Friday, July 30, 2010

The Worst Day of My Life

8.5 years ago I adopted a skinny German shepherd dog from the Humane Society. He was about a year old, had been living on the streets and was very weak. But, despite having a difficult start to life, he had the greatest disposition and made friends every where we went. This week I said goodbye to him.

Chale has always had medical problems but I was always able to manage them so that he had a pretty normal life. Because of all of his medical problems and his large size (max 116 lbs) I knew that 10 years was probably his expected life span so it was not surprise when he started slowing down over the past few months.

I am happy to say that he didn't suffer. He started acting sick Saturday. By Tuesday he didn't want to eat at all and couldn't stand up or support his own weight. It was sudden but that made our decision much easier to make. If we had seen a glimmer of the silly, attention-loving boy during those last 2 days we might have considered surgery or some other aggressive treatment. But his spirit was gone. He was miserable.

In the past, when Chale was sick, he would still want to go for a swim in the pool and would never turn down a meal or a treat. When we put him in the pool the last time he drank water constantly and "paced" around the perimeter of the pool. No desire to fetch sticks or bark at his sister while she ran along the edge of the pool. Then no desire to eat his dinner despite only eating a couple bites from his breakfast and us putting all sorts of stinky goodies in this food. My husband and I looked at each other and knew it was time.

We carried him to the car on the comforter from his bed, fed him leftover bacon on the drive to the vet and then let him go. The only thing I can compare the pain to is the loss of my father 12 years ago. My father was sick my entire life so I had accepted that I was going to lose him years before it actually happened. But something happens when you get that call from the hospital or you look into your dog's eyes and realize that it's time. In that moment you feel all the love that you've shared with him during your time together combined with the pain of knowing there will be no new memories.

I know that we made the right decision for him. I know that it was his time. But I still feel guilty for making him share me with a new dog for the last two months of his life. I feel bad for thinking about what the new dog that we will adopt to be a companion for our other dog will be like. I feel bad for not missing the expense of acupuncture treatments, hydrotherapy, prescription and holistic medicine and all of the other expenses that kept Chale going.

The truth is, that managing Chale consumed me when he was at his worst and that there will be a big hole in both my daily schedule and my bank book where I had reserved so much space for him. The ease of getting up and just walking out the door with a young, healthy dog is something that I haven't known for a very long time. My days are easier than they have been in a long time and there is almost a sense of relief from the burden of Chale's needs being lifted from my shoulders. It is this guilt that fills my head at night keeps me from getting any sleep. Granted, I've been an insomniac for my whole life but I am currently experience a level of sleeplessness that I know is unhealthy.

I suspect that we will be a one dog household for no more than a month. Our 3 year old shepherd is nervous and needs the guidance of a confident dog in her life. She has made great strides during the 2.5 months that we have had her and I know that is because of the excellent example that Chale set for her during the short time that they spent together. Plus the joy of saving another animal's life and watching him/her blossom under your care is something that cannot be matched.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Gone too Soon

This past weekend, someone I used to train with committed suicide. I hadn't seen or talked to him for the past 6 years but a mutual friend found me on Facebook and gave me the news. It's hard to define how I feel right now. I have lost several friends and relatives but never by suicide.

Rick and I were never really friends but we did spend a lot of time together. We trained together in karate for 4 years but we were more acquaintances than anything else. I always found him arrogant and was intimidated by his bravado. He was one of those macho guys who seemed to take pleasure in causing other people pain and embarrassing them. I imagined he kissed his biceps every morning when he looked in the mirror.

Like a lot of people who study martial arts (myself included) I'm sure Rick was driven by something in his past. Physical or sexual abuse? Shyness? Fitness? Self Esteem? Trying to cope with anger/loss? Hyperactivity? These are all reasons that people I know have given for studying martial arts. The decision seems to always stem from a decision to take control of your life and cope with or escape from your past.

Rick was a very accomplished martial artist, achieving a black belt in three different styles and gaining some notoriety on the amatur mixed martial arts circuit. He married his high school sweetheart and had a good job. He seemed to have it all together but obviously he had demons that none of us knew about.

I am surprised by how much I am thinking about him and reminiscing about the time we spent together. I keep going to his wedding website and old karate pictures where he is smiling and happy. I analyze episodes from our past together for clues of his depression and honestly I can find several but that always happens in hind sight. I know I wouldn't have been someone that he confided in. I doubt he was secure enough to show that side to anyone. I wonder if years of putting on a front and acting like nothing bothered him was too much for him. I wish someone could have stopped this.

It's so strange that I want to reach out to his family. I'm sure he never mentioned me. I had never mentioned him to anyone outside of karate before this happened. I probably wouldn't have ever thought of him again if he were still alive. But there is something about losing someone in this way that makes you appreciate that person's life more. It erases all the negative thoughts that used to come to mind when I thought of him. All I can think about is Rick, a misunderstood 32 year old man who couldn't beat his demons and a brilliant life over way too soon.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Week Two on the Wagon

Had another pretty good week. It's not quite over yet but I'm confident that I'm going to get one more run and 15 more minutes of strength training in today to meet my workout goals for the week. This week I struggled with eating the right things. For the most part, I have been better about eating a variety foods and not loading up on the carbs every time I'm hungry. I always feel better when I eat better but that doesn't mean there weren't a couple of slip ups.

