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It's becoming about the athletics, not the weight loss.

Monday, November 14, 2011

I found myself writing a long response to one of MAGGIEROSEBOWL's blog posts, in which she wondered if not divulging the fact and magnitude of her weight loss meant she wasn't proud of it.

Here is part of my comment:

In a lot of ways I am prouder of my recent athletic achievements than I am of having lost the weight.

I can whitewater kayak better than almost any woman I know of at my age (mid-40s, formerly obese or not), and better than many men my age, and better than many folks I know who are younger, of either gender.

Lots of people manage to eat less and move a little more and drop a lot of weight. I know well over 100 people just here on SP who have lost 100+ lbs. Not a lot of them go from super obese into extreme sports and thrive.

I work hard at improving my skills and my strength to weight ratio, and it produces results. In the end I'm most proud of that. The weight loss for me is slowly just becoming history.


This is somewhat different from how I viewed my post-loss world when I got to goal in January 2010. At that point I'd bought into the idea spread here and other places that once I got to goal it was time to identify new goals and rush off to accomplish them.

Not so fast, buddy.

When I hit goal I still didn't know how much I needed to eat to maintain that weight, at my current activity level. And I compounded that problem by starting on a rigorous triathlon training program. (That was my exciting new goal.) All of a sudden I was burning way more calories than I had before and I didn't even know what my baseline food should be, let alone the food on the new exercise program.

It was a disaster, with cravings going through the roof, followed by binges, weight cycling crazily out of control, and a sense of confusion. Followed by a slow gain of roughly 30 lbs over the next 9-12 months.

Back then I was still in the "I can't believe I have this new body now" mode. It was like being on vacation from the fat. Like any honeymoon phase everything seemed bright and new and exciting, and a little scary.

Now, having carefully gotten most of those 30 back off again, I've settled down into a focus on my kayaking. I care more about kayaking than anything else. Specifically white water kayaking.

To figure out what is going on I still track everything. I follow it in charts.

And over time I've been able to see the correlation between my weight, strength, and performance. And now I have a much better handle on how much I need to eat and what kinds of foods.

I'm invested in attaining the highest strength to weight ratio I can get. I want to see how far I can take this.

And itís paying off. Saturday I went for a river surfing session in Watertown www.americanwhitewater.org/content/R
and managed ďsuper cleanĒ 180 spins (thatís turning all the way around without using a paddle, just the edge of the boat with balance and a judicious tilt of the hips). I nearly managed a ďsuper cleanĒ 360, (I got about 340 degrees around before flipping and flushing off the feature).

Here's what a super clean 360 spin looks like.

These are things I have not been able to do before. And I definitely couldnít do them the last time I was at that playhole, over a year ago. Iíve improved dramatically despite losing most of the 2011 season to a shoulder injury.

Sunday I went to a pool session and among other things tried (yet again) to roll my playboat without a paddle (using just my hands). www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo

AND I DID IT. FINALLY. Iíve managed it a few times in borrowed boats, but never before in one of my own.

These things arenít easy to do. And I donít think itís a coincidence that I can do them now, rather than earlier. Ever since being discharged from PT Iíve been working hard at increasing my strength by eating well (~150g protein per day) and working out a lot:

M - Tae Kardio at lunchtime, Body Pump Class in the evening
Tu - XC ski at lunchtime (if there is snow), Spinning in the evening
W - Tae Kardio at lunchtime, Body Pump Class in the evening
Th - Tae Kardio at lunchtime, Spinning in the evening
F- Rest, stretching, sometimes a deep tissue massage
Sa - Playing outside (kayaking, XC skiing, snowboarding, road cycling, etc.)
Su - Playing outside and 4hr kayak rolling / skills session

I am stronger and lighter. I have the physical strength to do these things and am not encumbered with as much fat. Small differences in this sort of thing can translate to big differences in athletic performance, when it comes to strength, agility, and flexibility.

Iím committed to getting the last 10-15 lbs off and getting my body fat below 20% again. Because that is what it is going to take, to do some of those aerial moves Iíd like to try.

And why not?

