Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Slow Is the Way to Go

This morning I had a bit of a revelation. I realized that I was just fine with losing weight slowly. Maybe even really slowly. Like, if I lost 50 pounds a year? Great! I will take it. I will take any loss in a year, but obviously since I have a bit yet to lose, thinking in terms of 50 at a time makes sense, and amounts to about a pound a week on average. Totally doable, totally sustainable. So what if I don't reach goal weight until 2018?

I mean, I don't think it will take that long, but maybe it will. Either way, it's better than gaining all that I have lost already plus some, which is precisely what has happened in the past. I got too impatient and probably a little scared and just lost my bearings. Now, even after 10 months and almost 80 pounds in, I am not even close to that happening again.

I decided that I wanted to try early morning exercise. I've done it in the past, but I always think of myself as someone who is SO not a morning person, and have been fitting in fitness efforts on lunch breaks and in the evenings. But now the exercise I like to get is a little too intense for lunch breaks, and I really like to keep my evenings free to spend with my sweetie and just relaxing. So it makes a lot of sense that, if I can make it work, working out first thing in the morning is the way to go.

So, even though I have a group run tonight with my 5K training group, I decided to try out the morning workout today. I was out of bed by 6:30am and out the door by 6:50. (I need to work on that.) It seemed to me almost impossible that I could do anything, much less a "homework" workout, but I always tell myself, do what you can, but just get out there. I had quite a nice go of it, too, and when I got home 41 minutes and 2.5 miles later, I treated myself to a nice shower and a yummy, healthy breakfast of some steel-cut oats with a banana, and felt super accomplished. not a bad way to start the day, right? (Not to mention that a double-workout day is nothing to sneeze at.)

It seems like something I can totally live with and even enjoy. Ideally I'd like to give myself an hour-long window so that I can get in a 5K distance with some wiggle room, whether just walking or walk/run. As you may know, I have four workouts each week associated with my training: two with the group and two as homework. My plan is, therefore, that I will do my walk/run homework on two mornings and the rest will be 5K walks of various intensities. I may decide to have one morning be yoga day, too – we'll see how it goes. I'd also like to attend yoga class once a week on an evening or weekend on top of that.

I am bursting with energy today! I even ended up going for a short (.75 mile) walk to a nearby Subway shop for lunch. I hadn't planned to do it, but it sounded good and I thought it would be cool to have three bouts of activity in one day. Thinking back, I can hardly believe that I am the same person now as the one who posted about how walking a city block felt as painful as the length of a marathon. Wow.

Which, of course, makes me think: What will I be able to do next year? I can't wait to find out. I'll be there.

In the meantime, my partner and I are getting excited about hiking season coming soon! We don't do winter hiking, and it's almost getting warm enough for us to venture out on our excursions again. Hoping come April, for sure...

Oh, and one last thing: It's true, it's official now! All the size 24 pants and jeans I've had tucked away now fit totally and utterly. Size 22, you're next! 3X, man? You're out the window. See ya.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Progress Comes in Many Forms

I'm feeling super today.

I was pretty tired and achey from the 9-hour drive yesterday, but got up fairly early and sort of took the day by the horns. Got some laundry done, got things unpacked and put away, worked on some paintings, and... last, but not least, got what would have been my Saturday workout with the 5K training group done this afternoon.

It was a clear and sunny day, but cold again, in the 20s. Not bad, though. I kept a brisk pace from the beginning; today's workout requirement was 44 minutes total (3 min W; ((3 min W, 3 min R) X 7)) 1 min W), but I added some more walking at the end so that I covered 5K+ – 3.3. miles total in 53 minutes. In fact, this was the first time ever in the seven years I've been doing this on and off that I made a sub-50 minute 5K, 49 minutes and change. I was pretty thrilled, to say the least. Another milestone was that my first mile's pace was 15:30! Seems that hill work in New Hampshire really helped. It was painful, sure, but the results... wow! I'd do it again. It now seems that my goal for the 5K training to do the distance in 45 minutes or less just might be doable. Our graduation run is the first week of May, and considering the progress I've made, I'm sure I can do it.

Another pleasant surprise was that I weighed in at 294, so down a pound or two while I was away. I'll take it, especially considering how much crap I ate yesterday.

I had a good eating day today, with some dressed-up oatmeal for breakfast (steel-cut with banana, a little cocoa powder, and a tablespoon of natural peanut butter), a very cheesy black bean burrito for lunch, and some roasted Brussels sprouts for a light dinner. It feels good to be back on track.

