The Best Medicine (is half an hour)

23 and 1/2 hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our health? – YouTube

Seriously, Watch the link above, it is a great watch; I love an easy to follow, informative animated presentation – and I am not going to write about the ins and outs of the video – Just watch it, it is better than any summary I can write. Surprisingly  it does touch on a post  I wrote a while ago in relation to TV and health…But If you don’t watch it the premise is that one half hour a day is the best medicine for us, it’s free (ie walking) and will save us our health and hip pocket!

I just got the big thumbs up from my surgeon this week to go ahead with exercise. I had reconstructive plastic surgery of a tummy tuck and arm lift 6 weeks ago. He let me know I can get back into everything: slowly building up my running and weights… I did my first 2.5km run back after 6 weeks off this week – I Loved it, I went without my Garmin running watch which calculates distance, pace, heart rate etc. I went just for the love of running and not looking at numbers allowed me to relax and let my body go at its natural pace whilst I continue to recover and build up.

Exercise for me is not just about losing more weight or weight control. For me exercise just makes me feel really bloody good! I am addicted and get a bit of a high off it 🙂

Exercise has improved my quality of life and improved my overall fitness. It gave me my life back, and I would much prefer to live a 21 -23.5 hour day (giving the balance to exercise) than ask for more hours in a day – Honestly there ARE enough hours in a day; and I am willing to bet that a large majority of people who would ask for more hours would end up giving those hours over to their TV habit anyway. 😦

We cannot change the clock to give us more time (unless you have the DeLorean with a flux capacitor in your garage), but we can change our priorities, our lives, families and communities by becoming healthier. Every minute counts, and it is up to us what we do with them.

Till next time

Lin xox

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Plastic Surgery; Preparation

Trusting your Surgeon - you need to feel comfortable with them!

I first saw my Plastic Surgeon in November last year (2011) ,and, prior to going, I had done all the obligatory preparation that the modern woman does;  primarily  I Googled the heck out of the topic.  😉

But seriously apart from the google self research, I got a referral from my lap band surgeon, spoke to my GP and gotten another referral for the plastic surgeon, and begun to meet with a psychologist  to talk about the changes ahead.

During all my research there did not seem to be a lot to find about people’s personal journey’s with this type of surgery. There was a lot of info from American sources, mainly plastic surgeons who were explaining their services and methods of surgery. Overall I did not find much of this information to be either relevant or helpful.

What I did find helpful was a list of questions to ask your plastic surgeon about their qualifications, the procedures you are considering, what they would suggest, recovery etc. I went to the Plastic surgeon with the idea of what occurs in America as being the norm. This would be what most of us have seen on USA TV shows; where people who were once morbidly obese and after losing their weight, have multiple procedures at once – including a belt lipectomy (tummy tuck all the way around the middle), arm lift, thigh lift and breast lift.

So I spoke to my Surgeon (lets call him House) who has consulting rooms at a very reputable Private Hospital in Malvern. On our first meeting he listened to my story of weight loss, running and wanting to deal with the skin that was holding me back both physically and emotionally. He listened well, answered all my questions on my list and explained what he thought would be the best plan forward for my personal situation and case.

House explained that I would likely get better results in the long term by breaking all the procedures that I would need up over 3 different surgeries. This would allow my body to recover better, allow the skin to be stretched in one direction for one procedure and then tightened the opposite direction on the next procedure. House also explained that in the USA they tend to have to do all the procedures at once to get their health insurance to cover it as they often won’t cover and pay for multiple procedures despite this providing better results over time (Yet another reason to be thankful for Australian Health Cover).

House was great in the initial consultation, he showed me pics of his work and I felt at ease with him. I scheduled the 1st surgery for tummy tuck including a lateral thigh lift (this means it goes a bit wider than a tummy tuck over to the sides) and a Brachioplasty (arm lift) for Feb 14th 2012…We agreed that these were the two main areas that were affecting my health, exercise progress and self esteem the most, and to start there and work on the other areas progressively over the next 18 months.

From this point it was a matter of working out the logistics such as; time off work, money, and staying fit and healthy… What I found out in the lead up to surgery was that despite wanting the surgery I was very scared and fearful of what was ahead.

