Archive for June, 2009

My Turning Point

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

*Note: This story has been told to only a few people because it’s embarrassing. Not that I think people would laugh at or make fun of me after hearing the story, because it’s not funny – it’s sad. It’s just that the last thing I wanted was pity. That’s all behind me now, though, and I think it’s important to share this story because it’s a huge part of my journey. It’s how it all started! Here goes:

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been doing Kung Fu for about 4 years now. There is a small group of us who are on what is called the “Demo Team.” (Quick aside: Don’t you think that should have a more clever name? Not that I have any suggestions…) The Demo Team gets together about once a month to learn special routines and practice for demonstrations that we do at various locations and events. We often do a Chinese New Year demonstration at our school for students and their families and friends.

One of the special things we’ve learned on the Demo Team is a double fan routine. Fans are traditionally a women’s weapon, so only the women on the team learned and perform this routine. At the time this story takes place, there were only three of us, but we’ve since added a fourth (yay!). Below is a photo of the us being silly with our fans. I’m the fat one.

Fans

While I love the beautiful flowing movements of the fan routine, I always felt very uncomfortable doing it. It just seems more befitting of petite people – like the other girls – and I was far from petite. I always felt more at ease with bigger weapons that require more strength and power behind them – like long staff and sabre. I know I looked weird doing it too – I’m no fool – but I committed to the team and it would have been really lame to back out because I thought I looked funny doing it.

Shortly before this story takes place, the Demo Team was informed that we had to get a special uniform. Made of satin. These uniforms (which we refer to as “shiny suits”) are awful. Even the most proportioned and athletic of us look bad in them. And come on: Chubby girls don’t wear shiny clothes – light bounces off in all the wrong places. Am I right?

Besides being unattractive, these shiny suits were sized badly. In order for it to fit me around (top and bottom not sold separately) I had to get an XXL – the same size my 6’2″ husband got. The sleeves and legs were both super long – ridiculously long. Apparently, not many fat people do Kung Fu – at least, not in satin uniforms…

Ok, enough back story. Here it is:

At the Chinese New Year demonstration on February 17, 2007, the three of us were doing our fan routine in front of a room full of people – there were maybe 50 or 75 people there, but it felt like 1000. Toward the beginning of the routine, I heard and felt something awful. I split my pants.

It’s that terrible nightmare moment that you only see in Made For TV movies where the fat girl gets bullied. What do you do at a time like this? Well, the show must go on, right? I finished the routine and hoped like crazy that no one noticed the hole in the shiny pants. I don’t think anyone did notice – at least, no one said anything to me. The suits are black and I was wearing black underwear, and the hole was more in the crotch area than the butt (my apologies if that’s too much information…). Plus, we do the routine to music which probably drown out the noise – though I’ve always suspected that the other 2 girls, being so close to me, heard something and figured out what happened, but I’ve never had the guts to ask and if you were them, would YOU bring it up?

Anyway, as you might imagine, I was mortified. And ashamed. And angry. So angry. Angry at myself for letting my weight get so out of control that I split a pair of pants that were XXL – the largest available, might I add. I had been overweight my entire life, and I had certainly been embarrassed, left out, made fun of etc, etc. I’d broken down and cried in front of friends (blubbering mess, actually). I would say that I was done with being overweight and that I was going to change – “this time, for sure” – and then I’d start a diet, lose a few pounds, then lose the determination, quit the diet and gain back what I lost and then some. Vicious cycle.

So what was different this time? Particularly since there was no pointing and laughing, and – seemingly – no one even knew there was an incident but myself?

The day after this nightmare demonstration – on Chinese New Year – I had a long talk over the phone with my mother. I told her about splitting my pants and my frustration with my body. In that conversation, she made me realize that my body was really holding me back. That there are things in Kung Fu, for instance, that I couldn’t physically do because of my weight (and physics). I simply couldn’t get into certain positions because my legs were too fat. I just couldn’t perform certain jump kicks because I couldn’t lift my 262-pound frame high enough.