Itís no longer about the fact that I lost half my body weight. That happens to be my history. Itís about what I can now DO with this body, now.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TENACIOUSTIGER 12/4/2011 10:13AM

    great blog something to think about you do an awesome amount of exercise

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GRACIELA_ELENA 11/16/2011 11:23PM

    Really liked this post and have to say though I dont often really picture my after point there are things I dream of doing...running, kickboxing and being able to wear something that my thighs can peak out of and not feel self conscious. Sounds easy enough and something I hold pretty close to my chest. Keep up the great work and thanks for the inspiration!

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WATERMELLEN 11/15/2011 7:43PM

    Really like this blog and your pride in your strength and skill: what you can do with your new/reclaimed body, not just that you "have it".

I haven't thought about this before and I'm sure it will be simmering in the back of my brain over the next little while.

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SALSIFY 11/15/2011 5:36PM

    Every time I've lost weight it's been like a vacation from the fat. I've always expected my fat to be waiting around a corner to mug me - and in the end it always does.

I'm glad to see you move on from this kind of thinking!

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ANDALEX 11/15/2011 3:54PM

    sweet! carpe diem, all the way.

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BOATER_CHICK 11/15/2011 3:28PM

    I am so excited for you! Don't back down on the boating! I am so excited to have a fellow girl out on the river that I can relate to! I can't wait till we can boat together again and the two of us can be like "ya, we rock".
Although my goal at first was the weight loss, too, I have now made it a goal to rock the rapids on the river. I have never felt better in a boat than I did this year after I dropped the weight. I can't wait till I am back in my boat and showing up all those guys up on the water. (That is my mini-goal, show up Jared, haha).
You will get those aerial moves in no time and maybe I'll get the chance to learn them some too. Then go off and run some class 4/5 :)

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SNOWHIT 11/15/2011 1:24PM

    Perhaps not the point of the post, but I love your spreadsheet! I'm a huge fan of spreadsheets and data. I admire your focus on performance as well. Goodluck in achieving your new moves!

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DDOORN 11/15/2011 9:50AM

    So so TRUE! Closing in on my 2,000th mile on my bike this season...an incomprehensible feat for the old me!


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MARATHONLADYR 11/15/2011 7:25AM

    Awesome blog and inspirational! It is not about the weight.

I can identify with this. After setting off to lose weight for the second time since 2008, I decided I wanted a stronger and healthier body...at 42. I started running in February, trained all summer, and just ran (and finished) my first half-marathon. Yes!! I want to become a stronger and faster runner, and I know I must eat better to do that. That's why I can identify with your struggle. It is hard becoming an athlete after 40!!!! I've been a couch-potato, although a skinny one, most of my life.

Well, the battle begins and ends in my mind! Like you, I have lost more than 40 pounds and have been real sloppy about tracking my nutrition. Gotta do better!

Thanks for sharing your journey...


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BREWMASTERBILL 11/15/2011 7:19AM

    *DING!* I find it hard to communicate precisely this. The scale just doesn't matter after you get into healthy territory. You have to shift from weight goals to performance goals. To illustrate, I am also up almost 30 pounds from my lowest weight, but I'm still in the same size jeans. Muscle anyone? I really don't care what the scale says, but I sure am worried about how I'm going to finish a trail race my friend just challenged me to or how I'm going to train for a volleyball team I've just been invited to play on. Of course, there is the ever present softball leagues and tournaments. What training can I do now to run a little faster, hit a little harder, throw a little further?

So when I see the goals of "lose 50 pounds" or "I want to be healthier", these seem casually set and easily abandoned. I know it's hard to imagine what you would do with a healthy body, but I'm trying to convey this to folks who claim to have no motivation. I would challenge that to say that they have no real goals. I see people who have no business looking at the scale getting excited or depressed over a meaningless number. It's really frustrating and I'm glad to be aligned with someone who "gets it". Thanks for this, it has sparked me this morning.

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MOBYCARP 11/15/2011 6:39AM

    While I'm not into any sport more extreme than running, the struggle to identify the appropriate calorie range for maintenance resonates with me. Yesterday I hit a new 25 year low weight again, and added back 200 calories. That puts my range 620 calories per day above where it was when I was trying to lose weight.

The major concern is whether I'll recognize and react if I back off the exercise either intentionally or because life gets in the way. Hopefully your example will help me do a better job of this than I otherwise might have.

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Rules for Humans #13 & #14 You will forget all of this. You can remember any time you wish.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Rule 13: You will forget all of this.

