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.


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.

{May 7, 2013}   Meditations and Motivations

I’ve been talking to a friend of mine recently as she begins her own journey toward increased mobility and better health. It is so good to see her making efforts to be more active. One of the hard things when it comes to losing weight and getting stronger and more mobile is that a lot of people tend to come to you looking for advice or the little tidbit of information they are lacking to finally get them there, but the problem is that most people just aren’t satisfied with the answers I have for them. Because, the truth is, it takes a lot of dedication and effort. There’s no easy way to do it.

My friend was telling me that she just feels so lazy, and it’s hard to get herself up and going. I remember that feeling, especially in the beginning, and I remember thinking that if I could just crest the top of the hill, I would get to that promised land where I was an Active Person, and then I wouldn’t have to fight myself so hard just to get myself up and going.

I’ve been working at this for years, now, and I have to say that if there is a moment when that happens, I have not yet found it. I still battle the lazies every single day. Every day, the couch waves it’s tractor beam at me menacingly, and my success on any given day is anything but assured.

I haven’t conducted a poll or anything yet, but I suspect that the difference between active people and sedentary people is that active people have learned to draw a lot of satisfaction from always doing the things that are hard. It’s not a physical difference, you understand, but a mental and emotional one. Oh sure, there are endorphins once you’re finally up and doing it, but the payoff is really all in your brain. I am a reasonably accomplished person, so I recognize the mental feedback of feeling like you’ve faced a challenge and bested it. There’s an immense satisfaction of feeling like your best today is better than your best for last week.

I think that’s why I’ve come back to running so many times. Even before the great lazy came upon me and I became effectively sedentary for nearly a decade, I was never able to run. Or, rather, I was never able to run and breathe within the same time frame. It wasn’t even about effort at all, it was the fact that running was the shortest distance between me and an honest to goodness asthma attack.

I remember the terror of hearing gym teachers say we were going to run the mile. I would end up walking for most of it, with periodic attempts to run resulting in me being horribly out of breath. I remember my classmates all blowing past me, even the other ones who were not athletically gifted. Without fail, I would come in last, usually about 16-20 minutes after starting. There was one time near the end of eighth grade when I really did my best, just balls-out went for it like my life depended on it, and I finished the mile in 12 minutes. That moment was huge for me, even though it was nowhere near where the guidelines said I should be. To my knowledge, that is the fastest I have ever completed a mile in my life.

And maybe I’ll never beat that. But you know what? I’m 33 fucking years old and my average time per mile now, at the start of my training, is no worse than my average was at 12 years old (it’s just under 16 min last time I went out.) And I know I can do better at it, because I can already feel myself improving.

So what do I recommend when you’re having trouble getting moving? You have to strong arm your thought process into a healthier one.

  • On days when you get out and push yourself, acknowledge the work you’ve done, and what you’ve accomplished. Like, luxuriate in it. Be self-indulgent about it. Give yourself permission to be impressed with what you’ve done.
  • Set goals for yourself. And make sure you set different kinds of goals (like “I will be active X days this week”, or “I will whittle my mile time down by one minute”, or “I will work up to the 10lb dumbbells for my squats.”) Having goals tied to effort and not just results means that there’s always a goal you can succeed at. Having goals tied to results mean you have a reason to really push yourself.
  • Reward yourself, but in healthy ways. Make yourself earn the rewards, and bonus points if the rewards are things that really reinforce the feelings of success (like taking a long bubble bath, or buying yourself a Zombies, Run! tshirt for making it through 8 weeks of 5k training, for example.)
  • On the days when the couch tractor beam sucks you in, note how you feel. For me, the result is that I feel stiff, and moving gets harder. I end up feeling more tired at the end of a lazy day than I do after being active. (Note: I don’t mean not to take any rest days. Everyone needs those, or you risk serious injury. I mean a day when you could easily exercise and you choose not to.)
  • Bargain with yourself. If you feel tired and a rest day really isn’t called for, then make yourself start with the understanding that you can always cut it short if you’re really not feeling it. I’ve done this with myself a hundred times or more, and I think there may have been ONE time when I didn’t do at least my normal workout. I often do more.
  • Try to work more incidental exercise into your routine. Walk everywhere you can get to on foot. Get a bike for those you can’t.
  • Try to think of your exercises, whatever they are, as scheduled and therefor inevitable. Not in the doom sense, just as a thing you know you are going to do. Don’t think of it as an “if” sort of question. Plan for it, and try not to let the laziness in to begin with.
  • Remember: ” If it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you will find an excuse.”

Anyone else out there have any good advice for staying motivated and active?

{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 4, 2013}   Still Pushing

Yesterday was weight day, but things didn’t go quite as I’d hoped. I wanted to do four full circuits like I did on Monday, but my body let me know in no uncertain terms that that was not happening.

It started with my wrist, which started bothering me towards the end of my first ladder of wall push ups. Fair enough, that’s the one part of my body that I will not push through pain with, so I stopped with the wall push ups and kept working both lunges and squats, but I switched to crunches to break up the leg abuse a bit. By the end of the third circuit, I was getting small pains in my knees/shins and in my ankles. These were not muscle fatigue, they felt more joint related, so I did as many as I could and then stopped at the end of the third circuit.

Still, despite all that, and despite my pretty monumental tiredness at this point, I got most of it done and didn’t just skip the whole damn thing. I still don’t have the muscle soreness, but with the show coming up and all, I’m not going to worry about it. Also, I don’t think avoiding injury is a failing. Injuries are expensive, and they lead to months where you have to not use something so it can heal.


