Thursday, May 2, 2013

Two Pieces of Confidence

An example of dinner (had this Monday night)
Is it Thursday already?  One more day and the work week will have come to a close.  Things in the food department are slowly moving back to what I'll call normal.  What's my normal?

Breakfast:  Usually whole grain cereal with almond milk; coffee with ff creamer
Healthy mid-morning snack:  Banana and Fage, string cheese and an apple, crackers and cheese
Lunch:  A healthy serving of salad plus whatever's being served at the cafeteria at work
Healthy mid-afternoon snack:  same as above
Dinner:  Lean protein, carb, veggies.
Possibly desert/evening snack:  Frozen fruit bar, cheese stick, hot chocolate, etc.

And thrown in are the social events that add things like wine, cake, appetizers, etc.  I guess my basic approach is to eat fairly clean when I'm preparing the food and not so much if it's out to eat or something a friend is serving.  The problem lately has been I've been buying all sorts of junk and eating it.  And eating the kids' snacks, gratuitously eating dinner rolls, etc. 

Not sure why I'm going over this, maybe to remind myself.  In any case, my eating is improved.  Still more snacking than I need but I'm focusing a lot of attention on healthy thoughts and positive reinforcements.  I believe my power lies in my thoughts and if I can get my brain on board the rest will follow.  So when I had only one dinner roll instead of three, I acknowledged the improvement and reminded myself that this is not behavior I feel good about and moved on.  The candy/chips stuff has all but ended.  And the Pirate Booty is gone after I put the remainder down the garbage disposal - sorry kids, your mommy's a food junkie. 

Hopefully I won't be asking them to hide their Halloween candy in their bedrooms when they get older.  But if I do, well, nobody's perfect.  I'd like to not pass on my food issues and am very careful to avoid fat/diet talk in front of them (altogether really).  One of my favorite things is when I come home in my gym clothes and they ask, "How was your run mommy?".  Love that.  "Some day I'll be big and can go on your run with you, right?"  Yep.

A light that continues to shine is my workouts.  I went to the gym on Monday as planned and had a great time on the upright bike and strength training.  Tuesday was a run on the treadmill.  I kicked some running ass, pushing myself to run at 6.4mph with 7.4mph intervals thrown in every five minutes.  It was hard, but I was harder.  Times like that a stubborn streak will do you good.  I'm almost 100% back to my pre-pneumonia levels.

Wednesday was a day off from exercise and I did something you will not believe.  I wore a bikini.  In public.  You heard right, a bikini. I made plans with a mom friend (Hi Whitney!!) to go to a local beach (we're in the middle of a heatwave over here) and she told me they were the only ones when she'd gone two days prior.  I decided to bite the bullet and let my stomach and back see the light of day.  I wouldn't be able to do this with just anyone but I feel comfortable with Whitney that she's not judging me, which is so important if you're going to wear a bikini when you really don't have a bikini-ready body.  And don't tell me I do, I have too much extra skin to be sporting a bikini. 

But on Wednesday, I didn't let that stop me.  Though it did revive my tummy tuck desires and I'm seriously considering booking it for December (shhhh! don't tell anyone).  I felt a bit strange but mostly I was pleased that I decided to put my self-confidence issues aside and just enjoy the sunshine.  I never thought I'd wear a bikini but I tell ya, it's nice to have hardly any clothes on on such a hot day.  And no, I don't have any pictures, thank the lord.  I'm sure that would scare me off ever wearing one again.  I covered up after a while, when people started showing up and especially when another mom joined us that I'd never met.  I'm not that super-evolved, hippie mom that bares her flaws with no qualms.  Not yet anyway.

Today, Thursday, was jam packed with work.  I had to squeeze my workout into a smaller time slot.  I started with 25 minutes on the bike and pushed myself harder than ever.  I upped my normal RPMS by 10 for most levels.  So when I usually ride at 70, I rode at 80.  I wasn't able to do it the whole time but I'm sure it was at least 20 of the 25 minutes.  I was sweating like crazy but loving every minute of it.  Then I did back/biceps/core.  My poor back, it's still too sore for back extensions.  I really need to give decline crunches a rest too while it recovers but I just love them so darned much.

