Saturday, May 2, 2009

Mother's Little Helper

So much to say. Where to begin? I used to very much enjoy blogging. I had an AOL journal for about three years called Melissa's Motivation. Well, I am back, and I hope you will come along with me as I strive to increase my strength and level of fitness each day and to reach the goals I've set out for myself. looking at my profile pic you may think I am one of those "fit people." Well, guess what, I still have a "fat brain." I very much relate and empathize with people who struggle with "weight issues." I was thinking about this last night when I watched the news story about Hydroxycut being recalled. I thought about how I always needed "assistance" to lose weight before, kind of like a crutch I thought I had to have or I would stop progressing OR, even worse - GAIN weight. I always had this feeling of having NO control over my body.

A lot of you know I was overweight much of my life. I was a chubby kid who never excelled at anything athletic, I liked to watch my favorite T.V. shows after school, I HATED gym and anything that involved physical exercise. The scale kept moving UP UP UP until I was 14 and it reached 165 pounds.

I decided to make a change at that point, but it was not a healthy one. It signaled the beginning of many unhealthy and self-destructive attempts I made to control my weight. The first thing I tried was starving myself. Sure, I dropped quite a bit of weight in a short period of time, but wouldn't you know, the weight piled back on in no time. I continued this starvation/bingeing/purging cycle until I was 19 years old.

That's when I found EPHEDRINE. I thought this was a miracle pill! When I took it I had absolutely no appetite and limitless energy. I was manic and ran around like a crazy person all day long. I was working at a convenience store that sold these magic pills (Mother's Little Helper!) and I'd heard from people they worked really well to help people "stay awake."

The first time I took them, I was heading to college one morning and was feeling draggy and run down from working late the night before. I popped a few pills and WHOOP! I was UP right away. I remember going to class and jumping right into the discussion, taking notes frantically, loving the FEELING. My scalp was senses were heightened and I had a sharp focus and articulation I'd never experienced before. WOW! I also found I had NO appetite and had to force myself to eat. I had no idea taking these pills was basically the same as taking speed or meth. (of course, we didn't really have "meth" back then...well, we probably did, but I was not aware of it!)

I continued to take the pills every morning and kept losing weight. After a while, though, I found I had to take more and more to get the effect I liked. Sometimes I would take 8-10 pills at once, and they would give me a bad stomach ache, racing heart, agitation and sweaty palms. I dismissed these side effects because I felt the benefits of the pills outweighed the risks.

So, this was how it started with the pills. I got a new job at a jewelry store in the mall which was right across the way from GNC. On my breaks, I would go over and talk to the people who worked over there, because I was always looking for the next "magic pill." (of course, I was still taking the truck stop speed, too). My friends over at GNC introduced me to a variety of products containing Ephedrine... Ripped Fuel, Diet Fuel, Hydroxycut, Zenadrine, various Caffeine/ephedrine/aspirin "Stackers," Dexatrim with ephedra and green tea...others whose names I can't recall. The main similarity was that I always made sure my pills contained ephedrine...because if they didn't, I wouldn't get the effect of mania...prickly scalp, psychomotor agitation and rapid speech.

Funny thing was, the more I took of them...THE FATTER I GOT. The bottle says only take for 90 days or so and then you should take a break. Well, I never did that... I was on them CONTINOUSLY. I cannot believe I didn't die. I remember reading articles that ephedra may be dangerous and reading stories of people who'd died... but I didn't connect with any of it. I could not get it out of my head that ephedrine was somehow going to kick in and start working again, like it had in the beginning. Fat chance. When I started in the early 90's, it really DID work, very well... I got down to 113 pounds in 1995. Try maintaining THAT very long. I think I did for about 2 years thanks to the PILLS... but after a while I had built such a tolerance it didn't work. I talked to a body builder friend of mine who told me my body was used to living off the stimulant, so it was not using my own fat stores or available sugars for energy. Holy crap! That hit me like a ton of bricks. Could ephedra possibly be making me FAT???

