Archive for July, 2009

So Far, So Good!

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

I’m pleased with myself so far: I did a great job with my food and exercise in Buffalo, and have been sticking to my Road Rules thus far!

On Monday, one friend and I flew from Buffalo to El Paso to meet up with the third of our trio. We bought healthy snacks for the car, and I have been eating well for breakfast and lunch, and then enjoying local cuisine for dinner, with drinks in moderation. Even after the all-day traveling, I managed to get in a 30-minute workout at the hotel fitness center. Granted, much of that was due to the prodding of Friend #1, but I was easily persuaded (and glad I told her prior to the trip that I wanted to be prodded!).

Yesterday, we drove from El Paso to Austin, and today we’re headed to New Orleans, where we’ll be for  two nights. As I mentioned, I’m hoping to get outside to run in some new cities, but I don’t think Austin’s going to work for me: Our hotel is basically on the highway – not exactly what I had in mind for a run! Our hotel in New Orleans is near the French Quarter and very near the river, so I’m definitely planning on getting out for a run there.

All-in-all, I feel it’s going quite well. I’m not denying myself things that would make me feel like I’m “missing out” on my vacation – and I’m not feeling guilty about enjoying them. I’m also not eating junk that won’t provide any real enjoyment and would make me feel guilty. (For instance, I had Subway for lunch yesterday, and an apple and some cocoa roast almonds in the car.)

If I can stick to my plan for the rest of the week, I’ll call this trip a huge success! Wish me luck!

Road Rules

Friday, July 24th, 2009

I have a very exciting week coming up: I’ll be spending the weekend in Buffalo with my family and then on Monday morning, I’ll be flying out with a friend to El Paso. There, we’ll meet up with another friend and – over the course of 5 days – will make our way back up to Buffalo. By car.

This should be a very fun vacation: I love driving and being in the car. (Hopefully I’ll still be saying that at the end of the trip!) The girls I’m traveling with have been friends of mine since high school, though we haven’t been able to spend long periods of time together since then. Geography will do that to you.

Here’s the thing: This trip has the potential to be detrimental to my weight-loss efforts if I’m not careful!

Therefore, I’ve made a plan. We’re spreading out the driving so that we can spend the evenings in neat cities (Austin, New Orleans and Nashville), meaning we won’t be in the car non-stop. I’ve already spoken with my travel companions – both of whom are fit, health-conscious people (that’ll help!) – and told them that I want to work out while we’re away. They both quickly said that they are up for that as well. This might mean running outside on new city streets, taking advantage of hotel gym equipment, doing some fitness videos in the room – or all three!

I’m actually really looking forward to running outside in other places. I imagine it will be quite a different experience to run in a different climate and landscape than what I am used to. It’ll also be interesting to run with my friends – I hope I can keep up!

The other big thing is food, of course. This might be more tricky. As I’ve mentioned before when discussing holiday eating, when I’m on vacation, I will eat the local cuisine because I’ll feel like I “missed out” otherwise. So I’m going to do that, and not feel guilty… ideally.

However, we’ll also be on the road a lot, and that means we’ll likely be stopping for quick lunches every day. Mark my words: I will not waste calories on crap food from McDonald’s! Every fast food place has some decent options, so I will stick to those. I’ll save my calories for real food that you can’t get just anywhere… Crawfish Etouffee, anyone?

With any luck this will be a fun vacation that doesn’t put me back in my weight loss efforts. I’m lower than ever (176 this morning!) and I don’t want to ruin it. If anyone has any additional tips for me, chime in! Your thoughts are welcome :)

Music Increases Endurance

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

As any runner with an iPod (or back in the day, a Walkman) could tell you, listening to music increases your exercise endurance. A recent study now proves it – and not just a little, but by 15%!

