Thursday, September 24, 2009

Something is Wrong AND Lady Gaga

I have been having dizziness when I work out in the mornings. It first happened at the beginning of September...I was doing "mountain climbers" against the ramp that holds up the freeway--up to the top and back down, and I got down and my head was spinning. It went away after a few minutes. Then it started happening more regularly...every Tues & Thurs. (those are the "running" days). So I started to do my best sleuthing/deductive reasoning work to figure out what was going on.

Here's what I have guessed, as well as what others have suggested:

1) not enough food
2) too much caffeine
3) dropping my brain below my heart
4) not enough hydration
5) working out too hard (this is my favorite)
6) I'm having an allergic reaction to a new supplement I'm taking to help my fingernails grow. (It doesn't have extensive 3rd party research...well, it doesn't have ANY 3rd party research)

So, I ate food before working out. I keep to the high end of my calories. The extreme dizziness happened anyway. I stopped doing "froggy squats" because my head goes below my heart. Helped a little...but it still happened. I drank a whole bottle of water before working out, that helped...until I was crossing the street from the park to go back to the freeway underpass (it sounds like extreme urban boot camp doesn't it?...well, I wasn't carrying an AK--this time!) I stopped drinking the 1/2 c. of green tea I was told to drink before working out (caffeine and exercise rev the metabolism, giving a longer and stronger "burn.") Last year, from March until June I drank a little tea every morning before working out with no problems at all. But stopping the tea and the "Diet & Energy" supplement seemed to help with the dizziness...but just for one day. So what's left? I can't work out less hard...I have only two gears: off and on. If I can run, I run. If I can't, I don't. And, I'm fairly conservative, so I tend not to run. By the end of the workout I am drained, so it's walking. I'm still THE LAST person at boot camp to arrive after a run or a "station."

I have a doctor's appointment next Wednesday morning. We're going to do all of these blood tests for my thyroid (I've been on thyroid meds for about 2 years--my brother says they are the kind of meds that fat people need because they're too fat. I know, it's a complicated explanation, as everyone--including me--hears "you need thyroid meds" and reacts with a "Yippee!" because that means the weight is gonna fall right off...but in my case, apparently my obesity has effected the thyroid's ability to produce adequate hormone, and if I weren't obese it wouldn't be a problem. Hurtful, but true.) My cholesterol will also be tested, as will all of the "death factors." Last time my triglycerides were high and my doctor was worried. I'm sure my blood sugars and pancreas were mad too because I weighed 333 lbs. the last time I had a work up. That's right. I'm just under 5'9" and I weighed 1/3rd of a ton. (Is a ton 1000 lbs or 1200 lbs?) (just looked up "ton" on google and it's like the most complicated definition in the world...but it's more like 2000 lbs., so forget the drama from above...I weighed only 1/6th of a ton. That's virtually weightless!)


Yesterday, right after work, my student Olivia, whom I've given the assignment: "bring me the 411 on what music I need to buy to stay hip and cool" was having me watch a video on YouTube of a parody of Lady Gaga's Poker Face song. Olivia had to run; her mom was waiting. Since the day was over I decided to check out the real version of the Lady Gaga video (much better than the parody--and yet, really Lady Gaga unattractive, short and bulky, or is she cute and seductive? Her voice is great...but hold the cameras still for a second, I need to figure out if she's heinous or not!). That video didn't help with my dilemma, so I watched another one...ended it early because the camera was less steady on her face, so I started the next video. In this one there were millions of people at a party in a 70's colored room, with 70's colored clothes (all browns and oranges). So I'm watching this and trying to get a read on her face and the monitor starts swimming. I mean it was like it was underwater. I started to feel nauseous and I broke out into a sweat all over my legs, arms, face, hands...everywhere. I put my head down on my desk. I relax my shoulders...AH! that's it, I've got too much tension in my shoulders, that's why I keep getting dizzy! Well, no, as it turns out. I turn my head to the right and's back. I try to get up. Not a good idea. I think, I'm gonna fall over and no one will find me until tomorrow. I will die alone! Oh! The outrage!