One thing I've realized in the past week, well two things, actually. The first is that I had been drinking a LOT of water there for a while, and while I know it is very good for me, it also makes it so that no matter when I drink it, I still always end up getting up at least a couple times overnight to go to the bathroom. I hate how it interrupts my sleep. While I was away, I drank less than usual, probably about 8 or maybe 10 glasses. My sleep was much more sound as a result, which is also important. So I think I am going to stick with the lower amount of water in general, at least for a while.

The other thing was not weighing myself for a few days. While I did step on my dad's scale once or twice on my visit, I never had a real sense of what my weight was doing. He has an analog scale that only goes up to 300, so while I could get a reading I wasn't sure where it was related to my scale and it was hard to read the number. So. I let it go and stopped worrying about it.

It was pretty nice, actually. I'm wondering how I might do with just a weekly check-in. The idea makes me a little nervous, but I also think that in a weird way it would help me to eat better every day because I'm not so attuned to that daily number, i.e. when I have a good reading one day, I might be more apt to give myself more wiggle room and not eat as carefully. My justification for the daily weigh is that it keeps me on track and reigns me in when I see a higher number than I'd like. I don't know. Maybe I will try it this week just for fun. I do weigh in for the weight loss group I'm participating in at Fleet Feet on Fridays, so maybe I'll stick to that and see how the week goes. Maybe it will be the thing that nudges me out of this relative slump I've been in.

Anyway, it was nice to get away for a few days and mix things up a bit, but I am happy to get back to my usual routine. I'm ready to kick some butt this week!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Vacation

I just got back this afternoon from a visit to New Hampshire to see my dad and stepmother. It was lovely! Since this blog has a particular focus, I will stick to related things, but I just want to do a quick shout out to Bill and Pam – I had a great time!

In addition to hanging out, going places, and doing things, I also managed to get two workouts in in order to keep up with my 5K training group schedule. Surprisingly enough, I did both first thing in the morning on Thursday and Friday – I am usually not a morning workout kind of person, but this way I figured I'd get it done and not have to worry about fitting it in later.

The thing about where they live is that it's pretty hilly. Not all big hills, though there are a couple, but still not really much level ground when I am walking from the house and down the road. So that made it extra challenging for me, and I am sure when I go back to "regular" landscape it will be that much easier. Hill training is great! It's just really hard. Surprisingly enough, my pace was still not too bad. In fact, on Thursday my first mile clocked in at 16:30, which is excellent for me. Otherwise I was around 17:00 on both days. I am pleased! Another tough factor was the temperatures, which were in the teens Fahrenheit. Of course I layered up as I have learned to do on my earlier group runs when winter was still in horrible full force, so the cold wasn't a problem. It's just annoying.

One of the big hills I conquered this week.

I had planned on fitting some yoga in while I was there as well, and even brought my mat with me, but it was not to be. That's OK.

The plan from here: catch up on my group work tomorrow (the run today that I missed out on), and make time for yoga.

My eating was pretty good while away. My biggest challenge is what I eat while on the road, as I tend to get pretty junky even when I plan ahead, like I did for the trip there. I still ended up stopping for some crap even though I didn't need it. Double ditto for the trip home. But, I half planned on it and I've logged everything and I'm moving on. I will jump on the scale tomorrow and see where things stand, but I'm not expecting much after today's junk fest. (I am abstaining from dinner, at least!)

I'd like to leave you today with a selection of some of the songs that really keep me going through the tough parts of my training workouts when I'm on my own. (We're not allowed to wear headphones on the group runs, and what makes those so great is the camaraderie from other participants and the coaching and encouragement from the mentors and coaches – I wouldn't want to miss out on that!) But yeah, here's some of what got me up those New Hampshire hills this week:

