pounds each year. This year, however, I’ve managed to maintain my weight. I may not be losing, but I ain’t gainin’ either… so my efforts have not been for naught.

I know this isn’t a grand revelation or anything; but it’s enough to keep me moving forward.

Workout Review

This is a review that covers all the time between my last workout posted (Monday, August 15th) and today. To say it’s “dismal” would be kind. Due to the fact that I’ve been drowning in a swarm of new activity, I’m not going to bother with the days I didn’t work out, just with the ones that I did.

Friday, August 19th

Bike: 30 min 6.66 miles 235 cals burned
Treadmill: 35 min 1.81 miles 262 cals burned

Sunday, August 28th

Bike: 30 min 5.95 miles 192 cals burned
Treadmill: 35 min 1.77 miles 258 cals burned

Monday, August 29th

Bike: 30 min 6.22 miles 224 cals burned
Treadmill: 35 min 1.74 miles 255 cals burned

Wednesday, August 31st

Bike: 20 min 4.39 miles 138 cals burned
Weight Lifting: Upper body 35 min
Treadmill: 25 min 1.23 miles 179 cals burned

Trekking Across Campus

Four days each week, I’m climbing several flights of stairs and hauling my butt across campus with a backpack slung over my shoulders. It isn’t technically working out, but believe me when I say that my forty-four-year-old body can’t tell the difference. LOL!

The Missing Piece

Mitch hasn’t accompanied me to the gym in a while. When he first returned to his day schedule, we talked about hitting the gym when he got home from work; but that hasn’t exactly worked out. By six in the evening, Mitchell has worked a twelve-hour day; and I’ve been running all over town and studying for hours. We’re both exhausted, and neither has the get-up-and-go that would inspire the other to action.

Since I’m the cheerleader in this particular arena, and due to the fact that Mitch can’t go to the gym without me (a thrifty glitch in our membership details), I need to summon the courage to change this. So this week, I’ll take the first step; and talk to my husband about what he is capable of doing during the workweek.

He still goes on weekends, and I’m grateful for that. It is much more fun to have him with me, and I’m more motivated to go with him than I am without.

The Ever-Looming To Do List

It honestly seems that the more I do the more I want to be doing, which can sometimes lead to total paralysis. I start thinking about another task I’d like to be doing while doing the task in front of me, then an additional item on the to-do list jumps to mind, followed by another and another… and I start thinking, “Holy shit! I don’t have enough time left in this life for all this shit! I got started way too late.” Which, inevitably, triggers a brief — but overwhelming — mental and physical paralysis.

This past week, I did get back on track (somewhat) with the laundry; but I have yet to work in my other household chores.

I would also like time to truly enjoy recreational activities; and right now, that just doesn’t seem possible.

I have not been this tired since Bug was a baby. I did not anticipate how exhausting it would be to walk around campus in the sweltering heat of the Sonoran summer. I couldn’t have guessed how mentally taxing one of my courses would be (due to an unruly student and a professor who seems incapable of reigning her in). And I surely didn’t think I’d be falling asleep in the living room, often before eight o’clock.

But! The only way out is through… and so, my lovely readers, I shall persevere. I may never get everything on the damnable to-do list done; but I plan to cross as many things off of it as I possibly can — and just maybe, a few on the bucket list as well. Wish me luck!

Soundtrack: “Bucket List” by Mitchell Tenpenny

“Yeah, life is like a first kiss
You don’t know how long it’s gon’na last
All you get is what you get
And it gets real really fast

I’m a love a lil’ more, dream a lil’ deeper
Leave all the leavers, keep all the keepers
Find peace of mind in the time the Good Lord gives
I’m’a cross one off, put two more on it
Say I love you ‘fore the moments gone
And never have to ask myself what if
When I get to the bottom of my bucket list”

It’s Never Too Late, Exhausted or Not

I’m tired this morning, even though I got plenty of “quality” sleep last night. I’m so tired, in fact, that if I could, I would do nothing today; but since I can’t, I’ll have to get moving eventually (by 1:00 p.m. at the latest, if I want to make it to class on-time… which I do).

Why am I so tired, you might ask. Well, returning to campus for my courses this semester has been a bit more challenging than I imagined it would be…

You Have to Get Dressed… Go Figure

First, taking online courses doesn’t require that you get up every morning and make yourself presentable for the world; taking courses in person requires that, at the very least, you shower and throw on something other than clean pajamas.

Clashing Personalities

Second, online courses don’t really require that you interact with your peers. Occasionally, you have to email one another or comment on someone else’s work; but you do all of that from behind the anonymity of your laptop screen. In person interactions take a lot more energy, and require that you deal with many different personalities (some of which will grate on your nerves, and test your ability not to slap a bitch).

Outdoor Obstacles, Fitness and Coordination

Third, you need only go as far as your living room to attend online courses. In person, you have to trek your chubby middle-aged behind (in my case, anyway) up and down multiple sets of stairs, and across wide swaths of campus. This journey also requires that you be somewhat coordinated (an area in which I am sorely lacking).

Yesterday, for instance, on my way to my creative non-fiction writing class, I walked under the low hanging branches of a mesquite tree and managed to get the thorns tangled up in my braid. Eventually, I had to throw my bookbag down and attempt to free myself from said branches with both hands… but only succeeded in making things worse. Thankfully, a very nice young man stopped and helped me to get clear of the nefarious tree. As I picked all of my things back up and expressed my gratitude, the savior student said, “No worries. My mom does that kind of stuff all the time.” LOL! (When I later recounted this story to Mitchell, he laughed and said I was lucky people didn’t stop to film “the weird old lady who managed to get attacked by a tree”; and I realized, he had a good point. πŸ˜‚)

When You’re No Longer Young

Fourth, online courses offer you the option of whether or not to disclose your age. In person classes do not, because everyone can see that you are obviously older.

