The Final Fifty

{March 7, 2014}   On the Downward Slope, Again

Things are going well.

I have been experimenting more with the Chocolate Green Superfood. My favorite thing ever, right now, is to mix it in a blender with an ounce or two of water, four ounces of low fat milk, and a banana. I am seriously convinced that this is what it was invented for. The banana balances out the greenness of the flavor with a sweetness that turns it into a delightfully fresh asset, and it tastes about a million times more sinful than it is. It’s wonderful for later in the evening, when it’s been a few hours since I ate dinner and I’m starting to feel a little bit hungry again. And it’s got the protein from the milk, as well as fiber from the mix itself and the banana. No added sugars, very little fat. Perfect.

I’ve been using the infuser bottle I got with good results, also. It’s a lot easier to remember to drink enough water when it tastes like fruit. My favorite, so far, is blueberries, but I can’t wait until summer when I can experiment more with fresh fruits, and maybe some mint leaves. Oooh, I bet I could do something with apple slices and a cinnamon stick, now that I think about it.

I’m down six pounds since the last time I posted, so I’m on a good downward swing, and I’m starting to have a lot fewer cravings. It’s kind of remarkable, because I have had random run ins with these fruit bits covered in dark chocolate that live at the boyfriend’s house, but those once/twice weekly occurrences have not prevented a reduction in my overall craving for sugar. It might actually be possible for me to learn to eat things like that on rare occasions without totally sabotaging myself, which would honestly be nice. It’s just one of those things that is going to require some brain retraining.

I’ve also recently gotten more into hooping. I went to a class two weeks ago, and in the space of an hour I managed to learn both types of corkscrew lifts. I’d tried one before after watching a youtube video, but it seemed hopeless, so I was really surprised. I have to practice a lot more so that it looks more effortless and less like I’m mortally afraid of the wild and gangly hoop, but I’m still really excited about it. I also won a hoop from the teacher, so I’ll post pictures of those when I get it this weekend.

I also took my collapsible hoop to the theater with me for rehearsal the other day to practice. The ceilings are very high, there’s ample room to not kill anyone, and it’s indoors (which is critical this time of year), so I took advantage of those features. I found out that one of my castmates *also* hoops, so she’s going to bring hers along the next time we’re in the theater, and our director wants to learn, so there may be some impromptu lessons going on soon! I really like the director, so I’m very excited about this.

Finally, we seem to sssllllloooooooooowwwwlllyyyy be coming to the end of this horrible winter, which is a really good thing, because I am starting to go very housequeer. I need to get out and running, and to feel the sun on my skin. I think the first time we hit 60 degrees I’m just going to go find a flat right to press my body against so I can soak up the warmth. Back home in California, I spent so much time hiding from the sun that I would never have believed myself capable of going outside just to marinade in sunlight, but here in Vermont I feel this visceral need to do that very thing.

I must remember that I can only get away with so much before I will still burn. I have sunscreen, I just need to remember to use it.

So, now that Valentine’s Day has passed, and I have made and helped consume a big batch of ridiculously good mint oreo (well, Newman-O) truffles, it’s time to put down the chocolate and give up sugar again.

I’m doing what I did last time, which is giving myself more freedom on the calorie front for the first week or so, so that if I encounter a week moment and sugar, I can take another option if it’s available. Tuesday was supposed to be day one, but I was seduced into eating one last truffle since there were still a few left at boyfriend’s place.

So, that makes today Day 1. It’s going ok, I had a huge apple this morning, and a strawberry at lunch time (I wasn’t trying to be good, there was just only one strawberry left, or I’d have eaten a pile of them… but they’re only about 5 calories each, so that’s not a bad thing.) I just finished having a salad (spring mix with spinach, goat cheese, slivered almonds, craisins and mango balsamic vinegar) and some pan fried veggies (carrots and broccoli), and now I’m trying this Chocolate flavored Green Superfood stuff.

I decided to try it with just water at first, because I figured if I can drink it this way, I can save myself calories on the days where I eat more. It’s not bad at all, and I think it’s stroking the same parts of my taste buds that chocolate candy does, but it has only 30 calories, and none of it’s from sugar. So I consider this a win. I want to try it with half milk/half water, because I think that would make it a bit better, but it really isn’t bad with just water. I also expect it will taste a lot better once the sugar cravings go away and my taste buds readjust again.

