Posts Tagged ‘fitness’

A Note Of Thanks To My Body

At my heaviest weight, I was 267 pounds. That was 15 years ago. Through the years, I dieted, stopped, exercised, stopped, dieted some more, and stopped again. Any of us who has a substantial amount of weight to lose can probably say the same thing. We rarely get it right the first time, or the second or the third time.

When I started on my latest and last fitness journey in 2008, I weighed 230.2 pounds the day I stepped on the Weight Watchers scale. I happen to know that I’d managed to drop about 5 pounds before then. I weighed 167.2 this morning. That’s 100 pounds from my heaviest weight to now.

Yesterday I ran 4 miles. Running 4 miles is something that I wouldn’t have attempted or believed I could do….ever. Certainly not when I was 267 pounds or 230 pounds. Not even when I was 18 and 140 pounds and in good physical condition.

I was on my way to personal training this morning with my friend Jen…there will more about her and her alternative approach to resistance training in tomorrow’s blog post…and I started thinking about how far I’ve come. I think about this a lot. It keeps me going.

And I realized that I am truly grateful for having been 230 pounds, even 267 pounds. I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but I do now. Our bodies are amazing. Amazingly loyal, and amazingly resilient. My body still carried me when I had 100 pounds more on it’s 5’4″ frame than I do now. And at 230 pounds when I decided to get fit this time, it let me walk first, and then run…and swim and bike.

Being morbidly obese comes with consequences. And make no mistake. I was morbidly obese. I got winded easily. I got tired easily. I had acid reflux and heart palpitations. I felt like crap. But I was able to keep going.

You would think there comes a point where the body just says, “Nope, not doing it anymore. Not moving from this spot until you start treating me better.” It seems to take a lot to get the body to that point.

Think about it. If you abuse another person, you end up in jail, or at the very least that person can be taken away from you. But if we abuse ourselves, and getting to the point of morbid obesity is personal abuse, even if it’s done slowly and with yummy sugary treats, the only consequences we face are personal.

I am grateful that I weighed 230 pounds. I abused my body, but it stuck by me. And when I was ready to start treating it right, it responded. With each step and each pound lost, my body has gotten stronger and rewarded me in ways I never imagined. I have energy. I feel great. Aches and pains are fleeting. My skin has retracted to fit my frame (for the most part).

I can tell you that if I’d stayed at a reasonable weight all of my life, I probably would never have started running. I wouldn’t have gone back to swimming. I wouldn’t have attempted triathlon. Why would I have had to?

I would have been normal sized but unfit. Because I weighed 230 pounds when I decided to get fit this time, I knew I needed to exercise and eat healthier to reach my goals. I’ve taken it slowly. I’ve had missteps. But my body sticks by me. And I’m encouraged to get stronger and healthier every time I look at myself in the mirror or run a longer distance.

So thank you body. At whatever weight, I couldn’t have done it without you.

And I promise this time it’s for good.

Triathlon Training Inspiration

When I decided that I was going to compete in triathlons back in November of 2008, one of the first things I did was look for other newbie or training triathletes to see what they were doing and how they were feeling.

When you’re nervous about doing something, it’s always good to know that you’re not alone. And when you see others accomplish what you are setting out to do, especially if they are coming from that beginner perspective, it makes it easier to believe that you can do it too.

I went to Ironman training sites and experienced sprint triathlon sites, and I have some of those on my blog roll because they are great for tips and I just think those bloggers are cool, but they are so far ahead of me, while I’m ultra-impressed, I’m also a little intimidated. Someday maybe I’ll be hardcore too, but not yet.

So I searched for blogs of newbies at my level or a little ahead of me. And I found two blogger beginner triathletes who I have learned so much from, I just needed to give them a shout out. While they are young enough to be my daughters and definitely in better shape than I was starting out, they were also starting out. And they have been very candid about their struggles as well as their triumphs. Following these two bloggers has gotten me over the hump a couple of times when I just wasn’t sure I could do it.

My blogger girls, Jessica, who writes Gearing Up; and Jill, who writes Finishing is Winning; just completed huge goals, with Jill completing a half marathon and Jessica finishing the Redman Sprint Triathlon (a 1500-meter swim, 28-mile bike and 10K run). You go, girls!

We have all come a long way from almost a year ago. And by following their journeys— warts and all— I know they will keep inspiring me to work harder and go farther.

Thank you Jill and Jessica!

I’d also like to thank Hanlie from FertileHealthy for bestowing an Honest Scrap Blog award on me! I will be responding to that tomorrow.

Missouri 60 Challenge Results

I had four goals for the Missouri 60 Challenge and I did pretty well with them although I didn’t hit them completely.

1. The weight-loss related project I’m working on includes moving my blog to my own host so I can do more with it. I’ve hit some technical difficulties (mostly user related because some days I’m a technical bonehead), but I’m almost there.

2. I finished my first triathlon! YAY! I had hoped for a finish of under an hour and it took me 1.06, but that’s ok. In hindsight, I was asking for a lot from myself. I finished. That was the goal.