When we did introductions in my literature analysis course last week, most of the students said their names, their ages, where they came from, etcetera. Here’s how my introduction went:

“My name is Cassie and I am majoring in Environmental Science and Creative Writing…”

Another student immediately interrupted, and asked, “How old are you?” He was sincerely curious, and meant no harm by asking; but my professor jumped in and said, “Rude! You don’t have to answer that.”

To which, I laughed and said, “I don’t mind. I’m forty-four.”

“Do you have kids?” the same student asked.

“As a matter of fact, I do. I have a grown son.”

“How old is he?”

“He’ll be twenty-five in November.” In response to this answer, there were several audible gasps, and one whispered, “Holy shit!” from somewhere behind me.

“That’s awesome!” said the student who was asking the questions.

After class, my professor apologized for this scene; and I laughed again and said, “It’s really okay. They’re just curious, and if I’m ever uncomfortable with something, I’ll be sure to say so.” She then asked if I would prefer to be called Ms. Alegria, to which I said, “No, Cassie’s just fine.”

I will admit that it’s a lil’ weird to have professors that are younger — far younger — than me; but I still view them as knowledgeable professors, deserving of respect (a perspective that is not shared by all of my younger peers).

Finding a Balance That Suits the Dog

Tocho has had a very difficult time adjusting to my new schedule. I’ve been home with the fuzzy lil’ bugger every day since we adopted him earlier this year. Sure, I’ve left to go the gym; but I was never gone for long and always made sure to run my errands afterwards, so that I was only gone once each day.

In order to return to my workout schedule this week, I’ve had to leave in the mornings for the gym; and then once more in the afternoons, to attend class. As a result, Tocho has been more anxious than usual and has greeted me with a sullen, moody air about him when I return.

Thankfully, Mitch and I anticipated this change and stocked up on chew toys, which Tocho has been very good about focusing his anxiety on (instead of chewing up the rest of the house, as he did when we first adopted him).

Tocho-Bear Giving Me the “I’ve Got My Eye On You” Stare

He does well on Tuesdays and Thursdays, because I have a morning class and just go directly to the gym afterwards; but on Mondays and Wednesdays — when I’m forced to leave twice — Tocho’s far less pleasant to be around.

This past Monday, he planted himself in front of the door to the carport and staunchly refused to be moved (even when I physically attempted it). Eventually, I had to shove him aside by opening the door; and I could hear him crying (which he never does, he’s very quiet) as I pulled out of the drive.

It was heartbreaking; but I have faith that he will come around and accept that Mommy, too, has to leave on occasion.

The Spirit is Stronger Than the Body

My middle-aged knees are also adjusting to the rise in recent activity.

On days that I work out before going to school, my knees stiffen up as I descend the stairwell in the parking garage; and grumpy, sloth hamster shouts, “Hey Lady! We already did some physical activity today? What the hell?!” 😜

The upside is that on the days that I don’t have the energy to make it to the gym, I still have to rise and hike around the campus for a bit. It’s a tiring win, but a win none-the-less.

When It’s Over, You Have to Do It All Again

Exhausting as it all is, it’s nice to have somewhere to go each day… to have a schedule that forces me to adhere to an even stricter schedule behind-the-scenes. Laundry must get done between workouts and class. Workouts have to be more carefully planned into my daily routine. I’m eating more often, because I’m up and moving around and hungry at more regular intervals. I’m also in bed by 8:30 at night, but hey… my streaming content isn’t going anywhere.

All-in-all, being perpetually worn-out hasn’t been as terrible as it sounds. I’m a lil’ older than most at the university, but my dream of acquiring a degree is as vibrant — maybe even more so — than that of my peers. It’s never too late… and I need to hit the gym before I hit the books today!

Soundtrack: “Smiling When I Die” by Sasha Sloan

Yesterday felt like my first day working
Now I’m not the youngest on the clock…

Don’t wan’na look back
Thinkin’ I could have done this
Or I could’ve tried that
Don’t wan’na look back
‘Cause it’s goin’ by fast

I’ll be smilin’ when I die...”

Heartbreaking, Joyful Inheritance

Yesterday turned out to be a good day (which was surprising, considering how it started).

After finishing my post, I got off my duff and went to the gym for the first time in more than a week. It was discouraging to see that I’d lost a lil’ bit of my edge — i.e. my target heart rate was reached at lower levels of effort than before — but it felt good to move (something I’d been blatantly avoiding).

I didn’t want to get on the scale (because I feared my week of fast food and junk snacks had gone directly to my thighs); but I did it anyway. It turns out, I’d put on less than half a pound. It wasn’t a loss; but it still felt like a win, all things considered.

I shared yesterday’s blog post with my husband — which he read while on the road to Phoenix — and it served as both an apology, and a window into what I was feeling. When he returned in the evening, he apologized for not having invited me to go with him, and gave me a great big bear hug. (I also later received a killer lower leg massage — to relieve pain from shin splints and plantar fasciitis — which Mitch excels at giving!)

But the true joy — and heartbreak — came with a visit from my son, Bug (a nickname that he’s had since he was a lil’ guy). A visit I was in a good mood for, thanks to my early morning efforts to sort myself out.

Bug inherited his quick, dry wit from Mitchell; and he can always make me laugh. After a time though, he grew a bit melancholy; and when I asked him what was troubling him, we had a long conversation about how his anxieties and Pure-O (a rare form of OCD) are affecting his relationship with his girlfriend.