{January 30, 2014}   The Happiness Distraction

I suppose when you fall off a wagon, you brush the dust off your ass and climb back into the wagon. So that’s where I’m at.

I knew the holidays were going to do this, so I’m not surprised or devastated, or anything like that, it’s just time to recover and get back to being healthy and active again. But I suppose I really have to go back a bit farther, seeing as it’s been several months since I last posted, and I can’t blame all of that on Christmas.

First off, I got into the show I auditioned for when Hair was done, and that show (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) has come and gone, with a host of good memories and frustrations and time spent standing around at rehearsals when I could have been running. Looking back, it would have been a good time to take a break, but I didn’t know that when I auditioned, and I don’t back out of shows once I’ve made that commitment. I just ended up having a lot going on.

In September, I met and started seeing someone, a really amazing someone that I am still seeing, in fact. While I could wax poetic about him for ages (and do, frequently), I’m not going to do that here because if anyone is still reading this, they’re probably doing so for the health-related stuff, and not for the romance.

I’m really mentioning it because, let’s face it, when you’re spending many a happy hour pleasantly, deliriously diverted in any assortment of pleasant pastimes, it can be hard to focus, really focus, on things like your diet. I kept running as much as I could, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I took some time off. And, as far as those missed days, I regret nothing. I wouldn’t undo any of it, because being healthy has to involve balance, and I’m not going to hold my life hostage and refrain from enjoying spending time with someone I love.

For Christmas, I got to spend almost three weeks at home in California with my family. It was there that I finished my 100 mile running goal, on Christmas Eve no less. I ate too much of things that are not healthy, but I gave myself the freedom to do that, and I didn’t go crazy, so I’m not really worried about it. I think there’s an ebb and flow to the year, and if you don’t give in sometimes and have a little fun, you just end up resenting the healthy sacrifices you make the rest of the year.

So here I am at the end of January. I was recently cast in a local production of Les Miserables, which I am DELIRIOUSLY excited about, I have an awesome boyfriend who also cares about being healthy and active, and I’m slowly working my way back into the healthier habits I learned last year.

I can’t go running when it’s this cold out, so for now I’m focusing on weights and on belly dance. I’ll be performing with my friend’s troupe come July, so it’ll be good to put in some practice time before then, and I can reward myself for good work by acquiring the costume pieces I want for the show. Here they are:

These bloomers

This bustle

A choli, like this

And a black belly dance bodice, custom made.

A lot has happened since the last time I posted. We finished rehearsing and then finished performing Hair. My family came to visit. And at some point during all of that madness, I became Not Overweight Anymore. I’ll get round to how I feel about that in a bit, but there’s a lot of little things bouncing off the walls in my head, and I feel like I have to get that stuff out before I can get to the meat and bones of how I feel now.

The first thing (well, not chronologically, but the Biggest Thing) is that, somehow, unimaginably, I am now smaller than my little sister. It’s been two weeks since they went home, and I still can’t wrap my brain around it. It’s not that my sister is big at all, because she’s not. It’s that I’ve shrunk more dramatically than I am able to see. My whole life I’ve looked at her and thought “if only I were thin like my sister”, and now I am, and my brain still hasn’t caught up with it. And I’m just hoping that my sister isn’t as weirded out by it as I feel.

My mother tried not to push too hard, but I think to her I look like I’ve wandered out of Auschwitz. She could see that I’m eating plenty, though. I feel like we spent the entire visit doing nothing but eating, actually. I expected to get back on the scale having gained a lot, but I just held steady, even though I ate more and heavier food than I have in a long time and didn’t run or dance at all. But she kept telling me that I “really don’t need to lose any more weight” with a serious expression.

And I’m in range now, I know I am, I just want to work on lowering my body fat percentage now and maybe get a little more comfortably into the healthy range for things, and not at the very top. I don’t want to have to worry about little fluctuations. And I know that I’m probably going to put a little bit back on when I transition from losing weight to maintaining weight.

