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Be here now.

14 Jul

Somehow, the triathlon has crept up on me. Last year it was looming large, shadowing everything I did. This year, it’s quieter, a pinpoint on the map of a jam-packed summer.

I’ve felt bad about my lower level of intensity, constantly telling myself I need to pick it up, work harder, do more, be better. Get back to where I was. Lose 5 pounds. No, 10 pounds.

But something in my mindset has shifted yet again.

Yeah, you know what, I’d like to weigh a little less. But right now, it’s ok. I honestly do feel like I could stand to lose a few pounds. But overall, I FEEL good. Being active, eating right, it’s an ongoing effort that I’ve made a part of my life. And that’s better than working to achieve a short-term goal. The transformation I went through last year, it’s complete, and yet it’s not complete. It’s every day. And that’s what I wanted, that’s what I set out to achieve for myself.

And in this ongoing effort, yes, I’m going to skip the gym sometimes. And it’s ok! I’m going to struggle a bit with my knee, but you know what? My 5K time actually isn’t that much worse with an injury than without it. And that’s ok, too! Because overall, I’ve made exercise a can’t-live-without-it part of my life.

And food….ah, yes, food. I’m going to eat too much sometimes, or eat the wrong things. I’m ok with that. Mostly, I want eating to be about health, about energy, about properly fueling my body. But sometimes, I want it to be about enjoyment, about friendship and family and love, when sitting around a table with great people or seeking out an ice cream cone on a hot summer day is about adding to the great moments in my life, not counting the points in my meal.

Otherwise, will it ever end? At my thinnest, I still wanted to lose 5 more pounds, when everyone else was telling me to stop. I think, if I choose to focus on weight, I’ll always want to lose 5 more pounds.

I want to be here now. Be. Here. Now.

I could focus on a year ago, when I was 10 pounds thinner. I could focus on last month, when I should have done more. I could focus on next month, when I’d like to weigh 5 pounds less than I do now.

Instead, I want to be here. I want to be in the right now and make good choices, but not beat myself up for the slip-ups or the lazy days. I want to love myself for who I am today. Because I love who I’ve become, a healthy person who is more likely to be running a 5K or climbing a mountain on a Saturday morning than sleeping in; someone who tries her best to eat naturally and organically but still can’t seem to resist the occassional french fry.

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Seven

20 Nov

It’s probably fitting that my first 5k since the triathlon was on a cold, windy, rainy Sunday morning in October, the kind where, if it was possible, you’d wake up, look outside, and go back to bed. I think it’s fitting because it really takes determination and commitment to want to run in such weather (and to watch others run in that weather- thanks Mom, Dad & James!). And determination and commitment to running is something that’s fallen a little by the wayside for me in the past few months.

I’ll level with you. I’ve gained 7 pounds since the triathlon. Seven. Two or three I would be ok with. Seven I’m not. But guess what? I totally deserve the seven pounds. My gym visits have been sporadic, my eating habits have gotten worse. If I gain any more weight I’ll be disappointing myself. The great thing is, I feel like I learned enough in the past ten months or so to know exactly how to get back on track. And getting back on track means, in part, running a 5k.

Besides that, this 5k was a significant one because it was the first one my brother and I were running together. I talked a LOT of smack all summer long about how I would leave him in the dust come race day. Even as I was saying it, I kinda knew it was baloney- my brother being a natural athlete, he has things going for him that I never will. But the smack-talking continued nonetheless. And then it dropped off somewhere around September. I’m not normally one to run my mouth, and I think I just ran out of steam. That, and I realized it was all fluff anyway. My brother said that I would probably beat him, or we could at least run together during the 5k, which was also baloney, whether he knew it or not.

