You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘working out’ category.

I suppose the fact that I haven’t been writing over here is a good sign, in that I’m feeling less conflicted about food and my body and my ability to build a healthy lifestyle that is not obsessed with absolutely under no circumstances baking a cake if I really really want cake. (I really wanted cake Monday. So I baked one. It’s yummy and almost half of it is still in the pan on the kitchen counter. But I digress.)

I am trying to develop a love affair with exercise – as I’ve mentioned before, I do feel so much better and more relaxed and I’m sure I am more pleasant to be around when I get up in the morning and even spend 20 minutes on the elliptical trainer. The catch is getting my ass out of be early enough to make it happen.

So, I’ve started making my default for my alarm 5:30 instead of 6:30. Not getting up to exercise is now the conscious exception, rather than affirmatively setting the alarm back an hour. Getting up with time to do this for myself is my new rule. It’s not perfect. The other night when I got caught up in a book and read until after midnight finishing it (Heir to Sevenwaters, I love Juliet Marrillier), I figured I needed at least a little more than 5 hours of sleep.

For the most part it works. And I feel better, and my clothes fit better, and I feel more toned and stronger. I am a nicer person. Really. Seriously. Why don’t you believe me? I am completely serious though – even though I’m operating on less sleep, I am less snappy and more able to just roll with things, just ask my kid. And I’m trying not to let the fact that I’ve also lost some “extra” lbs be too much of an incentive, but it does get me down below a particular psychological barrier as well.

And therein lies some conflict, because philosophically, I still find myself watching the scale and still looking at clothes in my closet and thinking if I could just lose 2515 lbs, I could maybe fit into these things again. And then I think, you know, if just upping a couple of days of exercise is enough to take off some of this weight and stored fat, then maybe there’s a different point besides just size acceptance here – I’m not dieting. I’m barely trying to eat healthier – although I have been eating a lot more organic and less processed food, including more fruits and veggies.

So maybe it all makes a difference together and maybe the only thing that is really important is that I am happy. To the extent that I feel better, it is not because I suddenly discovered that I’d “lost weight”- I felt better before that because I was taking better care of myself. And I like myself. I liked myself three weeks ago and I like myself now and I will like myself whether I keep exercising or not.

The scale does not define me, but neither does avoiding it. I have to find my own way.

Advertisements

I’ve been working on a new definition of being “good”, which involves things like working out 3-4 times a week andeating more fruits and veggies and less refined sugar because I feel better and am happier and less cranky and tired when I do these things. Under this new definition, “being good” also means taking time to do things that I want to do for myself, like write blog entries and short stories and novels; like pulling out my guitar and singing; like actually using the wonderful watercolor set I received from my partner for giftmas.

Good things. Ya know?

And as of last week, I was doing pretty good according to that definition. I got up and used the elliptical trainer a couple of mornings and was going to yoga for the first time in ages and was plotting out the next few chapters in my head…

Then I had a long Friday at work (contrary to popular belief and actual practice in many places, Friday is usually my worst workday because of developing crises in weekend programming. But I digress). I went into the first serious yoga class I’d been to in 6 weeks, having missed two for India, then had a heavy relaxation/light workout session, then a week off, then a migraine two weeks ago. I was tight. And tired. And stressed. And tight.  My body was telling me something was wrong through the whole class – weird muscle aches and cramps forced me to modify certain things. Then the instructor had us do a warrior 2 in a way I wasn’t used to and my center of gravity was off and I was frustrated and tired and pushing harder than I should have because I knew I could do the post better than I was. Then I heard the ripping sound. It was not, in fact, my awesome yoga pants. But rather was the sound of something awry in my inner thigh.

Sigh.

I’m still sore and I want comfort food and I’m grumpy and I’m reading things into innocent comments from my partner. I want to be active, dammit, and I can’t right now. We were supposed to go hiking this weekend – we have reservations at a lodge and everything. And now I don’t know if I can. I hate this. The smallest setback can completely torpedo my ability to easily like myself and to be proud of my accomplishments. And that is not good.

(As an aside, I’ve noticed a tendency for me to use very similar titles now and again on posts here.  Food -HA!- for thought.)

Anyway, it has long been clear in our household that exercise and mood have a strong correlation.  However, I’ve never consistently exercised for more than a few months, so it’s been less noticeable with me.

Now that I’m trying to work out in the morning, though, I notice a huge difference when I go for days without doing anything other than Friday evening yoga.  Friday evening yoga – while sometimes annoying timing, in that it interferes with things like Friday evening TKD for the Kid or certain activities at his school – is a huge boon in that it gives me something a) to look forward to all week and b) gives me a huge stress relief outlet at the end of what is usually one of the most stressful days at work. Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely love my job – but it is still work and problem solving for people that have often created their own problems.

