The Final Fifty

{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.


{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.

I’ve hit a sort of interesting point when it comes to my activities. It’s sort of been sneaking up on me for a bit, I guess, but it really became apparent this week, as running has really started to become a thing for me.

The first time I noticed it was when I first started to work dance in regularly. There were three kinds of dance I was mainly interested in (ballet, tap and belly dance), and, wanting to work each one in twice a week, I started dancing six days a week. It was a great thing for me, and I might’ve continued on that way for some time were it not for rehearsals and other commitments. But the noteworthy thing, for this post anyway, was that I was focused more on the activity itself than I was on the necessity of getting enough exercise. The dancing was more important than the calories burned.

What’s happening now is sort of the same thing. There are so many activities that I want to work into my schedule that it’s becoming less of a “must be active enough” thing and more of a “argh, when can I squeeze in _______” thing. This means that I might not have time for proper rest days, except when I have rehearsals with no choreography component and am therefor too booked up to squeeze anything else into.

I’m not quite sure what that is going to be like, though I’m starting to get a bit of a taste of it this week. Yesterday was the only day I could really do ballet, so I did that. I also wanted to test out the new bike seat, so I took it on a short spin before walking down to dinner with DBF. I didn’t have much down time, but I’m sort of not very tired anyway. Today I didn’t make it to my proper belly dance class, so I did belly dance at home. We have a baby shower to go to in a bit, and I’m hoping to get home early enough to get my run in later on. Tomorrow will be grocery shopping followed by a long dance rehearsal (which might actually kill me, based on last weeks dance rehearsal.)

Don’t get me wrong, I still have the lazy voice in my head saying “maybe I don’t need to do this today”, but then the other voice chimes in with “if you don’t do it now, when are you going to fit it in?” And that argument usually shakes out with me getting off my butt to go do whatever thing is on my agenda. I still have no clue when I’m going to work in weights when I can actually do weights again (which might be very soon.) I have this vaguely-doomish feeling that it’s going to end up being on my “rest days”, lol.

What I need to be careful of here is that I’m still getting enough rest. I can’t do weights on the same muscle groups on consecutive days without both risking injury and stymying my own progress, and I’m going to have to be a big meany head with myself about getting to bed by 10 every night so that I can make sure I’m getting enough sleep. I think if I can manage those two things, along with continuing to eat right and get plenty of water, I’ll be ok. At any rate, I think the number one thing I need to do is listen to my body and be willing to let some things go if it tells me I need to relax more.

So far, that hasn’t been happening, and I’m getting to the point where I’m feeling less and less comfortable with just sitting on the couch. After a little while, I start to feel myself getting stiffer and stiffer, whereas moving around keeps me feeling more mobile and limber.

Last night we went out for seafood, and I got maple ginger salmon with roasted cauliflower. It was awesome, and because if the lack of a starchy side, and the relatively low calories in salmon, it’s been one of the few times I could sit down and eat an entire entree without blowing past my calorie limit. The salmon was very good and tender. It still has a slightly fishy taste, which I am still getting used to, but I liked it well enough anyway. Not everything is an instant favorite, but I find that I can learn to like most everything if I keep giving it a good shot and try preparing it in different ways.

Also, it took me almost the entire week to recover from last weeks weigh in, but I’m finally starting to feel better about my body and my improvements in diet and health again. Getting my caloric intake back under control was a big part of it, but the activities I’ve been doing are helping, too. It’s pretty hard to feel decidedly bad about yourself when you are steadily improving at things you never thought you would be physically capable of doing.

Last night I changed the seat on my new bike. I might possibly be feeling just a bit more puffed up about that than is justified, but a) it means I don’t have to harass my friend when he’s already changed it for me once, and b) it means I don’t have to pay the bike shop to put it on for me. Also, I’ve always enjoyed feeling self-sufficient, so there is that.

Speaking of my bike, I realized I never actually posted a picture of it. This one is more artsy fartsy than a proper picture, but you can get the basic idea. It’s a purple Giant Boulder, and I loves her, precioussss.



