Mission check-In: Lighten Myself

Today’s category: “Lighten Myself.” One disclaimer up front – none of this is new or particularly insightful, but it’s worth putting it down to remind myself of why it is so important to me.

My mission to Lighten Myself is not all about the number on the scale. As a matter of fact, I have no idea what I weigh right now, as the only scale I have with me is the one for weighing our luggage (or any fish we might catch).

It’s about respecting myself enough to take care of the one and only body I have.

I’m not kidding myself; I know I am overweight. Going by what I weighed when I left on the trip, my BMI was 32.9, and anything over 30.0 is considered “obese.” According to an online BMI calculator, I would need to lose 45 pounds just to be at the absolute top of the “normal” range.

What I need to work on is the disconnect between my mind and my body. I know, without a doubt, what would work to make me lighter and healthier.

Sleeping Well

I need to get regular sleep. Besides the obvious benefit of being well-rested and alert, getting enough sleep allows my body to rejuvenate itself. Sleep helps reduce stress hormones (that can also affect weight gain/loss), boosts seratonin, reduces inflammation, keeps my heart healthy, and may help me live longer. I know all this.

So why do I find myself staying up late over and over again? Part of it is that feeling that I haven’t gotten enough done during the day, though I often find that I am spinning my wheels because I am so tired. Part of it is habit. Either way, it’s not healthy. I need to have a set sleep schedule and stick to it.

To top it off, I have sleep apnea and I snore like crazy. I have a CPAP machine, but I don’t use it every night. I have all kinds of excuses – it’s not comfortable, it leaks, I can’t sleep in a position I like – but when I don’t use it, I am hurting David’s sleep (because he wakes up when I snore and/or shakes me when I stop breathing) as well as my own health.


I have never in my life exercised consistently. Not proud of it, believe me… just keeping it real.

Yet I know all the benefits of exercise. It  improves mood, fights disease, boosts energy, strengthens bones, helps you sleep, improves your skin. Strength training (especially of the largest muscles of the body) makes you stronger, increases metabolism, and speeds weight loss. Stretching helps with flexibility, cardio with endurance.

So what’s the problem here? I could echo what I said about sleep – that I’m crunched for time – but I also have to admit it’s just habit. I am not one of those people who was always fit and active until I went to college/started working/had kids/whatever. I have never been active. Never ever. But that doesn’t mean I can’t start now.

Eating Good Food

Again, I’ve got the info. I need to eat whole grains, lean protein, fruits and vegetables. I need to cut out processed foods, sugar, and things that my body is sensitive to. I’ve done it for a month, perfectly; for six months, almost perfectly. I lost weight, looked better, felt great. But I fell off the wagon and then let it run me over.

Eating well would give my body the raw material it needs to build muscle and tissue. It would naturally regulate my weight. I would feel better, stronger, faster.

What is holding me back? I have never learned to cook, but good food can be assembled without that talent. “I deserve a treat with all that’s going on!” but there are other ways to treat myself. I need to make it non-negotiable. Just as I don’t take drugs because I know the harm they would do to my body, I can choose to Just Say No to food that is equally abusive.

Drinking Plenty of Water

We all know we need to drink at least eight glasses of water a day. I think I was taught that in second or third grade, in fact. Yet whole days will go by when I have poured myself a single glass of water… and not finished drinking it.

But I know the benefits of keeping myself hydrated: No more dry skin. No more cracked and bleeding lips. Fewer UTIs (very important for me, given where the lesions on my spinal cord are). For that matter, all plumbing in good working order. Increased energy. reduced appetite.

Remembering Medication

I take drugs three times a day, for an assortment of medical conditions. Timing for a couple of them is key, as I need to keep my levels steady. This shouldn’t be a big deal; I have a pill sorter, and I have a routine. Meds in the morning when I brush my teeth, in the afternoon, and at night right before bed. But when I go to bed too late or sleep in too long, I mess up the timing or – much worse – collapse into bed without taking the nighttime dose. I won’t bore you with the details, but the result is not pretty.

I need to keep on top of my meds. This one really piggybacks on the sleep issue, so solving that will go a long way to keeping me on schedule.

Whew! This post was a long one. It’s good to break it down for myself, though. I need to remind myself, “This is why you want these things, and this is what you need to do to be successful every day.” I ought to read this every morning when I get up, just to set the tone for the day.

