Bone on Bone

I’ve heard lots of other people use those words to describe their knees. But never had it applied to my knee. Until yesterday. My insurance company finally approved the gel shots, and so yesterday I went in to my knee doctor for the first of three shots. I like this doctor SO MUCH. He is kind and encouraging, and not an alarmist. And for a surgeon, he has always been more interested in trying other less invasive methods rather than “surgery is the only option” like so many surgeons seem to think.

So yesterday he started the conversation by asking “have you been thinking about surgery at all?” To which I replied honestly, “I think about it ALL THE TIME.” I think about how my knee hurts  and how I avoid walking places and how I wish I could walk longer and farther. And then I think about how I don’t want a part of my body REMOVED FOREVER and replaced with a hunk of plastic and metal. And I think about my friend whose knee surgery was botched and how it took five years and almost as many doctors to get someone to listen to her and she had to have the first device removed and then wait 6 weeks WITHOUT A KNEE and then have another surgery to have it replaced. And I think about my sister-in-law’s dad, who died 2 days after his knee replacement surgery. And, of course, I do think about the many people who have had successful surgeries, and report lack of pain, and even the ability to take long hikes.

Anyway, then he told me he had reviewed my August X-rays, and my knee was now bone on bone. After a couple of minutes of that setting in, I said I was almost relieved to hear that, because now I didn’t feel like such a wimp for feeling that my knee hurt so much. And he said kindly, “no, you are not a wimp.”

So we discussed a bit more. And the plan is to go ahead and try these gel shots, but if they don’t work, we will go ahead with planning for the surgery. It is almost a relief to me to have more of a concrete plan in mind. For someone like me, its much better than the ubiquitous “you’ll know when its time.”

I don’t have any travel plans after February, and I kind of think that this eventuality might have been in my mind already. I know I will want to add any exercises I might need beforehand to optimize my outcomes. I’m pretty sure that is all a part of planning for the surgery.

In addition, (and I am reluctant to say this after just one week of success,)  but a little over a week ago, I decided to try restricting one more time. I re-set my calorie limit to 1400 on LoseIt, and what do you know? This time I didn’t internally rebel, it was pretty easy to stick to, and I stayed true to it for one whole week and lost 3 pounds. That is the most I’ve lost in months. Now, always, the big question is, how will you MAINTAIN any loss? I am not optimistic about that. But it is always a part of what I think about when I am in losing mode. With this surgery looming, any weight I can lose will be a big bonus, so that is a huge motivating factor for me right now. As you know, I live alone, and having a good recovery and being independent AS SOON AS POSSIBLE is the most important thing to me.

So that’s the news for now. I am off to the gym for a nice long session in the pool. Yes, we are still having pool weather here in sunny California🙂

Thin Enough

“Thin enough.” That’s how I described myself after seeing the trailer for The Quilt Show episode that I am going to be featured in this coming Monday. There are so many layers to those two little words. Because “thin” is not a word any normal person would use to describe me. At 5 ft. 1/4 inch, with my weight regularly fluctuating between 155 and 168, thin just doesn’t come to mind.

But following up on yesterday’s post, I am working on being satisfied with the weight I am. I am fast approaching 60 years of age (I KNOW, I can’t believe it either🙂 ). I don’t want to spend the next 20 or so years being unhappy with myself.

I also feel a little pressure to meet a certain expectation–after all, this blog is about “living a whole and healthy life.” And on The Quilt Show blog, I am a semi-regular contributor as “The Healthy Quilter.” I think that pressure is a good thing–a form of accountability that I can’t escape. So I was relieved to see that I looked “thin enough” (and healthy enough) on camera.

I went to the doctor last week. We talked about my ongoing knee pain (yay–finally got the referral to go back to the ortho doc) and I told her all the things I am doing–walking, riding the exercise bike, P.T. exercises. And she said mildly, “well, maybe you should lose a little weight.” I took no offense at her statement. Its a good idea. Its just a little more complex than that. Because really what she should say is “maybe you should LIVE at a lower weight.” And to live at a lower weight would mean restricting my food intake to a degree that I am unwilling or unable to do at this time. I reminded her that it was not on her computer record that I had lost 100 pounds before she became my doctor. I’m not sure that meant anything to her. And so for now, even as a person who is facing eventual knee replacement surgery, I am thin enough.

Anyway, it is a very good feeling (make no mistake, I don’t feel like this 100 percent of the time) to be content with the way I look. Sometimes I try to think about what my perception as a 20 year old was of what a 60 year old woman should look like. I think I look better than that🙂

Thin enough is definitely a term that needs to be seen in perspective. For a woman who spent well over 20 years weighing 257 pounds, I am thin enough.

