BGIM goes running…sorta

Last fall I went to the doctor for some seemingly small reason and learned that for the first time ever my blood pressure was elevated. It wasn’t in the danger zone and frankly I was more annoyed by the doc’s insistence that it wasn’t a “really” bad thing. Trust me, while my mother’s high blood pressure didn’t exactly kill her, a decade plus of high blood pressure wasn’t exactly a plus either when she was critically ill. I take things like high blood pressure pretty seriously since being Black, slightly overweight and having high blood pressure is one of those norms in the Black community that I am convinced plays a huge role in our leaving this dusty rock sooner than our white counterparts.

Since last fall, I have been quietly making changes in my eating habits, while I am not sure I will ever go back to the vegetarian life, meat continues to play an ever decreasing role in my diet. Most of the mindless snacking that I am prone to doing under stress has been replaced with more intentional eating and healthier snacks. Raw nuts anyone? I broke up with Starbucks and gave up my daily coffee like after work beverage and my digestive tract has been thanking me ever since.  The results after several months are that I am no longer gaining weight, my weight has stabilized and as I learned a couple of weeks ago, my blood pressure is back in the comfort zone.

Now I wish all these changes were enough but the truth, they are not. I need consistent physical activity and more importantly that extra 15 pounds that is comfortably settled in my mid-section has got to go. Mid-section excess is more than just unsightly when trying to look sweet and sexy, it seems it can cause health issues and I am finally willing to acknowledge that and actually do something about it.

The problem is that deep down, I am still the same person with the dubious distinction of failing gym in high school for three years straight. I hate gyms; I am not a work out gal. Yet 40 year old me no longer responds to just diet changes alone and while yoga is the one physical thing that I love, it is not enough. So I have been trying to figure out what I can do that can fit into my life more or less every day, and won’t cost me an arm and a leg. Enter running.

It seems most of my friends are into running, on the surface what is not to love? Relatively cheap, and it seems easy to do. After all, the last time I ran I am pretty sure it involved catching a train or bus in Chicago…back in 2002.

Getting ready to run
Getting ready to run

So yesterday I grabbed the ole man and we made our way over to the local cemetery that also serves as a local trail and broke out into a light jog. You can start laughing at this point. Lawdie B… that was really uncomfortable. For starters, I was jiggling, I was trying to focus on my breath and all I could notice was my ample derriere going up and down. OK. Then there was the twins known in adult language as breasts. Slap, slap, slap. How is that even possible, I don’t exactly have a rack, yet that up and down jiggle was actually hurting me. Lastly the knees, ouch squared. Let’s just say that run/jog ended quickly and instead I went for the power walk around the trail that ended with a mild sweat and some pressure in my legs.

Not a bad first step and thanks to Mother Nature deciding we should have rain today, I don’t have to try it again today. But make no mistake, I will try again…so BGIM went running, or was it more of a prance, gallop or sashay?

Change isn’t always easy or wanted but sometimes we do it anyway. So here is to new beginnings. Besides if running doesn’t stick, I can get some leg weights and take up prancercising instead.  

 

Note: I know for some people talk of diet/life changes is hard but as always this is just one Black girl in Maine telling her story. People need to do what works best for them and their bodies. I know my family history and I know what is best for me.

Cancer sucks and knowledge is power

The world is a little less bright tonight; a fellow Mom and blogger Susan Niebur lost her battle with breast cancer today. I only recently discovered Susan’s blog but read through it in a few days. She leaves behind a husband and two small children, she was also an astrophysicist! Susan battled inflammatory breast cancer which she was diagnosed with at 34 and fought for 5 years.

I didn’t know Susan and only recently became familiar with her story but it resonated deeply with me because of my own scare last year. At the time I wasn’t interested in sharing it publicly but I did share it with friends and family. Like many women during a monthly self-check, I realized something wasn’t right with my girls but there was no lump.  Due to a family history that my Mom had shared with me early in in life, I knew that I always needed to be vigilant about my breasts. In the end, I consulted with several doctors, had a mammogram and saw a specialist before we were comfortable ruling out that there was no problem. Yet at 38, I was told I will now need a mammogram yearly.

