Posts Tagged ‘exercise’

Where Oh Where Did Fat Girl To Fit Girl Go?

In case you’ve been looking for the Fat Girl To Fit Girl blog, I’m still here! I’ve just moved around the corner to http://fatgirl2fitgirl.com.

I’m still blogging regularly over there. Just with a new bright look and my own host! Please come visit.

And if you have me on your blog roll, please update it with http://fatgirl2fitgirl.com. Thank you kindly!

Must Be The Weather

It is officially fall today. And for the past couple of days we’ve had perfect fall weather. Crisp mornings, warm afternoons and chilly nights. No humidity and bright, blue sunny skies. This is my favorite time of the year on Long Island.

I was walking at this time of year last year, having started my fitness quest in July, but I wasn’t running yet. That didn’t start until November, and then it was indoors, on the treadmill. Saturday, after 5 days off from doing anything, I went running. It was so gorgeous and I felt so strong, I ran a full three miles at a harder-than-usual pace for me. Could have been because it was chilly starting out? All I know is it was one of my best runs from a perspective of feeling strong and enjoying myself.

Sunday, my legs reminded me that I shouldn’t really take 5 days off and then run hard. Ouch. I went swimming on Sunday to try to loosen up, but ended up going much farther than I expected, swimming about 1100 yards. By Sunday afternoon, I was sore all over! But it was a good sore.

The nice thing is that when I got up this morning, I felt good again. No more muscle pain. And hubby was home from work today and could take our daughter to work. So I got to go running again in the spectacular weather this morning. I ran 2.5 miles this morning (because I did have to come home and get ready for work) but surprisingly, I was able to run good and hard again. I figured today would be a slower run because my legs were still a little fatigued from Saturday. I don’t know what’s giving me the extra pep in my step, but I’ll take it.

It must be the weather.

Ghosts of Injuries Past – A Torn Rotator Cuff Saga

Saturday when I was swimming, I got an old familiar pain in my left arm at lap 48. I was swimming hard, alternating fast 100s with recovery 100s to get ready for next Sunday’s race.

I was in a recovery 100, so I continued for two more laps but when the twingy deltoid muscle pain didn’t go away, I got out of the water, went home and stretched my arm with the exercises I had learned from physical therapy two years ago, along with exercises from a friend who had suffered from shoulder stuff too.

Back to the beginning: In July of 2007, I suddenly started experiencing pain in my left deltoid muscle (about midway between the shoulder and the elbow). It hurt,  but it wasn’t horrible… at first. If I left my arm alone, it didn’t hurt, but if I tried to raise it even to 90 degrees, ouch. Over my head quickly became impossible.

I had no idea really what I could have done to it. I went to the doctor, who figured it was a torn rotator cuff tendon. Based on his assessment, he sent me to an orthopedic. I chose my husband’s orthopedic/pain management doctor because I know her and like her. My husband has a bad back. Her assessment was a torn rotator cuff tendon, which she submitted to the insurance company. By now, three weeks after the original diagnosis, I couldn’t raise my left arm more than 45 degrees. It was basically useless unless I wanted to be in screaming pain.

The wonderful insurance company decided for me that I needed 6 weeks of torture physical therapy before I could have an MRI to find out what was going on  in my shoulder. I made it through 5 appointments before I couldn’t stand it anymore. I’d leave each session in tears and then not sleep for a night or two before the pain before would subside a little. I was literally living on Aleve, just to take the edge off.

Now September of that year, after two full months of not being able to move my arm, the insurance company finally agreed to the MRI. Why was physical therapy so painful? Well, because I had two torn rotator cuff tendons (partial tears that didn’t require surgery, thank goodness), tendonosis (where the tendon around the tears actually died and will never recover), a torn bicep tendon, bursitis and a frozen shoulder. Some of the physical therapy for the torn rotator cuff tendon is counter-productive for the other injuries. My doctor’s colleague chalked it up to the fact that I had a 48-year-old shoulder. Ouch. I think that hurt worse than the shoulder itself. Apparently, torn rotator cuff tendons/frozen shoulders aren’t uncommon in women in their 40s and 50s.

When I started swimming, it was on the advice of my orthopedic doctor (also a triathlete who has had a torn rotator cuff), who said it was one of the best strengthening exercises I could do for my shoulder if I could handle it. While I have my mobility back in that arm, I still have lingering pain. Usually, my shoulder will be a little stiff in the beginning of a swim, but swimming does loosen it up. It took awhile, but swimming generally feels good on my shoulder.