I’m still definitely in the “get comfortable with this whole bike thing” mode, so I’m not using it for regular transportation just yet, but I’m hoping to get there, eventually. There’s a grocery store that isn’t too far away and does not involve traversing any gigantic thoroughfares, so I think I’ll probably start with that once I’m ready to make it a real mission. I just might have to try riding with other cargo in my backpack that isn’t fragile or food to get used to having extra weight in there.

Last night was workout one for the second week of Zombies, Run! 5k training. Remember how adorable I was and saying I wish it would push me harder? Well, turns out 30 seconds is just about when my breathing starts to get just a little bit difficult, so I think this is the perfect next increment for me. I did well, though, even though there was a dude trying to kill me by mowing his lawn right in the middle of my route. Have I mentioned that grass is a big allergy and asthma trigger? It didn’t hit, though, so I pressed on.

I feel like I really pushed myself well. I kept running as much as I could for the free run portion keeping myself just short of real respiratory distress. What I do when I’m not receiving instructions from the app is pick a starting and ending spot in the distance ahead of me. For my route, it’s usually about 1.5 to 2 driveways at the moment. I try to set it such that I know that it will challenge me but won’t get me too close to breathless hell, and then I push myself until I get there. Sometimes I adjust midway if I can or if I need to.

My time per mile, average, has gone down to just over 15 minutes per mile, and my speed has increased a little each time I’ve gone out. I know that my mile time is really less than 15 minutes, because it’s averaging in the 10 minute walking warmup, and also averaging in the pauses where I do my heel lifts (once per interval circuit now.) I might have to download another app to just test out my mile time at some point so that I know for sure. I really want to beat my middle school best, at least, and I think a good long term goal at this point would be to get under 10 minutes.

Also, exciting news, I think I’m going to register with a couple friends for the Vermont Zombie Run in September. I’m waiting to find out how long it is and how much it costs and all that, but it sounds like loads of fun. I’m sure I’ll post more about it if I end up doing it.

Tonight is a rest day, and a for real rest because we’re singing at rehearsal tonight. As much as I’m nervous about the dancing in this show, I’m excited about being pushed to do things I normally wouldn’t do. I just hope I don’t end up injuring myself trying to pretend I’m still twenty years old.

{April 26, 2013}   Ballet. Ooof.

Last night, ballet won, so I did my Ballet Boot Camp dvd, and actually availed myself pretty well. The cardio part has always always winded me enough so I’d have to pause a few times in the middle, but last night it felt substantially easier than it ever had before, and I made it the whole way through.

The ab and leg stuff, on the other hand: OOOOOF. I am sore today, particularly in my upper abs. It’s the good kind of hurt, though. It means I worked myself over pretty hard. And that makes me happy!

Good news! Today the weight plates I ordered for my dumbbell set should get here, so I can use my set much better than I could otherwise. I don’t have great confidence in the handles, but worst case scenario I can get better handles for pretty cheap.

I’ve decided to try the one month squat challenge. I think my best bet is to do these with body weight only so that I can really focus on my form. I don’t think I’ve done much more than 50 squats in one day before, so it will be a challenge no mater what I do.

It seems like Hair is going to be a much more intense show, dance wise, so I’m kind of excited about that. I don’t think I’ll be able to pull off 6 days of dance with rehearsals and transit time, which I am ok with because, with the calorie restriction, I seem to keep losing even when I don’t do anything beyond my normal walking. I’ll work in body weight stuff and weights with the dumbbells as much as I can.

Really, I feel like I’m just more active in general now. I walk at least to work and back every day, and I generally try to work in more walking during the day on my lunch break or whenever. I like being out and moving around, especially now that it’s warmer and sunnier than it was even a few weeks ago. Turns out it’s much more enjoyable when you don’t have to worry about slipping and falling on your ass. Maybe next winter I’ll do more walking in the mall since it’s indoors and close to home and work.

So, yesterday. It was actually pretty awesome until this morning. I’ll get to that shortly.