3. I wanted to sign up for another race. I was thinking a 5K maybe, or even a 10K. Instead, I’m doing the Trek Women Triathlon this coming Sunday. Thinking big. And I’ve scouted out some 5Ks I’d like to do in the later fall. I’d also hoped to be able to run 4 miles straight by the end of this challenge. I’m close. I hit the 3.5 mark last weekend. With the new triathlon coming up though, it was more important to concentrate on the 3.1 distance… especially off the bike. I’m ready. And running four miles is right there as the next goal.

4. I wanted to be fitter than I was when I started. I’ve definitely accomplished that. I’m running farther, more consistently, and my swim and bike training has gotten better too. I feel great!

And to top it off, I’ve lost 5.8 pounds since the start of the challenge, bringing my total loss to 61.2 pounds. I’m getting there!

dianenow new diane

Not a huge difference on the outside, but there is a huge difference on the inside!

And there’s a huge difference from where I started. And boy, does that make me happy.

Here’s one from back before getting healthy. This has been a year of big changes…all for the better!

Diane_Vacation

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.

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. 🙂

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.

There Are Still Days…

There are still days where I wake up late and don’t get out to exercise in the morning or at any other time of the day, planned or unplanned. There are still days where I would like to eat anything that doesn’t try to run away from me and the more sugar the better. There are still days, after more than a year of eating healthier and exercising regularly, where I’d like to throw in the towel and go back to my old ways. There are still days where the threat of gaining the weight back doesn’t have nearly as much of an impact as eating cake would. Today is one of those days. Maybe it’s hormonal or the time of the year or lack of sleep/stress. Who knows?

I would have hoped that after more than a year of a healthier lifestyle, the lure of empty calories and laziness would have gone away completely. But they haven’t. My old behaviors still lurk in the back of my consciousness just waiting for a weak moment to spring to the forefront and sabotage all of my hard work. I’ve learned to resist for the most part, but resisting doesn’t make the day any easier,  and it doesn’t make the desire go away.

This morning I did not get out to exercise. And tonight I have a fundraiser to attend so there will be little or no exercise there either. I’m ok with that. It can be a rest day.

I have a doctor’s appointment at lunch today, so I can’t do too much damage foodwise. I’ll be at work all day and I only brought good food with me to work. I’ll make it through the day; I’ll work hard to be strong tonight too. And hopefully, the evil urges will go away by tomorrow. They usually do.

And that’s the difference between then and now. Then, I would just cave. Now, I cope.

  • This morning, I tracked all of the food I plan to eat today. I find that that helps me to stay on track.
  • I decided to sleep in this morning. Sometimes, I find if I’m really tired, it’s harder to resist temptation.
  • I’m drinking lots of water. I do this anyway, but on days like this, I drink more because it helps to keep me feeling fuller.
  • I keep peppermint tic-tacs on hand. Nothing tastes very good after a mint (except for water) and for a little while they kill the cravings.
  • I will remind myself how much better I feel now than I did then.
  • I will blog about how I feel and count on the support of my online friends to pull me back.
  • And if I’m still feeling like I really need something off plan tonight, I will allow myself a small indulgence. I will not have lost the whole day and sometimes it’s ok to take a little break.

Tomorrow will be a better day. I find that my resolve is usually back after a day like this. And having managed this day makes me that much stronger going forward.

When you’ve lived a sedentary life of overeating for a long time, like I have, staying the fitness course is awfully fragile. But each day like this where I win the battle over the evil urges, the fitness side gains a little strength. It’s a long road, and it’s worth every step.

Lifting The Limits – Why I Started Losing Weight

When I see people I haven’t seen in a long time, I am usually met with surprise at the changes I’ve made. After the “You look great!” comments, which of course I love, the questions start. “How’d you do this?” “What motivated you?”

Answering the how is easy: Eating healthier and exercise.

Answering the why is a lot harder. What was my motivation? Why did it work this time when it hadn’t in the past? That’s the $6 million dollar question.

I’ve always told people that I was turning 50 and I didn’t want to feel old. And that’s what I told myself too. But I knew that wasn’t the whole reason. I just couldn’t put my finger on it. After all, the age factor didn’t help when I was turning 30 or even 40.

I’ve thought about this often during the journey. Why, this time, is it easier to control what I eat? What makes me get out of bed at 5:45 and go swim or run or get on a bike? Why am I going to the gym this week to pay them more money so I can start Pilates and Yoga classes? What makes me believe that this is the time these changes will stick?

The answer came to me when I was writing yesterday’s post about swimming in the ocean after a long time away.

I had gotten to a point where I was allowing my weight and my fitness level to impose limits on what I could and couldn’t do.

Of course, we all have limits. I’ll never be an olympic gymnast, for example, and I can’t play golf to save my life.  I wouldn’t have aspired to those sports when I was 14 either. But I used to love swimming in the ocean. And I had stopped because I was out of shape and afraid that I couldn’t do that anymore.

At 48, I tore two rotator cuff tendons, a bicep tendon, and developed bursitis and arthritis in my left shoulder. Don’t ask me how. I’m not really sure. But it hurt to move my arm so I didn’t. And my shoulder froze and for four painful months, I couldn’t move my arm. Physical therapy and time helped me get my range of motion back. I didn’t need surgery, thank goodness. But I will never be completely pain-free in that shoulder. Had I been in better physical condition, maybe I wouldn’t have damaged my shoulder. Or even if I had, maybe my recovery would have been easier.