Sonic Youth, Hey Joni

Sleater-Kinney, Get Up and Dig Me Out

Jay-Z, Picasso Baby and Tom Ford

Beastie Boys, Sure Shot

Dead Can Dance, Frontier

Tricky, Brand New You're Retro

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, City of Refuge

Lil Kim, The Jump Off

Gary Numan, Cars

Ministry, So What

Luna, Rollercoaster

The Undertones, My Perfect Cousin

Roni Size Reprazent, Hi-Potent

Unwound, Murder Movies and Corpse Pose

IQU with Miranda July, Girls on Dates


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Rounding Out the Week

Even though I am pretty beat, I'm feeling super good today, very accomplished. My 5K training group (NoBo) meets every Saturday morning for a run, and today's found us in just about perfect conditions near 40 degrees, NO SNOW OR ICE to navigate around, and the lovely scenery of Delaware Park in north Buffalo. Just wonderful. Today's workout was as follows: 46 minutes total (5 min W; ((4 min W, 2 min R) x 6)) 5 min W), so we are definitely working our run time up. My fellow Amy in the group, who also happens to go at a similar pace as I do, ended up joining me for an additional bit at the end so that we could finish out at 3.1 miles, or 5K, even. We ended up getting in over 50 minutes of walk/run, and it felt awesome!!! (Until I got out of my car upon getting home... oof! These bones are getting old for sure!)

The whole week was pretty good, exercise-wise. I ended up doing something every single day. Usually I aim for five days of activity, but on my rest day yesterday I sort of accidentally found myself doing the next installment of the C25K program I'd started long before NoBo began back in mid-February. Here's how the week rounded out:

Monday: NoBo homework. 40 minutes total (4 min W; ((4 min W, 1:30 min R) x 6)) 3 min W) plus an hour-long yoga class at the gym

Tuesday: NoBo group workout. 46 minutes total (5 min W; ((4 min W, 2 min R) x 5)) 5 min W)

Wednesday: A 34-minute yoga session. Day 2 of 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene

Thursday: NoBo homework. 40 minutes total (5 min W; ((4 min W, 1 min R) x 6)) 5 min W)

Friday: C25K, Week 6 Day 1. 36 minutes total (5 min W, 5 min R, 3 min W, 8 min R, 3 min W, 5 min R, 5 min W)

Saturday: NoBo group workout. 46 minutes total (5 min W; ((4 min W, 2 min R) x 6)) 5 min W) plus additional 5-7 minutes of run/walk.

Hot stuff for this girl! To think that I will be running a whole 5K at the beginning of May. I tell you what, I am starting to think that I will totally be able to do it. It just seems so out of reach today, but I will get there as long as I do the work.

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In other news, I am trying to de-stress and simplify my life in various ways. The other day, I made the rather rash decision to quit Facebook. After a mostly innocuous exchange with a friend of a friend that still kind of bugged me, I realized that this kind of stuff did get under my skin and made me worry and fret when I really didn't need to. While there are plenty of good reasons to stay on Facebook (like the NoBo group page), I just thought it would be good to walk away. So far, it's felt like nothing but a huge weight off my shoulders. I may end up going back and starting fresh – being really, really selective about who's on my list there (i.e. very close friends, family, groups I enjoy being part of), and leaving the rest behind. We'll see, but so far, I'm liking it.

I've also been reading a lot about capsule wardrobes and thinking about working on my own! I think this will be a great way to organize my clothes and get the most out of my favorite pieces. The blog where I first read about the concept, Un-fancy, is in my opinion the best place to get started if you're interested in seeing what it's all about. Of course, if you do an internet search for the term you'll find plenty of other sites to visit as well.

I do love fashion but since I'd gained so much weight I sort of gave up on my wardrobe to an extent. In the past I've really loved finding really cool, unique clothes to wear (I was into vintage and thrift shopping a lot in my teens and 20s), but it gets really hard to do that when you're so grossly overweight. Now, even having lost a portion of what I need to I see my options widening and I'm loving it – though I have to be careful not to go overboard because hopefully I won't be staying in any of the upcoming sizes for too very long. Gradually I've been picking through the piles of clothes I've amassed over the years and worn to death, making piles for the garbage and for charity. On the other hand, I have a bunch of clothes that I am and will be growing back into. I'll probably end up buying just a few new key pieces each season to supplement what I already have and go from there. I'm pretty excited!

My style tends to be on the classic side of things in many ways, though I love having a few "surprise" pieces that have a lot of personality. I also enjoy dressing things up with accessories, although, again – this is all stuff I mostly gave up on at my heaviest weight. It's such a joy to explore this side of my creativity again, though. I'm hoping to share some of my fashion adventures with you in the coming months. If you're curious, here are examples of things I would totally keep in my closet if I could snap my fingers: Finding my style on Pinterest

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Next week I'll be visiting my dad and stepmom in New Hampshire and continuing my efforts there. They live in a great area for walking and running (my stepmom said she has two- and four-mile routes mapped out with mile markers!), not to mention that Pam's got amazing and almost always coincidentally healthy cooking skills, so chances are I'll find myself dropping a pound or two on vacation. I broke through a plateau last time I was there in July, so we'll see what happens!

