Meeting Goals…or, Being Brave Instead of Vague

I’m eight weeks into my transformation/weight loss journey and things are going remarkably well. After having several meltdowns and moments (ok, ok…days) where I wanted to throw my hands in the air and eat my feelings, I think I’m finally past all of the hysterics. And, I’m ecstatic to report that I have surpassed a weight loss goal!

I began doing Weight Watchers again about two weeks ago after hitting a weight loss plateau on my previous plan. Don’t get me wrong, the plan that my FES (Fitness Extraordinaire Sister) put me on was great and it helped me lose about ten pounds in a week’s time, but after some time, I felt it to be restrictive and after about six weeks of following the plan (albeit with cheats) and working out five days a week, I still wasn’t losing any weight. So, I decided to give ol’ WW another go of it and see what would happen. What happened was I started losing weight again! I weighed in on Tuesday and was astonished that I finally surpassed a weight loss goal; it was a small goal, but a goal nonetheless.

I realize that I’ve been rather vague about my weight loss thus far, never actually mentioning a number. Part of that is because this journey is intensely personal to me. Part of it is because stating a weight that I’m not proud of makes me self-conscious. And part of it is because actually stating my weight to an audience of people is a daunting and scary task.  But after thinking about it, we’re all friends here, so here goes nothing. I’ll start at the beginning.  When I started this journey, I was a whopping 238 pounds (I’m only 5’5”). Somehow along the way, I’d eaten my way to an unhealthy and uncomfortable weight. I became increasingly self-conscious about my looks and downright uncomfortable in my own skin. I wasn’t happy with the me that I’d become. This is why I decided to start this journey. I want to be a more confident, healthy version of me. I want to feel good and look better.

So, now that that big matzo ball is out there, I can happily say that I’ve dieted and exercised my way to 224 pounds. That’s a fourteen pound loss since April and I’m quite proud of myself. I’ve been trying not to look at the big picture when it comes to how much weight I’d actually like to lose because it makes me feel like I may never achieve that goal.  I find that it’s the small victories that make being on the weight loss journey bearable. I think breaking a big weight loss goal of 80 pounds into smaller, more achievable goals of perhaps five to ten pound increments helps. Hell, I even celebrate each one pound loss.

Different things work for different people and I believe one of the big hurdles people face when decided that they need to make a change and start the process of losing weight is to figure out what works best for them. Some people like working with a trainer at the gym, while some people need just a little bit of guidance when it comes to working out. As far as dieting goes, some people need a very restrictive set of rules when it comes to diet (a forbidden list and an allowable list of foods), and some people need a little more wiggle room when it comes to diets because they end up going home at the end of the day feeling deprived and end up in a pool of their own tears.  In my case, I hate going to the gym, but I do it because my personal trainer sister told me to. And because I’ve started to see results.  I go and I sweat intensely (as I like to say, I sweat like a man) for 45 minutes a day, five days a week. As for diet, for me, I need wiggle room. I need to be allowed wine and treats and fruit…otherwise it’s me that ends up feeling deprived and crying hysterically at the end of the day, feeling utterly hopeless and like I’ll never achieve the big goal that I’ve set for myself. Now that I think I’ve got what works for me figured out, all I need to do is to keep plugging away at it and see where I am in another week’s time.

What Do I Want?…or, Weddings & Facebook Posts Make Me Think

I have a friend from college that I keep up with on Facebook who recently made a post that has made me pause and think.  She’s a well-educated, well traveled, attractive woman who comes from a good family, owns her own home and has two fur babies that she thinks the world of. But this lovely woman, who I’ll refer to in this post simply as C made a Facebook post recently about how she would like children, despite being childless and still single at 32 years of age. In typical fashion, I had to respond to her post with an uplifting message about how being childless isn’t necessarily a bad thing; being child-free, she has the opportunity to do what she wants, when she wants to do it and doesn’t have to worry about lugging her child/children with her along with bags filled with all of their accoutrements. She never has to worry about making arrangements for anyone to watch kids in order for her to be able to do anything, and best of all, she is free to travel unhindered whenever she likes.

But, I’ll admit, her post got me to thinking. Well, if I’m honest, it was her post and the fact that the weekend prior to reading it, I’d attended the wedding of a long time friend.  I’m 31. I’m single, and seem to always fall into the pattern of single, not single, single, continue on ad nauseum. The truth of the matter is that at 31 years old, I’m not entirely certain what it is that I want. Of course, I’d like to meet someone who meshes well with me and who would be a good partner, but do I ever really want to get married again? And kids? Do I want kids?

