Archive for August, 2009

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.

Soul Searching

I went to lunch with a friend yesterday. It was my last day of vacation and it was a nice close to a couple of days off from work.  I’ve gotten over my crazy binge-y days (well, sort of) and for lunch yesterday had a nice Caesar Salad with grilled chicken, dressing on the side. It was yummy and filling. And the whole way home, I wanted ice cream. Cold, creamy and sweet. I got home and had a bottle of water, thinking maybe that was just thirst. But about 15 minutes later, I went for the ice cream… (in a controlled fashion this time, light ice cream, 1/2 cup.) But I wanted that sweet. And I realized, I always need want something sweet after a meal.

Bear with me as I digress…

Last night I was talking with my sister who had gone to a past life regression session. She’s been sick on and off for a number of years now and she’s trying different therapies to get to the root of it. Traditional medicine can’t figure out what the heck is going on and she’s been told on a number of occasions it’s all in her head. Actually it’s just about everywhere but her head. She’s been diagnosed with Sarcoidosis (oh wait, that’s not what it is…even though the telltale nodules in her lungs were there) Lupus (oops, sorry, not that either), Hypo Thyroid (nodules there too but well, no, that’s not causing the other issues…), perimenopausal epilepsy (huh? ok a stretch, but more or less impossible to diagnose or dispute, and most likely not that either.)

She is now going for allergy testing, and through the program she is in, NAET, is trying to understand her emotions and how they may play into whatever she is dealing with, and how that might be affecting her relationship with certain foods.

From there, she decided to try past life regression therapy. She’s been told she’s an old soul…

Her regression therapy didn’t take her back to previous lives really. It did take her back, however, to when she was a baby and had pneumonia. She was 6 months old and in an oxygen tent in the hospital. Visiting hours were over and they made my mother leave. My sister put her arms up to be picked up for the very first time in her life, and my mother was not allowed to hold her. It broke my mother’s heart, and she told this story on more than one occasion.

Apparently it broke my sister’s heart too. What was so interesting is that she remembered not just that my mother left her in the hospital (she would have known that because she’d heard the story), but how she felt at that moment. Scared, abandoned and confused. It was a tough for her last night to dredge that up. But maybe, just maybe, it will also release some locked away emotion or fear that has had an effect on her health. Who knows?

Ok, so that was the long way around to a food story. Her story last night made me think about my relationship with food too. Where did it start? Where did it go so horribly wrong? I don’t have a normal relationship with food. I don’t think any obese or formerly obese person does. Obviously these things start in our childhoods. I had a therapist once tell me that everything we do, situations we put ourselves in, are attempts to re-create how we felt as children, because that is where we are most comfortable. For example, I grew up with four brothers, a sister and one bathroom. 🙂 My childhood consisted of ordered chaos and I’ve chosen jobs along the path of my life that are chaotic. I am also the oldest and have always had a strong sense of responsibility. So in my chaotic jobs, I’ve always had roles where I am the one who cleans up and makes sure everything gets done.

Growing up with four brothers and a sister and not a lot of money also meant that when dinner was put on the table, if it was something good, you had to eat fast if you wanted more. Not to mention, there was always a loaf of Wonder White Bread and Parkay margarine there with dinner. It was the ’60s okay? White bread was good for you, and it was ok to smoke during pregnancy.

My mother was a wonderful cook and she believed in balanced nutrition. We got our veggies, even if we didn’t like them.  Her specialty, however,  was desserts. So when she made us eat something we didn’t like, like liver and stewed tomatoes (my Dad’s favorite) or succotash (lima beans anyone?) or Pork Butt and Cabbage (actually that last one wasn’t too bad), it was always followed by some yummy dessert.

It was how they would bribe us to finish our dinners. Finish your lima beans and you get sugar! That wasn’t bad for you then either. Sorry, at eight years old, it’s tough to comprehend the starving children in other countries thing.

Desserts would be creamy homemade puddings, cakes, brownies or cookies and even, yes–I went for one of these last weekend–Whoopie Pies. My mother made those from scratch. Sometimes the desserts would be from the store…Ring Dings (does anyone remember them in the foil packaging? We’d eat the Ring Dings and then spend hours ironing out the foil. I’m not sure why.)

I was so conditioned as a child to expect dessert after a meal that it is what I look for still to this day. And I don’t know if it’s possible to change that conditioning. I don’t know that I will ever not want something sweet after something savory.

What I can change though is how I handle it. I want something sweet. It doesn’t have to be a gazillion calories and laden with fat and sugar, although that’s the most fun. There are so many portioned snacks that subdue that sweet urge just as well as a Whoopie Pie (470 calories folks, almost all fat). And fruit, that’s sweet too! Who knew?