This morning, my shoulder/arm is still achy. It was to be a swim workout today but  I opted out because I won’t risk injuring this arm again. It was the most unbearable pain I can ever remember (and I was in unmedicated labor for 30 hours with my daughter). I believe it was the frozen shoulder that caused the majority of the pain (the membrane sheath that encapsulates the shoulder shrinks up and makes movement difficult) and that’s preventable as long as I keep moving my arm, but even feeling the familiar deltoid muscle pain is enough to send me into a panic.

I have a race on Sunday and I was hoping to get at least one more swim in before then. But if I don’t, at least the swim is the leg of the race where I feel most confident. Even if I swim easy, I’ll do OK in the swim. And in the meantime, I’m hoping that the twingy pain I’ve had in my arm these last couple of days are the result of a tendonosis flare-up and not a new tear. Fingers crossed.

Going from sedentary to active, I’ve taken all of my training pretty slow and steady to avoid injuries. I’d rather go slower than not be able to go at all. I’ll push myself through achy muscles and whiny knees. But this? It’s just not something to be screwing with. I promised myself in the beginning that I would always pay attention when there’s pain.

The ‘Not So Obvious’ Benefits of Exercise

I’m not in love with getting out of bed in the morning to exercise. But I am in love with how I feel when I’m doing it and how I feel for the whole day after.

We all know that exercise is essential to good health and fitting into those smaller jeans and muscle tone. We all know that exercise gives us  energy and stamina and strong bones.

But I’ve  gotten a couple of things from exercise that I didn’t expect:

  • My skin looks great. I don’t know if that’s from sweating or all the water I drink because I sweat, but  I actually had someone tell me recently that my skin is glowing. Plus I have a tan. A healthy, gradual tan that has come from running and biking outside (and a little sitting on the beach, which I wouldn’t have done in summers past.)
  • Speaking of water, I drink so much more water on the days that I exercise. And it’s easy. I’ve usually downed 32 ounces of water before 9:00am when I go out running in the morning. And I drink, drink, drink all day to rehydrate. On non-exercise days, water isn’t as appealing.
  • I eat better and usually less on exercise days. It’s almost as though my body knows on the days that its expended all that energy that real food is necessary to replenish. And that’s what I crave. On running days especially, I’m more likely to reach for that apple and make myself a nice lean protein/whole grain and veggie dinner than on off days.
  • I tend to concentrate better on workout days. I feel clearer, more focused and generally, lessed stressed. My job, my life are stressful these days, so that’s a very good thing.
  • Confidence. I am so much happier with the way I look and how my clothes fit, that I feel better about myself and more confident in my appearance. More than that though, I know I can run 3 miles, bike 10 and swim a half a mile, sometimes all on the same day.  These are things I didn’t think I would ever do, or ever be able to do,  and I’m really proud of my accomplishments. It’s taken a lot of hard work, but it makes me feel like I belong to a special club. And I draw on it when I’m feeling not so hot or confident in other areas of my life.
  • I’m inspired. Doing something repetitive for a half hour or longer gives me time to let my mind just wander. Lots of times, I just stay tuned into whatever music I’m listening to, or I focus on my form. However, other times, when I let my mind just drift, I come up with creative solutions to ongoing problems, blog posts or ideas on how to share what I’ve learned along the way with others.

On that note, I do have plans for creating an environment where those of us on this journey can encourage each other to stay the course and reach our collective goals – good health and fitness – however we are getting there.

When You Least Expect It

Saturday, because of the rain, was a swim day. I usually swim train with a friend on Saturday morning and that makes it more fun. Yesterday though, Jen was off on vacation, so I headed to the pool alone. I did not want to go. It was rainy and dark and miserable here yesterday. To swim on Saturday, even in crappy weather means getting to the gym by 7:30 am. The pool starts to get crowded around 8:15 or so. I had to coax myself out the door.

However, I was off from training on Thursday and then again on Friday, so I made myself go. The way I felt, I wasn’t so sure it would be a very good training session, but these things need to be done.

I got there and there was only one other person in the pool. Sweet. I love it when I get the pool, or at least a lane, to myself. And I kicked off. I had decided to swim 400 meters hard, easy for 100, hard for 200, easy for 100, etc. I had a great 400-meter swim (although there was no clock to tell the time) and a great rest of my swim too. I swam harder more than I had planned and overall went 1500 meters (the most I’ve done). I felt great when I got out of the pool. And I felt great pretty much the rest of the day.

Sunday morning, I had a long run planned. Again, morning came and I did not want to leave the comfort of my bed. I was up late the night before and sometimes, I just like to sleep in. It was not raining though and there was still some cloud cover so it was cooler than it has been. I got up, got dressed, tried to hook up Runkeeper on my iPhone to track the run, but to no avail. For whatever reason, Runkeeper couldn’t find my location. Next time.

