Tuesday, November 8, 2011

On a non-magical roundabout

I hate it when blog posts are like a broken record and become repetative.

As a reader, I like new information and insights, fresh ideas, further reflection, and a bit of narrative development.  To hear what comes off as being the "same ol', same ol'" turns me off.  I'd rather just not read it and imagine something is developing rather than hear the same ol' crap is going on.

Therefore I find myself in a dilemma.

It is for this reason that I have not been posting regularly on my blog since I completed my dissertation.  Since this blog is billed as one that is documenting my journey in seeking to "lose half my weight," if that journey is on a bit of a hiatus at the moment, it stands to reason that what would get posted would be the same ol' crap I've already shared.

I've gained.  I'm awaiting my Ph.D defense.  I feel lost.  I'm not sure how to get my focus back.

Yadda.  Yadda.  Yadda.

Obviously, if someone else were saying this to me, I'd encourage them to shift their paradigm a bit, look at what else could be considered, written about, reflected upon, and explored in order to get one's mojo back.  If someone else were telling me that all they had to say was the same ol' crap, then I'd say they needed some new lenses with which to see the world.

But it's not someone else.

It's me.

And when I think of all those lenses out there I could be using, I just want to curl upon the couch with a cup of tea and the latest episode in my discovery of The Wire, and wait for the internal demands I'm placing upon myself to quieten.

Abstract Crossroads (2009)
DragonArtz Designs
It's obvious that I'm at a crossroads in my life right now.  But rather than it being a straight-forward 4-way, it feels more like a big, jumbled, confusing, scary mess.  That's why I'm having a difficult time communicating it here without sounding like I'm going in circles on a roundabout of the non-magical variety.

And since I tend to exhibit a *tiny* bit of road rage when I drive, I imagine my lost self as one of those annoying people who sit at an intersection trying to figure out which way they want to go, causing me (the part of me who just wants me to figure it out already) to miss the light and sit in traffic longer than I had planned.

Gentle, lost Jayme says:
Take your time, hon.  You're grieving the end of this all-consuming process you've been a part of for 4 years.  What you're feeling is natural.  What you need to do and how you should do it will come to you.  Whatever you need will eventually bubble up to the surface and you'll figure it out.  Don't rush it.
Impatient, road rage Jayme says:
C'mon!!  What is your problem??  You've turned that damn thing in almost 6 weeks ago!  Life goes on.  Get over it.  Hurry up! I've got places to be and expectations to meet!  *HONK HONK*
Fun, eh?

And then I read a post today from Jane Taggart on BlogHer about intimacy and the cost of blogging, asking if bloggers have an obligation to their readers to regularly post and keep everyone who follows you updated on what is happening.  She asks a really great question:
Do we, as bloggers, have any obligation to our Lovely Readers? What happens when life or writer's block or boredom gets in the way and we suddenly find ourselves unable to produce any kind of publishable content? Do we owe readers an explanation? Would we give a dear friend an explanation if we were getting ready to plunge into the depths of the no-contact abyss for months at a time? Is it the same thing? ...

... We think we're out here, blogging, for ourselves. But! The moment we advertise ourselves and gain a following...whether that following is 10, 100, or 100,000+...we owe something to our readers. Something tremendous. Something well beyond ourselves.

In my effort to be authentic, my readers have always had my guarantee that I will always write about where I am in my journey.  If, for now, my journey has been delayed at a rest stop along a deserted highway, do you still want to know about it? I wonder, my dear readers, what part of my story these days you want to hear about?

Eventually, I will get back into losing weight (sooner rather than later, hopefully), but in the meantime, I do not want to bore you with the same old posts, trying to will myself to do something I'm obviously not yet ready to do.  (Yet, I'll admit that to me they're boring but you may very well say they aren't....maybe it's just because I think about it so much more than I write about it).

Maybe if I have some ideas, I can try to meet them and somehow find my way back in the process.

One must always hope.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Adrift in a sea of......nothing

So much for snapping right back into the weight loss efforts and life as I knew it pre-intensive-dissertation-writing time.

Digital Photograph by Matt Stidham
It's been three weeks since my last post and I'm not really any closer to getting back into the groove of things as I thought I'd be.  It's funny - when I was in the midst of writing, I wanted nothing more than to be done so I could get on with my life, doing things I'd had to stop doing in order to finish.  And now that I'm done?  I feel adrift, disjointed, and a little lost.

I knew I'd feel this way, to some extent.  You don't pour your heart and soul into something for four straight years, turn it in, and then simply go back to life as you knew it.  I knew there'd be a period of feeling aimless and grieving the end to the process.  What vocational purpose I had in life (beyond this particular part of getting fit) is somewhat diminished.  For four years I have called myself a PhD student and when asked what I do, I had something to say. 

Now?  I have no idea.  Given the current state of theology/religion departments in the UK, chances of me finding a job in academia are pretty slim.  So I find myself facing the prospects of blazing new trails, working freelance, writing and doing informal education - but such a possibility feels a bit overwhelming right now. 

There's a part of me that's tired of being a pioneer.  It's always been my default.  I feel like I am always fighting against the current, doing things differently, taking the road less traveled by.   Despite the positives of such action, I'd like to travel in someone else's slipstream for just a little while.  I really don't have the energy for whacking through all the brambles and undergrowth, clearing a bit of earth, and building something new right now. 

There's too much unknown.  I don't know if my dissertation will be passed by the examiners (my defense is in December).  I don't know yet if my current job will continue beyond the end of the year.  I don't know where I'll be living 6-12 months from now.  And after all these years of preparing, I don't know if the world wants what I've got to give if I did go my own way.