For this food quirk at least, while maybe I can’t control the urge, I’ve learned to manage it more or less. Maybe it means I still eat a little too much sugar from time to time, but I’m eating far less of it than I would have in the past. And I’ve learned to savor it too. Somehow when I take my time and enjoy my food (another behavior that is taking some work), the calories just don’t seem to hang on as long.

Can you pinpoint any childhood habits, pleasures, behaviors that are affecting your adult eating? What are you doing about them?

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall

CatAndMirrorI have a magic mirror in my bedroom. When I was heavy, it was always kind to me. I’d get ready for work in the morning or to go out somewhere and it never made me feel fat, well not too fat anyway. There was no getting around the fat thing really. I was never that delusional.

But I always felt ok in my clothes until I’d see myself unexpectedly…in a store window say, or in pictures. Is that what I really looked like to other people? Because it wasn’t how I saw myself. As a fat woman, I generally dressed in clothing that was on the loose side. Even though all of the magazines said dress in fitted clothes to shed ten pounds instantly, I was never comfortable with that. Wear a belt? God forbid. In reality, I probably made myself look even larger than I was (now looking back at pictures), but my thinking was that if I hid the rolls, no one would notice? Silly, I know. How, after all, do you hide three chins?

Ok, so now when I look into my mirror, I recognize that I’m smaller but I still see myself much the way I saw myself back in the “fat” days. Remember, in this magic mirror I didn’t see a really, really fat girl. I have sucked it up and changed some of my wardrobe habits. I wear fitted clothes now and belts, sometimes. But I’m still not so comfortable there. Give me a nice roomy empire waist top….a long flowy skirt with elastic waist, a pair of jeans two sizes too big now, and I’m a happy camper. I feel smaller when I’m wearing clothes that are larger. I also like layers. I’m trying to wear clothes that are more fitted though. And I bare my arms and even my legs from time to time.

I ran into Macy’s the other day with my daughter right after work and I passed a mirrored pole and caught my reflection.

When I passed, I had to back up and look again. There was a small person there. That couldn’t have possibly been me, could it? I was even smaller in that mirrored pole than I ever thought at home.

And when I see pictures of myself now, I’m kind of shocked. Only one chin? A collarbone? Biceps? I see these things in the mirror at home but I don’t know if I believe them. I keep waiting for fat me to return; I know she’s still lurking inside my head just waiting to make her grand entrance.

I don’t know that I’ve accepted myself in this new fit body just yet. And I should have by now. I’ve been working on it for quite some time. Maybe it’s that I am still working on it that keeps me from really appreciating how far I’ve come. Maybe its simply that I spent so much time in the other body, I’m reluctant to let it go?

How could that be you say? Being fat is like a security blanket. You get used to having it around as a protective shield. And change is scary. Even change for the better. I mean what if after all this hard work, the benefits I thought I’d gain from my fitness quest elude me. I’m still me. I still have the same insecurities and fears. I’m still unorganized.  I still procrastinate with the best of them.

I know getting fit doesn’t change everything, even though I suppose I hoped it would have in some ways. Get fit and win the lottery! Doesn’t work that way, right?

But it has changed one very key component of my life and for that I am grateful: my health. And with my health, I hope to live long enough to work on all those other pesky changes.

P.S. I lunched with a friend today who I’ve seen a number of times as I’ve been losing weight. I was late and she was waiting and she admitted that twice, she saw women she thought might be me and then realized, no, those women looked like the old me, not the new me. It seems people who know me are still adjusting to the changes too.

And then she told me I look really good. She’s a good friend. 🙂

Tolerating Two Wheels

This isn't me. I do wear my helmet!

This isn't me. I do wear my helmet!

I tolerate biking. I don’t love it. I don’t hate it. It’s my least favorite of the three disciplines in triathlon training, and it takes a lot of self talk to get me out the door with my bike. If I didn’t have a race coming up in a couple of weeks, I would have hung up my helmet for the season.

I did go bike riding today though. 10 miles. It took me just under an hour, but then I wasn’t trying to ride fast today. I wanted to find a route that would be about 10 miles for safe training, so today’s ride was exploratory. When I ride it again this weekend, I’ll work on speed.

Overall, the ride was good this morning. I cruised through a neighborhood that I never go through in my car, the weather is perfect, and I felt like I got a good workout by the time I got home. Ten miles is the longest ride I’ve done and it felt easy enough. I wasn’t trashed after the ride, although we’ll see how I feel tomorrow when I bike and then run. In my race coming up, the bike leg is 9 miles and with less hills than where I was riding today.

