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.




Sunday, February 22, 2015

Lately

Lately...

I feel like I am running out of patience.

I feel like I am running out of steam.

I feel like I am kidding myself.

It's been a weird weekend of strange emotions. I slept a good portion of the afternoon away today, partly just because I couldn't deal. There's a lot of largely unassigned anxiety floating around in my head, which feels horrible. It's almost like PMS except that I just got over my period – PostMS, maybe?

Anyway, it's days like this that make everything more difficult. But I keep telling myself that I just have to ride the wave, because it will make its way to shore and be nothing more than a toe-tickler in the next day or two. I'm sure of it. It's in times like this that I am feeling like my recent practice of yoga and mindfulness and (as much) kindness (as possible) is helping me make it through without totally losing it – my mind, my will to keep honoring my body in the ways I have been. I know that I have come too far to insult myself by giving it all up and reverting back to old habits.

So there is solace in that.

And I know, I know how my body works. It gets stuck often. My problem is that I hit 297 on the first of the month and I am still chasing it. That is, I've been playing with the same few pounds since then, no matter what I do. No matter whether I have a "good" day, or, let's say, a less mindful day. Whether I exercise or I don't exercise. You get the idea. February looks like it is going to be a bust, quite frankly. My worst month ever, weight loss-wise.

It is discouraging.

My plan for the rest of the day, which is kind of just getting started at 5pm: Do some yoga. (I really like the SimplyYoga app, by the way!) Then, get to work. I've been teaching art and design courses online for over five years now, so most days involve that for at least an hour or two. I need to get that done. Then, hopefully I will have some time to read and I don't know what else. Just chill out before starting the work week again, I guess.

On the happy side of things, yesterday was the first Saturday morning training for my 5K group at Fleet Feet Buffalo. I was definitely skeptical of how I was going to manage doing short runs in the conditions we have lately – snow banks, ice, fun stuff. But it turned out to be great! Yes, we did have to trudge through some poorly maintained sidewalks at the beginning and end of the workout, where we're just walking anyway), but otherwise the roads we walked and ran on were pretty OK. These first workouts are mainly walking, like so: 5 minute warmup, (4:30 walk, 30 second run) x 6, 5 minute cool down. Sounds pretty easy, right? Especially considering what I have built up to on my own so far. BUT! Much to my surprise, it pretty much kicked my butt. I guess the combo of adverse conditions and working out within a group pushed me in a way that I don't when I am on my own.

My Fleet Feet No Boundaries 5K training group!
(I am in the back row under the second e of the second double e.)

So yes, joining this training group is one of the best things I have ever done for myself, truly. I'm getting challenged in an awesome way, twice a week with the group. (Unfortunately I have to miss this Tuesday's training, but will make it up on my own.)

Despite feeling like I am teetering on the brink of disaster, I'm really not. Not when I lay out all the things I've been doing, which are super fantastic. Speaking of which, my yoga mat is calling.

Namaste!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Sub-300

I'm just putting this set of progress photos out there. Current weight: 297. I will get better photos today and replace these – yesterday I had about three layers on top and bottom, and it only now occurred to me that it might not be the best representation of my bod! Still, I can see a difference from just over 20 pounds ago. (I'm always freezing – at work, at home – so I often wear multiple layers plus a scarf, plus a hood, plus fingerless gloves. Brrrr!


Still, despite the temps being about 9 degrees and with poor sidewalk conditions, the inaugural walk of the Fleet Feet No Boundaries 5K training started yesterday evening! It wasn't anything strenuous, though of course the temps and the piled-up snow on the poorly maintained sidewalks made even a straight 30-minute walk more challenging than it would have been. I'm still a little skeptical about how on earth I will be able to do any sort of running on that kind of terrain come the next meeting on Saturday, but surely I am not the only one. We'll all do what we can – that's all we can do!

In the meantime, I have decided to continue my own Couch to 5K training as a supplement. I am very proud to say that I conquered the dreaded W5D3, which means that you get a nice 5 minute warm up and cool down, but the remaining 20 minutes is all running, baby! Yesterday on my lunch break at work I hadn't really planned to do it, but decided what the heck? I knew that I could do 10 minutes of running fairly easily already, so why not just get the psychological barrier out of the way?