I weighed myself the summer of 1999...when trying desperately to figure out what went wrong... and despite all my diet pills... I was 185 pounds. I had not gotten on the scale for probably a year and was in complete denial about what it would say. I lied to myself because I was still "working out," however I had so many other bad habits my body was in a downward spiral. Drinking and popping pills all the time kept my liver busy shoveling out alcohol and chemicals and prevented it from performing one of its main functions of regulating fat storage and metabolism.

This went on until the FDA banned Ephedrine. What a sad day that was for me. What would I do now??? I went on to try a host of other pills which did not contain ephedrine but were supposed to be as good. They didn't work as well, though. I kept looking for the magic fix. I tried a host of diets... cabbage soup, Slim Fast, T-Lite (anyone remember that???HAHAHA) juice fasts, AKTINS... (0h God help us all!!!! I was actually eating platters of bacon and eggs every day! How f'n stupid can you be to delude yourself into thinking that is HEALTHY????) Hoodia, more Hydroxycut and Zenadrine... it's wonder I am ALIVE!!!

Finally, I had a turning point. I had been able to drop about 20 pounds with my hodgepodge of different diets, but the scale was lodged at 163 and this was not a healthy weight for a 5"3' person.

I decided to start "jogging" in 2004. At first, this was only 2 minutes worth before I had to stop and walk, but I kept working my way up. I also started a food journal to log everything I was eating each day. This was the start of a healthy lifestyle I am still sticking to today.

I now run 4 miles every morning at 6 a.m... and then run one long run on Saturdays which is usually 10-15 miles. Plus, I do other exercises or weight training for 30 minutes 3-4 nights per week. I eat healthy foods 90% of the time... however, if I want something I do not deprive myself, I just have a couple of bites and set it aside. I do not eat until I am stuffed. I stop and wait until my brain catches up with my brain.

I rarely divert from this schedule, it is one of my "mooring lines" that keeps me focused and on track. If I miss a day here or there, I feel something is off and not right. I actually went a whole year where I ran EVERY day!! That was a little much, so now I take Sundays off from running, and if I miss a day here and there I do not freak out.

My success is a result of consistency, moderation, being kind to myself, celebrating my successes and continuing to push myself to accomplish new things.

Here are a few rules of thumb which have helped me maintain my weight for 5+ years. Even when I was pregnant, I followed my "rules," and I am now in even better shape than before I got pregnant.

1. Make exercise a daily appointment. Commit to moving your body for AT LEAST 30 minutes, a minimum of four times per week. This is MINIMUM! You should do 30-45 mins of exercise MOST days of the week. Did you know cavemen walked 5-10 miles per DAY???? Our brains are still designed to move our bodies that much! They have not caught up to our modern society where we don't have to "work" for food. Isn't it amazing? Our bodies are made to MOVE. Exercising grows brain cells. If you do not exercise and send bloodflow and oxygen to your brain, it will wither and die.

2. Eat unprocessed, whole foods most of the time. Stop eating when you are full. A little trick I like to do... say I am eating organic roasted vegetable pizza. (YUM!) Well, I might have two slices, then think tastes so good... I WANT MORE. This is the "old me," eating when I am full. LOL So when this happens, I make a deal with myself I say, "Ok, you can have another piece, but you have to wait 15 minutes. Then, if you honestly want it, you can have it." Let me tell you, 90% of the time when I do this, I DON'T WANT MORE after 15 mins! This has really empowered me to realize I don't need to eat mindlessly and can feel satisfied.

3. Set goals for yourself, and celebrate the successes when you reach them!!! I love goals, and I am always setting new ones. One of my current goals is to finish the marathon in under 4 hours. So, each time I do a long run, I keep myself running under 9 minute miles. This is what I need to do in order to reach my goal time. Each time I do a training run in my goal time, I get a reward... a hot bubble bath, new songs on iTunes for my iPod, a treat such as organic pizza...stuff like that!

4. Journal progress. Keep a journal where you discuss what you're doing each day to improve yourself. It's so much fun to look back and see how far you have come!