‘Cause let me tell you, once the horn blew and the race started, I saw my brother for about 45 seconds before he disappeared into the crowd of runners ahead. Way ahead. Waaaaaaaaay ahead. I didn’t see him again til the finish line. Not only that, but I was in this weird place within the pack where there weren’t many people I could see right ahead of me, and I could see no one behind me. Nervousness started weighing me down more than my rain-soaked clothing was. Was I last? This has always been my fear, and in this race, it was more possible than ever— the horrible weather weeded out the novice and spur-of-the-moment runners (and probably the sane ones, too) so the number of people in the race was small. And, I figured these were dedicated, good, solid runners who were RUNNERS. I still have moments where I feel like I pretend to be a runner by running, and that’s what fools people. But an ACTUAL runner? Still go back and forth on that one.

Thankfully, I was not last. By the time I got to the finish line (at 37:30, a time that’s painful for me to admit. But on the bright side, I ran the whole thing besides a quick walk at the water station, so yay for me!) my brother had already been there for seven whole minutes. He could have been in his car, headed home to take a shower, put on dry clothes, and try to forgive me for what I had just put him through. But, of course, he joined the cheering squad at the finish line that was quite enthusiastically (given the cold, rainy conditions they had just spent 37 and a half minutes standing in) waiting for me to cross the finish line.

The next day, I felt like it did after my first 5K- meaning every movement I made caused my body to ache. That’s what I get for taking so much time off. And I’m sure I’m going to be feeling it again a week from today. I’ll be running a 4.748 mile race on Thanksgiving morning with my mom, brother, Lola, James and some friends. Oh, and about 10,000 other people. It’s going to be the longest, biggest race I’ve ever done. Despite my seven pounds, you better believe I will not feel bad later that afternoon when I have an extra helping of stuffing and a super long nap on the couch.

Countdown Breakdown

12 Jun

Saturday might possibly be my last 5K before the tri. Although I knew that, it suddenly occurred to me that that means I want it to go really, really well so that I’m as confident as possible about my progress and my potential. Although this means a slightly unnecessary increase in the pressure I feel to do well on Saturday, I am the queen of self-induced pressure. So that works out alright.

And even though every time I run in a race I want to do better than the time before, this time I feel like there’s a little more at stake. With only 44 days until the tri, I fluctuate daily, sometimes hourly, between feeling confident and excited (like when I realize I’ve biked 30 miles and finish feeling like a freakin’ rock star) to feeling overwhelmed and underprepared (like when I am lifting weights at the gym and need to reduce the weight to the lightest possible…eek, I’m such a girl).

To compound this, I will be in Mexico in the beginning of July- I get back and there’s a week and a half until the triathlon. While I fully plan on training while I’m in Mexico, I know that margaritas and lying on the beach will be a bigger draw, and those few days in Mexico will be a test of my willpower and determination. Not to mention that I want to be at my goal weight on triathlon day, which is currently 7.6 pounds away. With the tri being about 6 weeks away, I’ll have to lose about 1.3 pounds per week in order to make it. Did I mention how much I love Mexican food and margaritas? I usually like to live by the rule that there are no such thing as calories when you’re on vacation, but I don’t think I can afford that kind of logic this time. Again: unnecessary pressure, but pressure I will put on myself regardless.

Ok, so it’s obvious that what’s happening here is that I’m allowing myself to stop and think too much, something I haven’t allowed myself to do lately because of its disastrous side effects. Believe me, not thinking much (for me) is much better than thinking like I normally do because a normal amount of thinking is an insane amount of thinking, to be honest. See how it started with thinking about the simple fact that this could be my last 5K before the tri and snowballed from there? Yeah. That’s nothing compared to what my thought process can be. Sometimes I exhaust myself. And what I’ve learned lately is that I really don’t know as much as I think I do. I always think I have it all figured out, or that I could figure it out, if I think about it enough. This long-held belief of mine, however, is bullshit. It’s funny to realize that you don’t have things as figured out as you thought you did, and to be okay with that.

So I just headed to the gym right after work, where I hopped on the treadmill and don’t remember a single thing I thought about the whole time. Besides “How many minutes do I have left on this thing?!?”, of course.

Seven down!

8 Jun

I finished my seventh 5K on Saturday. I can’t believe I’ve done seven since March. Seven! I remember when Audrey first suggested we run a 5K to prepare for the tri; I think I simultaneously wanted to laugh, throw up and cry. To be honest, there’s still a point during almost every race where I want to throw up and cry. But since the first one I’ve been doing them of my own free will. And liking it! Who would have thought?