In theory, I think marriage is a good idea. The main idea is that you meet someone who is your equal, your partner and your friend and you marry them to pair up and forever be linked. But I’ve done the marriage thing once, and it didn’t work out so good for me. Granted, I think when I got married, I had a skewed view of what marriage was going to be like. Which was weird because I’d been living with the guy that I married and I come from a family with two parents who are still married and, I believe, have set a good example of what marriage is. Also, I married a lying bastard and so maybe I should open my mind to the possibility of pairing up with someone who doesn’t possess that character flaw.  The other aspect of marriage that makes me iffy is something that I’ve actually discussed with my dad. We as humans are still animals, and I think the concept of “forever” is tough for us to grasp. So, when we promise another person that we’ll be together forever, I think a lot of people don’t think about how hard being with someone until you die is actually going to be. Think about it: you go to bed with the same person every night and you wake up next to the same person every morning. That’s tough. That takes serious commitment.

When I allow myself to think about it, I struggle with the concept of having kids. I recently went away for a few days with one of my oldest friends and her little girl and it became evident that I simply don’t have the patience that having a child/children entails. Other reasons that parenthood might not be in the cards for me:

1)      I  value my sleep. And, if I don’t get enough of said sleep, I’m a real force to be reckoned with.

2)      I have a rather short fuse when it comes to smart mouthed kids. I’m afraid I’d beat a kid mercilessly if I was put in the position.

3)      I like to do what I want, when I want to do it. And I like being able to go where I want when the urge strikes. I like to do this unencumbered.

4)      The idea of being responsible for anyone other than my self and my dog scares the hell out of me.

5)      Kids are pretty gross. They pick their noses, spit out chewed food if they decided they don’t like it and are incapable of wiping their own bums for a good period of time.

6)      I’m afraid my child would be either over fed or under fed. How does one know exactly how much to feed one’s child? There are no directions on the side of the food bag for this.

7)      How does anyone ever know what size clothes their kid wears? My kid would perpetually wear ill-fitting clothes. Or trash bags.

8)      Kids are expensive. They always need something.

9)      I like peace and quiet and kids talk a lot. Like all the time. Kids are noisy, tiny little people who always can think of something to say.

10)   I like to use colorful language. I like to say the words fuck, shit and goddamnit a lot. Some people believe that you can’t say any of my favorite words around kids because they’ll instantly repeat them in the most unfortunate circumstances.

11)   Having a child requires having sex with someone who likes you. Or at least can tolerate you long enough to have sex with you. Or, if neither of those are an option, it requires having an expensive procedure. At this time, I don’t like anyone enough to have sex with them or have the money for said expensive procedure. This alone rules out having children.

 

Sure, sure, I know people say that when they have kids, things just come naturally. You’re able to magically know how much to feed them, what size clothes they wear and you develop this weird ability to totally tune out your noisy little gremlin while they mercilessly chatter away in the back seat on a long car drive. I’m told that somehow, some way, you’re able to afford said child once it arrives. I’m not really sure I actually believe any of this.

 

Now, with all of that said, I do actually turn into a pile of unrecognizable mush when I see a baby. I do love babies. I think I love them for a very few, select reasons:

1)      They’re usually cute/pretty tiny little people who wear clothes that make them cuter/prettier.

2)      They can’t talk back.

3)      As long as they don’t have a load in their pants or have recently vomited all over themselves, I usually like the way babies smell.

4)      When you hold someone else’s baby, you get to give it back.

Something in me says that if I ever meet “the right” guy, I’ll know whether or not I ever want to entertain the idea of marriage again, or the possibility of having children. But, the logical half of me says that I should have all of this figured out on my own before I meet anyone. Does everyone have this internal struggle on these issues, or is it just me? When someone asks me “Do you ever want to have kids?” or “Do you want to get married again?” should my response come from my gut; should it be an immediate, never hesitant, definitive yes or no? I’m not quite there yet, but I think with time and more thought, I’ll have a better idea of what exactly it is that I want when it comes to two of the biggest decisions of adulthood.

