Sunday, August 30, 2009
As I start this entry, at about ten minutes to midnight on August 29, it's almost exactly two years since I joined Sparkpeople. And I do mean almost EXACTLY. I joined at around 11 p.m. on August 29, 2007, depressed with myself for having spent yet another evening shovelling in the snacks. (Yeah, I'm the kind of person who makes life-changing decisions at this time of night!)
Seems like as good a time as any to take a look at where I am on my fitness journey.
Huh. I guess I could start with that phrase, "fitness journey." I got that concept here at Spark. Before, I was always more concerned with the numbers on the scale, and not so much the other aspects of living a healthy life. Now, I want to be fit, too. I don't just want to wear a certain size (although I won't kid you, that's nice), I want to be able to do stuff.
And I CAN do stuff -- stuff I couldn't do before. One of the biggest thrills I've gotten since starting my Sparkjourney was relearning how to ride a bicycle. I hadn't ridden a bicycle in more than thirty years, when I summoned up my nerve and asked my bike-loving husband to coach me. I was TERRIFIED at first! I fell a few times, didn't break any bones or die , and kept going. Now, it's one of the staples of my cardio exercise program. And it's FUN. Best of all, I can ride with my son, and even venture on to bike trails with him and my husband.
Another huge thrill was learning to roller skate. My coach there was my young son, more patient than I would have thought he (or any preadolescent) could be. Again, I was terrified. Again, I fell down. Again, I got up. And I learned how to do something that had always scared me as a child and teen. At nearly 50 years of age. Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks, eh! And what an astonishing feeling, to be the old dog who LEARNS one!
Other joys have centered around simply having the energy and/or the endurance to do things I've wanted to do, but either couldn't manage, or couldn't manage for long. I can take long walks, even hikes. I can play pickup soccer with my family. When I hear a song I like, I can get up and dance! One day, for cardio, I danced to most of the soundtrack from "Mamma Mia". And it felt WONDERFUL!
And yeah, I do like wearing "that certain size." After all those years of shopping in plus-size departments and stores for larger women, it is just a flat-out pleasure to go into a regular department store and get something off the rack. It feels awesome to pick out a "medium" and try it on and have it, not only fit, but actually look good!
I have to say, though, I still haven't mastered all the skills I need to keep me on the old "fitness path." Eating is becoming an issue, again. I hit my goal weight almost a year ago (not long after my first "Sparkiversary"), hung onto it for a while -- and slowly started to creep upward. I'm 17 pounds above my "low tide." Now, I know some of that is muscle; I can see it in the mirror. But my jeans are getting tight, which is not something caused by muscle last I checked. And I know I've been letting the evening snacking get out of hand, again. And maybe being less careful than I could be about portion control at meals.
First thing to do is, take off enough weight (in a healthy way, of course!) so that my clothes fit comfortably again. Next thing to do is, work on INTERNALIZING the good lessons I've learned about food and eating. BUILD those healthy lifetime habits, with food as I've done with exercise. Keep them.
I've come too far on this journey to let it get derailed now.
Happy Sparkiversary to me!
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
In the wake of my Richard Simmons "debacle" (I discussed it in my last blog entry. Short form: used to disdain him, then found out I love his exercise DVDs), I'm reluctant to admit this. But guess what? I was wrong again.
A few weeks ago, I signed up for a workplace walking challenge. I didn't really expect to get much out of it; I've been walking for exercise ever since I joined SparkPeople, back in August 2007, so why would I need more encouragement? But there were some minor incentive prizes, and a chance for a little recognition, so I figured, might as well sign up. And a week ago, we were issued pedometers and the four-week challenge started.
Now, I have to say, I wasn't totally off-base: most of the time this past week, I didn't really have to do anything out of the ordinary to make my goals. I was just walking the way, and at the times, I normally walked; the only difference was wearing the pedometer and recording the number of steps. But there were at least a couple of days when being part of that challenge DID change what I did.