All of this, as a result, takes its toll on my efforts to be healthier.  Over the last three weeks, the scale has been as up and down, bobbing along as I have.  281.6, 278.2 and today's 280.

I'm eating good stuff (for the most part), but just too much.  And I have determined that I am definitely a binge eater.  That has become apparent in the last 3 months.  And I am going to the gym, but not enough (about once a week so far).  I'm not recording, I'm not keeping track, I'm not counting.  And so I'm not seeing results.

I decided to go back and look at where I was a year ago on this here blog and I found something interesting.  Roughly this time last year, I wrote a post about priorities that was an attempt to kick myself in the tail and get back in gear.

Is there a pattern here?  Is October my "drift" month?  Is the waning daylight connected to my despondency (aka "lack of courage and umph")?  It's totally plausible.  Add on top of that this period of life I'm in and it's no wonder I'm struggling.

So maybe this is an opportunity to start fresh, to wipe the slate clean, to make a new schedule for myself and see what rises to the surface after a few weeks.  I want to be gentle with myself, acknowledge this place of life that I am in, sit with it and not try to make myself busy in order to gloss over it.  But I also know I can't sit with it indefinitely.  Eventually I need to act. 

So today I'm going to spend the day figuring out a schedule, making a list of priorities and what needs to get done work-wise, figure out how to map some ideas I have, and see what happens.  I may also change my weigh-in days to Wednesdays.  Sundays just aren't working for me, really.

Will let you know how I get on. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

And now we return to our regularly scheduled program....

Well, it's been almost 2 months since my last post - and holy cow, what a 2 months it has been!  Seriously, it has been a roller coaster ride of emotions, pressure, stress, writing, editing, and more as I've spent the last 2 months finishing up my Ph.D dissertation.

But it's handed in now (I did that a couple days ago) and life is slowly returning to some semblance of normal, albeit a strange kind of normal without having this idea of the dissertation always looming.  My defense is in early December, so it's not completely done.  I'll need to go back to it, read, and do a bit more research in preparation for my defense.  And then, in the defense, most likely there will be recommended revisions before it passes.  So the process is not completely over, but barring major revisions, the hard part is done.

Want to see what it looks like?

the front cover

first page of chapter four

one of the prettiest pages to me - footnotes are beautiful!

A few stats about this thing.  It turned out being:
  • 395 pages (352 pages of text + 34 pages of bibliography)
  • 87,859 words in main text 
  • 48,978 words in footnotes
  • approximately 1,200 paragraphs
These 395 pages represent four years worth of work for me, and while I know I need to be proud of this achievement (and I am), it's hard to celebrate fully until I know what my examiners think.  I can think I did the most amazing thing in the world, but if my examiners don't like it, it can all be for naught.  So early December will bring the result and will dictate just where I stand in the whole process.

So it's not over.  But it is over for now.

And so now life returns to what it was before the madness began.

So, where am I on the whole losing weight thing?

Heavier than I had hoped I'd be, but about what I expected.  Shall we reveal the toll the last 2 months have taken?

Drum roll please....

2 October 2011 weigh-in

Starting weight:                          327.0
Last weigh-in (9 August):          270.6
Current weigh-in (2 October):   279.6    
Gain of                                       + 9.0

Total Loss                                -  47.4 lbs

Yeah, it's a little disappointing I have to admit.  I was doing pretty well at maintaining until these last 2 months, and then all health-related habits pretty much took a hiatus with my blog.  
I wish I could have continued to lose or maintain.  But at the same time, I know I need to give myself a break.  I have just completed the hardest thing I have EVER done....and probably one of the hardest things I will ever do.  The task was immense, to say the least.  And so, a 9 pound gain, in the big scheme of things, is not the end of the world.

I'm headed back to the gym this coming week.  Time to get back into the routine.  I miss running.  I miss swimming.  I miss feeling strong.  I feel flabby, slobbish, and weak again.  I feel tight, inflexible, and heavy.  My lack of exercise and improper diet (particularly not enough fruit & vegetables) has wreaked havoc on my digestive system, skin, and mood.  I didn't want to go back to that, but this dissertation exacted its price in whatever way it could, and unfortunately, that's what went.

But what's done is done.  
And watch out, October, because I'm gonna try hard to knock you out.

What have I missed in your world?  
And what do you do to get back on the horse after a break?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Weigh-in no. 47: the kid's alright...

It was my blog's one year birthday yesterday!  My first post was on 8 August 2010 and, my my...what a year it has been!!

After last week's weigh-in, I was feeling a little defeated, reluctantly resigned to the idea that, yes, I am probably going to gain a bit over the next 7 weeks as I try to finish my dissertation.  Somewhere in my head, I had translated last week's 272 weight to 273.  And just to beat myself up a bit more and know just how bad I've been doing, I weighed yesterday morning (notice I didn't even bother to weigh on sunday) expecting to see 274 or so....

and lo and behold....

Weigh-in no. 47 (-1.4 lbs)

hot diggity dog!!

Starting weight:   327.0
Last week   :        272.0
This week:           270.6    
Gain of                -   1.4
Total Loss          -  56.4 lbs 

* sigh of relief *

Blame it on stress, blame it on water weight gain, blame it on whatever....but man, I feel so much better knowing that I actually am maintaining rather than gaining.  At 270.6, I'm only up 0.8 lb from when I started maintaining in June to finish my dissertation.  Suddenly, I go from disappointment in myself to pride in a matter of minutes.  Crazy, huh?

