Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Trying to Figure Out My Body

Saturday was my first day of Week 5 of Couch to 5k. It was rough. Not gonna lie. I did it… but I thought I was gonna die. My positive thinking mantras were only carrying me so far. After I got done with that I got on the steps. I usually do 25-30 minutes on steps on Saturdays. I made it 10 minutes. I was dizzy. I had a headache. I was miserable. And I was done. My determination had reached it's end. I was done. I went home and immediately my sister could tell something was wrong. I told her how I was feeling and she asked if I needed some food. I wasn't particularly hungry, but the dizziness and overall lack of energy was telling me I probably did. So, I had made myself a couple of pieces of toast with peanut butter and honey on it. I wanted something that would be easy on my stomach. But I was thinking I needed something besides just pure carbs. So the peanut butter fit the bill. And then I crashed. I took some ibuprofen and some melatonin and slept for the next 4 hours. Got up, took a shower, and ate again. I was feeling functional by that time. Not quite 100%, but functional. Spent the afternoon running errands. Came home, ate again, kept myself occupied for a few hours and went back to bed (you may want to remember that I work a graveyard shift and had gone straight to the gym after work on Saturday morning). I ate into my exercise calories on Saturday. Which rarely happens, but I think I needed it that day. I personally took the lack of energy and dizziness as a sign I wasn't eating enough.

Sunday is my rest day. I still take a 30 minute walk around the neighborhood, but that's it. And I did okay. Not quite my fastest pace… but certainly nothing slow about it. But, my TOM hit that day and it hit with a vengeance. Killer cramps and by that afternoon, absolute exhaustion. I started to wonder if my dizziness and such from the day before were nothing more than PMS symptoms. Because of the way my schedule works out on Sunday with church meetings and such… I usually have a hard time getting my calories in on Sundays. I really only have one formal meal that day. This was no exception. I finally made myself some bread with peanut butter and honey on it again just before I went to bed just  to get myself up to 1200 calories.

I  was expecting to hit the gym Monday morning and be back to normal after two days of rest. I had a little bit more to eat pre-workout than I normally do, just in case. I did okay through the warm-up and the weights. I started off at a lower intensity on the steps. I wanted to work myself up to it rather than going all out the first round. That was doing pretty well for me, but near the end I was starting to feel tired and a little icky again. So, I cut off the last two rounds of steps and headed for the treadmill to finish off. Yeah… mistake. Started getting dizzy again. I don't think I even made it 10 minutes on the treadmill before I was done. It's frustrating to me. I kind of pride myself on the fact that I "kill it" at the gym. I may not be the fastest or the strongest… but I give it everything I have. And two days in a row of having to cut my workout short is really frustrating to me. But I keep telling myself that this is important to me that I be able to keep working out. And therefore I don't want to do anything stupid that could hurt me. So I tried to tell myself that if was really struggling… it's better to take it easy for a few days now than to push myself too hard that I make myself sick or hurt myself.

I don't know yet what is going on. Is it PMS symptoms and if I just give it a few days it'll go away? Am I really not eating enough? Am I going too hard and I need to take more than my usual rest day?

The symptoms are all consistent with not eating enough. But the symptoms are all consistent with PMS too. In interest of figuring this out… I have changed my MFP goal from losing 2 pounds a week to losing 1.5 pounds a week. That gives me a few extra calories to play with… although I didn't use them on Monday. I figure I'll try upping the calories just a little and see how it does for me. By the end of the week… I'll be past that TOM and should have a better idea of what's going on.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Make Your Legs Your B*tch!

This completely relates back to my most recent post about finding out what you are capable of.
Things I've learned since working out #3327: It is a very emotional thing when you realize exactly how powerful your mind is. When you realize your mind can totally control your body.

On Saturday, I did my first day of Week 4 in C25K. It called for 3 and 5 minute runs with only 90 seconds or 2.5 minutes of walk time afterward (respectively).