That conversation got me thinking about all the other things – big and small – that I haven’t tried or couldn’t do because of my weight. Things I always pretended (to both others and myself) that I didn’t really care about or want to do. Once I was really honest with myself, I had a nice long list.

And that was it.

I realized that being fat was preventing me from living a full life. From doing things I wanted to do. No longer was it a vanity thing (I had a husband who loved me and found me attractive as I was). Doing it to look good for an event like my wedding never worked because I’d go back to my old ways as soon as the event was over. Health problems were never compelling enough to actually make a change – I’m young, right?! There was never enough motivation for me until I made that list.

A few hours later I found My Food Diary and immediately joined. I had made a decision to change my life – to start eating better foods (and less of them) and exercising. For the first time in my life, I never second-guessed this decision or gave up on my goals, or on myself. (Maybe the key to having New Year’s Resolutions that stick is to make it a CHINESE New Year Resolution!)

Of course, I haven’t reached my goal weight yet, but I really have changed my life. I’ve done a number of the things on my list and am looking forward to doing the rest!

If you’re overweight and searching for some motivation, I highly recommend making a list of your own. Be totally and completely honest with yourself. I think you’ll be surprised how many things end up on that list. When you’re done, maybe you want to post it on your refrigerator as a visual reminder, or hide it in your desk drawer so only you can see it. It can be just for you, or you can share it – whatever works best for you. But do it.

My list has made all the difference in the world for me.

Coffee and Butterscotch

Monday, June 29th, 2009

This morning, after completing Week 1, Day 1 of the Hundred Push Up Challenge*, I went for a quick run. I expected there to be nothing particularly noteworthy about this run – I did a typical route, just shy of 2 miles. Nothing spectacular.

Until…

I was running along a road that has a lot of store fronts – coffee shops, independent retailers, bakeries, small businesses, etc. I love running on this road because there are always people around and I find this pushes me to keep running (I don’t like to walk in front of people. I’ve got strange pride issues. I’m working on it.). Even though I pass people on this road all the time, and I always smile and nod, I rarely get any sort of response back.

Not today though. I passed by an adorable older gentleman – probably in his 50s or 60s – very healthy looking and dressed like he was going mall walking or taking his granddaughter on a picnic. He looked me square in the eyes with a big grin on his face, gave me a huge thumbs up and said “Go get ’em!”.

I couldn’t help but feel reenergized by this. It’s SOOO rare in this neighborhood, it caught me off guard – but in a good way. It was really sweet of him to take the extra second to do that for me.

And then…

A block or two later, another elderly gentleman, who I believe works at one of the businesses on this street, looked directly at me as I ran passed and said “Keep up the good work!”. I couldn’t believe it! I was still thinking about the first guy and how unusual that was, and then here’s this second guy encouraging a stranger running by!

But that’s not all…

After turning off that road and back into a more residential area, I thought for sure that would be the end of my run-ins with incredibly nice elderly men for the morning. Not so! A THIRD old dude gave me a thumbs up like the first as I passed and said “Way to go!.

This was all so strange, I’m having a hard time describing the oddity. This is very atypical – I’ve never experienced this at all, except during a big road race, which this definitely wasn’t. In fact, there wasn’t another runner in sight this morning. They weren’t at all creepy either, and I was dressed very modestly, in case you were thinking something lewd was going on. They were all just very friendly, encouraging men, and they made my day. Each of them individually, and all of them as a group.

I’d buy them each a decaf coffee and a butterscotch candy if I only knew who they were.

*If you’re joining in on the 100 Consecutive Push Ups Challenge, don’t forget to do your push ups today! Feel the burn, baby!

Weight Update – Huzzah!

Friday, June 26th, 2009

Holy smokes, folks. This morning I smashed my goal of breaking into the 170s – at 177.5! Woo hoo! I’ve been dancing around the 180 – 183 range for SEVEN WEEKS and I’ve finally beat this plateau! (Actually, I’m not convinced that it was a plateau per se, but rather the effect of not doing things right – eating too much, working out too little, etc. but I’ll go with plateau…)

I can’t even describe how thrilled I am to be at this weight. This is the lightest I’ve been since I was on my way up – and I intend for that to be the case at every new weight I hit (meaning I’ll never go back up again!). I’m certainly back in the eating right, logging, exercising groove again. It all just seems so natural now that I’m back into it. In fact, yesterday I was feeling really jazzed to run – so I did. That’s such a rare thing for me – or at least used to be. It’s happening more and more frequently as of late!