I'm usually loathe to blame gains on the time of the month or whatever for myself, mostly because I have a Merina IUD which pretty much causes me to hardly ever have a period, but this past week I had a bit of one.....and that must have been what caused the gain.... because I haven't eaten any differently than I have been eating....

And let's talk about the whole eating thing.  I still eat healthily.  I looked at our grocery basket Sunday night when we went to get groceries and it was full of fresh fruit, veggies, complex carbs, healthy proteins, and the like.  Despite the gain I thought I had, I was proud that our eating has changed and that even at this stressful time, the basket wasn't full of junk.

'Cause you know what?  If the house had junk in it, I'd be eating it right now.  I've mentioned it before, but I want to say it again: this whole losing weight business takes a lot of time and energy.  Some folks think that it's just a bit of a shift and life continues on as normal, but it doesn't.  At this particular stage in my life as I devote 90% of my mental energy to the labor and delivery of this PhD dissertation, I have been overwhelmed with the reality that I just don't have the energy to count calories and give serious thought to my food choices.  The amount of energy that it takes to have that mental conversation, talking yourself out of eating something....it's just not there.  

Which is why grocery shopping has been so important in this process.....that is the only time I really have to be intentional about what is purchased and stocked in the house.  

In other news, I had a chance to meet up with friends this past weekend (which is a big deal in and of itself....this whole PhD malarky is such a solitary business!!) and, after hearing my disappointment in gains (this was before I weighed), they encouraged me to post about everything I'm losing right now - not just weight but things I'm ticking off my list that show progress on the dissertation front.

I don't want to bore you with details, but I will share where I am and what I still have left to do, just so this all makes a bit more sense (as it's ridiculous for me to assume everyone knows the kind of stuff I've been busy doing):
  • Since June, I have wrapped up writing and editing five chapters, totalling roughly 240 pages (66,000 words in the actual dissertation, 36,000 words in footnotes).
  • Yesterday, I sent those 5 chapters plus an argument summary for each section and a table of contents to external readers and supervisor for editing, proofing and feedback.
  • I still have my final chapter - chapter 6 - to finish, plus overall introduction, conclusion and abstract/summary to write.
  • And finally, I have to make whatever changes my external readers suggest I make and final edits to the entire dissertation once it's all finished.
And I have 6 weeks left to do it all.  Turn in date is 30 September, but it needs to be finished about a week before that in order to have time to get it bound into soft cover (paperback) in order to be submitted for examination.

At times (mostly it's when I'm getting down on myself about not losing weight), I begin to think that what I'm doing isn't that big of a deal, that I'm making it into a huger deal than it actually is.

But other times, when I consider that it's taken me almost 4 years to get to this point, and that this is the culmination of a LOT of work, stress, and thinking, I give myself a break.

And it occurred to me the other day that I have never once heard anyone say, "Compared to this, doing a PhD is a piece of cake," or "My PhD was so much easier than __fill in the blank __."  One friend reminded me this week that its supposed to be hard, otherwise everyone would do one.  And this process is supposed to weed out those who can't produce what one needs to produce in order to get those letters behind one's name.

But is my success guaranteed?  No.  I could do all this and still not pass.  What are the chances of that happening?  Ummm....I'm not sure.  I'll have a better idea when I hear back from my readers in about 3 weeks' time.

So, with all that going on, I have to give myself some credit; a .8 lb or even 5 lb gain isn't that big a deal.

Mel Gets Fit posted this image on Twitter the other day and I loved it. (btw, you should check her out - she's doing great work!)  It seemed to sum up not only my weight loss journey, but just where I am in general right now on good days...or what I have to remind myself of on bad days:


1 year on and I've lost 56.4 lbs (4 stone) and am churning out some of the hardest work I've done in my life. 
I think that's worth celebrating!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Weigh-in no. 46

I'm still here.  Two weeks since last weigh-in and up two pounds.

Starting weight:   327.0
Last week   :        270.0
This week:           272.0    
Gain of                +   2.0
Total Loss          -  55.0 lbs

I didn't post last week because I didn't have anything to say.  And, while I don't really have much to say here either (or at least I don't think I do....), I couldn't not post.  

Two months from yesterday, all being well, I will be finished with my interruption in trying to lose weight.  My dissertation will be handed in and life will return to a new version of normal.

Some reflections on things as they stand at the moment:
-  I'm starting to feel fat again.  I'm only up 2.8 pounds from my lowest weight, but I can feel it creeping back into my psyche.  It's partially related to my gain, but mostly I think it is because of my substantial decrease in exercise.  Sitting on my bum all day at a desk typing away isn't doing a lot to keep the slob monster away.
-  I recognize that my quest for balance feels a little out of balance with my priority toward this dissertation taking center-stage.  And yet, I feel as if it is the best thing I can do for me at the moment.  It's not my only choice - I could quit, get an extension, or whatever - but it's the only thing I want to do.  It has to get done, and the sooner the better.  And I think it's just part of life that sometimes you have to put important things aside for a short amount of time to get other important things done.  It doesn't make it easier though....

So, that's where I am.  Hanging in there.  Waiting for October 1 to hurry up and get here - but not too fast because I still have a lot to do!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Weigh-in no. 45: between starshine and clay

Weigh-in no. 45 (-0.6)

Starting weight:   327.0
Last week   :        270.6
This week:           270.0    
Loss of                -   0.6
Total Loss          -  57.0 lbs

I'll take it. 

This week has been a bit blah for me, so a loss is welcomed.  Everything sort of culminated this week in my mind - the weight of my dissertation, the weight of the f*%cked-up-ness of this place I live in called Northern Ireland, the weight of my attacks of self-doubt that I'll actually pass and get those three letters after my name and a decent job after all this work, my actual weight and inability to focus on it right now....