About that Goal Weight

A little bit ago I shared that I had once again reached ONE HUNDRED POUNDS LOST. I didn’t say it in the post, but some people assumed that I had reached my goal weight. A reasonable assumption, since that is the most I’ve ever lost. But it is not my goal weight. I would actually like to lose more weight in the hopes that it will decrease the stress on my knees and my back. Right now I have in mind to lose another fifteen pounds. Anyone want to bet on the fact that it’ll probably take me another year to do that?

But here’s the thing. I don’t think I want to have a goal weight. I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Wouldn’t it be so much better to have a GOAL LIFE? Here are some of the qualities I would like to achieve in that goal life:

  • Kinder
  • Humbler
  • Productive
  • Healthier (which would include being as thin as possible with food choices to support optimal health)
  • BALANCED, with a side of contentedness (keeping up with that healthier goal but with minimal angst over food choices.)

For me, this seems a healthier way to look at weight loss. It is just one part of a whole and healthy life. Granted, it is a big part. But if those other things go by the wayside in order to achieve a certain weight or body size, that is NOT a whole and healthy life. I suppose if someone held a gun to my head and made me choose between being a morbidly obese, kind person, or a model-thin, mean-spirited person, I would choose the former. Fortunately, that is not a choice any of us have to make.

Everything works together. If I neglect my health, eating whatever I want, whenever I want, I will be in (even more) pain all the time. Do you know how hard it is to be loving and kind when you are in pain? So the best possible health is really very important. But if I am impatient or unkind or just plain unwilling to help a person in need because I am obsessed  with what food I am going to eat, or worried that I might miss a workout at the gym, that is not a good life either.

These are some lofty goals. I am not always balanced. Anyone who has read my blog for a while knows I spend a little too much time thinking about food. I am not naturally kind and humble. I have certainly learned a lot about humility in the last few years, but kindness is something I always have to work on. I think I’m relatively productive, but I can be very wasteful of my days sometimes. And heaven knows, I’m doing my best to work on my health LOL.

Almost Spa Week

Well, I had declared to myself and a few friends that this was going to be a spa week. But then I found out it was National Clean Up the Clutter Week. So that is going to be the focus of this week. I am planning to still give exercise a priority this week, but at least part of it will be “functional exercise.” The relaxing, luxurious part of spa week is going to have to wait. Its a lot more fun to relax when your house has been de-cluttered, anyway. I think I’ll blame this change of heart on Shelley and her Amazing Organized Closet!

Actually, I think I changed my mind when I spent a good part of Saturday cleaning all my deck furniture and hauling it BY MYSELF back up onto the deck. Can you hear the self-pity in that sentence? Anyway, it took a lot longer and a lot more energy than I had expected. And then seeing the results of something clean and de-cluttered has spurred me on to work on a couple of other areas in my house this week.

Here’s the deck, with its new green stain on it–MLG did a masterful job of repairing and sanding and staining it. I do love the color. And I just can’t describe how fun it is to walk across the deck knowing that it is safe and secure.

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Ever since I wrote my “Realtime in the Swimming Pool” post, I have been making steady progress on my goal to swim 2.4 miles. I regularly swim 100 lengths, with 40-60 length swims in between. 2.4 miles is 153 lengths. My plan is to swim this next weekend. I will decide what day to do it on depending on how I am feeling, and how busy the pool is. But you can be sure that it will be followed up with a cupcake to celebrate!!

So this week I plan to alternate days on the bike and weights, with swimming. I’ll walk a little. But Noah’s not into the walking too much (thank goodness,) and I do not enjoy walking in August. It is almost unbearably dusty around here in August.

My weight loss is so slow that its …well, I can’t think of a descriptor. Its just slow. I fluctuate between being impatient, thinking its not worth mentioning because its “re-loss,” and being unbearably proud and happy that I have been able to accomplish this. I have lost 22 pounds since last November. Just about 2 1/2 pounds a month.

My knees do feel better. I am sure the weight loss is the most significant factor. I also have kept up with my physical therapy exercises. If I slack off on them, I definitely notice it. In addition, I am taking vitamin B-12. I don’t know if it helps or if its just superstition. But I’m not gonna stop taking it. I still have pain with pretty much every step I take, but its very bearable. I had a couple of really bad days in June. So bad that I consulted my friend who has extensive personal experience with arthritis, and is also studying nutrition. Lynn reminded me that weather changes and pressure changes are one of the main culprits in arthritis flare-ups. And it just so happened that we had had a very weird weather change the days before that happened. Thanks, Lynn!

