Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Emotional Effects of Reaching Goal Weight

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I started writing this post two months ago but never finished. This topic It seems especially relevant now, so it feels like the right time to finish it and post it-

Lately I've been in a really rough place emotionally, as most of you know, and it's been very difficult on me. In fact, I have been turning to food. I'm not proud of it and I'm not happy about it, but it's true. And when I weigh in November, I will be over goal weight and have to pay. I don't want to stay where I am right now, in this place, because I feel absolutely awful - mentally and physically. And I'm doing what I can to pull myself out of it. I know I will and I'm hoping sooner rather than later. Right now I should be at my Weight Watchers meeting, but I am not, because I am in no mood to be around people. I am too angry and upset. And to make matters worse, I am comforting myself with beer & fries.

After reaching goal weight, I was thinking about what it meant to be *at* goal weight - how I felt different, what kinds of changes I was noticing or becoming aware of. Aside from the most obvious - the changes to how my body looks and moves - there was a much greater change that I was aware of: what I was going through mentally...

Now, I noticed and have written throughout the journey that a great deal of the weight loss/healthy process is mental - how we feel about ourselves, how we respect and treat our bodies, how we think about and use food, how we deal with our emotions - all of those thoughts impact our behaviors, and as I've pointed out all along, it's those behaviors that ultimately affect our weight and what we look like. So in order to change physically, you first have to change mentally.

By first changing our thinking, we can change our behaviors/reactions to food and situations, and by changing our behaviors, we change our bodies (and yes, that number on the scale). But I really believe it has to happen in our head first. And it's why I tell people to change their thinking - focus on their choices and behaviors (not the scale). It's why I think weight loss, or any change, is a mostly mental game.

And being at goal weight was no different - it was very mental.

At goal weight, something pretty significant dawned on me - I realized that, for the first time ever, I no longer had my weight to hide behind. In fact, by shedding the weight, and suddenly being at goal - being the smallest I've ever been - I felt much more vulnerable - because I was suddenly so exposed. By getting to goal weight, I no longer had that excuse - the excuse of my weight. And I was left to face everything I spent years suppressing, avoiding or distracting myself from when I was abusing food.

Because when the weight comes off, all of those things we were hiding from or avoiding are *still* there. All of those things we tried to hide from or shield ourselves from, all of the things we were afraid of, all of the things we protected ourselves from, all of those things we suppressed with food for however long - they are all still there and now, suddenly, they need to be dealt with.

So it occurred to me that in a lot of ways you're not just shedding weight or fat, you're shedding yourself, your identity - to yourself and others. You're allowing yourself to be seen for possibly the first time. I realized that I was no longer 'the fat girl' I was just ME for the first time. And I could no longer use my fat as an excuse - an excuse for not going out, or for not having a relationship, or for not running, or for not trying new things.

That also got me to thinking - I would guess that a great majority of severely overweight people are food abusers - people that not only 'eat too much' but that use food as a drug (I know I fall into this category). People that use food to mentally check out - to avoid things, to distract ourselves, to numb ourselves - and that weight we accumulate as a result acts not only as a barrier to keep other people away but we use it to prevent people from getting to know the real us. We use it to prevent ourselves from doing things. We use it to tell ourselves we "can't" do certain things. We use that weight to hide from life and things that are too painful or terrifying to deal with. I know I did.

My fat, even though I hated it, was a security blanket and I used it to keep me a prisoner in many ways. But at goal, it was no longer there for me to use as an excuse. Once I reached goal weight, I had to acknowledge it wasn't my weight all along that kept me from things - it was my insecurity, my extreme self consciousness or my fear of failure that prevented me from doing those things. All the things I put off or told myself I couldn't do because I was too fat, well, now I have to face the fact that the fat might have had little to do with it. The fat was a nice little insulated bubble of protection; a convenient excuse that prevented me from doing anything I didn't want to deal with.

I don't think I ever expected my life to become 'fixed' when I got to goal, but I did used to think that life would be easier at goal. Then I got to goal and saw that I was wrong - it wasn't easier. And I learned that not much changed other than the size of my body and clothes. Everything else that was an issue before is still there, clearer than ever, and I had to work on it or at least face it. And I'm not going to lie - it's terrifying.

So that's where I am now - left to figure out how to deal with so many things I avoided for so many years. And right now, I'm not handling it very well...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Weekly Meeting Topic: Bravo!!!

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As you likely noticed, I haven't posted in over a week. If you follow me on twitter (warning: I tweet a LOT), you have an idea why. Anyway, thank you to everyone who offered all sorts of support - real life and virtual. 

Tonight we talked about celebrating our success. Clearly, that's something I'm not very shy about - I brag about my awesomeness pretty constantly. And if you don't know me well you might think I'm full of myself, but I'm really not. I just know how far I've come and I think it's nothing short of amazing. I'm obviously enormously proud of myself and everything I've accomplished and continue to accomplish. I talk about my successes all the time, to anyone that will listen: friends, co-workers, my blog readers, even total strangers who compliment me. Why do I tell total strangers? Because I want them to know where I came from, that I was not always in this kind of shape; and that it's possible - even for them.

