Archive | May, 2009

Piece of cake

29 May

Here’s one thing I’ve realized about weight loss: It’s simple. Now, before an angry ban of women bearing food scales and dumbbells as weapons shows up at my door ready for a brawl, let me explain myself.

For starters please note that I didn’t say it was easy. I said it was simple. People try to complicate it all the time, and they do that quite well. They subscribe to the mentality that you’ve gotta eat low carb/high protein, or that you should replace a meal with a shake, or that you have to eat only tofu and bean sprouts when you hate tofu and bean sprouts, or that you need to order the food that some plan tells you you need to eat. And maybe sometimes those things do work, but it’s complicated and leaves little room for anyone to keep it up. Once you’ve lost the weight, what do you do? Avoid carbs for life? Continue buying their food? And what have you learned?

That’s the complicated part that makes people think that they can’t do it. But that’s just noise. Here’s the simple part: Eat less. Think more. Move more. Lose weight.

I know half the people who just read that are thinking it’s oversimplified bullshit. I’d encourage you to give it a second thought, though. It really is that simple.

Eat less— you probably don’t realize what a serving size is, or how much you are truly consuming in the course of the day. You need to burn more calories than you eat in order to lose weight. Are you making that possible for yourself?

Think more about the choices you make— food is fuel for your body. What is your body running on?

Move more— getting in shape is not going to happen overnight, so just get going. It’s not an all or nothing deal— you don’t have to run a marathon tomorrow. Start small if that’s what you’re comfortable with. Nike has had it right all along. Just do it. Whatever it is.

And then, lose weight.

And this is why it’s simple but not easy. If it was easy to do all this, and to lose weight as a result, then we’d all be wearing a size 2 and one-piece bathing suits wouldn’t exist. Over the past few months I’ve lost weight some weeks only to gain part of it back the next- with no discernable difference in what I’m eating or how much I’m exercising. It’s frustrating, and some days I’ve wanted to tear my hair out. So I’m not gonna say that it will always work out exactly the way you want it too. But guess what? Keep it up, and over time your body cannot deny you the weight loss.

Don’t expect yourself to be perfect, because you won’t be, and that’s just setting yourself up for failure in your own eyes. Don’t expect it to happen overnight, because it won’t; it took you a while to gain weight, so it’s going to take you a while to lose it. Don’t make excuses for yourself— you’ll always be busy and you’ll always have obstacles— but you can always make time for something you consider a priority… aren’t you a priority to you? And don’t expect it to be easy, because it will always be a struggle, although the struggle will diminish over time. If it still feels complicated, then make it feel uncomplicated. Focus on what it really boils down too, and I think you’ll find that all that’s left is truly quite simple.

Biker chick

27 May

I woke up yesterday with a massive headache, having also gone to sleep with that same headache the night before. For starters, this is totally unfair; I think 8 hours of sleep should be enough to kiss any headache goodbye. But that was unfortunately not so for me yesterday. My original plan was to get up and get out on my bike yesterday morning. But waking up feeling crummy left me feeling blah overall, which was the perfect excuse for a little Memorial Day-laziness. I could not find my motivation to get out of bed, let alone to get onto a bike. I procrastinated by letting myself stay in bed until 10– I have not done this in FOREVER! And that made it all the more wonderful- hooray for lazy mornings! Then I got up, showered, did some grocery shopping and had lunch. At this point I had spent too much time trying to find an excuse that I could fool myself with that would get me out of getting on the bike.

I don’t know why I didn’t want to do it, I just didn’t. But I couldn’t, and wouldn’t, fool myself. There was no denying it. I was going out on that bike. I had planned to do it, so therefore I had nothing else to do- no excuse there. By this point I felt fine- again, no excuse. I had a helmet and I had a bike. There were no excuses.

And I am certainly glad that I found my motivation, because it was a wonderful ride. I was glad to find that riding a bike was like, well, riding a bike. There’s a great trail that runs through my town that’s perfect for running and biking (no hills!). It runs through the woods, so besides being really pretty it’s also shaded by all the trees, making yesterday’s bright sun less of a concern for someone like me, who forgot that sunscreen is generally a good idea when you’re going to be outside. It was a gorgeous day and I felt dorkily happy to be a part of it.