So I've been a bit down this week.

But things are coasting slowly back up.  I've made some decisions regarding my research and what I need to do to get it done, I've tried to note where my doubt is rational and irrational and act accordingly, and have reminded myself who I am, where I want to be, what kind of life I want and what it'll take to get there.

I'm aware that this period in my life is a transition time as I know I am finishing up one big thing to eventually move into something new.  Those times in life (and I've had my fair share) have always been hard for me.  You'd think I'd deal with change well after all the moving and re-starting somewhere new that I've done in my 35 years...but the unknown and insecurity about what the future holds always weighs on my mind when transition is imminent.  

And the fact that I'm not self-destructing by gaining a lot of my weight back in all of this is pretty amazing, really.

Note to self:  Take heart.  Have courage.  You've learned a lot in the last few months.  You're human and you'll continue to make mistakes, but look at all you've done with your life thus far.  You're gonna get through this, and it'll be fine.  Your mantra has always been "Somehow, it always gets done and things work themselves out."  No reason to stop saying or believing that now.

One of my favorite poets is Lucille Clifton and I am reminded of a few lines from my favorite poem of hers, called "song at midnight," on these days:
won't you celebrate with me
what I have shaped into 
a kind of life?  i had no model.
born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay
my one hand holding tight
my other hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.
Lucille Clifton, "song at midnight," from her collection called Book of Light (Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 1992)Available on Amazon here.

And so I continue to move forward.  One foot in front of the other.  Without drama, but with determination.  One page and one footnote at a time.  Trying to asking no more of myself than to do the very best I can, knowing that it will not (and should not) be perfect.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Weigh-in no. 44

Weigh-in no. 44 (- 0.8 lbs)

Starting weight:   327.0
Last week   :        271.4
This week:           270.6    
Loss of                -   0.8
Total Loss          -  56.4 lbs

I get the feeling that over the next couple months, I'll keep losing and gaining the same couple of pounds over and over.  But as I decided a couple weeks ago, I've committed to maintaining until I get my dissertation finished (I know y'all are going to get tired of hearing about it, but it is pretty much all my life consists of right now!).

However, perhaps I should say that even though I didn't go to the gym this week, I did run/walk intervals and churned out 45-50 pages.  That, I think, is worth celebrating!

Also, my best friend back at home put some goodies in the post for me for my birthday, including some clothes that I had ordered from Old Navy (on a side note: jeans here in the UK/Ireland don't seem to be made for big-bottomed girls.  Most larger women I see here (or most people in general, I have to say) have kinda flat patooties.....and, for that reason, the jeans just never seem to fit me right around the hips and ass area.  So I have to order them from the states).  I ordered 2 XXL t-shirts (not the plus-size, but normal XXL) and 2 pair of jeans in size 18 & 16, so I could work my way into them over the next few months.  The t-shirts?  Kinda big!  I can still wear them, but I think I could have gotten away with an XL in both.  And the jeans?  I could put on the 18's and wear them, but I wouldn't leave the house in them just yet.  So nearly there....and while I've committed to maintaining, perhaps they'll be a good motivation to lose just that little bit so that I can wear them.

On the exercise front, I find myself a little frustrated with the whole running gig.  I still like doing it and I'll continue because the movement I'm doing, regardless of the time I'm able to do, is good.  However, as you may notice if you read the blog regularly, before I left on vacation in early June, I was able to run 13 minutes (1 mile) on the treadmill without stopping.  Not a huge amount, but a hard-won and kinda big deal for me.  

Granted, it was on a treadmill.  With no resistance or incline.  In a climate-controlled gym.  

And I took a break from running for about 3 weeks.

And now I'm running outside, around my neighborhood.  There's hills.  Gentle inclines, more like....up and down....

But damn if it doesn't almost kill me to do 3 minutes now!!  I went back to Couch to 5K training just for the ease of things (time, music, prompts, distance measured, etc) and Week 3 kicked my ass.  What the hell is that about??  (can you tell by my profanity that I'm frustrated?)

Seriously...I'm heaving by the 3 minute mark...WTF?

Oh well.  At least I'm not getting stitches or shoulder pain anymore, which I was getting when I first started running outside.  And I'm learning how to regulate my pace better.  And I'm getting my heart rate up despite the amount of time I actually run.  So I'll keep at it.....but still.  Damn.  Kinda makes me mad.

Oh, and I've figured out the snack food for the library thing.  Measured servings of dry cereal like Cookie Crisp or Cheerios seems to do the trick for me with the need for crunchy, bite-size snacks instead of M&Ms or the like.  The roasted chickpeas didn't turn out so well - a bit like unpopped kernels of popcorn at the bottom of the bag - so I'm not sure if I did them wrong or if that's just the way they're supposed to be.

And that's me for the week.  Wish me luck - chapter due to my supervisor this coming week!!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

weigh-in no. 43: Mindful vs. Mindless Eating & #DIY5K

weigh-in no. 43 (+ 2.0)
Starting weight:   327.0
Last week   :        269.4
This week:           271.4    
Gain of                +  2.0
Total Loss          -  55.6 lbs 

Yep.  A gain.   To be fair, some of it is water gain I think: my feet and hands feel a little puffy, mostly since I did my #DIY5K run/walk yesterday (more on that below) and didn't drink enough water over the course of the day afterwards.