I also fell off the sugar wagon. Not terribly, but enough to where I’m having sugar cravings all over again. I tried to do better last week, but I failed in the face of cookies. Lovely, delicious cookies. It’s going to be a while before I can really kick those cravings again, I just have to stick to it better. I can still lose weight as long as I keep them in moderation, but I don’t do so well with the moderation once the cravings start, and consuming sugar and refined carbs will definitely not help with the midsection weight I tend to carry around, and that is not healthy.

Now that everything has calmed down a bit, I’m getting back into my running schedule. Slowly, things are falling back into a normal rhythm. I try out for another show in a week, but even if I get cast, it will take a while for things to build to a stressful level. Right now I’m just focused on decompressing a bit and getting used to how I feel, whatever that is.

The last few weeks have been full of ups and downs and dancing and running and injury, so I’m taking some time right now to let my brain catch up.

The readers digest version of the non-diet/exercise related stuff is that I am now single, but that this is mostly a good thing, because it happened in that sweet moment where both people know it’s not working but it hasn’t gotten to the point where they start to actively dislike one another. In some ways it’s harder when you get along well enough to be legit friends and not just awkward-used-to-date friends, but I’ve always found that road a worthwhile one to traverse.

I took a break from running for a week and a half because of a bad chest cold. From what I read online, running with chest congestion, especially if you are asthmatic, is a bad idea. When I started up running again, my first run was great, and the ankle/calf paid I’d been having did not return. The second time, however, it came back with a vengeance. Purely by accident, I found out that my symptoms match something called Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (or posteromedial shin splints, though they’re not really in the shins.) Obviously I’m not a doctor, so I can’t properly diagnose myself, but I’ve made an appointment at a sports medicine place across the street from my work for Wednesday, so hopefully that will give me some answers.

I also ordered a pair of the Vibram 5-finger shoes that came from REI outlet, so they were only $23, and I figured it was worth it to give them a shot. Some research seems to indicate that the more supportive running shoes increase the rate of injury, whereas shoes with minimal support decrease the rate of injury. I think the idea is that shoes with a lot of support don’t force you to build good form when you run, and maybe your feet get dependent on the support, so bad habits form and result in injury. I know I’ll have to wear them very minimally at first, starting with walking and working my way up to running and longer durations of wear, but depending on what I find out this week, it might be a worthwhile thing to try.

In the last few weeks I’ve performed twice with my belly dance troupe, which has been a lot of fun. Once my teacher gets her much-closer studio opened, I should be able to attend her classes more regularly. There’s also another class in a different style starting up at the other studio I go to, so I might be taking as many as 3 classes per week, which I’ve done before and really enjoyed, so that might happen. It might be difficult to work in with the running, though, so I’m not sure what will budge in there. I might cut running back to 2 days a week after I finish the 5k training, which might work better both for scheduling and for the injury issues.

Diet-wise, I’ve mostly been doing ok. I had a week where I gained a pound, and then recovered, but I really wasn’t eating huge amounts or food, I just went over a little each day and the cumulative result was gaining weight. I’ve mainly kept it under control since then, though this week I lost 4lbs, and I’m not really sure why. I didn’t eat under my calories any more than usual (I try to stay within 50 calories of my target), and I didn’t work out more than I generally do, so it’s kind of anomolous. I’m going to be careful to eat enough this week and really pay more attention, and hopefully I’ll get back to a more reasonable rate. If I don’t, then I’ll increase my caloric intake accordingly and get back to a place where I’m losing at the right rate. As much as part of my brain likes the number on the scale better, I don’t want to slip into unhealthy habits.

I went shopping this weekend and finally bought some new jeans (the priciest pair was $15, so I figured I’m not losing much even if I shrink out of them.) Two pair are from the junior’s section and a size 11, and the third is from the more adult section and a size 8. It’s so weird to be buying things that small. Especially when I’m finding that medium tshirts are now sometimes too big on me, and I’m wearing size small underpants. What do I do when those get too big? I’m not tiny by any measure, but it would be so surreal to get to a point where I have to worry about finding clothes small enough for me.