I looked at the trail map when I got back home, and I figured out that I probably rode around 30 miles. I was pretty happy with that, and feeling pretty kick-ass since the triathlon is 12 miles of biking, and I did the 30 with no problem. Which just goes to show you how different biking and running are, because if I had tried to run 30 miles, I would still be out there trying to finish. Scratch that, I’d be out there on the path in a ball, rocking back and forth, sucking my thumb and trying to remember my own name. The other great thing about biking is that you automatically generate a pretty nice breeze for yourself, which is quite handy on hot days. In running, forget it. If it’s hot you are going to feel like you swallowed molten lava and you might as well get used to it. The thing biking really doesn’t have going for it is the bug situation. I must have been in a hit-and-run with dozens of bugs that just did not know to stay out of my way. A few unsuspecting ones went in my mouth (gross) and one poor thing even found its way up my nose for a second (double gross).

Bugs aside, I am really glad I have my first bike ride (meaning, my first tri-training bike ride–my first bike ride in at least a decade) under my belt. As May draws to a close and June appears, I’m hit with the realization that July is not that far away. The triathlon, once a distant event, is now starting to appear on the horizon. The good news is that I feel more ready for it than ever.


21 May

These past two weeks have been filled with quite a few meaningful accomplishments, which has been just the boost I need. Sometimes over the past few weeks I’ve felt my headstrong, unwavering, go-hard-or-go-home attitude begin to waver slightly and it freaks me out. I don’t want to lose that drive. Then I think about what I’ve accomplished, and I realize that I’m crazy- I’m not losing my drive at all; maybe I’m just relaxing it’s grip on me a little bit.

Way back in December, when I first started Weight Watchers, I set my first weight-loss goal. I wanted to be a certain weight by May 1st. To be honest it was an arbitrary date and an arbitrary weight, except for that back then I thought it sounded like the beginning of summer and summer is a good time to be feeling thinner, and it was about a pound a week, which was realistic. Now, me being me, I don’t just set a goal and forget it. This goal was on my mind every day. Even if I wasn’t thinking “May 1st” I was thinking of what weight I needed to be at the next week in order to be on track for May 1st. My rollercoaster-like weight loss patterns sometimes made me think I’d be derailed somewhere along the way. But, gosh darn it, if I didn’t make it then I was going to be as close as humanly possible, and I wasn’t going to allow myself to be standing on the scale on May 1st thinking “Well if I hadn’t had that cake/pizza/ice cream/Coca-Cola/french fries, I would have made it. If I hadn’t skipped the gym/layed on the couch all day/slept in/been so lazy, I would have made it.” Helllllllz no. I was beyond determined to prove to myself that I could do this; that willpower and persistence would be my keys to success. The struggle of weight loss (and no matter how much willpower and persistence you have, it is definitely a struggle) you play a constant numbers game: I ate 7 points at lunch. I ran 2 miles. I was at the gym for 60 minutes. I worked out 5 days this week. Count your points, measure your portions, time your pace. All those numbers were worth it when, on May 1st, I got on the scale and saw the exact number I wanted to see. I met my May 1st goal!

The following week was my next 5k. It was by far the largest race Lola and I have run in so far (more than 5,000 people total) which was very cool. For some reason, this was also the first race where I wasn’t very nervous at the starting line. The course was great- not too hilly, yet not too flat and boring. It was through neighborhoods and the people were very excited to see the runners come through, lots of them were out on their porches cheering or blasting music. I finished mile 1 in 9:53. That was the fastest I have ever run a mile. It was also the first time during a race that I ran the entire mile without stopping. And I knew I could keep going. I ran straight through mile 2 and into 3. Shortly into 3 I had to stop, but I was okay with that. It was still the best I have ever run- race or not. And, adding to the triumph of the day, I crossed the finish line at 33:43– my best time yet by more than 30 seconds. It was a great, great feeling.

Tonight’s accomplishment was smaller but still significant. I went swimming! Phew! I’ve been so nervous about the fact that I haven’t started training for the swim, so it felt great to finally get in the water. And I was lucky enough to have Audrey as my swim coach. She went to a swim clinic a few weekends ago, and learned lots of helpful hints that she passed along to me after analyzing my technique (or lack thereof). I am hugely thankful for that, because when I first got in the water and realized the things I was doing wrong, I was slightly freaked out that the triathlon swim might mean my demise. As with running, it’s the breathing I have a problem with– but it’s even harder to think about breathing while you’re swimming because there truly are some less-opportune times to take a breath (i.e., when your face is in the water). But by the time I got out of that pool I had improved quite a bit (again, thanks to Audrey!) and felt much better about swimming. I probably would have felt even better if I hadn’t forgotten to bring a towel with me and didn’t have to dry off with Audrey’s extra sweatshirt and some paper towels. I am not joking; I was in a situation where drying my body with a sweatshirt was the best option available. And Audrey is teeny, so her sweatshirt was not very big and I didn’t have very much material to work with. Although it was surprisngly absorbent. Still, forgetting a towel when you’re going swimming is like forgetting socks when you’re going running (meaning it’s a completely doofus move). Even though drying off with a sweatshirt is not the greatest, thank goodness for Audrey and her sweatshirt. I absolutely HATE getting dressed if my body has even a drop of water still on it, so this was quite particularly torturous for me, but what would I have done if she wasn’t there? Answer: I would still be there, trying to get dry so I could put my clothes on and go home.