But I know that for some people, acknowledging and celebrating themselves does not come naturally. It might be because they're used to receiving negative attention - to the extent that positive attention frightens them, or they might not be ready to really 'see' the new them, or they might be worried their success is temporary and too afraid to embrace it - whatever the case is, I hope they'll at least think about some of their successes after reading this post.

The reason I think it's so important to acknowledge and celebrate along the way is because it helps you to see how far you've come, what you've accomplished, and how you've changed - sometimes mentally even more so than physically.

First I want to point out some of the changes I've experienced along the way that are worth mentioning and celebrating:
  • Walking: It seems so simple. We all have to walk to get around, right? Well prior to joining in September 2006, I *hated* walking even an inch further than necessary. And I never in my life walked with as much ease as I do now. Not only because of losing weight (having 9 inches less of fat on each thigh helps a LOT, believe me) but also because I'm in such great shape now that I never get tired or winded. Never. In fact, I walk over 5 miles a day just getting around but that distance is nothing to me. And this is coming from a woman who just over 4 years ago would rather spend an hour looking for a parking spot than walk an additional 2 blocks. (Seriously - An hour of my life I would sacrifice! Just to not walk 2 blocks! That was me!) But I never complain about walking anymore. It's just part of life. And actually, I love it. 
  • Energy: When I think about it, I am still sometimes amazed how much energy I have. I don't get sleepy in the middle of the day like I used to. I don't sleep as much as I used to and I actually want to MOVE all the time. I cannot sit still. I have a ton of energy and I just want to use it!
  • Mood & Outlook: Despite sometimes being sad & emotional about some things (I'm going to talk about that in an upcoming post), my overall mood and outlook now are completely different than they've ever been. I really was an obese, depressed and suicidal fatalist - not very long ago either. I was very negative and angry, and it was obvious to everyone I encountered. Now I'm much more pleasant overall (my co-workers especially have noticed this, probably because I spend the most time with them). I smile for no reason other than I'm happy to be alive and I now feel actual joy and happiness for the first time in my life. Yes, I also feel heartbreaking pain, but that just means I'm facing my feelings - that I'm allowing myself to live - for pretty much the first time ever. 
  • Endurance/Stamina: I'm really glad I keep track of my activity stats, but even if I didn't, I was able to see from month to month how I was progressing in regards to activity and my endurance. I could see it in Punk Rope - when I would make it through a song without stopping. I could see it on the eliptical - when I could do 10 minutes and not just 6 (I now do 40). I could see it the night I rode over the Williamsburg Bridge for the first time (still one of my biggest accomplishments ever, that first ride). I could see it when I would transfer from the L Train to the 4-5-6 in Union Square and not feel like I was going to die on those stairs. I could see it in Pilates - when, after about 6 months, I was finally able to do the spine articulations without collapsing from a charlie horse in my right hamstring. You'd be surprised how quickly your body adjusts and gets used to activity - I know I was! But you have to start being active to see it!
  • Summer: I was telling my meeting tonight that for the first time in my life I feel like I experienced summer. I *hated* summer growing up - hated it. Between being fat and hot all the time combined with having no friends and no life, I just hated summer. And I wasted every single one of them. I spent them indoors, friendless, doing stuff like watching TV, eating, drawing and playing guitar. Since the summer of 2007, I have experienced more of the outdoors each summer and never more so than I did this year. I was all over the place and did more this summer (mostly on my bike) than ever before. And thanks to weighing less (and therefore handling the heat better and sweating less), I welcomed the heat and the sun for truly the first time in my life. Despite it being one of the hottest summers on record in NYC, I never even used my air conditioner! I *loved* every second of it. And I can easily say I had the BEST summer of my entire life.
Those are what I would consider "big successes" but the thing is that I didn't need to get to goal to reach those milestones or acknowledge those successes - to a degree, they were part of the journey, part of the process, and I recognized them along the way.

That's one reason I try to stress to not worry how long it takes you to "lose weight" or get to a goal number on the scale. That's not the big picture. In fact, that number so many people get obsessed with is actually a very tiny part of it. The big picture is the journey - making the changes, learning about yourself, doing things you've never done, experiencing things you never have, becoming a person you never thought you'd be - and yes, celebrating the new you and your success all the time.

Now, I really do want to drill this concept into everyone's heads because I think sometimes people just don't get it or aren't ready to get it, so please try to absorb this: You are not going to "lose the weight" or get to goal if you don't make the changes - so focus on what you have control over: the changes and the choices you make - NOT the number on the scale. 