The Sins of the Mother, Visited on the Son

As I’ve mentioned here before, I come from a long line of persons affected by mental illness (addiction, especially); and as such, I feel responsible for my son’s mental health afflictions. (He, too, has struggled with alcoholism.) It’s really hard to watch your child grapple with struggles similar to your own… and to be helpless when it comes to soothing the effects of their own mental health issues. The best I can do is to share my own experience with him; and often, it does little to quell his anxieties.

What I may not have mentioned before is that (in addition to being a lil’ nuts) I am a serial cheater — something that Bug and I have talked about, at length, in the past.

I have never been in a relationship in which I didn’t cheat. (Mitchell — thank the universe — is the only one that ever loved me enough to stick around in the aftermath of such deceit). As such, I taught Bug very early on to be wary of women and their wily ways. I thought it would serve to protect him; but instead, it planted a seed of mistrust in his partners — a mistrust that he carries with him to this day.

I apologized for this, as we conversed yesterday; and he explained that he appreciated our talks about sex and women, but that he also believed they started too soon. (I started talking to him about sex and relationships when he first started asking questions at around nine-years-old.)

I then told him that though I have loved him with an unbridled ferocity since he first lived in my body, his father and I were too young — and very ill-prepared — to be effective parents. To which, he gave me the killer smirk that I have always adored, and said, “No shit, Ma; but I know you did your best. You’ve gotten a lot better, by the way.” (Score! πŸ˜‚)

As has he. Bug is a smart, funny, good looking, die-hard romantic (qualities that he inherited from all of us — me, his biological father, and Mitchell). He has struggled with addiction, and has managed to find a way to drink like “normal people” — for pleasure, and not for black-out escape. He has grown in maturity, has returned to school, and even bought dinner for Mitch and I last night (something I’ve never been able to do for my own parents πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈ).

His current girlfriend is also very different from his ex-partners. She’s wildly independent — both in spirit and finances — and she doesn’t seem to need him like the other’s have. (He’s very fond of a “project”, and is always try to fix people for the better.)

They’ve gotten very close; and Bug feels as if he’s finally “settling in” to their relationship. So when his girlfriend went on vacation this past week, Bug spiraled into a rabbit’s hole of fear and anxiety based on his previous relationship experiences. (i.e. “When she comes back, maybe she won’t want me any longer, Ma.”) But, as I pointed out to him, he was dealing with that anxiety in a much more healthy way than he would have chose to in the past.

I wasn’t able to soothe my child into a place of serenity (a curse of parenthood, if ever there was one); but I was able to help him sort his thoughts, and to examine whether or not his fears were justified. We talked about not viewing his current relationship through the lens of past experience; and by the end of the conversation, we had worked out the particulars of the conversation he hopes to have with his partner about his anxieties.

Bug was also able to cuddle up with Tocho-Bear (our rescue pup); and there has never been a stressor too large for our fuzzy lil’ guy to somewhat pacify.

The Best and the Worst of Us

We all inherit traits from our families; some of those traits are fantastic, and some of them far-less-so.

It’s disheartening to watch your child make the same mistakes that you did, and to be able to do nothing about them. It makes you heart-sore to hear him explain how your household and relationship dynamics have affected his own; and to not be able to provide advice on how to change said dynamics (because you’re still learning to navigate them yourself).

Becoming a parent also gives you a new perspective on your own parents. In my life, it has brought me closer to my folks; and I often call them up just to apologize for having done to them what my child now does to me (a curse and a blessing bestowed upon all children who have their own child).

Bug has taught me the power and freedom of forgiveness. When we fight, we fight as my parents and grandparents did before me — with passion, and (sometimes cruel) honesty; but we also bounce back more quickly, and we don’t harbor resentment toward one another.

I have learned more from my child than I probably taught… and I look forward to the next obstacle that allows us both to grow in some positive way (as yesterday surely did).

Soundtrack: “The Greatest” by James Blunt

For Bug… who has surpassed my dreams and expectations in every way.

“I feel that you deserve a chance to know the truth and to be better than…

…and people will try
To take you down too
But if I was a betting (wo)man, I’d put all my money on you…”

Sideways Regression

Mitchell is going to Phoenix today to visit his sister and her husband. He wasn’t going to (because he finally started working on the waist-high weeds in the yard, and was planning to finish it); but, I encouraged him to do so. I reiterated the importance of making family a priority, and pointed out that it would mean a lot to his mom. And after fighting about it for half an hour, he finally agreed to go.

Had he and my mother-in-law invited me to go with them, I would have gladly done so (and was secretly hoping that the invitation would come)… but they didn’t. And while I know this doesn’t mean that they don’t think of me as family, it certainly feels that way. (There’s that goddam disconnect — between knowing and feeling — again. πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈ)

When things like this happen, it’s hard not to perceive the distance between my husband and I as growing ever wider. I think, “Why doesn’t he understand that I would like to go too?” And at the same time, I don’t tell him that I’d like to go. Partly, because I want him to ask me on his own; and partly, because I live with the constant fear of being rejected. (i.e. I’d rather not express that I’d like to go and be left behind than to ask to go and be told no.)

He Loves Me in His Own Way

These things don’t happen because Mitch doesn’t love me. He just loves me in his own way, and often makes false assumptions about my needs and desires. I’m almost certain that he thought I’d prefer to have a day to myself, rather than travel to Phoenix in my mother-in-law’s vehicle. (I have a weird thing about riding with other people. I like knowing that I have my own get-away car, should I need it.)

