Weight Lifting, Shrinking, and Moving…Or, This is What My Thirties Are Made Of

Wow, do I have a ton of catching up to do. No writing since August; seriously, Lex?

So, first let me catch you up on the whole “workin’ on my fitness” business that I’ve been doing since April.  After months of working with my tremendously strong and amazing powerlifter trainer, I’ve learned that I’m stronger than I ever imagined I’d be. I’ve been through months of deadlifting, squatting, assisted pull-ups and hours logged of arm work that made me squint my eyes and curse. And, I have to say that while I might not have loved every single moment of that work, where it’s gotten me is so worth it. I’ve officially lost 47 pounds since the end of April, and am still The Incredible Shrinking Woman. In fact, I’m physically smaller now, than I was about ten years ago when I lost more weight. Weight. Lifting. Rocks. I’m excited to see where I’m going to be in a month’s time. I strive in increase the weight that I can lift every week, and thus far, I’m deadlifting 170 and squatting 135. Not too shabby for the girl who professed to her trainer, “I hate lifting weights.”

iron

I now call myself a gym rat. I look forward to my time “praying to iron”, pushing myself hard and seeing what my body is capable of doing. I’ve also learned that there is an awesome community that resides in the weightlifting section of my gym. People you don’t know will cheer you on when they see you struggle lift or squat that weight; they’ll high-five you, give you a huge smile, and say “awesome job!” when you’re done. It’s pretty inspiring.

Ok, what else is happening in Lex Land? I’m in the process of figuring out what the hell I’m going to do with my life and where I want to be. The struggle continues…I’m looking for work in Northern VA and in Charlottesville, hoping that an opportunity is going to pop up that will be a great fit and afford me the opportunity to move out of good ol’ Culpeper. It’s time. Change is in the air. The insufferable part of change being in the air is my lack of decision making abilities. What do I want to do? Where do I want to go?

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I’m thirty-one and I’m still struggling with these questions.  A really good friend of mine likes to say that when she looks at me, it’s like she’s looking at herself when she was in her thirties. And then she assures me that while the thirties are challenging, forties are great. And, then I laugh and say I’ve got to get through this decade first.

In all actuality, thus far my thirties haven’t been nearly as challenging and full of strife as my twenties were. I’m definitely more self aware and self-assured and learning what you like and what you don’t like is, at least I believe, a huge sign of growth.

So, here’s to personal growth, self-awareness, and continued physical shrinkage!

More to come soon…I mean it this time.

Week Three…or, The Moment of Realization

I’m nearing the end of week three of the Do It or Die Plan and as time wears on, it’s become more apparent to me that I need to look at myself rather closely and discover what on this earth brings me happiness other than food.  This has been a sad realization, but a necessary in order for me to continue the weight loss journey. After a multitude of melt downs (that my Fitness Extraordinaire Sister has put up with) because I couldn’t have _________(I’ll let you fill in the blank), I feel that the only way I’ll be able to continue successfully is to re-examine what exactly brings me joy.

Food has always been the center of gatherings with friends and family in my life, and something in which I’ve always taken great pleasure.  Therefore, in these past 3 weeks when I’ve had to deny myself simple pleasures like a glass of wine or pizza on Friday nights, I’ve gotten mad. Mad because I feel I’m depriving myself of the one thing that has always been a source of joy.  Is that sad? Or, am I simply a normal person who takes a great interest in savoring food? Logic tells me that anyone depriving themselves of something that they enjoy is bound to get cranky. Logic also tells me that when I get cranky in this instance, I become resentful and want to throw in the towel. So, the question begs to be asked: is all of this work for naught? Will I, after a week of 45 minute cardio sessions, six days a week become so disillusioned by it all that I say fuck it and quit because I feel like I’m killing myself and depriving myself at the same time? If I did decide that this just isn’t for me, will I then feel a ridiculous amount of guilt because I quit? Would I then try yet another weight loss plan with limited success?

I’ve thought a good bit about what other things in life I could focus on that bring me joy when I’m pissed that I can’t have popcorn or a glass of wine. Time with family, time with my friends, and music are the obvious three.  Hiking and gardening once brought me joy, but I haven’t been out once this year for a hike and I have planted absolutely nothing this season.  I know what you’re thinking: that can be remedied. You’re right. In fact, I have a hike planned in the very near future with my kindred spirit, Lady Di with whom I always have a good time. And I think I’ll head to the store to buy some plants this weekend.

