Friday, May 20, 2011
Zumba. You've heard the talk and I know you're thinking that this is just the next Tae Bo, or let's go back even more - the next Sweatin' to the Oldies (yes, I did that). But let's just lay down the doubt and see what Zumba really is, and what it has to offer.
"Zumba is an aerobic fitness program created by Miami-based dancer and choreographer Beto Perez and two entrepreneurs, Alberto Perlman and Alberto Aghion. It originated in Colombia in the 1990s and is taught by some 20,000 instructors in 35 countries."
Source: wikipedia, of course ;)
But..what IS Zumba??
"zumba - combines Latin and international music in dance routines featuring aerobic and fitness interval training done to a combination of fast and slow rhythms."
So, Zumba is dancing?
Alright, I hear your excuses...let's get those out of the way right now.
I can't dance! I have two left feet.
Oh, come on. You know it isn't about dance skill. This is a fitness class before anything else. The dancing is just the fun part to it. There are more than a few people in my class that I would be embarrassed to take to a nightclub with me. People of every age group and ability have crossed my Zumba path. Sure, some steps are difficult, but if you don't get them - who cares? There is no dance recital. You are not on stage to perform. You are not being judged or critiqued for your ability, or lack thereof. And, added bonus? Zumba can actually help make you a better dancer if you're only just adequate to start with. Yes, I have popped out with Zumba moves out on the dance floor of clubs, one in Vegas while on vacation...and there is plenty of booty shaking in the car!
Don't let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game. Besides, there are no strikes in Zumba. :)
But I don't like Latin music.
Yes, Zumba has its roots in Latin music, and you will get a few salsa lessons during class without even realizing it. But many of the instructors I have come across use popular songs and make up appropriate routines to them. I can't even tell you how fun it is to dance to Thriller every October, or to hear many of the songs you hear in class on the radio later (hence the booty shaking in the car). There is a wide mix of different music being played, a lot of different dance styles. Ironically, my favorite are the "Bollywood" type routines. No clue why, but that music just makes me want to shake my hips and pound it like no other.
...fat is often used here, but other excuses pop up too. Old? Uncoordinated? What's the excuse you're sticking to today? In my small classroom we have people of every shape and size, male and female, ages from 10 to 70. There is no target audience beyond people who want to get active, stay fit, and/or lose weight...and have fun doing it.
I have bad knees/back/hips, etc.
Okay, first I have to say - talk to your doctor. I would never tell you to go against doctor's orders (and with my recent sidelining from Zumba because of a back problem, I certainly understand)...but you have to ask yourself - are you making those excuses or is there really something physically that keeps you from doing it? My instructor has broken her foot and had multiple surgeries on it, and she's still there as soon as she gets an all clear to go back. When I started, my knees were crap and I tried to do everything they did and I popped out my knee in my first half hour. But there is one word you need to know, learn, and love -- MODIFY. You can modify any part of a Zumba routine. When I went back after my first session, in order to protect my knee I did not jump, turn, twist my knees in any way that might exacerbate my problem. No one looked at me funny, and I learned that I wasn't the only one modifying. In fact, it's encouraged. The point is not to get hurt, the point is to have fun and stay fit. Rule #3 from my first instructor -- "When all else fails, just shake it." "Shake WHAT?" I asked her. "ANYTHING!" Keep moving in whatever way you can.
I need to mention something else. A couple months ago I got to see a woman in action whose lower body keeps her from Zumbaing to the extent you see most people. She is actually an instructor, and a famous one at that. How can she teach Zumba? She does it from a wheeled chair, moving about the room, putting 110% effort into every upper body move she can do without injuring herself further. (Google Diane Felkenes from Ohio)
It's too expensive!
With the outflow of new Zumba instructors popping up everywhere, prices vary for classes. The one in my town is 3 measly bucks per class. Look around and find the right priced class for you. OR....there are Zumba DVDs and Zumba games now (try the one on Kinect...I want to!!) that you can do from the comfort of your home. Still aren't sure? Try a YouTube video.
It won't work for me. or... It isn't enough of a workout.
My Zumba instructor and I talk about this ALL the time. Zumba gives what you put into it. I'm not stupid enough to think it will work for everyone, but I know anyone can try it. The skinniest person in our class (seriously, she's tiny) competed with me in an "inches lost" competition last year. We all joked that we'd do hers by inches gained (hopefully from muscle) because we couldn't see her getting ANY smaller. The woman (one of the oldest in our class, btw) actually LOST an inch in the two month contest. We were surprised, but not completely shocked. If you need more of a workout, there are modifications you can do to make each move MORE difficult. Sit deeper in squats, turn, twist more, shake your hips harder. It's all about how much energy you expend moving your body.
So, I know the big question is -- why am I writing this? Yes, I love Zumba. It has helped me lose the almost 100 pounds I've lost since April. More than that, it's like a family.
