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Dexter in Rain Gear, since its foul out there

Since I have lost close to thirty pounds (this time around) and getting close to a normal weight, I hear people congratulate me. It is weird. I am told, “but you worked so hard!” In reality, I did not. Or at least, it has not felt like such.

But you exercise!

If I don’t, I miss it. It is something my body has gotten used to. So it demands it.

But there have been other important changes. My knees hurt when it’s cold, but not all the time. As counter-intuitive as it sounds, walking works better than Tylenol since moving gets the old joints oiled up. And I can hear it now, but arthritis! Here, from a physical therapist:

Moving is essential if you are living with arthritis! Exercise helps to limit pain and improve joint motion. It also boost energy levels, improves strength to support your joints, and prevents falls and future injuries. Movement helps your joints be healthier. First, movement increases the synovial fluid in your joints which is basically acts like an oil that helps the joints move smoother. Second, exercise increases circulation in the body which increases circulation to the joints bringing good oxygen and nutrients to the joints. Also, research shows joint movement activates genes associated with rebuilding cartilage. Dr. John Hardin, a professor of medicine and orthopedic surgery at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City reports exercise triggers a biological process called autophagy, where damaged cells in the joint are broken down and removed. Finally, exercise strengthens the muscles, ligaments, and tendons surrounding each joint. Resulting in a natural brace for the joints during activity!

Since I started walking, I have less pain

Something else happened. I could barely walk downstairs. It was not just holding on to the handrail, it was going down sideways. I still take my time. Stairs can be scary. But I can walk down no problem the way you should. I can climb them as well, though I need to tell Dexter, our new dog, to slow down.

However, the chihuahua needs to walk about thirty minutes a day. Somebody asked if I was going to walk more now. well, I will continue my treadmill as soon as the dog truly adapts to his new home and we develop a schedule. Meaning in a week I will be back at the gym for my hour walk, or spin. As I said, I miss it. And lifting the dog does not count as resistance training either. This is another thing you need to do if you intend to get in shape. The weights also help to maintain lean body mass as you lose weight.

What about the food?

First off, due to my allergies, I cook almost every day. We avoid a lot of processed foods in the market. It’s not pure food, no-GMO, all kinds of fun fad diet. It is called diabetes and a gluten allergy. I am way too chicken to do the six weeks of misery to confirm celiacs, and the treatment is the same. Therefore, I have become an avid label reader. You’d be shocked what foods have wheat, or other sources of gluten.

I have also done that because of all the added sugars and corn syrup. Ergo, I find myself in the kitchen, often.

I also find myself shopping from the edge of the store most of the time. Most of the processed, convenience, foods are in the inner aisles. So if you do not know how to cook, learn. And most of your repertoire should be lower in fats and quite a bit of veggie. There are ways to make veggies not that good for you, read butter, lots of butter, or cream cheese. For your daily cooking, steamed, cooked in the oven with the roast, or simply roasted, are nice. Leave those rich, fatty, delicious veggies with butter for special occasions.

You can make delicious foods that are not that rich. We do chicken thighs (no skin) or breast often at home. Stir fry is popular in this house. But I use a soy sauce that is gluten-free and use honey to make my own teriyaki glaze. The commercial GF version is highly processed, full of preservatives, and does not taste good.

We had thanksgiving dinner, but we both skipped dessert. We were full. However, we were not uncomfortably stuffed, or worse, in pain. This is a trick you will need to learn. This is listening to your body. Stop eating when you are happy, do not wait until you are in pain.

This mindful eating, yes, it has a name, is difficult for many Americans. Partly we are used to the clean your plate club. Partly we are bombarded with messages about food. It is no longer used to just fuel the body. It’s become a cure for all kinds of things. It’s comfort as well.

Meaning, we eat for all kinds of reasons. Keep a diary, and figure out when you eat and why.

One bad habit we still have is that we used to eat with Connie. Our sun conure waited for us unless she was starved. When she was she went for it, a few bites, and then waited for us. Her cage sat by the tv, she liked her tv. These days that is where Dexter has his dish. Though I suspect the dog will never be the social butterfly that the conure was. So the tv is on. That said, our distraction is the dog, not the tv. He begs, what dog doesn’t? I still eat slow and listen to my body. But it is best if we turned it off.

Don’t follow my example, and turn the tv off.

People who know me congratulate me. Partly it is our culture that loves youth and thin bodies. As a culture, we have a problem with fat people. We also have a distorted view of what is healthy. Why I am told, you don’t have to lose more. You are fine.

Well, I am anywhere from seven to ten pounds from a healthy Body Max Index. Seven pounds is at the upper range, the other is mid-range. So I am technically still overweight. I may no longer be obese, or obese II. But I am still a tad pudgy. And that is ok, given where I was. And if you are a bodybuilder, I understand if you think the BMI index is off. Most people are not bodybuilders…so there is that. So for most people, the index does work like a charm.

We also worship young thin bodies, while ignoring the reasons behind the obesity epidemic. Or why people are fat. When you see a person who is obese, don’t judge. You have no idea how or why they got there. It is not just over-eating, or lack of will, or whatever other morality play you want to assume. It could be medical in nature, so take a step back. And truth be told, chances are you are not in your weight range either, like most Americans: Meaning you are at the very least overweight. If not now, you will be.

It is called life and our food system. I found that out. As I ate less processed things, I lost the taste for them. These days processed things like potato chips taste way too salty and oily. Others can be too sweet. We use less to none of both in our home cooking. They are also designed to make you want to crave them.

Of course, I use some of them rarely. I made my cranberry relish using orange juice and some dry fruit, with a tad of stevia, and honey. I added cinnamon. All this was to taste. The orange juice is the only one measured, it was a small juice bottle…and this is the extent of my highly processed foods for thanksgiving.

Which reminds me, people who are on a diet (it is whatever you eat, but you know what I mean) play the but my diet will get ruined over the holidays. Just don’t play that game. Enjoy the time with your family. Eat a little of this, a tad of that, and take your time. And yes, avoid the cake, donuts, and chocolate at the office. A thanksgiving meal, plus Christmas/Hanukah/Kwanza will not do it. It’s every day eating more that is the problem. If you must, bring a small fruit to the office, with some nuts.

I use Lose It to track what I eat. This works for me, and I have become very good at estimating portion sizes. There are a few of these apps in the market, chose one with an extensive database. Myself, I have to make sure I eat enough because after the tooth infection I am rarely actually hungry. But this will help to keep you in a calorie deficit.

When I reach my ideal weight, I know I will have to eat to maintain. That will be fun because I am rarely hungry.

So enjoy family, the holidays, and if you are going to make another yearly promise…start with what you eat at home. Treat yourself and learn to enjoy food, and how to cook.

Eat to Live, Don’t live to eat. But when it’s time for dinner enjoy it, for the sake of good healthy food.

It works.

And with that, happy holidays.

Written by

Historian by training. Former day to day reporter. Sometimes a geek who enjoys a good miniatures game.

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