Staying on the Wagon April 22, 2015Posted by J. in Genius.
Tags: change, diet, exercise, inspiration, motivation, running
1 comment so far
What motivates you?
I was slogging away on the treadmill on Monday. I hate the treadmill with the fire of a thousand suns. You want to learn to hate running, get on a treadmill. But I got my new running shoes (FINALLY!) and it was raining like a cow pissing on a flat rock outside, so I got on the damned machine to get a couple of miles in. I haven’t been running much all winter and it’s time to get those muscles back into shape and all that.
So I’m at the gym, pushing myself through every sucktastic minute, when it gets to be 5:00 and the local stations all go to news. Monday’s lead story across the bank of TV’s overhead was coverage of the Boston Marathon. And I saw people in wheelchairs crossing the finish line, and a runner who’d lost a limb in the bombing two years ago out running, racers hugging and helping each other when they couldn’t stand up anymore. And GOD…this.
LOOK AT HER FACE. She just ran 26 fucking miles and LOOK AT HER SMILE. They showed a clip of her and the men’s winner running together with their hands joined and up in the air and it took my breath away.
Suddenly my legs didn’t feel tired anymore. I cranked up the pace and ran my last half mile as hard as I could without going so fast that I ran the risk of tripping and putting a Jen-shaped hole in the back wall of the gym. It was only two miles and it still mostly sucked, but seeing that kind of dedication and endurance and sheer love of the sport made me want to keep running forever. It was the motivation I needed.
But this isn’t about running, exactly. I had a friend ask me a couple of weeks ago, “What motivated you to stay on track with your diet?” And I had to stop and actually think about it before I answered, because nothing sprang right to mind. The fact that I couldn’t answer her surprised me. I guess I figured there had to be something and I just couldn’t think of it when put on the spot, but it occurred to me that there might not be anything.
Shit. Now what do I tell her?
I don’t tend to look at other people who’ve lost a lot of weight for inspiration or motivation. Lately, that’s had the opposite effect on me. Seeing other people who’ve reached their goal weight and look phenomenal with their tight abs and smooth thighs kind of piss me off and make me not even want to bother. Believe me, this is part of my personality I’m not proud of. It’s the deadly sin of envy, and it’s part of what is eating at me, but that’s another story for another day.
So when I get down to it, I’m not even sure how seeing me lose weight inspires anyone else, to be honest. If I was my fat self and could look into the future at what I am now, I’m not sure I’d be inspired to keep going. Maybe the idea of what I could be kept me going for awhile, but as that image slowly evaporated, it’s no longer a motivating factor.
At the moment, the only thing motivating me to not eat all the things is the fact that I refuse to wear fat pants again. Which is less motivation than it is a deterrent. It’s a powerful one, but hardly inspiring, and you really can’t count it. And it sucks because I know people are looking at me as inspirational and one does want to find the right words when asked about it to help others find that motivation to get started, or keep going.
When it comes to my diet, I don’t have a lot of motivation to stay on it, and that’s the God’s honest truth. Another friend asked me if I’m always perfect with it and I was all OH HELL NO. I fuck up all the time. I make great plans and don’t follow them. I still binge. I still turn to food for comfort more often than I’d like, and there are foods that will always make me weak in the knees. Her response was OH THANK GOD and if it was motivating to hear that you can change your eating habits but all is not lost if you’re not perfect, they yay for me. Because I’m the poster child for Not Perfect by Any Stretch of the Imagination.
It’s a commentary on the state of the diet industry today that when I tell people I lost my weight by eating less and moving more, they look at me like they’ve stumbled across a unicorn. Like I’m one of a rare specimen of human being for whom diet and exercise actually work. Like I’m blessed with abnormal genes that the average human lacks.
I assure them, and you, that I’m not. I am not, at any given time, particularly motivated to stay on my diet. I would like very much to go back to eating the way I used to, even though it makes me feel unwell and makes my weight shoot back up.
So what do I say? What motivates me?
I realized that for me, staying on track is not about finding some carrot to chase to keep going. And it’s not entirely about the fear and loathing of my past keeping me from turning back, either. The truth is, I’m not always on track. I fall off. I have bad days. I have bad weeks…months even. I don’t just fall off the wagon; I jump off and hide in the bushes until it’s out of sight.
I think for me, the problem with chasing that carrot is that eventually, you either catch the carrot and have to keep finding new snacks to chase, or you grow tired of chasing things and not catching them, so you decide to just stop running. It’s where motivation fails me.
The only way I find myself able to hunt down the wagon and climb back on it is by looking at why I fell off in the first place. There’s always a reason that I went off track, let things slide, or just walked away for awhile. And it can be any one of a number of things, really too many to list. But I don’t accept excuses anymore, and I don’t say “I can’t”, either. I can, and when I put my mind to it, I do. There are obstacles that come up all the time, and I have to keep finding out how to get past them.
So when I’m off track, I have to take a hard look at why. Why did I throw up my hands and say “fuck it” this time? Is it something new? Or, as is usually the case, is it a recurring issue that still needs work? I think that dealing with the sometimes painful truth of the answers is the hardest part of losing weight.
I saw this graphic online back when I’d lost maybe 30 or so pounds and it stayed with me because at first it pissed me off. YOU DON’T KNOW MY LIFE.
It’s so very accurate, which is why it pissed me off. And I mentally argued against it, because that’s what I do when I’m outraged. And it’s what I do when I’m faced with uncomfortable truths about myself. It’s easier to make excuses for not doing something than it is to actually grow a pair and, you know do something. I know this now, and I knew it then.