Sooo... funny story. You know I love to find little gems on Pinterest… especially weight loss or fitness related. Well, I found one that said something like "I took my inner bitch out for a run." Yeah… in my mind that totally got convoluted. And on Saturday morning when I was pulling out all my mantras to get me through the runs… I could have sworn that what that really said was "I made my legs my bitch and took them out for a run." I was really quite disappointed when I got back on Pinterest  and found out what it really said!

But I'll tell you… my convoluted version worked. In my mind, I kept talking to my body like that… like it was my bitch and it was going to do whatever the hell I told it too. And it was gonna LIKE it! And you know… I made it through. I kept going... keeping my times in sync with the program the whole time. It was a challenge… for sure! It's never been easy. But each time I've been able to do it.

I started thinking about that on my way home from the gym that morning. I realized that with the times set up that way… That morning, (if I didn't count my 5 minute warm up and cool down) I had officially spent more time jogging than I had walking. That blew my mind. Who would have ever freaking guessed that I would be doing that? I am still over 250 pounds (252.5 as of last weigh in). If I would have listened to my sister, I wouldn't have even started jogging until I was about 20-30 pounds lighter than I am now. Because according to her… running is hard on your knees when you are this big. But anyway… as I was saying, it blew my mind. I would never have guessed I'd be doing that right now. But I did. And I can assure you the only reason I was able to is because my brain was calling the shots. I try to zone out and get lost in the music I'm listening to. I try to pay attention to the shows on TV screens (they've got closed captioning on, so I can follow along even though I'm not plugged into it). But I swear, the longest I've been able to run so far without looking at my time to see how much longer I have… is 20 seconds. And each time, I can hardly believe it. It's only been 20 seconds? Surely that had to at least be a full minute! How the hell am I supposed to go for 5 minutes!? But I dig in. And I make my legs my bitch. And I finish those 5 minutes. Not because it was just that easy that my body just felt like it could run forever. Not even that I managed to get lost in a TV show and the time went by so quickly. No, I did it because I freaking made myself do it! And realizing that… that my mind was powerful enough to totally control my body… was amazing. And I almost started crying right there in the car on my way home (and I don't live very far from the gym!).

I shared my feelings with my fitpals on MFP and one them made this comment…. "you have lived inside a body that now has changed, not by itself, but by you. And now you are exceeding beyond anything you probably thought possible… I'm sure I would be a bit emotional as well. Let it out…" I thought her comment was so beautiful and so poignant. "you have lived inside a body that has now changed, not by itself, but by you." There is something spiritual about that to me. I couldn't help but wish I would have discovered this 7 years ago. I could have saved myself so much heartache!

But as it is… I will remember this now. And move forward. (Trying really hard) Remembering that I can do whatever the hell I decide to. Remembering that it is ME that calls the shots. Not my body. I can't go back 7 years ago and change that. But I can move forward now remembering that great truth and make even more progress. Marathon, anyone? :-)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Finding Out What We Are Capable Of

As you know… I was getting myself pretty freaked out by week 3 of Couch to 5k. I had managed to talk myself down to the point that I could go and do by the time my shift had ended and it was time to go to the gym… but those nerves remained as I got on the treadmill and started my workout.

But I did it. I had to pull out all my "don't give up" mantras that I have seen on Pinterest to get me through those 3 minutes jogs… But I did it. And that was pretty incredible to me. It was a huge confidence booster. It kinda makes me think I can do this after all.

Going back to Pinterest… a lot of my best mantras come from that little gem. Just like the internet in general… there is a lot of crap you can find… but there is a lot of good stuff too.

And my experience with being able to do week 3 after all has taught me a couple of things.

It's Not Just Physical

I tend to get frustrated with the mental part of weight loss. And overall, I do believe it's overrated. You do not need to "transform" emotionally or mentally in order to lose weight. You need to eat at a deficit. It's that simple. I get that those emotional transformations may occur as we go through this process. But it's touted as a necessary part of the experience. No. There is no "emotional weight" that you have to shed in order for the scale to go down. You don't need to fundamentally change. You are just fine the way you are. All you need to do is eat at a deficit. Emotional growth is great and it can help make your  life both during and after weight loss even better. But it should not be used as an excuse as to why you aren't losing weight. They are not intrinsically linked. Weight loss does not have to be an huge emotional ordeal!