I set off walking like I always do; giving myself my little pep talk, like I always do; listening to my music, like I always do. I started running and decided to take a longer route that I take on the bike, figuring if I got tired, I could always walk a bit.

Bottom line, I ran three and a half miles today in 43 minutes and I could have gone farther. With the weather being cool, and maybe because I’d had a couple of days off from running, I felt strong and consistent today. I didn’t get winded, my legs and knees felt good and I only had one spot where I felt a little draggy. I wasn’t too sure how much distance I was tacking onto my run (since it was spur of the moment to go farther), so I stopped when I think I could have probably run more.

I’m going to try a slightly longer run on Tuesday to hit the 4-mile mark, since that was one of my goals for the Missouri 60 challenge!

Both days this weekend, I didn’t feel much like exercising and really didn’t have very high expectations for my performance based on my not-so-enthusiastic attitude. What surprised me though, is if I can get past the grumblies and out the door, once I get going, I really, really enjoy working out and pushing myself. And even though I’ve been doing this on a regular basis now for a year, it still surprises me.

I like surprises. So I’m going to keep hitting the road, the pool and whatever other fun exercise opportunities come my way.

How do you talk yourself out the door to get your exercise in?

PS: There was no rolling me out of bed this morning. I’ll be getting my bike ride in after work today!

Running Rain Delay

rainI planned to go running this morning. I really did. I got up at 5:50. It was still dark out, so I laid in bed contemplating. I really didn’t want to get up. And I’m really not so sure about running in the dark. By 6:15, the sky had brightened enough, so I dragged myself out of bed and got dressed. And then I remembered that I could play with Runkeeper and my new iPhone. That could be fun.

Still dragging, I went downstairs and since my son wasn’t home yet, I had to let the dog out. I had been planning a long run— more than 3 miles— but now it was getting late. It would have to be a regular run. And then I went outside with the dog.

It was raining. Not hard. A light drizzle. But who ever knows what that will lead to? The last time I went out in a light drizzle, halfway through, it turned into a hard, soaking rain. My hubby, who knows my run course, came out to rescue me but by the time he found me, I was already drenched.

Since I was already dressed, I considered still going…without the iPhone of course. But I really don’t like running in the rain. I’m not that hardcore.  I know I should run in the rain, because what if on race day it rains? I’ll have to do it then.

But this morning, since I was waffling anyway, running in the rain was not going to happen. I opted for cozy under the covers for another half hour instead. Hey, does it count that I got out of bed and got dressed? Do I get activity points for good intentions?

Tomorrow, we’re due for a tropical storm. Maybe I’ll be running on the treadmill in the gym after I swim. I only have two weeks of training time left. I shouldn’t be letting a little rain stop me.

Climbing Back On The Wagon After A Hard Fall

littleredwagonWhen I wrote my blog post on Wednesday, I wrote that I was struggling with staying on track food-wise. I somehow managed to stay in control until that evening when I came home to pizza and scarfed two pieces without even thinking about it. I will admit, even though I felt a little guilty later, it felt GOOD to eat with abandon. So good, in fact, that it sent me on a downward spiral for the next four days. By day four, however, it didn’t feel so good anymore.

Thursday there was seafood bisque in a bread bowl and delicious chocolate truffles. Friday it was an overload on english muffins with butter and cinnamon sugar (a favorite treat but I always stop at one. Mind you, these are the high-fiber, low-cal multigrain english muffins and I used light butter, but still. Did I really need two of them?

Saturday, ah what can I say about Saturday. If it didn’t try to run away from me, I ate it. Candy, more pizza, whoopie pies (have you ever had those?) ice cream….the list goes on. Food shopping was a dangerous thing to do on Saturday.

And yesterday, while I started to regain some control, I still ate some of the wrong things.

During this, I did still try to make some healthy choices, as though that would somehow magically make the madness stop. It didn’t. And I exercised and drank my water…same reasoning, same results.

By last night though, I felt out of control and a little nervous that I’d screwed up big-time and wouldn’t be able to pull it back. And my stomach hurt.

I think I’d been heading toward this for awhile, and that may have a lot to do with my stalled weight loss. Little tastes here and there that I wasn’t tracking, a slightly larger than measured portion, an extra treat.

Last night, through a twitter conversation with @patbarone, I realized that I had put myself on vacation mentality, and I was also feeling overwhelmed by stuff I have to get done at home over the next few days. Procrastination by food.

This morning, though, on the 3-mile run that I really didn’t feel like tackling (this is why I sign up for races), I realized that instead of being proud of myself, I’ve been beating myself up again. Instaed of focusing on how far I’ve come, I’ve been frustrated with how slow the weight loss is going and that I’d like to be further along in my tri training.