The key to staying on track is not about being motivated to do so, but in being honest with myself. Becoming more self-aware. Know what my strengths are, but knowing my weaknesses, too. I think the reason diets fail for most of us is that people who attempt to diet are given the physical changes to make, but not the mental and emotional tools to accomplish it. There’s a big dose of Self-Awareness that needs to come with The Diet Plan and The Workout Schedule.
On the up side, the nice thing about knowing this information is that everything you need to make the changes in your life that will lead to weight loss is inside you already. And when you’re honest with yourself and learn to let go of all the things that are tethering you to the lifestyle that keeps you fat, the diet and exercise part really falls into place. It’s like if you get your mind in gear, your body comes along for the ride.
The down side is that it takes some work to uncover it, and as I’ve said all along, it’s not a lot of fun. It’s hard work and it’s exhausting, and sometimes painful. And at times, when it’s really rough, those excuses are soooooo attractive. They are so easy.
I think motivation can be fleeting. It’s fickle–there one minute, and gone the next. What’s important is what happens when there’s nothing pushing you forward, or keeping you from turning back. I’ve come to think that it’s a better use of energy to look for the reasons behind falling off the wagon and take steps to correct them than it is to look around for a carrot to keep me in the chase.
I keep getting back on the wagon because I can see that I am becoming who I want to be. It’s something worth working for, and maybe that in itself is my motivation.
Growing Pains December 3, 2014Posted by J. in Genius.
Tags: anniversary, change, diet, exercise, extreme weight loss, fitness, growing pains, growth, health, inspiration, running, self-image, skin reduction surgery, two years, weight loss
This is some true shit right here.
I’ve come to recognize that every rough stretch of time I go through in this process of mine has a purpose.
It’s hell to go through, but as Winston Churchill noted, when you’re going through hell…keep going.
It’s been two years since I started down this road, and even as I type this, I’m nursing one hell of a sugar-withdrawal headache. The holidays are already kicking my ass this year, and they’ve barely begun. I’m on a new anti-depressant which seems to have EAT ALL THE THINGS as a side effect, and since that’s my default setting…yeah. Needless to say, being so close to my goal and fighting depression (and the treatment for it) has made my weight loss even more painfully slow, and dealing with the disappointment of being so far away from where I want to be, having my body not cooperate when I’m doing everything I’m supposed to, eats away at me at times. And when my brain throws up road blocks so I can’t even manage to do the things I’m supposed to do and the scale creeps back up again, I feel like I’m falling apart. Metaphorically.
The people closest to me see it. It’s hard to write about and not feel like a whiny sack of crap.
But then one morning I wake up and the feelings have slipped away, like a horrible storm. I feel like I’ve been mentally tossed around, and on the inside I’m battered and bleeding and so very tired. But I realize that I’m alive, and with that comes that cool, clean feeling like after a storm passes. And as I’m cleaning up the mess, I can tell that I feel different about everything.
In a way, it’s very much like the old me has to die painfully for the new me to grow.
The physical changes are a lot like watching a plant grow, which is probably why the scale is so important to me. In the same way you can pull up a chair and watch a plant, and know that it’s growing, you can’t actually observe it. It’s too slow. My weight loss is that kind of slow. I’m changing, but so slowly that I can’t actually see it. And that has the power to throw me into a tailspin.
But once the spinning stops, I come out of it with new insights. I suddenly have new perspectives on this process that weren’t there before. To be fair, some of them are things that my friends have said to me. Words of comfort, bits of advice, things that seem so very “easy for you to say” at the time. But a lot of it is me needing to change the way I look at things, and my ability to do that seems to only come after a bad stretch of time where everything seems like a pointless waste of time.
It’s so hard to describe those feelings and how they eat away at me. I guess because when I start to describe my thought processes, and how they make me feel, I can argue them. I can say exactly what my fears are, and I can build a hundred arguments over why I’m worried over nothing. Or how I shouldn’t let “that” make me so upset.
And it seems like I don’t want help. In those moments, maybe I really don’t, in a way. Because I know what I’m supposed to be feeling. I know what I’m supposed to keep doing. Yet I can’t feel the right feelings. I don’t feel like I rock. I don’t feel like a superhero doing amazing things. I don’t feel strong and fit and healthy. I don’t feel hope that I’m ever going to be anything more than “less fat.” I don’t feel proud, or excited, or happy. And I’m still doing all the things I need to do, only it all feels useless. Like my life is a house of cards and one wrong move and it’s back to fat pants again.
But there’s no choice for me anymore. I have to keep going. Even when my feelings are all wrong, and when I’m feeling like I needed to switch trains a couple of stops back, only I’m not 100% sure, and don’t know how to find out, but fear I could be riding to the completely wrong destination.
And then it passes. I don’t know how or why. I’m not sure if there’s a catalyst or trigger of some sort that snaps me out of it, but I’ll notice that one thing has changed. And once that one thing is out there, more and more changes come into relief.
Two years later I’m at a point that I have some stuff figured out, but the more I get sorted, it’s like I find more stuff that needs work. And I confess there are days that…well, have you ever set to work cleaning something—like the garage or attic, where there’s a ton of stuff and you only kind of know a portion of what’s ahead of you—and you start moving things and opening boxes and finding more and more stuff to sort and clean, so you close the door and go “fuck it, tomorrow is another day?” Well, that’s kind of what this process is like for me.
Some days I make great progress. I feel like you do when you’ve gone through a box, got it all sorted, cleaned, and filed away neatly and got rid of the stuff that’s no use to you anymore. Sometimes you feel so good you just grab another box and life is awesome.