So, Friday Night Yoga = GOOD.

Morning cardio = also good. 

Who’d have thunk it?  Getting up an hour earlier and doing 40 minutes on the bike a couple mornings a week is proving harder than I’d like in terms of the actually getting to bed earlier and thus getting up, but when I do, it is awesome.  Seriously.

Today, for example, I feel like hell.  I’ve been fighting something off for a while now and either coincidentally, or due in part to getting some travel vax last week, I’m really fighting this week.  Laryngitis, sore throat, chest heaviness. It’s ebbing and flowing, but really, no fun, and today is the worst so far.  Work has also been super stressful for a variety of reasons this week.

But even though I feel the worst physically today that I have all week, mood wise, I feel better.  I feel more relaxed.  Part of that is probably pride that I did something, anything, to try to help my body.  But part of that is a symptom of what I did.  I got to sleep before 10.  I got up at 5:30.  And I rode the damn bike.

Now, frankly, I’d like a hot bath and a long nap.  Instead I’m getting lavender earl gray and contemplating mashed potatoes and meatloaf for lunch.  Little things.

I had to skip my regular yoga class on Friday ’cause the kid was sick and I wanted to get home right after work.  That class is an “all levels” class – the idea being that, well, pretty much anyone can take it, from absolute beginners to people who have actually been doing yoga regularly for years.  I am usually toward the advanced middle of that class.  One of the interesting things I’ve noticed about taking a class that is designed to challenge even the most advanced yoginis (all the students are women in this particular class), is that everyone’s body has things that it can do easily, and things that are more difficult.  So, while I might be doing the most advanced pose in Warrior 1 variations with no problem, I may not be able to do a modified Downward Dog/Table variation designed to work the wrists and lower arms.  And I can’t do a particularly good Lotus or Crane without some serious manipulation.  OTOH, the very sweet woman who is taking her first class ever can plop down into a perfect lotus and sit forever with no strain. 

But, I digress.  Since I missed that class and really needed to get my stretch on, I went to a level 2 class on Sunday.  I was a little worried before I went – after all, while my instructor for my all level class agreed that a level 2 was appropriate for me, I’d never taken one and I was feeling stiff and sore and really NEEDED a good class.  Unfortunately, that one was definitely an eh. It was too structured and I didn’t feel like it worked my whole body.  It definitely did *something* because I’m stiff as all get out now, but I am desperately looking forward to Friday when I can go back to my regular class.  I have one more class that I can make up and I guess I’ll look at one of the early morning one.  Ack!

Speaking of early morning, I was supposed to get up by 5:30 this morning and actually use the bike – hoping, in part, that it would work some of the kinks out, especially in my legs – alas, I set the time, but neglected to turn the alarm on.  So, tomorrow it is, I suppose.  I’m feeling that urge in my body for exercise, after a mostly lazy weekend (that whole sick kid thing).  Hopefully I can get on a T/T bike in the mornings, F yoga at night kick with some pick up stuff in between and the occasional turn on the Fit.  Hopefully.  I really do feel tons better when I’m getting some sort of exercise a few times a week.

In the meantime, I appear to be losing something – my pants feel like they are falling off today.  It is hard to break out of the feeling that this is an accomplishment worth celebrating.  And, I suppose that on one hand it is – I am getting smaller not because I am dieting and depriving myself (says the woman who has been eating cupcakes and baklava all morning), but because I am mostly trying to eat more healthy food and I am trying to work out because it actually feels good – or at least better than not doing so.  New jeans in a size 10/12 and baggy work pants are a bonus.  One that I’ve used as a measure of self worth for a long time.  And maybe that’s the real issue.  I am not a better person because I lost 5 lbs or 1/4 of an inch from my waistline.  And it is sort of sick and twisted that I feel so damn good about it.

Yoga tonight, finally, then dinner at the Melting Pot.

Also, I’ve been having crazy intense fruit cravings all week long. I’ve completely ignored ice cream at least three times this week, but put a pineapple in front of me and it’ll disappear.  I went to an Italian/salad bar place for lunch today solely because I knew they tend to have a really nice fruit selection and loaded up on mango and papaya.  If I could have more, I totally would, but I have no urge to go hunting down some other sort of snack. 

Weird that.

Since my posts here at at I’m Just Not Impressed last week, I’ve been thinking a lot about what not-dieting and not feeling guilty really means.

First, I feel like I need to acknowledge that I am coming at this from a position of relative privilege.  I am not obese.  Truly, I am barely overweight.  Realistically, most people are not going to look at me and say “OMG, that woman is fat.”  I suspect that fully dressed in my work clothes and heels, very few people would even look at me and think that I need to loose a few pounds.  Part of how I see myself is body image dysphoria and I know that – and part of that dysphoria – and this is also where some of the privilege comes in – is that I tend to think of myself as a thin person, so I see myself in pictures  or naked in a mirror and think, do I really look like that?  To the extent that there is any validity to BMI or weight charts, I fall into the overweight category, but by 10-20 lbs. 