But, what else is there? I think the reason I have such a hard time listing the things that make me happy is because I have never spent a real good chunk of time alone with myself. I’ve always tried to focus on other people and have placed a great deal of significance on other’s happiness. One of my best friends tells me that the reason I don’t like being single is because it forces me to be alone with me and the fact of the matter is that I don’t really like myself all that much.  Perhaps she’s right. I mean, we could always learn to love ourselves more, right? Or, perhaps the thought of being alone with myself and being forced to find out more about myself is a daunting task.  I have friends who are completely at ease with being alone, and actually relish the time and these are the people who, I believe, know themselves the best. They have distinct likes and dislikes and are very comfortable within their skin.

I think this is a time of transformation for me. Not just physical, but emotional and mental as well. I’m pushing myself far harder than I ever have in the past physically and mentally. Every day is a battle with my self from the time I get out of bed until the time I’m back in bed at night: do I force myself to drink the gallon of water a day? Do I have egg whites or do I eat what I want for breakfast? Do I make myself go to the gym and do 45 minutes of cardio or, do I do what I really want to do and go home and have a glass of wine? For the past three weeks, I’ve been changing the way I live my life.  This morning, I watched a vlog that a friend and former yoga teacher posted and a piece of a sentence that she said echoed back to me: become comfortable with being uncomfortable. I think that I’m in this uncomfortable place and I’ve not yet become comfortable with it. Living your life in a completely different way is uncomfortable. But maybe, if I start to become comfortable with being uncomfortable, if just for a little while, it’ll make this transformation period a little bit easier.   This is my new mantra. And I’ll continue to repeat this to myself as I’m on the treadmill walking on an incline and my legs just want to quit. And something tells me that I won’t quit; not just because of impending guilt if I do, or possibly disappointing my sister who has done a good thing by helping me, but because I want this transformation. And being uncomfortable for a little while is a small price to pay for that.

Holy Shit, This is Working…or, Life is All About Balance

I’m on day five of the Do It or Die Plan and I must say that every day that I step onto the scale I’m simply stunned at how this plan is working. I’m about seven, count ‘em, seven pounds down since I started this plan on Monday! This entire venture has been really hard (and yes, I know, it’s only day 5) because it’s been all about breaking bad habits; bad habits like running out and grabbing something quick and yummy for lunch, or going home and not sitting on my butt. It’s also hard because now that I’m on this special regimen, it means my weekly dinner with my Gramma is out the window.

The food aspect of the plan isn’t really any more appetizing now as when I first started, though I can tell you that I look forward to my morning protein smoothies and my stuffed pepper lunch like I’ve never looked forward to meals before! I look forward to days when I can eat eggs and have peanut butter and branch out from the I-can’t-describe-how-bland combination of sautéed zucchini, squash, peppers and onions. It’s the little things in life that we look forward to, right?

I’ve been walking every day for a minimum of thirty minutes, and yesterday I started a new workout routine that was provided by my FES. The good thing about this circuit training routine is that I can do it from home when I don’t feel like going to the gym. The bad thing about this circuit training routine is that I can do it from home when I don’t feel like going to the gym. No excuses. Ugh. The series of exercises she has me doing are nothing fancy: things like lunges and squats and light arm weights. The worst part of the entire thing is that I have to do this circuit training a total of three times before I’m done and the sad fact of the matter is that I’m simply lazy. I’ve been used to going home after work, sitting down and not moving. That’s been a big change and challenge this week.

Speaking of challenges, tomorrow will be another big one: I’m off the Rocktown Beer & Music Festival in Harrisonburg, VA and I know that there will be all kinds of wonderful foods and drinks there. While I’m going to go and indulge a little, I’m not going to go wild, and my hope is that this little bit of fun (and alcohol) won’t throw me off my weight loss path too awfully much. Somewhere along the way, I didn’t learn how to balance fun and health, so now I’m learning how to do that at thirty-one. Life really is all about balance isn’t it? Eat, but don’t overeat; drink, but don’t over indulge; rest, but don’t be lazy. How come we aren’t supposed to do “too much” of what I think of as the fun stuff? Eating and drinking has always been central to fun times with family and friends and now…well, now I have to do things a little differently. Finding balance is tough. But I keep this mantra in my head: You can do anything for a few weeks. That and the steady loss of weight is what has been keeping me motivated, even on the evenings where all I want to do is stick a straw in a bottle of wine and shovel salty foods into my face. Well, that, the steady weight loss and my sister saying “Don’t you fucking do it” when I tell her that I can’t do this; that keeps me pretty motivated, too. Here is to Week 2 of the Do It Or Die Plan and watching the numbers on the scale get smaller and smaller!