And then there are days that the box is huge, all the stuff in it is filthy, and there’s no clear line as to what you should keep and what’s garbage. What if I need it later? Is this even my stuff? Where the hell did I get this damn thing? Oh man, that’s awful and useless and needs to go, but I’m so attached to it!
It’s days like that I feel like I’m sitting in a really dirty garage on the floor, surrounded by piles of crap, trying to weed out the things I need and clean them up and find a place for them, but it’s like the mountains threaten to collapse on me every time I touch something.
I guess if I’ve figured anything out recently it’s that I’m cleaning up a mess that was 43 years in the making, and I’ve only been at it for 2 years. It doesn’t make me much less impatient, mind you, but it helps a little.
As does focusing on all that is well and good, and looking at how much I’ve done in 2 years. Two years ago today, I stepped on the scale for the first time in many years, and I almost quit right then and there. It was all too much. WAY too much.
- I was 358.7 pounds.
- I had plantar faciitis. I could not walk or stand without pain.
- My resting heart rate was in the mid-90’s and my blood pressure was around 140/100.
- I couldn’t go up a flight of stairs without being out of breath and needing to sit.
- I had recurring yeast-type infections on my skin from chronic high blood sugar.
- My acne rosacea was very pronounced, with a very red face.
- The symptoms of PCOS and perimenopause were present: hot flashes, flushing, very heavy periods, and a chin full of pimples.
- I wore a women’s size 4X, 28/30. My feet were a 9.5 wide. My bra was a 46D.
I really did almost quit right at the start. I’ve gained and lost hundreds of pounds and the process is never, ever fun. I don’t like it at all. And the sure and certain knowledge that whatever I lost would just come back eventually with even more weight sucked.
But I’ve written about all that at length. And God bless you if you’ve hung in with me for the past two years. Writing about it keeps me accountable, and it’s cheaper than therapy. And I’ve had the added bonus of knowing that there are a few people out there who can identify with some of the stuff I’ve written and have found it within themselves to give weight loss another try. I know that hearing “ME TOO” from other people has helped me feel less alone, and if you’ve read something here and felt less alone as well, that’s pretty cool.
So, it’s my two year Fativersary, and lots of stuff has changed. Here’s the state of the union:
- I’m down almost 175 pounds. I’ve lost just about half my body weight. The amount of pounds left to lose is, in the grand scheme of things, really small.
- Plantar faciitis has buggered off. I haven’t seen hide nor hair of it in ages.
- My resting heart rate was 55 at my last doctor’s appointment, and my blood pressure was 104/70.
- Stairs are no problem. I used to get to church and by the time I got to the top of the stairs that lead to the sanctuary, I had to sit for a few minutes to catch my breath before I could warm up. I can sing while going up the stairs now. I no longer take the elevator to go up a flight. In fact, I pretty much run up a flight of stairs without even thinking about it.
- I can still tell when I’ve had too much sugar because there’s a couple of spots on my abdomen that will break out in a yeast infection. To that end, I keep my intake of sugar on the low side, but I don’t cut it out completely. Moderation is the key.
- My face is a LOT less red these days. My dermatologist would like to take credit for that, but it was clearing up before I even stepped foot in his office. So he can suck it.
- My gynecologist said that I pushed menopause back by a good ten years. I’m not sure if this is good news or not. But I do know that my skin has completely cleared up, my periods are regular and on the light side, and I would actually kill for the occasional hot flash because now instead of being sweaty all the time, I’m probably going to freeze to death.
- And I’m wearing a size large (occasionally an XL) on the bottom and have retired my Lane Bryant charge card since I’m too small for their clothes now. I wear a size 16 pants and a 12/14 on top, and my bra is a 34D. I get called “skinny” all the time. Which is funny, because I’m really not. Oh, and my shoe size is now an 8.5 medium. Heh. I had fat feets.
The pics above say a lot to me. In the “before” pic, I’m wearing a 4X sweatshirt and a pair of black stretch pants because that’s all that fit me at the time. I was working at a fair at the church and had to take four Advil every four hours just to get through the day. And I was so sore at night I could barely move.
In the “after” picture, I’m still wearing black stretch pants, but they’re compression running tights, and they’re a size large. I’m also wearing good running shoes and a running sweatshirt (also a large) because guess what I did that day? I ran. Probably 3.75 miles. No Advil required. And I wasn’t even sore later. In fact, I took the kids out trick-or-treating that night.
But I think there’s a lot of honesty in pictures with less clothes. Because with all the good you can see, the drawbacks to extreme weight loss are much more obvious, and I think it’s easier to see why looking in the mirror at my unclothed body is still difficult. I think it’s important that people see what being morbidly obese does to your body. Because while I’ve been able to fix a whole host of health problems by losing weight, I can’t do shit about what I’ve done to my stretched-out skin suit. And while on the one hand, it’s a reminder of the good that I’ve accomplished so far, it’s a pain in the ass to deal with, and it also reminds me of what I had allowed myself to become in the first place.
It’s cool and everything, but it’s an honest picture of what I see. And if sometimes what I see makes me sad and angry, that’s okay. I have a right to feel what I feel when I feel it.
And today, the holidays are kicking my ass and it’s only just past Thanksgiving. So many parties full of good food…
Reining it in is hard. Fighting depression is hard. Fighting the treatment for depression is hard. Winter is hard.