After that, I started keeping an arthritis calendar. I write down the exercise I do, the calories I consume, and if I have eaten anything different or unusual, like wheat or sugar, or just over-eating. And I write down when I have increased pain. Ever since I started it, though, I have been feeling fit as a fiddle, pretty much every day! There was only one day I was a little more stiff than usual, and that was another day we had a change from unusually cool weather to super hot weather.

Well, this got a little long-winded. Here’s some garden shots to end this on a high note.

My marigold “bouquets”:

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A new pot with that lime green plant (they really do well for me, so I like them) and a pink zinnia. I’m hoping it will grow and fill out the pot. We’re working on a “layered pink look” in the garden…

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And a fuchsia. Because I am silly and I grew up in the Bay Area where fuchsias grew like weeds. They like cool weather. But I can dream, can’t I?

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You Can Always Do Something.

I thought I’d talk a bit about how my exercise has changed over the past few months to accommodate  my aging? injury prone? body. The main point I want to make is that you can (and SHOULD) always do something.

Over the years I have always been very inspired by stories of people with severe physical  limitations and how they found a way to exercise. SO INSPIRED. There was just never really any justification for NOT exercising. Not even morbid obesity. If a person without legs could walk, how could I possibly excuse myself?

That said, it has been a little frustrating challenging to find new ways to exercise as various body parts break down. First there was the back. I went to P.T. and was careful to not do exercises that would exacerbate the injury that was already there. I could still pretty much do a full range of strength exercises, and of course I continued walking and occasionally running. I added in some swimming, which I really enjoyed. Last summer I made a goal to swim 2.4 miles and I did it! I’m thinking that this year I will try to do that at least 3 times during the swimming season.

And then the decrepit knees came along. That has been very frustrating, since walking fairly long distances (3-5 miles) was my norm. And that just wasn’t pleasant any more. When I finally went to the doctor and he gave me permission–in fact, encouraged-me to stop doing weight bearing exercise, it was a relief. I had already started increasing my swim time before I saw him, and he was an avid cycler, so he encouraged me to do some biking. He mentioned the word aerobic in that conversation (which included some talk about losing weight.) Oh, aerobic. I kinda had forgotten about that. I don’t like to sweat… So I started getting on the bike at the gym. In conjunction with watching The Food Network, I really enjoy my time on the bike. I do intervals and try to challenge myself.

At the same time, I went to P.T. for my knees, and that was the end of the heavy weight training for my lower body. Instead, I do multiple reps (like 60-100) of much lower weights. Its still a pretty good challenge. If I keep up with the P.T. exercises, walking is now fairly comfortable for shorter distances. I was happy to keep doing my regular heavy lifting for my upper body (remember my goal to do a 100 pound bench press?)

Well, yeah. THEN something happened to my elbow/arm. I could still use it to push, but I couldn’t even reach to pick up a glass. No strength at all, and it hurt like the dickens. My brother said its probably tendonitis. I consulted the internets and they said rest for 5-6 weeks was the cure. So there went my upper body strength training. I just stopped cold turkey. But you know what I started doing recently? I don’t know what made me think of this, except I probably just needed to move a bit–I started doing those arm circles that they made us do in jr. high gym class! Those things are pretty hard to do!

Oh, and the latest thing I am trying (and loving) is sprints. So far it seems like its okay on my knees and my back. I read this blog about running, which was pretty entertaining, and she quoted Mark Sisson, who mentioned having debilitating osteoarthritis at age 28. Well if he could run sprints, I guess I could.

The idea of these 30 second sprints does remind me of Tabata intervals. Which is something else I could add back in. And core exercises. I definitely could add some of those. Oh, and stretching. Maybe some yoga? Pilates? Definitely, you can always do something.

So Much to Say, So Little Time…

Well, I missed out on that whole end-of-year-review AND the beginning-of-the-year-goal-setting. I’ll just say that my BF pointed out to me that it had been a VERY GOOD YEAR for me, and she is so right. And it is already starting to be a VERY GOOD YEAR in this new year.

The two biggest projects for the past year are converging at exactly the same time, and that is the reason there is “so little time” to write. Tomorrow I go to Folsom to hang the quilts for the gallery showing. The quilts that I have been working on all year. TWENTY quilts. I am so pleased that I set a goal for myself to make 20 quilts, and that I actually was able to accomplish that. Some of them are pictured over on the quilt blog. I hope to have all of them photographed and to do a slide show or something. But that will have to wait for a week or two.

