Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Go, Metabolism, Go!

Since I have started working out, I have learned a lot of new and fun things about my own body that I was completely unaware of for the longest time.

Not the least fascinating is how movement affects my metabolism. It is extremely reactionary, even to the point of varying day-to-day, depending on what workout I do, and/or how hard I push myself. Today I spent 15 minutes in my "vigorous activity" range. To hit this, I have to expend (at minimum) 6 times the amount of energy it takes for me to just sit still... For 15 whole minutes today! That is a big deal in my world.

And to compensate for the extreme amount of energy expenditure, my body is demanding to be fed! No amount of food is seeming to satiate my hunger. And no, it's not mental. I'm not seeking food out for the taste, or out of boredom or emotional swinging. My stomach is, quite audibly, growling. Just before writing this I ate 2 boiled eggs and 2 small pancakes left over from this weekend's big breakfast. That was 35 minutes ago. I just heard my stomach growl at me.

When most people think of weight loss, they simply think of calorie restriction. Which is, yes, part of the equation. But you can only restrict calories so far before it starts to become detrimental to your journey towards fitness and possibly weight loss. If you starve your body of the nutrients... of the fuel that it needs... it will hold onto that fat as hard as it can and just not let it go. Your body will ensure its fuel sources no matter what you throw at it.

For example, I burn about 100 calories an hour without doing anything but sitting or sleeping. That is my baseline for sedentary living right now. This means I will burn at least 2400 calories in a 24 hour period. If I want to lose 2 pounds a week, I need to consume approximately 1400 calories for a 1000 calorie deficit. If you are on a diet that demands 1200 calories intake or less.... it is probably not the healthiest thing for you. You are edging the realm of starvation at that point.

This being said, when I checked my calorie burn this morning at 8am (just after my morning run) I had already burned 1200 calories. That is  half of my baseline burn. This gives me a bit of an idea about how my day is going to be, and alerts me that I probably need to up my calories today. As of this post I have consumed 1410 calories. Once dinner and my late night snack are added in, my daily intake is 1968 calories.

And yet... I am sitting here now with a rumbly tummy demanding that I give it MORE MORE MORE! Listening to your body when it tells you what it needs is vital to getting healthy. I should be eating right now. However I don't have any food readily available where I am.

This is what my metabolism does when I work out hard. It screams for food nearly all day long. I listen to it as well as I can while staying within my diabetic restrictions. It's not easy, but it's worth it.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

On Missing Old Treats

There are things I miss, greatly, being on this regimen that I am on. There are the obvious things like cake, and cookies.... brownies, ice cream... anything chocolate. I miss drippingly ripe fruit and smoothies and milkshakes. All of these things laid the bricks in the road to being morbidly obese and being diagnosed with diabetes. I choose not to eat them because I know where they lead. I've been down that sticky sweet and delicious road. And it made me miserable.

Another thing I gave up was alcohol. Drinking and Diabetes don't mix. If you have just a little bit your blood sugar spikes... have too much and your body goes into overdrive to process the toxins.... blood sugar drops. It's just not something that is good for me or where I'm trying to go right now.

That being said, my husband and I went to a concert last night. Before the doors opened we hung out at the bar so that we could get in early. I had a Shock Top and Guinness from the tap. And ooooh... I actually missed beer!

Now, a little history on my side? I have never been a beer drinker. I would have much rather had the tequila or sugary mixed drinks. But now that I've abstained for as long as I have.... beer is amazing. I had the two, and I was done. It was easy to stop. I didn't feel like drinking to excess or anything drastic. It was nice to sit with my husband, watch people on the downtown streets of Seattle walk by and talk. We weren't parents. We weren't employees. We weren't roommates or bill-payers. We were just us. Husband and wife. Two people in love.

I miss beer. And after last night, and testing my blood sugar... as long I don't make a habit of it, I will be fine. Happy to know I can hop on that old road for a moment, but happy again to get back to where I am on the road to healthy and fit.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Trickle Down: Exercise to Confidence

Things you should know about me before reading this post:
  • I am approx. 250 pounds
  • I have a weak right ankle
  • I have "exercise-induced asthma"
  • I have diabetes
  • I work out 6 days a week
  • My wrists are weak and hurt when I have to hold my own body weight on them
  • I am fairly flexible
  • I am 5'9" tall
  • I have very little self-confidence
  • There is only one person I am completely comfortable working out in front of

With those statements made, you should know that working out usually drains me of any little tiny bit of self-confidence I may have drummed up up until that point. Especially if there are mirrors involved. I am fat. When you try to move fat too quickly, there are.... sounds... that may happen. And even with the one person that I'm comfortable with, it's still humiliating. I look ridiculous when I do certain moves. I'm sure someone who is much more fit than I would look just fine doing them... but not me.