Tonight I will be doing the Zumbathon to benefit the American Cancer Society. Groups of Zumba instructors will be on hand so we can all get a taste of the different styles around. A local popular morning show radio DJ is going to be DJing our event. It's going to be 2 blissful hours of laughter, dance, fun and shakin' our thangs! Too often I hear people's fears about joining in on things like Zumba, and it makes me sad...because it could be just another weapon in your arsenal of "get fit" activities...if you just give it a try. For people in WV - come to Ripley HS tonight before 7pm and pay the 25$ donation fee and see what it's all about. If you don't like it, you can leave early and not feel bad because your donation will still go to a great cause. (Oh, and bring a canned good! -- I MUST remember to do this!)
Tonight will be my triumphant return to Zumba after weeks away. I'm nervous I've lost all of my ability...but I know how to make adjustments. I get to see my very own Zumba instructor up there, as well as my former Zumba instructor too!
I was nervous I wouldn't get the go ahead from my PT to do this tonight. But now that I'm clear to go? I cannot wait!! For the love of Zumba, I'M BACK!!! :)
Source: our Zumbathon instructors! :)
Monday, May 16, 2011
I arrived late this morning for my PT appointment. Like 20 minutes late. I felt awful but getting up this morning was a real chore (not surprising that I'm not feeling well AT ALL today). Still, they told me to go on back. As soon as I saw Mike I walked right over to his now beaming face, "How do you feel?" he asked. I hadn't seen him last week as he had been out on Monday, so it had been two weeks since our last meeting, and in between that time and this one, something had changed.
"Better," I said. I told him about my back popping horribly on a Wednesday or Thursday morning week before last. I told him that Saturday I had run pain-free (all the while hoping he wouldn't scold me for even trying as I explained that I had hiked for a long time first and hadn't felt any pain so I thought I'd try). His smile just got bigger and bigger and he said, "I thought you were walking better."
I hadn't noticed I'd been walking off. I try to hide it every time I have pain because I don't want people to see the fat girl limping or having any difficulty walking and think that it's just because I'm fat and can't walk. (Man, I live too much in other people's heads, don't I?) Apparently the PT knew...and he saw a change. I stood up straighter and thought about it. He was right, I felt better and the walk over to him hadn't hurt at all.
I went through my 5 minutes on the treadmill. I did my 30 wall squats. I did my 10 back extensions. Then he tested out the true nature of my "healing" by having me pull my knees into my chest 10 times on each side. Pressure? Yes. Pain? No. I couldn't stop smiling.
"I think this will be your last visit," he told me. He credited me for all the work I had done, faithfully following through on my homework PT stretches. Making an effort every time I was there to be honest about my pain. He told me I had "cured" myself and he felt proud and happy that he didn't have to manipulate my back to get it there. And I felt proud too.
Before I left, after my 15 minute ice and electro therapy session, he asked if I had any questions. I did!
1. How did this happen? Do we know? And/or how can I keep it from happening again?
He called me a creep! *lol* Naw, he said they call it a "creep" and then immediately said, "I'm not calling YOU a creep though!" and smiled. Basically he thinks over time (weeks, months, years even), a disc in my back started creeping out. And then BAM! the pain came. He explained that I could keep it in check my making sure my posture was good as much as possible, by doing back extension stretches any time I had been sitting or otherwise had been lingering with bad curved posture for any length of time. He said to keep doing my press-ups for a month or so, and then whenever or ifever the pain returned or started to feel stiff, to do those again because *I* had all the tools now to correct this problem and readjust my back.
2. I told him that I wanted to start running again, that I didn't want to go crazy and go right back to 3 times a week right out of the gate because I knew I wasn't completely out of the woods, but I asked if he thought it would be alright to do it once a week for a while until I felt better.
He smiled his big smile again and told me he thought that would be fine. He seemed proud that I knew not to go right back to full-on running all the time. (Hey, I've learned a thing or two here at Spark.)
Finally, he told me that the only way to keep this in check was, "to keep doing what you're doing now. Stay active, exercise. When you run, keep your posture in check, if it starts to fall, stop running. When you lift, lift with your legs, not your back." I can't tell you how good it feels to have someone recognize that *I*, all 318 pounds of me, am an ACTIVE person.
So, yes, we broke up. He threw out my electrode pads that went on my back once a week to send little tingles of shock into my back while I was on ice, but told me he was hanging onto my chart, just in case...at least for a little while.
And I feel like the answer was SO DANG SIMPLE! Seriously, 5 minute walk on treadmill, followed by 30 wall squats, followed by 10 back extensions, sometimes 10 chair extensions, then press-ups and (like any baby) belly time. We did that once a week for the past, what? four weeks. Then every day I would do 30 press-ups, the last 3 with belly sags, in 3 sets of 10. I've gotten into a habit of doing these in bed just before I go to sleep every night (and I actually think it helps me sleep). And now I have the tools so that if it DOES happen again, I'm not wandering aimlessly for months on end, complaining about the pain and how it's stopping me from doing everything I want to do and crying and basically wanting to quit. I know how to fix it. And if that fix doesn't work, I know who to call.