Rule 14: You can remember any time you wish.

And yes you can. Because they are online here rules4humans.com or you can buy the book here:

For the past 2 weeks I have commented on the Rules for Being Human. I like their sensible approach and now that I'm transitioning back into kayaking and training for kayaking it seems like a good time to revisit them.

To see all of the blog posts I wrote in this series, go here:

You can see all of the rules by themselves, here: rules4humans.com

Here's a video explaining where those Rules came from: vimeo.com/15981754

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DDOORN 11/10/2011 11:40AM

    Oh WOW! Did not KNOW these were part of a book!!

Thx so much for the head's up!!


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KHAYNES_WDE 11/10/2011 11:13AM

    This has been interesting. Thank you!

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JOAN_HEO 11/10/2011 8:01AM

    O000hhh... thanks for this!!!

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ANDALEX 11/9/2011 11:28PM

    very cool series. your blogs have given me much to consider. thanks!

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WATERMELLEN 11/9/2011 9:56PM

    Great blog series. One of the disconcerting realities is how many times I have to relearn what I already know . . . . but don't want to remember always. Glad that I'm apparently not the only one to suffer from this condition!!

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SALSIFY 11/9/2011 5:52PM

    Thanks for blogging on these rules - I really enjoyed your thoughts.


(Not that I can remember any of them, of course.)

Comment edited on: 11/9/2011 5:53:17 PM

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TERRYT55 11/9/2011 5:45PM

    Thank you for this excellent link!

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SKYWATCHERRS 11/9/2011 4:35PM

    thanks for providing the link - I really enjoyed reading those rules. Very wise.

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Rules for Humans #12 Your answers lie inside you.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Rule 12: Your answers lie inside you.
Children need guidance from others; as we mature, we trust our hearts, where the Laws of Spirit are written. You know more than you have heard or read or been told. All you need to do is to look, listen and trust.

You have to find what works, FOR YOU. This where that whole ďthis is a lifestyleĒ thing comes in. Because if youíre going to make any kind of change that will actually stick, it has to work for you, personally.

In the process of figuring out what works youíll get to know yourself better. Try something. Give it a good, solid effort. Watch yourself and take notes. Evaluate after a week or two.

In the At Goal and Maintaining team we have a weight-based challenge I set up to help me and others like me stay at or near goal.

For others this is not so helpful. They respond better to other aspects of maintaining fitness and so they have suggested other challenges theyíd like to run

This is great, because the more different and helpful options out there for all of us, the better off we all are.

I like data. I weigh and track everything I eat (and sometimes even what I DONíT eat that I wanted to), I weigh myself and estimate my % body fat every morning, and I log my exercise with a heart rate monitor.

Since I like numbers I need a convenient way to track them.

And analyze them.

Some people find this sort of focus on the numbers ďcrazy-making.Ē For me itís comforting because I feel like I have a handle on what is going on. Again, this may not be YOUR solution. It is simply what I have found works for ME.

In nutrition I had to play around with the macronutrient and calorie ratios to figure out what works best for me (150g of protein per day, no starches or grains, no less than 1400 cal per day). This was done by tracking everything, trying stuff and watching the results.

For exercise habits I find I need a locked-in routine. If left up to whether or not I feel like it, consistent exercise will not happen. So I have developed a fixed schedule of group exercise classes.

So really this process has been about getting to know stuff about myself. What works for me. And coming up with creative solutions that fit the way I am wired.

For the past 2 weeks I have commented on the Rules for Being Human. I like their sensible approach and now that I'm transitioning back into kayaking and training for kayaking it seems like a good time to revisit them.

To see all of the blog posts I wrote in this series, go here:

You can see all of the rules by themselves, here: rules4humans.com

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BOATER_CHICK 11/9/2011 1:35PM

    I love numbers too and do the same with weighing and tracking everyday. They have really kept me going and I think keep me more accountable.

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KAYOTIC 11/9/2011 9:57AM

    You have number crunching down to an art, it's impressive! I do love tracking stuff too, and you're right, it's all about what works for ME, as an individual, and what works for someone else may not work for me....but if I don't try different ways I may never know what actually does!

great series!

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SALSIFY 11/9/2011 8:15AM

    I know what you mean about the numbers - they're easy to analyse. Being able to build up an idea of how much of a calorie deficit I'm running is very reassuring.