My goal for the next 6 or so months is to maintain my weight. If I lose a bit, that’s cool. But if I can keep my weight within five pounds of 185, I’m good with that for now. I’m going to have to maintain eventually, and I need the practice. And I could use a bit of a respite from chasing that goal. I’m practicing my patience and persistence.
After all, winter is a time of dormancy around here, but life goes on. And then all at once, one day, it’s Spring.
It Puts the Lotion on Its Skin September 8, 2014Posted by J. in Genius.
Tags: athlete, body image, change, diet, exercise, Fall, fat, fitness, focus, health, inspiration, lifestyle change, motivation, new skills, plus-size, running, self-image, weight loss
1 comment so far
I didn’t realize how long it had been since I’d updated. Things are ambling right along; lots of stuff is pretty much the same, and it doesn’t make for very interesting blogging, I’m afraid. Autumn is coming up hard and fast here, it’s beautiful running weather, and all three kids are in school full day.
Ooh! But I’ve gone back to work! It’s only part time on the weekends, but it’s the first time I’ve worked outside the home in ten years and it’s been a bit of an adjustment, to say the least. And get this–I got a job at the gym. It’s funny to read back to my first posts about losing weight and to remember all the emotions that came with working out for the first time. I’ve been showing new people around and getting them started towards their fitness goals, and I’m a long way from forgetting how it felt to be in their shoes. I know how scary the gym can be the first time you walk in, and how aware you are of just how out of shape you are, especially compared to the other people working out. I certainly know what it’s like to feel like people are judging you, and it’s nice to be in the position to reassure people that it only feels that way because for most of us, we’ve recently taken a hard look at who we are and what we want to be, and we’re the ones doing the judging. And that all those other people working out are doing the same thing: they’re looking at who they are and what they want to be, and they’re in there working towards it. Nothing more.
It’s a long way from being that insecure person who fought tears on the treadmill day after miserable day. The upside of it is that I’m at a point now where the road behind me is much longer than what’s in front of me, and that’s a good place to be. At least it’s much better than the days when the road ahead of me was so long and I had to keep looking back all the time. I don’t look back much anymore, but when I do, it’s like HOLY SHIT.
There’s still road ahead of me, but I see that differently too. Much like running on a road course, your view and perspective change with every step. I think most of the changes are so subtle and small that I don’t notice them much, like so many trees or rock walls going past. And like running on a road course, it’s not about the destination so much as the run itself and being in the moment. And my goals are similar too. I’m not looking to be the fastest runner, but I want to go farther. I want to go longer, and stronger. I don’t care if I finish first, but I will finish. Or maybe, I’ll just keep running.
The fact that running is a metaphor for the weight loss journey that I’m on is telling, I think. As is the fact that I think of the journey as a fitness quest and not as a weight loss journey anymore.
The mile marker I’m at currently is between 190 and 195 pounds. I crossed the 200 pound mark in the way that things have been going for months and months, which is slowly and a fraction of a pound at a time. It was a milestone to cross my soft target off my list, and keep my eyes on the road ahead.
I’m realizing, though, that as it stands, reaching a healthy goal weight is going to be impossible with the skin suit that I’m wearing.
I hesitate to say that anything is impossible, because that’s building a wall for myself. “Impossible” gives me permission to throw my hands up and quit. If it can’t be done, why try, right?
Researching skin reduction surgery following weight loss has yielded varying results. People who lost less than 150 pounds seemed to lose an average of 10 to 12 pounds in skin and fat after surgery, whereas when the total pounds lost moved up over 150 pounds, the amounts got higher by quite a bit, especially in the closer-to-200 pounds lost area. Some of the extreme weight loss patients reported losing more than 30 pounds in excess flesh post-surgery. I’ve lost almost 170 pounds, putting me in the upper ranges of those reporting in. Results obviously vary person to person, but if I had to guess, I might be carrying 20 to 30 pounds of excess skin. Not fat, just loose flesh that can’t be dieted or exercised off.
It’s a new point-of-view on where I’m at. 190 pounds minus twenty pounds of skin…that’s 170 pounds. Hell, if it’s closer to 30 pounds, that would put me in the 160 pound range. What that means, practically speaking, is that I’m much closer to my goal weight than the scale shows on any given day.
With weight loss, especially extreme amounts like mine, the loss slows as you have less fat to lose, and I expected it. I just never expected it to be when I was a good 50 or 60 pounds away from my goal. But when I consider that I might not actually be 50 or 60 pounds away and it could be more like 20 or 30 pounds away, that’s far more realistic an outcome. Anyone who’s ever had to lose “only” 20 or 30 pounds can attest that it comes off way slower than for someone with 200 to lose, especially at first.
It’s really the only advantage to having to lose a lot of weight versus a little: the rewards of seeing big number drops relatively quickly is intoxicating.
Losing 3 pounds a month is far less heady. But it’s still losing.
And I’m not as bothered by it lately.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not thrilled about the skin. It’s an annoyance, for the most part. It’s part badge of honor at all I’ve accomplished so far, and at the same time, it’s a painful reminder of what I had allowed myself to become.
But when I start to dwell, I think of my sister’s response when I told her that: “It just is what it is.”
It’s just skin, and I want it to go. I plan on surgery, eventually.
The biggest thing I deal with is how it looks. My skin doesn’t fit anymore, and it’s like wearing clothes that are too big for you. It can be uncomfortable. Nothing fits in the right places. The extra material bunches and gets in the way of moving around. And it’s not attractive. Like a baggy pair of pants, it hides what I really look like. I can feel those muscles under the skin, and I know there’s a fit person in there, but I can’t see her. I’d like to!