Take today, for example: day off, strength-training day. I walk a lot on the job, and I don't typically do cardio on my strength days, so today I probably wouldn't have done much walking at all. Indeed, at 5 p.m. I had fewer than 1000 steps recorded. And my son wanted to go to the library, where of course, there would have been more sitting around.
Well, I did want to go to the library. But I didn't want to go in to work tomorrow and record such puny numbers for my day's efforts. So I bargained: well, okay, we'll go to the library for an hour, but after that we need to get out for a while, because I've been in the house all day. And the bargain was made.
Well, by the time we got back home from all of that, I was up to 4600 steps. Daily goal for this week: 7000. I was still low. So after Junior went to bed, I put on a walking DVD, and knocked off another quick 2000. Then I put on a DVD I wanted to watch, and walked in place another 1000 steps. Over my goal. I win!
The grand irony was: before today, I actually already HAD enough steps recorded to meet the weekly goal. I just didn't want to miss getting credit for a full day's walking.
So, um, about that thing I had going in my head about me being too smart and too stubborn and too this and too that to let some arbitrary challenge change my behavior? Yeah. Not so much. While I was thinking up that flattering estimate of myself, I forgot to factor in just how competitive I am.
Though I normally hate being wrong (and can BS a blue streak to prove how I'm actually NOT wrong, from a certain point of view), this is another case where I don't really mind it so much. Among other things, I've already learned how I was missing some easy and obvious opportunities to get off my duff -- and to get my son off HIS duff, as well.
And it's only the first week of the challenge, so I may not be done learning yet.
Okay with me.
Thursday, May 07, 2009
Well, I guess I don't really think I'm a dork -- or at least, if I am, then I'm okay with it! But you know, I suspect the younger woman I used to be would have thought I am.
During the winter, having done an awful lot of Leslie Sansone's "WalkAerobics," I got a little bored. Also, I got to wondering if, even though I rotated DVDs regularly, I really wasn't getting enough variety in my workouts. After all, there may be different combinations of movements on each DVD, but they're basically the same moves.
Being -- like most of us -- on a budget, I didn't want to buy exercise DVDs only to learn that I couldn't do the moves (I'm not overly coordinated and I have a touch of arthritis in my knees) or just didn't like the routines. And neither my budget nor my irregular work schedule (and other responsibilities) lent themselves to my joining a gym. So I started borrowing exercise DVDs and tapes from my local library.
I tried Pilates a couple of times, but was defeated by the fact that I can't do a simple roll-up. I resolved to work on that, but decided to try some other stuff in the meantime. One tape turned out to be for women who'd just had a baby. Well, that was more than a decade after the fact for me! An over-50s tape was too easy. A ten-minute workout DVD was mostly too high-impact -- I could only do one routine out of five without significant pain in my knees.
Then I saw a Richard Simmons "Sweatin' to the Oldies" tape. And I thought, "Oh, you're KIDDING." Because I'm plenty old enough to remember when Richard Simmons first hit the scene. And I remember thinking way-back-when, when I was a little arrogant and mostly in shape, what a hyperactive little twerp he was. And, standing there at the library, I could hardly believe that, after two decades of disdain, I was actually thinking about exercising with the guy.
But I was running out of tapes and DVDs to pick from. And there was something appealing about the pictures on the tape sleeve, of fat and thin and so-not-models people dancing and looking happy. So I picked up the tape, brought it home, and plugged it into the player.
And about halfway through the routine, I started laughing. Because Ms. Too-Cool-for-Richard-Simmons was having FUN. A lot of fun, actually. Simmons' style is very different from Leslie Sansone's -- he doesn't direct you constantly; he demonstrates the moves and expects you to figure them out. (Though I have to say that Leslie Sansone's oft-repeated admonition not to stop moving if you don't get the moves quite "right" turned out to be useful here! Especially the first time or two.) And he is clearly enjoying himself; pleasure and high energy practically radiate off him. They're surprisingly contagious. Most of the people doing the routine with him are "real" people, with imperfect bodies like many of the rest of us have. Those people look like they're having fun, too. And by golly, so was I. It was a surprisingly great way to work up a sweat.