He expresses love in many other ways (versus anticipating what I want)… but most of the time, these expressions come as a direct result of me asking him to fulfill a need and/or desire.

For example, this past week I returned to in-person courses at the university. This meant that I was returning to the scene of a sexual assault that occurred in 1996. The thought of doing so elicited crippling anxiety that almost caused me to drop out of school this semester; but instead of allowing that anxiety to put an end to my career as a student, I asked Mitch if he would take a few days off from work in order to walk me to my classes.

To my surprise, my sometimes-awesome husband didn’t see this as a ridiculous request. He told me that he understood my fear and trepidation, and was more than happy to walk me to class… and he did. He walked me to my classrooms, waited outside while I was in class, and walked me back to the parking garage after.

On the second day, we inadvertently walked right past the spot where I was date raped nearly twenty years ago. My heart did a flip-flop in my chest, and I felt dizzy and weak. When I expressed this to my husband, he immediately apologized and promised that we’d find an alternate route to the building after class… and we did. (And in all honesty, if my brave and caring Mitchell hadn’t been there, I would have either collapsed in the midst of a panic attack, or bolted without going to class.)

All of this was most definitely an expression of love and acceptance on his part; and it’s important for me to hold on to that when days like today occur.

PTSD-Induced Regression

As a result of that second day’s event, however, I started to withdraw into myself. I asked to eat out almost every day over the past week, and requested junk food from the market. I also stopped going to the gym.

Why? Because if I’m fat and undesirable, maybe no one will find me attractive enough to assault. (This is twisted logic. It’s true that I was young with a terrific figure when I was assaulted… but that didn’t warrant or justify the assault. In all actuality, it probably didn’t factor in to my assailant’s train of thought, either. Still… we cope with all kinds of sideways thinking in the ever-lasting aftermath of sexual assault.)

Thus, my weight has probably increased a bit, my acne has flared up, and I’m disgusted with the woman that I see in the mirror.

I’m regressing into the person I used to be, instead of taking further steps towards the person I was becoming… and it’s breaking my heart, rattling my tenuous hold on my sanity, wreaking havoc on my marriage, and causing a free-fall into the rabbit’s hole of a looming depression.

It’s also made me over-sensitive to Mitch’s words and actions. I got angry and yelled at him about the yardwork on Friday night. I’m hurt that he didn’t ask me to go with him to Phoenix today. I’ve been short with my own words, and distant in my communication with my spouse… all because I’m haunted by the past.

I want Mitchell to see how lost and frail I am (without having to point it out) — to understand that I need to be with him right now; and I don’t want to have to say it.

Saying it feels like weakness. Having to say that I need someone feels like being revictimized. Not being asked if I wanted to go today feels like being abandoned (something Borderlines do not deal with well); and it makes me angry and sad.

These emotions are a reaction to my past; but my husband — in the present — is the one paying for the sins of others; and I hate it when that happens. (Which is why I sit here quietly writing about my feelings, responding to my husband in tight-lipped one-word responses, instead of screaming and hollering at Mitch about my hurt.)

Unfortunately, that means that all Mitch perceives is anger. He knows it’s there; and it feels as if I’m angry at him, I’m sure. But I’m not. Anger is just easier than fear. Rage is my armor; but the war I’m fighting is already over… it just feels as if it never ended, and I’m on the battlefield alone — looking to vanquish a foe that is no longer there.

So Can I Win? And How?

The only way to deal with PTSD is to trudge though it. You can mitigate the effects through therapy and self-propelled (positive) action; but it’s always there. Lurking in the background, waiting to pounce on the present.

Getting fat (and yelling at your husband about the weeds) is one way to cope; but it isn’t a healthy way to cope. Instead of empowering myself through action (i.e. going to the gym), it simply fuels the internal fires of self-hatred. This hatred was not inherent at birth; it is a lasting side-effect of sexual assault. An ill-fated response to having pieces of yourself violently stolen, never to return.

After all, isn’t that where rapists truly draw their energy from? Clearly, they must pillage their power from others, because they have none of their own. Realizing that is the first step towards healing — to understand that the brawn those bastards wield is only borrowed. Borrowed from the strength they took from you. And if you’re still standing, they didn’t win… because you had enough left in the reserve of self to survive and carry on.

For me, the how of winning can be found in my pen. For whatever reason, I cannot sort the mess of these emotions through speaking about them… but I can come to terms with the disordered feelings by trying to form them into sentences, paragraphs, posts. (But unfortunately, most of the time I don’t sit down to write about them until my formidable ire has become all-consuming.)

Before writing this, I truly felt anger towards Mitch. It was the yard, and the lack of an invitation that were causing my fury and pain. After writing this, I know that it is the past I am raging against; not my poor, procrastinating, sometimes-oblivious husband.

In the wise words of Randy Atkins:

“If you’re goin’ through hell, keep on going
Don’t slow down
If you’re scared, don’t show it
You might get out before the devil even knows you’re there”

And if I get off my duff, and return to the gym, I’ll be able to outrun that horned, hoof-footed bastard should he come to sense my presence. 😏 And then, I need to offer my sincerest apologies to Mitch. I may not have exploded at him like I normally do; but I certainly haven’t been pleasant to deal with.

Soundtrack: “Going Through Hell” by Randy Atkins

Don’t Tell Me I Should Do Something Either

Weight Loss Endeavors No. 10

(Side Note: I apologize for posting late this week. I encountered an issue with WordPress yesterday, and just gave up in my frustration. Next week, I will be posting on Thursday per the usual.)

