Track steps to health and wellness, but not to weight loss.

Fitbit seems to be the latest fashion accessory.  Even at yoga teacher training, I was surprised to see fitness trackers on so many wrists.  Among a professional crowd, which is where I usually find myself, a Fitbit seems to be the latest fashion accessory, one that quietly affirms one’s fitness intentions and hence, to my mind, even one’s implied moral value, since you’re conveying an image of trying, and caring, and investing in, and monitoring, health and wellness markers like steps, activity levels, calorie burn and even sleep.

And that’s all fine.  But, I personally haven’t given in to it.  To me, it’s just another gadget priced at the point to get you to say, “why not.”  Another toy to part you with a bit of your money.  A fad, really.  Also the privacy issues are what stopped me cold (I won’t be waiving my privacy to everywhereIgoallthetime, thank you very much.)  But, the peer pressure does quietly mount, when most people around you are wearing one, and you aren’t.  Does your naked wrist say, “I don’t care!  Fuck it!  All the Twinkies and laziness are MINE!!!!”  If so, I don’t really like that very much, but, I’m willing to live with it.

And, but, if you’re wearing one of those things to lose weight, just be sure you know that a study just out shows that people who wear fitness trackers lose less weight, and then re-gain more weight, than people who don’t use this technology.  One summary story here, and the link to the study itself (published in JAMA) is here.

I’m personally struggling with lower energy levels than I had before “all this” (yoga teacher training + injury leading to stroke + 9-day hospital stay), but I’m still exercising regularly.  Just not as much as before.  I guess I’m still working back up to it.

I’m also writing up my stroke story, and it’s taking me a little time, as writing it up becomes reliving it.  It’s a little too detailed but, for myself, I kind of want to capture all those details.

I’ll also write up my yoga teacher training.  It was so amazing, and so uplifting and inspiring, that it was just such a shame to then wind up in the hospital for 9 days, which squashed the ability to carry that “lift” with me.  I carried it for a while, but it just faded under the weight of the stroke and hospital stay.  I hope to return October 18-21 to finish yoga teacher training, and I hope to pick that lift back up in preparation for that finishing period and also as part of it.

My weight is slowly fading back down.  Basically it went up a little over a pound a day (averaging) on vacation, and thankfully it’s been coming back down a bit over a pound a day.  I hope that continues til the whole damn gain is erased!  That level of gain was and is a real shocker.  One thing I have to admit, this body is GOOD at stockpiling weight!  It’s also pretty good at responding to a stroke, though, so I have a newfound awe and respect for my body that I’m trying to remember, and hold.

Back from vacation, and getting back to normal post-stroke. 

We had a great time on vacation last week, which was a beach trip near Charleston, SC. With that location, in addition to the beach, we got to enjoy Charleston a little also. It was our first time there and we loved it.

On the beach, our first day: 


Our tour guide at an interesting spot in Charleston: 


At the semi-famous Angel Oak, outside of Charleston: 


My stepdaughter joined my husband and so it was a family week. We all really needed this beach week and together time after my stroke, which was a real medical scare. Also, it was actually really good for me to take an exercise break also, and a life break, and just continue to rest and recover. 

I ate more off-plan than I ever have since going low carb (which was first just lowER carb), over 2.5 years ago. And, I had the biggest vacation gain I’ve ever had!!!  I left weighing 179.8 and came home and weighed in at 187.2. I gained a hair more than a pound per day!  This was off the charts and has me sober in more ways than one.  I’m remembering each and every off-plan thing and regretting some of them. I’m definitely reconsidering my pre-vacation decision to have more carbs, including allowing in some sugar. I’m getting back to low-carb basics and taking a vacation from alcohol altogether this week. I’m also getting back to exercise (didn’t do much of that at all on vaca), but I’m also trying to be conscious of just easing into it. 

Happy Monday! 

Getting back to normal

I was finally released from the hospital last Friday evening, after 9 days there.  Really not fun to have that happen.  When I got home I had essentially been gone 4 weeks, with three short, 36-hour breaks that involved unpacking, laundry, re-packing, decompressing, trying to catch up on some sleep, etc.  What this means: it’s been a long past month.

My husband found a good link on the same thing that happened to me, as reported by Yoga Journal a few years ago, here.