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

 

Going Blonde and Hating It …or When You Look Good, You Feel Good

After years of thinking about making the huge leap from my natural very dark brown hair to blonde, finally did it last weekend. I made the leap across the chasm and ended up none too thrilled. I did it on a whim. I made an appointment to get a haircut and walked out of the salon four hours later… Yes. Four hours. Three bleachings and four hours later, I left with a buttery yellow shade of hair. I remember looking in the mirror after it was done and thought, “huh. So this is it?” And then I started talking myself into liking the hair experiment.

This wasn’t exactly my first foray into jumping the chasm of scary shades between super dark brown and blonde. I tried going blonde during my early twenties, but it wasn’t a completely successful attempt. I ended up walking around with strawberry blonde hair that I walked around with for ages. No one in my family liked the color and looking back, I can attest that that shade did not look spectacular on my olive toned complexion. But, at the time I liked it. I think I was in such a haze of pot smoke at the time that I was so relaxed all the time I simply didn’t care.

This time around though? I cared. As I said, I upon first glance into the mirror when it was finally finished looked in the mirror and felt like I was obligated to like it. After all, I was spending over one hundred dollars on this and I’d just invested four hours. So, I decided that I liked it. And, I think I kind of did. Maybe. Until I got home and happened to be in the room when two of my sisters were face timing. Is that how you make Face Time a verb? My sister flashed the phone at me and my third sister says to me, “At first glance, you look like Slim Shady.” And then? She laughed. After that, all I could see was Eminem when I looked into the mirror. That’s how yellow my hair was. Butter yellow.

And then Monday rolled around and I had to go to work. My drastic change drew several gasps from my coworkers. And the second Eminem reference from my boss. That’s when I decided. It was official. I hated this yellow mop on top of my head. After several phone calls, I finally had an appointment with a hair dresser who I was confident could rectify this hair disaster. Two hours after I walked into the salon, I walked out with hair that is my natural color. I was elated. I felt like me again.

mid-fix

mid-fix

It amazes me how good I feel about myself now that I’m back to my brunette self. My eyes look brighter, my skin looks better and my hair most definitely looks better. I don’t think men really get how our silly beautification practices make us feel better about ourselves. When you look good, you feel good. Am I right ladies?

Big Ass (Meatless) Burritos…or It’s Been a Rough Week, Let’s Cook

This week has been rough. Not just rough…ROUGH. My ability to make exceedingly bad decisions never fails to amaze me. Anyway, after a couple of rough days, a peek at a friend’s cooking blog (Vegan Mostly) and a stroll through my garden (that is in the early stages of busting open), I decided to do something that always makes me happy: take over the kitchen and create something AH-mazingly tasty.

the fixin's

the fixin’s

A couple of days ago after being inspired by Vegan Mostly, I bought a bag of meatless crumbles. Believe me, I’m as skeptical of meatless alternatives as many are…I mean, how do you imitate meat? Or rather, how to do you make a palatable fake meat product? In an effort to be creative and healthy, I broke out the bag of frozen meatless crumbles along with a few mini sweet peppers, a can of red kidney beans and a medium white onion. Big ass burritos were just the ticket for tonight.
Not really knowing how to cook with fake meat, I went about it in the same way that you’d start a taco/burrito mixture: throw it in a hot skillet (I sprayed it first since I wasn’t sure if the soy product would stick if I “browned” it). While this “browned”, I drizzled chopped sweet peppers and onions with a small amount of olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt and popped them into the oven under the broiler to soften slightly.