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WATERMELLEN 11/8/2011 6:29PM

    Totally agree with you about the tracking, but also that tracking does not work for everyone.

Figuring out what works for each of us is part of the project. And: I'm thinking I could increase my protein quite a bit . . . not close to your levels, and protein does increase satiety for me too.

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ANDALEX 11/8/2011 5:08PM

    i totally dig the numbers, too. someday maybe i'll wean myself off of them, but for now it helps me feel like i know what's going on. not to control necessarily...just to be aware.

thank you for sharing!

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DDOORN 11/8/2011 3:02PM

    Numbers and I are working on a happy middle ground...lol! Am definitely learning that I've got to pay more attention to numbers than I really WANT to if I want the results I want, though!


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Rules for Humans #11 There is no right or wrong, but there are consequences.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Rule 11: There is no right or wrong, but there are consequences.
Moralizing doesn't help. Judgements only hold the patterns in place. Just do your best.

Ha. Finally another topic I can easily relate back to fitness issues.

This principle works very well with food choices. You can eat whatever you want. There should be no guilt associated with food. Just awareness about what youíre doing.

There is a woman in my Tae Kardio class who professes a love of donuts. Last week she announced that sheíd eaten six pumpkin-flavored Dunkin Donuts over the course of the week. And gained 2 pounds. She said she was there to work those donuts back off.

I went and looked up the nutrition facts on those. One pumpkin donut there is 340 calories (19g fat, 38g carbs, 19g sugar, 3g protein). Six of them is 2040 calories, which is less than a pound of fat. It is likely her gain was water and/or other foods.

In Tae Kardio I burn about 150 calories per session. To work off 6 donuts it would take 13 sessions (more than a month of 3 sessions per week).

My point here is not that donuts are bad. I personally love carrot cake (with real cream cheese frosting) and I plan on eating some at Thanksgiving for my birthday. I can eat these things if I want to. There is nothing inherently bad or good about them.

However, choosing to eat them will involve consequences. I need to measure what Iím having and be aware of how it fits into the rest of my daily and weekly nutrition.

If I choose eat a higher than usual dose of fat and sugar that means Iíll have less calories left for protein.

And those things affect how I feel. Not guilt-wise, but health-wise. Sugar and starch set off cravings for me. When I eat that birthday cake I need to be ready to fight some serious urges to binge in the following 24-48 hours. And I need to figure out how Iím going to get the usual 150g of protein per day that my body seems to like.

Maybe itíll mean I eat a little less on the days surrounding Thanksgiving to keep my average calories under 2000. Maybe itíll mean just taking the hit and stalling out for a a week on my way back down to goal.

Either way, Iím going to have my cake and Iím going to eat it too. And I will deal with the consequences before and/or afterward.

For the past 2 weeks I have commented on the Rules for Being Human. I like their sensible approach and now that I'm transitioning back into kayaking and training for kayaking it seems like a good time to revisit them.

To see all of the blog posts I wrote in this series, go here:

You can see all of the rules by themselves, here: rules4humans.com

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    So true...went to lunch at BJ's Brewhouse with the hub today and could not find any nutritional info on that restaurant. SO...I went with what is typically lower in calories along with a garden salad. I had flatbready Margherita pizza...I ate half, but I commented to my hub how I COULD eat the whole thing. You are correct, there isn't anything WRONG with the pizza, but there would be consequences on the other side of eating it all...consequences that I was not willing to pay. Now I am thankful I didn't give in to my compulsion...I am changing. That is a good thing!

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DDOORN 11/8/2011 8:55AM

    "Consequences" can be such a helpful way to transform our choices from guilt-inducing toward rational planning, from careening out-of-control toward having a firm grip on the wheel and taking charge of our "rig."

I don't always succeed with this, but that's all part of the learning curve...! :-)


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WATERMELLEN 11/7/2011 8:10PM

    Knowing in advance what the consequences are likely to be -- eg serious food cravings when I indulge in pizza or other simple carbs -- and being prepared to cope with them: that's the ticket for sure.

I expect that you will enjoy every mouthful of that carrot cake with cream cheese frosting . . . and that you will not whinge as you battle the cravings that follow. That was part of the planning . . . emoticon . . . . although maybe not the favourite part!