This week, I’m trying to gently ease back into my normal before we have a vacation at the beach next week. I did a 45-minute strength training class Monday, a 45-minute walk yesterday, a 45-minute step class + 15-minute core class today (I did a fair amount of the moves “off the bench”, on the floor, as it felt like a bit too much), plus lots of house cleaning and errand running every day.

From this schedule, you can see that, physically, I’m back at around at least 90%.

My weight has been weird.  Pre-YTT, it had been hovering around 180-181.  In YTT it dropped to 176.6.  In the hospital I had some carbs – a milkshake, twice!  A chocolate croissant (shared).  Some comfort foods like that.  Yet I came home still weighing 176.6.  Believe it or not I had exercised in my room some days, but not nearly enough to offset the sedentary hospital life, including two days of for-real bed rest.

Yet, since I’ve been home, my weight’s gone up every day, averaging over a pound a day, til I arrived back at 181.2 today.  I find this so weird.

I have one idea what this weight gain may be, and it’s peanuts.  I thought I did fine on them, but it’s one food I really haven’t had for the past month, but I have had them daily since I’ve been home.  Wouldn’t it be nice if it were that simple?  We’ll see.

Yoga teacher training got me like…


Yup, it put me in the hospital.  Neuro trauma ICU, in fact. I apparently am a very rare and delicate flower, one who can seriously damage her vertebral artery, doing YOGA. 

This caused me to have a PICA stroke, a rare type of stroke. 

I missed the last 3 days of YTT and have been in the hospital since August 31. 

Crazy, right?  

But, not unheard of.  Here’s a Yoga Journal article my husband found about this very injury, which most often occurs due to chiropractic adjustment of the cervical spine (but even then is still very rare, like 1 in 100,000 people rare). 

Lucky me!  /sarc

I’ve been on blood thinners while the clot (caused by the damaged artery, to heal it) breaks up and blood flow to my brain (gulp) restores, and I should be released today or tomorrow. 

Crazy, right?!

It’s here. 

I’ve been at yoga teacher training for a week, and will be for another two weeks. 

Here’s my temporary home for this period: 


The program is very intended and challenging, but also just incredible. They tell you in advance that it will change you and my reaction to that was basically, “nah, no thanks, I’m not looking for that.”  But it is changing me, and I love it so I am embracing and not resisting. 

There is so much positive energy and support here. It really inspires me to carry it out into the world. 

And the meditation?  I’m actually really getting something out of it. I resented and resisted the idea at first, but now I’m enjoying it and even craving it a little. 

Oh and my weight dropped 4.5 pounds (!) which does not suck at all. Eating is different here, but also really not that different – just lighter suppers, mainly. That seemed to work for me weight-wise on our last vacation also. Something to think about. 

Have a great week. Namaste. 🕉

Teetering at the edge of stable.

Today I woke up to a weight of 181.4.  I’d been holding steady at 180.0, exactly, for five days solid, and frankly, was anxious to see this weight drop.  Instead, today, a GAIN!

It’s not a surprise, and I’m taking it more seriously than a possible one-day blip, because I truly FEEL fatter.  I’ve noticed clothes fitting differently and even put some clothes away as uncomfortable, ie, too small.  It’s been some years since that has happened, and I really don’t like it.

The gain IS a surprise in the sense that I really don’t know what has caused it.  I’m racking my brain trying to figure out what it is I’m doing or not doing to “justify” this gain.  My eating is honestly, basically unchanged.  I’ve had a few new foods I’ve added that make me wonder if they don’t agree with me, such as B-Up protein bars, and an iced coffee many afternoons with artificial sweetener and half-n-half.  And, or, I’ve added berries in many/most days – could that be it?

The gain is small, I’m still at the top of my de facto maintenance range, but the thing is I FEEL it, which makes it not feel small.  I feel it all over.  I feel my body changing on me.  And I don’t want it to change this way!  While I’ve been just a pound below this weight before (as an average), I didn’t FEEL fatter, so it didn’t bother me as much.

I’m going to take out these foods mentioned above and may start tracking again, though I really don’t want to do that and dread it if I have to.  Getting ready for yoga teacher training is also slightly stressing me, and now I have the added stress of worry about continued gain while I’m away and not weighing daily.  Ugh!