I’m getting older. There is no stopping the clock. And I’m ok with that. As long as I don’t let my age get in the way of the things I want to do in my life.  I realized as I approached 50 that it wasn’t my age so much as my fitness level that was limiting me. Getting winded going up stairs, being uncomfortable in a plane seat or walking on a beach, worrying that I was going to break a horse I was riding on vacation when I was only 20 pounds below the weight limit (that’s a whole different story!).

And it was more than that. When I bought my car in 2007, the seat was a little too small to be really comfortable. My knees hurt always and I couldn’t crouch down. Going up and down stairs to do laundry…ugh. I would get so winded. Walking anywhere carrying stuff would hurt my back. Activities I always enjoyed, I avoided.

I could have just continued to contribute my limitations to getting older. I know people who do that. But I also knew that wasn’t really the case. When I started Weight Watchers in July of 2008, I knew I had to do something. Did I think Weight Watchers was the thing? Not really. I figured I’d start and stop the way I always had before. And then something wonderful happened. I lost a few pounds and started walking again. And I felt better. And there was more energy. And I felt younger again and the whole thing just clicked.

I think then, even though I may not have consciously realized it until Saturday, subconsciously, I knew that my age wasn’t setting the limits. My fitness level was. From there, I’ve gone on to lose 60 pounds and participate in triathlons. And I’m planning to run a half marathon next year too. Why? Because I can. Because I’m redefining my limits.

I’m realistic as to how long it may take to reach these goals, but I’m not going to let my weight and fitness level stop me anymore from trying. Enough limits are placed on us from forces we can’t necessarily control. But I’m done limiting myself with unhealthy habits and a body that I’d forgotten had so much strength.

What’s limiting you and what can you do to change it?

A Day At The Beach

long island beachSaturday, I went to the ocean. It had been a very long time since I spent a day lazing on the sand, soaking up the sun and swimming in the cool Atlantic water. It was wonderful.

I grew up at the ocean. My father was a lifeguard when I was a little girl, and I learned to swim admist the rolling waves and breakers. As we got older, my father, a teacher, always had summer jobs managing town beaches and we spent many of our summer days and weekends covered in sand and salt water. It was a great way to grow up.

As I got older, my friends and I worked as lifeguards at the town pool, but spent every chance we got back at the ocean. I was a strong swimmer and was never afraid of the water. While I had a healthy respect and knew what to watch for and when to stay on shore, I was always drawn to those rolling swells.

When I had kids, I wanted them to have an appreciation for the ocean too. We had a pool in our backyard though, and because we now lived on the North Shore of Long Island, the Sound beaches (calmer waters) were where we ended up most of the time. Ocean trips were a little bit more involved and required time and planning. We didn’t get there as much as I would have liked. Add to that, that when my children were small, I was in the worst shape of my life. I was uncomfortable in a bathing suit and while I was still an efficient swimmer, I had nowhere near the stamina and strength I had when I was younger.

When my daughter was 11 (12 years ago), I took my children (my son was 9) and two of their friends to Robert Moses to spend a day at the ocean. My son was never comfortable swimming in the ocean so he and his friend stayed on the shore, playing in the sand. My daughter, on the other hand, had no fear, loved the water and jumping the waves. She even enjoyed it when the breakers grabbed her and sent her tumbling. She always came up smiling and ready for more.

On this day though, there was a storm offshore and the ocean was angrier than usual. The waves were larger than what we normally get on Long Island and the currents were powerful, including areas of rip tides. Kate, her friend and I were jumping waves about chest deep in the water (waist deep for me) when suddenly my daughter was being sucked out to sea. I snapped at her friend to get to shore, and I swam into the rip tide after my child. I caught up with her quickly and grabbed hold, but she was scared. I know that you need to swim parallel to the shore to get out of the rip and we were close to the edge, but she wasn’t having any of it and kept trying to swim toward shore.

And then I heard two whistles blow. I knew the lifeguards were coming for us and I was able to calm her that way. While I was a bit embarrassed (who ever heard of a former lifeguard having to be rescued) I was never happier than to hear that sound. I could probably have gotten myself out of the situation, but I was out of shape and I was tired. With ropes and buoys, we were towed safely to shore. It should have been my wakeup call that it was time to do something about my weight and physical condition, but it wasn’t.

Instead, I stayed away from the ocean. Not that I never went to the beach again, but I never went back to really swimming in the ocean after that. Until yesterday. Yesterday, the ocean was relatively calm, clean and comfortable, so I walked in, dove under the breakers and swam out a ways past most of the people. From there, I swam parallel to the shore for a while and then back, laid on my back and just let the rolling waves slide underneath me. I came out of the water refreshed and invigorated.

For my training, I swim all the time. I can log 1000-1200 meters in a training swim…in a pool. And that feels great.

But nothing felt quite as good as swimming in the ocean, my old friend, on Saturday. I felt confident and strong in that water. And that alone has made all of this hard work worthwhile.