Often I find myself thinking about where to start. Time has passed and so much has happened and I do not necessarily want to rehash the past even though it has been a rough few months in my world emotionally speaking I just want to look forward. I will start with the banal of items on my list to write about. The first one is LONG…
Yep, that subject is health and fitness. It is funny because long ago in another time and place I earned a degree in Health and Fitness Management. I truly thought I wanted to help people get fit and I loved to be fit and in a most undefined way I thought that was the career path for me. Over the past few years, I have thought about this more and more often. I miss that world of helping people, seeing the plan click and stick, the goals and accomplishments hard fought for and won. I often find people at the Y when I spend time there more often to cheer for. There was one woman I saw slowly jog/walking at the Y every evening when I was there years ago and I have watched her journey and I have silently shouted praises to her. She has lost a lot of weight and I know she is regular runner, she’s done a few half marathons and she works hard and she has no idea about me nor that I have watched her journey but I am so proud of her. That is weird, right?
When I hurt my foot last year and ended up wearing “the boot” forever, I had to come up with a new plan for myself. At first, in my mind, it involved working out to stay fit to be able to run again. I thought I will be well enough to run again and train for marathon I previously signed up for that will happen in April… Oh how humbled I am at the force with which reality can strike back. I am still slowly working my way through retraining myself to run without getting re-injured. I have read several articles about the fear of re-injury and I know I am in that place BUT I also need to go slowly for me. See difficult emotional period of life the past few months mentioned above. The fact is since I stopped running I have lost 7 lbs which is about 3 lbs off of the 10 lbs I have been “trying” to lose since I started running several years ago! There have been ups and down in there but I am 100 percent certain that my current weight loss would not have happened had I not been injured.
I feel beyond just numbers I feel better. I feel better about my body image and it is nice to wear clothing without hating everything I put on! For instance, I went from a size 8 to size 6 in pants. I am stronger – I have been lifting weights with some consistency for 8 months or so. I have definition to my arms and abs that I did not have at all in those months and years of running. I have a lot more fun “working out” then I ever did with running in that I am doing so much more variety that I never really get bored and when I do get bored (more accurately tired… I am always tired!) I just take more breaks and do not beat myself silly about not working out every day.
While I miss running/training with an intensity I reserve for few things I am not quite ready to remount the training horse (heh…) I like that I do not have to stick to some crazy plan and because I can tend to be rigid about training – go hard or go home – I find myself happy to enjoy running when I can and doing the 30-35 minutes runs I have been doing. I did tell K that I wanted to start running with more consistency in April doing 3-4 days a week so I can increase mileage and see how my foot/body handles it. I would like to get past the current “re-training” schedule and perhaps start to train for a fall ½ marathon. I miss the long stuff but we shall see…
What I have been doing that works:
Eating differently – I technically would not say I ate poorly before but let’s just say I was not doing myself any favors. I basically cut all bread/pasta out of my diet. I tend to lean toward GF products now. I know that pisses off some people with serious health issues from consuming gluten. I am forever grateful that there are more readily available products though. I try to mostly eat only whole foods – non processed, non-chemical, etc… you get the idea. I cook/bake with olive oil and real organic butter (my favorites are Kerrygold and Organic Valley for butter.) I eat only Fage yogurt and I change it up – some weeks I do the higher fat kind, other weeks I do the non-fat. I use as many fruit and veggies in any meal I am having as I can. I found a great GF cereal that I love so I get some of the calcium from the non-fat milk I use in that.
I stopped drinking all together. No more beer/wine. I have not had soda since I was preggers with M Bug but I was drinking a lot of root beer and LaCroix in the recent past. I stopped that too. Water, Coffee, and Traditional Organics Mint or Ginger tea are the main things I drink – occasionally I like a glass of lemonade but that is rare.
There are two things that I do eat that just make me giddy with happiness that I wanted to share: I make my own homemade nachos – organic chips, grated block cheeses (Organic Valley and Cabot), Jack’s salsa (mild) and low fat sour cream (generally organic). My favorite snack food! Also, I have an obsession with high end dark chocolate (any fair trade kind will do… and there are tons of them these days!) However my current fav is Alter Ego: Dark coconut toffee organic chocolate. Oh… I mean I dream about that stuff!