I am always shepherded along in my workouts by music. Just over the long weekend my partner introduced me to the amazing Jeff Buckley, who sadly died at age 30 in 1997, just as he was working on his second album. He drown accidentally in the Mississippi River in Nashville, where he was happily settling in. Ultimately, I decided to dedicate my effort to Jeff by listening to his one "official" album, Grace, and it really motivated me. The 20 minutes seemed to pass by almost effortlessly. Almost. So yeah. Very proud of that, even if probably most people could walk circles around my so-called running.

In addition, I am working on, slowly but surely, building my own personal yoga practice. I really enjoy attending classes, but for the way the weather has been it's admittedly harder to get myself out again in the evening to go to the gym. So I've been doing research about how to get set up at home, and seeking out various free resources for yoga instruction (and considering paid online video stuff as well). At the same time, I realize that there are poses and flow that I am remembering from the in-person classes, and favorite poses and ones I want to work on... and after my run yesterday I took a few minutes to do a little bit of that. Let me tell you, even a little bit here and there is just wonderful! A 5-minute savasana in the middle of the work day (and maybe with some headphones on listening to some appropriate music, or just left to one's own thoughts) is pure heaven, let me tell you. I will say this a million times how much appreciation I have for the basement space at work that allows me to do these things in private, with no interruptions. HEAVEN. A haven.

At home, I have practiced yoga in our sunroom, which has recently come together as a little personal library and relaxing space, but it feels a little cramped to me. I'm thinking about repurposing part of our upstairs area, which currently serves as storage space only, as a place for yoga and meditation. It wouldn't take much, just some cleaning and tidying up. I'm looking forward to doing that, hopefully in the next week or two.

All these changes I am making – they have been very gradual, but very effective over time. I've been happy with the slow progress I am making, and best of all I'm truly feeling good in my skin for perhaps the first time ever.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Brutal Winter

This winter has been so snowy and frigid with little relief. We're looking at the next week of very cold temps again, too. I just can't ever get warm (except when I am being active), which is frustrating. On the other hand, I feel silly for complaining after having read this factoid in one of the books I am designing at work: When Harriet Tubman got brain surgery to help relieve symptoms of an injury she sustained as a young girl at the hands of a brutal master, she denied any anaesthetic and instead chose to bite on a bullet during the procedure. How tough is that? Hats off to you, Harriet, for so many reasons.

Unfortunately I have never weathered the winters very well. In my 20s I had a bout of bad depression which was exacerbated by winter and SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Since then I've been doing pretty well and generally have learned strategies to better cope when I do find myself down, but this winter is doing me in. It literally makes me mad, and ultimately just down.

I know the season is not all bad. There are lots of fun things to do in the snow. One thing I'd like to do next year, for example, is snowshoe. Since the sizing is based on body weight and not shoe size, though, I didn't go for it this year – larger sizes are harder to find and I figured that I'd just wait until I'm smaller and easier to fit. I also like cross country skiing, but I'm not equipped. Excuses, excuses. The key to being able to enjoy the winter outdoors is being properly suited up, and unfortunately, I'm not at that place right now. I guess I have something to look forward to for next year.

In the meantime, I'm dreaming about spring and going on hiking adventures with my partner. I'm also trying to keep up my physical activity indoors as much as possible (having that basement space at work is a godsend, seriously), though having to drive anywhere with all the snow we've had lately is a real drag, too. The Fleet Feet 5k training's orientation and first walk was postponed until Tuesday because of the extreme cold and snow we got over the weekend. I'll be out there after work, yikes! Supposedly it's supposed to be in the double digits again, one can only hope.

I do have some good news, though – I am back down to my lowest weight so far, 297. It's been sort a tortuous two weeks since I hit it in the first place, so it was a huge relief. I wasn't doing anything differently, but I have been dealing with difficult lady stuff – i.e. bad periods and hormones. It really just goes to show that sometimes, the body just does what it wants regardless of your efforts. It also goes to show that you have to be diligent and patient with the process. As so many say, weight loss is NOT linear. Far from it. Witness:


So many ups and downs, and staying the same. (Just is just the last six months shown here.) Even when things seem totally stagnant and what's the point???, over time you can see the progress.

This is why I try really hard not to get discouraged enough to give up. Besides, if I did, what does that get me? No better than when I started, and probably worse. That's not really an option anymore as far as I am concerned.