And clothing itself is problematic. I am carrying my extra skin at the back of my upper arms, my belly (they call it an “apron”) and my thighs. So I have to wear larger sizes to accommodate it. Women’s/Plus sized pants are the only ones cut properly to have room in the thighs and hips while fitting in my relatively small waist. My torso is small…downright skinny in places, but I need a larger size to get my arms in. Knits are still my friend, bless their very forgiving construction.
But then again, show me someone who can put on any garment off the rack and look good in it. Everyone tries on clothes that look like crap on them, because not every outfit is made for every shape of body. We are human, after all, not coat hangers.
All that aside, it’s still a lot easier to dress a thinner body than it is to try to fit a much fatter one. Shopping is much more enjoyable than it used to be.
Athletically is where the skin suit really sucks. Beyond the annoyances of things like not being able to run in anything other than compression tights that extend below my knee, and even that’s merely a help, not a complete solution. I like my tights, don’t get me wrong, but running on a hot day? Not as much fun. Seeing folks go past in the light little nylon shorts, bare legs staying cool as they run…I’m so jealous. With the flopping that my loose skin does, I can no more run without my compression tights that I could without a bra. Even now, the pairs I have are not compressing as much as they should and as I run, the jerking motion of skin going up and then slapping back down with each step slows me down and makes me heavier on my feet than usual. It’s surprising how much momentum that flab gets. Same with my upper arms. I don’t notice it at first, but after a few miles, I’m feeling soreness at the back of my shoulders from the constant up-and-down movement of the skin as I move.
I guess how I’d describe it is if you were to put on a full backpack and go for a run. If the straps were tight and the weight was secure, you’d be running with extra weight, but it’s not moving around on you at all. You’d feel the effects, for sure. Now take the same weight in a bigger pack so that it moves around freely, and loosen the straps of the backpack. Still carrying the same amount of weight, but it’s free to move about the cabin. You’d feel chafing, and the constant up and down motion of the weight with each step would pull uncomfortably on your shoulders after awhile. Probably lower back too, as your body tries to compensate for the momentum.
It’s what I deal with every time I run.
But with good compression garments, I can take the edge off of it. It’s a hindrance, but not horrible enough to keep me off the course, yet.
My knees are where I have the biggest issue. Even as I write this, I’m babying my right knee (I call her “Tricky” because I never know what she’s going to do) because I did a nice, long 7.5 mile run last night on a whim. I pushed my legs past their comfort zone, and I was sore last night. My muscles are a bit stiff this morning, and Tricky is letting me know that I overdid it. Today will be a much easier, low-impact, cardio-heavy workout at the gym, even though it’s a beautiful morning for a run. I shall resist, because I have to.
My concern 170 pounds ago right up to this moment has always been taking care of my joints. It was awesome and wonderful to realize as the weight dropped off that Tricky was no longer a constant threat like she was at my heaviest. I’ve been (and will continue constantly) to build my leg muscles so that my knees get the best support they can, but I suspect damage has been done. I don’t know to what extent, though. And it’s not debilitating. Did I mention I ran 7.5 miles?
But there are weight-bearing exercises I still can’t do because of my knees, specifically Tricky. They say that for every pound you lose, you lose five pounds of pressure off your knees. It’s the primary reason that for me, weight matters and always will. Every pound I carry counts, and I want them to be the best pounds–the pounds I need to be healthy and fit. If I don’t get rid of the skin, that is 20 or 30 extra pounds I’ll always have. I’ll always be that much overweight. If it’s 30 pounds, that 150 pounds of stress on my knees, and it means they’re going to go all to shit a lot faster than they would normally.
At the end of the day, surgery will be necessary to excise upper arm, belly, and thigh skin. I have no idea how much more fat I have to lose before a plastic surgeon will consider operating, or how I’m going to pay for it, but the time for consulting one to make preliminary plans is drawing nigh.
As I re-read what I just wrote, it occurs to me how much I think in terms of fitness now. It’s one of those subtle shifts that you don’t notice as it happens, but one day it’s all BAM, right in your face. My goals are more physical now–I’m more concerned with what I can do as a measure of my overall health. The rest is rather secondary. I don’t know when it happened. I wasn’t really paying attention.
This summer I set myself a goal to run 10K, which is around six and a quarter miles. And I did it. Back in April, 3 miles was a long run. Now, that’s routine and over five is considered long. That’s a lot of improvement! The fact that I’ve only lost around 20 pounds in that time (when I used to do that in a month) doesn’t matter as much. Hardly at all, really.
I don’t know when I started thinking more in terms of fitness and less in terms of more concrete measurements like pounds and inches. Or what prompted it. I blame running. There’s something about it that has unleashed my inner athlete. Maybe it’s going from being someone who said “I can’t run” to proving myself wrong that did it. It could be that I’ve finally realized what it feels like to set a physical goal, meet it, and exceed it.
It still feels weird to refer to myself as an athlete. I don’t consider myself “sporty” at all, but in reality, I work out every day. I eat like an athlete in that I eat to exercise instead of a dieter who exercises so she can eat more. I obsess more about getting my training in than about every calorie and meal and menu and pound.
Not that I’m training for anything in particular. I have yet to run a race of any length, and I don’t have much interest in it, to be honest. Yet I’m working towards training for a half-marathon. Why? Well, why not? Maybe I will run one someday. Maybe I’ll run a marathon someday. Or maybe I’ll just run because I can.
I don’t obsess as much over how I look, either. I guess when your body continues to stand up to the punishing workouts you put it through every single time, you start to see it as a pretty amazing machine. I’m still fatter than I’d like, but then I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and I stop and look. I still look at myself in the mirror and expect to see a 360 pound person, and when I see collarbones, I laugh.
