Friday, November 8, 2013

First Law of Motion

Oh it's been bad. So bad. Junk food, candy, fast food, candy, junk food, fast food...bad. Tuesday evening is a good example. All the Halloween candy was out of the house...or so I thought. Miguel had left a plastic bag on a side table over a week ago and I never bothered to see what it was. I was doing some tidying and looked in the bag. You guessed it, candy. Two bags, one labeled Marek, the other Myra, filled with candy. Had I been smart I would have tossed the candy into the atmosphere the moment I found it, but instead I closed it up and put it in the garage. As if I'm not the food junkie I've always been.

Fast-forward to after the kids were in bed and...

Yep, that bad.
How many is that? 9? 10? Fun-sized didn't feel so fun when all was said and done. And that's only part of the candy. Honestly, I can't even remember all the crap I've eaten in the last week. I've been wrestling with my behavior, as you can imagine. Because of being so busy mistaken priorities I haven't gotten to a WW meetings in at least a few weeks. For next week I put it in bold letters on my calendar, with several exclamation marks to remind me - this is important, go!! I may not have all the answers and I may not have it all figured out but I know what helps, and going to a meeting will help.

And exercise, exercise will help. I went to the doctor yesterday convinced she would tell me my lungs were at least 80% clear and that I'd get the green light to exercise again. She listened to my lungs and I could tell she wasn't happy. Not as clear as she was hoping. She didn't give me a percentage but it sure wasn't 80%, "still quite a bit of inspiratory pops and squeaks". No. Please no. No, no, no. But then, "but you can start running again, in fact, that might even help." What?! Yay!

And then I felt it. The weight of Newton's First Law of Motion, an object at rest stays at rest, and the mental battle to get myself moving began. I thought about posting to my tri club page asking for a run buddy to meet me later, but I didn't. Eventually I felt the late afternoon sleepiness that used to be a daily experience. I hate that feeling. It's one I hardly have to endure in my new lifestyle but between not exercising, eating like crap and having pneumonia/taking antibiotics, it's made a temporary return.

After work I was driving to the gym and a steady thought stream of, "I don't want to go, ugh, I'm so tired" made it that much harder. I challenged that stream with, "Just do it Michelle. Sure you're tired, but it won't kill you. And you'll feel better afterward, I promise. Don't think about it, just do it." I listened to my better self and, not unlike a robot, drove myself to the gym. On the way I was trying to imagine what sounded like the least-painful run plan. It was chilly and a bit windy outside so an outdoor run in my gym's 'hood didn't sound fun. The treadmill sounded worse. I settled on changing my clothes and then driving a couple miles to a local trail for a trail run. That sounded the least painful. Why didn't I reach out for that run partner? Having someone to run with would make it 10x easier.

I'm pulling into the parking lot at the gym when I see Alan, a gym-regular with whom I often chat.

Me: Hey Alan, you all done?
Alan: Nope, just headed out for a run.
Me: How fast do you run?
Alan: Slow, you want to go with me?

It's a miracle, a running miracle! This has never, ever, not even once happened at my gym. And today, on the day I really needed it, a running partner falls into my lap. I didn't even know Alan ran outside around the gym like I do. He goes on to tell me he has this relatively flat loop, maybe 2-3 miles, and again he reminds me he's slow. Per-fect. "Hurry," he tells me, "we're running out of daylight." So before I could have another thought I ran inside to change, the whole time thinking, "yay, yay, yay!!"

We started running and my body let me know right away that it's been at rest. My legs were aching, my lungs felt tight, and running just felt hard. "Just a couple miles Michelle, doesn't it feel good to be moving again? I mean, this is hard, but it's good, right?" Right.

Alan and I didn't chat much, he was busy breathing and I was busy thinking. Over the last couple weeks I'd been noticing all the little ways in which my body was not happy. The headache, the sleepiness, the return of shoulder pain, not being as "regular" as I usually am - ok, maybe you didn't need to know that last bit but it's true. I used to think all sorts of things were just the way my body worked, and I didn't really make the connection between that and my poor diet/lack of exercise/extra weight. I thought I was just prone to constipation. Nope, poor diet. I thought I was just a person that got headaches. Nope, poor diet/stress/lack of exercise. I thought I was just a sleepy/lazy type. Nope, not at all. Now, knowing that those were all consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle adds to my motivation to maintain.

pic from Newton Running
Yet how quickly we forget. The good thing is, my body is here to remind me. Didn't like that headache? Get moving. Don't like feeling sleepy at 4pm? Get moving. Want to be regular again? Stop eating all that crap. Oh, and get moving. An object in motion stays in motion. And I was back in motion. We ran 2.1 miles in just over 21 minutes for an average of 10:03 minute miles. We both felt great about that pace and the distance was perfect. Had I been alone I would have pushed it to three miles, my standard weekday distance, but two was better, I could feel it.