Now, if it would just warm up a little bit... I'm off to shovel us out!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Where I'm At

This post is based on an email I sent today to a MyFitnessPal friend who I am also mentoring – though the support definitely goes both ways! (Hi, Dina!) I've been having kind of a hard time lately but also trying to keep in perspective. Here's what I said, after she commented about noticing that I seemed to be PMSing a lot (which I have mentioned in my posts on MFP):

"Anyway, I promised a story to you about my periods. I'm sure you have been dying to hear it! ;) Basically, I have always had really bad ones, irregular, too. I was diagnosed with PCOS years ago and have been on birth control since. Generally what happens is that it either regulates it pretty well, or I just don't get one, which is what happened for much of last year.

My doc decided to take me off it for three months last fall just to see how my body reacted, after not having a period for several months. I started getting them again, no problem. Once I went back on the pill, things were still fine, but last month's lasted forever (almost two weeks!) and was a nightmare, and now I'm getting another one when I am supposed to so it's like a double whammy. It seems like this one is going to be a bear, too, unfortunately.

So, I think my body is kind of freaking out over this and I can't help but think that it is affecting my weight loss – along with the wicked cravings I've been getting and fulfilling. At least I do that in a controlled, portioned way for the most part.

Hanging onto the things that I can easily do like logging food and weighing in every day, and keeping up on the exercise have been my saving grace these past few weeks. Hopefully things will normalize soon. I am really enjoying yoga and running – the 11-week 5K training program with my local Fleet Feet store starts on Sunday! Yay!"

And that's about it in a nutshell. I looked over my weigh-in history and see that it's been at least two weeks that I've been stuck playing with the same few pounds now. Looking back farther, I also saw that back in October I was dealing with the same thing and it lasted almost a month. The funny part is how much that is a distant memory for me now – I didn't even remember it happening, to be honest. What that tells me is I got through it just fine and that I will get through this thing just fine, too.

The hardest part about all this is that it's happening right around the 300 mark – I've been as low at 297 and today I'm 301. There is something really big about making it under 300 for me, and there have been so many times where my efforts have just died around this milestone as well. It's a really scary place to be. It's why I am all the more determined to get past it, keep doing what I am doing, and above all, be patient!

Here's an NSV to share: I was put off by the weather to attend the yoga class I was planning to go to last night. It would have been easy for me to sit back and relax the rest of the evening, but instead? I looked up one of my high school classmate Lesley Fightmaster's free yoga videos on YouTube and did that instead.

I had to modify a bit more, and rest during several sequences, than I do during the classes I've taken so far, but it is great to know that I have a home-based alternative now, or can try to fit yoga in daily as a home-based practice to supplement the classes I attend at the gym.

Also, Lesley has a lovely, soothing voice and is a pleasure to watch move through the poses – so lithe and effortless she makes it look! Thanks for sharing your gift with us, Lesley!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Always Balance

I made good on my promise to head back to the gym again today for yoga and Couch to 5K. The yoga class was being subbed in by the Goodfellas yoga instructor, Salvatore, who totally reminds me of a character from that film – in a good way. He's an older gent who also happens to be a long-time yoga practitioner and triathlete (30 years of triathlons!) with the physique to match – slender and muscular, what looks like a very efficient slab of flesh and muscle. He's down to earth with a blue collar sort of way of talking ("make sure to spread them fingers!") and teaches yoga with a more athletic approach, which I like, yet he is also clearly into the spiritual aspect of it as well. It's a neat mixture that makes the class really challenging and interesting.

He also does this little whistle kind of thing with his teeth to signal a change of position. It cracks me up. And he wears these cool yoga pants that are poofy – I suppose ultimately what would be considered genie or harem pants. Sal is the best. Unfortunately, he only teaches two mornings a week and one time is a weekday that I can't make and the other is Saturday, which will conflict with the 5K training I'm starting next week. Alas.

That was the first time I've done yoga two days in a row, and I needed an afternoon nap both days. Phew! Super hard work. I tell you what, though – I would love to make time for yoga every day if I could. (Maybe I can with some home practice mixed in, and some free videos by a high school classmate that seem really great.) Baby steps for now, though, I've been trying to get two yoga classes in each week.

C25K went great, just fine! As I mentioned yesterday it was 5 minute jogging intervals with 3 minute walking intervals for a total of 30+ minutes. I won't lie, after the hour's worth of yoga those jogging intervals weren't necessarily easy, but they were totally doable. Next session the ante is upped with 8 minute jogging and 5 minute walking intervals – but I tell you what, I know I can do it. The real test will be on W5D3, when it's a straight 20 minute jog. I guess then I will find out whether I can run a mile or not! (Spoiler alert: I will.) Perfect timing for next Sunday, when my first meeting of the 5K training program at my local Fleet Feet store begins!