So, yep. My physical therapist broke up with me. But I'm not sad. This means I can run again on Saturday. It means I can Zumba on Friday night at the Relay for Life Zumbathon (as long as I get my instructor the paperwork and 20 bucks by tomorrow night! *lol*). It means I get to get a little of my life back!
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Weight last week: 320.2
I saw that weight again yesterday morning when I hopped on the scale and I thought to myself, "What can I do to break through this?" The sun was shining outside. It was hot, but not too hot. Suddenly the thought came to me, "What if the lake is getting warmer?"
We have a lake at a state park that's about 30-40 minutes away up across the border in Ohio. It's a quiet park out in the boonies so we don't have a crapton of overcrowding to worry about. We haven't been since last summer, but I've already decided that my free weekends with sunshine will likely be spent there hiking, rowing, and swimming. So when it was so nice yesterday, I figured it was time to make the trek and see if the lake was warming up. The plan was: The Hupp Family Biathlon. Hiking the trails followed by a dip in the lake. The kids were excited, I convinced the Hubs, and we were out of the house by 1:30pm.
When Hubs asked why, I told him - "I'm hoping if I stay out the house, away from food, doing something active today I might, just MIGHT see 319 tomorrow. I NEED this." He understood and off we went, dressed partly in swimming gear, with our running shoes on and our sandals packed. I wore my bathing suit under my shirt and jean shorts and as soon as we got there we hit the Lake View Trail. Totally completed, the trail consists of 2.6 miles in a loop, but we never finish the loop appropriately, actually coming out into the campground and walking back on paved roads, which, it seems, lengthens our route.
Hiking started out great. I could tell how much I've changed from 1 and 2 summers ago by my pace, stamina, and willingness to tackle some of the more difficult parts of the trail. After a while we started hitting really serious challenges. From mud pits, to slippery rocks across streams that flow during high rains into the lake below. I had to take it slow and steady at times, worried about my knee still, but I tackled each one, the kids ahead of me, Hubs behind.
The first real challenge was a huge mud pit leading into one of these creek-flow type areas. There seemed no logical way around, so I started going through, sinking into the mud and sliding around. I tried going left and right, I tried everything I could think of. I was there for a good while trying to figure out which way to go, using a walking stick, using my hands - nothing worked. Finally, I told everyone to back up and said, "That's it, I'm just going for it." I was hoping only that if I fell it wouldn't break anything. I took one step and then another, not thinking about the slipping and sliding I was doing. I just kept going, and it felt a lot like skating. My balance kept me standing and eventually I reached the end and everyone cheered, high-fived, and laughed at my "mud skating" ability. New Olympic sport, y'all! *lol*
I got pricked by thorns and tried to avoid nettles. It seemed like nobody had used the trail for a while. Before long we came across fallen tree after fallen tree - each time I assessed the situation and found my way through, squeezing through, over, under, around. Each time I refused to let myself think it was impossible. I just kept thinking, "Just get over this...we're nearly there." Over an hour later, we found our way into the campgrounds just as the rain started to fall. (It had been thundering for a while when we were under the cover of trees.) Suddenly, and without warning to any of the boys, I took off on a jog. Catching downhills and straightaways, stopping before running up any hills because I know that can set off my injury worse than anything. I was surprised with how easily my body seemed to accept running after so long away. In the last part of the paved road out of the campground is a large, long downhill section and I figured I'd go until I felt I couldn't go anymore.
I ran, my shorts riding up, gauging my hip/back and how everything felt. What I felt was strength in my body, my legs pulsing and pushing me forward. I felt all the muscles I had been working so hard on during my lifting segments and felt the new power under the layers of fat still waiting to be gone. I felt power, strength, I found my stride. My breathing was hilarious to me as I found that relaxing my mouth helped me concentrate on my legs more. I was tired, but not exhausted...and before I knew it I had run down the entire hill. Sure, Hubs had been faster and got to the car first, but even he commented, "Man! I didn't know you'd be right behind me like that!"
It felt great. I was flushed all over. I was tired but could have continued if needed. I hopped in the car and grabbed the sandwiches I had packed for us and ate with that same feeling of, "Food tastes MUCH better when you earn it!" Everyone agreed. And when I got home, I didn't collapse on the couch. After breaking my already too big swimsuit, I decided to run to Wal-Mart and see what they had in the way of size 22/24 swimsuits. Somehow I got distracted from that section, but just the fact that I still had the energy to go was saying something.
I slept well last night.