In exercise news, I did step this morning.  Do they even have step classes where you live?  they didn’t where I moved from (NJ), so it feels like a real throwback.  When I did step regularly before, it was in the mid-90’s.  I enjoyed it then, though, so I thought, why not?  Plus I think choosing not to work on cardiovascular fitness may have been a mistake.  I’m thinking I’ll add this (or some other sweaty cardio) at least once a week after yoga teacher training, which starts Monday.

My yoga teacher training reading

It’s a lot, no?  For me it is. 10 books total, with varying degrees of ease/difficulty – some are difficult for me because they are dry, some are difficult because they speak of religion and/or things like “asking for inner guidance from Infinite Mind,” which is not really how I am put together.  (If you can’t see the 10th book, it’s the spiral bound one on the bottom, which is The Yoga Handbook, by Stephanie Keach.)  And, some of the books are enjoyable or otherwise good, and I can already see a lot of value in them, though it’s also clear they provide things to work on that will (should) take some time. Months, maybe years. So, not just something to read once and put away.

So that’s what I’m working on. Two weeks from today will be day 2 of my YTT.

Stable.

My weight’s still not where I’d like it to be – currently averaging 179.6 – but I can’t help but notice that that’s still pretty stable.  You can check out my monthly weight history and see I first hit this weight over a year ago.

Yes, it’s true, when I did OKL last summer, I got my weight down by another 6 pounds (from where I am now), and oh, how we all want our lowest weight to be our REAL weight.  And I do like thinking of that 173.x average as my “real” weight and that I’m just temporarily over it, *for right now*.

But, I notice and have to accept that I’ve been over this weight since November, which is 9 months now.  (Nine months!)  After OKL, I selected a maintenance range of 172-175, but, it turns out?  That was a GOAL maintenance range.  Reality over the last year-plus has revealed that my REAL maintenance range has turned out to be 171-181.

And while my current weight is frustrating for being over my lowest weight, it’s also very positive that I’ve maintained for quite a long time now, albeit in a slightly higher maintenance range than I intended.

So I’m keeping on keeping on.  Yes, I’d love love love to be 20 pounds thinner.  But, then, I was actually obese (BMI 39) for pretty much my adult life.  Maintaining at this weight range, without real struggle, is simply a huge, real improvement, and I can’t lose sight of that.

Sodium and blood pressure.

I’ve been monitoring my blood pressure daily lately, both due to my last doctor’s visit a month ago, and to monitor any reaction to my adding sodium supplementation to my diet, as recommended for those of us who eat so low-carb (I eat usually <50 grams carbs/day, often much less).  I just started adding sodium last weekend.

Yesterday, I got these crazy low blood pressure readings.  First thing in the morning (even though I slept poorly, which I thought might increase it), I got 94/64!  I re-tested and got a similar number.  Around lunch time I tested and got similar number, and the same reading late in the afternoon.

As fate would have it, I then missed my sodium supplements for the day because I changed up my eating window yesterday to early in the day, stopping with a large, late lunch, and then not eating after that.  This de-railed my new habit of having bone broth with 1/4 tsp Celtic sea salt added, twice a day, which is how I take this added sodium.  Switching my activity up to something new always seems to throw things off, and I’m going to need to be more proactive about working that out.

Anyway, yesterday’s BBP readings were certainly surprising result, when the conventional wisdom is that sodium increases blood pressure.

Today my BP was up a bit but still on the lower side, at 110/77.

My BP is always higher (to much higher) at the doctor’s office.  They get very concerned about it, and I do, too.  I even bring my home monitor to calibrate it with the doctor office readings, and confirm it is still accurate.  With tracking my BP at home daily, and seeing the consistent low to normal readings, I’m starting to think I have honest-to-goodness “white coat hypertension” – ie, blood pressure that shoots up high in the doctor’s office (in the presence of the “white coats”).

In weight news, my weight’s still at 179.x, which I don’t love, but my eating is not excessive or off-plan, so I’m hoping this is temporary and will drift back down on its own.

Have a great weekend!

A little tree pose on the Danube with two other yogis (I'm in the center).  Oct. 2015.

I pulled the trigger on YTT.

