Monday, January 26, 2009

Ravenous, and yet...

2,550 calories consumed today (well above my target range of 1466-2066) and I can't quite say that they were healthful. I did eat three fruit servings, but only about two veggie servings. Everything else wasn't horrible, but it wasn't clean either. Too much fat; too little protein.

But I'm not upset. Why? I figure there must be a reason I'm so hungry today. Fitday tells me that I'm still averaging a 800+ calorie deficit per day. And even these thoughts weren't enough to reassure me, let's face it: I could have polished off nearly that many calories (over 1,900) in a single meal in my Jack in the Box days.

More importantly, I'm not exactly satisfied with the day. Yeah, my belly is full, but it doesn't feel quite right. I'm not even close to the level of berating myself, but I am at the level that I'm genuinely looking forward to tomorrow's rice-cooker frittata with whole grains, more than half a cup of broccoli, and a high egg white:egg yolk ratio. Yes, truly. Right now, I realize that I miss the satisfied feeling of a body filled with healthful food, and it will feel good to properly nourish my body tomorrow.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The President's Physical Fitness Award Revisited

Join me as I take a trip back to middle school. I have been overweight my whole life, in varying degrees, so you can picture me in middle school. I had a good circle of friends, but the majority of students did not ignore my weight and awkwardness. (Imagine that!)

Now, cut to a day in social studies class. My teacher announces that I have won the Presidential Academic Fitness Award and presents me with a certificate. Being middle school kids, my peers miss the word "academic". (To be fair, so did I, so I was bewildered until I look at the certificate.) They openly snicker and laugh. My teacher, annoyed, reinforces the word "academic". They finally settle down, but the moment lingers.

Isn't it funny what we remember.

But of course I would never have won the Presidential Fitness Award! Other than riding my bike everywhere, I was in awful shape. I couldn't do a single push-up, modified or not. Sit-ups were OK. I couldn't jog to save my life. Let's not even mention horrifyingly, desperately dangling mess that was supposed to be the chin-up. P.E. class was torture for me, and I was genuinely perplexed by people who looked forward to it. So, not only would I have never won the fitness award; I couldn't care less about it. Well, except for the snickers when my peers thought for a second that I had won it.

Now, coming back to today, when I have begun to "get it" with physical fitness, and imagine my curiosity when I learn about the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports adult fitness test. Interesting. I pop over for a look. I do find that it's a little short on variety of tests, but it's like a thermometer. It's one reading that creates a baseline. OK, I'm in, I decide, and test myself.

My results as of yesterday:

So it took me a while to remember that the 5th percentile is the bottom fifth percent, not the top. My confusion stemmed from the fact that I first used the walking option to compute my results, and that also landed me in the 5th percentile. Surely, I thought (and still believe) that a sixteen-minute walked mile is nothing to sniff at. Not the top, of course, but the bottom?!? Having thought about it, I have since decided that they're using weight and heart rate (taken immediately after finishing, not thirty seconds after), and it probably skews my results.

So I calculated my 1.5 minute mile time from my c25k speeds. I average at about 14:08-minute miles, so this seemed fair. But I still landed in the bottom 5%.

Really? I do believe that many of my age-group acquaintances could neither run 1.5 miles, nor could they walk a 16-minute mile, so I do have my doubts about the validity of my result. I wonder about the testing sample. Are the results being constantly updated from people who use the test? If so, how many couch potatoes are in the sample, compared to how many fitness fanatics?

Nonetheless, it is a measurement tool. It's something I can do again in three months or six months and use to compare growth. I can only go up from here, right? Right.

UPDATE: See how I improved (or didn't improve) with July's results here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Relatively Painless

It's a good thing the nurse didn't do a blood pressure check for today's doctor appointment. I worked myself up into such a lather over how I thought the conversation was going to go (not to mention the expected disapproval that I'm still overweight) that I was feeling the stress. I may have even been shaking upon entering the office.