Moving past all these concerns, I still work out. I still get my chunky butt up on a treadmill 3 days a week and into a dojo/dance room/group exercise room the other 3 days. I make a complete fool of myself. I grunt. I flop. I turn bright red. And I sweat.... a lot.

There comes a point, as an obese individual who wants to no longer hold that horrible title, that you just have to give it up. You have to stop caring what people think about you, or what your reflection is, or what strange noises happen when you move around more than normal. If you really and truly want to be healthy and fit, there are just things that can't matter to you anymore.

This morning, my best friend/roommate/trainer and I did our second Warrior Dash training session. The first day we did it was a huge flop for me, at least in my world. So today I was determined to get through the entire thing.

Today, I gave it my all. I put everything I had into every move I made. And it hurt. Muscles worked that never have. But I felt great when I was done. There was no slacking. I left it all in the gym and it was amazing. I didn't judge myself. I didn't compare myself to anyone else. I didn't beat myself up for not getting more reps or doing it perfectly.

Giving up the worry, getting into the workout, and getting things done did wonders for my confidence. Today I have spoken up in situations where I normally would keep quiet. I raised my voice up when I felt I wasn't being heard. I asked questions where I would normally sit in frustration. And I smiled. And I laughed. I held my head high and felt like I belonged. I know what I am capable of now. And I know that I can do anything I want to... it may not be perfect, and it may not be "the best ever", but as long as I give it my best, then I'm doing alright.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Couch-to-5k: Week 2 Day 2 (Blood Sweat and Tears!)

I realize that I didn't make a post for Day 1 of this week, but there's a really good reason for that. Over the weekend I re-enrolled in school and I was about 5 days behind the ball. The weekend (save for the training on Sunday) was spent playing catch-up in my 2 classes.

But now I'm back on track, and I should be able to come back and start posting regularly again!

Today was day 2. I got through 4 of the 6 90-minute running intervals fairly well. The last two I bailed on about 10-15 seconds early because there was a pulling on the inside of my right calf. Thankfully, with stretching and time, the pain has gone away.

I still have to remember, though, I am a 250-pound woman trying to run. Moving this much weight around is not only difficult, but hard on my body as well. I'm not trying to make excuses, but I need to be very realistic about where I am, physically, right now. This will change over time. My muscles will start working harder and the fat will have no other choice but to go away. It's just a matter of patience on my part.

Yesterday was definitely tough. I struggled with my own limitations and was frustrated by them. I am working on being more aware of what my body can do, and trying to work with it instead of pushing against it.

This is a long-term goal. Fitness is something that doesn't just happen overnight. It's taken me nearly 3 years to lose the 60 pounds that I already have. Now, mind you, I probably only worked out for a total of 10-12 weeks during those 3 years. A lot of it had to do with diet change. Now I am working out on a really tough schedule. 6 days a week of hard-core training. It is going to HURT. Not only physically, but my pride as well. I will learn to deal with the injured ego just as well as I do the sore muscles.

I am working towards something I really want. The phrase isn't "Blood Sweat and Tears" for nothing!!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Warrior Training? Try Whiny Training!

Today I am angry with my body. Today I am frustrated and discouraged by what I am not able to do.

I want to be the superhero. I want to be the 250 pound chick that can do anything without complaint or worry. I want to be the woman that kicks ass and takes names. I want to be able to conquer the Warrior Dash with a smile on my face and feeling accomplished.

But I am not there yet. Today I did my first training session with my best friend/roommate/trainer and I snapped at her out of sheer exhaustion.

I don't like this. I don't like what my body's limitations are. I should be better than this. I should be able to do anything for 60 seconds, right? Wrong. I can't even do a simple squat without whining about it.