Ain’t no mountain high enough

5 May

It’s funny when I think of how my idea of a great weekend has changed over the last few months. Forget bars, forget late nights, forget sleeping in. Cue early morning runs, hours at the gym and 5Ks. This past weekend was a weekend without a race. So instead of running, I climbed a mountain.

Now, when my friend P told me about this mountain he was very clear that it was a big, big mountain. I was excited. When we turned the corner and he pointed in the distance to the mountain it still seemed HUGE to me, even though I had been prepared for how huge it was, and I laughed. It just struck me as amusing that this was a really big mountain and we were about to climb it.
But still, even after realizing that this mountain was a beast, I was picturing a hike on a quiet dirt trail created for people like us who think nice hikes are a perfect way to spend a Saturday. Maybe a babbling brook or two, even. A scenic little path in the woods. I didn’t even realize that I had this vision in my head until I saw the actual “path” and it looked like this:

Yes, that is a picture of the trail we were following. Can’t see the trail, you say? Why that is because no element of nature was disturbed in the creation of this trail. Someone just went around with some white spray paint and randomly decided the least-lethal way for people like us to get up the mountain and back down again.

But, honestly, this didn’t scare me. Bring it, Mt. Monadnock. I was totally up for it, and this ass whooping in the making was looking like a gorgeous little Saturday. While I’ve given myself over to the fact that I like running and like going to the gym, I have to say that there’s something much more wonderful about exercising with nature as your backdrop and friends by your side. It feels less like exercise, and more like fun. And while I get pretty pumped when I run, the feeling of reaching the top of a mountain definitely wins, hands down. The sight of the finish line sometimes makes me want to cry, but the sight from the top of the mountain took my breath away…or maybe it was just the hike to get there that took my breath away…In any case, it was spectacular.

What occurred to me was that six months ago, while I would have been able to do this, I wouldn’t have been able to do this well. I was beating P’s ass up that mountain, something he had predicted but I wasn’t so sure of. Realizing how capable I was of climbing that mountain was a great feeling. At one point during the hike up, P said “You seem like an athlete right now. You were definitely never an athlete in high school, but you’re one right now.” That made me smile. Having known me since we were 12, he knows as well as I do that “athlete” is for sure a word that has never, ever, ever been used to describe me during the first 26 years of my life. Neither was “thin”, another adjective he used to describe me that morning. Both these things are just nice to hear. I know I’m at a point right now where my vision of myself hasn’t quite caught up to the present. While I’m learning to graciously accept a compliment, my first reaction is to think that people are just being nice- I’m not actually athletic; I’m not actually thin. I don’t know why this is my reaction, it just is. Except that P, probably more than most people I know, is not the type to say something he doesn’t mean just to be nice. He’s also well-qualified to know when I look good, having seen me at my best (all dolled up for prom, graduation, weddings and such) and at my worst (pjs, ponytail, glasses, no makeup and a tear-streaked face, drinking too much wine and crying over some stupid boy). I gave him honorary Bumble Bee status for the day–no, not just because he called me thin– but because we had fun while totally kicking some butt and flying up and down that mountain like rock stars. Or, like bumble bees.

I’ll admit that going down wasn’t as smooth as going up. Actually it was a little nerve-wracking at some points. I think I said “Omigosh I almost just died” approximately 15 times after tripping/slipping/sliding on the rocks. We did get slightly off track for about a minute and would still be lost on that mountain and resorting to smoke signals to ensure our rescue if we followed my sense of direction and not his. Oh, and my nose was running like crazy and I had to give in and “borrow” his handkerchief after staunchly refusing to blow a snot rocket (I might be climbing a mountain but I’m still a girl). But it was a fabulous kind of nerve-wracking, off-track, nose-blowing experience. We weren’t even back to the car before we were planning the route we would take next time, on another, new-kind-of-perfect Saturday.