Archive for August, 2010

The Wager

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

I have an older sister. She’s not a lot older – just two years. Growing up I both worshipped her and resented her. She was everything I wanted to be: Smart, pretty, popular, athletic. 

Thin.

I remember one time when I was about 14, my family put up some foreign missionaries for the weekend. One man from Bulgaria or some such pulled my father aside, and when he thought everyone else was out of ear shot, said in his thick Russian accent, “Your daughter is very beautiful… The older one.”

Harrumph.

That was more than 10 years ago, and I can remember it like it was yesterday, because it so perfectly captures how I felt compared to her. It was really tough growing up in the shadow of what I wanted to be. And of course she was a great sister, too, so I couldn’t even really hate her. The bitch, lol. 

I’m ashamed to admit that when I started losing weight, I was giddy at the prospect that – thanks to my hard work and a little help from weight she put on during pregnancy – I might be able to catch up to her and even become smaller than her.

Then something changed in me: I stopped wanting to ‘beat’ my sister, and rather wanted us both to be healthy and happy with our bodies. We started encouraging each other and challenging each other to do better and be better. When I visited we would go to the gym together – something that was previously unheard of. 

My sister recently had a second daughter, and we are now within a single pound of each other. When I heard that, I immediately told her I’d race her to 150, which happens to be both of our goals.

Even though I was mostly joking when I initially said it, I got to thinking and decided this was a pretty good idea! My family is incredibly competitive, and I figured a little healthy competition would hold us accountable and help us both reach our goals. I know that I don’t want to be the fat sister again, and I’m sure she doesn’t want to become the fat one after a lifetime of being the thin one.

Since we were both at about 175 at the time, I decided going all the way to 150 would take too long to be an effective challenge, so we changed it to 165 and are on our way! Last week I weighed in at 171 and she at 171.2 – so close! When one of us reaches 165, we’re both going out for a manicure and pedicure purchased by the loser.

I hope she’s not offended or embarrassed by anything here. My sister is one of my favorite people, and I’m glad that in the last few years I was finally able to shed my own insecurities and stop competing with her.

Except when I’m actually competing with her. 

Race Recap: Run Around the Square

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

Yesterday was the 5k race I told you about. I’d like to tell you that I kicked that race’s ass, but – sadly – the opposite is true.

That race totally and completely kicked my ass.

I’m not entirely sure why, either. I have a lot of potential explanations, and more than likely, it’s a combination of them all.

One of my excuses is that I was dressed inappropriately for the weather. When I got up in the morning, it was quite cold. I decided to wear pants instead of my long shorts, and wore a cotton jacket over my short-sleeved tee. I was comfortable until just before the race start when I quickly took off the jacket with the intention of throwing it to my friends who live a block away from the starting line. Unfortunately, I ran right past them so I was stuck with it the entire time. I tied it around my waist where it burned a hole through my midsection like a magnifying glass. It seems I forgot that you’re supposed to dress for 20 degrees warmer than it is when you run.

Also, I think I was a little dehydrated. Stupid me didn’t drink any water prior to the race start. Not sure what I was thinking there. Especially since I took advantage of my friend’s bathroom just before the race – absolutely no reason to have refrained from drinking water.

Which leads me to my next excuse: When I got to the second water station, I really felt like I needed to partake, and since it’s damn near impossible to drink water while running slowed to a walk while drinking. After that, when I was tired (which i was a lot due to the hills in the second mile!), it was a lot harder mentally for me to push myself to continue running because I had already walked. My mind was like, “You’ve already walked once, what’s the difference?”

While I’m sure all of those things contributed to the difficulty I had at yesterday’s race, the main cause is most definitely my lack of training for it. Sure, I work out daily, so I’m not out of shape in general, but I’m out of running shape. Running is a different beast than anything else, and as I’ve learned through experience, consistency in training is key to performance.

So even though I said my goal was simply to have fun, I’m pretty disappointed with myself… and my 33:07 finish.

I didn’t even have that much fun, that’s what really sucks. Don’t get me wrong: I’m glad I did it. But for me, if I’m doing poorly at something, it’s hard for me to enjoy it. And the fact that I couldn’t run 3.1 miles without walking – even though I did that and then some just days earlier with J-Roc – makes for a poor performance, indeed.

New Terrain

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

Well folks, I’m running another 5k road race today. I’ve been wanting to run this particular race for a few years now, so I’m really looking forward to it.

It’s called the Run Around the Square. It starts out in an adorable residential neighborhood I love with cobblestone streets. I have friends who happen to live on the race course which is neat – I’ve never passed by people I know in a race before! After the “square” the course moves into Frick Park, which is a beautiful – and huge – park right in the city! I’ve never run on trails before, so I’m excited about that.

As always, I’d like to break 30 minutes today and set a new PR. However, this time? I’m not that optimistic about it.

I haven’t been training for this. Like, at all. In fact, I’ve only run three-ish times in the last month! It’s pretty awful, really.