That being said, my running playlist has been getting stale. There are a few songs that will remain (probably forever), but for the most part, I need some fresh stuff. That doesn’t necessarily mean NEW music, just some upbeat songs that will help keep me going on my runs. Here’s what I’m keeping on the list (highly recommended for your own workout playlist!):

  • Viva la Vida – Coldplay
  • Hip To Be Square – Huey Lewis & The News
  • Peace Frogs – The Doors
  • Standing Outside the Fire – Garth Brooks
  • Eye of the Tiger – Survivor (naturally…)
  • Sinnerman (Felix da Housecat’s Heavenly house Mix) – Felix da Housecat & Nina Simone

All the rest, like I said, are stale. I find myself skipping them when my iPod shuffles to them, and that’s not what I want to have to concern myself with on the road.

That’s where you guys come in! What helps keep you moving when you’re working out? I’m looking for suggestions – Bring it on!

200 Sit-Ups, Here I Come!

Monday, July 20th, 2009

As promised, I’ll be starting the 200 sit-up challenge this week! Over the weekend I did the initial test, and performed 56 good crunches consecutively. That’s right about where I thought I’d be, and it’s more than a quarter of the way there. That’s further along at the start than I was with the push ups!

I plan on doing the sit-ups and push ups on the same day, at least to start. Since they’re different body parts, I don’t think it’ll be a problem. If for some reason it doesn’t work for me, though, I’ll switch it up and do sit-ups one day and push ups the next.

Anyone else joining in? Let me know, kids!

On another note, I learned today that I have poison ivy (or oak or sumac). I don’t know where it came from, but I suspect it’s in my yard somewhere. A few months ago, I had something similar, so clearly it’s in the vicinity. My dermatologist informed me I am no longer allowed to eat mangoes or cashews*. I’m not too upset about the cashews, but I’m a huge mango lover (they’re mangolicious!). Mangoes are so much a part of my diet that when I got home I had a lot of stuff to throw out – what a delicious waste.

I know it seems silly, but I’m weirdly upset about this. I really like mangoes! And now I can’t have those OR cherries.

Ah well. At least I still have watermelon, strawberries and bananas!

* From Wikipedia: Mangoes and cashews are in the same family with poison ivy and poison sumac. Mango peel contains urushiol, the chemical in poison ivy and poison sumac that can cause urushiol-induced contact dermatitis in susceptible people.

A Baseball Metaphor

Saturday, July 18th, 2009

Yesterday had so much potential:

I was going to go for a run in the morning: I was up early – and was actually awake – but I didn’t go. Why didn’t I go? I have no idea. I just didn’t.

Strike one.

I was going to get a great upper body workout (and have tons of fun!) kayaking in the afternoon, but the weather was not conducive to doing so – my kayaking buddy and I decided that sitting in a little boat on a river during a thunderstorm didn’t sound like the wisest plan. I didn’t do any other workout in its place.

Strike two.

I was going to cook a healthy meal for dinner. I had a craving and caved to it – I ordered pizza and wings instead.

Strike three.

And then it was 9:00 at night. I hadn’t gotten any exercise in, and I had crap for dinner. I started feeling really bad – disappointed in myself. Guilty for not doing things I knew I should, and doing things I knew I shouldn’t.

I had struck out.

Except that I didn’t. It occurred to me that it’s not “three strikes and you’re out.” Rather, you’re constantly “at bat.” You might get a bunch of strikes one day, and a bunch of base hits the next. Maybe even a home run or two. A few strikes in a row doesn’t mean I can’t still win the game. It just means I need to try harder – keep my eye on the ball.

I realized that the day wasn’t over yet. So I broke out my 30 Day Shred video, threw on a sports bra and did a hard core circuit workout. I got my heart rate up, sweat like nobody’s business, and burned off at least some of the excess calories from dinner.

Afterward, I felt so much better. Physically, yes, but also mentally. While I was feeling guilty and down on myself at 9:00, a 30-minute workout changed that around completely, and by 9:30 I was feeling great.

I just need to remember that in the baseball game of life, you’re always at bat.

It’s a New Life…

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

…For me, And I’m feeling good. I find doing a lot of different things rejuvenating, and that’s just what I’ve been doing!