Oh, and this experiment of only eating when hungry is working out quite well. I think more now about whether I really want/need something. "Am I really hungry?" I don't eat with a "Whatever! Nothing is working anyhow!" attitude like I was before. I eat because I'm hungry and my body tells me that. I don't limit what kind of food, only the amounts according to how hungry I am. I bought chips yesterday at the store and ended up intuitively eating 1 serving and sharing the rest with the Hubs. I had a bit of sweet tea from McDonald's and still shared with Hubs. I even had pizza for dinner last night. 2 pieces instead of 4. And when I got hungry again 4 hours later I went back for just 1 piece, not 3. I log so I know what's up, but I'm working really hard to just understand my body and what it wants.
Today I'm sore, but happy as heck, because when I weighed this morning, I got:
I went back to the bedroom and thanked Hubs for our 2-mile hike and run. Even though we never made it to the lake because of the thunderstorm, I felt encouraged by my progress and by the increased stamina I have. Last time I did this same route I did not run at all and I felt completely spent by the time we got back. Time time, I felt energized and in love with myself and my body.
I did eventually ice my back and knee (which did pop yesterday during a non running pavement segment) and that seemed to help the healing process. I'm sore today, but not injured. My knee doesn't even really hurt that bad.
Goal for today?
Batch cooking and laundry.
SP Starting Weight: 416.2
Current Weight: 318.6
Total lost with SP: 97.6
Highest Weight: 466.6
Current Weight: 318.6
Total Lost: 148 pounds! :)
Friday, May 13, 2011
This striking words were "spoken" to me by SparkFriend BUTTERCUPP77. I wanted to believe her. I truly wanted to. And I've been questioning this same thing for a while now. As I've watched my girl SUGIRL06 move onto a maintaining phase that includes intuitive eating and mostly ignoring the scale, I wondered if she really had something there.
Look, I have been considered "overweight" or even "fat" or "obese" since about the age of 5. Anyone who sees me would label me as unhealthily overweight. And I know from experience that most that don't know me would assume that I'm lazy, that I don't exercise much, if at all, that I eat twice or three times as much as a "normal" skinny person, and that the combination of poor diet + overeating + inactivity has both led to my obesity as well as my maintenance of a hefty 320 pounds. What has saddened me lately is that the recognition for my 90 pound weight loss has subsided as my numbers refuse to move again. Have I changed anything? Am I overeating all the time? Have I stopped exercising? Have I gone back to my old habits? No. Still, I feel the assumption from those around me (not Sparkers, of course, who have seen me struggle in all my blasted glory for the entire duration of 2011) that I have given up the fight and have, in some way, failed.
This week there have been several days that I have eaten a little more than my Spark levels call for. I'll admit that freely. What I won't admit is to any binges, any mental hunger, anything that is any sort of self-sabotage. Those nights I overate was either 1) because I was hungry after I should have been "done" for the day" or 2) days when I ate when I wasn't hungry because I "should" according to my plan.
Yesterday, my youngest son said to me, "Do you know what Logan hasn't done since 12:00?" I asked him what, afraid of what the tattling would be on this time. "Eat!" It was around 8pm and with the way his brother had reported this to me, I got scared. I turned to Logan, "Why aren't you eating?" Immediately I jumped to the conclusion that my son was starving himself because someone at school called him fat. (He's not. Yes, he has a belly and ample thighs - which he gets from my side of the thunder thigh family - but my son is not severely overweight or obese and should NOT be worried about being called "fat".) "Did someone at school say something to you that made you think you shouldn't eat tonight?" He looked at me, seemingly confused, and said, "My stomach just didn't seem to want to eat."
Interesting. Basically, my child just told me that he didn't eat because he wasn't hungry. And I heard myself tell him that sometimes we have to eat when we aren't hungry. WTF!?!?!? WTF did I just tell my son? Eat when you're NOT hungry? Where the EFF did I get that idea?
From dieting for the past 25 years is where. And now I'm starting to wonder if it isn't the most counter-productive biggest pile of bull I've ever been fed.
Eat when you are NOT hungry? WTF?! Haven't I been told by society that I got fat by eating when I wasn't really hungry? Weren't there times growing up when I cried because my father insisted that I finish the food on my plate, and I was forced to comply even though my stomach and brain both knew that I was full and had had enough. Wow! I've been fed this lie my entire life.
Suddenly, my entire year's progress came into view. I have NOT been eating intuitively. I eat all the time when I'm not hungry. I've even bragged that I can "train" my body to tell me when I'm hungry by setting it on a schedule of eating every 2.5-3 hours a day. But there are days when I'm not really hungry, but the time has come to eat again, and I tell myself, "Eat now or you'll be ravishing later and will make bad choices." WTF?!
And all this week, I've been forcing food down my throat during the day, ignoring both my brain and my stomach, just because my schedule and plan tell me "eat yogurt at 3pm"...not because my stomach said, "Phew! Ran out of energy down here! Could you please replenish the supply?" And then, somehow, I magically think that I can tell my stomach at 9pm that I am not allowed to be hungry because it's too close to bedtime and because I've already consumed my calories for the day. I tell my stomach to shut up and ignore the hunger pains and sometimes I go to bed early so I can forget that I'm hungry. Is it any wonder that my body and brain and stomach all seem confused? I'm sending a whole heck of a lot of mixed signals!