Riding along, I kept thinking to myself “Why don’t I like this? I mean, I’m moving and it’s easier than running.” And then some woman pulled out of her driveway while I was approaching and I had to come to a quick stop to avoid being hit. She was on her cell phone.

Oh yeah, that’s right. I’m not a huge fan of biking because you have to take your two wheels out where the big boys (with four wheels) play and they don’t always watch out for the little guys.

The course I mapped out this morning keeps me on neighborhood roads with only a few places where I’m on high-traffic secondary roads. I give tons of credit to those cyclists who ride the major highways and routes. I don’t trust the cars.

Heck, rushing to work a couple of weeks ago, I almost backed into a woman walking behind my driveway. She was in my blindspot. And since I’ve started training outside, I’m extremely aware of others on the road and I always stop for bikes, runners and walkers who are crossing streets or coming up on my house. I got a much-deserved evil glare from the woman, and I felt awful about that for almost the whole day. I felt like if I could come so close to clipping someone and I have a raised level of awareness, how can I trust anyone else? The answer? I can’t. When we are out there training, we need to pay attention to those who are not paying attention to us. We’re moving targets.

Also, my bike is, well, borrowed. And not exactly right for the type of riding I’m doing. It’s a mountain/terrain bike and the tires are wide and the gears are clunky. I don’t know much about the mechanics of a bike, but I don’t think changing gears should be as clicky as they are on this bike.  I worry about things like low air in the tires, flats, etc. I need to learn more about the bike that I’m riding so I don’t get stuck if something happens to it. Plus, sorry, riding hurts my butt. Even with a cushy padded seat like the one I was riding on today.

When I was a teenager, I rode my bike everywhere. I rode to work every day, along major highways and roads and I never thought once about how dangerous it might be or that I might get a flat. It was a faster way to get to work than walking was.

I’d like to get back to that mentality on the bike now. I want to enjoy it as much as I did then and not worry about what could go wrong. I’d say for most of the ride today, I felt pretty confident and comfortable. But in cycling, there  is definitely as much thought and awareness that has to go into safety as there is into exercise or form.

To get started, I think I’ll head to the bike store this afternoon to see about replacing the mountain bike tires with road tires at least. Maybe they can give me a tutorial too!

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!

Triathlon Inspiration

womentriathlonI’m doing the TrekWomen Triathlon on Long Island on Sept. 13. And I have to admit, I’m a little nervous about this race. While it’s in the same park as my August race, this one is longer than that one by quite a bit, and I struggled in the first one. I finished, but it was tough! I was tougher.

At these first races, I’m not looking to break records or do amazing things. I’m just looking to finish and that’s how I’m training. I can do all of the parts by themselves. I just need to put them all together and not fall apart on the course in the process.I’ve been slacking a little on brick training (putting the disciplines together).

But I’m still nervous. What if the extra 3 miles on the bike and the extra mile on the run do me in this time? Well, I decided today that that’s not going to happen. I’m tougher than the race course. I’ve done this in training, I’ve done it in a race and I can do it again. No fear. Ok, a little fear, but not enough to stop me. I’m getting healthier and stronger every day, and I can do this. Even if it’s humid. Man, I hope it’s not humid that day.

So what gave me this resolve today? I mean, this morning, when I went out to run, I changed my mind and walked instead. 80 degrees with 94% humidity at 6:30am had a hand in that decision. But tomorrow is a swim/bike day. And Sunday, hopefully, will be a bike/run day, even if it’s in the comfort of the temperature-controlled gym.

What inspired me today was reading a post from the Secrets of a Former Fat Girl blog about her experience with a TrekWomen triathlon back in July. You can read the post by clicking on the link. She’s a triathlon newbie too. And her race report was nothing less than inspiring. Her triathlon wasn’t easy for her either. I don’t think these things are actually easy for anyone. But she powered through. And she finished. And she went on to do a half marathon after that. I think sometimes we are all just gluttons for punishment! But I can tell you there’s nothing like the feeling of accomplishment you get when you finish an endurance race, even a small one.

Not only did Michelle’s story help me renew my resolve, her experience with TrekWomen made it even stronger! Hers was a huge race with over 2,500 women. My last race had less than 300 athletes. I’m curious to see how large the NY Trek Women’s race is and how they do this. Michelle also talked about all of the support she received from volunteers, fellow racers and Sally Edwards herself. Amazing. I can’t wait to be a part of this. These races are worth it for the camaraderie alone. And I’m ready to get seriously training again.

For more information on Trek Women triathlons, click here.