I know I’ll be able to complete the entire race without walking as I’ve kept my fitness level up through P90X, but I’m not sure about my speed. Plus, apparently, the entire second mile is uphill…

Here’s the other thing: I read on the website that it ends at “approximately the three mile mark.” Approximately?! Geez Louise. I guess there’s no reason to kill myself for a PR when the race is an “approximate” 5k. Might be shorter, might be longer… That’ll just mess with my head.

Ok. New plan: run my best and enjoy the new terrain I’m running on. Enjoy running among throngs of people instead of wishing them out of my path. Just, have fun.

I’m always most successful at staying active when it’s fun. What do you do that’s active and fun? Do it this weekend!

Food Coma

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

My husband and I spent most of the weekend in Buffalo visiting my family. As always, I had a great time, but this post isn’t about the fun I had; it’s about what I did.

On the food-front, I was ridiculously terrible. I’m not exaggerating that, either: Every thing that I could have eaten, I ate. Every time I could have gone back for seconds, I did. I just ate, and ate, and ate: Pizza, banana bread, M&Ms (really?!), carrot cake, chocolate cream pie, ice cream cake (we celebrated three birthdays, and I ate some of each person’s cake…), macaroni salad, chex mix, and the list goes on. It’s not like I had a moderate amount of any of these things either – I went to town!

Obviously, this is bad. I always have a rough time of it food-wise when I visit my family, but usually I am better able to control myself. For some reason, this weekend I didn’t even try very hard to prevent the food coma – or feel very badly about it either… At least, not at the time.

There is some good news to report (thankfully) as well: I got a ton of physical activity in this weekend: I did Kung Fu, went for a run, and played frisbee golf, catch with the softball and hours of backyard volleyball. I’m sure I burned some serious calories after all that, but I’m unconvinced that it was enough to counteract all the calories I took in.

I’m heading back to Pittsburgh in the morning, which is good because it means returning to the predictability of my own home and food that is easy for me to control. I really love visiting my family, but let me tell you: It is so difficult for me to eat well when I’m up here that it’s a good thing I only visit for a few days at a time – and generally only every few months – or it could be a much more serious issue!

Cybernetic Organism

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

The next 30 days are going to be pretty irritating.

Yesterday I picked up my “30-day event monitor” from the hospital. The device itself is like an old school, clunky pager that I wear clipped to my waistband. There are two wires connecting the pager-part to electrodes that I attach to my body with strong sticky things (made by 3M, funnily enough).

The monitor is patient-activated, so any time I feel dizzy I have to push a button and stand still for 30 seconds or so while it records whatever my heart is doing. When it’s not recording, it’s not doing anything – except being a nuisance. Every 2-3 “events”, I have to call the hospital and “download” them through the phone, not unlike a fax machine. Oddly, it takes about a minute to download a 30-second event.

I’m supposed to wear it all the time, except when I’m showering. I think I’m going to refuse to wear it to bed (I didn’t wear it last night):  I’ve never gotten dizzy in bed, so I don’t see why I should make myself uncomfortable for nothing.

I wore it yesterday when I worked out and at kung fu, and it wasn’t too much of a hassle, except that all my sweat made one of the sticky things de-stick, which was obnoxious. Now I know I have to carry extras with me!

This thing is going to take some getting used to, in general. If I don’t hit the button immediately upon feeling dizzy, it’ll miss the entire “event” and won’t be of much help. Also, going to the bathroom is a pain in the butt since it’s clipped to my waistband, and now that I’m drinking water like mad, I’m using the bathroom more than I’d like to admit.

Thirty days of this. I hope they figure out what’s wrong with me after all this trouble! I joked yesterday about being a robot… now I’m a cyborg.

Doctor’s Orders

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

“All the dreamers in all the world are dizzy in the noodle.” – Edie Adams

Yesterday I had an appointment with my doctor about the whole passing out/concussion thing. He’s not positive what the cause is yet, but he thinks it’s heart-related. I think I mentioned my very low pulse rate (under 50 BPM at rest!), plus I have low blood pressure. He thinks those things combined with the heat and humidity and my dehydration (I was still dehydrated yesterday!) is what caused me to faint.

I have to:

1 – Drink more water. Even more than usual, which seems to be more than most people as it is…

2 – Eat more salt. What? Seriously? Okay…

3 – Wear a special heart rate monitor for a month. I’m going to the hospital to pick it up this afternoon so I don’t know exactly how it works yet, but apparently there will be a button on it somewhere that I have to push any time I feel dizzy. It will send information about me and my heart rate back to some enormous contraption where it will be used to make a clone of me for when I eventually kick it. Or something like that.

After the 30 days, I’ll be referred to a cardiologist or an electrophysiologist, depending on the results. Hopefully they’ll be able to determine what the cause is and tell me how to prevent it!

I’m allowed to work out and do all of my normal activities, so starting today I’m back to P90X. I missed 4 days, but one of them would have been a rest day anyway, and I’ll skip this week’s rest day, so that’s not so bad overall. I’m going to try not to feel bad about it. Clearly missing those workouts was not my choice.

So this afternoon, I head to yet another hospital to acquire my heart rate monitor. What if they find out I’m a robot?