There are just so many things I didn’t think about before I started all this. I always thought of myself as a small person in a fat body, and now I recognize how much being fat shaped my identity, and I haven’t adjusted yet to being smaller. When you’re plus sized, it’s so easy to think “if I were thin, I could wear anything I wanted”, or “I’d never walk into a store and not find something that fits me right”, but being smaller doesn’t mean those things at all. You still have bits you don’t like and want to conceal, you still have to hope the size that fits isn’t the size that’s sold out in that store, or that the size that fits fits in all of your places, not just a few of them.

It’s crazy and ridiculous and unexpected to have to confront how much your body has influenced who you are as a person, who you feel like when you think about everything about you that isn’t your body. Especially when you’re single for the first time in two years, and for the first time since you were unobese ever, and you find that the things you did before to thin the herd now only encourage a larger herd. How do you identify the people who are only interested in you for your physical attributes when your physical attributes now fall in a bit closer with what society has deemed attractive? And the sexual commodification that feels enticing and complimentary in the very beginning, but then starts to feel really gross and invasive? Sometimes, when my brain goes to that fantasy land where diabetes and heart disease don’t exist or don’t run in my family, part of me wishes I could go back to how I was before.

{May 28, 2013}   Still Not Dead, Just Busy

I got myself out to Fleet Feet last week to get myself some new shoes. They measured my feet, both standing and sitting, watched me walk barefoot, and watched me run in each pair of shoes I tried on. I learned a few things:

  1. My arches don’t fall nearly as much as I expected they did.
  2. I don’t really pronate much.
  3. I’m definitely a size 9, at least in the majority of brands.
  4. Saucony’s are definitely the right brand for me.
  5. I suck at running on a treadmill, lol.

So I got myself a new pair, in the correct size, with a little bit more arch support in them. I also grabbed a pair of running socks. They were not priced on the package, but I figured it’s only one pair of socks, how expensive can they be? Turns out they can be $11. I was hoping to not like them very much, but of course they’re effing spectacular, and now I wish I could afford to buy a bunch more of them. Stupid fancy expensive socks.

Anyway, I got home, and it was drizzly, but I went running anyway because I didn’t want to miss a day, and it turned out to be kind of nice. I was pretty soggy by the time I got home, but it helped keep me cool and meant I didn’t have to worry about dodging around kids or people out walking dogs or anything. It was just me and  a couple other runners. I ran my whole route, all nearly 50 minutes of it, and only felt very very minor stress in my ankle, which was a marked improvement from my old shoes, so I’d call that a success. I’ve run in them twice now, and I love them.

When I was at the shop, there were a bunch of real runners there, and I got to listen to them talk about the upcoming marathon (which was Sunday.) It reminded me of when I was a kid and my mom dated a guy who was into running, cycling, and rock climbing. He got me into running a bit, I ran a few 1k when he was running longer races. That was before I started to really put on weight, which started when I was diagnosed with Epilepsy and put on medications that drastically increased my appetite.

I think part of what attracts me about running is that runners, with a few exceptions, don’t sign up for a race to win it. They usually don’t compete against the other runners at all. Most people who set out to run a marathon are trying to be their own personal best, not someone else’s. It’s about always being a little better than you were the last time, which is a healthy kind of competition, and always an attainable goal. I’m never going to run faster than Usain Bolt, but I can push myself to run a little faster or a little farther than I did last time.

Not to mention those runners all showed up for the marathon on a rainy morning and ran that damned race anyway. That’s pretty bad ass. I’ve seen baseball games called for less than that.

I’ve been working on my knee strength and flexibility lately, mostly because the choreography in Hair involves a lot of getting down on the floor and then back up again, and very quickly. So I’ve been taking time to stretch, doing a lot of child’s pose, and practicing dropping my knees while keeping myself upright with a little balance help from a chair or the wall. I noticed the first real progress yesterday at rehearsal, so I have hope that it’ll be better by the time we get ready to perform.

Sunday’s weigh in was good, and I think drinking enough water definitely made a huge difference. I’m finally to the “halfway” point, which may not actually be the halfway point in the end, but it’s halfway through the eponymous 50 pounds I set out to lose this year, so I’ll celebrate it anyway. I am 15 lbs away from what the BMI defines as a “healthy weight.” I know the BMI is largely bullshit, but given that I am not a hardcore athlete and the range is pretty big, I think it probably applies in a general sense to my body.