I am not crazy or hardcore – I find that balance is everything in my life. I also do just enough. If I am still hungry after eating, I wait and drink some water to see how I am feeling. Then I go find something else to eat. I find eating can be mindless so I really have worked to make eating a mindful process. I do think as our society has become increasing industrialized and we have to go faster, do more, etc… we think we cannot do eat healthier due to time and energy and it is hard to make our own meals and expensive and why to all this work, etc… the facts are it is expensive to eat a certain way (which is sad given the country we live in and the wonderful resources we have) and it is harder – sure I would rather go out to eat lunch and dinner for that matter every day, no dishes, no cleaning, no gripes about my cooking but oh my does food ever taste better and more interesting and I am happier and I weigh less and look/feel better because I take the time and energy to focus on those good things versus ease. There are so many fads running amuck out there as always and I know when I look at those fads I find myself critically thinking about them – yes, there are some benefits to any diet or fad but at the end of the day it is simple – eat well, exercise well and all will follow BUT it takes time.
I do lots of different “stuff”. I have been running, biking, swimming, cross training, lifting weights, planking, sit-ups, running stairs, using the exercise ball, crafting crazy new workouts out of ones I have seen on Pinterest… you get the idea. I do something as often as I can. Even if it is doing sit-ups while watching Believe on the television.
I got a Fitbit for Christmas and I just love the hell out of that thing. I like it because it reminds me how active I am/have been/could be in a day. Yesterday I did not technically “workout” but I walked over 10,000 steps and ran up and down the stairs doing laundry 13 times. That amounted to 4.5 miles of steps! I have no idea how accurate it is but even if it’s not accurate it is a friendly reminder to keep moving!
Anything can be a workout. Basketball with the kids. Gardening the yard. Doing laundry. Dusting/sweeping/moping/cleaning the bathrooms/making the beds. AND the trick is to do this stuff and then NOT reward yourself with food. Reward yourself with a mental pat on the back. You did it, be proud, be loud, but do not say ‘hey I worked in the garden all day I can now sit back and pile drive chips and dip into my mouth and wash it down with 8 beers!’ (Only me?? Yes well do not do this, it is bad!)
Running is a great form of exercise but if I am only exclusively running I am not technically taking care of my whole body. Nuff said. I need to do a variety of things or else I will have issues with joints or well you know stress fractures in my heel (how?? I still am in awe of my ability to do that!) I cannot run to the exclusion of everything else. It will not work for me especially as I *ehem* get older! Plus it makes running more fun to do. So cross train and run are a good combo (for me.)
Everything takes time - I have been seeing a lot of “fad” stuff from women around my age (or those closing in 40 quickly) and I am appalled. Everything will work for a bit but the key is maintenance. How do you maintain something? The fact is we all need a break. I ended up hitting the proverbial wall in March. I did some stuff but not to the level I had been and I started to slip with my diet and exercise. It was rough… I am back mentally to my commitment of getting healthy and fit again. I think the key is not only that it takes time but to allow yourself a break but how long that break lasts is up to you. Years of a break? Bad idea probably. A couple of weeks… fair enough.
For me, I have exactly three known things I struggle with.
Emotional upsets/female issues: part of this is a bit out of my control nature and good stuff like that – I get really exhausted like I have never ever felt before for a full week or more every month plus the week of my “female” time – I literally have to crush the desire to just lie down and sleep vs. work out. This is a new thing for me and the intensity of it has really amped up in just in the past 18 months or so. At first I thought it was a fluke then I started to notice a pattern. It is rough and finding my inner strength on this front takes a lot out of me. The situation with my Mom for instance threw me for a loop. I was doing really well up till that event and then I just start to knock myself for being a bad person, etc… I tend to let the overwhelming emotions surrounding my female time to completely crush me and I am still trying to come up ways to deal with this/work through it.
Sleep/exhaustion: this is mostly manufactured by me. Yes, a week out of the month I am spent from being a girl/hormones/etc but I also have a bed time that is wholly inadequate for the lifestyle I want to lead. I need to get myself to bed at the latest by 11 pm (10 pm would be super ideal) and I am currently generally going to bed at 12-1 am. Oaf. Not good. Still also trying to come up with ways to deal with this/work through it.
Being kind to myself: A lifetime of telling myself how awful I am and reminding myself nonstop about all of the mistakes I have made is a hard thing to just up and change. It is actually the thing I have made the most strides on of these three. I let go a lot more. I still wake up in the middle of night sometimes flipping out about things but mostly I just let it go (like the song… OH GAWD THAT SONG!) I think that for the most part I just do not see everything as big and dramatic anymore AND honestly I cannot go back and change anything. I can only learn and go forward so I do for the most part. I think the guilt, depression, and anxiety are really my deal killers but totally apart from being kind to me in a sense. Also we can “save” those for another blog post (You: oh goody gum drops!)
Long and long of it. I am excited for spring time, for losing that last three pounds, for the possibility of running regularly again and maybe even racing. I am excited to do weights to continue to define my arms and abs and expand on the current excitement about eating healthy. More to come hopefully!