So I drop my body, gently, to the floor and pick up my cellphone...the school phone has a long cord and is against the dialing in the handset, I knew I couldn't do it. I've got the school on speed dial (guess who runs late almost every morning?!) so I called the office. Linda & Debbie show up and they bring ice packs. They both accuse me of underreating! What? I had a B.A.S. (Big Ass Salad) for lunch with 4 carefully measured ounces of protein and 1/4 avocado...that's vegetables, protein, fat...I'm SOLID! But no carb...could it be carbs? I get a call from Clarke. She is worried about me because I'm not home, then I tell her I'm lying on the floor of my office and she is REALLY worried. She tells me I'm working out too hard and not eating enough. AARRGGHH! I weigh more than 250 could I possibly need to eat more and work out less?

Linda drives me home, we leave my car at work. I watch TV and eat. I eat peanut butter, which is taboo. I eat it with chocolate chips and honey and it is delicious but still taboo. I eat spaghetti and meatballs for dinner (Todd says I have to make dinner for him no matter what, so I am a truly good and obedient wife!). Then I have a medium coldstone with heathbars. Yes I do. Clarke went and got it for me. I know I'm taking advantage of this, "you're not eating enough" judgment, because I truly AM eating enough, but just in case. You know? It's like research. AND, I decided not to go workout this morning. Instead I am writing this blog.

I think the real problem is an extreme allergy to work. It causes shoulder and neck tension, elevated heart-rate, lack of freetime for naps and I NEVER would have watched a Lady Gaga video if I hadn't been at work.

There you have it. It's either an extreme allergy to work OR maybe I'm on too much thyroid medicine now that I am about 75 lbs down from my Christmas 2008 weight.

If I don't die, I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Compassionate Self-Discipline

I am reading a really remarkable book called Making A Change for Good: A Guide to Compassionate Self-Discipline by Cherie Huber. I highly recommend it. It is hand written and has little pictures (kind of like my journal) and it is 90 pages of just thinking stuff and then 30 or so pages of a "Guided Meditation Retreat." One of my goals for the 8 weeks of the challenge has been to meditate. I am working with a few friends who also want to take up the practice.

The rewards have been completely and unexpectedly wonderful. I would even call the rewards life-altering.

The book talks about the voices in our head that we use to punish ourselves into good behavior. Do you know what I'm talking about? I didn't at first and the book encouraged me to just observe the conversations that take place around situations both easy and worrisome. I've been astounded to learn that I have a voice that is always rebellious, another that is positively destructive, and one, The Judge, who just tilts her head with slightly arched eyebrows and I am jumping to my feet trying to win her approval.

The book has helped me look at the way I've used punishment to motivate myself to action. Here's an example: When I was 24 years old I'd had my second child. I realized that I'd gained some weight. In fact, I was about 40 lbs. heavier than I should have been when I got married...I gained 60 lbs. with my first child and 30 or so with the second. Man, if those pounds were dollars I coulda bought a lot of gumballs! (Did you notice that I said, "should have been?" Where did that come from? Who said I "should have been" anything other than what I was?)

Anyway, I was heavier than I wanted to be...and about 60 lbs less than I am right now, so we'll talk about perspective later. My remedy to my weight problem was to change. I needed motivation. But what?

I decided that every time I walked by a reflective surface I would tell myself that I was a cow. A fat cow. And so I did. I walked past plate glass windows and would repeat in my mind, "you are a fat cow." I'd be brushing my teeth and telling myself I was a fat cow. If I saw my face in the sauce pot while cooking dinner I was obligated to remind myself of my fatness and bovine nature.

I did this for more than 10 years. As a result I gained about 120 lbs. I became the thing I was calling myself. In retrospect I should have called myself Tinkerbell or at least Kate Beckinsale (all 89 lbs. of her). In my defense: A) I didn't know what a powerful mind I had. B) I didn't know how cruel I was being. C) I didn't realize that I deserved to be treated kindly.

The book helped me realize A, B, and C. As I meditate and ponder the daily questions and assignments I have had some marvelous insights. On Day 21 I got stuck. I haven't been able to move past it, in part because I haven't been willing to do the assignment. So today I did the assignment and I want to share it with you.

