Monday, August 30, 2010

With a little help from the Stones....

Back in my horse-riding and rodeo days (I'll post some pictures sometime soon), I was taught that when a horse bucks you off, you have to get right back on. You can't let it defeat you; otherwise, it'll just keep bucking and you'll never get anywhere.

So, I woke up this morning knowing I'd head back to the park. I began chanting to myself "I will not be defeated. I will not be defeated." And so I went, having stretched for about 15 minutes, drank about .75 liter of water and ate a banana.

In anticipation of today, I made a playlist for myself of songs in my library that get me going, either really happy or really angry but, nevertheless, songs that make me want to move. Today I chose my selection of The Rolling Stones to accompany me.

What a great choice!! They were fantastic today, enlightening in their own way (because you know you can't always get what you want but if you try sometimes, you might find you get what you need), and the songs I selected were perfect in tempo and vigor. I chose:

* You Can't Always Get What You Want - for warm-up
* Start Me Up - does this even need any explanation?
* Paint it Black - a fantastic song to run to!!
* Satisfaction - another great song to run to!
* Brown Sugar - just because I like it and its upbeat
* Sympathy for the Devil - which is a fantastic song to walk to, so I used it for cooling-down.

Mick, Keith and the boys were just what I needed this morning and this selection was perfect time-wise. I didn't run as much as I did last week, but I still got 2 circuits in and as the last "woo! woo!" from Sympathy was sung, I was headed back to my car about 35 minutes later.

So the Stones will definitely be added to my arsenal in the future. Who knew a bunch of old, wrinkled guys could provide so much motivation? :o)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Weigh-in no. 3

So, time for my weekly weigh-in!

Last week: 327.0
This week: 322.6

Weigh-in no. 3 (-4.4)

That's a loss of 4.4lbs!!

This is proof that I need to stay positive. The last part of this week was difficult - not really in the eating department, but with regards to energy/exercise. But I have to remind myself that I still exercised 4 times this week, which is more than I have done previously, and it obviously paid off so it's all ok. Was back on the horse today with kick-my-butt yoga this morning and will go walking (and maybe running) perhaps this evening and definitely tomorrow.

While flipping channels last night, I briefly paused on the Food Channel's "Man vs. Food" (which is a US program) out of sheer shock, horror and disgust. I tried to think that if at one time I would have thought a 4lb burger and 1lb basket of french fries he was trying to eat would have sounded times, it probably would have. But this time, I could just taste the grease coating the insides of my mouth even by watching it. yuck. So I'm noting changes in what sounds and tastes good to me, which is a milestone in its own right.

I read somewhere recently that "you crave what you eat" after a while. I think that's true. I am beginning to crave fruit and veg more.

The chocolate-craving monster came back last night though (1st time since the KitKat incident), so I did have a small bowl of Cocoa Pops (Cocoa Krispies in the US) cereal with a few strawberries. It seemed to have satisfied the beast.

So yeah, 4.4lbs down! woohoo!!

Friday, August 27, 2010

I think my body is in shock

"What are you doing to me???", it says. "I used to get to lie around, digest cookies and chocolate and pretty much whatever else I wanted! Now I'm being pushed to do things...horrible things that make me sweat and ache...and all that fruit and veg is rumbling around - what am I supposed to do with that??"

Ok, maybe not so much.....but I'm starting to feel it. I've been more tired the last 2 days than I have been the last 3 weeks. Yesterday, I ached from the yoga/core training on Monday and Tuesday and the walking/running I did on Wednesday, so I took the day off from exercise. Maybe I shouldn't have; maybe I lost a little momentum. Because today I could only do one circuit around the park and half the walking/running I did on Wednesday.

My body was protesting vehemently. Today, I did not feel triumphant. Today, I felt tired and sore.

I am convinced (thanks to my blog readers) that I need to get properly fitted for new shoes. As you can see, my old ones have about had it and are probably not providing me any helpful support. I feel the beginnings of what may be shin splints and so I need to take it easy until I can get those shoes. It's not bad, but tenderness that I need to pay attention to and not higher intensity which could make it worse.