That's all I got for now.  Thank you all for the support here and on my Facebook page.  Knowing I'm not alone in this journey is so powerful.  And the faith others have in me, that I'll figure this out and persevere, it's humbling truly.  Thank you!!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Always Worth It

I started to write a post a day or two ago called Wheels, What Wheels? in reference to the fact that the wheels had seemingly fallen off my healthy lifestyle vehicle.  I know I've had food meltdowns before, written about those evenings where I can't stop eating and then felt like crap the next day.  But this has been different.  This has been a real backslide into old behaviors.  I'm not sure why this has been happening, and in many ways it really doesn't matter, all I know is it finally caught up with me on the scale.

I've written before about the steps I see taking place when one falls off the wagon.  I'll paste them in again here.

#1: For the first couple of weeks of said fall I might actually still be exercising now and again. I read somewhere that it only takes half the work to maintain fitness gains as it took to obtain them in the first place. So, if you're only doing 1/4th of what you used to do you're still maintaining something.

#2: Most of my meals are probably still relatively healthy. These first two reflect that I don't fall off the wagon in one heavy thud, right? I slowly lose my grip, slowly slide down to the edge, and my good habits slowly fall by the wayside.

#3: The metabolism remains high for a while. It's not like I lose all that good, hard-earned muscle overnight. I continue to burn through the calories at a higher rate even though my exercise might not be regular anymore.

#4: The reverse of the old muscle weighs more than fat line. As you lose muscle and gain fat your weight stays the same. Evil. Your clothes might be getting snug but the final arbiter, The Scale, tells you all is well. And since we've conditioned ourselves that The Scale Knows All, we fool ourselves into listening to it again. Like I've said many times before, the scale only tells part of the story.
#5: And then...

The weight gain starts. And when it does it's usually too late. I've fallen off the wagon entirely and it's gone on down the road without me. I can't even see it anymore. And the weight gain is gradual, it's a 1/2 pound here, a pound there. I start adjusting my acceptable weight standards. This really helps with the denial, "160 is still pretty good,"... "165 isn't bad,"... "170? I guess I can live with that." Right around here is where I might stop weighing myself altogether. Bigger denial. This isn't happening, I am not gaining weight.
I'd say I've been in #4 lately, eating too much and feeling some of my clothes get snug but comfortable in the fact that the scale is still saying everything is ok.  Until it didn't.  Yesterday morning I got on the scale and my weight was 142.4 pounds.  That's 2.4 pounds over where I'd like to stay, which is under 140.  Why under 140?  Because that's a weight that was easy to maintain when I was exercising and eating a healthy, balanced diet (not a strict diet, a balanced one).  Easy, you might ask?  Yes, easy.  I was not battling with myself to maintain that weight.

Anyway, under 140 is my happy place and 145 means sound the alarm, time for drastic action.  In my case drastic action = tracking.  And I do not want to track.  So 142.4 pounds got my attention.  I started asking myself the tough questions, "What are you doing?"  "Why all the junk/crap food?".  No good answers but I don't need answers to change my behavior.  I'm gently nudging myself back to the way I was eating before the impulsive candy bar and chips behavior started, before I fell into a habit of before-bed snacking.  I reviewed in my mind how I was eating before this re-visiting of old behaviors and envisioned or imagined myself eating that way again now.

That was helpful and gave me a bit of a boost in motivation.  Because sometimes the scale going up is not motivating but instead is disheartening and can make me want to give up.  I have to be careful to use the feedback of a higher number as just feedback and not a moral judgment against me.  As I've said in the past, at least the gain is directly tied to my behavior and not to a frustrating mystery.