All of this and my eating has just been so-so. Yesterday and today I met my calorie requirements, but I've been eating more junk food – the aforementioned Cheetos and things. I'm trying not to beat myself up over it and espousing the What You Can, When You Can mentality as much as possible. This week, quite frankly, that's what I did – what I could, when I could. PMS demanded Cheetos and orange chocolate sponge candy and pizza, and I ate it and I enjoyed it. I also made efforts to get moving more and more. Balance. I will never be perfect. I'm doing what I can. It's all I can do.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

A Hard Time

Well, it's been a week. I wish I could tell you that the success I had previously and talked about in my last post was sustained, but it wasn't. In fact, I'm back up to 302 today. Pfft. The reason why?

• PMS all week, I could just feel it coursing through me. My eating and activity was fine, about usual, but the weight just hung on, albeit the kind that I instinctively know will come off as a course of nature. I've also been pissy and annoyed by, like, everything. Fun times.

• Yesterday the PMS got the best of me, and I just took a day off from everything. I basically ate whatever and however much. I still logged most things, with a "quick add" of 1500 cals for dinner at a friend's house. I got a pizza on the way home from our favorite pizza place in anticipation of another pile of snow coming this weekend, and had two pieces for "dessert". It was delicious and I don't regret it, despite the two extra pounds that showed up on the scale today.

So today, what did I do? No, I did not cry in my Wheaties. (I had two eggs over easy and an English muffin, anyway.) I had a quick reconnaissance with my little brain as a reset of sorts, and hauled myself to the gym for an hour-long yoga class and short but intense burst on the treadmill before hand.

Note to self: Don't do a sweat-inducing, short but intense burst on the treadmill before going to yoga class. Also, for the love of all that is holy, do not forget (or lose) your hair tie! Good gravy, try doing yoga with really long, sweaty hair and no hair tie. That was fun and really distracting, but I finally figured out that I could quickly put it in two loose braids in between vinyasas, which helped a bit.

Oh my gosh, the sweat that I sweat during yoga. Have I told you that I am so in love with yoga?

Tomorrow's plans include, weather cooperating: More yoga and a post-yoga run on the treadmill. I'll be doing either C25K W5D1, or try running a whole mile, or both. Today I was able to run a full half mile and then ran out of time when yoga was about to start. I know that I will be able to handle the Couch to 5K thing, no problem. Day 1 of week 5 involves three 5-minute jogging intervals interspersed with two 3-minute walks, and now a 5-minute jog is not much of a problem for me, hoorah! I figure at best I'd be able to sustain a 4mph pace (15 minute mile) for the running, so the question would be, can I squeak out a 15-minute segment of running yet? I think I can, but it will be hard. I still want to try.

(I use the terms running and jogging interchangeably, by the way. What may look like jogging to you when I'm doing it is totally running to me, so whatever.)

I'm also gearing up for my 5K training to begin next Sunday! Eeeeee!

Anyway. My eating was OK today, better than yesterday for sure, but I'd imagine that many of you would be aghast at what I stuff in my craw sometimes. I fit in foods I really love and don't feel the need to give up along with "good" stuff (isn't it great how we make moral judgements about food? Good vs. bad, etc.?) and so many days I have an eclectic mix that includes celery sticks, any variety of raw fruit, herbal tea, gorgeous salads, black beans, Cheetos, pizza, boneless skinless chicken breasts, and ice cream. I mean, not every day, but you know, pretty frequently.

If I ate "better", I'd probably lose more weight faster. It's true. I think about this a lot, but I kind of smirk about it because the way that I am eating allows me to lose weight, live fairly healthfully, and still enjoy eating. Because I tell you what, I love food. I enjoy eating – both at home with my partner, maybe alone, as well as out with friends and family or by invitation to their homes. Last night, for example, I had the best dinner at my friends' Megan and Nathan. Megan made a delicious casserole Mexican-style based on a Cooking Light recipe, along with this amazing jalapeno cornbread from a mix (!) and you better believe I had two helpings of everything. I drank wine. I had high-quality chocolate straight from their freezer, which is a lovely way to have it, breaking off pieces at the table as the conversation gets more boozy and intimate.

Anyway, this is the way I want to live. So this is the way I am living. I want that oft-precarious balance between healthy and happy. Healthy does not always equal happy. Or maybe it does? Yeah, it kinda does.