Day 21 asks us to consider that willpower /resolutions /self-improvement projects all lack staying power...we run out of steam on those projects. Then the text says, "Once you comprehend compassionateself-discipline, you will no longer have to rely on inspiration or
willpower to accomplish what you want to do. You will have more than tools and techniques to make changes or obtain results, you will have an attitude of mind and heart that makes just about anything in life available to you."

I really like this idea and want to tap into the power behind it. The assignment for Day 21 is to write down what you see as the differences between compassionate self-discipline and inspiration/resolutions/willpower. (I think of inspiration/resolutions/willpower as the voice that called me a cow for 10 years.)

It was wonderfully eye opening to see the differences between the two "approaches." In my journal I wrote them side by side, but I am not able to do that in a blog *yet*, so keep that in mind as you read.

Compassionate Self-Discipline is:

* Internally (love) motivated
* on a path that's always correcting --like radio wave (I drew a line
horizontally on the page and made an S wave above and below--the bar
is the AIM and the S wave represents course corrections--sometimes I
hit the mark, over or undershoot the goal, but I'm always near it)
*like holding a string and watching it dangle/fall into place
*like being hugged
*moving in a direction as though strolling so that characteristics are
being developed and the end result is permanent improvement...Looking
at this statement now I am clearer on what I was trying to say, to
wit: with Compassionate Self-Discipline the AIM is in mind every day,
so every day we are becoming what we want to be. The "end result" is
very near, not far away. For example, I signed up to go to a yoga
retreat not because I AM a fantastic yoga practitioner, but because I
want to be--and when I ask friends their opinion they say that I am
ready for this retreat NOW, not in 5 years.
* Compassionate self-discipline is like a marathon that I can take at my own pace...taking breaks when needed.
* infinitely sustainable

Inspiration/Resolutions/Willpower (These are the unkind and judging voices that we use to motivate ourselves) is:

*externally driven --heading for the goal OUT THERE
*this path has a steep incline at the beginning, then levels out and
has a HUGE drop at the end
*like hitting a string with a bat and wondering why it seems so lifeless
*like being kicked
*moving in a direction with no regard to anything but the goal--so
it's disappointing when I miss my mark, then I get depressed and
either give up or want to give up...since it's all focused on the end
result I feel extremely frustrated as I work toward it, especially if
when I miss my mark I call it FAILURE
*Resolutions/Willpower feel like a very long sprint
*impossible to sustain


I hope this might make some sense for you. If you have a Judge or a Rebel or an Emo might be time to thank them for their tireless service in the name of self-improvement and then release them.

Keep up your good work!

Helen's Entry

My sister-in-law Helen says I can post this. It's just too good not to. I LOVE that she is observing her victories. The act of observation has SO MUCH POWER! Focusing on VICTORIES has SO MUCH POSITIVE POWER!

Slow and steady changes tend to be more permanent. They will always win over short-term quick fixes!

from Helen to Kristen in an email:


I thought an update from me was WAY overdue. So here you have it. (Are we seriously at the halfway point of your health challenge??)

Last week, I lost 0.2 pounds. I honestly laughed when I typed that last sentence, so feel free to laugh too.

My 3 week total loss has been 2.0 pounds. WEAK! I started week 4 all gung-ho and then made major eating faux pas, so I don't think this week can redeem me.

Things I'm learning:
1 -- I eat way too much take out, all for the sake of convenience. I need to PLAN better and MANAGE my time better, and then take out won't seem like the only option.
2 -- I'm stressing way too much, and I gotta find a way to let it go. Things that stress me: Xxxxx and Yyyyyy (her new pep talk to Jacob this week: "We are all going to be resurrected VERY soon and this will all be a distant memory." Really, Yyyyyyy? Really?), school (I'm finding ZERO time to do my independent study classes), Gordon's school (I'm finding ZERO time to do his daily reading), and Jacob (sore back and sucky job). I need to let the things Xxxxx and Yyyyyy say go in one ear and out the other. I need to, once again, PLAN better and MANAGE my time better to get in my schoolwork and Gordon's reading. I'm a pretty good support for Jacob, but I need to recognize that God is well aware of our current needs and hearts' desires and I need to trust this path we're on.
3 -- I'm also stressing about my lack of weight loss. I'm tracking my weekly changes, and I try to switch things up to make a difference. I feel like I'm playing detective each week -- trying to figure out what will truly bring dramatic results -- but I keep failing, mainly due to the above problems. That's fine. Live and learn. Don't stress about what happened these last 4 weeks and keep moving forward, right? Small changes are still changes.

