Monday, October 28, 2013

Celebrating non scale victories

I've talked before about how the number on the scale is just that - a number. And my favorite proof of how my fitness level and body are improving is in how my pants fit. I follow a fitness blogger on Facebook who calls these things 'non scale victories' and talks about how important they are to celebrate.

I feel like my head was removed from my ass a fog has lifted now that my attitude about my health is back to a normal and healthy one. I've returned from the brink where I wallowed in crap I can't change and am focused again on being fit and healthy; measuring my successes rather than just surviving every day. My routine for years has been to track scale weight as well as measurements so I can go back and compare progress and where I was at each different point in my weight loss and fitness journey. Probably no surprise that I haven't done measurements in well over a year. I struggled with massive water retention and swelling in the beginning of all my kidney issues and didn't really want to see the stark numbers of how all my efforts had been negated. I could feel it in the pants and knew how bad it was.

A couple of weeks ago I decided to suck it up and do measurements. If nothing else they could serve as a brand new starting point where I couldn't go anywhere except up from. Interestingly enough, I'm actually the same size I was right before I ran my last Ragnar over a year and a half ago. Really?! Another reason I love yoga! Without even realizing it I've lost all that extra nasty swelling and water weight and kept it off even without running for a year.

Already feeling pretty good about myself, a few days ago I was enjoying the crispness of a fall afternoon and needed a hoodie. I hadn't done laundry and there weren't many options available in the closet. Then I noticed this adorable, maroon, lightweight hoodie hanging there, beckoning me. I'd forgotten all about this beauty. I bought it to commemorate my last Ragnar - me and the rest of the thousands since they were out of my size. At the time I was determined not to need the bigger size ever again so I bought the smaller size and told myself it would be great motivation. Because I had so recently been surprised, I pulled it out on a whim and put it on.

Holy shit, it fits!!!

I danced around in my closet jumping in joy and excitement for a good minute - then looked in the mirror to survey just how well it fit. That little bitchy voice in the back of my head was saying 'just because you can zip it up doesn't mean it is worthy of leaving this closet'. But it looked great and I wore that thing for two days loving every minute of knowing it was a victory just to feel confident enough to leave the closet.

I've decided these non scale victories are even sweeter than the number on the scale getting smaller. After all, no one but me gets to know or see that number but everyone can see how cute I look in my hoodie! Here's to more victories in the near future. And if you aren't looking for ways to celebrate progress, start noticing. It is far easier to stay motivated to do the hard work of being healthy when you are seeing positive results no matter how small.

Monday, October 21, 2013

T-Minus Ten Days

It is almost November. That busy month where most people are gearing up for mainstream things like Thanksgiving and Christmas shopping and crazy writers like me are attempting what initially seems like the impossible: to participate and hopefully win National Novel Writing Month on top of all the things everyone else is doing. If you're new to the blog you may not understand the massive undertaking I challenge myself with every year for the past six. Writing fifty thousand words in the thirty days of November. Last year there were over three hundred thousand others globally who joined this challenge with me and I've heard this year is going to be even bigger.

I've been plotting and character developing since mid-September in preparation for writing the first draft of my next novel starting at midnight on Halloween. Have I got everything figured out yet? Nope. Am I worried? Nope. Am I secretly rejoicing that my health has improved so much that I feel almost one hundred percent like my old self so I can realistically imagine pulling late nights night after night and consuming massive amounts of coffee to keep me awake the next day so I have a chance in hell of winning this year? You bet your ass!

Have you thought of writing a novel but never did anything about actually doing it? NaNoWriMo is the coolest and best writing event to develop personal habits that easily translate to the rest of the year. No matter what the rest of the year looks like for me, I always know I'll be a writer who writes every day during November. And usually that habit persists well into the rest of the year. I haven't "won" every year but I write more every November than I would without this silly contest/challenge and that is all that really counts.

For more information and to join the party for free check out and register to join me! There is a real-life side to the online contest too if you want to meet other local writers at the kick-off parties or participate in write-ins in your area. My favorite part of registering is getting access to the word count statistics where I can obsessively and continuously update my word count and see the very real and uber-cool progress I'm making every day.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Today in other news

I just had the best weekend! I'm not sure if it is a self-fulfilling prophecy I'm living through or just a random coincidence but I'm feeling so great. Like I-almost-forgot-how-normal-life-feels great. Being present in every moment is a big theme for me now both because my brush with death put a different value on each moment there is and because there is so much about being present in the moment when practicing yoga. When a pose gets hard, you focus on just your breathing and let everything go while your muscles scream and that little voice in your head tells you it is time to be done with this pose thank you very much. Because of my awareness I find it easy to see trends within my own experience especially when they start to shift.

My amazing weekend started Friday night. I'm not sure if it was partly due to the large quantities of coffee I consumed Friday or just how good I felt but we watched two movies late in the evening and I only fell asleep halfway through the last one because it sucked and it was after one in the morning. I had to get up early for a blood draw Saturday so why force it for a lame movie?