I am frustrated. In so many ways. This is where I usually give up. This is the place that nothing seems worth all of this struggle. But tomorrow I will get up, get dressed, get to work and head straight for the gym to do C25K week 2 day 2. I have made a promise.... to myself and to others.... that I will get this done. I'm not faltering now.

Today I am angry with my body. And the only way to remedy that is to change it.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Couch-to-5k: Week 1 Day 3

I'm a day late in posting this, but I did get my last day of the first week of training in yesterday. I was only able to make it through about 18 minutes of the 30 that the workout lasts for. I had forgotten to use my inhaler before and my feet kept cramping up on me.

That being said, I feel good about it. My quads are really super sore from this week, so today is going to be a rest day. I am learning to not baby my muscles when they're sore. No walking funny, no whimping out normal body movements. No limping, waddling, or sitting more than normal. These muscles have a lot of work to do between now and July 16th (Warrior Dash Day!) so giving into the soreness is most certainly not an option.

I did my stretches after I got home last night and it really makes all the difference in the world. After dinner my roommate and I squeaked in a 2.2 mile walk. It was a struggle, but well worth it. Every little bit of training helps.

Tomorrow I am going to get a walk in as well. Then Sunday starts my second week of C25K and Monday is the first day that we're training for the Warrior Dash. I am going to be in a world of hurt. But I'm working towards something specific, so that gives me something to focus in on.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Do Something that Scares You!

I have lived my life under the roof of "I can't". There were so many things that I have said "I can't" to that it's become second nature to me. Any time I am presented with something that is a challenge, my brain automatically shifts into "I can't" and dismisses the idea altogether.

But as I'm getting more fit and healthy the roof is peeling back and I'm finding more and more possibilities available to me. The latest challenge on my plate comes from my roommate, Tonja.
Warrior Dash 2011

She threw the gauntlet down last week. She wanted to do this and was upset that no one would do it with her. I took that as a challenge and made a deal with her that I would do this race with her if she does the one that I'm going to register for in September. Today we registered. July 16th is the big day! One year since we've moved to Washington... what a way to commemorate!

I am absolutely terrified. When I first thought about it, "I can't" was a flashing neon sign in my head. Lists upon Matrix-style list went through my head of all the obstacles I couldn't POSSIBLY traverse. I'm still a fat girl, remember? Fat girls don't do things like this! Right? Um... right?!

But then, the more and more I let it roll around in my mind, the more excited I got about it. Finishing this would be a gigantic confidence booster. I would have a metal to show for just finishing as well. I am not a woman who deals in ego very much. I am the last person to be proud of anything I do and will probably explain away any of my accomplishments. But this race is something that I can say, "Look what I did! Aren't I awesome for this?" That is what is driving me.

Next week starts training. 3 days a week doing Couch-to-5k and 3 days a week doing Warrior Training. I am going to be in so much freakin' pain! But I can't wait. This is something that scares the hell out of me. But I'm going to do it, because I want to see just what I can do!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Benefits of Stretching and your Workout Regimen

How many times have you worked out one day and then woke up the next day feeling like you'd been run over by an 18-wheeler? And how many times have you put off working out because you were in too much pain? And how many times have you given up completely because you missed a day or two because then you weren't doing it "perfectly"?

I would have to say yes to every single one of these questions. I have started and stopped more workout programs simply due to the fact that I was sore from working out. And if I missed a workout due to soreness, I was a failure. Now, I don't mean actually injuring myself, but soreness. There is a distinct difference there.

Working to soreness is muscular, it tends to stop hurting when you stop moving. Injury is when you hurt to the point that the pain does not go away. In my experience I have noticed injury happens more on the bone/joint level, but can happen in the muscles as well. You should never push to injury, only to soreness and muscle failure.

All of this being said, what do you do when you are sore to the point that you don't feel you can work out? The big secret is to stretch!

After my first day training for C25K I was sore to the point that I found it hard to walk the next day. I had no idea how I was going to get on the treadmill again for day 2. I was in a great deal of pain and soreness.

My roommate/trainer had me use a foam roller to work the muscles out and it helped a great deal. But yesterday, after day 2, I decided to spend an hour doing the P90X Stretch video. That was the best thing I could've done for myself and for my training.