With that out of the way, I want to remind you that you shouldn't just acknowledge the big successes - there are a million small successes too - you can likely find several every day if you look for them. For instance:
  • When you take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator
  • When you tell a waitperson how you want your food prepared (in a more healthful way than you would have previously)
  • When you realize you are satisfied and stop eating (instead of eating it till it's 'done' or stopping when you're full)
  • When you take a few minutes to track or pre-track your food for the day
  • When you realize something fits better than it did the last time you wore it
  • When you pass your favorite bakery and just take a photo, or enjoy the smell, without buying something
  • When you attend a meeting - despite being off plan for some or all of the week (this is the most crucial time to get to a meeting, in my opinion!)
  • When you can cross your legs better, or at all (this was actually a really big deal for me and I noticed improvements several times as my legs got smaller)
  • When you are under stress and don't comfort yourself with food 
I bet you could easily think of a dozen more - it's basically whenever you make a *better* choice than you would have previously - that's a success. Or if you notice even a slight improvement in something - that's a success! Any progress, no matter how small you may think it is, is a success. And it's all those little successes that bring you to the bigger successes, so don't discount them!

If you're a regular reader here, you are familiar with the "Weekly Accomplishments" I like to post and it's for that exact reason - to celebrate things I did that week. I actually got this idea from my former leader, Karen (you weren't my leader very long Karen, but I still miss you!). Even if it's a 'small' victory, or one good decision, that's a success and it's important to acknowledge that. And you have to realize it's all those small victories, all those tiny decisions that add up and bring you to the big milestones. Every success is important and worth celebrating!

My friend Nina in the meeting was the one who had the "victory log" idea I mentioned a while ago. As a result, I have a paper journal that I use as my victory log (for WW and regular life stuff). I really love that idea - the time for reflection and being thankful or appreciative for little things. And she inspired another member in my meeting, Cindy, to do the same - Cindy keeps her own list of things great and small that she accomplished every week and I think that's fantastic! There is something so satisfying about realizing the positive changes you're making and then sharing them - with your meeting, your friends, your blog, or just by yourself in a journal.

So if you're one of those people who downplays your success or hasn't really thought much about it yet, I hope you'll at least think about some of the amazing strides you've taken. And then brag a little, and celebrate!

And before I go, I will share a gratuitous photo with you. As my leader, Melanie, asked us to share our celebrations from this past week, I mentioned that on Saturday I ran 4 miles instead of doing some very harmful things to myself. (Again, if you follow me on Twitter, you understand) And for that, she congratulated me with a long string of Bravos.

Take time to celebrate all of your successes! And keep in mind that every one of them will bring you closer to your goals!

(upcoming: I plan to do my Weekly Accomplishments post on Thursday which will include last week's stuff too. And then then next blog likely will not be until Sunday after my bike tour)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fitness Adventures: Get to the 'Point! 5K

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Yesterday I did my third 5K in as many weeks - It was the Greenpoint "Get to the 'Point" 5K. I actually did this 5K last year with Lainy. That was my first ever 5K and while I haven't run much since then, I've definitely improved.

This particular run started very late - 1pm - which meant I had a chance to go to pilates that morning! I love pilates! But I hadn't been there in weeks due to the two other 5Ks and the gym being closed for cleaning the 2 weeks before that. Here I am before pilates:

10/10/10 137.6 pounds

After pilates, I changed into my 5K outfit which consisted of spanx, covered by bike shorts & covered by workout pants. (That's right, I finally figured out the right combination of supportive lower body garments that eliminated the shaking/jiggling of my ample ass & thighs bouncing up and down with every step!) And I wanted to represent my neighborhood so I went with a cool Greenpoint shirt I bought a while ago, but never wore (because it's too big and the cotton is thicker/stiffer than I prefer).

I biked over to the starting point and while waiting to check in and get my bib, I was approached by a woman who identified herself as Jill. I knew immediately who she was based on a number of emails we exchanged this summer. It was nice to put a face with the name and be able to talk to her while I waited in line. Of course I also asked to get a photo, which she agreed to -

I checked in and took a few pics before the race began...

The starting line, with runners waiting -

Me at the start:

Shortly after that, the race began. I started off just running comfortably. I never try to go 'fast'. I strive for endurance, not speed. If I can pick up speed comfortably, that's fine. But it's not my objective. I'd rather be able to breathe and feel ok than to have to stop because I exhausted myself.

A few blocks into the run, we passed my favorite bike store, B's Bikes, and I was fortunate enough to see Ted outside. He called out my name and I high-fived him as I ran past. It was magical. (I don't have a photo of Ted from that day, but here is Alex, Me, Ted & Andre - my 3 favorite bike guys - who came out to celebrate my birthday with me this past August-)

the super cute and always helpful boys from B's Bikes

Here I am running on Berry:

At the end of that block, I saw my friend Elaine and her husband Jeff cheering on the corner. I was so excited to see them! I stopped for a moment and asked him to photograph us together-

After that very brief stop, I continued on, reaching the 1 mile marker soon thereafter. The person with the stop watch called out my time as 11 minutes and 13 seconds. That was a pretty good pace for me.

We ran past my gym, the Greenpoint YMCA-

At some point, I got this great shadow shot of me running -

And eventually hit mile marker 2. The guy called out 23 minutes and change -

Shortly after that, who should I see again but my friend Elaine and her husband Jeff. I didn't stop to get a photo with them this time, but I did get a photo *of* them, cheering for me! How awesome!

And before I knew it, I was at mile marker 3. This woman called 31 minutes, 31 seconds (easy enough to remember since a 5K is 3.1 miles).