Last week I chose not to set any goals in stone (i.e. write them out). Why? Because just as I will go to any lengths to prove you (or myself) wrong when I’m told I can’t do something; similarly, I will go to extreme lengths to demonstrate that I don’t have to do something. (While this mindset is common in addicts, it is not unique to addicts. My husband — who is as equally stubborn as I am — confronts opinions and advice much in the same manner.)

So not setting goals was an experiment of sorts. Would I do better without feeling as if I had to do something? As it turns out, yes I would.

Eating More Than Once

I did much better on this front over the past week. After my workouts, I ate a piece of fruit and a Kind bar. Usually, this occurs around noon… so between then and our evening meal, I didn’t eat anything else. Lunch is something I still have to work on; but, hey, any progress — no matter how small — is still progress.

Rein It In

Mitchell noticed that I was having greater difficulties maintaining my workout schedule as of late, and suggested that I take it a little easier on the cardio the days that we lift. He explained that only thirty minutes of cardio is required for a “decent” workout, and asked that I try fifteen minutes before lifting, and fifteen minutes after (versus my twenty minutes before and thirty minutes after).

Of course, having a deeply engrained need to push the limits, I protested. Eventually, we settled on twenty minutes before and after (with a five minute cooldown in the after part). To my surprise, this did not diminish my sense of accomplishment. On the contrary, it seemed to make my workouts a bit more enjoyable. (Point to my husband.)

He also asked that I take a day of rest if I felt pain and/or the precursor of an injury. I rolled my eyes, and sighed deeply, but agreed to give it a try this week; and I did take a couple of days off when I rolled my ankle in the Walmart parking lot πŸ™„.

Don’t Give Up, Just Turn It Down

Core lifting still proves to be more difficult than upper and/or lower body lifting. Perhaps it’s because I’m much more fluffy than I should be, maybe it’s just that my core is subpar, or it could be that I’ve never had a great sense of balance… regardless, I tend to consistently hit a wall after this particular workout.

This past week, I was halfway through my twenty minutes of closing cardio when my body started to protest; but instead of just hitting the emergency stop and giving up (like I normally would), I decided to turn the speed on the treadmill down and continue on.

Granted, I felt dismayed at this (because I’m a perfectionist) at first; but in the the end, finishing the workout was a better feeling than giving up would have been.

Weigh-In History

Thursday, August 4th: 266.4 lbs
Thursday, August 11th: 263 lbs
Thursday, August 18th: 264.2 lbs

I think the loss that occurred between the 4th and the 11th was due to the fact that we replaced my usual evening snacks with healthier choices, while the gain between the 11th and the 18th was most likely a reflection of the less-healthy choices I made while trying to quit vaping.

I still have junk food in the house; but I have been a little better with my portion sizes. Once the junk is gone, I plan to return to the healthier choices I was making the week before last.

Workout Review

This past week I increased the speed on the treadmill (3.2 mph), and the target heartrate (144) on the recumbent bike — both by tiny increments, but tiny increments will eventually add up.

Thursday, August 11th

Bike: 30 min 6.43 miles 212 cals burned
Treadmill: 35 min 1.81 miles 260 cals burned

Friday, August 12th

Mitch was with me on this one.

Bike: 20 min 4.41 miles 145 cals burned
Weight Lifting: Upper body 55 min
Treadmill: 25 min 1.28 miles 183 cals burned

Saturday, August 13th

I overslept, and made the decision to skip my workout in lieu of spending the day in Tubac with my family. Mitch and I had a really good day, ending with a lovely dinner with my mother-in-law.

Sunday, August 14th

Mitch was with me on this one.

Bike: 20 min 4.74 miles 161 cals burned
Weight Lifting: Lower body 55 min
Treadmill: 25 min 1.28 miles 183 cals burned

Monday, August 15th

Bike: 20 min 4.45 miles 147 cals burned
Weight Lifting: Core 25 min
Treadmill: 25 min 1.24 miles 179 cals burned

Tuesday, August 16th & Wednesday, August 17th

Intentional days of rest, nursing my rolled ankle and diminished mental state. (Being without nicotine proved to be too much of a battle, and I have resumed vaping. πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈ)

Once a Dragon, Always a Dragon?

I posted earlier in the week that I was trying to quit smoking. I managed to go ninety-two hours without nicotine, before I broke.

Unfortunately, without my one remaining bad habit, my uglier cravings began to surface as well; and since my drinking was devastating to my family, I decided that it was okay to continue smoking (the lesser of two evils).

Someday, I might be able to quit… but right now, I’m just enjoying the last of my vices, while trying not to judge myself for carrying the family curse of addiction.

The Winds of Change

The week ahead is going to be a challenging one. School resumes on Monday; and this is my first semester back on campus (versus taking courses online). I’m not sure what my course load is going to look like homework wise — though one of my professors has already assigned forty pages of reading prior to the first class, so I imagine he’s going to be tough — nor how tired trekking across campus is going to make me.

My hope is that I can continue to workout at least five days each week; but I’m willing to allow some leeway as I adjust to the new schedule.

I have discovered that this sort of self-kindness — rather than being self-judgmental — leads to better mental and physical health. Thus, I will do my best to reside in serenity (blissfully soaked in nicotine), regardless of what this week may bring.

Soundtrack: “Rx” by THEORY

Nicotine is the only way I “medicate” these days; but once upon a time, it was much, much worse…

WTF WordPress?!

Christ Almighty… I just spent hours on a post, only to have WordPress get stuck in “Autosaving” mode (even though I make sure to save the post as I go); and when I refreshed the page — trying to get it unstuck — it deleted the whole damn thing. I am angry as all hell. 🀬

I don’t know if I have the patience to rewrite my week in review post, so no guarantees folks. I apologize.