Saturday I had some alone time while Hubby took the girls on a little Daddy-Daughter adventure and I filled it with shopping for groceries which morphed into deep cleaning my refrigerator before I could put things away. This was one of those chores that easily has fallen for the last year under the category of 'beyond the daily necessity' and therefore largely and very effectively ignored. As a result, I had all these random things that had accumulated on the rear half of most of the shelves with no room for the basics that come and go on a weekly rotation. How many open and half-used taco sauce bottles or jars of jam does one person need? And why can't they sell plum sauce in single-use size jars since that's the only size I am ever going to need? It felt so good to do something I know I wouldn't have had the energy for just a week ago and still feel like I could keep going.

All of these little things were nice but still kind of UN-noteworthy until Sunday morning rolled around. Even though I'd worked hard all day and was up late Saturday night to pick Big Sister up from a late birthday party, I woke up early. The first thought in my head was about going for a run walk and wondering if it was raining or if I had time to squeeze it in with everything planned for the day. I haven't awoken with thoughts about running in any form since probably January! Unfortunately it was pouring rain so I decided coffee was a better choice. But the fact that the thought was there was noteworthy.

Sunday's to-do list included two things and two things only: 1) Clean the house; and 2) Big Sister's Birthday Party. What this translates to is do all the dishes not just the ones that fit into the dishwasher, clear off all the crap that accumulates on the kitchen table over the course of the days and weeks of comings and goings and vacuum the floors if I have the energy so that my family and friends don't know how truly slacker I am when it comes to housework lately. What actually transpired was iconic. I ended up deep cleaning the kitchen including the dreaded top of the refrigerator and moving, cleaning and de-cluttering half of the place. Things that hadn't been touched let alone cleaned in months were discarded and others found new homes since they are no longer used regularly. But I didn't stop there. I had so much energy and felt like I was still on such a roll that I not only vacuumed, I MOPPED the floors. And not just the high traffic areas! I moved all the furniture and rugs and everything out. Something I haven't done full on in more months than I care to admit in public. When the party started I looked back on the fact that I had gotten up early, hadn't sat down for more than twenty minutes for that one cup of coffee first thing and still felt like hanging out and chatting with all our family and friends well into the night.

It wasn't just a fluke either... Today, I got up for my six AM yoga class like normal and then decided to do some upper body work with dumb bells while I was multi-tasking on a conference call this afternoon. That's two work-outs today before working hours were done. I haven't felt ambitious or energetic enough for that since before the Las Vegas Ragnar  in 2011 when I was running and lifting weights six days a week!

One could argue that none of these things by themselves are earth-shattering or even truly significant. But for me they add up to proof I'm feeling better and headed back to the land of living, fit people. What kind of things do you do everyday that give you the same sense of being alive and well or do you even notice these kinds of things? If you don't find yourself present in every moment of your day, you really should try it. You'd be amazed at what you can see when you're looking...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Being Healthy

First, an update on my pity party pit stop. It is over... so don't worry that I'm spiraling slowly downward into the depths of despair which my melodramatic last post might have indicated. The lesson I'm choosing to take away from the past two weeks of roller coaster is that I should never never never blog when I start a new drug and am still trying to adjust and find the correct dose. I'm happy to report that this new medication is actually not that bad once my body got adjusted to it and it is already working since my protein loss is down again. We all know I'm not a patient woman - as if anyone needed more proof of it.

My joint pain is basically gone. Yippee! (I even found myself running up the stairs today!)
My headaches are a thing of the past. *knock on wood*
My stomach isn't upset anymore. Hurray!
And because of all of the above, I'm in super spirits. But that is not enough...

I had a very powerful conversation the other night that got me thinking - ironically the same night I posted about my pity party. For almost a year I've focused on entirely the wrong things. I say "at least I didn't die" as if my life is a bobbie prize to all of my experiences of late. I have been so hung up on all the things that have changed within my current reality instead of embracing all the amazing things I now have the opportunity to experience and accomplish. So I can't run anymore, who cares! Keep reading, you'll understand what I mean.

First reality check: I love yoga probably more than I ever loved running and if I were still running I wouldn't have the yoga practice (or the friends) that I have because I would still be trying to do both. Do I want to add some cardio back into my fitness routine? Sure. But will my life be incomplete if I'm not a full-blown runner anymore? No! Sure I have to start all over with walking before running but I already know exactly how to do that. Bonus!

Second reality check: It was pointed out to me by a niece who I rarely see but interact with on Facebook that all my photos of the last year show me far more glowing and happy than I was before all my current health experiences started. Despite how I feel day to day, my life IS better because I'm focusing on the people and things that matter the most to me rather than doing all the things that I "should" be doing instead. I gained a very healthy way of prioritizing things in my life and embracing spontaneity because I did almost die, I just haven't been thinking about things in the same way as I've been living. Instead I've been all up in my head dwelling on all the stuff I want to change which translates into exactly what I'm talking about here. Thoughts becoming actions and actions becoming habits as they say.