I went for a walk down to the lake on my lunch break. It was approaching 70 out, the sun was shining gloriously in the sky, and I was treated to some entertainment in the form of a woman who had clearly lost contact with the mothership. I got a good 30 minute walk with some hills, I synthesized a little vitamin D, and it was pure, unadulterated awesome.

After work, I went home and did half an hour of belly dance (to ease back in, and also because I was short on time.) I ate a bit, but left some wiggle room because we were going to Wild Wings for trivia, and I knew I would want to graze on stuff there.

Have I mentioned the unholy craving I’ve been having for soft pretzels? Mostly I don’t crave bread products too much, but lately, I’ve missed the chewy, stretchy, doughy aspect, and soft pretzels are MADE of chewy and doughy.

So DBF, knowing this, picked stuff he knew I’d like to accommodate my cravings. I didn’t do bad, really, calorie wise. I went a little over my baseline, but not near over the calories the activities I’d done afforded me, so still within the sweet spot. And those pretzels and boneless wings were so tasty.

This morning, though, my intestines told me they were displeased. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been, just some angry pangs and grumbling really, but it definitely didn’t agree with me. Which is probably a good thing. I suspect I’ll remember it next time we go to trivia and not have as much trouble resisting the stuff I know I shouldn’t eat anyway. Note: I did not have food poisoning. And the food was delicious. I’m not saying people should pass on wings and pretzels. Just that I apparently can’t enjoy them without consequences.

I’m glad to have started dancing again. I’ve undoubtedly lost some of my progress, but I’m ok with that, the musical was important and fun, and my body still responded to the diet, so I can regain my former skills dance wise. I might do some tap tonight, or ballet, not sure which I’ll settle on when I get home.

This week I have been awesome for taking a damned break, recovering from illness, and mostly not deviating from my diet rules. I’m easing back into dancing more again, and my extra weight plates are on the way so I can get back into my weight routine as well. I am working on getting my wrist back up to full function so I can proceed with both cello and weights without risking further injury. I am taking time to notice how different my body is than it was before.

I have also noticed a few new things. Even though I have deviated slightly in the last month, my normal default is now the diet. This is great because it means it’s sustainable and has become habit, which is absolutely critical to long term success. Working in a bit of flexibility, I think, is good because I don’t want to have seriously rigid rules forever. The whole point of this is to be healthy, mentally and physically, and I don’t feel like being forever obsessed with everything that passes my lips is a healthy or desirable way to live.

Here’s the other thing I’ve realized, now that I’ve had time to consider it: I don’t regret ever having been fat, and I wouldn’t go back and change it now if I could. Oh sure, I might have lost weight sooner just for the affect it’s had on my body, but if I had the choice to go back and make myself always be naturally thin, there’s no way I would. Being fat has forced me to really study what constitutes a healthy diet and a healthy body. It has made me work for it in a way that gives it more value. And, most importantly, being fat has taught me so much compassion for other people, their bodies, and the degrading messages we are all bombarded with all the time. It has taught me that the value of a person has absolutely nothing to do with what kind of body they have.

{April 12, 2013}   Now That I Have Some Time…

Right now, I am thoroughly, physically exhausted. I took today off work knowing that I wouldn’t be able to get through to Sunday evening without a bit of a break, so that’s what today is for. I slept in until nearly 10am, and right now I am stretched out on the couch, drinking tea and watching The Hunger Games on Netflix.

Last night, opening night, was thoroughly amazing. The audience responded to everything with such enthusiasm, and everyone was dead on, so I would call it an unqualified success. I got to see some friends after the show, and some former cast mates from Rent. The director told one of them that his favorite game to play is “What Is Shadowmousey Doing Right Now?”, which was so encouraging to hear.  I don’t have any lines, or any solo moments, so to be appreciated for what I bring to the show is amazing.

The first thing I saw when I opened up my laptop this morning was an email from one of my coworkers, telling me that I am awesome because I’m not dead. She follows my blog (wave), and it was great to get the encouragement to press on.

And press on I am. If I have the energy, I might do a bit of yoga or dance later just to keep myself from getting stiff. That’s the big issue right now: I’m stiff and my feet and limbs hurt. If I don’t have the energy, I will just stretch for a good long while.