But still, I'll admit that my eating was out of control this week, wanting to snack and munch like my life depended on it.  Most of it was healthy (except for some M&M's and Galaxy Minstrels), but that problem of just eating too much of good things has probably taken its toll as well.

Is it emotional eating?  I'm not feeling particularly emotional right now - positive or negative.  There's a moderate amount of stress due to all that's on my shoulders at the moment, but, to be honest, I expected to be much more stressed out than I am at this stage.  But as I've said before, I find that oftentimes I mindlessly eat out of boredom or out of just not knowing what else to do.  And as I sit there all day in the library trying to give  birth this 80,000 word (200-300 pages) dissertation baby, I just find that I keep wanting to nibble on something to do something else besides just stare at the screen and write.  Hence, the M&M's and Minstrels.

On a subconscious level, I wonder if I'm eating in order to feel some satisfaction, a sense of being full, a sort-of completion.  Working with something that will take a while longer to complete, I wonder if I'm eating in order to stimulate that feeling outside of the actual experience of being done?  I've searched high and low for negative issues like sabotage, but I don't think it's there.

At the same time, I have noticed how much time and energy it takes to eat mindfully - particularly since this week I have eaten somewhat mindlessly.  Now that I have something else that is requiring a huge amount of my time and energy, I find I have little left over to devote to planning meals, talking myself out of snacks or finding other activities to divert myself, etc. 

Exercise has been fine this week; I've run 3 days this week in the neighborhood and have felt good about my progress, considering my decision to scale back a little bit.  I've actually gone back to Couch to 5K (C25K) training just for the ease of time, distance, and intensity (and I've got a great iPhone app!).  I started back at Week 3, which is fairly easy but given the hills and resistance running around in my neighborhood provides, I thought it'd be a good place to start.

Also, I signed up to the #DIY5K for the month of July.  Have you heard of it?
DIY 5K is a monthly challenge to complete a 5K at any time during the month, race-style. You can run it or you can walk it. If you're handicapable and use another modality (bike, wheelchair, etc.), you can do that. It does not matter - this is your 5K, your way.
In addition to signing up to the challenge, I've decided to take it further and challenge myself to do a 5K once a week during July.  I thought that a do-able and yet hefty enough challenge for these next 3 months.  And I've set myself a baseline time of 58:44 that I'll work on beating each week.  1 week down.  4 more to go. 

What challenges - private or with others - 
are you participating in right now?

What are some ideas/recipes for snacking/nibbling that are a better choice? Roasted chickpeas? Kale chips?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Weigh-in no. 42: Decisions made

First, I want to say thanks to everyone who gave me feedback here on my blog and on Facebook about last week's post, as I was trying to figure out how to negotiate the priorities and limited time and energy I have between now and the end of September when my dissertation is due.  Your moral support, ideas and just general encouraging presence were very helpful!

My last post was Wednesday this week with last Sunday's weigh-in.  That day, the issues were pretty much coming to a head.  I was disgusted with my lack of activity, feeling slothful and slobbish, noting a decrease in energy, and finding that my eating was pretty off-track as a result.

So, I decided that, while I may not be able to devote the same amount of time as I have in months past, I can't face 3 months of not exercising.  I can't face how I know not exercising would make me feel.  And so, I am going to keep at it.

I may not do as much time at the gym as I had been, but I'm still going to try for 3-4 times per week.  This morning, I went for a run in my neighborhood, it took me 35 minutes instead of the 1 hour + it would have taken me to drive to the gym and run on the treadmill for the same amount of time.  So, I'm going to aim for going to the gym 2 days a week (at least one of those will be for swimming) and the rest I'll try to do here at home unless the weather's just terrible.  We'll see how I get on.

Now for today's weigh-in...

Weigh-in no. 42 (-0.4)

Starting weight:   327.0
Last week   :        269.8
This week:           269.4    
Loss of                 -  0.4
Total Loss          -  57.6 lbs

It's better than I was expecting.  Given my seeming inability to say no to food (even though I wasn't hungry!) that was just sitting in front of me several times this week (leftover catering on Tuesday, homemade pizza on Friday, fries and onion rings last night), I was expecting to see a 270+ number.  That I actually had a loss was a nice surprise this morning.

But I feel better than I did on Wednesday.  I've exercised three times (swim Thursday, run/elliptical Friday, run this morning) since then and things feel back to this new normal I've come to rely upon.  Crazy how that happens, huh?  I'm still amazed.

All in all, I'll be happy if I maintain or just lose a little bit between now and 30 September.  Given the pressure and stress of these next couple months, I think maintenance would be a victory and anything more than that would be spectacular.  And by maintenance, I mean both weight and exercise; maintaining this feeling of health, balance, physical abilities and management of stress.  I think those are pretty admirable goals.

On a side note, I saw an acquaintance/friend last night whom I had not seen in about a year.  As soon as he saw me, he exclaimed, "Wow, Jayme! You've lost a lot of weight! You look great!"  We talked about the amount I'd lost and how I've done it.  He told me about a friend of his who's lost the same amount by doing a meal program (the one where you pay them and they send you the meals you're supposed to eat).  He said he was curious if she'd keep it off since she's finished and is going back to "real" food now.  He also said that she had spent about £1500/$2300 on it and I was astonished.  I remarked that what I was doing only cost me £15/$20 per month in gym membership and he said he thought I'd probably be more successful in my pursuits anyway.  

For me, that conversation was really gratifying.  Someone who'd not seen me since I started this process noticed, he affirmed that the way I've decided to go about it is probably the best and most sustainable way, and apparently I've saved a TON of money - even if it will take me longer to do.  Not that he was any sort of expert or anything, but it was nice to get that kind of feedback and feel proud of what I've accomplished so far.