So, I've modified the C25K plan a bit. Until I get new shoes (hopefully in about 2-3 weeks), I'll probably do a version of Week 1 in which I run for 60 seconds and walk for 3 minutes (180 seconds), and keep an eye on things.

The ambition is still there, but has just been tempered a bit by reality today.

All in time. Or as the lovely & tuned-toward-mercy Julian of Norwich said, "All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well"

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Jayme the runner? Doing the Couch to 5K program (C25K)

So I've decided to do the Couch to 5K training program. I've always envied runners and wished I was one, but it just never seemed possible. But if I'm learning anything these days, it's that the impossible is only in my head.

The Couch to 5K running plan is found here. But I am probably going to take it a bit slower (12-15 weeks instead of 9), depending on how I do, but the plan below is what they've worked out and what is on their site. But I'm aware that the last thing I want to do is injure myself, so better safe and slow than sorry. Gotta build up bone density, don't ya know...

So here's what I'm committed to doing:

Week 1 (3 times per week)

Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes.

Week 2 (3 times per week)

Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 90 seconds of jogging and two minutes of walking for a total of 20 minutes.

Week 3 (3 times per week)

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then do two repetitions of the following:

* Jog 90 seconds
* Walk 90 seconds
* Jog 3 minutes
* Walk 3 minutes

Week 4 (3 times per week)

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:

* Jog 3 minutes
* Walk 90 seconds
* Jog 5 minutes
* Walk 2-1/2 minutes
* Jog 3 minutes
* Walk 90 seconds
* Jog 5 minutes

Week 5 (3 times per week)

First Day:
Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:

* Jog 5 minutes
* Walk 3 minutes
* Jog 5 minutes
* Walk 3 minutes
* Jog 5 minutes

Second Day:
Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:

* Jog 8 minutes
* Walk 5 minutes
* Jog 8 minutes

Third Day:
Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 20 minutes with no walking.

Week 6 (3 times per week)

First Day:
Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:

* Jog 5 minutes
* Walk 3 minutes
* Jog 8 minutes
* Walk 3 minutes
* Jog 5 minutes

Second Day:
Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:

* Jog 10 minutes
* Walk 3 minutes
* Jog 10 minutes

Third Day:
Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 25 minutes with no walking.

Week 7 (3 times per week)

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 25 minutes.

Week 8 (3 times per week)

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 28 minutes.

Week 9 (3 times per week)

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 30 minutes.

The final workout! Congratulations!

According to their calculations, 30 minutes should be about 3 miles/5K. I'm focusing on times rather than distance for now just because it's easier for me to measure. But may switch over sometime later once I get a bit more running under my belt.

Speaking of under my belt, I need to get some new underwear to run in. The ones I have keep falling/rolling down! Not cool. Or are there some tricks I should know? Oh, and I need some new shoes. My 6 year old New Balances are a bit knackered. And a digital watch to keep better time than just counting as I go. But all in time, my dears....all in time....

Monday, August 23, 2010

Corn kills more people than terrorism

I ran across this today by way of F*ck You Cookie and I thought it was pretty interesting. Maybe it resonates with me more because of the whole mass hysteria going on with the Islamic center issue in NY near the towers site and or terrorism. Makes you wonder just what else we're ignoring at the expense of fixating on other things....but alas....

So, have a look at Chris Pirillo's blog and check this out:

Cravings and Appetite

So, a couple observations I've noticed this week. Well, today really....

The first is that despite all the advice out there that says to eat protein for breakfast because cereal doesn't sustain you and you're hungrier quicker, I say poo. I decided to test it.

After finishing yoga yesterday at 9:30am, I had a great breakfast of an egg, smoked salmon and reduced fat cream cheese bagel-type thing, with a banana and an apple. It was yummy, but I was ravenous by 11:30.

Today, I finished yoga at 9am and had a bowl of Special K with strawberries, blueberries and a banana. I felt full after I ate it and I wasn't hungry again until 1:30pm. And to be honest, that has been pretty consistent but I was doing the protein thing just because I thought I should. Maybe it's Special K in particular? I'll test that in the coming weeks with other "healthy" cereals.