I knew something had to be wrong. There was no way I had increased my pace that much. Either the mile markers were inaccurate or they didn't all start their stopwatches at the same time. But it didn't matter. I was going by my end time anyway.

Soon after that I crossed the finish line and hit stop on my heart rate monitor. The total time read 33 minutes 29 seconds, which is a really great time for me; way better than I expected! And then I went and posed with the finish line and clock -

Jill was at the finish line (she had a super impressive time of about 25 minutes. Great job!!), and she was good enough to offer to exchange my super giant event shirt for her slightly less giant event shirt (they were out of the kids' sizes by the time I got there). Thank you, Jill!

I left the 5K and went home to model my t-shirt. You know, in keeping with tradition. But first I took an "after" photo. Not that this was the most strenuous of events, and to tell you the truth, I'm not even sure I broke a sweat, but here I am (sans workout pants):

And here are my traditional event t-shirt photos:

My heart rate monitor stats for the day were:

Total Time: 33 minutes, 29 seconds
Minutes in Cardio Zone: 33 minutes, 21 seconds
% of time in Cardio Zone: 99.76%
Average Heart Rate: 160
High Heart Rate: 175
Calories Burned: 315

It was a really fun run - I love being in my neighborhood! And what I love about events like this (and the bike tours) is to see people come out of their homes, or take a moment to stop what they're doing to cheer for us. Thank you to everyone that cheered us on!

After the 5K, I got changed again for a bike ride. Since it was unseasonably warm, I decided to wear one of my favorite tops, since I likely won't have a chance again until next year -

I then rode over to my favorite vegan bakery, Champs! (on Leonard at Ainslie) I treated myself to a vegan chocolate cupcake with PEANUT BUTTER FROSTING and a mini black and white cookie -

Post 5K vegan baked treats

It was heaven!

Then I went into Manhattan for a bike ride. My main agenda item: Verizon Wireless. (If you follow me on Twitter, you know I had a lot of phone drama after the race - I did the 5K with my Droid tucked into my Spanx and apparently my sweat killed the phone. It would not start properly. Verizon couldn't fix it and pretty much told me that I'd have to buy a new Droid. For close to 600 dollars. I was devastated. DEVASTATED!!! I activated an old phone for the night and at the suggestion of many of you, put the Droid in a pile of rice overnight. By some cellular miracle, it worked! And my Droid started up normally today. I reactivated it and am so happy to have it back! Thank you all for that bit of advice. I can't believe it worked, but I'm thrilled that it did!)

Anyway, phone drama aside, I also wanted to visit my Dad at work - He hasn't seen me since Father's Day. In fact, he hasn't even seen photos of me. This was the first time he saw me since reaching goal weight and it's the first time he ever saw me look the way I do now/at this size. I think it's safe to say he was impressed.

I ran a few other errands, racking up 25 miles total for the day.

On my ride home, while cycling up the Brooklyn bound ramp of the Williamsburg Bridge, I took one of the best self portraits I've ever taken of myself on my bike. I can't believe the symmetry. And I love the lights on both sides of me -

(the new helmet is a brand called Yakkay. You can check them out/order them here)

coming home on the Willy B Bridge tonight

When I got back to Brooklyn, I stopped by one of my favorite neighborhood bars, Matchless, so I could finally enjoy my post-event celebratory beer. (Yes, it was many hours later but I don't enjoy daytime drinking, so I waited...) On my way into the bar, I met a guy who recognized me from the run (and from the bus, apparently) and we spoke briefly. Then, while inside, 3 beautiful young women approached me. They also recognized me from the run and told me they cheered for me and that I looked great (I actually remembered them). It was very sweet of them to come over and tell me that.

I ordered my favorite beer, Brooklyner Weisse. And it turned out it was still happy hour, so that meant I had another free beer coming! Score!

Post 5K beer. Finally!

Oh, and I'd like to mention that I kept to my word and did not order French Fries. (For the record, I *love* their fries!)

I suppose I should register for a 10K since these 5Ks feel like nothing. I'll make that my next running goal...

(the entire set of Flickr photos can be seen here)

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Last Week's Accomplishments & What I'm Working on This Week

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(This is for the week of Wednesday, September 29th through Tuesday, October 5th)

