Ways to lose weight….or die trying….

As some of you may or may not know, Todd and I are currently involved in a friendly family competition with his Dad, Mom, sisters, and their husbands. We’re doing our own version of The Biggest Loser: Couples Edition in an attempt to prepare for our upcoming May family-wide vacation. (Vacation may be a word some would not choose to use to describe this trip with a group of 8 adults and 11 children ages 13 down to 3. We choose to use positive, uplifting words and know that any amount of time near a beautiful body of water and away from the everyday routine is indeed a blessed and welcome event.) Regardless of the name, each couple is a team and the winning team will be decided based on percentage of body fat lost. Of course it’s an honor systerm–while the men have no trouble throwing around their “numbers,” this girl would rather cut off a finger than share the dreaded number with anyone…. Not sure how the rest of the girls in the competition feel, but that’s OK. There are no set diet rules, and each couple or even individual will decide how they will go about losing their desired weight: low cal, low carb, low salt, high complaining, lots of exercising, whatever. We began the competition in earnest on March 1 and will end it sometime before traveling to North Carolina in early May. Honestly, can you think of any better way to spend a couple months while encouraging family bonding and closeness? If there is one, I certainly can’t think of it.

To that end, I am divulging some of my weight loss strategies, even though I am fully aware that my competition may be reading this post.

Step One: Start off strong, limiting the foods that have been your downfall in the past. Realize that most weight loss results that stay past the “dieting” phase havegot to come from lifestyle change and not temporary quick fixes. Resent the children who will be able to eat the rest of the Girl Scout cookies taunting you in the fridge.

Step Two: Host a dinner with friends. Serve foods that definitely aren’t on your diet, but also invite your competition. Have things like refried beans, tortillas, mounds of cheese, and cake and ice cream for dessert. Tempt them with the Pretzel M&Ms the competition brought over as a “housewarming gift.” (What a grrreat idea, by the way, O competitors!! :D) Really regret falling into your own pitfalls the next week after concluding that tacos are not good weight loss foods.

Step Three: After cleaning all day Saturday to prepare for said get-together, notice the next day that your back is acting strangely. Try to ignore the ache you feel, blowing it off as a simple case of “you overdid it” and conclude that a bit of rest (i.e., not cleaning the kitchen floor again till one of the kids is stuck to it) would be just what the doctor would order if you were to pay money to go see her.

Step Four: When 3 days go by and the only change in said sore back is that now it hurts to move, twist, stand up, and sneeze (Oh my word, what you wouldn’t give to be able to have a good sneeze!), call trusty chiropractor for adjustment that will certainly get everything back in line and get you back into the game. Those arms aren’t going to tone themselves, you know! See chiropractor on Thursday; expect miracle.

Step Five: Over the weekend (when nothing is open except the ER), plummet into near desperation when experiencing pain like you’ve never felt before. As long as you sit or stay in one place, it doesn’t hurt too much, but any kind of adjustment results in outbursts of interjections kept clean and G-rated almost entirely only because there are six kids watching and listening at any given time (and also because of the usual no expletive rule around here). Try a recommended-by-the-midwife dose of motrin which doesn’t even seem to touch the pain. Watching the NCAA tournament games for hours straight seems to be the only aid that keeps you from spiralling into despair.

Step Six: After a week with no relief, consider looking into other options. Somehow make it through teaching a class of 8 boys who love to sit right next to you and hug, fall into, and push each other around you, mostly thanks to the help of other moms in the classroom who have taken pity on me. Beg doctor to give me the last appointment on Wednesday, even though she’s totally full. Continue totally useless regimen of motrin, which only causes you to worry that such high doses can’t be good for those internal organs. See chiropractor again, but warn him that if he does anything to cause pain that he will be shoved Matrix style into the freshly painted walls of his office and then have to push the table off him (as if you could have done that, especially since the simple act of bending over to brush your teeth now causes extreme pain. Still, you threaten and put it out there.)

Step Seven: After going to doc visit on Wednesday, realize that you chose the wrong provider to go for this particular problem. Kiss your co-pay goodbye and go home with no help for the ever-increasing back pain. Recognize that since this began well over a week ago, that your weight loss attempts have taken a back seat and exercise has been impossible. Even the benefit–however small–of doing laundry has been lost since your kids have been taking care of it for you.