At times it may not feel like much, but inch by inch, pound by pound, mile by mile, I am, indeed, changing my life.

What are some goals that you set for yourself that may not seem like much to an outsider but are really important for you 
and for living a healthy, balanced life?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Weigh-in no. 41: Decisions, decisions

So, this weigh-in is WAY late.  I took the photo and everything on Sunday, but just didn't get a chance to put it up that day....and then on Monday, I thought about it and then said, "Well, do I really want to?  Can't I just skip this week?  I don't have the time...." 

Needless to say, I found time this evening and thinking about all the stuff below, I decided I'd better get it posted.

So here goes:

weigh-in no. 41 (+ 0.6)

Starting weight:   327.0
Last week   :        269.2
This week:           269.8    
Gain of                 + 0.6
Total Loss          -  57.2 lbs 
I'm slacking.  I'll admit it.  

However, I refuse to beat myself up about it.  Part of my journey here as been about learning how to be gentle with myself, to find balance, and to do what is best for me.  It's negotiating what all that is that's the hard part.

Gaining weight is not what's best for me.  Not really exercising since I've returned to vacation (including missing swim class tonight!) is not what's best for me.  Letting my work and the need to devote all my time to finishing my dissertation is not balanced and is not what's best for me.

And yet, I am not making excuses by saying that I really need to figure out how to juggle these priorities for the next 3 months.  Come October (inshallah), I'll be back to blogging like a mad woman, I'll have time to spend hours (if I want) at the gym, and can really devote all a lot more of my time and energy to health and wellness.  But right now, I'm having to argue with myself to justify the 6-8 hours/week (a whole day's work!) going to the gym and/or working out.
But then the gym advocate in me says "but you don't justify the hours of sleep you need or the time you spend at your paid work or the time off you have committed to giving yourself....why do you need to justify the time to exercise?

I can lose weight without exercising.  I know that.  But I don't want to.  I know I eat better, feel better, and have more energy when I exercise.  These last two weeks, since I haven't been going to the gym as regularly, I've also noticed a substantial drop in my energy.  Whereas I came back from vacation no longer feeling fat, now I can feel the slobbishness returning with each day I sit at my desk.  My butt is numb with sitting and I'm frustrated and disgusted by it.

And so I'm trying to figure out how to negotiate these next 3 months.  Do I cut back a bit, slow down weight loss (but not stop entirely) to focus on the mental endurance race that will be taking place until 30 September?  Or do I keep up with my routine and hope I have enough time to get everything done?

Hmmm.......tough decisions......

Do you have any ideas on what I should do?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Weigh-in no. 40 - back from vacation!

....The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry....

Well, that makes it sound like something has gone wrong, but don't worry - it hasn't!  All is well!  It's just that I promised a weigh-in before I left on holiday and a longer post either before or just after.....and....well.....it didn't happen.  * shrug *  A girl - a busy girl, at that - can only do so much.

So, without further ado, let me weigh-in and then I'll give you the scoop on the holiday and other good stuff:

Starting weight:   327.0
2 weeks ago:        270.8
This week:           269.2    
Loss of                  - 1.6
Total Loss          -  57.8 lbs

My goals for my birthday on 3 June were to:
  • lose 60 lbs total (weight: 267)
  • be able to run 30 minutes consecutively
  • be able to swim 1 mile

I met the swimming goal the week before deadline.  However, the other two I'm still working on.  Am I disappointed?  No.  I have 2.2 lbs before I will have lost 60 lbs, so there's no way I can be disappointed.  It'll come and I'll make another goal.  And the running goal?  At times, I get annoyed about it just because running is something I soooo want to be able to do and do well, but ever since I started, progress has been slower than I expected.  I can run 1 mile in about 13 minutes.  That's not shabby, considering, and I'm proud of it.  I've worked hard to get there.  I'll keep working on the running goal, all the while knowing that doing anything active is a win!

And as for other wins and non-scale victories, there's a couple that I've had recently that I need to share here.  I set a goal for myself to be able to cross my legs and have noticed that it's getting easier.  However, on 24 May 2011, I was at work and just happened to look down and notice how I was sitting...

And as I had to fly to go on vacation (a little dinky 1 hour flight from Belfast to Bristol on EasyJet), I was curious if I would need an extension still.  And lo and behold....

ta-da!!!!  no extension!!!  score!!

Flying was so much more comfortable and less stressful than in the past.  I was able to move in my seat, cross my legs, and generally not feel wedged and trapped in the seat.  It was fantastic!

And my holiday and birthday was fantastic as well.  Seriously, I had a great time and I'd go back to Cornwall in a heartbeat.  It was only an hour flight and 2 hour drive from the Bristol airport, but it might as well have been a world away.  We had a beautiful, warm, rain-free long weekend where I was able to get some sun, enjoy amazing, fresh food, wear a strappy top, and generally forget about all the responsibilities and issues that are a part of life in Belfast. 

Because this is a weight-loss blog, I wanted to include pictures of food I ate and talk a bit about how it felt to be on vacation while in the midst of this journey.

All in all, I found it surprisingly easy.  I think that was down to the fact that I didn't stress about what I ate, saying to myself that gaining a bit would probably be expected given the amount of time we spent in the car traveling from place to place, the type of food that we would be eating, the beer (oh, the lovely beer!), missing workouts, etc.  If I did gain during the trip, it's gone now.  And I'm fine with my loss this week.