However… one thing I have learned because of Saturday's workout…

If I would have just listened to my body… my legs would have given out after one minute. If not earlier. So I had to kick my brain into gear and make myself keep going. I had to tell myself that it wasn't that my legs were giving out… it was that my mind was giving up. So I had to change my mind and push it to keep going. To "run with your mind" instead of my legs. Because my legs would have stopped a lot earlier if I didn't make up my mind that I was going to do this. In fact… I think I heard somewhere that your body is capable of doing so much more than we let it do. Because our mind will give out before our legs actually will. That's what I like about shows like Biggest Loser and Extreme Weight Loss. There is a lot of crap spouted on there about the "emotional weight" aspect that drives me crazy. But it does show what we are capable of if we just decide to do it. On Extreme Weight Loss you see people running marathons at their six month milestone. Are you freaking kidding me? After only six months? And only 3 months of training? That's not possible! Except that it is. If we push ourselves to do it. The only thing that appeals to me about those shows is those trainers who refuse to listen to the crying and the falling off the treadmill and even the puking. And they push them to their limits. Their real limits… not the limits they have set for themselves in their mind. And that's the only reason I would want to do one of those shows… because I want a someone who will help me do that. Will push me beyond what my mind thinks my limits are and show me exactly what I'm capable of. I've decided I really do want to do a marathon someday. But in my mind that's at least a year or two away. I mean… I'm still trying to get through C25k… right? But is it? What if I convinced myself that it was possible and I simply pushed myself to train for it… Right now?! What would be truly possible if I only believed and pushed myself? Just a thought.

The second thing I learned from Saturday's workout…

You LIE like a rug!

This kind of goes along with the first one. We all have that voice in our heads that doesn't think we can do something. Whether it's jogging for 3 minutes or whether it's losing a huge amount of weight. But that voice LIES! You can do it. Honestly… I would never have guessed that 8.5 months in… I would have lost 126 pounds. I would have thought it was impossible. But here I am. That voice is a lying slut! Because when you refuse to listen to that part of your brain and just go to work… you might just surprise yourself. That voice that said I wouldn't be able to run 3 minutes? LIAR!

Believe in yourself. Push yourself. Push yourself just a touch further than you think you can. Find out what you are capable of.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

A Conversation With Myself

Ever since I started walking 8.5 months ago… the plan was to gradually increase my speed as my cardiovascular fitness improved. The idea was that eventually I would get to where I could jog just as easily as I was then walking.

Over time I became aware of Couch to 5k… a program to ease people into running and prepare them to run a 5k in 9 weeks. Since a 5k was on my "bucket list," this interested me. I started looking up information about this and I liked what I saw. I gradually worked up my walking speed so I was comfortable with a brisk walk. Once I got to that point, I knew it was time to start C25k. But I kept putting it off. Partly because I was nervous and partly because my sister had tried to convince me that running at my weight wasn't wise. And that fed into my nervousness even more. I kept wanting to do it… but I was scared. Finally one day, I decided I was sick of just wanting to and not doing anything about it. So, I tried my own walk/jog intervals. I revisited the C25k running plan and found out exactly what the first week consisted of. Yeah… I was gonna have to work into that. 

So, I continued with my own walk/jog intervals… working up to where I felt like I was ready to tackle C25k. 

Today I am scheduled to start week 3. And I'm scared again! The 90 seconds of jogging in week 2 just about kicked my trash. Now they want me to jog for 3 minutes?! I've gotta do it. But I'm scared. I don't know if I'll be able to make it. 

I don't know why that scares me. So what if I can't make it? What do I think is going to happen? I guess my fear is if I can't do it… then what do I do? Giving up is not an option… But I don't know where to go from here if it doesn't work out. I guess I create my own intervals again? Maybe go for 2 minutes? Then 2.5? 

Okay… this isn't working. I'm getting myself all worked up while I type this. 
Okay… breathe Shanon. 
Step back and think here for a minute.