So when BUTTERCUPP77 said, "The scale is not an accurate measure of health" I wanted to believe her. I don't want to be the 320 pound woman who has lost an entire person since 2004 and yet is seen as a failure because she is still 320 pounds - way over the lower end of the obese range on any scale anyone ever measures. It just doesn't seem fair to me that the world considers me one way when I'm still active and eating healthier than most of my skinny friends and coworkers who are NEVER questioned about their weight, health, or activity level.
So I did some research online. I typed in those exact words in Google and came up with some interesting results of studies.
Those are pretty much BUTTERCUPP's words. "Weight is not an accurate measure of health." And it isn't about an opinion someone had. It's a study that was done and reported in The Archive of Internal Medicine. When comparing 4,500 adults, some skinny or "normal" and some "overweight" and even some "obese" it determined that many of the overweight and obese adults are actually healthier than those "normal" people. Please note that this blog was written in 2008 and reported in the NY Times. Why have I never heard about this? There have been whispers, but I never heard any of the studies. And while I knew that I lived a healthier lifestyle than some of my skinny friends, I still always considered them healthier, and figured they would live longer because they were of "normal" weight.
Let me give you one snippet that just about blew my mind. "Losing weight makes it more likely you'll die sooner." WTF?!!?!? I read this whole article nearly in tears. Am I actually HARMING myself by losing weight? Certainly that can't be true. I've been told time and time and time again that restricting my diet and exercising will lead to a longer life. Seriously, that's what I've been fed for more than two decades. "You're fat = you will die sooner" has been ingrained in the recesses of my brain since about the age of 8. Could it be wrong?
Also discussed is this never-ending myth that fat people are fat because they eat more than "normal" people. I know this is a load of BS in some cases. I have a friend growing up who could have doubled for Kate Moss. A waif of a thing, whenever we ate together, she took down 3 times the amount I did. She never gained an ounce. She's still the same waif-like creature she always was. We all know that some people hit the metabolic jackpot at birth, and I certainly know that I'm not one of those people, but you hardly ever hear research that suggests that we all basically eat the same and STILL some get fat and some don't.
The case that hounded me the most? The prison experiment. They increased the caloric intake of prisoners over a period of time, expecting them to gain 20-40 pounds on this whole equation of calories in vs. calories out we've been touting for years. One guy consumed 10,000 calories in a day. You know what happened? Sure, he gained a few pounds, but then his metabolism went into overdrive and the weight gain stopped. And when he went back to eating regularly, those few pounds melted off and he went back to HIS "normal" weight.
How about this snippet?
"Do fat people who lose weight, do so by taking on “normal” eating habits? Some studies indicate that a high proportion of the few fat people who keep weight off, do so not by “normalizing” their eating habits, but by becoming effectively anorexic"
Wow. Okay then.
So what does that mean? I'll be 320 pounds forever? Should I just accept this fact and move on with my life?
In a way, I'm thinking - Yes.
Now don't send out the search party for me just yet. I'm not saying I'm going back to breakfasts, lunches and dinners of McDonald's Sausage McMuffins and Big Macs. What I'm saying is this.
What if I forget that the scale exists? What if I stop monitoring myself altogether? What would happen? What's more, why would I ever think that it's a good idea to ignore my body's cues that it is either hungry or full? Doesn't my body know better than me what energy it needs and when to sustain the body's functions? What if I just ate healthy foods when my body told me to? What if I followed my own set rules for healthy foods, but only ate when my body indicated that it was necessary?
I know some of you are thinking, "Well, DUH!" But, let's be honest, I NEVER learned to eat properly as a child. Until the age of 4 I was good. I let my mom know when I was hungry. She often tells me that people asked if I was anorexic. (AT AGE FOUR, PEOPLE!!) She said, "I'd call you in for lunch and you'd just stay out on the swings and say you weren't really hungry." I ate when I was hungry, not when I was told I should. I ate as much as I felt was needed to sustain the energy level I needed to play outside and perform the tasks of the day, and then I stopped. At age five, my father came home and insisted that we work on his schedule. He picked the meals and when they would be eaten and how much would be consumed - and you either conformed with the restrictions he set for you or you risked the belt. I made the connection between his arrival at home and my immediate increase in weight a long time ago. The weight came on slowly at first, but after a while, it was unstoppable. And most of my family is overweight or obese, so it stands to reason that I had all the factors built in me to make a fat person, but I needed the right system forced upon me to gain that status.
So if the scale and/or weight is not an accurate measure of health...what is?
What is "health" anyways?
Basically, it's soundness of body and mind, being free from diseases, and this one word - vigor - pops up in the definition as well.
Vigor is energy. Active energy, strength, force, fortitude. "Exuberant and resilient strength of body or mind." or "Substantial effective energy or force."