Last Thursday, I took my first yoga class ever and I really enjoyed it! I went with four other girls, and we were all at about the same level, which helps. The class definitely wasn’t power yoga, it was more like… relaxation yoga, if that’s a thing. (I know very little about the different kinds of yoga, except that there are a bunch!) I think the instructor took it easy on us since there were 5 newbies. It was very relaxing, and I enjoyed that, but I think if I was going to do yoga regularly, I would want something more intense. I’ve done some yoga videos in the past and have worked up a serious sweat, and felt sore the next day – I liked that!

On Sunday I played Ultimate Frisbee with some friends in the park. Holy smokes – super fun and very intense! For those of you who aren’t familiar, Ultimate Frisbee is much more than standing around tossing a frisbee back and forth. It’s like football with a frisbee, minus the tackling. It’s particularly intense when the people playing aren’t very good (like most of the group I was with, myself included) because every time the frisbee is dropped, it goes to the other team. This makes for a lot of running back and forth. I’m still surprised that I liked it so much; three years ago, running back and forth chasing a frisbee would not have been my idea of a fun way to spend an afternoon. I really did enjoy it, though! And – get this – I wasn’t the last person chosen when we picked teams! (Though my heart fluttered a bit when they chose captains and I realized what was happening…)

Monday evening was the Total Body Workout class at my gym, which I was on time for and didn’t miss, unlike last week. I’m starting to feel more coordinated with the instructors crazy combinations. In fact, I felt pretty good in this class – best one yet! I suppose that makes sense, but it’s still nice to see definitively.

Yesterday was the return of Kung Fu, which was on hiatus for a week as the school closed for the holiday. It was so nice to be back and get my sweat on!

I’m still keeping up with the 100 Push Ups challenge, too. (How about the rest of you, hmm?) It’s going really well! I finished up Week 2, at which point you’re supposed to do an exhaustion test, performing as many consecutive, good-form push ups as you can to see where you are. I did 26! For the initial test, I was only able to do 14, so I almost doubled that in just 2 weeks! If I had really thought about that beforehand, I think I might have been able to eke out 2 more, too. Ah well – next time!

I’m planning on starting the 200 Sit-Ups program next week, so anyone who wants to join me on that, do your initial test this weekend! I was going to alternate sit-ups one day and push ups the next, but I think since they’re different body parts I’m going to do them on the same day. That seems easier to me, but whatever you think will work best for you is good!

Also, on Friday I’m going kayaking with a friend! I can’t wait for that – I’ve only done it once, but I loved it. So fun – and a great upper body workout!

I apologize for the absurd number of exclamation points in this post, but hey, things are good! And good things call for exclamation points! Really, they do!!

Reunion Conundrum

Monday, July 13th, 2009

My 10-year high school reunion is next month. I have to decide – by tomorrow – if I’m going or not and I’m conflicted. So, I’m here to solicit your opinions, one and all!

Backstory: I only went to the school I graduated from for 3 years. In that time I made some great friends – a few who I still talk to and see regularly, a few more who (thanks to Facebook) I am semi-caught up with already, and some who I have no idea what happened to. Anyone who I wasn’t friends with will likely not even remember me – at least not much. It was a small school, but again, I was only there for 3 years, and it’s been 10 – and I’ve never been that memorable.

PROS:

– It would be interesting to see the people who I was friends with but who I lost touch with after high school. See what they’re up to – typical reunion stuff.

– My close friends would go and I’d have a good time with them even if the rest of the reunion is lame.

– Like all girls who were overweight in high school, I had a secret fantasy that I would lose a bunch of weight and show up to the 10-year reunion looking great. I can actually do that! (I have a cute husband, too!)

– Ten-year reunions only happen once by definition. What if I don’t go and regret it?

CONS:

– I live 200 miles away from my hometown. While this is not that far – and my family lives there – I am going to be there the prior two weekends. That’s a lot of weekends in a row to spend where I used to live, as opposed to where I currently live.

– I would feel like a complete jackass going to the reunion if it turns out no one remembers me. Or cares. I’m a bit concerned about that.