Well, I used that tape for the whole week I had it out. And I borrowed it again. And I went on to the second "Oldies" tape. And now I've got the original tape out again. And there's a 20th-anniversary DVD at my local supermarket that looks like a pretty appealing purchase.
I still do Leslie Sansone routines, to be sure. Quite often, actually, and they're more fun now that they're not my only bad-weather cardio choice.
But I do enjoy sweatin' with Richard. And sometimes I still get a bit of a snicker out of the fact that I'm having so much fun doing something I used to look down on. I do think 20-something Bren would have thought her nearly-50-year-old counterpart to be a bit of a dork. But you know something, younger self? I think you seriously needed to loosen up.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Tonight my husband, son, and I took my in-laws out to dinner at a nearby Golden Corral restaurant, to celebrate their birthdays (said birthdays being near, and within nine days of each other). You know, the restaurant that advertises itself as having a half-dozen or more different entrees and dozens of sides, all for one low price? Yeah. Well, I guess I got my money's worth.
To be sure, it wasn't as big a disaster, overeating-wise, as it could have been. I did start out with a lovely large salad, with spinach and cucumbers and grape tomatoes and a nice fat-free dressing. And followed it up with half of a baked chicken breast (my son ate the other half). And a nice bit of baked Pacific salmon, and some spinach, and some red seedless grapes.
Doesn't sound too bad, does it? That's because I haven't mentioned the bread pudding. And the carrot cake with cream-cheese frosting. And the ice cream, with the marshmallows, and the peanut bits, and the gummy bears.
Yeah. NOW it sounds bad. And frankly, it doesn't feel too good, either. Oh, it tasted good going down, got to admit that. But before we got home from the restaurant, I felt bloated. And three-and-a-half hours later, I STILL feel bloated. It's a good thing I had done my exercises before we went out, because I don't think I could have got through them afterward. Which would, of course, have only compounded the problem.
I know it's one night's indulgence, and as long as I eat normally (in the healthy, moderate way I've learned since coming to SparkPeople) and continue to exercise as I have been, the effects will be short-lived. What I'd like to know is WHY I do this to myself. Fortunately for me, I have a pretty good idea of where I can look for ideas on how to head it off -- or at least moderate things -- next time. But why do I do it at all?
Monday, April 20, 2009
I was just over at the DailySpark Blog, reading an article about a certain convenience food, and the comments which followed. I hadn't gotten far in the comments when I came across one that read, basically, "well, I used to eat junk like this but now I never let nasty preprocessed foods cross my lips."
Well, my own lips were pressed together, and underneath them my teeth clenched. And in my head was the thought, "Why did you even read this article?"
What annoyed me is that I see this sort of comment all the time, on any article that deals with any sort of processed food, or fast food, or frozen food. Article on Subway? Yeah, people are telling me how they'd never in a gazillion years consume all those carbs and sodium. One about Lean Cuisine frozen dinners? Oh my DEAR, all the sodium and preservatives! How could you even THINK about it? Especially when it's so easy to just whip up a lovely little fresh (insert recipe name here)....
Okay, I get it: some people are more particular about their eating than I am. If that works for you, fine. Who knows, maybe someday I'll go that route myself. Someday when I don't have to come home from work and get dinner on the table and get back out the door for any one of a dozen different kid-oriented activities. Right now, if I hit my ranges for calorie intake and at least most of the major nutrients, I'm happy. And honestly, that's worked FINE for me -- I've lost more than ninety pounds and am feeling strong and healthy.
So what I'm wondering is, WHY are these nutritional purists even reading the articles on lunch meat, and fast-food restaurants, and frozen dinners? Much less feeling obligated to share their insights with we less-enlightened types? Because to me a lot of the time their posts come off as an attempt at moral superiority. "Look at me, I'm eating MUCH better than you are."
Personally, I'm thinking if all of us didn't have at least some eating issues, probably we wouldn't be here. So spare me the nose-in-the-air routine, okay? If you see an article on a topic that doesn't apply to you, or that you don't care for, you can always apply that well-known Internet maxim: "Don't like, don't read."
Or at least, try to resist the urge to lecture.
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