On the whole though, I noticed while on the trip that my tastes have changed.  I know if I didn't listen to myself and ate junk, I could have undone a lot of the psychological work I've put in related to not binging on crap and thinking I'm craving stuff that I'm really not.  But I did listen to myself.  When I was full, I stopped.  I chose things that were fresh, non-processed, local, and extremely tasty.  No candy bars on the road trip.  No junk.

On the day I could have had a big, greasy cooked breakfast, I felt the need for yogurt, fruit and toast and was happy.  I packed fruit to carry in the car if I got the urge to snack.

And I enjoyed myself.  I refused to feel guilty about a scone with clotted cream and jam, locally made cheese and salami, or a freshly made cornish pasty.

Just a few photos of my favorite bits of Cornwall (Clockwise: Sunset at Cape Cornwall; St Ives beach; Fowey Estuary and St Michael's Mount in Marazion
There's something I've been wanting to post for a while and have been trying to figure out how to say:

I'm realizing that I don't really feel fat anymore.  I know I still am - I've got about 20-25 more pounds to lose before I'm out of the "morbidly obese" category on the BMI scale.  I know I've still got 102.2 pounds left to lose to be at my ideal weight.

But on the whole I feel like I've become "unstuck", if that makes sense.  Anything seems possible.  I can swim, I can run, I can climb.  My weight, on the whole, no longer holds me back.  I eat what I like (in moderation, of course) and I like what I eat.  I eat to enjoy and to fuel my body to do what I ask it to do.  That's a huge success for me.

Over the course of these last 40+ weeks, I have changed so much.  I feel healthier in body, mind and spirit.  For that, I am so very thankful.

How are you?  What have I missed while I've been away? 
How have things changed for you while being on this journey?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Weigh-in no. 39

I made a promise at the very beginning that I wouldn't apologize for not posting, but that I would post at least once per week with a weigh-in and post more if/when I had time.  That has definitely been the case for the last three weeks!  

I know it can get quite boring of only seeing weigh-in posts, and don't think I haven't been thinking of things that I need to post about, but as time ticks on and the completion date for my Ph.D dissertation looms ever closer, I am finding that whatever energy I have to write needs to be funneled into that rather than my blog.

I am due to turn in on 30 September.

I have 4 months from today.

4 months!!!!!

*start panic now*

It's do-able.  Between trying to hole myself up away from distractions (including cutting myself off completely from the internet) so I can hammer out the last bits and working out to try to 1) keep losing weight and not regress and 2) manage my stress, I just don't have much time for much else beyond trying to keep some sanity and some semblance of normalcy in my life outside of those two things.

However, I do have some observations that I think I want to share this coming week if I'm able to find a bit of time to just sit and write them out.  In short, despite the occasional panic that I'm trying hard to keep control of and use to motivate rather than consume me, I feel like I'm in a good place.  I'm happy with my weight loss and personal development progress.  I'm happy with what my body is able to do.  On the whole, despite this Ph.D submission malarky, life is good.  And for that I'm very thankful.

Plus, it's my 35th birthday at the end of the week and I'm going on holiday to please-God-let-it-be-sunny-and-warm Cornwall!!  It's the last hurrah before a summer of endless (well, not endless....4 months...eeek!) days in the library glued to my laptop cranking out world-changing Ph.D passable words and ideas.

So, yeah....I have some thoughts and reflections that I want to share but not enough time today.  Today is a belated weigh-in.  I did the weigh-in yesterday, but just didn't get a chance to post it as yesterday was spent with a friend whom I'd not seen in 3 years.

Anyway....on to the weigh-in....
weigh-in no. 39 (-1.6)

Starting weight:   327.0
Last week:           272.4
This week:           270.8    
Loss of                  - 1.6
Total Loss          -  56.2 lbs 

By UK weight measurements, I have now 
lost 4 stone.
 1 stone = 14 lbs.  
No idea why it's still used - I always have to do math in my head to covert it, but oh well.

Also, this past week I met one of my birthday goals: to swim 1 mile.  I went in on Friday for a swim, thinking I'd push myself and do .75 mile (48 lengths) so that I could hopefully complete my 1 mile (64 lengths) goal by Thursday of this week.  So at 9:32am I started swimming.  By 10:00am, I had done 1/2 mile and was feeling good.  By 10:20 I had done .75 mile and started thinking, "If I keep going for an hour, I wonder if I would have done a mile?"  At 10:32, I had 4 more lengths to do to have done a mile, so I kept going.....and so I did a mile in 1:06!!  I couldn't believe it.  I was prepared to take a couple hours to do a mile when I got around to doing it this week.  Not too shabby.

And I have to say I'm enjoying the muscle definition I'm gaining in my upper arms and shoulders as a result of the swimming.  It's kind of hard to take a picture of your own arm/shoulder, but hey....

I'm going to try to post more in the next day or two related to the reflections I have and mentioned above.  I also plan to weigh-in on Friday morning (3 June, my birthday) to see how I've done in achieving the birthday goals I set, although I may not get to post it until I'm back from holiday on Tuesday.  Will do what I can and, in the meantime, on to losing more and seeing more of that beautiful muscle!!

How was your weekend?  
Any reflections you've got percolating you want to share?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Weigh-in no. 38

Weigh-in no. 38 (-0.6 lbs)

Starting weight:   327.0
Last week:           273.0
This week:           272.4    
Loss of                  - 0.6
Total Loss          -  54.6 lbs

Well, not as much as I was hoping for, but seeing as how I was seeing 273 all week, I was happy to see that 272 this morning even though I've been eating right and working out 3+ days per week.  Not sure what is going on, but hopefully it's just a blip and not another plateau.  Couldn't really afford a low number this morning if I want to make my 60 lb loss goal by 3 June, but oh well....will keep trying and see how it goes!  One good thing to note though: I'm more than 1/3 of the way toward my goal!