Accomplishments & Great Moments this Week:
  • I would like to say I tracked all week but I didn't. Since I only like to speak positively on here, I will state that I tracked 3 half-days, which is better than nothing!
  • I worked out 5 days. Here is my activity spreadsheet:
Activity Week Ending 20101005
  • As you likely know, I did the 5k Mud Run (with obstacle course) and survived!
  • I discovered a new fruit I'm in love with and would like to thank Corinna in my meeting for bringing them to my attention (she's the yoga instructor Lainy and I did rooftop yoga with this summer): Concord Grapes. Oh. My. God!!! How have I not been enjoying these all my life?! Not only are they small, portable and sweet but the consistency of their flesh is not unlike gummy candy.  GUMMY CANDY! Do you have any idea how much I used to love and eat gummy candy?! I gave it up when I gave up artificial ingredients last May and I have missed that texture. Now I get to enjoy it again - totally natural! Thank you, Corinna!
  • I asserted myself at work with William - he's been offering me way too much food over the last month or so and I've been allowing him to be my drug pusher and enabler. I finally had a serious talk with him and told him he has to stop it - stop offering me his food, stop buying me food. I also added that even if I beg him to get me something - DO NOT DO IT (because if I ask, he will). Of course my plan is not to test him - not to ask him to pick anything up for me, and to refuse anything he offers. But it would help me greatly if he could do what I asked because I don't like temptation.
  • On my trip to Whole Foods, I picked up some of those individual peanut butter packets everyone has been recommending. They're pretty pricey at 99 cents a pack, but they are portion controlled (2 Tbsp for 4 points a pack) and should be 'safe'. (The jar of peanut butter I consumed in one sitting for 57 points was on sale for just $3., but the mental anguish and physical discomfort was not worth that price!) So if this means I can enjoy peanut butter occasionally in a reasonable amount, it is well worth that cost-

What I'm Working On and Upcoming Events This Week:
  • It goes without say: Tracking! I have a few tracking strategies - not only am I going to pre-track my meals in the morning (this is really just a guideline that may change as the day goes on) but I'm going to pre-track *as I eat*. For example, if I pre-tracked that day's meals and snacks, but then decide to have an additional snack (almonds, fruit, yogurt, whatever), I will track it before I start eating it. For one thing, I am being accountable by tracking. For another it will give me a moment to reflect on why I am eating that thing at that time. And now that I can access eTools from my phone, I have no excuses to not do this.
  • Tonight is my 5K monthly walk with my WW peeps. I'm looking forward to it!
  • I am giving up packaged bars for the week. That includes my "Friends in Fiber", Gnu bars, and the amazing chocolate vegan bars by NuGo that I may or may not be abusing lately (*ahem*). I'm not giving them up forever, just getting them under control. I've already hidden the ones at work and will do the same with the bars I have at home.
  • I announced on Twitter last week that I was going to abstain from one of my favorite foods (no, not peanut butter) - french fries, for a while. They used to be a very rare indulgence - namely after bike tours. But I noticed I've been eating them way too frequently the last few weeks and I need to undo that before it becomes a bad habit. Therefore, the next time I will enjoy some salty delicious fried potatoes is on October 25th, after my Tour de Bronx bike tour.
  • This Saturday I am meeting a long time blog reader. Michele, who is visiting the city. I'll be sure to take a photo for the blog.
  • This Sunday is the Greenpoint 5K (aka "Get to the 'Point!") I'm running alone and hope to have a pace similar to the Tunnel to Towers 5k a few weeks ago (37 minutes, 13 seconds) but really I don't care how long it takes, as long as I do it.
  • Drinking my water! As most of you know, this is never a problem for me and I normally drink about a gallon of water a day (that's really not a lot - only 8 pint glasses). But I noticed over the last few weeks I just haven't been drinking as much. I'm not sure why or how this happened, but it is throwing everything off: I've been eating more, I feel bloated and overall I just do not feel the same. I'm making a very conscious effort to go back to my usual water consumption - at least 12 glasses a day.
  • The next Zumba class with Kimmy & Nicole has been announced: Monday October 25th at 6:30pm at 440 Studios, 440 Lafayette Street. New Room 4G (4th Floor). Class is $10/person. Please RSVP with Kimmy () if you would like to attend. Feel free to invite your friends. Please bring water and wear comfortable attire. Also, they have jingle hip scarves on sale for $15! I bought a pink one with silver coins and wore it last time. I love that thing!
  • And for all you Bikram lovers in NYC: Yoga NYC is having a special right now...30 days for $30 - normally $180! - so this is a bargain if you're into Bikram. Here's all the info (Melanie & Kitty, I'm looking at you!)
  • One of my blog readers volunteered to transcribe my 4 weeks of journals before I hit goal. I'm working on it with her now, so you can expect that post in the coming weeks. (Thank you, Lourdes!) 
  • People have asked about my 'size 0' skirts - yes, I am wearing them, they are not skin tight and the waist is even a little big. In fact, I have a pile of skirts I need taken in if anyone in the Greenpoint area has some basic sewing skillz and wants to earn some $$. 

Before going, I want to show off my favorite new dress. It's one of the few things that fit me since nearly everything I own is too big on me (I'll shut up before you start to hate me...) I have it in teal, purple and gray - and I get a million compliments when I wear it. It's from Banana Republic and it's a basic (faux) wrap dress. I bought them when they were 40% off, so I got them for under 60 bucks a piece. I love the simplicity and ease of this dress!

Tuesday Morning in Grand Central

Thank you for reading!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Weekly Meeting Topic: Less is More

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First of all, I have to say that tonight's meeting was jam packed - full of all my favorite regulars (Carin, Corinna, Nina, Tamra, Rachel, Evan), visitors (Rob, a WW member visiting NYC from Georgia) and new members I know from online, who I have met before. I also saw a few regular peeps I hadn't seen in a week or longer (Malaika & Cindy) and I was just so happy to see everyone! It was fantastic! I actually left that meeting smiling. On my way home, I thought about the members and what a great group that is and smiled the whole way...