I know that this is the focus change I’ve been struggling so long to get to. And I imagine that as Fall turns to Winter, the new focus will change gradually as well. Maybe become more fine-tuned into something I can live with long term. The idea of living with obsession over the pounds, or the calories day in and day out was a tiresome one. To get to where the hierarchy of what’s important in this long-term quest has shuffled around a bit is a welcome bit of relief.
I don’t quite know how I got here, though. Practice, I guess. Faking it when I didn’t feel it. Putting one foot in front of the other, and eating that elephant one bite at at time.
The Toes Have It June 2, 2014Posted by J. in Genius.
Tags: afternoon tea, Bilbo Baggins, diet, elevenses, fitness, halfling, hobbit, Lord of the Rings, My Fitness Pal, running, second breakfast, sexy, toenail loss, weight loss
Is there anything sexier than a woman in sandals who is missing two toenails?
Depends on your idea of sexy.
I don’t know exactly what happened or what I did after my two-week hernia hiatus, but within a couple of days of lacing up my sneakers and hitting the pavement, my toenails started to hurt. Specifically, the ones right next to the big toes. The two piggies that stayed home, if you will.
I have no clue what I did. I’ve never had this problem before, and I’m guessing my shoes fit the same way they did three weeks ago. I suspect bad form. When I was first starting to run, I found myself clenching my toes. That’s bad for your feets, apparently. I had to learn to relax my feet and let my toes splay out naturally, but at the time, I wasn’t running very far or for very long stretches. I wonder if, after taking a break, I reverted to clenching again, and because I’m running longer distances for a longer time, in addition to my second toes being as long as my big toes, they just took a beating.
I fear the nails will turn black and fall off eventually. I hope not. I’m consciously correcting my form while I run and keeping them relaxed, but damn. Those fuckers hurt. Not so much during the day when I can walk around barefoot or in sandals. And they don’t hurt inside my running shoes because my toe box is roomy and my socks fit me well. There’s no pain while I run.
But at night. Dear God, at night. Even the weight of the blanket hurts. Or lying in a position where that toe touches the mattress. It wakes me up. I haven’t had a good night sleep in a week because of it.
And you know what? TOTALLY WORTH IT.
I ran my fastest time on my 2.21 mile loop around the village this morning, and it felt fucking fantastic. Toenails be damned, I’m looking forward to running 3.5 tomorrow.
Looking. Forward. To.
I know, right?
I don’t care if I look like Bilbo Baggins in my sandals this summer. I’d rather have the world’s most ganked up feet and be able to run for miles and miles than to have fat, perfectly manicured toes any day.
Oh, and speaking of hobbits, I changed my My Fitness Pal food diary settings to more accurately correct my eating habits.
On days that I run in the morning after putting the kids on the bus, I like to have something light that’s a bit of energy before I start out. And coffee, because my heart doesn’t beat without it. But when I get home, I’m starving. My muscles are screaming at me, “FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, PLEASE FEED ME.”
So I have a second breakfast.
And my journey to the hobbit side has begun…
Stay the Course, or… March 26, 2014Posted by J. in Genius.
Tags: anxiety, body image, depression, diet, exercise, fear, Matthew Inman, plateau, running, self-image, The Oatmeal, weight loss
Well, it’s here. Part of me knew it was inevitable. I have seen other people lose large amounts of weight and drop right down to where they want to be. Sure, it slows as the pounds come off, but it keeps going, the numbers keep falling.
Me? Not so much. I plateau. I am the queen of the plateau. I spend so much time here I’m the Mayor of Plateausville.
I hit this plateau every time I lose weight. It’s right around this length of time and this amount of weight and general pound area. Usually I get a bit closer to 200, but considering I started higher this time, it all comes out in the wash.
By “hitting a plateau” I mean that my weight loss has slowed to the point of nearly stopping. I am not eating more, or less than I have been. My dietary changes have been minor. If anything, my workout intensity has increased, as has my fitness level. It seems impossible that those things would cause me to come to the dieting equivalent of sitting in rush hour traffic, but here we are. The car moves, incrementally, after very long pauses. As you try to relax and listen to some music, but the longer you inch along, the grouchier you become.
I’m trying to be patient, but I’m an Aries, and it’s not my strong suit to start with. But I can talk myself into patience. I can and do frequently remind myself that this is a long haul kind of thing and not a sprint to the finish. There is no finish. The course doesn’t ever really end. I can do that much.
Still, I am having a case of the anxiety/depression attacks that I know stems from the fact that this is where I’ve always dropped out in the past. I get to looking good, to feeling good, and then things just stop. I find myself still working hard, eating right, exercising, but it’s all just to maintain an unacceptable level of fat.
Yes, I consider myself very fat, and for me, it is unacceptable. I’m 220 pounds and that’s at least 70 pounds overweight. I think. Math is hard. I’m wearing a size 14-ish top and 18 bottoms. I know that my physical size isn’t the whole story…not how I look or how much the scale says I weigh. My ultimate goal is to feel good about how I look and feel, whatever that turns out to be.
But my friend Haley asked me the other day if I could be happy if my size turned out to be say, a 16.
The answer is no. I don’t think I can be happy at 200 pounds, mostly because it’s still too fat. I can do better than that. Can’t I?
What if I can’t get there? What if “less fat” is as thin as I get?
What if I do get there? What if I look at myself at 140 pounds and still see fat?