I Did It!…or, I’m Starting To See Changes

I did it. I achieved what I believed to be the impossible. It started small…and turned into a huge accomplishment. My last blog post, I wrote about how I was finally able to stay on the stair climber (AKA The Beast) for a total of thirty minutes, climbing for fifteen minutes then stopping for a moment and continuing on for another fifteen minutes. Well, this past weekend (as I type this, I’m grinning a grin so big it hurts) I was able to climb for thirty minutes straight!  And then something even bigger happened. On Monday, I climbed my way onto The Beast and kept going, past the thirty minute mark all the way to forty-five minutes! I’ll be totally honest, I don’t kick up the speed. I keep my hands on the heart rate monitor handles and watch my heart rate, trying to keep it within the fat burning range, so slow and steady is my style on this machine. But slow and steady is what got me through forty-five minutes of heavy breathing and sweat and wishing I was at home on the couch. When I was done, I was disgustingly sweaty. Seriously sweaty. Like my whole shirt was a sweat stain. I had sweat dripping from my hair, down my face and into my eyes. But damnit, I did it! Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I could stay on that machine and keep moving for that period of time. Never.  Because it’s hard.  And because it hurts. But I did it. And now I know I’m stronger than I thought I was and have way more determination than I thought I had (because I was ready to get off that machine about five minutes into it!). And do you know what I did yesterday? I forced myself to attempt it again, and I climbed for another forty minutes.

I don't know if the stair climber will ever be considered my "warm up", but I'll stick with it!

I don’t know if the stair climber will ever be considered my “warm up”, but I’ll stick with it!

I’m now in week six of my transformation. I call it a transformation, not a diet because I am changing: the way that I eat has changed and my relationship with food is slowly changing. Sure, I still want ice cream and cake and pizza and wine and all of the crap that I was allowing myself on a regular basis. I won’t lie and say that I don’t occasionally indulge and allow myself those things, but the frequency and the amount of any food I eat has changed drastically. I want a better me more than I want the food, which is why I live on a steady diet of grilled chicken and field greens and veggies. It isn’t fun. And it isn’t easy. But I’m doing it. Another big change is my activity level; I went from literally doing nothing, to spending forty-five minutes a day, five days a week at the gym. That’s a huge change. I still can’t say that I “love” working out, but I tell myself that it’s a necessity, so every day after work, that’s where I am, pushing forward and imagining myself a whole lot littler as I huff and puff away on the stair climber. After four weeks of not seeing any progress on the scale, I’ve had very minor weight loss over the last two weeks. I’ve decided to take each one pound loss as a victory rather than thinking You’ve only lost a fucking pound and you’ve been killing yourself at the gym and eating rabbit food!? Ok, ok, I sometimes think that…but then I tell myself this will take time and I suck it up and move on. The major things I’m noticing six weeks into this journey is the way I look naked and the way my clothes fit. My body is changing! Clothes are starting to become too big! I’ll take those changes with a smile and keep on keepin’ on! I’ve decided to set little goals for myself and crush those little goals, one at a time until I get to my major goal. I’m realizing that in order for me to get to my big goal, I’m going to have to stick to this new way of eating and living for an extended period of time – that there is no overnight fix. And I know myself: I burn out and lose interest in things and move onto the next thing that is shiny and new and peaks my interest. I’ve just decided that this time around, that isn’t going to happen. So, everyday, I’m going to remind myself that I have to keep going until I meet the big goal and transform myself into the person who I want to be.

Seeing Progress…or, Achieving Milestones at the Gym

It really is something special to achieve an unknown fitness goal. Over the last several weeks, I’ve been killing myself at the gym, forcing myself to workout hard in an effort to aid in my weight loss goals; I walk through the gym door with a little bit of dread every day, wondering Am I going to be able to push myself hard enough? Will what I’m about to do actually help me to lose the weight? Rereading the last two sentences, I realize that I’m putting a tremendous amount of pressure on myself for something as silly as a gym workout. But anyway, I digress…