– Yes, I’ve lost weight and can “live the fantasty,” so to speak. But now that I’ve done it, it doesn’t seem so important. I don’t care about showing people that I’m not that fat girl anymore. I lost weight for ME, not people I went to high school with, and I don’t feel the need to gloat.

– I don’t know who’s going and who’s not. It would really suck if I went through all the trouble of going and no one I was hoping to see was there.

– My husband doesn’t particularly want to go. He will go, but I know he doesn’t want to, and it’s unlikely that he’ll enjoy himself. Do spouses ever have fun at these things?

That’s basically it – all the pros and cons I can come up with right now. They’re not all weighted equally, so I can’t just count them up and say there are more cons than pros so I shouldn’t go.

If any of you have thoughts on the subject, I’d like to hear them. I’m officially soliciting advice! Did you go to your reunion? Was it fun? Awful? Are you a former classmate of mine who will (or won’t) be at the reunion? Simply think I should (or shouldn’t) go? Leave a comment!

Regrets, I’ve Had a Few

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

People always say that you should live your life with no regrets. That’s all well and good, but sometimes you don’t realize you’re doing something you’ll regret until it’s too late.

Such is the case with something I regret. It happened so long ago that I know it’s silly to still feel bad about it – or even to think about it – but I can’t help myself sometimes. If I had acted differently in this situation, the entire course of my life could have been different.

Or it could have been exactly the same. But that’s the point – What if…?

Growing up I was always overweight. Not just chubby, but significantly overweight. I wasn’t the heaviest girl in my grade, but I was close. At the start of every school year, in the first gym class, I would scan the other students, searching hopefully for one of the two girls who was bigger than me. Shorts and bathing suits – ugh.

So yes, I was big. But I was also a cool person. Really, I was! I’ve always been funny (at least I like to think so) – probably as a result of being heavy; I wanted people to see me as something other than the “fat chick” so I figured I’d be the “funny chick” instead. I’m reasonably smart. I’m loyal to a fault – I’ve often considered myself to be a better friend to others than they were to me (with a few notable exceptions, of course).

These positive traits have helped me through life. Once people got past the fact that I was carrying around far more than my share of weight, they would see that I was pretty cool. In fact, many times growing up, boys who picked on me  would eventually see that I wasn’t so bad after all and would become friends with me. Imagine! (Of course, they were usually only friendly when there was no one else around, but still. Baby steps…).

When I was in sixth grade, there was an awards ceremony at my school. I ended up sitting next to this boy who was not the most popular kid, but was certainly among them. Let’s call him Brian. Brian was smart and cute and, while not my friend, was never mean to me, and that was a huge plus.

At first, I could tell that Brian was less than enthused to have to sit beside me. But I was my charming self, and soon enough I had him cracking up. I could tell that after the first few minutes he was genuinely enjoying himself. With me!

Brian and I rode the same bus, and a few days later, it happened.

Like all the popular kids, Brian always sat in the back of the bus. (Rosa Parks never would have guessed it…) This one particular day, I got on the bus home from school, and Brian was sitting in the second seat – on the aisle – with a friend, who we’ll call Chuck. As I passed them, Brian stopped me and said “Will you go out with me?”

Without pausing, I replied, “Shut up” like he was completely ridiculous, and continued toward my seat in the middle of the bus.

My reaction was that of a fat girl who had never been asked out before, and who imagined the only reason a cute, smart, popular boy like Brian would ask her out was as a cruel joke.

Here’s the thing, though: After that day, Brian, Chuck, and their friends picked on me relentlessly, where they never had before. In every class, on every bus ride. It was constant. Why? Why after Brian and I had such a good time at the awards ceremony did he start making fun of me? It made no sense.

Unless you consider the possibility that Brian wasn’t playing a cruel joke on me when he asked me out that day. What if he was serious? What if this junior high boy liked me despite the fact that I was fat, and was mature enough to admit that to his friends and fellow classmates?