I haven’t been thin since I was in the 3rd grade.
I think a lot of the positive reaction I get is because the change in how I look is so very remarkable. Everyone I know has known me as a Very Fat Person. I don’t think they can imagine me weighing 140 pounds, even though we all know people who weigh that, or less, even. We’re just used to seeing them thin. Me, not so much. Fat is part of who I have always been.
So I sit here at 220 pounds. I’ve lost 1.5 pounds in the last 3 weeks. February’s loss was 4.6 lbs. Even losing a pound a week, that’s 70 more weeks to get to the high end of my weight range. I don’t know that it’ll pick up. I don’t know if I’ll be 200 pounds for the next 6 months. Or six years. Or forever. I was looking forward to the clothes I bought this winter not fitting me come fall. Needless to say, I won’t be tossing them in a bag as soon as (if it ever) warms up.
That thought makes me sad.
I know…I should be looking at it as it’s still losing. I will still get there, eventually. And I’ll have a better chance of keeping it off.
I keep hearing the advice, “Stay the course. You’re doing the right things, just keep going. Don’t be so impatient.”
But what if I’m not doing the right thing anymore? What if my body has changed and it needs something else? More food? Less food? More exercise? Different exercise?
I don’t know how to get through a plateau because I’ve never managed it. I have always gotten so frustrated with working so hard to maintain my unacceptable weight that my brain just caves. I try to do things to shake it loose, and when it doesn’t work, I give up. I figure if I’m going to be fat, I’m going to eat. I’m going to relax and not worry every day about if I can get to the gym or not. Or if this food or that one is bad for me. I want to go to a restaurant and order what I feel like eating, not what “fits into my plan.”
I know that stupid. I know I’m still better off maintaining this weight for the rest of my life than gaining it all back. I get it. I know it. But the way it usually works is you eat a deficit in calories to lose the weight, then to maintain it, you add some calories back in so that your weight levels out.
My weight has leveled out, but the math says I should be losing almost 2 pounds a week. So does this mean I have to eat this little food forever? Maybe that’s the case, and I have to deal with that sad knowledge as well.
I don’t know if this is my body making some adjustments. Maybe my metabolism is shifting in some way. Maybe it’s the running. Since I’ve picked that back up and it’s going well, maybe I’m trading my leg fat for solid muscle. Maybe it’s ramping up my metabolism and I need to eat more. It would explain why I’m always so freaking HUNGRY lately.
Maybe I’ve been eating too many carbs and my body is hanging onto them and turning them to fat.
Maybe it’s too much sugar.
Too much sodium?
I check my food journal and read labels. I’m weeding out the little bits of crap that have drifted back in as I attempt to feel a little more normal at mealtimes. I’m going to add free weights to my workout to build more lean muscle.
Beyond that…I don’t know what to do.
I know I should just keep swimming. But I’m just treading water, and right now, I’m scared to death of drowning. There are days that fear reaches near-panic levels.
And then there are days I feel good. I can run three miles at a go, and I do it once a week. I run every day now, usually only 2 miles though. Easier on the knees. I’ve increased my speed a little bit, and have determined that I probably won’t ever run fast enough to make racing worth it. But that’s okay. Being able to put my sneakers and earbuds on and head out for a run any time I want is plenty, really. I’m not competitive. I just like to do it. It quiets the demons for awhile.
Maybe it’s superficial. Maybe it’s adrenaline and endorphins and serotonin flooding my brain. But I don’t care. I run very fast because I desperately want to stand very still. I run to seek a void. The world around me is so very, very loud. It begs me to slow down, to sit down, to lie down. And the buzzing noise of the world is nothing compared to the noise inside my head. I’m an introspective person, and sometimes I think too much about my job and about my life.
I feed an army of pointless, bantering demons.
But when I run, the world grows quiet. Demons are forgotten, Krakens are slain, and Blerches are silenced.”
Matthew Inman, The Oatmeal, “The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons I Run Long Distances“
I have some pretty clothes and I’m confident that I clean up nice. Still not happy with all the hanging, flabby, saggy, blobby bits, which are getting more and more freakish by the day, but if I keep that shit covered, it’s fine. I can’t find pants to fit because I got an itty bitty waist and a big round butt, but I look good in skirts, so fuck it. Gives me an excuse to buy more sweet shoes.
There are always NSV’s and good days. Days I feel powerful, like I can do anything. There are days that the hard work isn’t all that hard. Sometimes it’s even pretty easy.
And then there are days where I’m acutely aware that my weight is going nowhere fast, and the notion that this level of suck is merely temporary doesn’t bring its usual comfort. ‘Cause what if it’s NOT.
You don’t know that it’s not. I don’t know that it’s not.
I have to stay the course.
Unless I need to change course.
I have no way on earth to know, and I’m scared. And disappointed. And today, I’m very discouraged. And on days like today, the victories have little soothing effect. I have to address the fear and disappointment over being stuck on this plateau. It is a lonely, painful, and demoralizing fight, and I can only pray that it doesn’t last for long, since I don’t know of any practical way to get past it.
The best I can do for today is try to outrun it, if I can.
I Met Someone This Morning October 31, 2013Posted by J. in FYI, Genius.
Tags: coach, inspiration, Mean Jen, motivation, run, runner, running, search engines, SEO, Sprogtoggery, training, website, weight
1 comment so far
Last night was not a great night.
Well, it was a good night. The Red Sox won the World Series, and while I’m not a baseball fan at all, I do have a soft spot for the Sox. And it was way cool to see them win a pennant at home.