When you stretch your muscles out, they are far more forgiving when you want to use them again. I was able to get on the treadmill for a warm-up to today's strength training with no problem. Did I still feel a bit of tenderness in some of the muscles? Certainly! I am working them in new ways, and more intensely than ever before. If I felt nothing at all, then I wouldn't be doing it right!

My advice is to find a really great stretching program, or even try something like yoga. Anything that will give you flexibility. It will reduce your pain a great deal post-workout. It will help your muscles to recuperate much faster and keep you moving towards your goals. Don't discount it because you're not huffing, puffing, and sweating your ass off.... it will help you more in the long-run than you could ever anticipate.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Progress in 3 Months

I took pictures today on a whim after doing my stretching. And when my husband showed me the pics after he took them, I asked him, "Is that really me?" I was awash with disbelief. Stuff is actually happening with everything I'm doing. I'm so happy and so surprised.

There is definition coming to my abs. I was really pleasantly surprised by that. My thighs are a bit more further apart than before.

Holy crap! I have a decent posture! My stomach has gotten so much smaller. And who knew I had calves??

My tattoo is moving. :) That's okay though, I can deal with that. The change in my arm is noticeable as well.

I'll be damned! My fat rolls are getting much smaller, the space between my thighs is growing and my "fat knees" are going away. 

Couch-to-5k: Week 1 Day 2

Ow. Day 2 was most certainly more difficult than Day 1. On the first day it was fairly smooth sailing. Yea, it was a challenge, but nothing too painful or strenuous. Today was the opposite of that. My legs are super tight. Even after being stretched out with the foam roller, they are giving me hell.

There are 8 minutes of 60 second running intervals in the program for this week. The rest of the 22 minutes are spent in warm-up, cool-down, and recovery. And while, yea, that doesn't SOUND too difficult.... it is!

I am still at 254 pounds. That is a lot of weight to get moving. It's a lot of weight to have coming down and impacting the knee, ankle and feet. But it's not going to stop me.

I remember being over 300 pounds and finding it hard to just walk. My parents came to visit for my son's 5th birthday in 2007, and we all spent the day at the zoo. I was ruined by the middle of the day. I had to sit down and catch my breath more times than I could count. I was lagging behind at every turn. The day was more miserable than fun and that isn't how things like that should be.

The whole idea that I'm to a point in my weight loss where people don't think I'm entirely crazy for trying to run is great. I told my diabetes specialist and doctor that I'm doing the C25K program and they were both very excited over it. I am not used to people, health professionals or otherwise, seeing me as someone who CAN do things. Of course, I'm fairly sure that most of the doubt I see in others came more from inside of me than from them.

I have never believed in myself as much as I do right now. I am doing something now that would've probably been nearly impossible just last year. I am not completely healthy yet, but I am on my way there. I am excited about my future fitness and looking forward instead of back.

Day 3 is on Thursday. I am going to go home tonight and do lots of stretching and foam rolling to try to work out the muscles that HATE me right now (I'm looking at you inner thighs!) so that maybe Thursday won't be as painful as today was. Fingers crossed!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Diabetes Update and Another Diagnosis

Brief history lesson - I was diagnosed with Diabetes in January of this year. I have been on 500mg of Metformin 2 times daily. I have lost 15-20 pounds since my diagnosis and have been cooking/eating much healthier than I think I have my entire life.

Today was my first "Diabetes Checkup" since the diagnosis. I had my feet checked. I made an appointment to have my eyes checked as well.

There is good news and bad that comes along with this. I am still on Metformin, even though I had hoped to be taken off meds this time around. Sad about that, but not fixating on it. Just going to keep on taking it so that I can keep on being healthy.

The awesome news is that my A1c numbers went from 8.5 to 6.8 in just these three months time! That is a HUGE jump in numbers, and is technically already considered at a "management" level. I want to see if I can drop it even more.

I got my own blood glucose monitor today which is exciting. I can test to see where my blood sugar is at during the wonky times, and more regularly to see how food effects me. I need to really REALLY buckle down on my eating habits... which have gotten a bit wonked here of late. Still doing well, but not as well as I feel I should be.

My health is getting better. This excites me to no end. I have done the work and I have improved greatly! That makes me happy and encourages me to keep on moving forward with the hard work that I have started.

Secondary news? I have Exercise Induced Asthma! I know, exciting... All this means is that I have to hit my inhaler about 10 minutes prior to working out. Not a BIG deal, but at least I know now why I was hacking and struggling for breath even an hour after working out. Answers are good things.