Free from diseases? Check. I have brought down my cholesterol levels to healthy levels. I have good levels of the good stuff and low levels of the bad stuff. My resting pulse is around 60 = good. (Normal range = 60-100. I'm actually on the LOW end, which indicates a higher level of "heart health".) My blood pressure is pretty good, although sometimes my bottom number is a little elevated, but never high enough to cause too much concern. As far as I know, my triglycerides are down to healthy again. I don't have diabetes and the doctor no longer seems concerned that I'm going to get it.
What about vigor? Active energy? Well, my husband says too often that I won't stop moving. On my day off on Wednesday, I was so impressed with the sunshine that even though the humidity levels were high, I piled everyone in the car and we played 15 minutes of basketball. I got tired quickly, but everyone else seemed to be the same amount of tired. I could've kept playing, but Hubs was like, "Woah! This is hard!" I didn't seem to be panting anymore than he was and instead of just going home, I wanted to play some more, so we switched to volleyball. I had the energy to run after the balls in the sand even though running in sand is extremely difficult (newfound respect for all sand volleyball players and people who run on the beach!), and the only reason our team lost was because Logan can't hit a volleyball in the right direction yet. *lol* (He just punches it up in the air with one hand without really thinking about how to hit it OVER the net, focusing only on hitting it.) We play tennis. We go for walks and hikes. I can last for hours without needing a break. I am no less fit, really, than the "skinny" people around me.
So am I healthy? Yeah, I think so. 320 pounds or 130 pounds, I think I'm healthy. (I would NOT be healthy at 130 pounds, however, considering my fat-free mass is already over 170lbs.)
So since the words, "Keep it up!" have been bugging the HELL out of me lately. And with my newfound discovery of how calorie restricting and living this hell of a diet - yes, I said diet - I'm changing gears.
1. Eat healthy, good for me foods. I don't think this has ever been a question in my mind. Fruits, vegetables, complex carbs, non-processed foods, cooking at home with less sodium. All good things to live by for anyone, no matter their size.
2. Stay active. I will continue to go to the gym and lift because it makes me feel strong and powerful and because I *love* the muscle definition I can actually SEE under the fat. I love playing sports and having the ability to run (kinda) and jump again like I did as a child. I love that I'm no longer restricted because my stamina is low. I love the sunshine and the cool spring air and, sometimes, even the humidity - and the feeling of sweat dripping off my forehead.
3. Ditch the scale. I'll still use it no and again just to see if I've gone down. The only reason I need these numbers to lower is so that I won't be forced into a box of "can'ts" by weight restrictions on things I've always wanted to do - like ziplining. The scale is only good for knowing what my number is to report to the doctor and my insurance company's program and to anyone with weight restrictions on things that could actually KILL me if my weight is beyond the recommendation set. (Dying after a fall from a zipline because I don't know if I fit under the weight restrictions imposed upon by the gear used = stupid.)
4. Eat when I'm hungry. I have to learn how my body WANTS to function. Maybe it's okay to have days when I'm just not "feeling it" and just am not really hungry and other days when I need a little more energy to get through. Maybe my body knows best. So far I haven't had much luck in the past few months tricking it...time to adjust and see what happens.
5. Stop eating when I'm full. There is NO SHAME in not cleaning a plate. There is no shame in getting a small portion first and going back for seconds if I think I'm still hungry. There is no shame in saying, "No thanks, I'm kinda full."
6. Continue to track, just so I know how everything is working out. I like tracking my calories and fitness levels because I feel like I'm learning some valuable lessons about how I work - both my body AND my mind. Why did I get so gassy the other day? Why is my stomach revolting with irregular BM today? Having those tools to go back and reflect upon might help me learn what my body craves most and what kind of energy it needs to sustain normal life functions - a key to good health.
7. Finally, and most importantly, ditch the negative self-talk. Health involves a sound MIND as well. Something I told the AB girls the other day was, "I don't want to be quietly fabulous. I've lived my whole fat life that way. Only until I came here did I feel brave enough to live out loud, strut, dress my fat a** sexy, and run around like I friggin' OWN this world!" So I'm going to hold onto that. Today I wore a dress that I bought at Old Navy. It shows too much cleavage to be appropriate at the boys' school (prompting me to zip up my jacket before I went in) and more leg than I ever before would have been comfortable with (with before was ANY leg, even an ankle), but it makes me feel flirty and sexy and cute, and I want to continue to feel that way no matter what size or weight I am. I want to feel like I have EVERY right to this world than any "skinny" or "normal" person does BECAUSE I DO!
Screw the scale and numbers. Screw dress sizes. I want to FEEL healthy inside and out. I want to take good care of my body and my skin and my hair and nails. I want to feel PAMPERED by MYSELF. I want to do things that are good for my mind and spirit, even if nobody else agrees that I should do them. Even if SOCIETY thinks I should hide my fat butt under a rock, I'm going to show them that this HEALTHY FAT GIRL can SHINE and SPARKLE and create waves of ACTIVE ENERGY throughout her life and the lives of those around her.