Some of you might be thinking, "Why all the panic over a measly 2.4 pounds?".  In fact I've had more than a few people say things like, "I wish I weighed 142" or "Try not to stress about it, you still look great" or "You're worried about 2 pounds, really?".  But that's how it starts!  And that thinking, the idea that this small gain is not a problem, that it doesn't warrant my focused attention and intervention - that's what allows one to move the bar of acceptable weight, after all 142 is not bad.  And I'm still under my initial goal weight of 145.  And I'm still wearing mostly size 4s, some 2s even.  Some are getting a tad snug but I can still wear them just fine.  But it's not about size, or scale weight - it's about the behavior.  And the lazy thinking behind that behavior.  Neither of which are good.  Not. good. 

So if I were to keep this up I'd be 146 before too long.  Still wearing normal sizes, only a pound over my goal weight, still good, right?  And then 151, and then get the idea.  So I choose to make this a big deal, to intervene now, to focus and intervene and do what I can to get my thoughts and behaviors back to a healthy place, which will lead to the scale moving back down.  I'm working on it, ever present of not being too hard on myself.  If you want a strong fighter in your corner, don't beat that person up before you put them in the ring.  My eating still has room for improvement but things are getting better.

I was buying and eating candy bars at random times, one time eating two candy bars plus a chocolate truffle in one evening.  I was buying chips and snacks and anything else that seemed good and eating them as if I've never had a weight issue.  I was eating before bed - dinner rolls (with butter), cereal, candy - whatever I felt like.  And it's not that I was gaining an immense satisfaction from these foods, not truly enjoying them, rather just eating them out of some...some what?  Who knows, and I don't need to know right now, I just need to stop.

I'm moving in that direction.  I skipped most of the junk snacks (including cake!) at a birthday party yesterday.  Later I barely had any wine at a wine tasting so as not to interfere with my planned afternoon run. And while at our neighbor's house for dinner last night I made health(ier) choices.  But when the option to eat an It's It bar came up I ate it.  I've never been about maintaining the perfect diet and I'm not going to start now.  And I engaged in some before-bed eating but instead of candy and junk it was a corn-on-the-cob and some cantaloupe.  Progress, not perfection.

So I'm having to use a bit more mental energy to keep my eating on track, partially because my body has quickly gotten accustomed to eating more. My stomach is sending me hunger signals before meal/snack times, "Can we eat about now?  Is it time to eat yet?  Now?".  So I'm hydrating and reminding myself that things will settle down after a few days.  The body adapts so quickly, it's amazing!  And the hunger = bad thing started but I'm working on going back to hunger = neutral, a much more realistic place to hang out.

Ok, a quick exercise rundown before I wrap this up.  Friday was a gym day.  My back was sore from some of my core work on Thursday but I still managed to get my run on the treadmill.  I did 25 minutes, the first five at 6.0mph and then intervals between 6.4 and 7.4 the rest of the time.  It was tough, tough, tough, but I am tougher.  After that I did back/biceps/core, skipping back extensions until the soreness in my back goes away.  Saturday was a much needed rest day.  Yesterday I ran for an hour.  No idea on distance or pace, just running.  Still tough but what should I expect?  I've been putting junk into my body and asking it to perform well.  Today I'll hit the gym after work for a spin on the upright bike and then legs/shoulders/core.

So there you have it.  My foray into old behaviors and my methods and motivations to slowly back away from those old behaviors.  I want to write that I have total faith I'll have this buckled down in no time but my confidence just isn't all that high right now.  What I do know is I won't give up, I'll be here fighting the good fight.  It's not always easy, but it's always worth it.


ps - I got two bits of positive feedback from random strangers.  First, a guy at my gym commented, "you work out hard!" after being on the elliptical behind me on the treadmill on Friday.  Yep, that's me.  And second, I was chatting with Glen at the gym and a fellow gym-goer that I didn't know.  He stopped and said, "Hey, are you the woman in the poster?" (gesturing to my larger than life poster in the window).  Yep, that's me.  "Well, oh my, it's nice to meet you."  IronSnoopy (a no less than three time Ironman finisher!) commented on a recent post of mine saying she wished I could see myself as others see me.  I wish I could too.  Hopefully I'll get there one day, but until then the positive feedback sure doesn't hurt.