After being interested in yoga teacher training (YTT) for over a year now, and mulling it over, and investigating all my various YTT options, and thinking about the cost, and working on my practice, and evaluating (OK, judging) my abilities and sometimes lack of abilities, after doing all this for over a year – I finally pulled the trigger a couple days ago, and I signed up for YTT.

I’ll be doing a 3-week intensive “immersion” training at Asheville Yoga Center, in Asheville, NC, which is a bit more than an hour’s drive from where we live now.

I’m excited, and nervous, and feeling a little inadequate about my abilities but also I realized that feeling of inadequacy may never go away.  I can’t wait for it to subside; it’s basically been with me my entire life :/  Also, though, too, I do feel strong, and able, in many ways.

My training starts 5 weeks from today, and I have homework and fairly significant reading to do in preparation.

But, I’m really doing it!  The money is paid.  Accommodations are (mostly) booked.  Reading has begun.  I’m on my way.

***

As far as weight goes, my weight’s been bouncing around in ways that seem unexplainable to me.  Since my eating hasn’t gone off the rails, I’ve just kind of given up, at least on the daily weigh which feels impotent and often annoying. I’m basically weighing every other day or so these days.  I came back from vacation to a new low of 174.8, but then had a bounce-up two weeks ago or so, to 179-180.  My weight’s basically stayed there, dunno why, and I’m kind of tired of caring (since I’m not really willing to cut back eating right now).  I didn’t weigh yesterday, as I felt bloated, but then weighed today at 178.4, which is better.  Pre-vacation, though, my weight was averaging 176.x.  So, I’m still a bit up; hopefully these gyrations are just hormonal variations beyond real control, and my weight will go down another couple pounds on its own.  I had a similar inexplicable gain happen in late March, and it lasted around a month. Having had that experience, and having seen it go down (also inexplicably) makes me stress about this less.

I listed to a recent podcast of Livin’ La Vida Low Carb which was a talk by Steve Phinney at Low Carb Down Under conference, and one of many things he mentioned is his own personal sodium supplementation.  He makes sure to add 2 grams of sodium a day, on top of the 3 grams or so he gets in food.

Now, this is basic.  Very, extremely basic.  Even the original Atkins book published in 1972 says that, and just about EVERY version of low-carb or keto mentions this, and discusses how critical it is.  You might be guessing at what is coming… but, yes, I’ve never done this supplementation.

Why?  People always talk about brain fog, or keto flu, or Atkins flu, and the answer is always – sodium supplementation.   Buuuuuut, I never felt any flu or brain fog.  So, I just sort of skipped it.  Also, it’s just laziness I guess.  Also I have a history of hypertension (now mostly controlled) and it’s been drilled into me and the whole culture about how salt is THE WORST for causing high blood pressure.  So honestly I’ve been a little afraid to add it, even though I know current science says the opposite, that lower sodium intakes yield WORSE outcomes and higher sodium intakes yield BETTER outcomes, and that studies show that only a small segment of the population will actually respond to sodium by increasing blood pressure.  Despite knowing this, the cultural messages are so strong, it’s hard to completely abandon them.

Anyway, hearing the podcast and how Dr Phinney discussed it gave me a kick in the pants, and I started adding sodium over the weekend.  Who knows, maybe this is what helped knock a little bloat off.  I know that’s contrary to the conventional wisdom, and that sodium traditionally MAKES you bloat, it doesn’t RELIEVE bloat, traditionally, but then, that’s outside of the low-carb context.  If my body has been sodium-starved for months or longer (I’ve done keto since April 2015, off and on, mostly on), who knows how it might start to react.  This is actually what got me off the dime, feeling like I could somehow cause myself some long-term or even permanent harm just from being too lazy to do something so freaking basic.

So, yeah, now I’m doing it.

And, I’m testing my blood pressure daily with a digital cuff, to monitor if there’s any affect.

I had added some electrolytes recently, due to intense workouts in VERY hot conditions, but really, that’s child’s play, at just 350 mg sodium per dose.  Even if I double that, it doesn’t get anywhere close to the 2 grams (or 2,000 mg) I should be adding.  And honestly, under such hot, intense exercise conditions, I may even need a good deal more.  So, it was a start, but a feeble one.

And, we’ll see how it goes.

Happy Monday!