How’s everyone else doing? Resisting the Skittles (literally or figuratively)? Just remember that you can do it, and you’ll feel better both physically and mentally when you do: Your body will function better and you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment at doing what you know you SHOULD do, rather than guilt over giving in to temptation.

Step. Away. From. The. Skittles.

PS – I’ll take that high five now!

One Hundred Push Ups

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

Ok faithful readers: Show of hands – How many of you can do 100 consecutive push ups? Anyone? Ok… How many of you think it would be super awesome to be able to do 100 consecutive push ups? Wow, that many, huh?

That’s excellent news. You see, there’s a training program that supposedly gets you from whatever level you’re at now – whether you can currently do 50, 20 or not even 10 consecutive push ups – to 100 consecutive push ups in just 6 weeks. According to the program, “all you need is a good plan, plenty of discipline and about 30 minutes a week to achieve this goal!”

Why push ups? “Push ups are one of the basic and most common exercises for the human body. Push ups are not only great for your chest, but do a tremendous job of defining your abs, triceps, shoulders and torso.”

Sound good to you? It sounds good to me! I’m doing it. And if you raised your hand indicating that you think it would be super awesome to be able to do 100 consecutive push ups, I want you to do it with me.

The program can be found on this website: www.hundredpushups.com. You have to do an initial test (how many good push ups can you do in a row now?) to “highlight your current fitness level and determine where to start and how to plan your push ups training program.” I was able to do only 8 (eek!), which puts me in Rank 2. They recommend doing the initial test a few days before starting the program, and then you need to commit three days a week, with a day to rest in between. I’m planning on doing Monday, Wednesday and Friday, then I’ll have the weekend to rest. You can even log your workouts at the sister site www.pushupslogger.com.

If you’re going to do this program with me, let me know in the comments! Then, visit the site and do the initial test over the next few days, and start the program with me next week. If this program works like it says it does, we’ll all meet back here in 6 weeks and do 100 consecutive push ups!

And that will be super awesome.

Crackers Are Evil

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

I’m sad to report that yesterday I was sick. I don’t know what caused it, but I woke up feeling nauseated, and that feeling didn’t leave me all day long.

I didn’t eat much all day: A little cereal, some yogurt, a few bowls of light soup. Since I wasn’t eating nearly as many calories as I usually do, I decided to splurge on the “good” crackers with my soup (not the wheat-thin like Special K crackers that I usually have). These would be the Butter Toasteds from Keebler. I love them. Unfortunately, there are 80 calories in just 5 crackers. I keep them around because I’m usually able to restrain myself to just 5, which I’ll have with a wedge of Laughing Cow cheese for a lite snack.

Not yesterday, though.

Since I was splurging on a low-calorie day, and figured that crackers would be good for my upset stomach, I brought out the entire package (half a box), rather than my typical 5. By the end of the night, I had eaten the entire thing.

I ate 560 calories worth of crackers yesterday. FIVE HUNDRED AND SIXTY CALORIES WORTH OF CRACKERS! That’s absurd.

Had I done the math in advance, I probably would have limited myself to half the package and been ok with the 280. But no. I wasn’t feeling well and I wanted crackers, gosh darnit!

Since I didn’t eat a whole lot of anything else this wasn’t a huge deal, but on a normal day, this would have been detrimental to my weight-loss efforts.

I’m telling you: Crackers are evil. Beware.

Jillian Michaels’ Podcast

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

I recently discovered that Jillian Michaels of Biggest Loser fame has a weekly radio show on KFI, a radio station out of LA. Luckily for those of us living outside the listening area, the show is available on iTunes as a free podcast. I downloaded and took a bunch of them with me for the car ride up to Buffalo this past weekend and it made the time fly by.