It’s the only explanation I could come up with. Why, oh why, didn’t I ask him if he was serious when he asked me out? That would have given him an opportunity to either A – say that yes, in fact, he was serious (in which case I would have said yes and I would have dated a popular boy!) or B – say no and laugh in my face (which wouldn’t have been the worst thing I’d endured).

Instead all I can do now – and for the rest of my life – is wonder.

I’m not suggesting that my entire life would have been different if I had dated Brian. And I’m certainly not saying that I’m unhappy with my current life (because I’m not) and that I wish I had done something 15 years ago to set me on a better course. What I am saying, though, is that things could have been different – better – for me in school if I had dated Brian.

I wouldn’t have been picked on relentlessly on a daily basis – I was Brian’s girlfriend! I would have had more confidence. My whole world would have been opened up.

Or not. Everyone knows how junior high relationships go: “Dating” one day, broken up the next. It’s equally likely that  if I had gone out with Brian everything would have been the same.

Now, of course, I can say that it all worked out for the best – I don’t want to have a different life. But my junior high school years were really difficult, and I can’t help but think it’s because I upset and embarrassed Brian when I broke his heart that fateful day on the bus in sixth grade.

I still feel bad about it when I think about it. Bad for myself, and bad for Brian. Sorry, Brian!

The Mind Controls the Body

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

In Kung Fu there is a saying: The Mind Controls the Body (I’m sure it’s a very ancient Chinese tenet a la Confucius or some such, but I don’t know exactly, and that’s not the point.) The idea is that if you put your mind to something and really concentrate, you can make your body achieve it.

I feel good today. I said I would and I do. I don’t know how much of my positivity is because I said that I wanted to be out of my funk, but regardless, here I am!

I went for a run this morning and I stuck with it rather than just running around the block like a lame-o as I did the other day. It was a good run, too – 2.5 miles with very little walking (just up 2 ridiculous hills).

Also, since the Kung Fu school is closed this week due to the holiday, a few of the girls and I are taking a yoga class tonight (first one ever!) and I’ve been looking forward to that all week. How could I not be excited now that the class is mere hours away?!

Regarding yesterday’s post: I know that I’ve changed. I’m a completely different person than I was a few years ago. I have energy and ambition and confidence. But I had a few rough days and I let that get to me, which I don’t recommend. It just puts you in a downward spiral and nothing good comes from that. Thanks for letting me vent and putting me back in my place!

New vs Old

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

A few days ago, I was all set to write about how much I’ve changed in the last few years. Not my physical appearance, but ME.

For instance, at a picnic on the 4th, we were all just sitting around and talking (all day) and I got VERY antsy. I needed to do something so I rolled down the hill (wee!). After that we got a little action going with some frisbee, which was a lot of fun.

What struck me about this is that 2 years ago I would have been very content to sit in a chair all day (particularly if we were playing a board game), as that was pretty much all I ever did anyway. In fact, I would have been annoyed if someone suggested doing something physical.

While this is a pretty significant change, the days since then have shown me that I’m not all that different from my “old self”.

Take yesterday: I got up at early with my husband who had an early meeting with the intention of seeing him off to work and then going for a run. After he left though, I was too tired to go for a run so I went back to sleep on the couch, figuring I would run later in the day.

“Later in the day” came, and finally – at almost 9pm – I forced myself to go for a run. That part is different. I actually put on my running clothes and sneaks and headed out. After a few minutes of thinking about how NOT in the mood I was – and here comes the “same old me” part – I walked for a bit, then doubled back and headed for home. I was out for 8 minutes. Absolutely pathetic.

This makes me sad. I don’t want to be the same old me! I like the new me. The me with energy who does things. Who has ambition and motivation and determination. Where did that girl go? Why am I struggling so much this week? This is not normal.

And it’s unacceptable.

*sigh* Thanks for letting me vent, internet. I promise, tomorrow we’ll return to our regularly scheduled program, where I’m full of optimism and hope. For today, though, I’m going to crawl back into my little hole. After I crank out some push ups, of course.