What is the goal? The intent. Go back… way back. Back to the beginning, before 5k's even entered your consciousness. The goal is to improve your cardiovascular fitness. That was almost as important to you as losing weight. 
So, what does that mean to you? 
That means getting to the point where I can do physical activities without getting winded. 
What kind of physical activities?
Well… anything I wanted to do. I wanted to be able to walk at a good fast pace and not only be able to talk… but be able to sing (like I could in Cincinnati). I want to be able to go up and down stairs without feeling like I'm going to die. I want to be able to go on walks/hikes with my family and be able to keep up with them. I want to be able to go sightseeing and walk around malls and expo and feel good doing it… without my hips and back killing me 5 minutes into it. 
Okay. How are those things going for you so far? 
Well… better. I still don't feel like I can sing when I'm walking briskly… But I can breathe and talk. I can do normal steps without feeling like I'm going to die. If I'm running them or doing them for workouts… they get to me after a couple of flights, but I can pretty much do what I was hoping for in the beginning. I haven't been hiking with the family… but I can easily keep up with them walking. In fact, I can usually out-walk them. I haven't spent a heck of a lot of time sightseeing or visiting malls or expos lately… but I can spend time on my feet without my hips and back hurting. In fact… walking is usually when my back does the best. 
Good. It sounds like you're getting awfully close to achieving what you hoped for in the beginning.
Well… yeah. 
So. Why are you freaking out?
Because now I've added running a 5k to the list of things I want to be able to do and what if I can't do it?
Is that something you have to do today?
Well… no.
Back 8.5 months ago… could you do any of those things you just said you wanted to be able to do?
So what did you do then?
Well, I worked on it. Started where I could and just worked on it.
So… now you want to run a 5k… but you can't do that right now.
So…? Why don't you do the same thing you've been doing for the past 8 months? That seems to have worked pretty well for you.
Meaning, you start where you can and work on it.
That's what I'm doing.
So what's the question then?
What if I can't do the next step?
What's the next step?
Week 3 of the program. Jogging 3 minutes. 
I'm not seeing the problem here. Why can't you do the same thing you've been doing? Start where you are and work on it?
I guess.
And besides… have you tried it?
Tried what?
Jogging for 3 minutes.
Well… no. Not really. I haven't specifically tried to do it for that long. 
So how do you know you can't?
Well what? You're assuming?
Kind of.
Assuming that because 90 seconds was hard for you that you won't be able to do 3 minutes?
Wasn't 1 minute hard for you the first week?
But you still moved on to week 2 okay?
So… try it. Maybe you'll be fine.
But what if I'm not?
Then start where you are and work on it!  Haven't you learned anything in the past 8.5 months? Haven't you learned that you are capable of doing hard things? Haven't you learned that what hurts now will someday be your warm up?
So, what you are so stinkin' afraid of?
What if I fail?
Come on… you know the answer to that. What would you tell anybody else?
(sigh) You only fail when you give up.
And you're not doing that, are you?
You're not?
No. Giving up is not an option. 
Therefore, you cannot fail. Isn't that true?
I guess.
You guess?
(sigh) No, it's true. 
You don't sound like you really believe yourself.
No. I believe it.
Then tell yourself that you cannot fail.
I cannot fail.
Believe it.
I do.
I'm not convinced you do.
I cannot fail.
Still not convinced.
I cannot fail!
Getting there.
I can't. I won't. 
Ahh. I like that. Say that second one again.
I won't fail.
Convince me.
I won't fail. I cannot and I will not. Failure is not an option.
But what if you can't do it?
Then I keep trying. And someday it will be my warm up.

Okay. I feel better now. I have to do that sometimes. It doesn't always work… but I think I'm okay now. Deep breath. Okay. Now go workout!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

My Story… My Secret

So many people care what people think of them. They don't like going to the gym because they worry that people will be judging them because they are overweight. I have a dear friend who actually underwent gastric bypass because she was afraid her nieces and nephews would be embarrassed by her. There are people on MFP who won't even admit to how much weight they need to lose, because of what others will think about them.