Some days I was fine with the idea of surgery, but mostly I spent most of my time trying not to think about it. Part of the reason (apart from not liking hospitals) was that I was scared more this time than the last time I had surgery (which was the lap band surgery). I was scared because I love life now; and actually have a life to lose… Last time I didn’t have any quality of life, nothing to lose and the prospect of something going wrong didn’t seems like it could be worse than the life I lived then.

I spoke to friends and colleagues, and my Psychologist about this… Their feedback was it is OK to be scared (it is normal) but they also reminded me that my surgeon and all the people involved in the surgery are professionals and do this type of surgery all the time!

This was what I needed to hear and allowed me to think about the surgery in a new way…

So in the lead up to surgery; I used a variety of strategies to get through and deal with the anxiety –

*Being informed & trusting that House is a professional who knows his stuff and practices at a great hospital.

*Staying busy and speaking to my friends, family and Psych. A Big thanks to my all friends and family for listening to me and a special thanks to SM who told me her personal story of plastic surgery and what she went through with a tummy tuck!

*Continuing to live a very social life – Meeting up with friends, going out, working out and having a few drinks; still living and enjoying life.

*Knowing that at the end of it all, I am strong and can get through this (They have drugs for the pain right!)

So in the next installment I will talk about the day before surgery and the big day itself!

Till next time

Lin xox

TV – The Weight is On

TV - Is it all white noise?

Television and Weightloss – No I am not writing about yet another fast track unrealistic reality weight loss show (cue The Biggest Loser!) – Yes this post is about the “idiot box” as my Dad affectionately called it when we were growing up, but I want to explore and look at the link between the screen and the scale, and lets be honest – we have all had that mindless time in front of the screen.

I have said this before; this blog  is about  figuring out what worked for me when losing weight. Not just the exercise and eating side of it, but the other small changes that I perhaps have overlooked. I think TV (or the lack thereof) has had a positive impact on the scale side of things.

Looking back I can now see that (particularly in the last year, and ironically when I brought a new TV) I drastically cut down the time I spent in front of it… When I moved to the beach, I began this little saying to myself, “Is this action going to change your life, is this a good use of your time?” Obviously it was pretty easy to see that going for a walk would change my life and was a better use of my time, than sitting there mindlessly watching yet another re run of some sitcom that I didn’t enjoy the first time! So I got up and would go for a walk rather than sit on the couch and hit the ON button. And as the year progressed I found that  I began to be more discretionary about my TV time.

I would exercise more in the evenings and as I work night shifts, I would record to my hard drive maybe 5 TV shows I enjoyed during the week and watch them (skipping the ads) when I had a chance.  So on average I found that my TV time became more focused, and I had a little store of recorded shows when I wanted to watch them.

I don’t want you to think that this is all about me saying that you must substitute TV for exercise, research shows that subsiting anything for TV is gonig to be better for you… The facts are surprising and scary, and while this is based on American figures, I am guessing that Australians are just as bad if not worse! The following quote is from the linked article.

“On average, American adults watch five hours of television a day, the third most time-consuming activity in our lives — after sleep and work. Watching television expends fewer calories than other leisure activities that take its place, including reading, writing, telephone conversations and desk work. The more time adults spend in front of the television, the more likely they are to suffer from obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, said Otten.”Cutting TV Time Reduces Weight Gain | Psych Central News.

The above article also noted that a study where people dropped their TV time by half but didn’t change their diet, burnt on avg. 150 calories extra a day than the other participants that did not change their TV habits – this would perhaps not be enough to drastically change your weight, but may help with weight management!

I think that there are a few reasons that TV impacts on our weight, and the more I look into it, the more links I see. Here are some reasons that have come up…

  • TV is a sedentary activity that doesn’t burn calories & the time in front of it takes time from other productive activities
  • We are more likely to eat in front of the TV.
  • We are more likely to eat easy, high calorie snack food when watching TV (think chips, chocolate, ice-cream, biscuits etc)
  • TV tends to allow us to disconnect the mind and body, we therefore eat in a somewhat “mindless” manner. We literally “tune out” not connecting what we are putting in our mouths with how we are feeling, this can lead to higher consumption of food and calories without realising, and not linking to that STOP I have had enough feeling.
  • The effects of food advertising on TV, and the impact that this has on perceived hunger.
  • It gives us “something” to do and can become a strong habit to sit down and eat when watching.
  • We watch TV at night after a long day and “reward” ourselves which can become habitual.