I was all worked up for nothing. Although we've had our back-and-forths (I suppose it is difficult to have laypeople regularly challenge your expertise and - trust me - I'm challenging in more ways than one), he basically took it for granted that someone asking for a referral to a mental health provider has a good reason. I told him my reasoning anyway and he didn't bat an eyelash. Maybe he's satisfied that I'm taking a logical step. Maybe he's just tired of arguing with me. Maybe he undestands more than I've given him credit for. I guess it doesn't matter. The good news is that we see things eye-to-eye on this and I'm on my way to developing a relationship with a mental health professional that I believe will help me break through my mysterious barrier.

Now, if you're paying attention, then you'll expect a running update today. Well, the schedule changed a bit. I was so full of energy yesterday that I just couldn't stay home and take a rest day. (How often does that happen?) So off to the pool I went for a swim (A decent 950 yards of swimming and swim drills). When I entered my exercise in my log, I realized: That was my seventh day of exercise. Oopsie! So, my rest day shifted to today and tomorrow will be my run (and strength training).

Get this: I'm looking at my bright yellow Lebert Equalizers sitting across the room and seriously thinking about doing a quick session. But I know better. My body needs to rest once in a while so that it can continue to improve and get stronger. It is sort of nice to have to force myself to take a rest day rather than forcing myself to get out and do something. I mean, really, that's a switch to be proud of.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Is This What They Call the Wall?

Actually, I know the answer: no. Nevertheless, I have to cut myself a break today on what was supposed to be a 2.5 mile run. I'm not exactly happy about it, but I do have to cut myself some slack considering my running and cycling the past two days.

I wasn't going to stop. I had made it over halfway. But, then, I did. (stop=walk, for the record). It was only going to be a .05 mi. walk. Until it became a .10 mi. walk. Or, make that a .15 mi. walk. Followed up shortly after a short run by another .?? mi. walk. And again. According to my GPS software, I ran about 2.05 miles in total and walked the rest.

(Well, actually, it claims that I jogged 2.05 miles... I'm not fast enough to have ever run, even during my end-of-the-run-sprint, according to the software. Sorry, I don't know if I'll ever be running 10:00 minute miles, Mr. SportTracks, and you'll just have to make due with that.)

You know, though, it wasn't that long ago that I was ecstatic with jogging 90 seconds, so I really shouldn't beat myself up over only running a little over two miles. So I won't. To top it off, I then came home and did my weight training.

All in all, it really was not a bad fitness day. I'll take tomorrow as a rest day and I'll get the 2.5 miles done on Wednesday. Not a problem.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Just Checking In...

I imagine that you, my millions of teeming (imaginary) readers are wondering where I've been. Is she quitting again? Already?!? Well, no. I'm not quitting. In fact, since I'm just doing a check-in, I might as well share a measure I'm taking to prevent quitting in the future.

First, a brief run-down: (1) I completed week six of the c25k. It's solid runs from here on out. Go, me! (2) My bike ride today included a couple of (mole)hills, but I survived and felt pretty darned good about it, after I got the first couple of (flat) miles out, that is. Why are the first few miles so hard? (3) I switched my weight training routine. Why, I realized, should I try to suffer through a month of a routine I loathed, detested, and clearly was not ready for? I have never struggled so much with actively avoiding a resistance routine, and I finally figured out that it was simply too hard for me right now. So I've switched to a routine using my new bright-yellow Lebert Equalizers. (I'll probably post a review of sorts after I use them for a bit longer.) One instant improvement: I'm willing to strength train again. So... things are going pretty well, overall.

Now, my preventative measure: I'm (hopefully) going to start therapy. Therapy? I hear you ask, Why therapy when you're back to doing things right? Well, the thing is that I've learned the pattern: I do great. Until I don't. I have no one to blame for the u-turn except for me, so I've got to work on fixing the problem before I hit the u-turn. If I wait until I change directions, then I simply won't get therapy. But, if I start going now and develop a relationship with a therapist, I figure, the groundwork will be laid so that I can break through that wall, rather than changing directions.