I get it. I really do. I spent most of my life not only caring what other people thought of me… but caring so much that I actually lived for them. For the first 28-ish years of my life… I did not write my own life story. I took dictation. I lived the way I thought everybody else wanted me to live. I did what was expected of me by everybody else. I suppose I have to say that I chose to live that way… nobody ever held a gun to my head, but I never felt like it. I never felt like my life was my choice. And in way, I felt like there was a gun to my head. I felt like I had to be perfect if I was going to be loved. And love is everything to me. EVERYTHING! The threat of losing love was as terrifying, if not more so, as if someone had actually put a gun to my head. So, I did what I thought was expected of me… by my parents, my siblings, my friends, my church.

I was desperate for some form of control over my own life. I was desperate to make a choice that was just mine. But I had to be careful. Because if I did anything that anybody didn't approve of… I would lose their love. At least that's how I felt. Long around the age of 15 (I think?)… I made a choice. I started engaging in a behavior that I knew nobody would approve of. Not my parents, friends or church. And I did it in secret, so nobody would ever know that I wasn't that perfect little girl. The first time was probably more curiosity than anything. But it quickly became a control thing. It was the one thing in my life that was just me. A choice that I made. And it continued. And it escalated. There were numerous times when guilt would get to me for what I was doing. And I would stop… for a time. But deep down… I clung to it. It was the one thing that was just me. That was my own choice. And I loved it for that reason. Over the years it escalated into an addiction.

I decided that maybe it wasn't that big of a deal. It was just going to be part of my life. Which might have been okay. Except I started hating that I was living a lie. Not just with this… but in general. My whole life had been lie. And I hated it. I resented it. I resented everybody in my life… because it was for them I was living it.

I finally got to the point where I was done. Just DONE! I was sick of living for everybody else. I was sick of not knowing who the heck I really was. I was sick of caring what everybody thought of me. I was sick of having to be someone I wasn't in order to be loved. So… I did what any normal person does… I rebelled. If I knew my parents, friends or church would have disapproved… I was willing to try it. Don't get me wrong… it was never major. I just did the same things I knew other people my age were doing. I was hurting. I was angry. And I was miserable.

And that made me even angrier. That I had been so brainwashed about what was acceptable for so long that I couldn't even be a normal person. And as you can imagine… the addiction only intensified during this period.

After one particularly horrible night… that followed a particularly horrible week… I reached a breaking point. I was miserable. I was screwed up. And I needed help. I reached out to the only person I knew… a religious leader. It wasn't that I was particularly wanting to "get right with God" or to come back to church…I just knew I needed help and I seriously didn't know where else to turn.

What started on a desperate Sunday afternoon continued for more than 5 years. I had been lucky that that religious leader (he was called a "bishop") somehow understood what I was saying and knew that what I was dealing with went a lot deeper than just getting right with God. And that in fact… getting back to church was really the last thing I needed to be working on. And I was lucky he was patient enough and stubborn enough to stick with me as I worked through all my crap.

I can't even begin to describe what those 5 years were like for me. I thought I had hit rock bottom on that Saturday night before I first approached my bishop. I learned in the 5 years that followed that, like Rachel said on Friends, "there's rock bottom, there's 50 feet of crap. Then there's me." When I thought I could sink no lower… the bottom would drop out from under me. It was an all-consuming process. I spent hours writing in journals trying to work through all this. I isolated myself from everyone. I would meet with that bishop every week. Sometimes as often as twice a week. And this continued for 5 years. I went through a pain I can't describe. I shed more tears than I thought a human body could produce. I know what it was like to know that the worst, the darkest, the most terrifying demon I would ever face was the person I saw in the mirror. I know what it's like to hate yourself. At least 5 times a day I would say "I give up." And every time I said it, I knew I couldn't. I know what it's like to take two steps forward and one step back. And I know what it's like to feel like the way it was for me was one step forward, two steps back. I wondered time and time again why I was doing this if it was making me so miserable. I remember feeling like I was in an even worse place than I was when I started. And I wondered why I even bothered to try. The bishop actually asked me that question too. And the only thing I could say was "if this is where I'm at when I'm actually trying… imagine where I'd be if I wasn't." And I kept going. Finally after 5 years, I got to a point where I was actually feeling good about myself. Where I was learning who I really was and learning how to make my actions consistent with that… no matter what other people thought. Things didn't go perfectly from that point on… but I started to learn to monitor myself and how I was feeling and the way things were going, so that I could fix things or ask for help before I got to that point of rock bottom. I learned that honesty (in word and deed) trumped all for me. I learned that if I was going to lose love by being honest… by being who I truly was... it wasn't really love to begin with. I learned to live my life and not the life I thought was expected of me.