It would be SO much easier if I could separate life from diet and exercise. Unfortunately, life sometimes controls my diet and exercise habits. Or....I LET life control my diet and exercise habits.

I've lost 2 pounds.
Yoga has become so much easier these past 2 weeks, and I can see major changes in my muscle definition. My downward dog KICKS BUTT, and I could barely do one 2 weeks ago.
I am eating more protein and vegetables.
I have kicked my soda addiction.

I'll let you know how my official weigh in goes on Monday morning. I've also ordered a new body fat tester, so I can better track fat percentages once it comes next week.

Half way doesn't mean over! I still have 4 weeks to meet my goals.


I am pleased to report that Helen's weigh in had a 2.8 lb. plummet! She is halfway to her goal at the halfway point of the challenge!

I think there are far bigger accomplishments going on here than just plain old weight loss. She (you) is getting in touch with her strengths, weaknesses and limitations. Having identified the need to plan better she can position herself to be a bit more organized tomorrow. Maybe she'll cut up vegetables tonight for her lunch salad tomorrow. Maybe she'll set the timer to read with Gordon for 10 minutes during breakfast. Whatever she decides to do, she would not be able to make a change at all if she hadn't identified what's impeding the success she wants. Not to mention her powerful downward dog. I've asked for video and will post it asap.

Do you have observations to share? You can email me and know that I will never post anything you send me without your express permission.

This challenge works best when we work with each other to create a supportive community. Please consider putting your thoughts and experiences into words via email (I take paper and post letters too!) or on facebook.

Thank you Helen for sharing your struggles and success!


On Friday evening Todd & Clarke & I went to CPK for dinner. I was all set to have the BBQ Chicken Salad. I planned to be especially angelic by having the ranch dressing on the side.

CPK, like many restaurant chains, has added the calorie content to their menu items. The salad I planned to enjoy--and have eaten many times in a less than angelic fashion was 1268 calories. That's right. That doesn't include any bread with butter, a lemonade, a slice of pizza from Todd's plate. Nope, that's all salad. I was really disappointed.

So, I looked at the ingredients. I could ask for no tortilla strips. I could ask for no cheese. I could demand that they leave the delicious dressing in the kitchen. But the bottom line is that then I have no idea how many calories I'm consuming. Also, the salad won't be nearly as delicious, and knowing how my mind works, even though I was virtuous with the cheese and dressing and strips, my mind would tell me I'd eaten a 1300 calorie salad. So I had to find an alternative.

Everything on the menu, except the pizza, was well over 600 calories. The "cheapest" calorie-wise salad was 952 calories, and in my mind I thought, I wouldn't even enjoy a salad with fewer than 1000 calories so forget it! The pizza statistics were 172, 184, 212, 222 calories. And I was thinking, hmmm....I've heard that homemade and higher end pizzas have fewer calories than my favorite pan-style, extra cheese delivery place...but really? Only 200 calories? I was wondering how they could serve an entire 8 slice pizza--with all that crust--for so few calories. But before I had a chance to order and find out for myself, my sweet daughter observed that the calorie count was per slice. Bummer. I'm not quick in the math department, but I figure a full pizza (which I can EASILY eat) is about 1600 calories. That's even more than a salad! (that's funny because one would expect the salad to have fewer calories than the's like irony or something.)

Anyway, I studied that menu from one end to the other. I considered having just an appetizer (for only 900 calories--a very calorically cheap spinach dip and tortilla chips). But, instead, I found a grilled vegetable sandwich on foccacia. It had cheese. The whole thing was about 600 calories and a side salad was 220 more. I ate only half of the sandwich as well as a slice of both Clarke's and Todd's pizzas (both excellent). So, for dinner on Friday I had about 1,000 calories.