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ANDALEX 11/7/2011 7:02PM

    i've been trying to capture that exact attitude-consequences, not judgment. some days i'm more successful than others, perhaps. it's made me feel better about having ice cream for breakfast now and then, though :) i just choose to fit the rest of my day's food around that choice.

i am curious about your 150 gm of protein deal. how do you get all that in? how did you discover that made you feel better?

great blog! thank you!

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VHALKYRIE 11/7/2011 6:04PM

    I don't feel guilt for things I eat anymore. Exercise is no longer a punishment for when I 'cheated' or when I ate cake. I used to dread the holidays because of the inevitable weight gain. Now that I know how to manage what I eat, I am going into the holidays guilt free. I'll simply eat less mashed potatoes, stuffing, corn and pie than I used to. If I go back for seconds, I'll have more turkey, instead.

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FISHPOND7 11/7/2011 5:34PM

    Liked your blog today. I can identify with this:
"And those things affect how I feel. Not guilt-wise, but health-wise. Sugar and starch set off cravings for me. When I eat that birthday cake I need to be ready to fight some serious urges to binge in the following 24-48 hours." Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one who can't deal normally with sugar and starch. I'll try to get some inspiration from someone in the same boat I'm in.

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Rules for Humans #10 You always get what you want.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Rule 10: You always get what you want.
Your subconscious rightfully determines what energies, experiences, and people you attract - therefore, the only foolproof way to know what you want is to see what you have. There are no victims, only students.

This reminds me of Rule 9 (Your life is up to you), but in a more subtle way; I naturally tend to put my energy toward things that Iím interested in, and delaying on other things, even if subconsciously.

When Iím agitated or procrastinating about something it usually has an effect on how I see the world. And that effect can sometimes last beyond my momentary frustration. Not only am I likely to make mistakes and physically stumble while distracted by my own feelings, but I might be impatient with other people even though it has nothing to do with them. And then I might wonder why they are tiptoeing me around the next time I see them? DOH.

I have a spin instructor who also teaches the body pump class I go to. She has has a consistently sunny, upbeat attitude. People respond to that. And in return I am sure they are more positive and warm toward her than they might be otherwise. I think she actually creates the social environment that surrounds her by choosing to interact in this way. Her life has not been perfect in the past - she has overcome things and made a choice to embrace the world the way she does. And she benefits from her own kindness mirrored back by others.

For the past 2 weeks I have commented on the Rules for Being Human. I like their sensible approach and now that I'm transitioning back into kayaking and training for kayaking it seems like a good time to revisit them.

To see all of the blog posts I wrote in this series, go here:

You can see all of the rules by themselves, here: rules4humans.com

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SALSIFY 11/8/2011 7:50AM

    It's a wonderful thing to be blessed with a sunny disposition. I'm pleasant to people, but I'm more in touch with my inner curmudgeon than I ought to be.

This rule reminds me of the quote by Sophocles from Oedipus Rex: "The keenest sorrow is to recognize ourselves as the sole cause of all our adversities."

It also reminds me of the Rolling Stones song: 'You can't always get what you want.' - so now I'm confused - lol.

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WATERMELLEN 11/7/2011 8:12PM

    Yes indeed: if I've got it, it's because at some level I wanted it: and if I don't think I want what I've got, I'd better think hard about how it came to be that I have it . . .

Your spin instructor sounds like a wonderful role model in more ways than one!

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KAZINMICH 11/7/2011 3:35PM

    I like Fishponds Corollary! That's one of my biggest downfalls. I need to be more patient and recognize the overall picture and not the instant gratification!

In person I always strive to be upbeat, happy, cheerful, nice, pleasant, helpful, to everyone I meet and interact with. It does really go a long way. I need to remember to let this shine through in my online life and my home life as well. Sometimes I forget that because I let my guard down at home and am able to complain freely there.

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KHAYNES_WDE 11/7/2011 3:22PM

    Ouch! This one stings a bit...

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FISHPOND7 11/7/2011 12:36PM

    The corollary to this rule must be: The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what we want most for what we want most in the present moment.

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DDOORN 11/7/2011 12:34PM

    So a corollary might be: You *usually* get what you give...!

Pay it forward!


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MISSYREDHAIR 11/7/2011 12:34PM

  I agreed with everything I read I will have to follow these posts thanks!

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