Now fast forward about 2 years even beyond that. That was when I decided to start losing weight. It never occurred to me to be self-conscious at the gym. I didn't care what anybody thought of me. And MFP was the one place where I knew I could be absolutely straight forward about my weight. I also knew that I could do this. If I could lose weight at the pace of 2 pounds a week… I'd lose the weight I wanted in 2 years. Two years? That was nothing! Even if I slowed down to only a pound a week… that was still only 4 years. I could do that! I knew that no workout induced pain or hunger induced pain could even come close to matching the pain I had already experienced. A different kind of pain to be sure… but pain nonetheless. I knew I could keep this up long term… no matter how many times a day I wanted to give up. I also knew that when the time came, I would be able to maintain it…. because I had been doing exactly that for the past 2 years. Losing weight is not the hardest thing I've ever done. Not by far. In fact… losing weight is child's play compared to what I've been through!

And honestly… it's been a little over 8 months… and not once have I said "I give up." Not once have I thought this was hard. My sister has compared me to a crocodile… because I bite down and then I don't  let go. People have found me inspirational. People message me and want to know my secret. And I don't understand why. It's just me. I'm not doing anything special. Nothing that hundreds of thousands of people don't do everyday. But maybe that is my secret… that this is not a big deal to me. That I don't waste time caring what people think. And that I knew from the very beginning that I could do it. So I do it. And I keep doing it.

I will succeed because I'm crazy enough to believe I can.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Take That, Holidays!

The holiday season is officially behind us. It starts with Halloween and it doesn't stop until NOW! I enjoyed being with my family. I really enjoyed the time off from work. But I am glad to be digging out from under the mountain of food that all the neighbors brought over. Why is it that food is the go-to neighbor gift? And why is it always extremely high calorie and low nutrition?

I was so grateful that one of my friends brought me over a loaf of whole wheat bread and a bottle of honey. It was brilliant and it was perfect. I so appreciated that thoughtfulness of him thinking just a little bit and bringing me something that I could  truly enjoy and that would be in line with my goals, rather than just going with the typical plate of cookies or candy that everybody else gives. And it didn't cost any more money. It just took a little bit of thought! But it was so completely in line with him and the kind of relationship we have. I didn't have to say anything to him (even indirectly) or ask for it. He just knew… because he knows me. And he acted.

Sorry. Sidetrack. I'm also glad to be back into a routine. I am such a creature of habit. And I worked very hard to make sure that I created a routine for myself that would help me keep things going. Because I'm such a creature of habit, I get nervous when I break routine. Either through holiday or travel (in this case… both!). I always worry whether or not I'll be able to get back into my routine again. I try the best I can while I'm away to find a way to keep into routine. New Years Eve Day was a classic example. I was away from home… away from the gym. It was snowy and bitterly cold outside. What was I going to do? I pulled out my sisters step stool and started doing steps. When I started getting worn out from that… I jogged in place. Then I would do steps again. I tried my sisters stationary bike… which only served to remind me once again how much I hate stationary bikes. But I kept moving and kept my heart rate up for 45 minutes. When I got back home the next day (New Years Day), I drove past the gym even before I went home to see what their hours were for the day. They were open but only till 7 pm. So I went home, unloaded my car, got something to eat, and changed into my workout clothes and went back to the gym and did my typical Thursday workout. Throwing myself back into my routine before laziness or complacency could set in.

And tonight… I was glad to see my efforts paid off. A loss of 3.5 pounds to put me at 259, which is 122 pounds lost. I believe my exact words were… "I freaking rock!"