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Next, I rinsed and added the red kidney beans to the crumbles and after several minutes, remove the peppers and onions from the under the broiler and add to your beans and crumbles mixture. Then, I added a packet of taco seasoning (…if you’re feeling decidedly less lazy than I was, you can take the time to combine all of the seasonings that make up taco seasoning). I stirred the mixture together and the kitchen started smelling delish!  While all of the flavors melded, I wrapped flour tortillas in tin foil and tossed them in the oven on low heat.
Once they were warm and I couldn’t stand the aromas coming from the stove, I created my Big Ass Meatless Burrito.
Simple, easy, quick, nutritious and delicious. To be honest, I think I like this recipe even better than I like it made with ground beef! Nothing is better than a tasty new favorite, and a full belly at the end of Hump Day! Things are lookin’ up.  Here’s to a good finish to a ROUGH week!

big ass (meatless) burrito

big ass (meatless) burrito

Apologies for Abandonment…and New Life Revelations

I’m writing this with a tremendous feeling of guilt for abandoning this writing venture for the past few months, but believe me I have a good reason for the hiatus. The reason for my absence is simple: nothing (and I mean nothing) has been going on in my life for the past few months that anyone would really care to read about. But, today I decided that it was time to get my butt in gear and put words on paper (so to speak) and reintroduce myself to my writing venture and my readers.

Let me catch you up on what’s been going on in the Land of Lex:

It’s new year. I’m thirty now. And that same stale feeling that lingered among me during my late 20s is still hovering.  At first, I approached the big 3-0 with dread. “My twenties are over!!”, I kept lamenting to myself louder and louder until February 1st gained ground and then a simple revelation overtook me: So what? Your twenties weren’t anything to write home about!

After I decided that my 30s would be my best decade yet, I made a promise to myself to actually start doing the things that I really want to do; those things that will add a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment to my otherwise boring day-in-day-out routine of work, gym, eat, sleep. However, if anyone who is from a small town or lives in a small town will know that sense of being boxed in and trapped tends to strengthen its grip around one’s mind fairly easily. That’s been happening a lot lately.  I’ve let my mind wander to the things that I haven’t yet accomplished, or experienced that at this age and there are time that I feel as though I wasted the “care free” 20s. And then I think to myself: Wait a minute. Your twenties were anything but care free; you went through more emotionally during your early twenties than one should. You dated and were living with the guy you married by 24 and were married (however briefly) by age 26, only to suffer a painful parting of ways that you’ve been recuperating from for the last 4 years.  When I stop and think about how I spent my twenties and how I looking back, I wish I had spent that time, they are two vastly different tracks.

I’ve been trying the online dating thing again. I know, I know…insert a big sigh and eye-roll here. Anyway, I’ve been meeting and chatting with people who have travelled extensively. Granted, I’ve met no one but putzes shmucks, these are still people who have been here and there and seen this and that and thus experienced far, far more than me…and the only emotion I feel when I hear about people’s adventures to far flung locales is jealousy (peppered with intrigue).  I want to go. I want to see.  I want to do.

Today, that gut-gripping “I’ll never get out” feeling had me in its grasp hard. I ran into one of my favorite people, my first yoga teacher, at the grocery store and had one of those conversations where things came into my brain and out of my mouth in ways that surprised me.  I believe I said to her something along the lines of, “I need something to change.  I’m at that point where I need to jump off the ledge or get back in the cave.” Melissa then asked me a very important question: Would you be happy in the cave? I didn’t even have to think about that. I waited less than a full second after that question was asked and answered a firm and unyielding NO. So, she pointed out to me, “You know what you really want.” She’s right.

My problem is the execution. How do I pay the bills and get out of debt AND travel to those places that I desperately want to go? And an even better question: do I venture into this alone.  I have yet to learn to value my own company; that’s something that I’ve been trying to work on for a while now.  Traveling alone sounds somewhat frightening, yet exhilarating at the same time.  No one to please but myself. No where to go except where I want to go.

After reflecting on our conversation and deciding that what I want will not be easy to obtain, but worth it when I can, I strengthened a plan that I’d begun this morning.  This summer, I will be taking a baby step.  I will be traveling to the Vortex Capital of the World: Sedona, Arizona.  And, I’ll be doing it alone. I’ll save my pennies and make this happen if for nothing else, my self-esteem and my emotional and mental fortitude.  I’ll be flying alone, driving alone, eating alone and seeing sights alone and I must admit that while part of me is terrified of the prospect of going anywhere for an extended period of time alone, part of it is thrilling to me.  I’ve never done anything like this before; I always base what I’m doing or going to do on another person.  I firmly believe that this experience will do nothing but good for me.

A plan does wonders for me.  It brings me peace and makes me feel that nothing is permanent, this too shall pass.  This evening I find myself feeling hopeful and excited whereas this morning I felt stagnant and trapped. It truly amazes me that the universe plops just the right person in front of you at just the right moment in time.

It feels so good to write again. I’ll make a promise to you now: I will not take such a long break from you again.