I am likewise privileged in that I know, in the recesses of my mind, that if I did deny myself that cookie or that scoop of mashed potatoes and ate mostly salad for a while and exercised 40 minutes a day five days a week, the pounds would drop off and I’d be that skinny person I see in the mirror.  And hell, when I put it like that, it sounds almost easy, doesn’t it?  I was almost 20 lbs lighter two years ago (which was still 10 lbs more than what I thought of as my ideal weight at the time).  Then I went on medication that packed those 20 lbs on.

I do need to exercise more.  I just do.  It’s not a matter of losing weight, it’s a matter of feeling less pain in my shoulders and joints and feeling stronger and more capable and being able to swing my son over my shoulders and run around and play with him like a maniac.  And hell, being able to actually touch my toes with locked knees for the first time in my entire life, even when I was 21 and weighed 128 lbs. 

I also need to eat better – not in a self denial way, but in a less saturated fat more fruits and veggies because my cholesterol is on the edge of being too high and I eat like crap.  Food I don’t even really like, like McDonald’s kind of crap because I am busy and don’t feel like cooking.  And again, I feel better when I eat better food.  Garbage in, garbage out, ya know?

Not giving into the guilt though – it’s amazing how that works.  Because if I have a cookie or a piece of chocolate or a mocha latte, I’m not “being bad” anymore.  So I can eat just one, because whatever it is that I would have beaten myself up over just a month ago is no big hairy deal.  I haven’t ruined my diet.  None of this in for a penny, in for a pound crap.  I can eat just one Hershey’s kiss and not feel like I need to eat the whole wee bag that theoretically is in the car as an after-school treat for the kidlet (who also needs to eat less McDonald’s and more fruit).  I don’t need to binge and overindulge, because there is no baggage associated with putting this stuff in my mouth anymore.

But, you might say, doesn’t the fact that you keep nattering on about this suggest that perhaps you are not as comfortable with the idea as you say you are?  And I will totally grant that it is constant work.  It is, in a way, diet vigilance of a different type, this idea of not judging myself (and, not-so- incidentally, other women[1]) for what I put on my plate and in my mouth.  It is a sad commentary on the state of the world that it feels almost radical to suggest that “being good” has nothing to do with self denial and that food is not a reward or punishment.  (How many times have any of us said when picking at bowl of lettuce, “well, I was really bad yesterday”?)   I still think about what I eat – nutritious meals and a balanced diet don’t mysteriously appear three times a day anymore now than they did a few weeks ago.  But I find myself approaching things differently.  I find myself listening more to my body about the food it needs than my mind about the comfort it desires. 

[1] I want to say, for the record, that this absolutely includes those of you who I know are committed to weight loss through a variety of means.

(imagine to the tune of Lola/Yoda and there you go)

I am soooooo sososo looking forward to yoga tonight.  Clearly I must have done some good with my exercize on Wednesday because I still feel stiff and a little sore and I cannot wait to be in that warm, softly lit room and stretch.  I can touch my toes people.  I’ve NEVER been able to touch my toes.  It’s amazing how just one long session a week with some incidental stretching and poses in between can make such a difference in how my body feels and how I carry myself.  The good thing about blogging these feelings is that hopefully when I fall off the exercise wagon I can look back and see just how good I do start to feel when I do this regularly.

I keep trying to convince myself that this is not about the numbers on the scale.  Today is a good example of this.

I used the elliptical trainer for 30 minutes Tuesday night and I used the wii for 40 minutes last night – if I can keep focused on it, the bike is a better pure cardio workout – I’ll ride at a moderate to hard pace for approximately 43 minutes – the time it takes to watch a DVD of an “hour” long tv show.  Only allowing myself to watch these shows – starting with current shows like Lost and Grey’s Anatomy that I’d missed out on when they started and now things like Buffy and HBO series that we don’t get like Deadwood and Carnavale – while I exercise was a great motivator when I was just getting started and still is sometimes.

The thing about the Wii, though, is that it gives me more variety and I tend to be highly focused on whatever I’m doing while I’m doing it.  So, I work in fits and starts but that 6 minutes I spend hula hooping is an intense 6 minutes.  The 6 minutes I’m boxing is an intense 6 minutes.  The 5 minutes I’m stepping is an intense 5 minutes. 