My daily goal is around 1800. Lunch and breakfast were both around 300 calories and I had an apple or two and some string cheese. So, I probably ate within my calorie goals--but the mental disruption of knowing exactly how much I was consuming continued to consume me emotionally and mentally. My sense of rightness in the universe was severely damaged. The whole experience allowed me to label myself and my food choices "bad." And it isn't until today, Tuesday, that I can even see what happened.

My food on Saturday was good. We were out of town and went to breakfast where I ate healthfully. Then we went to Whole Foods and stocked up on fruit and water and healthy choices for dinner on Sunday. For dinner we had salad and pasta at Il Fornaio. The entire weekend my "crappy" food choices on Friday hung over me. I began to have more and more slips and squidgy edges. Yesterday I ate so badly (in my mind) that I was able to justify a medium ColdStone ice cream, which I ate alone in my office.

So I called a friend this morning and she said her food was lousy this weekend too. We decided to tell eachother what we had eaten. She told me hers and she was so ashamed and I was thinking...what's the big deal?! She then told me that she had been trying to avoid asking a parent for something that she dreaded asking for--so she used the food to assist her and prolong the eventual agony. I totally speak her language.

Then I recited my food from yesterday (Monday). Here it is:

B: 1 small nonfat yogurt (120 cals)
1/2 Zen bakery muffin (110 cals)
1/2 apple

L: Arby's medium roast beef sandwich with 1 bun removed
feeling terrible about eating the roast beef sandwich (which I have had two or three times this year, always to weight LOSS results because I'm careful) I had a large curly fries.
Then, feeling really bad about the fries AND the sandwich I decided to have a Twix bar. King size, please. I had 3 1/2 of the 4 sticks.

D: 1 cup spaghetti pasta
1 c. spaghetti sauce with 6 mini meatballs (200 calories)
1.5 slices french bread with butter & cheese (homemade garlic bread on a very low rise loaf of bread--similar to foccacia)
green salad with 2 tsp dressing

And since I'd already screwed up I decided to have the previously mentioned ColdStone. I topped that off with 1/2 of a Ritter Sport (200 calories).

So what's the total there? 2500, 3000 calories? It's a lot, but in my mind it was SO MUCH WORSE!

When I told my friend about my food, it occurred to me that I was really imagining how "bad" I was being. I was blowing it all out of proportion--probably in an effort to justify a few treats.

Let this be a cautionary tale (to myself!). When I think I'm eating badly (or good-ly) I need to keep a food journal. When I'm in the middle of what I think is a food disaster (or food wow) I can call someone to get some perspective...(huh? what?).

I can also put some time between what I ate and what I will eat next.

And I can always remember that each minute of my life I can start afresh if needed.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


Do you know that song by Bad Religion? "The hills of Los Angeles are bur ur ur ning..." I've been singing that for days. The fires started last Wednesday in La Canada (where I teach) and burned toward La Crescenta (where I live), and then past us to Lakeview Terrace/Sunland/Tujunga where they did the most damage before turning back in toward the wilderness.

The inside of my house smells like the inside of a barbeque pit. The inside of Todd's truck smells like he has been smoking a stogie a day for the last 20 years. My car, being a Lexus, smells like roses...toasted roses actually.

School was to have started on Monday last, but the air quality was so bad and the fire danger still so stong that school opening was delayed. Monday evening at 5pm I found out that school would not open on Tuesday either. Tuesday evening I was disappointed to learn we would need to report for duty on Wednesday. I like work and I didn't mind returning, but I was jealous that Brandon's school (different school district) got Wednesday off!

Boot camp has been closed for a full week. I went to Michelle's boot camp on Tuesday and that was great. And on Friday morning I met with a fre friends at Michelle's studio for an hour of hard work, but I haven't been able to do boot camp or consistent exercise for a week. Here's a huge change: I missed it.

Today we are in Irvine at Todd's latest fabulous creation: Main Street Village (please check it enjoying the pool and the ambiance. We are staying in a 2-bedroom suite and Clarke is here with us (YAY!). The gym here is off the hook and I worked out hard for an hour this morning, lots of intervals (well, 3) and I sweat like a man!

I have a lot to write about...but I'm tired and I'm old enough to have the freedom to take a nap when I need one.

Talk to you soon. -Kristen