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been forcing myself to once again tackle The Beast, the ever dreaded stair climber machine.  When I worked with a trainer back in 2012, I worked on this machine and hated every minute of it, but was so proud of myself when I was able to increase my time on the machine to twenty minutes. So, this time around, the first time I approached the machine, I did so in the women’s only area of the gym. I wanted to sweat and curse under my breath and make strained faces only in front of my fellow female members. I believe the first time I tackled The Beast, I was able to do about ten minutes before feeling so exhausted, winded and sweaty that I simply couldn’t do it anymore. As the past couple of weeks have gone on, I’ve challenged myself to gradually increase my time, pushing myself a little harder each time. Ten minutes turned into twelve, and twelve turned into fifteen. And then, one day, fifteen turned into twenty. The next day, I thought I’d push myself a little harder and try for twenty-five minutes; alas, I hit my limit at twenty-two minutes and went onto the next machine to complete my forty-five minutes of cardio. But then, something magical happened. Wednesday, I surpassed my goal of twenty-five minutes. I climbed onto The Beast in the main area of the gym (onlookers be damned, they’d have to watch me grimace and listen to me inhale and exhale deeply) and began climbing. I was able to climb for fifteen minutes before pausing my workout to grab a quick drink of water and catch my breath. Feeling disgustingly sweaty and hot, I then began again, climbing and climbing and climbing until I reached a goal that I never thought I’d actually reach. I climbed for a total of THIRTY minutes on The Beast! As I watched the numbers blip from 29:55…29:56…29:57…29:58…29:59…I smiled. I smiled and inhaled and exhaled deeply… and then I immediately hit the big red Stop button on the machine. I had done it! I’d climbed for THIRTY minutes! I descended the stairs of the machine, inhaler and water bottle in hand, with elation. I did it. I did it and I lived!

The Beast

The Beast

Then, something even more impressive happened yesterday. I did it again. That’s right: I climbed on The Beast for another thirty minutes. And you know what? I might even try for another thirty today. At first, I never imagined I’d be able to work on that machine for an extended period of time because…well, because I’m not exactly in shape. But now? It’s kind of like a game. A really painful, sweaty, curse-inducing game called How Long Can I Do This Today?

The longer I force myself to go to the gym, the more I realize that all of the work is paying off. If I hadn’t forced myself to at least try The Beast a couple of weeks ago, I would never have accomplished thirty minutes on that ridiculously sadist machine. Granted, I still loathe working out, but now I realize that it’s working. I’m able to work harder without feeling out of breath, clothes are starting to fit a little differently and I’m starting to get comments about looking different at home and at work. Now, I just need to be able to keep up the momentum and continue to force myself to do cardio. Ugh. Cardio.

Get Off Your Ass…Or, Giving Running Another Shot

Yesterday, I ran for the first time in months. Well, it wasn’t so much a run as it was a walk-run. I woke up feeling like a slug; I’ve done nothing physical in months and felt like it was time to get off my ass and move. I downloaded an app on my phone called Running for Weightloss that was recommended to me by a friend (who also happens to be the author of the blog Vegan Mostly (http://www.veganmostly.blogspot.com). The app eases you into running with walking interspersed with short bursts of running, a lot like the Couch to 5K app that I used last year.

It was abundantly clear about three-quarters of the way through Day 1 that it is time for me to get back to the gym on a regular basis; any stamina that I previously had for running is gone (not that I ever had that much of, but I had more than I do now). I was so pleased with myself after I’d finished and felt such a sense of accomplishment. It felt good to move, to do something physical, to be out of breath.

Today however, is another matter. To say I’m sore is an understatement! Everything hurts: my legs, my hips, my abs. Moving today has been a challenge. But, I’m taking the discomfort as a sign that I did something good yesterday! Running isn’t something that I particularly enjoy. In fact, last year when I started the Couch to 5K program, there were days that I downright hated it. But now, I’m willing to give it another shot and see if it’ll help me reach my health goals. I perused Pinterest for some inspiration and ran across this blog http://m.blogher.com/i-am-fat-runner. I’ve also run across other blogs that focus on “fat runners”. While I hate that term…the fact of the matter is that there are people out there that run who are not long and lanky. And I am decidedly not long and lanky. It gives me hope that if I continue to give running another try, while it will hurt and it will be a challenge, that there are others out there that do it and are of the same structure as me. And it is possible. Attaining goals is possible. I just have to work through it. And I have to remind myself that even the lean and trim people that I see running at the park hurt sometimes. I can do this. Day by day, I can do this.

change your relationship

 

Another One Bites the Dust…Or, I Have Hope for Myself, After All

That’s right. I’m back. Back and better than ever! I recently lost about two hundred pounds. Yep. I’ve re-entered the kingdom of Singledom. As it turns out, the one that I thought was “the one” was in fact most certainly not the one for me. I chalk it all up to another bump in the road with the apropos phrase “another one bites the dust”.

The season of renewal and growth is upon us and thus I find this latest occurrence in my personal life rather fitting. I’ve decided it’s time to really focus on investing time in myself and exploring who I am (again. But this time to do it more than a couple/few months). At thirty-one, I figure it’s time to get that figured out…or rather to continue the journey. With my time not invested in someone else, I now have the opportunity to delve deeper into myself; what makes me tick? What makes me happy? And the better question: Why am I not doing what makes me happy? Where do I actually want to live?