Back in the gym and I did a full body workout just to wake up all my muscles. Pushups, squats, lunges, arnolds, russian twists, and a few PT exercises. I'd been worried I wouldn't be able to do my exercises - that irrational part of my brain that thinks I'm going to be starting from scratch despite evidence to the contrary - but it went fine. It was a challenge, I could feel my muscles straining to lift the weight, but I did it. And I know that if I keep doing it, in 3 weeks or so it will be easy again.

The eating thing is slow going. I'd decided to view all this food debauchery as if I were on vacation. You know how you go on vacation and eat way different than you normally do? So these past couple-few weeks are like a vacation and I'd decided my vacation would end when I started exercising again. I left the gym with a plan to eat a healthy dinner, no snacks, no crap. I had an ok dinner healthwise, nothing too junky, but ended up eating the last few pieces of the candy (no, I hadn't gotten rid of it) and later dove into the kids' bag of veggie chips. These poor kids, I'm eating all their crap. I suppose I'm sparing them from it, which practically makes it an act of humanitarianism.

So my evening food intake didn't exactly go as planned but I'm moving in the right direction. And history has taught me that as I get back into my exercise routine, the eating will fall into place. That, coupled with a WW meeting next week, building up a series of recent-memory healthy behaviors, and I should be back in the groove before too long. The only other complicating factors - my painful shoulder (that I'm essentially pretending doesn't exist), my clustermess of a personal life (that I can't ignore), and all the other stresses of a working suburban mom's life - remain. If I chose to add a full blown weight gain/food relapse to that I'd surely be begging for a padded cell before too long. With life in flux, I need my healthy habits now more than ever. Today my body is sore, my muscles hurt a bit. But I'm still hitting the gym after work to do something. Maybe a short spin on the upright bike and a bit more weight lifting. It's what I do. It's who I am. I am an object in motion.

Ok, last thing...remember that exciting blog-related news I hinted at? Well, I still can't tell you what's afoot but I can tell you I'm flying to the entertainment capital of the world soon to get knee deep in the fun. I'm not sure when I can tell you what's happening but I'll be taking pictures and journaling all along the way so that when I can tell you all the details will be at the ready. Oh, it's so exciting, and so hard to keep under wraps but I'm sworn to secrecy.

Happy weekend everyone! Get busy living!!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

At Goal, One Year Later

Yesterday was a special day for me, an important milestone on my journey. On November 4, 2012 I posted this picture for my blog post celebrating arriving at my goal weight.


And just now, I took another picture.

One year later, 11/5/13
In my goal blog post I wrote:
I know this number doesn't really change anything, but it just feels so good to finally hit it. So good. As far as eating, I plan to keep doing what I'm doing. I don't really feel like I'm "dieting" per se. I think I'm eating a healthy, balanced diet. I'll just have to see what happens with my weight.
What did happen with my weight is that I continued to lose for a while, dipping down to a low of 134.8 pounds. That was a week after getting diagnosed with pneumonia. I've dabbled around in my head with what my "maintenance" weight should be and I find I like being under 140. Being over 140 isn't so bad either, and I don't actually mind wobbling around in the low 140's, but I see that as a sign to tighten up some, get back under 140 and carry on.

Things are tricky right now because although my weight number is low, my percentage of body fat is creeping up, now up to 28.5%. Weight gain is sure to follow. But I'm feeling confident that once of I have this pneumonia thing kicked, I can get my butt back in gear and lose some of the extra fat.

So I thought I'd take a moment to reflect on my first year of maintenance by sharing some thoughts.
  • I got pneumonia 4 months after reaching goal and had to go on bed rest. But managed to recover and get back on track. And now I have it again. I have no doubt I'll be back on track before too long.
  • I completed 8 races in the past year - The Turkey Trot, Kaiser half, Rock-n-Roll half, The Guardsman 10k, See Jane Run half, 4th of July 4-miler, Santa Cruz Triathlon and the Nike Women's half.
  • My relationship with food is really changing. I still overeat from time to time, I still get in trouble with cravings, I still make less helpful decisions, but each time I get back on track. And slowly, very slowly, the pull of food to solve my problems is lessening.
I could go on and on but just know this, I have changed. "Obviously," you might say, but I notice this change in such subtle and almost imperceptible ways and for whatever reason, those changes give me hope. Hope that I might continue to change and grow in such a way as to eventually eliminate this "problem" of my food intake altogether. Or at least mostly. I met a woman in WW who was in her 13th year of maintenance and she said she was there. It took her about 8 years of maintenance to get there, but she did. The idea that I might one day slay this demon altogether is hopeful.