Each show is 2 hours long (the podcast doesn’t have the commercials, so it’s more like 75 minutes or so) and starts off with about 10 or 15 minutes of Jillian speaking about a specific topic: Failure, Fitness Myths, Coping with Criticism, etc. That’s followed by a Q&A section with Jillian answering questions from callers (or emails). Sometimes there’s an interview with someone, too.

I find the show very interesting: It’s informative and thought-provoking, as well as motivational and inspiring. I’ve always liked Jillian as a trainer on The Biggest Loser, and I love her workout video “30-Day Shred” but I never realized how smart she actually is. Girl knows her stuff!

Here’s how to download the free podcast from iTunes:

– In the iTunes search box (upper right) type in “KFI Sundays”

– There you’ll find a bunch of Sunday shows on the station (they’re all lumped together). You can either download her shows one-by-one, or subscribe to KFI Sundays and then only “get” Jillian’s shows.

Lots of great and entertaining information. For free! Check it out and let me know what you think.

Weekend Recap

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

This weekend my husband and I went out of town to visit my family. I love seeing them and I often wish they didn’t live 200 miles away, but such is life.

My family loves to play games. In the Winter, it’s usually board games and bowling; in the Summer, it’s outdoor activities like volleyball and swimming. For this trip – in addition to the volleyball and swimming – we were even planning a hiking trip out to a waterfall where you could go cliff diving (!). Unfortunately, Mother Nature put a very literal damper on these plans as it rained most of the weekend. Freakin’ Mother Nature…

So, instead of going hiking, we went bowling for some indoor fun. Attached to the bowling alley was a restaurant from which everyone ordered some delicious looking and smelling food – pizza, fries, barbeque sauce-soaked chicken finger subs. I’m happy to report that I don’t know how any of it tasted: I had a turkey sandwich and a bowl of fresh fruit shortly before we left so I wasn’t actually hungry (not that that ever stopped me before…). I chewed an obscene amount of gum while they were eating and made sure to chase after everyone when it seemed they were done eating to throw out anything that may have been left on their plates. I’m sure I looked obsessive compulsive, but it was effective!

Other bad stuff I successfully avoided this weekend: Blueberry pancakes with sugary maple syrup, honey dijon potato chips (except for one – take that Lays!), Mint Milano cookies, strawberry shortcake, salted peanuts, beer, Smirnoff Ice.

Indulgences: One teeny piece of my brother’s birthday cake, a bit of my mom’s famous macaroni salad, one donut hole from Tim Horton’s.

Overall, I think this is the best I’ve ever done food-wise while visiting my family. It’s very difficult to eat well when you’re at someone else’s house surrounded by unhealthy food – especially when you love that stuff like I do.

Besides making wise food choices this weekend, I got two hardcore workouts in. On Friday, my sister and I went to the gym  for some circuit training: 10 minutes on the treadmill, “supersets” on 2 weight machines, then ab work. We planned on doing three full circuits but time restraints forced us to stop after the second. Even with only doing the circuit twice, it was very intense, particularly the running portions: We ran the entire time, doing faster and faster sprints for 20 seconds a pop every few minutes. I’ve heard this will help build up both my speed and endurance (I’ll let you know!).

On Saturday morning, I met my sister-in-law at the gym for a spin class. I’ve only taken one other spin class, and that one was terrible – there were only two other people in the class, and the instructor – who knew them both – was in a bad mood and spent the entire hour ranting to them about her day. Very disappointing.

This class, though, was just what I was expecting and hoping for from a spin class: It was a very difficult workout, complete with an instructor who actually cared about the fact that she was teaching a class. We hung in there for all 60 minutes and we’re no worse for the wear! Incidentally, this class seemed to be full of people who didn’t talk to each other at all – completely on the other side of the spectrum I’ve experienced at my own gym.

Those were the two big workouts. I also spent a lot of time on my parents new huge trampoline, which I recently learned I love. Man, I gotta get one of those for myself!