Damned Either Way

Saturday evening, while playing a game on my computer, I reached out in the dark to grab my mod… and knocked it clean off the coffee table. The tank shattered; and I shorted-out a brand-new coil (which was, unfortunately, my last). I was doomed to be without nicotine for at least fifteen hours, because the vape shop I frequent doesn’t open until noon on Sundays.

The next morning, Mitch timed our gym visit perfectly. We would finish up just in time to land on the front stoop of the vape shop at exactly 12 p.m. (My husband doesn’t like being around me when I’ve been without nicotine for an extended period of time. Its absence tends to make me moody.)

But then? A funny thing happened.

I noticed that my resting heartrate (which the equipment measures when you sit down to start your workout) had fallen fourteen points. It was below 100 beats per minute — something I haven’t seen since I began working out over a month ago. My cardio heartrate (at the height of my workout) dropped six points. I also found that I wasn’t having as difficult a time breathing as I normally do. Sure, my breath was still strained at the peak of my workout; but not nearly as much as it usually is.

As we exited the gym, Mitch said, “Goin’ to see the boys, yeah?” (The vape shop I visit is run by a group of really nice young men that have been there for a long time, and know us well; thus we have dubbed them “the boys.”)

And kind’a to my own surprise, I said, “No? No. Nope, we don’t need to go see the boys.”

“You’re really going to quit?” my husband asked with trepidation.

I told him about my observations in the gym; and said that I honestly wanted to try.

Mitch raised an eyebrow and said, “Okay, on to Walmart for hard candies then.”

So that’s what we did. We went to Walmart and stocked up!

An Addict is an Addict…

Yesterday (out of desperation for a hit), I tried to prove that Sunday’s observations had been a fluke. I went to the gym, determined to see that my resting heartrate was back up over 100 bpm; but it wasn’t. It was maintaining at around 93. Damn it!

I kind of thought my breathing had returned to its former state of more labored; but I was also looking for an excuse to start vaping again (See?! Not smoking really hasn’t made a difference!), so that could have been entirely psychosomatic.

It’s been sixty-three hours — with dozens of hard candies consumed — since I last hit the mod; and I feel like I have bugs crawling under my skin. I want to vape so bad that I can think of little else.

Sunday wasn’t this hard.
Monday wasn’t this hard.
But today? Today, it just f*cking sucks!

Maybe it’s because I realized this morning that I have a spare tank buried away in my supply drawer and know that if I really felt like it, I could jerry-rig the battered coil. (It’s amazing how much ingenuity addicts can harness for a fix. πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈ) I truly could get it to work… and I’m struggling not to.

When Mitch called just a little while ago, I explained how disconnected and agitated I feel (but didn’t mention the tank and suppressed ingenuity). In response, he pointed out that I’m going through withdrawal. He also offered to stop by the shop on his way home from work for new supplies, if I really needed them.

And I want him to… but I also don’t want him to. Ya’ know? Because the absolute truth of the matter is I don’t need nicotine. It’s not like my lungs will suddenly stop working without it; on the contrary, they’re likely to work much better in the absence of my dragon-like vape-cloud inhalations… but goddam it, do I want it.

What In the HELL Was I Thinking?

I don’t know if I can honestly go through life without an active addiction.

Every time I give one up, another one seems to take its place. I gave up pills for booze, booze for food, (some) food for nicotine… and have suffered from a shopping addiction in the past.

I’m tired of my bottomless need for something costing my husband money — especially when I can’t explain why I’m so empty without it (and in truth, am also empty with it).

Honestly? I understand addiction better than most. I know why I am the way I am; but knowing the why of it all doesn’t change what is.

I’m forty-four years old, and don’t know if I have the strength to truly change in this department.

I enjoy smoking. In truth, I always have… but sixty-three hours (without it) is a lot of time to throw away.

I don’t know what I’m going to do…

Swing and a Miss

Weight Loss Endeavors No. 9

This past week was challenging. I wasn’t necessarily “low” (mood wise); but I was definitely in some sort of slumber mode. I didn’t have a lot of motivation to leave the house, and felt like I might have been fighting a bug of some sort. Then again, it’s monsoon season in Arizona; and it could just be that my allergies are kicking my ass.

Tracking Last Week’s Goals

As far as last week’s goals? I only hit one of the targets I set. πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

I went to the gym four out of seven days — versus five. (Miss.)

I did get to gym on Saturday with Mitch; but I did not make it on Sunday. (Half a miss.)

We did not get out and walk Tocho, because it’s been showering in the evenings and our boy does not like to get wet. (Unavoidable miss.)

I ate more than once each day a couple of days, but not consistently. (Miss.)

I did choose healthier snacks (Score!); but as I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m still eating too much in the evenings (healthy or not).

I am posting on time again; so I suppose that’s something (even though I didn’t necessarily set that as one of my goals).

All in all? Not a great week.

The Numbers Just Ain’t Addin’ Up
Weigh-In History

Thursday, July 28th: 263.2 lbs
Thursday, August 4th: 266.4 lbs

I’ll be honest, seeing that I had gained weight (working as hard as I’ve been) was extremely discouraging. Mitch says not to let it bother me — that building muscle mass takes time, and that it will mess with the numbers on the scale for a while; but I think the man’s just being kind.

The bottom line is that I’m consuming more calories than I expend… and I just can’t reign in the habit of binging in the evening. I try and I try… but often, I find that it’s more difficult to fall asleep if I don’t indulge my cravings (which just rattle around in my head until I act on them).

