The Road to Caregiver Health, and On to 2014

Ten months ago I had posted “Thirty Down!” That entry details how I had dropped 30 pounds and the impact of that weight loss.

On December 17, I reached my goal of 51 pounds down. According to my calipers my body fat is at 27.6 percent: in the middle of the “ideal” range for a woman my age. The only difference between my new maintenance stage and my weight loss stage is that I get to consume more calories. But I’m still watching what I eat and I’m eating the same foods as before, still exercising, and still fighting for my own health.

Let me tell you: It’s worth it. You’re worth it.

1. I have more stamina, which helps me through both physical and mental exhaustion.
2. The endorphins I get from exercise elevate my mood, which increases my resilience, coping ability, and peace of mind, especially when faced with chaos.
3. The year isn’t over yet, but I estimate that eating healthier food has dropped my total 2013 food bill by 7 percent over what it had been in 2012, and the last third of 2012 had included that healthier food. I buy for two, so that savings results mainly from the change in just my own eating habits.

I’ll see what the maintenance stage does to the numbers. Recent research shows that the cost of healthy food comes to about $1.50/day more than that of unhealthy food on average and without weight loss. That also doesn’t include the potential savings associated with better health.

4. Speaking of better health, losing the weight has also reduced my blood glucose and cholesterol levels. You can’t put a price on that.

I’ve applied the same sense of patience in caregiving to patience in weight loss. As the graph shows, my weight loss slowed the closer I got to goal. Not shown are all the fluctuations in-between the drops, when the numbers on my scale went up-down-up-down-up-down. My longest plateau had been 48 days. I might have felt impatient, but I never felt discouraged. I just kept telling myself: “You’re in a lot better shape today than when you started.”

As with caregiving, I focus on what my instinct and experience tell me are the right things to do and I take everything one day/minute/meal at a time. Perseverance and consistency pay off. In both cases, some days are better or worse than others. I keep in mind that there’s always the next day, the next conversation, and sometimes the next contest of wills.

In both cases, I am in this for the long haul.

I have returned to running, now that my running clothes fit me again. To that 12-year-old wardrobe, I have added these as a reward for my efforts:

Back in September, when I had done the 9/11 Memorial Fitness Challenge at our local hospital, I noticed that one of the firefighters had worn a pair of these “barefoot shoes” while carrying full gear (except for the footwear) up those 110 flights of stairs.

I’ve been giving myself time to adjust to these — they’re a lot of fun, but they exercise different muscles than regular running shoes do. They also give me a softer run, which is easier on my joints.

I have my training cut out for me, but I have registered for a 5K in March that will benefit the children’s division of our county hospice. It will be my first running event since 2002, and I’m thrilled to have the chance to do this again. (I’ve already run more than a 5K distance, just not all at once — yet.)

Thanks to everyone in the VRide group for moving however you can! All physical activity is welcome and encouraged. Every step is a step forward, and every step forward makes a difference. Remember, you’re worth it. New Year’s resolutions can be kind and gentle and also be successful.

Wishing you all a healthier 2014.

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Profile photo of ejourneys

About ejourneys

Ejourneys cares for her partner, who has MS that acts like traumatic brain injury.  Author of Caregiving in Five Lines (all proceeds from sales benefit Caregiving.com) and contributor to several CareGifters anthologies, ejourneys is a panelist on Your Caregiving Journey's "Hot Topics" show.  She manages the groups Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Caregivers; MS Caregivers; and Caregivers Create; and is a co-founder of VRide.

10 thoughts on “The Road to Caregiver Health, and On to 2014

  1. Profile photo of ChrisChris

    EJ,
    You are my hero and inspiration! It’s mind over matter and you have provided all of us with a great example of how to stick with it “You’re in a lot better shape today than when you started.”

    I have fallen off the self health care wagon twice this year. I keep blaming the stress of TLO health as the cause, but that is just an excuse. If I was half as good at taking care of myself as I care for TLO, I would be in better shape today both physically and emotionally.

    Thank you for sharing your story today and thank you for your friendship. You’ve nudged me along to a healthier path.

    Hugs!
    Chris

    Reply
    • Profile photo of ejourneysejourneys Post author

      Thanks, Chris! Kudos to you for every step you take. It’s a balancing act for sure. Loved hearing you again on Table Talk yesterday. (((Hugs)))

      Reply
  2. Profile photo of PegiPegi

    You are truly and inspiration in so very many ways. Congratulations on reaching your goal. Go on, pat yourself on the back; you deserve it…I would but my arm does not reach that far! What a clever analogy to apply the same diciplines you use for your healthy weight loss to caregiving. Great insight. Thank you for sharing and for being a friend. Hugs to you, and a YAY!!!!

    Reply
  3. Profile photo of ThedogmamaThedogmama

    That is such a great accomplishment. It is inspiring to see your daily posts to V-ride and now understand where you were going and what your goal was. As everyone has said – AWESOME JOB! KUDOS TO YOU!

    Now, where is my dust cloth, I have a stationary bike to find somewhere under the dust in my bedroom.

    Reply

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