I'm going to be me.
Let's see how that goes...
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
So I focus a little too much too often on the scale and the tape measure...don't we all? Someone told me the other day, "Think about all you can do that you couldn't before!" I answered "Whatever..." but I shouldn't have dismissed them like that. NSV. Non-scale victories. Here we go...
* I AM a size 24. That means I can once again shop in the clothing stores. I can go in, pick out a size 24 and it will fit. It might be a bit snug, or might be a little loose, but it will fit. I no longer have to shop through mail-order catalogs and guesstimate my size by just picking the biggest size available, or picking the one down from that because I'm too ashamed to even click on the highest size.
* I can shop in "regular" stores as well. Granted, I am still limited to a small selection of stretchy tops and sweaters in the largest size available, but picking out XL and XXL shirts in a Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy make me feel like I belong...especially when I realize that they don't only fit, they look good on me. I no longer feel the shame of walking by these stores with jealousy and rage coursing through my veins for what they have that I can't have.
* I can shop according to what I like, not just what fits. Because I've taken the time to open my world of fashion to a wider range of options, I do NOT have to simply settle for the cheapest thing that fits my body. I can put something on, and if I don't love it, I do NOT have to buy it. Period. I have the option of LIKING what I wear now and that's HUGE for me...a girl who has always been a little obsessed with fashion.
* I'm no longer just the personal shopper. I have an uncanny ability to keep up with trends, to know what looks right on a body (just not MY body). In the past, I have spent more than a few hours walking the mall with friends, picking out outfits they should wear. I know how to shop according to their skin tone, their personal style, their body shape - and I can't tell you how many times I have heard, "You are GREAT at this! You should be a personal shopper!" (Hell, I wish! Would be a TON of fun!) I never let my friends see the jealousy that rang into me...how much I wanted them to be MY personal shopper for a day. I can now say that on several occassions I have tried on clothing in a dressing room NEXT TO my friends in the SAME STORE. At the end of trying on a piece of clothing, we emerge and critique each other's outfits. I have to say that it's 100% more enjoyable to me than just sitting on the bench in the fitting room waiting to see my gorgeous friends in their new picks.
* A mile no longer sounds like a marathon. I now choose to park near the back of the parking lot at the store (mostly because I'm protecting my new baby and her pretty paint job). I don't see any issue with walking all the way from the back to the front, circling the store a half a dozen times to get the things I forgot on the first few times around, visiting several stores in order to compare and get the best deal. A full day shopping is no longer out of the question. Yes, I am still sore after because of my current back injuries, but I can do it without wheezing and having to sit down every 5 minutes. I can't tell you how many meat coolers, deli displays, and bags of dog food had been chairs for me at the grocery store that now get a reprieve because I'm too busy to stop. Now it's hard to stop me from moving and my boys often have trouble keeping up.
* Three words -- Less Shaving Cream.
* Six words -- Less time spent in the shower. Actually, six more -- MORE time spent in the shower. *lol* If I'm running late, I can take a super fast shower now. If I have more time, I can stand in the shower longer to enjoy the hot water upon my back. Again, I have options.
* TV marathons and movies are reserved for nighttime viewings when the sun has set, or rainy days when outside play in the mud doesn't seem very inviting. But when the sun is shining and the weather is warm, I want to be outside playing tennis, walking, working in the garden. I no longer see the sun as something to make me sweat, I see it as a welcome invitation to enjoy the world around me.
* Planes don't scare me or make me nervous anymore. I can buckle my belt on most big airplanes without the assistance of an extender, and even on the small planes the need for an extender is dwindling.
* I can breathe again. I have a coworker who, after a quick trip down the hall and back comes back breathing heavy. It's sort of sad because I remember once being like that, not too long ago. In the past year, however, I have been caught several times sprinting down the halls to get wherever I need to go in a hurry. *snort*
* I have muscles. I can see the shape of my arms, shoulders, chest, waist, and legs taking form. Yesterday, while lifting weights with Hubs, I looked in the mirror and thought once again, "I have great arms under there! I can see them taking shape."
* I care about myself. I care about my appearance and feel I have the freedom to make those choices without trying to conceal every part of my body out of shame. I can wear things that make my shoulders look great. I can wear dresses because I want to. I pick my nail polish colors and makeup according to my whims, not trying to make the only acceptable parts of me look half-decent in an effort to conceal the other parts.
* My husband says several times every weekend, "So where are we going today?" or "What do you want to do?" Yes, sometimes it's annoying because there are days when I just want to stay home and veg out on the couch, but he's come to learn that we're now an active family. We play sand volleyball together, tennis, we take walks and hikes and enjoy getting out and doing things that help us enjoy the beauty of WV.
* I'm more alert and awake....most days. When I stay clear of heavy sugars and those awful draggy carbs (not complex carbs, mind you), I last throughout my 10-hour shift. Unless, of course, I haven't gotten enough sleep or I'm dragging due to injuries. On a whole, I have more alert days then dragging ones now.