In the meantime, I was happy with this morning's weigh-in at 295, finally breaking out from the 296-299 range I've found myself in the past week or two.

It's all good. I'm keeping the pace.

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Good, the Bad...

The good.

The Good: 

I am alive. I am healthy. I am (pretty darned) happy overall. 

This morning on a whim I put on those size 22 dress pants I've held onto for over 10 years, hoping to be able to wear them again, and they fit! They're a tiny bit snug, but wearable with the right top. Finally.

I got a really nice haircut here on Friday. It was a little scary and I almost cried on the reveal, but I am really liking it now. I feel much more myself with a bob! And I'm learning how to use a wand! (i.e., I'm not very good at it yet, but I managed to get a little bit of extra wave in my hair this morning, as you can see above.) (If you didn't realize, my hair had grown about halfway down my back, so this was a big change.) 

On Saturday, my 5K training group met up in the morning at the lovely Chestnut Ridge park for our group run. I haven't been there in a long time, probably in fact not since my high school cross country team had a few practices and meets there – the hill training there is VERY challenging, to say the least. In fact, I'd consider Saturday's workout to be one of the most physically challenging I've had in recent memory. Tough stuff, but I made it through with the encouragement of my teammates and the fabulous coaches and mentors we have. Here's a photo of me at the end with Pat, the mentor who saw me through the last hill. Pardon the lipstick on my teeth, oops! Hey, I am keeping it real. Hard work is not always pretty, but it is always worth it.


Pat and me, after putting in 45 minutes and 2.63 miles in cold and sometimes icy conditions. Average pace was 17:18, which is awesome in my book!

I had a nice weekend. We had a good friend over for dinner on Saturday – so that day ended up being a very busy one filled with the morning run, wine shopping, grocery shopping, cleaning, and cooking! Phew! It is always nice to see our friend, but one thing that I loved especially on this visit was his very kind words about our home and how cozy it is. He said something to the effect of how when you walk in the door, it just feels like home – even though it's not! Reminding me once more about how lucky we are to have what we have.

The Bad: 

*sigh* I don't know. I've been trying desperately to right my eating. I do OK here and there, but there is so much room for improvement, and the scale reflects that. I'm just kind of stuck between 296 and 300 (though on Saturday after I got home from the group workout, I hopped on the scale for fun and got a 293 reading! Wow! Yet, I knew it was a fluke.). There are worse places to be, but I'd really like to make more definitive progress again. 

The Good:

On the flip side of that, I also had an appointment with my GP on Friday. For the first time in a while, my blood pressure is normal! And I brought it down from the danger zone with no medication. Yes, I did have a prescription for Lisinopril, but I never wanted to take it and I just knew I could "fix" it myself. Basically, I got an A+ from my doctor all around... my recent bloodwork came through fine, too. Progress comes in many guises, and I really value this kind. On a side note, I also asked my doc about loose skin. He seems to think that my skin looks to be in good shape that I may be surprised at how resilient it might be when all is said and done. I asked whether he thought that moisturizing would be helpful (I thought it was kind of a stupid question), and he said yes – so I have decided that it's not going to hurt to be diligent about nightly body moisturizing and see if it helps. He also mentioned that staying hydrated will help, too. Well, I have that under control, at least! 

I'm continuing my yoga and meditation practice. Recently I found the lovely Adriene and she is so great – perfect for my ability level and with a really down-to-earth personality. Among my goals for practicing these are to get in better touch with my mind and with my emotions – I tend to stress out pretty easily, and have a bad habit of snipping when I shouldn't (especially at my partner, whom I value and love and who deserves better). While I am still far from perfect at controlling myself, or holding an awareness, I do think it's making a difference. Of course I am happy to reap the physical benefits as well – becoming stronger, building stamina, balance, and flexibility. It's been wonderful. 

Other thoughts:

I feel like I am at a crossroads in many ways. I've been at this juncture before, and in the past I've retreated and ended up back where I started. I am determined NOT to do that this time and all I can do is keep trying and keep being mindful of my actions and thoughts and make the most of everything. I have to stay positive. I have to want the best for myself. 