While I was running this morning, I reversed that. How far have I come, for goodness sake? What can I do now that I couldn’t a year ago? What positive changes have I made that stuck? I’m running. In the beginning, I was barely walking. I’m a size 12. I was a size 20. I drink lots of water and very little soda. I eat so much healthier than I did. I even eat vegetables and lean protein and whole grains.

So many things have changed for the better for me since I started this journey. So “fat girl” managed to creep back in for a couple of days. “Fit girl” is stronger and today she has pushed “fat girl” to the back corner again.

I don’t doubt that “fat girl” will show up from time to time. She’s been a part of me a lot longer than “fit girl,” and man, does she love her chocolate!  But I know I’m strong enough now to regain my healthy self even after a hard fall off the wagon.

As @patbarone said, “it’s not about what feels good now. It’s about what feels good later.” Today is later, my resolve is back, and I feel great!

I Love Running… I Hate Running… I Love Running…

woman-runningRecently, I came across a greeting card that on the front said: I love running, I hate running, I love running, I hate running. I loved that and if I could find it again, I would totally link you to it! I loved it, because as a newbie runner, it’s exactly the way I feel, when I’m running, when I’m about to start running, when I finish. It is totally a love/hate relationship, although lately, the pros definitely outweigh the cons.

While I was running my 3.2 miles this morning (my version of a long run), I thought about this the whole way. What is it that I love about running? And what is it that I hate? It was more an exercise in keeping my mind occupied and made my run today go quickly.

The highlights?

I love running on a morning like today. It was crisp and cool and sunny. There’s nothing like being outside on a morning like this.

I hate running in the humidity. Slogging through pea soup is not my idea of fun. There’s nothing like sitting in front of an air conditioner on those days, but I usually run anyway.

I love running downhill. I feel fast and it’s easy.

I hate running uphill, but I’m psyched that I can do it now. Just a few short months ago, I would have to walk up the hills. And there’s usually a downhill on the other side.

I love starting my day moving and listening to music.

I hate getting out of bed to go move and listen to music.

I love taking off after the warmup walk part of my run.

I hate the way my knees sometimes feel when I go from walking to running. But then they settle in and its all good.

I love the parts of the run where it feels effortless and the road just goes by (I don’t have a lot of this yet, but it does happen.)

I hate when my legs feel like lead and every inch of the road feels like a mile (I have more of this but it’s getting less.)

I love when my shadow is in front of me and I can see myself run. My legs look 9 feet long and I feel speedy.

I hate the idea that other people can see me run. In reality, I’m pretty slow. I wonder what they are thinking sometimes.

I love my sneakers.

I hate how hot my feet get.

I love sweating.

I hate sweating.

I love turning into my driveway at the end of my run.

I hate the mid-point of a run. Turning back now would take just as long as going forward, so I always choose forward.

I love answering the question “How far did you run today?” It assumes I’m a runner.

I hate when I have to walk during a run. Then I don’t feel like a runner.

I love endorphins and the way my day goes after a run in the morning. It pumps me up more than any other exercise I do.

I love that I CAN run.

I hate that I didn’t start sooner.

Running has changed me. More than any other exercise I do, I get a sense of accomplishment when I complete a run, even a short one. I never thought I would be a runner. I never actually had any desire to be a runner, even when I started. But it has grown on me. I constantly challenge myself through running and the rewards have been worth every effort. I feel great and have more energy, my skin looks great, I handle stress better, I love the way my jeans fit, I have more confidence and I’m just all around happier.

If you are considering running, go for it. Start slow with an interval program and don’t beat yourself up when progress is slow. There will be days when you hate running, but there will be times you love it. It’s the “love” moments that get you out on the road time after time.

And the four words that push me out the door: “I can always walk.”

Not Giving Up. No, Not This Time!

I went running this morning. 2.5 miles. My usual. Humidity is still miserable here. 96% at 6:30 am with the temperature already hovering around 70 degrees.

I had to drag my whole body out of bed. I was tired and got up a little late. My knees are still achy from Saturday’s activities. It’s that time of the month. I read recently that when exercising, we (women) need to just get up and go. Don’t think about it. Just do it, as they say in the Nike commericals.

So I got up, got dressed, walked outside and slam! It was like walking into a wall of pea soup (the air was so heavy this morning, you could cut it). Ugh. I wanted to turn around and go back to bed.

But… I went. And I successfully completed my 2.5 mile run. It was a little slow (you know, because of the resistance from the atmosphere — I felt like I was running under water.) And even though I wanted to walk…I really wanted to walk, I didn’t. I kept running.