I’ve found that when I am in a relationship, a lot of my personal goals go by the wayside; for some reason, I can’t seem to juggle focus very well. Does everyone struggle with this or am I on my own here? I’ve decided to hit the reset button on my priorities and to reassess my goals now that life’s circumstances have changed:

#1 Get back to writing on a regular basis.

#2 Start playing music again. And possibly *gasp* start writing music again. The prospect of which scares the ever-loving shit out of me. Possibly start taking mandolin lessons.

#3 Make a concentrated effort to expand my culinary abilities.

#4 Continue hiking and *trying* to form myself into a shape that is a little less round.

#5 Start thinking seriously about moving. No really. I mean it this time.

#6 Start saving. No really. I mean it this time.

#7 Do not get distracted from any of the above goals.

After I pulled myself together, I realized that I was going to find myself with time that I hadn’t had in several months. After all, I wasn’t going to be commuting to anyone anymore. I was going to have weekends back to myself. I wasn’t going to need to be tied to my phone at night anymore. At first, the thought of breaking all of the above habits was going to be overwhelming. But then something beautiful happened. My mind opened up and I had a moment of clarity; I remembered that there are no rules and I can do what I want with my time. In fact, I can do whatever I want in regard to *all* of my life. There is no rule in stone saying I have to stay in one place or that I must do anything in particular. Those thoughts are liberating in what can be a very scary time of transition. I have hope for myself after all.

My New Torture..or I Think I’ll Keep Doing This

Spring has sprung here in northern Virginia and I’ve chosen a new means of torture…I mean exercise …to try now that the weather is just puuuurfect.  I’ve decided to start running. Ok, maybe not “running”; It goes more like this: start off jogging at the end of the driveway up the small hill and slow down to a walk when I can no longer take a breath and I’m gasping and drawing in breaths through my mouth because I’ve lost all control over the most involuntary bodily function. And then I walk until I can easily breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth. And then I run again. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. You get the idea.

Generally, I’m fairly repulsed by the idea of running. It makes you sweat, it makes you feel like your heart is going to explode and limits your breathing ability.  In fact, when urged to run because of its health benefits by a co-worker, my response was, “I only run if I’m being chased by something with a dangerous weapon.” However, I caught up with someone who I used to date last week (a very bad decision) and noticed a big difference in his physique.  He’d started running. I figured if someone like him (trying-to-quit smoker, heavy drinker, non-exerciser) could do it, so could I. I also have felt like a slug as of late. I don’t remember the last time I went to the gym (and I hate the fact that I’m paying for a gym membership that I don’t use) because I hate being on a machine in a humid (yes, for some reason it’s somewhat humid there) gym.  Being on a treadmill or a stair climber or an elliptical machine makes me miserable. My reasoning is that I have to do enough things in life that I dislike…why should I force myself to go to a gym if it’s optional and it makes me miserable?

Anyway, once I decided I’d give this a try, I decided to follow through. After all, if I hated it, I didn’t have to do it again. The funny thing is, the first day that I did this (last Wednesday), I was shocked at how very little I could jog before I needed to come to a screeching halt; before my heart felt like it was going to leap up from my chest cavity into my throat.  The second day (embarrassingly enough, this was just yesterday. I didn’t feel like moving at all on Thursday and Friday night I needed a girls night with pizza and a movie) seemed a lot easier. I don’t know how, but somehow it felt easier to move my body at a faster pace than walking. I also chose to extend the area of my walk/jog to about 2 miles; amazingly enough, I was able to run longer and further distances before I felt like I was going to collapse.  By the time I made it home, I was sweaty and short of breath, but I’d done it! Today (day 3) I did it again…and I even bested my distance again!

I look nothing like this when I run

I look nothing like this when I run

There’s something very strange about this new “hobby” (yes, we’ll call it a hobby). The pounding of my feet on concrete is strangely hypnotic. I get a sense of pride every time I look back at a section of road that I’ve just run down (this is of course once the urge to vomit has passed and I can breathe again). And, the best of all outcomes is that I feel good after I’ve completed my walk/jog. I have a huge sense of accomplishment and pride every time I finish my loop around the neighborhood (or two neighborhoods, as the case has been the last two days). Those are reasons enough for me to continue this new hobby and pushing myself to new levels.

I can because I think I can