Monday, March 2, 2015

So hard.

It's just been really hard. I'm trying to stay positive.

I won't give up, but DAMN.

Ugh.

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Cruelest Month

Argh, so many thoughts lately.

So, February has turned out to be a wash, a maintaining month. This is the first month in which I haven't shown a loss from the first day to the last day. (OK, I know today is the second to last day of the month, but I doubt things will change drastically between today and tomorrow.) Sure, I've juggled all the numbers in between 296 and 302 pounds, but today I found myself weighing in at 298, which is what I weighed at the beginning of the month. My first reaction seeing the number on the scale this morning was to get pissed off. I didn't let that feeling linger, though. I tried to frame it in a different way so that I could move on and keep making progress, instead of feeling discouraged and wanting to give up.

For one thing, I know that I might be taking my "I eat whatever I want and just fit it in" attitude a little too far, just in that because of one thing or another, I'm doing less cooking at home and buying more "treats" "just to have on hand" at the store. It might fit in my calories on any given day, but I am not getting the nutrition I should, and honestly, I think it's not helping me any to lose weight. So many folks out there spout the "calories in, calories out" philosophy, but I gotta tell you, as much as I would like to believe in it, I'm not sure I can. I have a feeling that if I start incorporating more whole foods – veggies, fruit, lean meats, grains, etc. back into my daily routine, things might start moving again. Lately it seems like take-out pizza, KFC, Subway, and the like have been my BFFs lately, which is something I don't want to continue. Yes, once in a while, a few times a month, maybe once a week, but not what I've been doing. All it takes is one look in my MFP food log for the past couple weeks to see how dismal it looks in there.

So after this weekend (during which my partner and I are celebrating our 15th anniversary together!), I'm going to get back to better eating habits, especially cutting out so many sweet treats. We're making this big pot of Sunday sauce on Saturday, which should be delicious. We're getting some wine, too, and you'd better believe that I'm making garlic bread. After that, back to business. Though, I could make a beautiful salad, too, couldn't I?

On the plus side, I have been successfully building my yoga practice, getting some in every day for the past little while now. I do this both at home with apps and videos and at my gym for hour-long classes. Meditation has also entered into things, and a general effort to shift my energy into a more positive field. Life's too short for bad feelings – not to say that you should never have any, but sometimes it's easy to get wrapped up in being angry, sad, frustrated, short-fused, etc. I want to be a happy person and I want to be a kind person, and I feel that performing these meditative acts really helps in that regard.

NOBO! Man, I love this program. It still kind of makes me nervous that I will always be last in the group, but at the same time? Eh, whatever! Who cares? I'm doing it. The other night I did some treadmill homework and I'm realizing that my pace is picking up a wee bit. It wasn't too long ago when my walking/running pace was about 2.8/3.8mph and this last workout? Blowing myself away with 3.0-3.3/4.3mph! It's still a snail's pace, I know, but for me? Dazzling. And to think, I will only get better with time and effort! I will be very excited when I can do, say, 5mph on the treadmill. I can't wait until the snow and ice melt a bit so I can see how I do with the outside solo workouts around my neighborhood. Spring is just three weeks away...

Also good is that I'm noticing my body looking different. It's probably only stuff I can tell, things like the way the rolls of my belly look when I am sitting, or how that flesh looks looser when I am standing (stuff I look at before I step into the bathtub). I just feel different in my skin somehow. I certainly feel more capable, which is the best.

I don't know. While it is hard to see the scale stagnate a bit, I also think in a way that it must be nice for my body to kind of get used to having lost 75 pounds, right? I'm so far from ready to give up. That is not even a thing... I have been going all along and I am ready for the next phase of my adventure.

It begins NOW.

OK, let me leave you with a documentation of my past efforts as a runner. This is a photo of the 1985 Alden High School Cross-Country team. I have indicated little old moi as a fresh-faced 15-year-old. I wasn't fat then (though I thought I was, of course), but I wasn't very fast, either – though I do think I was running a 30-something 5K? Compared to everyone else I was glacial. :) It was a great team, though, all very supportive folks from the coach Mr. Weeks to the most elite runners. I heard recently that one of my team members (Nanette, who is in front of me in the photo) still has a sweatshirt and that she's willing to hand it over to me! Talk about incentive to lose weight so that I can wear it while I am running! Yes.