It is better that I’m eating snacks that are lower in fat and carbohydrates, but I still have to manage my calorie intake… and I just don’t know that I have the strength to overcome in this department. Ugh.

Workout Review

Normally, I find joy and pleasure in my workouts. But this week? I just couldn’t find it. All I could think — while riding the bike and stomping on the treadmill — was that I’ll have to start doing multiple workouts a day if I want to lose weight. As it stands, I’m working out to maintain my weight… and I’m not happy with how heavy I have become.

The numbers on the scale went up; and my excitement about cardio and weight training went down. I honestly haven’t had any enthusiasm when I’ve been at the gym… which leads to me tapering off, and sulking around the house.

But here’s what I did accomplish (half-heartedly):

Thursday, August 4th

Bike: 20 min 4.45 miles 154 cals burned
Weight Lifting: Lower body 25 min
Treadmill: 28 min* 1.44 miles 213 cals burned

*The treadmill I was on went to pot near the end of my workout, so I just decided to end it a lil’ short.

Friday, August 5th

Bike: 30 min 6.93 miles 228 cals burned
Treadmill: 35 min 1.75 miles 257 cals burned

Saturday, August 6th

Mitch was with me on this one.

Bike: 20 min 4.41 miles 151 cals burned
Weight Lifting: Upper body 55 min
Treadmill: 35 min 1.76 miles 258 cals burned

Sunday, August 7th – Monday, August 9th

Nada.

Tuesday, August 10th

Bike: 30 min 6.28 miles 202 cals burned
Treadmill: 35 min 1.76 miles 259 cals burned

Wednesday, August 11th

Nada.

Success is Directly Correlated to My Motivation

What I learned this past week is that measuring success — and then achieving it — is an instrumental part of my motivation faculties.

If I know I’m going to — or maybe, just might — fail, I’m far less likely to try; and after last Thursday’s weigh in, I stopped trying.

Mitchell has stated that the scale is a poor source for tracking my progress… that it’s more important that I focus on what I’ve accomplished; but what the hell have I accomplished if I’m gaining weight?

I feel like a failure; and therefore, start to act like one. Which, I know, makes absolutely no sense what-so-ever. Do I honestly just want to sit here and continue putting on the pounds? No!

Do I feel like my efforts have all been in vain? Yup.

I got’ta get out of this cycle of self-pity and self-destruction… but it’s easier to give in to the melancholy.

The one thing I will say is that I did not judge myself on those days when I just stayed home. I tried to show myself a little kindness and leeway; but I do need to find a way out of this stupid, dismal pity party.

Cowgirl, Up!

Clearly, I haven’t been to the gym today yet (because my mood does not reflect the fleeting happiness of the endorphin rush); and I just need to suck it up and get off my duff. But today is weigh-in day; and I’m dreading the numbers on the damn scale. (Avoidance is one of my many talents. 😜)

Mitchell’s long weekend is coming up; so he’ll be home tomorrow through Sunday… and I want to go the gym with him; but I don’t want to go to the gym with him. Partly because I’ve been skirting my weight training, and sticking mostly to my cardio workouts. But! If I want to build strength — especially in my core — then I need to get back to it.

Also, I want to have a better progress report for you next week, Dear Reader… so it’s time to don the yoga pants and Cowgirl, up!

Sigh. Adulting is such a drag.

Soundtrack: “A Little Bit Off” by Five Finger Death Punch

Where Were YOU?

Those of you who follow politics in the United States know that women’s rights (along with minority and LGBTQ rights) are currently under siege; particularly after the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade. This decision abolished federal protections for reproductive rights, returning the issue to each individual State.

In response, the state of Kansas addressed this issue in their primary election earlier this month; and there was a record voter turnout, where many voters voted only on the abortion issue. Thankfully, for women, the choice to keep the State’s constitution in tact (and preserve abortion rights) won by a landslide vote… but I can’t help but wonder: Where were these voters before we got to this point?

Does My Vote Really Count?

I’ll be honest, I fall into the “my vote doesn’t honestly count” side of the answer to this particular question (especially in Presidential Elections, which are determined not by the popular vote but by the Electoral College); but my husband believes that every vote counts, and as such, I have voted in nearly every election since marrying the man.

Mitch taught me how to research the candidates (and their voting records) and the issues; and in doing so, I found that it takes far less time to educate oneself about these things than I previously imagined it would.

For instance, in the most recent Arizona Primary (2022), it took me ninety minutes to do the legwork required to make informed decisions about our representatives at the state and federal levels.

I choose not to pay attention to slanderous campaign ads; nor do I subscribe to popular opinion about the candidates. Why? Because once you start paying attention to how our representatives actually vote (which can be found in the public records), you’ll find that many of them do not keep their campaign promises.

So… is voting in a democracy a frustrating endeavor that often leaves one feeling as if their voice goes unheard? Absolutely. (i.e. My choices won’t always win in the end.) But if we don’t participate in the democratic process, then our voices most certainly go unheard.

In the 2020 Arizona Primary, only 36.44% of registered voters cast a ballot. (This is the most recent voter turnout reported by the Secretary of State’s Office.) That means 63.56% of the (registered) voices in Arizona chose not to speak on their own behalf.

63.56% more ballots cast most definitely would have made a difference; and it would only have required — at most — two hours of the voter’s time (to research the candidates, travel to their polling place, and cast a ballot).

In my opinion, that’s not a lot to ask of us as citizens of this nation.

Pay Attention BEFORE It Goes Up In Smoke

It’s important to remember that many, many smaller decisions happened before the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade.

Most notably? The Senate blocked President Obama’s Supreme Court appointments, and then approved those of President Trump.