Daily Check-In:

I’m grateful! for the hospitality of my friend Liz, who has graciously opened her home in London to us. We fly there tomorrow morning; I can’t wait!

Never thought I’d be giving THIS up…

Photo by chapmankj75

I think I’m losing my hearing.

No, I’m not being overly dramatic. David and Quinland have been telling me that I ignore them, that I ignore my phone… They constantly tell me I’m deaf, but last night finally convinced me.

We are all sharing a room in our Croatian apartment. (Yep – one queen bed and one twin. No romance, but it’s cheaper than a two-bedroom!) Last night I was drifting off to sleep when David said, “What birds sing at night?!” I thought this was a random trivia question, but okay, I’d put my mind to it… until Quinland said, “I know!” and they proceeded to get into a discussion on how we would never be able to fall asleep with all the noise.

I had not heard any noise. I figured I’d missed it, that I’d probably been asleep, so I asked when there had been birds singing.

Long pause… then, “They are singing right now. Can’t you hear it?”

We spent about 15 minutes with them saying, “Okay – do you hear that? How about that? You must be able to hear that!”

When I concentrated as hard as I could, it seemed like I could hear something, but it was more like a disturbance in the Force than birdsong. I’d have David mimic what I should be hearing, and it was never what I’d “heard.”

Pretty soon, I didn’t want to play that game anymore. I was too depressed about my impending deafness. David reassured me very nicely, telling me that I was probably only losing the very highest notes, which go first, and that as long as I didn’t dawdle about getting my hearing checked when we get home, I would be fine.

His main concern is that I might not get hearing aids if/when I need them. I don’t think that will be an issue. I still distinctly remember being eight years old and getting my first pair of glasses: I thought I had superpowers. I had no idea that there were so many things to see that I had been missing. I have never gone without glasses or contacts since that time, and I think I would feel the same about hearing aids.

Still… darn all those times I just had to be right up front for hundreds of concerts in my youth. (I know, who am I kidding? I’d like to be right up front for hundreds more. Maybe I’ll have to wear earplugs.)

By the way… they were nightingales.

Daily Check-In:

  • I’m grateful! for my lovey-dovey little family. Having so much time together in Croatia has been wonderful.
  • I’m lighter! by a few decibels, I guess…

Pretty darn cool

I got myself a cooling vest a couple of weeks ago. My neurologist strongly recommended that I get one for the trip, to use in hot climates or anywhere that we will be doing a lot of physical activity. People with MS tend to get increased neurological symptoms if they get overheated, as the electrical impulses do not travel through the nerves very well in those conditions. Okay, strike that; they never travel well, but the situation worsens if the person gets too hot.

It took me ages – six months! – to actually order a vest, and I probably wouldn’t have gotten around to it without the weekly reminders I got from Charles, the guy who works on my leg. Instead, I did what I always do when things make me uncomfortable: I just made jokes about it. (“I’ll be able to carry everyone’s wine coolers!”) Once I ordered it, it sat in the package for weeks. I might not have gotten around to opening it and trying it on without constant reminders from Patti, who was concerned that if it did not fit, I was not leaving myself enough time to return it.

I put “Try on cooling vest” on the to-do list for tonight… and actually did it. Upon opening the package, I noticed that the vest looks strangely like a life jacket.

It has a velcro-and-elastic waist strap, and velcro flaps over the shoulders, to adjust for a one-size-fits-all fit. Which, of course, means it really doesn’t fit anyone well, but it won’t fall off and it will do its job. When you open it, you find four compartments for the cooling packs. The packs can be cooled in ice water – they don’t need a freezer – which seemed very convenient for this trip.

Then I tried it on and we all laughed at how ridiculous I looked. A self-portrait of me in front of Q’s shower curtain of emoticon joy:

Although the cooling vest is designed to wear under a shirt, I think I might just wear it outside my clothes. Yes, I would look like I am wearing a life jacket, but at least I would not look like the incredible inflatable woman. Plus, I figure everyone will be jealous of my awesome coolness while they swelter in the blazing sun.  (Hey, a girl’s got to hope.)

Daily Check-In:

  • I’m grateful! to my Little Deb for going out with me, going over my checklist with another pair of eyes, and helping me out in so many ways! (and to both Deb and Whitney for buying cookies!)
  • I’m lighter! by about 10 tasks from the list. A very productive day.