TV is part of our lives, and I think the thing I have learnt, is that I really don’t miss watching it that much. If there is a show I like, I can record it, watch it on line and control my access to it, and not allow it to control me. When I do this I am more able to control the other factors above… Skip ads, set up new habits, like have a herbal tea, not eat or watch it after a workout when I am not hungry. At the end of the day life is just more fun to live than watch someone else’s ideas of life on a screen.

I would be interested to hear what you think about the impact of TV in this area, feel free to comment, agree or disagree.

Till next time, Lin xox

Trigger Happy! – Planning, Success and Resolutions…

The Loaded Gun!

Emotional eating and figuring out triggers for this has long been an issue for me.

I got to a point in life that I was basically eating for any reason, happy, sad, frustrated, lonely, tired, guilty, anxious, rejected, bored… you get the picture..

But what I have learnt is that  it is not just the trigger and my food drug of choice at that time that is the problem. It was also opportunity and situation.

I had set up my life (over many years of reinforcing poor choices) to have a constant supply of food, situations and opportunities to allow these triggered food reactions to occur. I had allowed my lifestyle to revolve around food – buying food, storing food, preparing food, eating food, blah blah blah..

The lap band took out the ability (for most of my eating) for me to binge eat and stuff my feelings down… The barrier that it put in place allowed me to slowly address the emotional eating and break them down. The opportunities and situations decreased. I began to make smart choices and re-frame my relationship with food and my feelings.

Now that I have had the lap band and it is adjusted to be a bit more open, and I can eat a little more, I have noticed that I need to work on this area a little more and revisit it again.

Earlier in the week I had a situation where I was feeling tired, anxious, worried and a little guilty. I was at work and near the “social club shop” where tempting treats of chocolate, chips and soft drink lay in wait. The chocolate did not survive…

I analyzed my behaviour a little later, figured out what was going on emotionally, and what else was a threat that day – why didn’t I stick to my plans… It was because I hadn’t prepared for work that day properly. I hadn’t packed the foods I knew I would need to have at my desk and avoid going into the “shop”. I didn’t drink enough water and my sleep pattern was more whacked than usual.

I have good, strong plans and work at them (really well) most days!                                        I do not buy junk food for my house anymore, I have a supply of hummus and vegies to snack on, some sugar free 85% dark chocolate, and I have changed my habits.                       I now rarely watch TV (TV and eating used to go hand in hand for me –  I watched (and ate) more hours away than I care to remember) I now prefer to exercise, read, go out, live an actual life.

But the point here is for me to keep acknowledging that successful people plan; they then work their plan, learn from their mistakes, reflect – adjust and move forward…

The Lesson learnt from today;

*Plan and follow through with the plan and have a back up plan in place.

* Work out and write down what is going on and bothering me before I reach mindlessly for the junk food… (If I can see it at the time) If I don’t see it till after, acknowledge what is going on and figure out a way to constructively deal with it.

*If I fall down – don’t kick myself while I am down there! – Help myself get up take stock and reflect;                                                                                                                          What didn’t work, why? who is involved?                                                                         What can I control? (i.e my reaction, behaviour, attitude)                                                   What can’t I control? (other people? their actions and reactions, work load etc)                   What will I change and adjust? What is a realistic new and modified plan? How do I keep moving forward.

And while I think that all this writing and reflecting about it is good, the proof as they say is in the Pudding…. (Did someone say pudding 🙂 )

This type of thinking and reflecting can apply to more areas of life than just food, diet and exercise.  With the craziness of “New Years Resolutions” just weeks away, It may help to think about the cycle of planning, working the plan, reflecting and readjusting plans, rather than, off the cuff resolutions that make you feel crap when you have forgotten about them in a matter of days, weeks or months.

2012 is shaping up to be tough year… It will be tough to maintain the fitness and weight loss that I have built this year… That is the challenge though and one I aim to meet!

Thanks for stopping by, till next time

Lin xox

(Dancing) Running in the Dark

They say it changes when the sun goes down!

I loved the song by Bruce Springsteen when I was a kid… But what I love more now is running in the Dark.

I love to get home from shift, and before I can make any excuses throw on my running kit and head out onto the streets.

The brain game to get out of the door and actually run, usually begins at the Hwy turn off about 1km from home. This is how it plays out…

Fit Lin – Mmm I should go for a run now.

Lazy Lin – Nah you had a hard shift  (is there any other kind?) don’t worry about it!