But it's all in your control, you scream, just choose to keep going rather than quitting! Yes, yes, I know that I control my destiny. I've done that for 37 years. Well, since my first diet - thanks to Mom - was at age nine, let's say 28 years. Nevertheless, I get to a point where I make stupid choices. I have no one but myself to blame, so... I guess I need to fix me! (Or, improve, at the least.)

Here's what I'm dreading about this decision: I have to get authorization from my physician. Yes, that will likely be fun. How I picture it:

Oh, look, you're fat again.

Yes, yes I am. But I'm doing something about it.

Well, here's how you should do it.

No, no thank you. I know how to lose weight. That's not the problem.

Clearly you don't, here's how to do it.

No, really, I do. I lost 50 pounds in the past this way, and I've lost over 20 pounds in the present this way. Eat healthfully, eat less, exercise more. It's pure math.

(Grudgingly) So why are you here?

I want approval to see a psychiatriatrist.


Because I want to finish this weight loss, not stall halfway through.

It's all about food choices.

Yes, I know.

So why the therapist?

Because I figure that if a sane person makes stupid choices for long enough, there must be something not quite right in that otherwise sane person.

But it's all about food choices.

Yes, I know.

So why the therapist?

Um... wait.. let me pick some other excuse for seeing a therapist...

Yes, I know it sounds as if I'm making a mountain out of a molehill, but you don't know this guy. We have a history. You can see it near the bottom of this post. I just hope that I can convince him that, in this, I am right, and I should be authorized to see a psychiatrist. Cross your fingers for me.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Running IS Hard on the Knees.... Sort Of...

She's down!

OK, let's back up. I love running in the dark. I'm not stupid about it, though. I wear a headlamp and, if I'm running in the a.m. darkness, a blinking armband. Our dog, Keena, runs with me, and she'll be a great defense system if I ever need it. She's always on the lookout against threats and, trust me, she'll win if anyone ever tries anything. (Really, though, one look at Keena and they'd think twice anyway.)

But this threat, well, who could have seen this one coming?

Maybe me.

Darn train tracks.

To my credit, I fell into a decent roll. My only real damage is a badly skinned knee. I haven't had this kind of skinned knee since I was eleven. (Seriously: owie!) I'll probably be a bit sore tomorrow, but no harm done. Keena was incredibly sympathetic to my injuries, if you call becoming extremely interested in the base of a nearby bush sympathetic.

I walked a tiny bit and started jogging just in time to misjudge a truck's speed and force it to slow down while crossing the street. (In my defense, it was a zebra crossing, so I did have right of way.) No problems the rest of the way.

So, week 6, day 2 is officially completed. Both one mile running splits were sub 14:00 miles, so I can't complain too much. Up next: 2.25 miles without stopping. I'll be sure to steer clear of railroad tracks. Or, at least, watch where I step.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Taking Victories as They Come.

I just noticed that it's become official: I am no longer morbily obese. I am currently "merely" obese. I do look forward to the day on which I can simply call myself overweight, but I suspect that I may become content in the lower range of the overweight category, shifting my attention to lean muscle mass rather than a number on a BMI chart. (145 lbs will the be magic number that pulls me right to the cusp of a "normal" BMI maximum of 24.9.) But that's a decision to be made about a year down the road.

For now, this victory stands on its own. Go, me!

Footnote: Speaking of BMI, I found something interesting semi-randomly while googling. It's a Flickr set: Illustrated BMI Categories. And no, I'm not there. Maybe I'll throw up a picture at some time in the future, but not yet. One thing at a time.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Why, oh, why do I punish myself so?

So, I'm trudging along on today's run (week six day one of c25k - yay!), and I begin to wonder why, exactly, I'm so focused on pushing myself to becoming a runner. I mean, really, I spent so much energy in my youth convincing people that I was physically unable of running (knees without enough cartilage, you see). I spent over thirty years perfectly satisfied with being a non-runner (at any weight), and here I am, for the second time, pushing myself to become a runner. Why?