I’m not loving the Wii yoga so much – part of that is the limitations of the space in our family room – there’s a drop ceiling, so upward stretching involves popping a tile and working around the support beams and there’s not as much floor space as I’d like.  But I think most of it is just how much I love doing “real yoga”.  I absolutely loved the class I took last Friday and am estatic that I have 10 more.  I’ve registered for that particular class, so now I get to end the work week with almost an hour and a half of yoga that is for all levels, so I can make it as intense or as relaxing as I want/need on that particular day.  The class was super small last week, between the weather and the long weekend, and we all got lots of individual attention, pose correction and adjustment, etc.  Afterwards the instructor mentioned that my body seemed very open and it was clear that I had a lot of experience doing yoga.  My immediate response was to say not really -which is true on one level.  Then again, I’ve been doing yoga off and on for 10 years.  10 years?!?!  How does that happen?

Anyway, I am really looking forward to class again tomorrow.  And I find myself fitting modified stretches and poses into my everyday life more.  I feel more relaxed and less tense and more powerful.  This is something that I notice whenever I start exercizing with any regularity – I start to feel straighter and stronger and healthier.   Also, while the scale is actually up a few pounds from last week’s weigh-in, my pants are looser and my body feels smoother and firmer.

So, maybe it doesn’t matter so much what it says on the scale.  My pants are loose and my back is straight and I look damn good.

So I was pretty much dead on about last night’s dinner, to the point where there’s no point in re-mentioning it.

The evil toffee of evil is gone – thanks much to me – so that is at least good on the temptation front.  Damn that stuff is good.

I’m going to a yoga class tonight, which is a Good Thing.  I love yoga.  I’m looking forward to this.

Also, twice today I’ve looked in the mirror and thought “Damn, I look good.”

So, that food thing?  Clearly going marvelously well, eh?

One thing I noticed when I was doing really well at tracking at The Daily Platethis time last year is that once I get in the mindset of putting my words where my mouth’s been, I tend to make somewhat “better” choices simply by virtue of knowing that I have to admit that I had McDonald’s again for dinner last night.  I’m sort of seeing that again now.

Interestingly, I’m also noticing that I’ve been in a piss poor mood ever since I’ve tried to hold myself semi-publicly accountable for my food choices.  As I used to say in middle school – coincidence or special sauce?  It may well be coincidence, actually, but the timing just occurred to me.

Anyway, food for the week (insofar as I can recall):

Monday – breakfast is lost to me, but definitely included coffee and may just not have otherwise existed, which I tend to be really bad about.  Lunch was Chinese takeout, playing the “I’m having vegetables, so that justifies the garlic chicken” card.  Dinner was…pizza.  Almost an entire frozen one.  And three peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.  I also recall that I was feeling miserable and went to bed at around 7:30, waking only to read to the kidlet in bed.

Tuesday – I’m pretty sure I had a packet of plain oatmeal with a mini-moo and some honey, plus the ubiquitous coffee and milk.  I know I should be eating more fruits and veggies.  We need to go to the grocery store.  Lunch was catered by a wonderful Lebanese place, so I had chicken and pita and rice and grape leaves and hummus and a spinach samosa like thing and Lebanese salad.  And a piece of baklava for dessert.  And a coke.  I ate a lot of food, but it filled me up totally and I was truly not even that hungry when it came time for leftovers for dinner.  I also exercised Tuesday night.

Wednesday – coffee (surprise!) and mini-blueberry muffins for breakfast.  Way too much toffee that a coworker brought in throughout the day.  A salad and flat-bread with ham, tomatoes, leeks and cheese for lunch.  A McDonald’s Big & Tasty with cheese, a wee cheeseburger that was mistakenly in the kidlet’s happy meal, a small handful of fries and half a hard cider for dinner.  No urge for dessert.  Not feeling particularly well.  I wonder why?

Today, Thursday – A packet of raisin walnut oatmeal for breakfast with the ever present morning coffee.  Two cookies that a different coworker brought in as a snack.  Sweet and Sour Chicken Lean Cuisine for lunch.  That’s it so far.  Dinner will be supplied by my father and will likely include homemade mac and cheese and some sort of meat and broccoli.  And wine.  And maybe Scotch.

Oh, and I’ve been keeping up with drinking at least one Sigg of water over the course of the day, usually two or more.

As I type this all out, I am trying hard not to fall into the “I was good/I was bad” trap.  I was feeding myself.  I need at least 1200 calories a day to survive without feeling that I’m deeply depriving myself.  I’m sure that I could, in fact, function just fine for a while on 1000 a day, but the extra 200 fends off headaches and resentment.  Guilting myself about enjoying a frozen pizza is not going to help me feel better in any sense.  Being a good person is not defined by whether I decide to finish up this entry, make myself a cup of tea and help myself to another cookie.  It’s just not.  Even if I never lose another pound, even if I never wear a size 10 again, let alone an 8, the measure of my hips is not the measure of my self worth.

You know what does help me feel better though – the exercise, the water and the fruits and veggies.  That is a measure, not of my worth or my value, but of my health.