Fit Lin – Comon, You know you love a run, It’s that old attitude that helped keep you fat.

Lazy Lin – Oh yeah, your right thanks for the reminder.

Fit Lin – No worries..

Somedays It is harder than that – I get home and am still back and forth – Friday morning after a Thursday night shift was one of those mornings. I walked to the fridge to get some cold water and saw a Post It note that I put on there a few weeks ago – the quote was something I picked up off a TV show – the football coach said “All it takes is all you got” It stuck a chord with me at the time –  and again when I read it this morning.

What is All I Got? – Well if i am breathing and healthy enough to go for a run I should damn well be out there. So I put on my gear and walked out the door… As soon as I started to turn the legs over, I felt happy and remembered that I LOVE TO RUN….

One Big Plus is that I really love to run in the dark..  I came across an article on Nike a few days ago that talks about how we think we run faster in the dark. (see link below)   It is all about how our brains perceive the world around us, depth perception and the difference the dark makes to that. I don’t really care why, but I always prefer to run in the dark. And on Friday morning I ran the quickest back half that I have ever done over 6km. My back end (the last 3km of my run not my butt 😉 )  was all run in sub 7min k’s… A goal I have been working towards cracking by the end of this year. Whoo Hoo!

Till next time – Lin xox

Nike Running – News Blog – Night Speed Ahead: Why We Run Faster in the Dark.

Where’s your head at?

Escaping from negative thought patterns is hard work.

Recently someone introduced me to the concept of gentleness. Now I can hear some of you now say What the??, Yes, I know what being gentle means, and as a social worker, friend and family member, I know I can be gentle to others,

But gentle to myself – well that is where it gets hard.

………………………………………………..

When this concept was floated, it kind of stuck a chord with me. I have beaten myself down for years, told myself that because I was fat, I didn’t deserve to be “happy”, I didn’t deserve good things in life, I was a failure, blah, blah, blah – you get the idea. Bascially I spent the majority of my day mentally beating myself up on every aspect of my life.         And let me say this is not the mindset of someone who will succeed at anything.

Body acceptance and being gentle to yourself is sooo important when it comes to changing in the long term…. I found this article that explains it a little.

“We may balk at the idea of body acceptance. If we accept our bodies, won’t we become complacent? If we embrace our imperfections, won’t we lose our motivation to exercise or eat right? Actually, the opposite is true. Some studies have shown that a healthy body acceptance actually encourages us to exercise and eat right. The reason? People who are comfortable with their bodies emphasize function over appearance, so they eat more intuitively, eating foods that make them feel good when they’re hungry. Meanwhile, people who diet because of body dissatisfaction are more likely to fail.via The Perfect Body – How to Accept Your Body Through Exercise.”

Looking back (Ahh don’t we love hindsight) I can now see that by hating myself, I was not allowing myself the space to build on any positive changes. Changing and Escaping from this mental game was part of what allowed me to change and keep changing.

It started with me believing that this time – with the Lap Band, I would have a tool that would help me succeed. In fact I think the Lap Band allowed me some mental space, it gave me a physical barrier to stop eating too much. This assisted me in looking at the weight that slowly came off, and over time (months and years) realising that I could win at this as it was not coming back on. I started to really believe that the weight was coming off for good. That I could accept the fact that I was changing, and that I might get to a place I was OK with. It also stopped the daily ritual I had of mentally abusing myself for eating too much or not doing enough exercise.

It is important to note here that I don’t think that being gentle of myself is the same as making excuses for eating poorly or not exercising, that to me (now) is not negotiable…         Being gentle means I will not abuse my mind, call myself names etc. I will speak positively to myself and say “anti up girl you can do it”, “stay strong” and “Yes I can”

I still struggle with being gentle with myself, it is a new concept to think about… But I now realise it has been something that I have been practicing unconsciously over the past few years. I am not skilled at it yet… I am still scared of putting weight on, and I am still incredibly driven and feel bad when I don’t exercise or eat something I perhaps could have said no to. But I now know that mentally abusing myself was part of the cycle that kept me obese. While I am gentle to clients, friends and family, Now I need to practice being accepting and gentle to the person I will spend the rest of my life with… Me.

I hope that after reading this you will think about being more gentle to yourself too and rephrase old negative thoughts to a new positive framework… I can change, I will succeed, I have strength, I am enough.

Till next time, Lin xox