And I’m glad I like it, because I know it’s really helped me lose weight and prepare for the triathlon. And those are two things that have really shaped nearly everything I’ve done and every decision I’ve made since January. My focus is so much on the end goal that I don’t really take the time to stop and look around to really see where I am, which is 25 pounds lighter and maybe a little bit of an athlete. Actually, scratch that, maybe I’m just a little bit of a runner, not an athlete. As my brother was quick to point out this weekend, I still cannot throw a baseball worth a damn (once, about 5 feet to the right of my dad and the next time, almost directly down to the ground. I do not know what is wrong with me). I cannot wait to celebrate everything I’ve achieved, but aside from a mini-shopping spree with my mom once my clothes became too big to to wear, I’m not willing to celebrate yet. As I’ve mentioned, I’m afraid of losing my focus or getting too proud of what I’ve accomplished and having that turn into a little bit of laziness. I have, as of this moment, 47 days, 18 hours, 2 minutes and 51 seconds of hard work ahead of me, and I’m not going to truly relax until the triathlon is over.

But you better believe there will be a killer celebration once it is.

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.

Woohoo!

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.

Bye-bye Bubblemint

9 Apr

I have a race on Saturday, and it’s supposed to rain. While I don’t mind rain in general, and I know that April showers bring May flowers, I’m not too excited about the fact that April showers might also bring me a slower race time and maybe even a slippery surface-induced face plant. While (knock on wood) I have avoided athletic-related injuries thus far, it seems that I have incurred my first diet-related injury. Yeah, bet you didn’t even know that was possible.

Monday morning I woke up with what I thought was an earache. It hurt by my ear but also down into my jaw. It hurt to chew and was making me a little miserable. So, when I got to work yesterday morning with the “earache” still there, I called the doctor and made an appointment for late in the afternoon. In the meantime, I avoided chewing as much as possible (although a girl still has to eat lunch!) and contemplated the possible reasons for my pain. Ear infection? Maybe, I’m really prone to them, but this didn’t feel like any ear infection I’ve ever had. iPod ear bud-related injury? I don’t really listen to my music that loud when I’m running, but you never know. Sinus problems? Dental problems? I wasn’t sure, I just knew it was driving me crazy and I wanted it to go away.

And as it turns out, it was none of that. It’s an issue with my temporomandibular joint. I’m saying that first so it sounds fancy and I feel less like a goober. Because essentially what it translates to is pain in my jaw. And this pain in my jaw is due to chewing too much gum.

I’m not joking. And I have to be honest, I didn’t really know this was possible. I have been chewing A LOT of gum lately; it’s my #1 defense against snack attacks. I never imagined that I was doing myself harm and inducing an injury. Now that I know this, I’m pretty sure gum should come with a warning label: “Dieters beware! Chewing in excess may cause temporary temporomandibular joint pain and unnecessary doctors visits.”

To top it off, gum is now haunting me. Right after the doctor I went to the drugstore to get Aleve. While ringing up my items (I swear, I couldn’t even make this up) the woman looked at me and said “Can I interest you in some new flavors of gum?”. Since when did the people at Walgreens recommend you anything?! I think this was some kind of cosmic joke, which continued at
WW when the girl next to me turned to me and said “Want a piece of gum?” and when I got home and a friend texted me and said “I’m watching The Biggest Loser and it’s making crave Extra gum and Cheerios.” I had to laugh every time.

Then of course, since I had to leave work early yesterday and many of my co-workers knew about my “ear” pain, I had to explain a few times today that it was not my ear, and that I am indeed the biggest weirdo on the planet because I incurred my injury from a piece of Orbit Bubblemint. Or actually, a few too many pieces of Orbit Bubblemint.

And now, I have to be gum-free for the next 7-10 days and chew sparingly in the future. I am sad about the temporary loss of my boredom-busting, snack-stopping, perfectly-flavored friend. Bubblemint, the pain was worth it. And I will miss you dearly.