I'm excited to go to WW next week and share the news. And I hope to inspire or motivate anyone that needs it because that's a big part of why I keep this up - blogging and sharing and telling everyone who wants to listen that change is hard, but it's worth it - to potentially inspire someone else to go after the dream, to fight for it, work for it, value it. I feel great about my body, great about clothes shopping and going to social events, great about seeing my own picture or bumping into an old friend, great about seeing an 'out of order' sign on the elevator or eating a candy bar in public - I feel great. A year later, and it still feels great. I hope to never forget how much I wanted this, how hard I worked (and continue to work), and how worth it it remains to keep going to the WW meetings now and keep getting on that scale every day for a reality check.

Thank you all for the support and encouragement over the past year, I've learned so many things in the comments and gained so much support from you guys. Thank you!

p.s. I had fried chicken for lunch today. That is all.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Pneumonia and a Good Cheerleader

Has it really been almost a week since my last post? Yeah, life happens. Anyway, I have some bad news. I have pneumonia again. Major. Bummer. I've been coughing for a while now, it started before the Nike half, seemed to clear up the day prior, but came back a couple days after. I wasn't planning to see a doc because I don't have a fever and haven't felt that rundown. Well, that's not true, on Friday I was practically falling asleep come late afternoon, and I was still at work. Not good form.

Anyway, I was repeatedly harassed encouraged to see a doctor and finally made an appointment just to keep the peace, feeling quite sure I didn't have anything. But when the doc put the stethoscope to my back she sighed and said, "oh, I'm sorry." She's a runner too and knows I'm struggling with no exercise. In fact, she rolled into the exam room in a wheelchair because of a stress fracture. The good news is, we caught it much earlier than last time and so I don't need to be on bed rest or anything. Just a week of antibiotics and no exercise. If my lungs are 80% clear at my follow up appointment next Thursday I can start exercising, slowly at first.

While I know I won't be starting from scratch it's also going to be a measured transition to back my routine. I can't dive back into running/biking/swimming/weight training at the same level I was before. And that's ok, I remind myself I'll get there again.

The thing that's made things so much harder is that not being able to exercise has come at a horrible time. The personal stress stuff I have going on is not letting up, and won't for some time really, and I've been feeling like a person in a vice, being squeezed tighter and tighter without being able to burn off steam in the gym or leave the stress in my dust out on the road. I know I'm not really writing about what's going on in my life, and I will eventually, it's just that right now it's all too personal, fresh and evolving to be opening up here.

But when things are more settled, when the unknown becomes more known, I'll share. Just know I'm going through all sorts of, "What fresh hell is this?" and it's not a good time to be sidelined from the exercise. I've been doing a lot of self talk to get me through.

You'll be able to exercise again one day.
It's not normal to feel this tired, you'll have energy again one day.
You'll get through this, it won't go on forever.
This is temporary.
When you can get back in the gym and out on the road, you'll rebuild your routine.
You're sick. Sick people rest. You're not lazy or slipping into old habits. You're sick.

I have no doubt that I'll get back to it. The old fears I used to have in this type of situation - that I'd fall off the wagon and regain weight - are not there. At least not much. I have a niggling fear that it will be too hard, that I won't be able to do what I used to do, but in those moments I calm myself by saying, "Not now, you can't challenge that now, but the time will come, very soon, when you can challenge that, and we'll see, once again, what you're made of."

The other complicating factor is food. And candy. The Halloween candy situation was just poor timing. I ate quite a bit of fun sized junk. But the Halloween candy is out of the house. I made a candy-for-toys trade with the kids and everyone walked away happy. But my meal choices, when I've even managed to eat a normal meal, have been less-than-stellar as well. Mostly though it's been a bowl of cereal here, a slice of bacon there. Donuts, bagels, and other random food encounters. That, coupled with the lack of exercise, leaves me feeling like crap. For the first time in ages I got a headache last night that didn't resolve with ibuprofen. Pre-lifestyle change I got headaches regularly, once a month or so, now I get them a couple times a year and almost exclusively when I'm not taking care of my body.

I haven't gained weight, though my body fat percentage is creeping up. If I were to continue on this path, the weight gain would follow. But I know I'm going to continue on this path. My weight is around 140 and my one year goaliversary is tomorrow! One year at my goal weight, I'm very excited to pass that milestone. This is not a passing fancy, this was not a diet. I'll write more about that in my goaliversary post.

In the meantime, life goes on. I'm putting one foot in front of the other, trying not to think too hard or too much, and doing my best to be a good cheerleader for myself. There's a woman inside jumping up and down, shaking her pom-poms, and screaming, "You've got this, keep going Michelle, you've got this!". Sometimes I question her enthusiasm but mostly I'm just grateful to have her. Conjuring up my inner cheerleader whenever I need her, another tool in my toolkit.