I did a bit of cleaning this long weekend and found a tshirt I bought about a thousand years ago. They didn’t have it in my size, so I had to buy one that was too small for me because I wanted it so bad. Today, for the first time, I’m wearing it. 🙂

Tonight I have an appointment after work, followed by belly dance practice for a performance on Friday, and then I’m going home to run. It’s going to be a long day, but when it’s done I can slide into bed thoroughly exhausted and sleep like a rock.

I figured something like this would crop up eventually, but my ankle has started to get angry with me when I go running. It’s my left ankle, specifically, and it’s on the inside, toward the back, and goes up my calf just a bit. It doesn’t hurt when I’m not running, so I’m not too too worried about it, at least not like I would be if it continued long after the running stopped.

I suspect I might need new running shoes. Mine are now at least three, maybe four years old. As much as I am loathe to spend the money on new shoes, I’d rather do that than injure myself, even if I have hit my out of pocket max on medical bills for the year. Injuries mean not being able to press on, which is a dismal thought. There’s a store I can get to on the bus that will make sure I get the right shoes, so I think I’m going to journey up there on either Thursday or Saturday.

I realized in the last couple of days that it’s been a while since I’ve been reliably drinking enough water, so that’s something I’m trying to work on being better at. It’s harder now that I’m not drinking tea all the time, but it’s been warming up, so I haven’t wanted to drink anything hot in a while. I might have to reevaluate and see if I can work in the tea. I definitely need to make a point of taking water with me everywhere I go so that I have it available when I remember to drink.

{May 20, 2013}   I’m Not Quite Dead

I swear I’m still alive, though only just.

Wednesday last week was, blessedly, a music-only rehearsal, so I got my much needed rest night. Thursday I ran, and Friday I got home and ended up taking an unscheduled 2-hour nap, which was desperately needed at that point. After the nap, I managed to do most of my upper body weight regimen, even though I haven’t been able to do it in forever. I’m keeping the brace on so that I don’t inadvertently re-injure the most delicate part of it, but other than that it went really well.

Saturday was my Day O’ Masochism. I got up early to hit up a yard sale with a friend, then went to belly dance class (the fitness one, where we do crazy reps of everything and you leave feeling all the muscles you normally forget exist.) After that, I was sore and tired, but I pushed myself to go out and run anyway. I was thoroughly used up after that, but I sort felt like a big fucking badass, so the payoff was worth it. After that, my friend came over to catch me up on tribal belly dance for a performance we’re doing end of next week. Thankfully that was the milder kind without the intensity, but I was still droopy through the whole thing. Rounded out the night at a party at a friends house.

Sunday was DBF’s graduation, so I just had to walk down to the theater. We went out to a hibatchi grill for lunch, which was freaking spectacular. I had a little bit of green tea ice cream, which was a treat though it tasted really really sweet to me. I don’t really regret it, but reflecting on it now I didn’t enjoy it as much as I would enjoy other things, so I think that might have been my parting wave to proper desert. Every once in a while I’ll let myself have a taste of something that I used to enjoy, but every single time it’s been way too sweet for me to actually enjoy. It might just take me a while to get that through my thick head, lol.

I might have to experiment with ice cream recipes, see about leaving out most of the sugar, or finally do the frozen banana and cocoa powder thing. Maybe I could do something with coconut milk even.

After the graduation and all assorted festivities were done, it was too late for me to go to rehearsal, so I went to my friends belly dance class to practice more for next week. It’s scary, because there’s no planned out ahead of time choreography, it’s all group impov, so it’s all a matter of learning the cues and keeping up with the leader. I figure even if it’s not perfect, it should be fun, and we’re dancing to Led Zeppelin! So excited.

On Saturday, I also made a huge batch of curry squash soup, so that’s at home waiting for me for dinner tonight! I think it’s pretty deadly, too, lol.

Last night I started week three of the Zombies, Run! 5k training app. This week really cranked it up a notch. Here’s the plan:

  1. 5 min warmup brisk walk
  2. 5 min free run
  3. 1 min run/1 min walk/10 knee lifts x 5
  4. 8 min free run
  5. 2 min stretching
  6. 8 min free run

After my flippant reaction to last weeks upping of the ante, I looked at this one and was, honestly, pretty intimidated by it. It doubles the duration of each run, lessens the duration of walking in between, and the extended free runs, to my mind, are opportunities to push myself to increase my running endurance past what the app strictly demands of me. I also knew the two minutes of stretching would make my speed/pace go down, which is discouraging to see, even when you know it’s coming.