Tomorrow I do my Couch-to-5K day 2 of week 1. I am SORE sore sore today, but I'm hoping that it will alleviate itself before tomorrow. Crossing fingers!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Couch-to-5k: Week 1 Day 1

Today, I ran. Today, I put the Couch-to-5k podcast on play and I ran.

I haven't been on a treadmill in the past 20 years, but today I got on one, put my headphones in and did the intervals. 5 minute warm-up, 60 seconds of running followed by 90 seconds of walking.... then again and again for 20 minutes. In front of a mirror too!

It was hard, but not as hard as I'd expected it to be. I didn't look nearly as foolish as I felt. And it felt really really good.

The plan now is to finish the 9 week training on a tread mill. That will take me through to the end of May. By then I should be able to do a 5k on the treadmill with no problem. After that I'm going to do the program all over again on the hilly parts of our town. I want to be able to run a 5k anywhere. That will take me through to the end of July. By that point I want to see about both running further and running faster. And by then my roommate will have graduated as a personal trainer... so I'm hoping she will help me out.

She also has the notion that I will be running a marathon by January. I think she's taking too far too fast, but I have it on the horizon. If I think I can do it, I want to. We will see where my body is at that point.

I am excited. I finished the program today with little difficulty. It felt good. I didn't DIE... I managed to get my 250 pound butt moving in a way that I've always wanted to. Now I just have to wait until Tuesday to do it again!

Friday, April 1, 2011

How Obesity Stole my Legs

I have realized that spending my life as first an obese child, then an obese teenager, and finally an obese adult has robbed me of living. Now that I have started really losing weight and finally breaking through to a size smaller than I've been in almost two decades, I understand just how much I've limited myself over the past 15-20 years.

The best way I can explain it is this: I have been in a wheelchair of my own design and I have just finally discovered that I can actually walk.* At some point during my childhood I was convinced, by someone else or myself, that I was simple unable to do anything simply due to being fat.

First I couldn't play sports, because it meant a lot of running. Fat little girls can't run for a long time. That's when the "wheelchair" got introduced. Somehow it went from not being able to do anything physically, to more of a whole-person judgment. I can't get good grades, because I'm fat. I can't make friends, because I'm fat. I can't find someone to love me, because I'm fat. I can't succeed in my career, because I'm fat. My excuse for not being a functional human being was because I am fat.

Until just recently (within the past year) I had gotten as far as believing my legs no longer existed because I'd been in this chair so long. I had gone from "I can't because I'm fat" to "I'm a horrible person and don't deserve happiness because I'm fat." Which, believe it or not, wasn't exactly a difficult transition.

Taken in 2007 - While I was at my heaviest.
Being obese had taken every bit of self-confidence away from me. Not just my appearance, but my self-worth, my ability to do anything at all. I was fat, therefore I was a completely worthless waste of space.

Recently, however, there has been a shift in my mental paradigm. As I'm losing weight, my image is changing. My body is getting smaller, but my personality, my intelligence, my creativity.... all the things that are inherently "me" and make up who I really am, haven't changed at all. I had simply chosen not to see anything positive about myself because of what I saw in the mirror every day.

Not only have I begun to realize that I may not be this terrible monster of a woman, but that I may never have been at all. I had chosen this disability. I was the one responsible for putting myself in this place of having given up on everything. I was just waiting to die.

Instead, now, I wonder about what I can do. I wonder what my body is capable of now that I've stood up on my legs again and am learning to walk.Can I run? Can I jump? What are the muscles and bones of this body, so long forgotten, able to accomplish? And what will I be able to do when I get even smaller?

And please, don't misunderstand me here. I have still not made it to a place where confidence and I are best buddies. I still have days when I fear I'm becoming invisible and disposable to those who matter most to me. There are days when I hate what I see and days when I feel that wheelchair creeping up behind me again. But where those days used to be the norm, they are but sporadic and fleeting now.

Being overweight... being fat stole my legs from under me. Only now, at 30 years old, am I stealing them back. They're mine. And I want to know what they can do!

*I am not saying being obese is a disability or anything as difficult or challenging as actually being in a wheelchair. This is simply for the sake of metaphor to explain where I am, mentally.