Because the other BIG THING that is happening is that I leave for Haiti on Monday. And this is also at the end of a year of working on our child sponsorship program for the children of Carrefour Poy. We are so happy with what we have been able to do so far. But have so much more that we want to do. It will be so helpful to ‘see for ourselves’ the situation and the needs. You can see some pictures of the kids on our website. We were so happy when they were able to start a lunch program. And our shoe drive for the month of December reaped fantastic results. We have about 175 pairs of shoes! Our suitcases are stuffed to the gills. Fortunately the weather is warm there, so our lightweight clothing will not take much room!

But you all know that what I really like to talk about is the daily dailies. And food. So here’s a bit of this and that.

I made crepes!! I was pretty excited at how perfectly I was able to make crepes for the first time. I used Georgie’s recipe, which if you look at it, it is a form of our protein pancakes.

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But here’s the weird thing. I made these for myself Christmas morning, but I didn’t really like them. The chocolate banana filling was too rich for me. So I tossed them, and had a piece of that baked oatmeal that I had made out of the fruit salad. BTW, I liked that baked oatmeal so much that I figured out how to make it again and will post that recipe soon. The crepes themselves were great, though, and I will try them again. Maybe with a blueberry filling.

And then, for Christmas, I finally bought myself one of those spiralizers. SUPER COOL!!! I bought the one that Cammy had pointed out to me. So nice. Hand-held, and I can put it in the drawer when I am done. Look at these cool spiralized carrots and zucchini! I cooked them and made some of my Darn Good Spaghetti Sauce to serve on top of them.

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And this is a nice little gift idea: Home-made muesli fixings. My mom likes me to make muesli for her. Lately I haven’t had enough oatmeal on hand, so I just put all the other stuff in a container and tell her to mix it in with oatmeal. For Christmas I had the idea to layer the ingredients in a mason jar. You can use whatever you want as the add-ins. This jar has slivered almonds, unsweetened coconut, date pieces, dried apricot pieces, and dried cranberries. The powder in the top is some cinnamon splenda.

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And a little health and exercise update: after 6 weeks of PT, going twice a week, and dutifully performing all my exercises between visits, my knee is VASTLY improved! I celebrated New Year’s Day by taking the three mile walk to the end of my road and back. I haven’t done this for about 9 months because it hurt too bad to go uphill or downhill for too long, and there is a very long steep hill on that walk. On New Year’s Eve I was at the gym, and it was a bright and sunny day, so I got to take a dip in the pool. What a treat! I am doing fantastic staying on my “me diet.” I am not sure what will happen food-wise in Haiti. I am taking some protein bars with me, and hopefully I will not gain weight like I did in Africa. That was a bit weird…

 

I’m not sure I’ll get to blog again before I leave, so I will say Happy New Year and farewell. And will be anxious to share with you when I return!

I Love Exercise?

Last night I re-wrote my “About Me” page.  Gah!  I hadn’t re-done it since I started this blog.   I decided to keep the same picture.  If Mary Higgins Clark can do it, I guess I can too.

So when I wrote “I love exercise” on that page, it was true.  It has been something of a revolution to me that I have just recently begun to admit that the truth of the matter is that I love exercise.  Not “I need to exercise,” or “exercise is necessary for long term weight loss maintenance,”  but “I want to exercise.”  Another one of those neuropathways that took a LOOOOONG time to change.

Accepting that as a fact has started to change how I view the time I spend exercising.  In the past that has been a big issue for me.  Now, since I love exercise, it makes sense that I would drive down to the gym, even if it does take a chunk of time out of my afternoon.  I am finding that it is a good motivator to work more consistently in the morning (whether it is housework or quilting) so that I can finish by 2 or 3 o’clock and head to the gym.

And since my official diagnosis of arthritis, I have changed up a few things.  I am still walking.  That just makes life more pleasant with dogs in the house.  I no longer feel guilty for making my walks shorter.  In fact, I am congratulating myself for doing what was best for me.

At the gym, I have enjoyed getting back on the bike.  I am experimenting with the different modes and settings and making it more of a challenging workout.  Some of you will be happy to hear that I EVEN BROKE A SWEAT yesterday.  So much so that I felt like going for a swim afterwards.  Oh yeah, last week I bought one of those swim shirts.  I have to say, it really does help.  Plus, there’s that ‘carrot at the end of the stick’–the spa.  If I will just get in the pool and swim a few laps, I get to get in the spa afterwards.  Once I am in the pool, I always swim more than a ‘few laps.’

I am totally loving getting back to working out on the weights.  I have adjusted some of the leg exercises, and I am anxious to talk to the physical therapist to get more specific information on which exercises will work best.  I am back to working on my 100 pound bench press challenge.

And there are other things to explore–the rowing machine, and maybe a yoga class or two.

I love exercise.  Who knew?