Not much else going on here to report.  I've been wondering with all this rapture talk if when we get new bodies in heaven, we'll all be skinny?  That'd save me (and many of you, I'm sure) a lot of hassle, but then that would also assume I wouldn't be left behind which, due to my heretical ways, is not assured.  ;o)  But alas, we're all still here and so to the gym I must continue to go. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Weigh-in no. 37

weigh-in no. 37 (-2.2)
Starting weight:   327.0
Last week:           275.2
This week:           273.0    
Loss of                  - 2.2
Total Loss          -  54.0 lbs
I've marked 2 running goals off my goals list this week:
  * Run 10 minutes without stopping
  * Run 12 minutes without stopping
On Wednesday, I ran my first full mile (1.1 to be exact) and ran it in 12+ (I don't have the exact time) minutes.  After running a while on the treadmill, I stopped, lifted the towel to see what I had done and started laughing/sobbing when I saw I had done a mile.  I had 2 little old ladies beside me (literally - neither of them could have been over 5' and were at least 70+....I love my gym!) who started looking at me full of concern, probably thinking I had injured myself or something.  But I calmed and collected myself, walked a little bit and then started doing 6.4 mph sprints.  Wednesday was a good day.

Couldn't repeat the time, speed or running distance on Friday when I ran, but I wasn't feeling top form (allergies were started to get to me), so I'll give it all another go this coming week.  But now I know I can do it.  And that was an amazing feeling.

And on Saturday, I swam 1/2 mile (800 meters/32 lengths) in 34 minutes.  I was pretty proud of myself!  My next 2 goals for swimming are:
  * swim 1 mile by 3 June
  * do 1/2 mile in 30 minutes or under
It's do-able.  I've signed up for another session of swimming class which starts week after next.  My form and breathing are TONS better, but I really enjoy the class, the coach, and the accountability it gives me to swim.  And I want to start working on other swim styles (backstroke, breast stroke, butterfly) over the course of the next few months, so I want to continue to go.

So that's been my week.......

How's your week been?  Any new goals you've set? 
Any funny moments in your week?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Swimsuit review: Speedo Endurance+ Mindset Legsuit

*I am writing this review on my own without any compensation or encouragement 
from Speedo or Simply Swim.  Everything expressed here are my own opinions about equipment purchased with my own hard-earned money*

I bought a new swimsuit a while back for swimming laps and taking my 'improvers' swim class.  The tankini I had was just too big and generally inappropriate for fitness swimming.  So I've been wanting to review my new suit because I think it's an important piece of kit for fitness, equal to finding a pair of leggings or yoga pants you like!

When looking to buy my new suit, I did some research and shopping around, and I decided to go with the Speedo Endurance+ Mindset Legsuit which is available on Speedo's UK website and at Simply Swim (where I purchased it). 

you'll have to settle for the model picture of the suit

I decided to go with the legsuit option for a couple reasons.
  1. I like the look of them.  Some may think they're granny-ish, but I think they look cool and like you mean business, unlike the suits with skirts that I refuse to wear.
  2. Being my size, I wasn't comfortable with showing tons of skin just yet, even at the pool.
  3. I didn't want to have to always be worried about having shaved and letting that keep me from swimming (gross, I know, but hey....it's true).
I've been using the suit for about 8 weeks now and I have to say I'm pretty happy.  I feel good and confident in it.  It keeps me in and none of my bits (bust, belly, hips/thighs) flap about or need to be adjusted when I'm swimming, so that's great.

I bought the suit a size smaller than I normally would have otherwise (I was wearing a size 22 US when I bought it and so I got the 44 size, but would have normally gotten the 46).  But I just didn't want to have to buy another suit halfway through the summer, so I figured I'd take a little tightness at the beginning for a better fit for longer.  I think that method worked for me.

The one thing I was worried about with the suit was if whether or not the legs would ride up.  Alas, they do, but only after the suit has gotten wet and you've been swimming for a little while.  However, this might be because I bought the suit a little small and, in honesty, my thighs and quads are still larger than normal size (for a person my weight, I think).

However, when they do ride up, it's not uncomfortable but can produce some self-conscious moments in the pool when you want to straighten them out (although women are always pulling wedgies out in regular suits too, so I don't see much of a difference).

All in all, I really like this suit and will certainly consider another legsuit like this one when this one gets too big.  I've been really happy with how the suit has been made, Speedo's use of endurance/chlorine-resistant fabrics, and the way it retains its shape without being slick and skimpy or showing any stress in the seams.

So if you're looking for a good swimsuit for fitness swimming, considering a suit like this one might be an option for you.

What pieces of fitness kit do you depend upon?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Music to Sweat By: vol. 3 - Intervals/Sprints Edition

I invested about £15 on new music on iTunes a few weeks ago.  I was getting tired of listening to the same stuff all the time, but also needed some more tunes for the elliptical and other activities for which I need to maintain intensity, if not push the envelope a little further.

As I listened to this list the other day, I found myself doing intervals of sprints on the elliptical in time to the music.  It seemed natural.  With exception to the first one, which is just a good warmup song, the rest overall have good, driving beats to keep you going with choruses or bridges that are more intense, giving you rhythm and tempo to push harder and faster, increasing your intensity and kicking tail in the gym.

However, there's one song that's missing because Grooveshark doesn't have it in their database
that I would add if I could:

Bullet with Butterfly Wings by Smashing Pumpkins