It occurred to me today how much less limited I am when it comes to standing for long periods of time. My feet hurt today, but they didn’t bother me at all last night, at least until I laid down in bed. Standing for as long as I did used to be really difficult and painful for me, so this is just one more physical benefit I’m getting out of this.

So, yesterday I was awesome because I made a point of telling a few of my friends how awesome I think they are, and how beautiful they are. I stayed away from the sugary stuff at the after party, and only had a few piece of kielbasa and popcorn chicken. I went over my calories, but not by a lot, and I feel good about it because I felt hungry and responded to that hunger instead of only paying attention to the numbers.

Today I was awesome already, because I took out my cello, tuned it up, and practiced for an hour. It wasn’t anything impressive, just some open strings with the bow, and some pizzicato work with the left hand to start relearning where the notes are and build up my callouses. I feel accomplished, though, and like I can maybe start calling myself a cellist. My cello now lives in my bedroom where I can get to it easily, every day. I hope to practice some tomorrow morning before the first matinee.

Tonight for dinner I made this Cauliflower Crust Pizza. I think this recipe works best for people who are having trouble giving up pizza. It doesn’t interfere with the taste of the cheese and sauce, and if you season it well, it tastes pretty good. Be prepared to eat it with a fork at least, because it doesn’t have the strength or structural integrity of a traditional crust, but it does make a passable base for pizza.

I’ve never been much of a pizza junky, myself. For me, the main attraction of pizza was the convenience of it. So mostly, it was okay, but I found myself wishing I’d just roasted the cauliflower and poured curry sauce all over it. Addicted? Me? Never!

I got a new DVD the other day, Drills! Drills! Drills! by Michelle Joyce. I was only able to do half of it because my rehearsal time changed at the last minute and I had to run out a few hours earlier than expected. The video starts with glute work, and man, my ass is so sore today. I am optimistic that that means it will reshape my body if I keep doing it, but right now I’m limping around like I’m 80 years old.

Add to that more belly dance this morning in class, and I’m kind of in sorry shape. Another week, mostly successful, and full of mental growth, even through hideous amounts of stress. Tomorrow I check in with the scale and the measuring tape. It’s getting to the point where the numbers are meaning less, and just doing it is meaning more and more. Maybe this is how I get healthy.

Yesterday was weigh in and measure day, and I lost another 2+ pounds. This puts me at 183 lbs, which is the lowest weight I’ve been at for at least 5 years, but it might be the lowest I’ve been since I got to my full adult height. I know for certain that I didn’t get below 180, even when I lost weight before, so I’m within spitting distance if I’m not already there. I’m also within a month or two of my long-standing, “short term” goal of 175, so that will be a real milestone.

I lost an inch around my hips and another half inch off my waist, and some small increments in other places (my arms are shrinking!! Finally!!!). My waist and hips are both at their smallest since I started tracking measurements in late 2011, and I am finally, just barely, out of the “obese” range and into the “overweight” range when it comes to BMI. (I think the BMI is totally a bullshit measurement, since an athlete and an obese person could have the same BMI and are clearly in different places health wise, but I still track it, just for shits and giggles.) Also, and more meaningfully, my body fat percentage is the lowest it has ever been since late 2011.

Basically, from this time out, any progress I make is totally new progress, and not just me losing the same 10 lbs I’ve been losing, regaining, and losing again for the last few years.

What I’ve gained is more monumental still. A relationship with my body that is getting healthier every day. A relationship with food that is expanding and improving with time. Taste buds that appreciate the sweetness of carrots more than the sweetness in a chocolate cookie. Sincere excitement about food that nourishes me instead of just over-satiating me. Clearer and less-dry skin. Better digestion and overall health. Improving flexibility and balance through dance. Vastly improved mental clarity. Greater self respect and self confidence. The ability to see with new eyes what is good for me, and what is most definitely NOT good for me, not just in food, but in all areas of my life. The inner stillness that brings new growth, new wisdom, and mental peace.