Then, I've noticed over the last few days that lunch needs to be a pretty good-sized meal for me. If I don't feel full after lunch, I have a tendency to want to snack all afternoon. And when I have lots of yummy fruit to eat, that's fine....but sometimes you run a little low or just want something different.

And lastly, I had chocolate today for the first time in about a week. And to be honest, it's crossed my mind a couple times but I haven't had a serious craving for it, so I just haven't eaten it. But today I had 2 fingers of a Kit-Kat bar (I split it with Jim) even though I wasn't feeling the need for chocolate per se; and I shouldn't have because now I want more chocolate. As soon as I finished it, I could feel myself going, 'more! more!' I ate an apple instead, but I still wanted chocolate afterward. I felt a bit like I had succumbed to an addiction, fallen off the wagon, or given in to stupid temptation. So yeah, I think I'll save chocolate for the really desperate craving times and not tempt myself when I'm doing pretty good at other times.

What have I learned from this? That you have to do what works for you...and you have to be willing to test yourself to find out what actually does work. So far, my motto in this journey has been "anything in moderation" and I still stick to that, but it still requires me to 1) know myself and 2) make good choices. And know that chocolate is like a drug.

By the way, I had avocado last night with my turkey breast sandwich and it was yummy. A bit high in calories and fat, but also really high in fiber and vitamin C. It's not something I'll do every day, but when they're on sale I may have a bit once a week or so. I was never really a fan before and now I'm a convert. Still not keen on guacamole though, I don't think. But fresh avocado is da bomb.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Weigh-in no. 2 and a new goals

Ok, so I bought a new set of scales yesterday. They're cool and seem to be much more stable and reliable than the set I was using. The downside seems to be, though, that I'm still too heavy to use some of the fancier functionality of it where it measures your BMI, etc. That was a bit of a downer, but hopefully just a temporary one.

The number still fluctuates a little bit even with these new scales, so I weigh 2-3 times and then sort of do an average. So for today's weigh-in, the official number is....


*sigh* Yeah, I started 2 weeks ago at 326, but to be fair, it was a different set of scales, so I really have no idea if that number was accurate since it seemed to range so widely over the course of the week (322-330). I think I was just so shocked that I was over 300 that I just latched onto 326 that first day without really testing it. I really don't think I've gained anything since I've been eating a lot better and doing a lot more movement (walking, yoga, etc).

So, here's the deal: It's 327 today. I'll accept that and get on with it. In my mind, the two weeks prior to today have been a warm-up period, getting used to new ways of cooking, more activity, different patterns, etc. It hasn't been wasted time; it's been an opportunity to move into this new style of life slowly and intentionally.

Success tips say that one needs to set short-term, medium-term and long-term goals. I have two short-term goals. The first is to have lost 10 lbs by the end of September. That gives me 6 weeks and is completely do-able. I could aim for a higher goal, but given this whole scale thing, I want to be realistic and attainable. At that time, I'll also re-measure myself as well, so that I can track any changes in my body. My second short-term goal is that by that time (in 6 weeks), I also want to be able to run for 5 minutes straight. This is a bit more ambitious, but I think I can do it.

My medium-term goal is to have lost 30 lbs total by the end of the year (21 weeks). Again, an achievable goal as it requires an average of 1.4 lbs per week. I also want to set a goal of being able to run for 12 minutes straight, although with winter coming on at that time, we'll see how my asthma improves with the weight loss and whether or not my lungs will be conditioned for such a goal. Who knows - maybe I'll knock it out of the park...but I also don't want to set myself up for failure either, so I'll continue to assess that one as I go along and revise if I need to.

I feel good. I feel like I have more energy. I'm getting up earlier and don't feel as satisfied just lying in bed all morning like I used to. I feel strong. I am aware of my body, the movement of muscles and the strength required to do what I'm doing. I don't dread activity like I used to (although I still hate sweating and being hot...for now). So I take all of that as a good sign that this 327 number is a temporary thing.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Weigh-in no. 1 (belated)

Well, it's Thursday and I was to have weighed in for the first time and posted it on Sunday. But life sorta gets in the way sometimes, so if nothing else, this is a lesson in being flexible and not unduly strict with the carrying out of this mission, although life is back to normal now.