Knowing all of that, that my endurance would really be tested in terms of overall time and not just individual intervals, I tried really hard to pace myself so that I wouldn’t end up wearing myself out too bad to finish. And finish I did. I made it to 3.1 miles, or almost exactly 5k, in just over 46 minutes. My overall speed and per mile time went down a bit, but when I subtract out the 2 minutes of stretching, it’s almost as good as it was in my most recent workout, which I think is pretty good, since it was a much harder slog this time.

There were a couple of times when the app clearly hiccuped a bit, and I’d be running for 45 seconds to a minute before the voice chimed in to say I’d already gone a whole 15 seconds (I listen to music the whole time, and I can gauge time somewhat that way.) I don’t know if it really lost contact with the mother ship during those times, because when I ran that distance before it came in as a full tenth of a mile longer, but I’m not too worried about it as long as I’m actually getting out and doing it.

I think that I can push myself harder the next few times and hopefully still keep improving my speed from what I did last night. Each time I keep doing as much as I can do, and each time what I can do gets a bit better. My legs are definitely not liking me very much right now, lol. (No, I’m not injured, but building endurance requires *carefully* pushing past what’s easy, which is what I’m trying to do – I take it easy when I start to feel discomfort.)

{May 13, 2013}   Back On Track

I managed to survive the weekend, and did all the stuff I set out to do and a bit extra. I did my belly dancing at home on Saturday morning, and got my run squared away after the baby shower. Later, one of the cast members from Hair suggested we all meet up for some karaoke, so I ended up going out to that and dancing most of the night until 2a.m. Maybe not the wisest thing, but I had a blast, so I’m not sorry I did it.

As if to have it’s revenge on me, my body woke up at 8a.m. the next morning and I decided to fight it since there were things needing to get done. So we took the bus down to the mall, I picked up a pair of shorts for the summer and we did the grocery shopping before making the return trip, this time laden with bags of groceries. Rehearsal was, fortunately, not ALL dancing, though the dancing we did do was just as punishing as the last round.

Tonight I’m not doing anything extra, but we have another dance rehearsal this evening, possibly for three hours, so this is not a rest day at all. Tuesday is a running day, and at least for now I refuse to budge on that at all. I might have to budge on other things, but, at least until show weeks, I feel like I can run three days a week no matter what.

Right now I feel okay. I’m tired, to be sure, but not badly tired, and more mentally together than I’ve been in a long time. I don’t get sore at all except when I stay still for too long, and then I just have to move around a bit and I start to feel better. It’s different from the garden variety fatigue from before, because I feel less mentally tired. I could probably stand to take a nap, which I will probably do tomorrow, after I run (or I might just go to bed earlier than usual), but mostly I’m ok. I have been doing to bed each night thoroughly exhausted, and usually a bit sore in the legs, but when I wake up I feel significantly better.

My running is improving every time I go out, and I think I’m going to add another widget to the side to post my starting statistics and my most recent statistics so I can keep my progress in one spot. I’m now at 14:22 minutes per mile, which I still think is lower than reality, because it’s taking into account the 10 minute warmup that is all walking. Every time I go out, I try my best, and I really didn’t think I’d beat the time before last because I’d pushed as hard as I thought I was capable of, but I keep surprising myself with it. Who knows where I’ll manage to get myself if I keep at it.

I managed to rein in my eating this week as well, so all in all I really feel like I’m back on track. Grocery shopping means I have the stuff to make chili and squash curry soup, both of which last for several days so I don’t have to find time to cook so much. I want to go looking for more easy, healthy recipes so I can branch out a bit, but the ones I currently circulate are all tasty and satisfying, so all in all thats going ok. I think, all in all, I’m getting to some really healthy habits, I just need to keep myself focused and make sure I track everything correctly.

The weigh in was good, I lost another half inch off my waist and am down two pounds again, so hopefully last weeks little hiccup won’t be repeated any time soon.

et cetera