I remember sharing this with a few friends who seemed surprised due to my relative young age and even had a couple suggest nothing could possibly be wrong. Ladies, breast cancer does not always present as the lump we are told to look for and age does not exclude one from getting breast cancer. In fact looking back in the past several years I have known more than a handful of women who have lost their lives due to breast cancer and they were all under 40. The sad reality is often times breast cancer is more aggressive in younger women and inflammatory breast cancer is the most aggressive breast cancer.

I guess this is a bit of a PSA and something that was on my mind after hearing of Susan’s passing, but ladies it’s important to not only know our bodies but if something seems amiss get it checked out. If your healthcare provider isn’t taking you seriously, get a second or even a third opinion.  Your very life may depend on it.

The struggle to accept my body in 2011

This post will conclude my public review of 2011…come on; ya know I can’t share everything! 2011 has been good in many ways, professional growth, dealing with old demons and a host of other things. There is one area though where 2011 wasn’t quite as good and that’s my body! After losing damn near 50 pounds and keeping it off for several years, my weight situation came to a head in 2010 thanks to what turned out to be double hernia repair surgery. What was supposed to be a quick fix and move on situation, had me laid up damn near six weeks and for months afterward I was still physically limited. You know the song…I gained weight.

I pretty much gained the weight while laying around, relaxing on pain pills spending too much time indulging in bad television and snacking. I figured as soon as I was back to full mobility, I would drop the weight. It didn’t happen and somewhere along the way after years of being a devoted member of Weight Watchers, I got tired of the weekly weigh in drill and said fuck it! Weight Watchers can be a good program, but I feel that it’s a crutch, for me the idea of weekly weigh- ins and tracking every morsel I put into mouth for the rest of life is frankly depressing.

So for the first time in heaven knows how many years, I have seen very little of Weight Watchers this year. Yay for me! Or maybe not! I am approximately 15 pounds over my “goal” weight according to those handy charts that tell you what you should weigh and I am struggling. On the one hand, I seem to have stopped the weight gain, for many months now I have maintained my current weight, I strive to eat decently and occasionally even move my ass. I admit work and family get in the way of my desires to move.  It seems the downside of living in a small town/city is that most exercise classes are pretty much offered in the evening, same time I am at home trying to get in quality time and dinner with the six year old.

I am a big believer in self-care and certainly taking care of my physical needs is self-care however as the parent of a small child, I am simply not comfortable being gone 1+ hours in the evening. Especially because on days I work from the office rather than from home, we have exactly 3 hours together. Some may say I am making it harder than it needs to be, but I know my child and considering her intensity, we need our time together. Instead I take a morning yoga class and try to sneak out for the occasional evening class but it most certainly isn’t weekly. Granted my yoga practice is more mental and spiritual than physical.

So I have been in a funk over the body, since this extra 15 pounds has gone straight to my ass, hips and lower belly necessitating the need to go up a few sizes. Growl. Lately though I have been pondering the mental issues of weight gain, why does my personal opinion of myself dip if I gain weight or soar if my weight dips. Am I not the same person regardless of my size? Mentally this makes sense but emotionally I am struggling.

I end 2011 not with the goal of losing this weight but with a desire to make peace with this body that houses my soul. To know that I am more than a set of numbers either on a scale or the tag of a blouse, to accept that who I am does not change just because I have a little more padding. I am tired of having my self worth tied into my appearance. Just as I struggle to accept my weight, it’s starting to hit me that I am aging. In my mind, I am still that lithe 20 year old, but that body does not exist. I admit in a society that prizes youth, accepting that one is aging can be hard. But again, am I not more than this physical container?

The older I get I am convinced that true wellness starts with our minds and rather than fretting over my physical state, I want to get my mind right and trust that my body will do what it needs to do when it’s ready to do it. In the meantime, I accept and acknowledge that it is a struggle.  So maybe in the end 2011 wasn’t as hard on my body as I initially thought.