No, last night, I had started to unravel the problem with the SEO in my shop.
For the uninitiated, SEO is what makes your web page show up in searches. So if you type in something like “Snow White Baby Booties”, if my SEO is done right and well, this should come up:
Anyway, mine hasn’t been touched because I really don’t know quite how it works, exactly. I’ve read up on it, but it’s kind of like taking a course that you missed the intro class too. You know you don’t know enough to take the class, but you’re not sure what information you’re missing, just that you’re missing…something.
Dealing with some computer stuff reminds me of being back in math class. I loathe math, and it’s because I’ve never really understood how that works, either. I remember doing my homework, reading the book and working out the problems, but not getting what the book was saying. So I struggled. And then I’d get to class and show the teacher and be told it’s wrong. Okay, why is it wrong? And he’d repeat what the book said. And that didn’t help, really, so I’d get frustrated and ask for a different explanation. And I’d try to work out the problem the way the teacher said, only at some point, it just clicked and I knew that there was some important part, some crucial bit of math I must have missed, only I have no idea what so I can’t even ask to have it explained.
That’s how I felt last night. I was overwhelmed and upset by something that should be really easy, but for me is dreadfully hard. Like math.
I went to bed, upset, and knew that I was going for a run this morning.
I started running again. I tried Couch to 5K some months ago, but realized after the first week that I was carrying too much weight still for my knees to handle. I really don’t want to blow out a joint and have to sit it out for weeks while I heal from surgery and get fatter, so I’ve been very careful with not pushing too hard, just hard enough.
But I really want to run. I don’t know why. I never have before. Hell, I’ve faked asthma to get out of running in gym class. (Sorry, Mrs. Nims.) I think it’s because it’s something I’ve never been able to do, and I feel the need to conquer it.
I don’t really like running, to be honest. Not really. It kind of hurts. I don’t really like exercise. If they create a pill that gives the same effect as working out without the sweat and breathing hard, I’m all over that shit like white on rice. In the meantime, I look at it as a challenge of sorts. I’m in a race with myself every day.
A day or two ago, it occurred to me that I look forward to doing my C25K routine. I’m kind of excited to lace on my running shoes and actually, you know, run. Then I get there and wonder for the whole 35 minutes if I’ve lost my fucking mind. It hurts. Hip is pinchy. I’m sweaty and red and trying to focus on keeping a good gait and relaxed shoulders, and pay attention to my breathing… it’s a lot to think about, really. Plus I’m trying to Keep Up With the Kardashians on E! while I’m running, and that’s distracting as hell.
But when I get done, I don’t know if I get that endorphin rush or runner’s high or what the fuck it is, but man, I feel like I can do any damn thing in the world. I might not be fast. I might be unbelievable to look at plodding along in my running tights. But I run.
So, I went to bed last night knowing that this morning is my C25K day and while the run might not be fun, the post-run high will make it so much easier for me to tackle the SEO bullshit. Because I feel strong and powerful and hell, if I can run, I can do any damn thing.
And then it happened. I met someone in the gym today. And she’s TERRIFYING.
Usually when I run, I’m pleased that I can outrun Mean Jen. She just can’t keep up with my awesome and she knows it. So with this C25K program, you run for a bit, then walk for a bit, and eventually in stages, you work up to where the running bits are longer than the walking bits and at the end you’re running with no walking at all. I’m on week 2. I repeated week 1 figuring I’m not in a hurry and didn’t want to push it too hard, but felt after the repeat that I was ready to move on. And I’m doing very well. But I don’t like that it’s a 30 minute workout with only 20 minutes of actual interval training. I want to do more, so when I’m supposed to be cooling down, I keep running for that last bit, usually getting in a couple of extra bits of running.
Well, that little bit at the end is when I got Lady Gaga and Xtina singing in my ears. Those bitches are trying to kill me, I swear to God. Especially that little Aguilera girl. Man, oh man. She’s singing “YOU CAN’T STOP ME” and I’m all “RAAWWWRRRR!” and I boost that speed up and I flat out sprint. I’m not jogging or taking it easy. I’m running like something is chasing me, flat out, full speed. My chest is burning, my legs hurt, and I’m dripping sweat, but I can’t stop. And today I heard a voice in my head, right when I started to think I should slow down before my heart explodes, and she yelled at me, “KICK IT. YOU CAN DO THIS! PUSH THROUGH IT TO THE END! DON’T STOP NOW, MAKE THIS 90 SECONDS YOUR FUCKING BITCH, WOMAN!” And I ran. Shit, I was kind of scared not to.
When I slowed down to do my real cooldown, I think I might have looked around. I was panting, gasping for breath and my lungs were searing. And I smiled to myself as I wiped the sweat out of my eyes.
I think I just met Coach Jen. And there’s a chance she’s scarier than Mean Jen.
Mean Jen makes me want to build a blanket fort where I can eat Cheese Doodles and cry about not being able to do SEO, or because I still can’t buy pants in a regular store.
Coach Jen is ready to punch me in the face if I try to tell her I can’t do something.
I’m still sitting here an hour and a half after I got back from the gym, because I’m under mental orders to first write this blog post down so I don’t forget this shit later, and bookmark a site I found this morning that explains SEO for dummies and school myself properly in how to make this fucking website work, because, goddamn it, I need to be bringing in some cash to pay for my 5K entry fees and to keep me in top-of-the-line running shoes.
Coach Jen is scaring the crap out of me, y’all. I’d say more, but she says I’ve already wasted enough time with the navel gazing and I have fucking work to do.
And she also says I should go shower because I kinda stink.