I mean, I could lose weight cycling much more easily. Hiking feels great. Weight training is certainly effective and (except for the particular routine I'm currently on) I've not had a problem with it. Those three activities, really, would be enough to achieve a healthy and happy physical state.

So what's with the running?

I have decided that it's the same reason those weight loss shows on television seem to torture contestants: When you prove to yourself that just one previously-impossible feat is actually possible, every challenge becomes achievable.

Yes, I know, you can do anything you set your mind to. We've heard it over and over again, and no one disputes it. And yet, there's this little nagging voice in the back of our minds that always wonders if it is really true. I mean, I can set my mind to learning to fly, and all I'll achieve is a nice stay at the local mental institution. Clearly, the little voice says, we can't do anything just because we decide to.

We can argue with the little voice all we want, explaining that realistic goals are where it's at, but the voice just won't shut up. Until we stomp the voice into the ground by achieving something it's convinced is outside that realm of realistic goals. Until we run a 5k. Or a 10k. Or swim a mile. Or maybe, just maybe, complete a tri.

There is something so absolutely empowering about setting a goal that feels near-impossible and achieving it. I know. I've been there. And I will be there again. And this time, I'll keep going. That little voice is going to learn its lesson once and for all.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Too cold! Too hot! Too small! (Coming soon: Too big!)

OK, so I've established two things:

1) I underdress for riding in the cold.
2) I overdress for running in the cold.

Well, yeah. Duh. I can't run at 16 mph! After yesterday's bike ride (I still shivered through 6.75 miles without losing any fingers to frostbite) I placed an order for a wind jacket and wind-proof cycling gloves. The gloves are no biggie, but the limit in jacket options is a source of frustration. Thank goodness for Team Estrogen!

Actually, getting that jacket was a breeze compared to buying snowpants at REI for a planned (but since sadly cancelled) snowshoe hike. I know, I know: Why carry clothing for larger people since they clearly aren't active? On the other hand, what are larger people supposed to wear when they decide to become active? I'd whine and be angry at "the man", but really I'm angry at myself. It's my own fault that I can't just walk in and pick from many options off the rack.

If all goes as planned, this won't be an issue for long. In fact, if you are a "fat athlete", or know someone who is, be sure to look for my upcoming limited line of lovingly-used plus-sized activewear at ebay!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

First Ride of the Year!

January 1, 2009: 9.09 miles on the bike at an average of 13.9 mph. No hills, of course; it was the river path. Oh, sure, it's nothing to sing and dance about, but not too shabby. In fact, it made me - again - wonder why I don't do it more often. (Or, really, considering the last year, at all.)

I made the mistake of telling my father that I rode today instead of yesterday because I wanted to make today the first ride of the year. His response: "If you rode yesterday, that would have been the last of the year." True. But the sad fact stood out: it also would have been the first and only ride of 2008.

Anything else to report? Well, I reluctantly weight trained today. Why am I so reluctant about it? It's an absolute killer. I kid you not. I'm using bodyweight exercises, and trust me: when you're using 234 pounds of bodyweight, those exercises are just too, too much. Except for the one-leg bridges and modified push-ups, my heart/lungs cry out and I get dizzy long before my muscles give up. Well... maybe "long before" is a slight hyperbole, but it is somewhat ironic that my heartrate shoots up more by my weight training than my pre-WT cardio warmup. I suppose it doesn't help that they're "supersets", either. What keeps me going: knowing how awesomely strong I will be in the long run. I mean, think about it. As I build strength and stamina at this weight, think about what that will translate into at a lower weight if I keep up the effort... and manage to avoid passing out and falling into a coma, of course. Small detail.

The picture on the right? That's from the "end of the road" from my river ride today. There were also shopping carts. Shopping carts? The nearest grocery store is waaaayyyy far away. It is a mystery. This hand-scrawled cardboard sign, however, is not. The bike path just stops. Done. Turn around and return to whence you came. "Lands End." This makes me smile.