This week's topic was portion control. We touched on that briefly, but I'm not going to cover that here since it's just such a dry topic. If you're on plan, you have paper materials and weightwatchers.com, both of which are a wealth of information in that regard.

Instead I'll write about the other things we discussed and my personal take on them.

My leader, Melanie, asked us "When is less more?"

When she asked us that question, the first thing that occurred to me was a list of phrases I remember reading on a tea cup at my Dad's favorite Chinese restaurant a long time ago that stuck with me. I googled what I remembered to find all the phrases. It's known as the "10 Ways to Good Health" (author unknown. Oh, and you can buy your own tea cups with these phrases!) Here they are:

  1. Less alcohol, more tea.
  2. Less meat, more vegetable.
  3. Less salt, more vinegar.
  4. Less sugar, more fruit.
  5. Less eating, more chewing.
  6. Less words, more action.
  7. Less greed, more giving.
  8. Less worry, more sleep.
  9. Less driving, more walking.
  10. Less anger, more laughter.

Those are pretty common sense if you think about it. They're simple and obvious enough - It's just a matter of reminding ourselves of the basics that we sometimes forget or choose to ignore.

I thought of other ways that I could apply the "less is more" theory along my journey and this is what I came up with:
  • Less gluttony, more energy. One thing you may notice when you first start your journey is that by cutting back to a more appropriate amount of food, you have a LOT more energy. You'll be less sluggish all day/in general, you'll probably sleep better and not sleep as long. And when you over-indulge along the way, you'll notice the reverse happen. It's a nearly instant reminder of how good it feels to eat 'correctly'.
  • Less distraction, more awareness. I think it's important to be aware of when you are eating, why you're eating and what you're eating. I had a history of mindless eating - in my car, while walking, on the phone, watching tv - totally distracted. By removing those distractions and focusing on your meals and snacks, you can be much more aware of everything - when and why you're eating (are you really hungry? did something trigger you?), and you'll even be much more aware of what you're eating and what the food *tastes* like. I'm not saying I never eat without distractions, but minimizing them has been very helpful to me and taught me a lot.
  • Less quantity, more quality. I used to want the most 'bang for my buck' - my literal buck and my point buck; but I eventually realized I was focused on quantity of food and not the quality of food. When I started eating more naturally I saw that it was *worth it* to me to 'spend' 2 points on a banana instead of 1 point on a VitaTop - because the banana satisfied me more, was real food, and didn't make me crave more processed food. It's the same for me when I want to indulge in something like a chocolate bar. I will spend 4 dollars on an organic fancy dark chocolate bar and ENJOY it. As opposed to back in the day when I would just pick up a 1 pound bag of M&Ms or other garbage chocolate for the same price (or less) and mindlessly eat the whole thing, barely enjoying it. I learned it's about quality. Not quantity.
  • Less doubt, more belief. I'm sure all of us have moments where we doubt ourselves. I know I do on occasion - yes, still. But I don't dwell in that doubt. In fact, several times during the mud run on Sunday, I had them. I specifically remember standing at the obstacle before the mud pit - the one I had to do twice - looking at it and telling myself "That's crazy! You can't do that. The slope is wet, your legs are too short, the rope is too far..." I caught myself saying "can't" and psyching myself up to fail. I told myself of *COURSE* I could do it - other people were doing it - it was clearly not impossible. I just had to believe in myself and figure out my strategy. And after coming up short my first time, I backed up for a longer run the second time and I did it. I made it to the rope and from there it was simple - I was up and over the obstacle. So believe me, I know all about self doubt and I know how hard it is to start your journey. And I know how it feels to be on your 5th, 10th and 15th attempt to get healthy, so I am very familiar with self-doubt and self-defeat. I often tell blog readers who are fearful of starting their journey to *believe* in themselves. And I tell them that even if they don't yet believe in themselves, tell themselves that they do. Keep telling yourself that you believe in you. That you're worth it, that you CAN do it. Eventually, you will realize you're capable of so much more than you ever thought and then you *will* start to believe. But you have to start somewhere. It's all in your head - all that self doubt is in your head, a script you tell yourself - but you *can* change it. Start believing now.
  • Less guilt, more forgiveness. I recently mentioned that I do not allow myself to feel guilty for any of my decisions and a reader asked me 'How?' I do that . I am not sure how to answer that other than to say I keep things in perspective - I know that feeling guilty about eating something or about any of my decisions is not going to help me in any way. Instead, I need to accept what I did, learn from it and move on. The sooner the better. Guilt is not going to help me. It will make me feel worse and can keep me in that downward spiral, punishing myself for one bad decision with another bad decision. It's totally unproductive, so I simply don't do it. I forgive myself, accept that I will not be 'perfect' and I move on. That's it. It's really that simple.
Before leaving, I want to show off a great photo my friend James took a few weeks ago. (He's the guy who took those fantastic photos of me in this bog post). This is from the bike event in Park Slope a few weeks ago (the one where I won the pin up contest). I think it's a terrific photo and he was kind enough to let me show it off here:

Winner of the Pin Up Competition on the winning motorcycle

Thanks James!