We had friends in from out of town from Thursday to Tuesday, so while I still paid attention to what I was eating and doing, I enjoyed the time we had with them and didn't exercise as much as I should have. So I was prepared to not have made much progress this week although I have been good in other ways.

But mainly, I didn't record my weight on Sunday because I discovered over the course of the first week that we need to buy new scales. The one we have is unreliable, I think. For example, my initial weight was 326. But the next day I weighed, it said 328. I chalked it up to not weighing at the same time of the day or perhaps the amount of water I had drunk previous to weighing. I know it can fluctuate during the day, so I didn't panic. The next day it was 327, but later that same day it was 330 (eek!!). And then on Sunday, I weighed in the morning and it was 324 (and had a little cautious celebration), took a shower, and out of curiosity weighed again 10 minutes later and it was 329 - and I know that my wet hair didn't add another 5 lbs and given what I was eating over the course of the week, I couldn't have gained that much regardless.

So, all that to say, we need a better set of scales so that I can weigh myself reliably. Until then, the weigh-ins may only be a mere suggestion of weight rather than an authoritative measure of loss. But I get paid in a few days, so hopefully it will be rectified in time for weigh-in no. 2 this coming Sunday. I want to get one of those scales that measure your BMI and everything, so it won't be a cheap-o scale.

I have to say, though, that my attitude toward this remains the same. Despite not being able to track weight progress over the last 10 days, my commitment to calorie counting and living healthier hasn't wavered. It's pushing me to organize my life and time in order to have time to exercise, eat regularly and be more intentional about those types of decisions. So, so far so good.

By the way, if you're looking for an easy way to count calories, I highly recommend Calorie Counter. It makes it really easy to keep track of what you eat (including nutritional values, so I'm learning I need to eat more things with fibre, potassium and vitamin A) and activity, then contrasting the two to see if you have a deficit (which contributes to weight loss) or a surplus (which contributes to weight gain). It's a lot better than writing everything down and trying to do the math in your head. Yay for technology!

So, on that note, I'll get back to other work and hopefully will post the next official weigh-in in a few days with my new trusty set of scales. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Realities of Being Fat

Ok, so I promised some pictures and measurements, which are below (I'm placing them lower so that if you don't want to see them, you don't have to.....but I need to post them in order to be open about this process).

However, before I do that, I wanted to say a couple other things that have occurred to me over the course of the last few days, about being fat and issues that come with my experience of it.

A lot of skinny people wonder (or I hear they do....) how in the world someone allows themselves to get this way. I think it's safe to say that even we, those who are this way, are equally perplexed. There are definitely contributing factors (diet, activity, genes, etc), but if one isn't pay attention, it just seems to happen.

As I said in my first post, I've been fat since I knew what being fat was. (FYI: just in case you're wondering, I'm intentionally using the word fat here....I hate it, but I hate obese more and heavy and overweight just don't seem to cut it.) Sadly, a lot of the memories of my childhood and my relationship with my family are bound up in the issue of my weight. While my parents were not toothpicks themselves, I remember diets of beets, turkey bacon and eggs (no carbs), dry tuna out of the can, grapefruit, cottage cheese, and various types of tablets or pills; doctor's visits where I felt humiliated and out of control; and attempts by my parents to bribe me to lose weight, which probably taught me that I could control the situation by not giving in (even though I so badly wanted to) from as early as probably 6 or 7 years old. My most memorable bribe was my dad's promise to buy me the best horse for barrel racing he could find if only I lost xx amount of weight (I don't remember if there was a figure). That was when I was about 15 or 16 years old (and, obviously, during my rodeo days...haha).

I am aware that there are emotional issues regarding control that are lurking here.....I will continue to explore them and let you know what I find.