Nothing hit me in the face harder than when I ran into an old friend yesterday who I haven't seen or had contact with for over a year. We hugged and she asked me how I've been. The first words out of my mouth were: "I've been better. I've got kidney disease." Seriously, Terra? That's how you want to sum up your life and boil your existence down into one sentence? It kind of hit me like a ton of bricks when I walked away and thought about how saying that changed the entire exchange. You can't tell by looking at me that I have any issues going on. I have yet to miss work other than for doctor visits and the like. I've never been hospitalized except for one weekend afternoon I spent in the ER. And I could have said 'I'm great!' and still be telling the truth of my life right now. Why didn't I? Words are powerful as they say. Especially true when they are the words that little voice is constantly saying inside your own head undermining everything.

So, with my body healing and marching down the road toward remission in the next two months, I'm going to get back to BE-ing. Being present in every moment and every thought rather than dwelling on the past or how things could have been different for me. The only thing constant in the Universe is Change after all. I've always lived with no regrets so why start now regretting things way beyond my control? Being healthy by living everyday as a fit person who does yoga all the time and who feels amazing because there are no more excuses to be the vegetarian I always wanted to be yet never had the courage to commit to. Life is a journey full of lessons to learn and experiences to have. No one gets to pick all the things that come along on their path. It is what we make of those experiences and the meaning we attach to everything that defines how life goes for us.

Another friend shared a quote on Facebook this morning: "People wait all week for Friday; all year for summer; all life for happiness." I don't know who said it but I couldn't agree more. I've been waiting all year for health instead of celebrating how healthy I already am. I declare NO MORE and am living in the moment committed to loving my life to the fullest, being healthy and happy above all.

Monday, October 7, 2013

This blows or pit stop for a pity party

Okay, I know I said last post that I was only going to focus on the positives and all that happy rainbow and unicorn crap but that leaves me without my favorite outlet here to deal with the whole reality of my experiences and how truly shitty this new treatment plan is. Since its my blog after all if I want to change the rules then I get to. Right? The truth is, if I don't acknowledge and share the roller coaster ride with the downs as well as the ups I might go insane.

It's been a month with this new immunosuppresant drug and this past weekend I actually uttered the words "if this is how the next two years are going to be I think I'd rather have died." That sums up the very lowest of the low points of how I'm feeling. I waver between being so mad at everything and everyone and then in tears feeling like an imminent emotional breakdown. It really really blows. I think the worst part is knowing that I'm facing two years of this treatment. IF it works.

The irony of this new drug is that it is supposed to heal me and yet I feel like total shit. I'm tired - even more than I have been since this all started. I have headaches EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Most days I wake up with my head pounding and it never stops even when I lay down at night to go to bed. Saturday my head hurt so badly that I had to eat dinner with my sunglasses on because the light hurt my eyes too much and my family was opposed to eating in the dark. I didn't eat much since I had no real appetite with the pain. My joints hurt like I'm an eighty year old - especially my knees and hips which makes walking super painful regardless but worst going down stairs. I had a drug interaction with my statin which exasperated this most delightful side effect at the beginning and I'm still waiting for the pain to go completely away now that I'm not taking the statin anymore. I'm naseated and feel like I'm going to throw up at the drop of a hat. There are days it is worse than when I was pregnant. And, on top of feeling like all this, I broke out in acne and look like a teeny bopper who doesn't know how to take care of her skin again. Yippee. At least I won't get the cancer later so there must be something okay about this drug, right?

I met with my doctor this morning and there are some tiny bits of good news. My proteinuria is a little better than last month and my kidney function has rebounded solidly back into the normal range now that I'm not taking most of the original meds that impacted it while trying to reverse the protein loss. However, I was unable to continue to avoid the dreaded addition of steroids and now I'm waiting to balloon up and look like a fat cow on top of everything that I'm already dealing with. That should be great for my psychological health. Hopefully this won't happen but I'm not holding my breath. Hands down the best news of the morning is that I can add fish back into my diet without losing the benefits of being a vegetarian. Sushi anyone?

My emotions have been all over the map the past week. It started with my inability to walk because of my hip pain last weekend; then I had the worst week of yoga starting with last Monday's class where I couldn't do most of the poses because of my pain and then not even feeling up to trying either of the other times I had it scheduled; and finished up when I tried to do a 5K on Saturday and couldn't finish it. At one point I was bringing up the rear and could barely talk while I tried to keep up with my friend who was pushing her sister who is fighting breast cancer. I know it is progress since until now I haven't even felt like attempting a race but then when I couldn't finish - mostly because I was an idiot who took my diuretic before I left home and had to break off early to find a restroom - it was even more of an emotional blow to my already delicate psyche. I spent the rest of the day with a throbbing headache on the couch feeling sorry for myself. Yes, folks, even I succumb to the feeling sorry for myself trap once in a while.Yesterday was much better and I got a few hours in the morning free of headache pain so I didn't spiral out of control and am back to wanting to kick ass and take names. Maybe a nap first though? It helps that I was back on my yoga game this morning thank gawd.

Even with all the emotional breakdowns I have cause to celebrate. Although the 5K was a dismal failure that proved to myself that I can no longer call myself a runner *sniff*, it was the first race I participated in since the one last October that could have, and probably should have, killed me. The fact that I'm still fighting to be healthy and haven't given up in the face of all the past year has brought me proves I can make it through wherever this road leads. Even when it blows... I just have to stop every so often for a pity party apparently.