And thank you all for reading. Have a great night!


Sunday, October 03, 2010

Fitness Adventures: 5K Down & Dirty Mud Run in the Bronx

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Today was the 5K I was nervously anticipating - the Down & Dirty Mud Run in the Bronx. Here's how it went, with highlights and photos.

Yesterday, I rode my bike up to Orchard Beach to pick up my bib for today's race. It was probably my least favorite bike ride ever. Why? A few reasons. First of all, as soon as I left Manhattan it got rough - I had to ride with the cars and trucks on the Willis Ave Bridge (connects upper Manhattan to the Bronx) I think the normal bike path was closed because they were actually replacing that bridge today. The pedestrian crossing was open, but it had about 4 flights of stairs and there was NO WAY I could lift my bike up them.

Then, once in the Bronx, I had to refer to my map constantly since I wasn't familiar with where I was going. And I was mostly riding without  bike lanes - not that a painted bike lane necessarily makes things safer but they at least provide a certain amount of space for cyclists that most cars respect. In addition, there are far less cyclists up there and I don't think the cars are used to sharing the road with bikes. Oh, and there were a number of times I had to get off my bike to walk it down (and then up) a curb. So it was stressful, and time consuming. But I made it.

I passed the Bronx Zoo:

And after making it to Orchard Beach and picking up my bib, stopped for this photo in front of the Starting line (most of the course was already set up)

I'm just here picking up my packet for the 5K

On my way out of Orchard Beach, I found this phenomenal structure. It had stairs on this side and strange bleacher type seating on the other side. The seats overlooked the ocean. It was bizarre but beautiful-

And just down the block from there, I passed the Bronx Equestrian Center (where I've actually ridden horses before)-

He came right over to greet me

I continued on Fordham Road. I love this shot of me on my bike-

It took me over 7 hours door to door (bike time 5 hours, 20 minutes) and in total I biked 45 miles and burned over 2000 calories. Despite parts of it being un-fun, at least I had a bike adventure and made it home safely. And I turned in early since I had to wake up early...

I got up today at 5:15am and got dressed. I wore cotton leggings with knee length workout pants on top of them, socks & sneakers - all of which I knew would end up in the trash at the end of the day. And on top I wore my heart rate monitor, least favorite sports bra and the shirt they gave me when I picked up my bib-

At 6:30, my brother picked me up. I saw an amazing sunrise from the BQE:

And I can't resist photographing bridges. This is the Whitestone - connecting Queens to the Bronx -

I got to Orchard Beach at 7 and found William. It was FA-REEZING!! I put on my hoodie and buff and left my stuff in his car. Since we weren't starting for at least an hour, we wandered around to check stuff out and took some photos-


I love their shirts!! I think that just about sums it up...


You may recall that William had initially signed up for the "Military Style" course, but that would have meant we ran at different times (and his run would be far more challenging). I managed to talk him into doing the regular 5K so we could do it together. Yay!

Eventually we lined up to start. They released us in waves, and we had to line up in sections - based on our expected pace. I know I tend to run a 12 or 13 minute mile, so that's the group we joined. It was the second to last group. The whole time, William insisted we should not be that far back - that we were faster than that. I insisted we should stay where we were.

A few of William's cousins were there, and we ran into them while waiting on line. William did his favorite pose (the fake boob grab) for this photo-

After waiting about an hour in the freezing cold, we were next at the starting line-

And finally, we were off!

We ran a bit, along the beach -

Soon after that, we were presented with our first obstacle - It was 3 beams we had to jump over (no pic). Tried as I might, I didn't have the upper body strength to get over them on my own. William helped me over the first one by letting me use his knee as a step. For the next 2, I used the corner of the structure to climb up them, then throw myself over. It was far from easy (but William managed them very well). Oh, and they had actual military people there yelling at us the whole time. Nice.

We continued running again, making it to our second obstacle. This time it was a dirt pit with a net about a foot off the ground that we had to crawl under, through the dirt (no pic). I bitched and moaned the whole way and came out dirtier (not yet muddy) than I appear here-

There was more running. Along the way, William would talk about the final mud pit - and fantasize about hot, big breasted women getting into a mud wrestling fight. I assured him this was not going to be the case, so he should enjoy the slow motion hair whipping and mild groping that he was entertaining himself with in his head, because I could pretty much guarantee he wouldn't be seeing it today...

My favorite obstacle of the day was the rope ladder. I did pretty well on this one -

And there was another wall we had to climb over. I managed to get over this one all by myself. William was shocked and impressed.

As we ran along, and William would get out of breath, he would ask me "Whose idea was this?!" I'd reply - "Um, YOURS, little buddy!" And I'd remind him that as recently as the night before he still wanted to switch his registration to the 10K - something he was clearly not ready for. Not to mention that earlier that morning he thought he was going to do the MILITARY version of this race. He could barely handle the regular one!