All in all, I think I did reasonably well this weekend. Not perfect, but pretty darn well. I’ll keep up the logging and exercising the rest of the week and should be right on track to break into the 170s on Friday as planned.

Weekends are the toughest since you’re not on your normal schedule. How was everyone else’s weekend?

Weight Update – So Very Close

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

Fridays are the days that I “weigh-in” and officially “count” my weight. What this means is that I generally weigh myself throughout the week, but I don’t put much stock in what I see. So why do I do it? Compulsion, I suppose.

Yesterday’s weight, though, counts. I weighed myself 6 times – not a good sign, I know. Four of the six times, I was 180. Once I was 180.5, and once I was 179.5 (but I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to put both feet on the scale). Even though I’d love to take the 179.5, I think it’s clear that I haven’t dropped that last half pound yet. No sense in lying to myself, right? There’s always next week!

I’m very happy to be back down to 180 again, again. Last Friday I was at 183, so this has been a very successful week. I knew it was going to be a good one, too. I could feel it. And I could see it in my food/exercise log, which I filled out faithfully everyday – and I had good foods in healthy amounts and exercise to log everyday.

I can’t stress to you how much easier it is to lose weight when you just do those simple things (eat right, exercise, and log them both). I don’t know why I’ve been resistant to doing it consistently again, especially since I know it works – it’s how I lost 75 pounds in a year in the first place.

Three pounds in a week. I’d say my reassessment helped – a lot.

Here’s to next week and finally breaking into the 170s!

Tell Me Again…

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

…why is it that I don’t get my lazy butt out of bed early enough in the morning to go for a run?

This morning I had to drive my husband to the airport very early. On the return drive, in order to avoid the rush-hour traffic into the city, I took the scenic route. It was a beautiful drive through the country, complete with rolling hills and the early morning sun poking through the trees. I was enjoying nature so much that I decided to get a little closer to it by getting out of the car and going for a run.

Often when I run, I do it because I know I should, not because I want to. It’s that “want” thing that makes a big difference – not only did I thoroughly enjoy my run today, but I also performed better than usual: I ran 2.05 miles – without walking (a rarity) – hills and all. And what’s more, I felt GOOD afterward.

It seems that when I run in the mornings I enjoy it more, and when I enjoy it, I can push myself further and faster, and if I don’t push myself further and faster, I’ll never feel ready for that triathlon that I’m going to do.

So yeah, tell me again why I don’t just GET UP and DO IT for Pete’s sake! I mean, really…

Dancing on the Ceiling

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

Er, floor, rather. And I don’t know if you can really call Dance Dance Revolution “dancing,” but it’s fun!

Here’s what happened: I needed to workout today in order to keep my wagon on the right track, but I’ve been working out pretty intensely all week and wanted to take it a little easy. What’s a girl to do? Whip out DDR for the Wii, that’s what! Just right for what I was looking for.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, Dance Dance Revolution is an interactive video game that gets you on your feet and “dancing” by stepping on specified arrows on a mat to the beat of the music. The DDR Hottest Dance Party 2 for the Wii (the version I have) also integrates hand movements with the Wii-mote and the Nunchuk, which gets your whole body into it. Basically, you control the intensity by the level you choose and how “into” it you get.

The version that I have (and maybe all of them) also has a workout mode, wherein you enter your weight and how many calories you want to burn, then you play until you reach that number of calories. I entered 350 as my target calories to burn, which took about 27 minutes to reach. Clearly, that’s not perfectly accurate. Even though I worked up a sweat, it wasn’t as intense as running, and that’s more than I would burn in an equal amount of time running. In fact, I generally don’t trust machines like this to accurately calculate how many calories I’ve burned – I tend to cut them in half, which would mean about 175 calories for today’s DDR workout. (Tip: When you don’t know for sure, always UNDERestimate your calories burned and OVERestimate your calories eaten, and you’ll be safe!)

Yes, there are better workouts out there. But this was just right for a day like today. And to be honest, it was DDR or nothing, and it’s definitely better than nothing. And certainly more fun!