I have been craving Chinese food for weeks so I picked up take out on my way home from work Wednesday night. The best thing about Chinese take out is that there is always enough food for at least 3 meals because the portions are so large. Thursday afternoon I piled my plate high with leftover fried rice and sesame chicken for a late lunch before heading to the movies with my husband. I had a splitting headache shortly after I finished eating (that's always a bad sign). When we went to the movies we split a medium soda and pretzel bites. That's right, I added more carbs to my body when I was already feeling crappy. Needless to say, I was nodding off a few minutes into the movie; I probably slept through about 45 minutes of a 90 minute movie. My headache was still there after the movie and my neck was killing me from nodding off. On top of that there is the embarrassment from falling asleep during the movie and the wasted money on a movie ticket for a movie that I'll have to rent when it comes out on DVD.

You would think this incident would remind me of why I shouldn't eat like that but this has happened to me at least hundred times and I obviously still haven't learned my lesson. All I had to do was have half the portion of Chinese food and eat some veggies or fruit with my meal and I would have felt okay. But the food craving always leads to overeating rather than just satisfying my hunger. It doesn't make any sense because the less I eat each day, the longer the leftovers last. But my brain doesn't work that way. Sure enough this morning I put myself in a food coma and ended up taking a 2 hour nap. Granted, I rarely get enough sleep at night and a two hour nap is probably something that I needed but the food coma nap is not refreshing. You wake up feeling hung over and achy and rarely do you feel rested.

So my goal for this week is to think before I eat. It sounds simple but for me its a big deal. I need to remember how horrible I will feel if I eat an entire plate of pasta vs. saving half of it for my lunch the next day. I also have to accept that my husband doesn't have Insulin Resistance Syndrome and he can eat carbs until the cows come home without having any negative side effects. Just because we eat our meals together doesn't mean that I have to eat exactly as much as he does. He is 10 inches taller than me and 20 lbs heavier. Unless I want to look like him, I shouldn't eat like him.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Taking Back My Life

I accomplished most of the goals I set for myself last week. I ran four times. Even when my ankle was bothering me I did a brisk walk rather than skip my workout. I did 45 minutes of strength training- 2 in the gym and one at home. I only did 30 minutes of the 90 minutes of yoga I wanted to do and I didn't do my "bonus" workout. Normally I would write off the entire week and eat half a pie for not achieving every one of my goals. But I'm trying to focus on the positive.

I had work meetings for three days last week which means three meals a day out to eat, long hours and very little me time. So the fact that I got any workouts in at all is impressive. I do need to focus on making better food choices and not eating such large portions. I definitely eat out of habit/boredom rather than to actually satisfy my hunger. I'm going to focus on thinking about what I'm eating before I stuff my face.

I also need to make sure my day includes me time so that I'm not running around like crazy taking care of pets, the house or my husband. They aren't going to die if don't have dinner on the table until 6:30 pm. Honestly, I think I'll be much better company if I have a chance to decrompress from my day of work before I dive into domestic diva mode.

So 1 week down, 6 more to go. Supposedly that's how long it takes to develop a habit. I'm not going to worry about my weight or my measurements during this time. I'm just going to try to meet the goals that I've set for myself and if the scale doesn't budge then I'll have to re-evaluate my goals at that time. But I won't beat myself up. I will be proud of myself because even if I'm still 40 lbs overweight I'll feel much healthier and love myself a lot more.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Insulin Resistance Syndrome

According to Web MD, insulin resistance is a condition in which the body produces insulin but does not use it properly. The body’s digestive system breaks food down into glucose, which then travels in the bloodstream to cells throughout the body. When people are insulin resistant, their muscle, fat, and liver cells do not respond properly to insulin. As a result, their bodies need more insulin to help glucose enter cells. Insulin resistance increases the chance of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

So what does all this medical crap mean? It means that I fall asleep after eating a lot of carbs. Whether I'm standing up, at a movie or fully engaged in a conversation, my blood sugar spikes and then crashes dramatically. It means that I will develop type 2 diabetes and all the problems that come with it (like 80% of my extended family) if I don't make some serious lifestyle changes. It seems unfair that eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is enough to literally put me in a food coma. But it also seems stupid that I'm not willing to eat half of a sandwich and have a salad with it and I won't feel like crap.

The bottom line is that my weight has fluctuated between 198-210 lbs for the past couple years. I am 5'6" tall so that puts me in the obese category. I have gotten down to 193 lbs twice in this time but I have not been able to keep it off. I been a runner since grade school and I'm proud to say that I have kept that up despite gaining weight. But my joints are suffering from the excess weight, not to mention my finishing times.

What I need to do is get down to 185 lbs to be healthier. Ideally, I could get down to 165-175 lbs but I'm just setting small goals for now. I also need to get my waist down to 35 inches or less (I hover around 40-41" right now) and my waist to hip ratio to 0.7 or less (it's 0.87 right now). I'm sick of being embarrassed about my weight and having to buy new clothes every year. They say that after 6 weeks on an exercise/diet regiment, your body will embrace the new program and it will become a habit. It also takes this long for your metabolism to start working again if you've destroyed yours, like I have, through bad lifestyle choices.

So I start again tomorrow. For the umpteenth time, I am trying to get a handle on my life. My goal for this week is to run 4 times, do 45 minutes of strength training, 90 minutes of yoga or pilates and one wild card workout. This may seem like a lot but in my prime I was working out 2+ hours a day during the week and 3-4 hours a day on the weekend. I also have a flex time schedule which means that I might spend 10 hours a week in a office and the rest of the time on my own so this should be difficult.

Maybe I can get my husband on board this time too. But the bottom line is that I have to do this for me, regardless of what he's doing.