Step Eight: See chiropractor one more time because you already set an early morning appointment and couldn’t cancel. Hear chiropractor say that although there were some places that finally released this time, there is still a lot left to fix. Leave feeling discouraged, but mostly because at your age, simply getting into and stepping out of the front seat of a car should not make you cringe and cry out in agony. Come home to teach school, prepare for childbirth class, and beg children to help out as much as they possibly can. Rejoice when they agree without even asking for payment. Well before noon, find yourself using all the techniques you teach in class for back labor, including but not limited to facing the couch on your hands and knees and leaning over the cushions while wailing, “This is worse than childbirth! I need someone to help me! I can’t do it anymore!!” Conclude that you have most likely scarred at least one of your children, namely the one who has been asking about the mechanics and details of childbirth within the past month. Make mental note to come back to that later and work on damage control. (As an aside, this back pain has been easily leaps and bounds beyond the ‘pain’ of childbirth, and after having 6.5 kids without medication, I feel I can say that with confidence. For one thing, labor contractions come and go, and in between there is little or no discomfort. Also, I don’t care how long or hard your labor was, it didn’t last for ten days. Even with all the babies I’ve birthed, I’ve not even been in labor for ten days TOTAL. So this easily trumps labor and birth. End of public service announcement.) Break down and call for an appointment with second doctor. Amazingly, she has a 2:30 appointment later that day. Jump on chance to see what’s going on. Instantly regret the very thought that you could ‘jump’ at all and cringe once again.

Step Nine: See doctor and have her diagnose you with Acute Severe Back Spasms. Listen as she says there’s no need for an x-ray or other tests right now, as long as you respond to the first wave of treatment. She tells you that it has only gotten more intense as the muscles have gone into deeper spasms and are now greatly inflamed. Realize that this is code word for her telling you that you need to relax. Don’t even fight her when she tells you that she is writing three prescriptions to alleviate the problem. Recoil a tiny bit (until you start to feel that agonizing pain in your back) when she advises to come back if it’s not better by MOTHER’S DAY. Sweet mother of pearl, certainly you won’t be dealing with this till the middle of MAY!?! Still, one step at a time. Thank her profusely, hobble off the exam table, and shuffle out the door with your extremely supportive husband who took time out of his busy day to come talk to the doc with you.

Step Ten: Fill prescriptions for steroids to help reduce the acute inflammation, muscle relaxants to…well, obviously get the spasming muscles to chill out, and pain medication to allow for relief. Read in horror (you want to be informed and have full disclosure of course, so you read all the info that came with the drugs) that the steroid’s main side effect is water retention, increased appetite, and weight gain. Awesome above all awesomeness. For the next ten to fifteen days, you will willingly ingest medication that will actively try to sabotage your best-laid weight loss plans. Cry a little inside before slapping yourself (also on the inside, of course) back to the reality that in many circumstances, the benefits outweigh the risks and in this case, relief is the biggest and most necessary benefit. No need to further injure yourself by NOT treating the obvious problem. You have to take the meds and get back into life. Deal with the potential side effects when and if they come. Wipe your tears and gingerly put on your big girl panties (being careful not to cause your back to cry out in the process), realizing that moving without wanting to wail with every step is way better than any temporary backsliding problems.

Step Eleven: Take first dose of steroid and muscle relaxers (which are supposed to have a sedating effect, but not peak in said effect until 5-6 hours after taking them) right before class. Warn students that anything you say during class may or may not be true, including the story about the epidural kits from eBay and how your husband left during one of your labors during transition. Laugh a lot during class because your students are so stinking funny. Take last pill–the pain med oxycodone–shortly after everyone leaves for the night. Slowly start to feel as if your body is not your own, starting in your face, and moving down to your ever-increasingly heavy arms and legs. Begin entertaining husband, who is just getting a big ole kick out of how you look and everything you say. Finally give up, even though that means missing the end of the Duke/Arizona trouncing (OH YEAH!!!!!), and collapse into bed. Prepare to repeat early the next evening and pray you can stay up till the end of the UK/Ohio State game. Also pray the only trouncing in that game is from the Wildcats. Pray some more.

Step Twelve: Keep your chin up, knowing that so many people have suffered so much worse than you have, and you still have so much to be thankful for. Most likely, this too shall pass.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Angela Schanding
    Mar 25, 2011 @ 13:45:48

    Wow, didn’t realize the tie-in with the weight loss. Maybe you’ll be TWO new women by the time this is over! (Sorry, that wasn’t very encouraging, was it?) I think there ought to be some kind of Murphy’s law to weight loss which says any time you start a new exercise regime you are bound to get sick or an injury.


  2. Anna
    Mar 25, 2011 @ 15:21:03

    I feel awful for you!!!! Glad you are getting some relief. So, will you be entertaining us on vaca? You and Ralph could keep us in stitches!
    Here’s the good news…..you have an excuse for not losing weight! I am really trying, but it’s just not coming off. Maybe it’s age, huh?
    Keep your chin up. I’m praying for you! Love ya tons.


  3. Don Wilson
    Mar 25, 2011 @ 16:22:23

    You are one amazing woman. Do all you do with the kids, home school, house etc., oh and the biggest putting up with Todd; put up with the back and finally turn around and write a piece that keeps the rest of us smiling. Can’t wait for the musicals to start so I can laugh alot listening to you in person. What a joy and blessing you are from the Lord. Thanks


  4. Joan
    Mar 26, 2011 @ 10:56:27

    Hilarious. Even more so than the “live” account I recieved.
    Note: Not only children eat all your “no-no’s” in front of you. Also, husbands on your team who don’t really WANT to lose weight in the contest.


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