And I’ll tell you why. Even though, overall, I was really satisfied with my performance in Saturday’s race, not being able to run the whole way in the run part left me feeling somewhat defeated. I know, it was after swimming and biking. But I’ve been training for this and I coulda/shoulda just kept running because I know I could have. I let my head get in the way big-time. And for those of you who do this, you know once you give in to the voices screaming “WALK, WALK, WALK!” it’s really tough to tune them out.

I am a person who gives up on me easily. Not just with the diet and exercise thing, with everything. If something gets too tough and it’s something I’m doing for me, it’s always easy to find excuses not to do it anymore. Being so busy finding excuses, I didn’t realize I was even doing this until recently. No more excuses.

When I got up this morning for my first run after Saturday (walked Monday ’cause everything was still creaky from the race), I was really hesitant about heading out. What if I couldn’t run again? What if it was, heaven  forbid, humid again? And oh, was it humid again. But I run in humidity all the time. I live on Long Island. It’s summer. It’s a fact of life.

I was determined this morning to prove to myself that the tough run on Saturday didn’t signal the end of my running days. I was determined that this time, a setback wasn’t going to end in defeat. I was determined that I will continue doing this great thing for me, even if it isn’t always comfortable or easy.

I’m just determined. Not everything is easy. Not everything works all the time. But when we push through the difficulty, the rewards are even more satisfying.

So I ran this morning. The whole way. I ignored the voice telling me to walk. I thought about writing this blog post. I considered all of the other women out there who start/stop fitness programs because it gets tough or we struggle and feel defeated and figured, if I don’t give up and write about it, maybe someone else won’t give up either. I reminded myself of how far I’ve come and that I promised myself I was in this for the long haul.

I’m not giving up. No, not this time.

Take that humidity.

I’ll Do It My Way (and you should do it your way)

pizzaOver at the FoodFoodBodyBody blog, Foodie McBody has a post about eating an amazing slice of pizza after deliberating about it for a quite a while. Bottom line, she ate it, she enjoyed it, and she stayed within the boundaries of her health and fitness plan.

In the comments section, there was everything from “I could never eat pizza or anything else not on my healthy list” to me, who eats pizza at least once a week. A slice of heaven pizza is only 6 points, although, living here in NY, I usually count it as 8 on Weight Watchers. I fit it in to my points or I use weekly points. I can also stick to one slice, maybe 1 and a 1/2  if I’m particularly hungry.

The point is there is no one way to do the diet/exercise thing right. What’s most important is finding the way that works for you.

There are definitely foods that I can’t have in the house because I have no control, like Tollhouse Chocolate Chip cookies or potato chips and any kind of dip. There’s no stopping once I start. So I reserve those things for parties where the environment is somewhat more controlled and if I eat more than I should, I can’t continue the feast when I leave.

But I also know from previous diet starts and stops that to succeed, I need to be able to eat some of my old-time favorites with the new foods that I enjoy.

As I’ve proceeded on this journey, my tastes have changed along with my weight. In the beginning, I never didn’t have 100-calorie Hostess cupcakes in the house because if I needed a chocolate fix, that’s what I wanted. Now I don’t buy them regularly and I’m more likely to turn to a Kashi bar or cocoa-roasted almonds. However, that’s not to say I don’t have an occasional chocolate bar or get my hostess cupcakes once in a while. Those are foods that I can eat a portion of and then get back on track.

Following Weight Watchers has allowed me to continue to eat all kinds of food and lose weight without feeling deprived. I tried Jenny Craig once and lasted a week. I did Atkins for about 3 months. Those didn’t work for me but I know they work magic for other people.

With exercise, it’s the same thing. Some folks walk, some run, some Zumba, I triathlon.

It doesn’t matter what path you choose as long as you enjoy it and it’s something you will get up and go do on a daily or every-other-day basis. And you can always add/change it up as you go too.

There is tons of advice on how to diet and how to exercise to lose weight. But not all of those things work for everyone.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again because it is the one thing I have truly learned on my fitness journey this time: You can read all the advice and listen to all the experts but if you don’t like what they are telling you to do or you feel like you can’t stick to a program, it isn’t going to work for you. You have to experiment with different foods/exercises, find programs that you can stick to and do that.

Maybe it’s because we get so sucked in by the media and advertising about all of the diet claims that our weights go up and down so often. We can all lose weight on a program we can stick to temporarily, but can we keep it off when we can’t stick with that program anymore?

This time, I’ve taken it slow and steady and I know the changes I’m making will last a lifetime because guess what? I can still eat pizza!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.