At some point, about half way through, we came upon a mud pit that we had to crawl through (no pic). I pretty immediately started freaking out. But I put my camera in the back of my pants and got on my knees and started crawling. I squealed the whole time, trying to have as little contact with the mud pit as possible. But one of the military guys at the pit was screaming at me - "GET IN THE MUD! THIS IS NOT A BEAUTY COMPETITION! YOU SHOULD NOT BE WORRIED ABOUT YOUR MAKE UP!" I really wasn't worried about my make up, I didn't even have a full face on. I was worried about my camera, my heart rate monitor and keeping my eyes clean. Either way, he was pissing me off. Oh, and he was throwing water on me too and yelling at me because my ass was hitting the flags since I wasn't as low down as I could have been. Whatevs, dude! Leave me alone!

And there was more running through the woods -

As we ran through the woods, William kept telling me that he just didn't want to be 'last' to cross the finish line. I assured him he wouldn't. But he told me that if it was between me and him, he'd push me out of the way so he could come in before me. I really don't think he meant that. I hope...

Eventually we realized we were back to where we began and fairly close to the end. But not quite yet...

As we ran towards the beach again, runners who had just come from there warned us "Something good is waiting for you around the corner..." 

"That was frighteningly ominous!", I told William.

What could it be, I wondered?

Quite simply, it was the beach - the ocean - which we had to walk into, fully dressed and waist deep. What the what?! Seriously...

Before walking in, I grabbed two really nice shells and showed one of them off -

Immediately following that photo, there was the inevitable: walking into the water. I won't lie - it SUCKED. Here's William. Note this is NOT the deepest point and the water was higher on me since I'm shorter -

We came out of there and had two more obstacles left - this ramp/rope climb, and then the final mud pit. This thing was super slippery and I was really scared to run up it but told myself to "Just do it". I got up there on my second attempt -

Almost immediately after climbing down the other side was the final obstacle: The mud pit - which was more like a mud POOL. Oh my god, I couldn't believe how gross it was! I put my camera in my ziplock bag, tucked it in my bra, put on my goggles, tucked in my shirt and got in. This was the entrance point:

And the exit point:

Yes, my friends, I crawled through THIS:

As I went through, it felt like glass on my forearms. I don't know what was in there. Rocks, I guess? It hurt and it sucked and I kept telling myself that the faster I moved, the sooner i would be out the other side. Of course as I approached the other side, I had yet another military guy screaming at me. This one called me "goggles". Really? Is this elementary school? You're going to pick on the one obvious thing about me (good thing he couldn't see my tattoos). As I got to the end he actually dipped his hand in the mud and tossed it on me - on my back, on my hair. Now, I didn't join the military for a reason, and I didn't need this. It wasn't in any way motivating, it made me want to punch him in the face. As I emerged from the sticky cold mud, I threw 2 handfuls on HIM. Asshole.

I'd like to say that doing something so out of my comfort zone - being in that mud pit - changed me in some way. I thought maybe I'd loosen up and embrace the moment and it would change my thoughts on life or my uptightness in some way.

But it did not.

Being in that mud pit was every bit as awful as I could have imagined and I hated it. HATED IT! Every second of it. I couldn't wait to get out of there and was desperate to wash my hands! It's one of the most awful things I've ever willingly done.

That being said, I'm glad I did it because it was funny - at least I can laugh about it now. And it's a great memory. Oh, and I do think these photos of me and William after we emerged are pretty priceless:

Needless to say, I couldn't wait to get changed. We returned to the ocean (the same ocean that just minutes earlier we didn't want to get in) and rinsed the majority of the mud off us. Then we used outside showers to get more of it off. Um, did I mention it was freezing? This wasn't helping at all. Oh, and I didn't think to bring a towel. I can't believe I didn't bring a towel.

I went to the bathroom to change into my warm & clean clothes, which was no easy feat considering my hands were so cold I could barely use them. I threw out everything I had been wearing from the waist down. It felt amazing to be in the new clothes and I wondered how those contestants on Survivor go 39 days being cold wet and filthy. I couldn't take an hour of it! I do not like being dirty. It's such an uncomfortable feeling. Ick...

Before leaving, I went back to the beach to collect a bunch of shells and take some pics -

couldn't resist doing this-

Eventually I left, taking the subway home. I stopped in Grand Central to get coffee (I was looking forward to Starbucks more than I ever have in my life) and had to get my usual photo in my usual bathroom mirror -

And after making it home, I posed for my traditional post-event panty photos.

I love this one because look who is trying to get my attention (on the left side of the photo)

After that I took a nice, long, warm shower and washed my hair. I was surprised I wasn't as dirty as I thought I would be. And I'm happy to say my heart rate monitor appears to be in-tact. Here are my stats for the day-

Total Time: 57 minutes
Minutes in Cardio Zone: 52 minutes
% of time in Cardio Zone: 91.23%
Average Heart Rate: 143
High Heart Rate: 167
Calories Burned: 450

Yeah, so, I can honestly say if it were not for William, I would not have done this. And if he wants to do it next year, I would do it again - but only with him because he's just so perfect for this stuff. Oh, and if there is a next time, I'm bringing a towel.....

(the entire set of photos can be seen here)