Poor Me

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

I’m so frustrated right now. This past Thursday, I started Week 7 of P90X without having missed a single workout. Some days were more difficult than others: There were days that I really didn’t feel up for working out, and others when I had so much other stuff going on that it was tough to fit in. But I planned ahead of time and did what had to be done so that I didn’t miss a single workout.

Until yesterday. And now today. And likely tomorrow. And possibly Monday…

On Thursday, Friend #1 and her friend (and my new friend!) came down to Pittsburgh for the Jimmy Buffett concert. Before the concert, we tailgated in the parking lot… My first time! It was pretty fun :)

I volunteered to be the designated driver, so I really didn’t have much to drink – a few Mikes Hard Lemonades over the course of 6 hours. Needless to say, I was not drunk.

We went into the concert at 8. After about an hour, I started to feel sick: dizzy, lightheaded, cold sweats, headache. I told my friends that I had to go to the bathroom, thinking if I could get out of the crowd and splash some water on my face I’d feel better.

I walked out of the concert area toward the bathrooms, but started to get SO dizzy that I had to lean up against something. I clearly remember seeing a garbage can and walking towards it. I put my hand on it and then…

I woke up in the medical center.

I have no idea how I got to the there or how long I was out. Based on the timeline, there’s rougly 25-30 minutes that I don’t remember.

I threw up a few times in the medical center, discovered big abrasions on my head, shoulder and arm, was issued a citation for public drunkenness – even though I wasn’t drunk! – and met back up with my friends. The concert was over. I can’t believe I missed the entire second half…

I was sick all night and all morning. My friends convinced me to let them take me to the ER where I explained the night’s events to the doctor. After an EKG and a CT scan, the explanation is this: In general, I have very low blood pressure – between 47 & 49 beats per minute. Couple that with the extreme heat, the likely dehydration I was suffering from, and the thinned blood from the few drinks I did have, and that was enough to cause me to pass out (not the first time I’ve passed out, either). When I passed out, I hit my head, which caused a concussion, and that caused the vomiting.

Crazy. That ruins the rest of my fun weekend plans with Friend #1, and has left me with a severe headache.

I can’t work out for a few days either :/

Next week I have to follow up with my GP about the low blood pressure thing. I’m also going to try to fight the ticket I got for being drunk when I wasn’t.

For now, though, I’m supposed to just take it easy. I can work out when I feel up for it, which I don’t right now. When I can turn my head without feeling severe pain, I think I’ll be ready to resume P90X. The doctor said the best plan was to spend the weekend on the couch watching movies.

Good thing I have Netflix: Doctor’s orders!

Phase Two

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

I can’t believe how quickly time has been flying! It seems like I just woke up, and yet it’s the middle of the afternoon. I have to (try to) get some work done, do my workout, and pack up the bikes in time to meet my husband for our new regular biking date on Monday evenings (so fun!). Then it’s home to shower, make and eat dinner and then – hopefully – relax for an hour or so before heading to bed to do some combination of the same tomorrow.

This is a pretty typical day lately. I’m certainly not complaining – I like having things to do, especially when those things are active and fun! Every day, I’m scrambling to fit in a full work day, an hour long (or more) workout, and then whatever the evening’s activity is (Monday: Biking, Tuesday: Kung Fu, Wednesday: Softball, Thursday: Kung Fu, Friday: Run with N-Cat). It’s no wonder I haven’t been blogging much lately!

This past Thursday marked the start of Phase Two for me in the P90X program. For those of you who aren’t familiar, P90X consists of three “phases”, each 4 weeks long. The first 3 weeks of each phase are pretty intense, each day doing a different type of workout (or working different muscle groups), and the fourth week is for ‘recovery’, which still has you working out every day, but it’s the lower intensity workouts mostly.

When I attempted this program 2 years ago, I didn’t make it to Phase 2: I quit during the recover week. I guess I never quite felt ‘recovered!’ Anyway, that makes this particularly exciting! New territory! In fact, on Saturday I did a workout I had never done before (Chest, Shoulders & Triceps) and it felt great! I’m sore again, and in brand new ways and places.

I’m noticing some results, too! In July, I lost a total of 4.5 pounds – better than a pound a week! – leaving only 8.5 to go in order to reach my Third Quarter Melt Down goal by October 5 (my birthday!). I’m highly optimistic at this point :)

Also, I can tell that my balance and flexibility are improving. Not just because I’m getting better and better at the Yoga workout, but I can feel it at Kung Fu, too – very cool. It also seems like I’m building some serious arm muscles, but unfortunately, they’re still buried under some fat, so I have more work to do!

I’m pleased with where I am and how I’m progressing. I’ve been faithful to the program and haven’t missed a single workout, and I think it’s paying off.

And if I feel this good after just 4 weeks, I’m really looking forward to seeing where I end up in another 8 weeks!

How about the rest of you? We’re a third of the way into the Third Quarter Melt Down… are you pleased with your progress? Do you need to reassess your goals – or maybe reassess your efforts to reach your goals? Hit me up with how things are going!