After that, I pan fried up some broccoli, drowned it in curry sauce, and had myself a huge bowl of dinner. It was seriously gigantic. Unfortunately I didn’t log it until I was already at rehearsal, and found that I ate only a little over 1000 calories yesterday. I didn’t have anything with me to bring it up where it should be, and I didn’t want to eat anything when I got home because it was so late and I was ready to sleep, but I think I’ll start keeping food in my bag sooner rather than later to prevent that from happening again. I wasn’t hungry at all, and I really though I’d eaten plenty, but apparently that’s a thing I need to watch out for.

I still have not procured 10 lb dumbbells, but there are a few reasons. First off, it’s like $15 per dumbbell, whereas if I wait a bit (until I get paid or get my tax return), I can snag a set of adjustable ones that go up to 30 lbs for like $70. Considering that I don’t have room for a whole collection of dumbbells, and also that I don’t want to shell out $30 for each set along the way (10 lb, 15 lb, 20 lb, 25 lb, 30 lb), I think thats probably a better option. Also, I might be able to borrow a set of 10 pounders from a friend to tide me over until I get a better idea of what I want to do.

So, the long and short of it, is that I’m still working with 5 lb weights, but Monday, I managed four full circuits rather than three. It still didn’t give me the DOMS I was hoping for (not that I like being sore for it’s own sake, but thats how I know it’s working.) Maybe I’ll try for five sets tomorrow?

If I had a car, I would just rejoin Planet Fitness for $10 a month and use their equipment. Sadly, I do not have a car, so my options are limited. Sure would be nice to have access to the other free weight stuff, though. Maybe one of these days.

This afternoon I went to the store to pick up some veggies, and to stock up on healthy snacks for the coming shit storm. I got some broccoli and cauliflower that I can fry up really fast and eat with the curry soup and rice, because I can put all that stuff together in less than 10 minutes and have a good, nutritious meal before I have to jet to rehearsal.

I also got some pea snacks, some sweet potato and beet chips, some blue potato chips (not super healthy, but not against my rules and totally natural), and some edamame I can prepare ahead of time. Tonight, when I got home, I portioned everything out into serving sizes so it’s all ready to go before the proverbial shit hits the fan. I even wrote the portion size and name of each thing on the bag, so if I eat something and don’t have time to log it, I can keep the bags and remember what I ate later. I got a couple of Luna bars, too, in case I get really desperate, but those are last ditch “put down the junk food” sort of options.


I imagine there will be other trips to the coop to pick up random fruit or premade food, but I wanted to wander into battle full armed.


I also made a Gigantic Pot of Curry Soup, which has worked so well for me in the past. I actively crave that stuff pretty much all the time, so it’ll be good to have it around when I’m likely going to be needing something that appeals to that sort of visceral food drive. I can even take single servings to the theater with me, just in case I have an attack of the HUNGREEEEE. Plus, it’s got enough fiber in it to be reasonably filling. This time I used kabocha pumpkin, butternut squash, sweet potatoes and carrots. There are so many different things that can go into that soup. It came out really thick and less hot than last time. I might have to add more curry powder to each serving as I use it, lol.


This is only part of the extra. I think I made enough to last me a week. Maybe, lol.

Joy of joys, I’m also about to start my period, so what we have here is the perfect storm of potential dietary ruin triggers. What I need to do is channel my legendary stubbornness and just grit my damn teeth until the whole week and a half is over and done with. It’s been just about two months now since I’ve started, so a week and a half is doable.

The good news, the gold ring that I’m trying to grab, is that if I can get through this without slipping, I’m pretty sure I can make it through any regular stress that gets in my way. So, barring serious trauma or some crazy apocalypse, this is likely to be one of the most trying periods I encounter for a while. At least until the family gets here, lol.

I mentioned the other day that I am working weights back into my routine, and so I did those yesterday before rehearsal. This is not really an intense regimen, at least not compared with what I USED to do before I managed to bork up my wrist, but I need to work back up to that, or I’ll have shiny, new injuries to add to the old one.

The weight exercises I do are:

  1. Rear Dumbbell Lunges (which can be done without dumbbells)
  2. Wall Push Ups (since I can’t do regular push ups with the arm brace)
  3. Dumbbell Squats (which can also be done without dumbbells)

I do one ladder of each exercise, and then repeat the whole sequence twice more. For ladders, you start with one rep, then pause for approximately the same duration of time, then complete two reps, and pause again for the length of time it took to do two reps, and on from there. Work up to four reps, and then back down to one. That is one complete ladder. It’s not much right now, and considering what I used to be able to do, it’s a bit depressing, but I’m working my way back up and I’ll be able to do more things once the brace comes off in about 5 more weeks. I’ll also have more energy once Oliver is done.

I am definitely feeling it today, which is why I’m taking a rest day. I’ve been active the last four consecutive days, so it’s a reasonable time for a rest, especially since I have the Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness that indicates that my muscles are recovering and growing from yesterdays workout. I know, consciously, that it’s not reasonable to maintain a 6 day per week schedule this close to a show, so I’m forcing myself to listen to my body and follow it’s instructions. I also had to be to work early this morning, which involved trekking through a snow storm, so I’m cutting myself some slack.

It’s hard sometimes, because no matter how tired or sore I feel, I still want to keep pushing because I am so afraid of losing my momentum. All my prior attempts to lose weight have been based on limiting portions but not necessarily calories, and what drove my success mostly with that method was my constant (or at least consistent) working out. I say constant, but I think when in a good, solid pattern, I would probably average about 4-5 days a week. I know it is possible to be an exercise addict, but I think my levels of exercise are reasonable and healthy. It’s not something I obsess over when I’m not writing a weight loss blog.

I do enjoy the DOMS, though. I feel like I’ve been successful when I get sore the next day, lol.

et cetera