Another factor was that, over the years, I convinced myself I was both fat and healthy. I'd say, "I'm not trying to lose weight; I'm just trying to be healthy." To some extent, that's still true but when I said that, I was hiding and in denial. My blood sugar was fine, my cholesterol was fine, my blood pressure was a little high in times of stress but was otherwise fine, and so on. The whole "you're a ticking time bomb" never really got to me (and to be honest, still doesn't really in the big scheme of things). But recently I've noticed other indications of poor health/living that make life more difficult, and that has been what made me decide: depression, exacerbated by weight gain, self-criticism and self-perception; achy joints, particularly on my hips, knees and ankles; lower back pain, made worse by an injury in 2003 but a persistent companion probably caused by the amount of strain carrying around my belly has on my back; feeling tired and run-down all the time (although I'm still trying to figure out how much sleep I personally need), which I guess is reasonable considering I'm lugging around about 160lbs worth of extra baggage everywhere I go. You'd be tired all the time too.

And then, I suspect that there are questions from those who don't have these issues, wondering what it's like to be fat. Let me tell you - the behavior of Monica on Friends in her earlier "fat" days or Gwyneth Paltrow's fat ("real") persona in Shallow Hal are not accurate depictions of what it's like. They're skinny people's perceptions or attempts to get a laugh, but not reality. They depict someone who isn't aware of how big they are. I have never found that to be true with myself or with others I know.

So, what's it like?

For starters, you know that sexy look a woman can have by crossing her legs? Yeah, I can't do that. I've never have been able to. And since I can't cross my legs, I'm always sitting like a man. A total turn-on, let me tell ya.

And do you know how embarrassing it is to get stuck in chair because your ass is too big and you've gotten wedged? You get to where you decide on where to go by what kind of seats they have in order to avoid this problem, or you figure out how to get in and out of the seat without (hopefully) getting stuck (sliding in & out from the front, rather than sitting down from the top helps). My most recent time in Sarajevo found me looking for cafes with benches rather than flimsy aluminum chairs that cut into my hips, or even recently identifying the movie theaters here in Belfast that have seat dividers that raise up to allow more space in the seat.

Related to that is the ever-humiliating airplane experience. Not only are the seats really narrow (causing severe pain on any flight longer than 2 hours and contributing to my feelings of claustrophobia), but once you get to a certain size, you have to ask for an extension for the seatbelt. Most attendants are discreet about it, but some aren't. And there's the whole experience of seeing people's eyes roll with disgust or dismay when they discover I'm assigned to sit beside them. It makes me want to say, "You know what? I'd rather not be sitting beside your skinny ass either...but we're both going to have to suck it up because this plane is full, so back off." Of course, I don't. I'm a nice person.

And then there's the other issue of clothes. Larger people are only able to shop for clothes in a select group of stores that carry our size. There's no running into Primark or Old Navy (although they do have bigger sizes online now) to pick up a cheap top for the weekend's festivities. Smaller people take for granted how lucky they are that practically every store has something that they can wear, if they wanted or had to. In addition, plus-size clothing stores for women are full of what I call "hoochy-mamma" clothes - sequins, awful prints, polyesters, really low cut necklines, etc...not really my personal style - and usually they're pretty poor quality as well, but still charge outlandish prices for them because of demand.

So, yeah....the realities of being fat. There's more, but I'll spare you further details. For now.

And speaking of realities, let me now post "beginning" pictures and measurements, so that they are recorded for posterity and for later comparison to mark progress. I need to do this because looking at myself in the mirror is caught up in my own self-perceptions and illusions, and isn't necessarily a reliable judge of change. It's much easier to see myself as I am through a photograph (which is why I usually hate having my photograph taken). All being well, this will be the last time these numbers are used and these pictures will quickly become the "what I used to look like" pictures.

And measurements this morning were as follows:
Height: 5'7"
Neck: 18.75 in
Chest: 50 in
Waist: 56 in
Hips: 62 in (Can we say "perfect pear-shaped body" here?)
Left Upper Arm: 15 in
Right Upper Arm: 15.5 in (I'm right-side dominant, so all my right side measurements reflect this)
Left Thigh: 31 in
Right Thigh: 31.5 in
Left Calf: 19.75 in
Right Calf: 20 in

So this information will also be added to the "Progress" tab and we shall see what the future weeks/months/years bring!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Day Two: some additional thoughts

I've been overwhelmed by the responses from people, both on here, by email, and on facebook. I knew the support I would have from loved ones far and wide would be one of my biggest assets, but even I underestimated just how much that would be. I feel loved.