Therefore, voting for your House and Senate representatives is even more important than voting in the Presidential Election. Why? Because the President can’t get shit done without the approval of the Senate, and the Senate depends on approval from the House of Congress.

It’s also incredibly important to vote for State representation within the State itself. And just in case you haven’t been paying attention up to this point, your State’s government now controls access and/or denial to reproductive rights. (And not only reproductive rights.)

Education is also currently under siege. The conservative right has waged a war against science education and critical thinking; and if you don’t vote for the Superintendent of Public Instruction in your state, then you’re blatantly ignoring the only opportunity you have to guide what kind of education your children will receive. (And even if you don’t have kids, making sure that the next generation is educated is vital to our survival as a democracy.)

The bottom line is that we need to be voting before we lose our rights.

It’s all well and good that women are turning out in record numbers at the polls; but if they had bothered to do so before now, we may not have ended up at this point.

Make YOUR Voice Heard

Humans — in and outside of the polls — like to be heard. We are social animals that thrive in a pack. Sure, each person’s pack may be different from another’s; but we have more in common than we don’t.

To cast a vote isn’t only a right of the pack; it’s a privilege. It ensures our survival against other packs, all competing for the same rights and resources; and if we can’t be bothered to choose our pack leaders, how can we expect to thrive as members of said pack?

We have the power to change the course of history, and to shape our circumstances… but only if we show up at the polls and use what little influence we have.

Please, exercise your right to vote. I don’t care if you disagree with me at the polls. I only care that you show up and harness the power of your own voice.

Forgive Yourself, and Find Your Inspiration

Weight Loss Endeavors No. 8

Oy! That’s really the only way to describe how I’ve been feeling the past couple of days (as you could probably discern from my lack of writing).

I’ve been working out at least five days each week since early-mid July, and I’m just not seeing the results I had hoped to on the scale (or in my figure).

It took me years to put the weight on; so I know that it will probably require the same to take it off… and that’s just depressing (and discouraging) as all hell. Especially when you consider an addict’s mentality: Instant gratification is never fast enough.

Which, of course, leads right into the binge-eating cycle. Scarf a bunch of tasty carbs, and I immediately feel more satiated (literally and metaphorically speaking)… only to later feel like more of a failure. πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

Journaling for Better (and for Worse?)

I keep a journal record on my phone (through the Quillo app) of all of my workouts; and it does make me feel better to look back and see all that I’ve accomplished. Unfortunately, it isn’t always enough to keep me motivated.

I take some time off (as I have over the past couple of days) — for a variety of reasons — and it’s always difficult to get moving again. Thus far, I’ve been able to fight the desire to surrender (and return to my former habits); but this week, I just can’t seem to harness the drive required to overcome.

I’m really disappointed in myself for not being able to change my eating habits in any sustainable way. Even when I do eat during the day, I still find myself binging at night… and it just sucks. Mostly, because I’m still consuming more calories than I expend (at least, I’m 90% certain that I am); which means I’m not going to see any real change. If anything, I’m working to maintain — rather than lose — the weight.

So I started wondering if keeping a food journal would help… and then thought about the shame it might cause. Wouldn’t that be worse for my mental health? Or would it inspire a more responsible accountability? Hell if I know… and since I don’t l like uncertainty, I just haven’t tried.

Pretzels, Oranges, and Muffins… Oh My!

Mitchell and I have started buying healthier alternatives, when it comes to snack foods. Instead of binging on Krispy treats and chips, I’ve began snacking on pretzels, oranges, and whole wheat English muffins… but I’m still eating too many of them.

We did stock up on a bunch of fresh vegetables; and Mitch has been diligent about cutting them up and portioning them out to facilitate eating during the day, if I so choose to… but I don’t always choose to.

I’m eating more often — on occasion — but I just haven’t found the necessary motivation to do so on a regular basis; and I don’t really know why.

If They Can Do It…

My beautiful blogging friend, Ms. Annemarie at “Seclusion 101 with Annemarie” has been challenging herself for twenty-five weeks to be more health and fitness oriented; and reading her posts about it has been a huge inspiration. (You can read her latest post here.)

As with most challenges in life, they seem easier to face when you know you aren’t facing them alone… even if you live in different countries.

But of course, it can also be frustrating to feel as if you aren’t living up to their example (and Ms. Annemarie is an excellent example); and that’s kind of where I’m at this morning. I feel like I just can’t; and knowing that I can isn’t necessarily enough to make me do so… and then again, I don’t want to disappoint my most inspirational readers; so maybe I should just suck it up and get out of this damn chair. 😜

When I Don’t Write

I’ve never been good at expressing my feelings vocally. For whatever reason, I just can’t properly sort all the shit in my head, until I sit down and write.

Many times, I have to write about a fight with Mitchell in order to come to a place where I can explain it. In fact, he often finds that reading the blog gives him a much deeper understanding of where I’m coming from.

It seems ridiculous that I can’t speak as well as I write (and I don’t often think that I do that very well, either)… but I can’t.

I also can’t feel as well as I write… and when I find myself in the rabbit’s hole, I often refuse to write (self-sabotage is something I’ve always excelled at); but when I do find the motivation to do so, all of my bitching and whining and hesitation and isolation seem petty and small.

Thus, I find myself (once again) a lil’ more inspired to get out of this chair simply because I’m reading about others who have done so — and I’m writing about wanting to be more like them — and if they can do it, then damn it, so can I!

Today, I will get out of this chair… if only to truly show my appreciation for Ms. Annemarie and all that she has accomplished.

Soundtrack: “House With No Mirrors” by Sasha Sloan