* I used to drink a 2-liter of pop in a day easily. I now drink a gallon of water in a day easily. And my body LOVES me for it. I've become more regular and experience less of the regular daily bloat I used to experience daily, even though I still have the same "sit down" job, my ankles don't swell as much anymore and I feel better, cleaner, more healthy inside.
* I don't mind dressy a little sexy/slutty for Hubs now and again...because sometimes I do actually feel it.
* I encourage pictures that will help me see my progress, instead of hiding in shame of my bulk.
* The limiting of options has all but disappeared. I still worry about weight limits because of what the scale says, but I don't worry anymore about my ability to do things. The world can limit me, but I will not!
* I'm strong! I can lift 300+ on the leg press machine. I've moved on to "advanced" exercises for the most part. I'm a regular gym rat and it shows with my 20lb dumbbells and grunting through hammer curls and hyperextensions (traded for the back extension machine, which I've now outgrown because I can lift the highest weight available on it more than 20 times without any difficulty).
* I can jump! I still worry sometimes, but I can do it without much fear anymore. I can do jumping jacks (though I still hate them) and jump rope (even though it's hard) or spike a ball in the sand or jump up to serve the tennis ball. I can jump again...something I haven't done since the age of 16, really.
* My knee doesn't pop out anymore. It still makes a motion like it's going to, but it catches itself. Not since I was 12 or younger have I experienced such a long period free from "popping out incidents" as I have in the last 6 months or so.
* I'm more obsessed with finding my next adventure in activity than finding my next adventure in high calorie foods. Chocolate cake doesn't rule my life every day. I don't go to the store once a day or a week or even once a month anymore to grab as many sweets as I think I can stand. I have very few hidden binge moments (I think 2 in the past year that were serious?). I'M taking control, thankyouverymuch!
* Hubs can help me up from the floor. Yes, I still have some maneuvering to do to get from the floor to standing again, mostly because I don't 100% trust my knee and squatting seems like a silly thing to try right now. But you know when you put your feet together and someone who is standing grabs your hands and helps pull you up? When we used to do this, it was a severe workout for the hubs. He did most of the work as I struggled to get my muscles to lift me. Now it's a simple 1 - sit, bend knees, 2 - grab hands, 3 - lift process. Hubs and I noticed this last night and it was nice to think about how far I've come there.
* I've become the source of encouragement for people around me. I lead the lifting routines at the gym, and there are many times (like last night) when Hubs craps out and gives out on doing a set before I will. I push myself hard and I feel the rewards of it later...and Hubs has moved into resisting my suggestions more and more. He'll admit freely now that I've got a one-up on him at the gym. I can lift almost as much with my upper body as he can (stupid men and their natural upper body strength!), but I lift more often and with greater ease and I push myself harder. (Plus, I can lift much MORE with my lower body than he can. *big grin*)
* Two more words -- great sex.
* Finally, my kids have become active little buggers. Their vocabulary has changed. They ASK for vegetables with dinner because they don't think it's a complete meal without them. They have learned to cook several healthy meals and I encourage them to keep learning. They know about portions, they understand nutrition better than I ever did, they understand how important water is and how important activity is to keeping your body strong and healthy. They've seen their mom change and I think they like this upgraded version better because she's willing and able to play and do fun things with them without tiring.
* One more thing about water -- my entire family drinks water more than anything else in my house. We rarely have soda in the house, and refuse to buy it at restaurants because the price of a soda is just stupid nowadays! We save pop/soda for "treats" and really enjoy them when we get them, but we don't see it as a regular part of our lives.
* My car's seat belt fits. Every car seat belt fits properly now.
* Turning sideways is somewhat of a thing of the past. I can squeeze through tighter spaces now, often without even having to turn sideways. Behind the chairs of other people in the conference room, down the hallways, etc. I can move to make room for others, instead of the other way around.
Finally, what other NSVs am I looking forward to?
* The end of the belly apron.
* Chasing after my kids.
* Hiking for days straight without fear or exhaustion.
* Biking again without fear of falling off or that stopping will injure my knee again.
* Shopping for pants in a "regular" store. (I LOVE New York & Co. stuff, so I'm looking forward to being able to shop there, as well as the Gap and Banana Republic.)
* Fitting all airplane seats without an extender.
* The end of limits from weight limits - horseback riding, ziplining, etc.
* Using this newfound strength on the hiking trails and on the water -- I can't wait to feel how I can row now. I can't wait to try white-water rafting (something I was always afraid to do before). I cannot WAIT to see what summer sports holds for this new body of mine.
What are your NSVs? Think hard. Even the smallest change can spur you on to greater ones, because, in the end, no one will know your weight or likely your clothing size unless you tell them - they will make their assessment of you according to how you live. Want to inspire others? Live a healthy, active life and show them how freeing it is to be in shape!
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