Time has yet to verify this, but I feel like I’ve accomplished a permanent change in myself already. Even if I don’t lose as much weight as I want to, even if I’m always just a little bit fat, I’m eating way healthier food, and I’m way less likely to get diabetes and heart disease this way. Even just cutting out the sugar all by itself with help with that. But I don’t think continuing these changes will allow my body to remain as it is.

Saturday was belly dance, and she worked us hard. That night was the party, which was a lot of fun even though I didn’t drink or eat shitty food. My friend graciously brought carrots and cucumbers with dressing because she knew I’m not eating sugar anymore. I’m not a huge fan of cucumbers, even now, though I liked them better than before. The carrots were wonderful, though, much sweeter than I’ve ever found them before. It was hard to stop eating them, and then I remembered that they’re a vegetable and that I didn’t have to stop eating them, and there was much rejoicing.

Sunday I still felt like a bus hit me, but it wasn’t all from the party. I had DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) from doing weights the other day. Ballet helped with that even though it was difficult, and I ended up doing 50 minutes, though I broke it up into 15-20 minute increments with breaks of a few minutes in between. This was partly to help me make it through it better, and partly because I was also roasting the pumpkin and squash for the soup (I made a massive pot of the stuff, so I used both a kabocha pumpkin and a butternut squash. The good news is that I have plenty left, and I can make up a chicken curry, or a cauliflower curry, in 30 minutes or less. OMNOMNOMNOM.)

My rough plan for the next few weeks, when I have 4 rehearsals a week, is to do weights on days when I have rehearsal, because they only take 15-20 minutes, and then dance on the non-rehearsal days. This will cut back on my dancing time, but it will mean that I can still be active almost every day without too much schedule crunch, and I’ve been wanting to work weights back in anyway.

At some point, probably the week before the show and up until the show is done, I will probably not be able to “work out” in the normal sense, though I will still be running around like a mad woman and not just couch surfing. My plan then is to keep stretching like mad, move as much as I reasonably can, and just be charitable with myself when it comes to loosening up that part of my regimen. As long as I keep eating right, and keep my quantities correct, I think it will be ok.

It’s been nearly a full month now since I ate the last sugary thing and called a halt. It was easier than I thought it would be, though I’m not sure why it was easy. I know with certainty that there have been points in my life that it would NOT have been this easy, so it seems like this is another mental switch that flipped for no apparent reason.

Part of me feels like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. I know that, with time, I might encounter difficulties, or hit streaks where I don’t have the energy to care about what I put in my body. My hope is that, by the time the next one of those occurs, I’ll have established healthy habits long enough that they will withstand even the weakest moments.

I think I might have slid into a decision to not drink anymore. Not consciously, or for any particular reason, but I’m having a party for St. Patrick’s Day, and I’ve come to realize that I just don’t want to drink. I have very few inhibitions when sober, and none that I need to shed to have fun or participate in the things I would normally participate in while drunk. The only drinks I tend to like are sweeter and therefor higher in calories, and like I said before, my craving for sweet has gone and I don’t want to invite it back. If I liked wine I might feel differently, because there is at least some benefit to drinking wine. We’ll see how it goes. For most of my adult life I’ve been the voluntary designated driver anyway, so this won’t be a big change.

Today we went out to lunch for work because a new person has just joined us. It’s a nice little cafe with lots of gluten free and other healthy options, so I got an apple quinoa burger with a side of kale and a bowl of sweet potato apple soup (which was crazy delicious). The burger ended up having things in it that were not on the menu, but I went ahead and tried it and I liked it okay. I’m not a big fan of onions, at least when they’re not cooked, but they weren’t bad in this. This is kinda significant, because two months ago or more that would have ruined the meal for me.

Yesterday evening I was really tired when I got home, and I almost didn’t dance, but I struck a bargain with myself that I would start it, and do my best for as long as I could. I got a half hour in of belly dance, but it was a good, solid effort, and I danced more at rehearsal, so I think I got about an hour of real dancing in.

I think that’s a good compromise on tired days. Try it, do as well as you can for as long as you can, and be honest with yourself about what is serious fatigue and what is just a bit of lazy creeping up on you.

et cetera