I find that I'm experiencing a tension between strong self-criticism, fear of failure, and disgust with a knowledge that I need to be gentle, loving and nurturing of myself. I think there's a need for both sides, to be honest. Yin and Yang, positive and negative, male and female, triumph and defeat, a kick in the ass and a hug - it's all needed in order for life to be balanced. And probably, when it all boils down, it is balance that I seek. Right now, I am completely out of balance.

So I seek for this blog to be in balance as well. There are times when I will probably be fairly negative - talking about the difficulties, the realities of being overweight, the various stories and factors that contribute to that for me, etc. This stuff needs to be aired out. I can't hide anymore. It's imperative for me to be open about the process if this blog is going to work in the way I need it to.

But I want to challenge myself to be positive as well (which may not come easily at first, I'll admit). I want to make sure and talk about my triumphs, about what makes me feel good, about dreams and hopes, and to give others encouragement for whatever changes they also want to make in their lives because one of the things that stood out to me in the messages that came to me in the last day were the words "inspiring", "courageous", "succeed", etc. People are watching. I am not doing this alone; and what I'm doing here means something. I can't forget that.

In the next week, I want to post "beginning" pictures, measurements and other observations I've made about being the weight I am. I also want to begin exploring various questions I have related to food, nutrition, self-confidence, etc. So watch this space.

And to sounds of Jim singing along with Elvis in his version of "Battle Hymn of the Republic"....glory, glory, hallelujah...I bid you a goodnight. :o)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Inaugural Post - Here's to a new life and body!!

I've always been fat. I was the fat kid in primary school and I was the fat girl in high school and college. There's reasons for this - let's leave it at, perhaps, genes, processed foods, and a certain level of self-protection, which I may go into more later - but needless to say, I've been on most every diet ever known since I was about 7 years old. I've lost some over the years - my most significant loss was about 50 lbs in order to pass the physical to go work in Bosnia - but I've always gained it back.

So, I've been feeling quite a bit of dissatisfaction for a while now. At first, I was blaming it on anyone and everyone but me, but deep down I knew. When I hit size 24, I told myself that was it; I would not allow myself to get any bigger. And for a few years now, I've been pretty steady at that size 24. I said to myself, "This must be where my body wants to be" and resigned myself to it.

But in the last few months, I've noticed my clothes getting tighter, so to my horror as well as resignation I bought size 26 jeans for the first time. Chairs with arms on the side cut into my hips more than normal. My lower back hurts after most any type of exertion. My occasional bouts of depression have gotten worse. I don't feel sexy. I feel like a big blob. I have considered various types of bariatric surgery, but I simply can't afford it and it feels too extreme for me right now. So.....

Something has to change.

So I've decided to utilize one of my biggest fears to motivate me: the fear of being a fool or a failure. Once I post this and put it out for the public to see (and link it to my facebook) there's no going back. It is not an option for me to do this and then look people in the eye and say, "Yeah, I tried that but it didn't work - I couldn't do it." My personality is such that when I decide something (well, big things...) and tell people what I'm going to do, I have to follow through or suffer the consequences of my own condemnation (which can be really harsh).

Also, it would be remiss of me to not utilize one of my biggest assets: the people who love me. These people (you know who you are) have loved me without hesitation, without judgment of how big I am. They know I am more than my size. But they also love me enough to support me wholeheartedly in what I decide I need to do. So, in advance, I thank you all for your support. This will be a long, but hopefully encouraging and hope-filled, process.

Joining me in this is my partner Jim who has his own goals for losing weight, so I know I am not alone and will have someone else to hold me accountable in addition to my esteemed blog readers.

So here we go.

Height: 5'7"

Today's weight: 326 lbs.

Satisfied Goal: 175 lbs.

Dream Goal: 160 lbs.

I plan to do this with no fad diets, but the long and slow way with a permanent change in lifestyle. Just counting calories, cutting out processed foods, eating more fruit and vegetables, and exercise.

I'll post some pictures in the coming days so that there is a visual record of the change. I will also post once a week with a "weigh-in" in order to hold myself accountable to progress. So.....

Let the journey begin.