Tuesday, February 14, 2012
"Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it."
Last Tuesday, for the first time ever, I felt completely relaxed during my lesson with Jeff. I guess this tells you how long it can take me to get comfortable with a new situation, given that I started taking lessons last June. That is 8 months of feeling incredibly uncomfortable--and continuing to show up anyways. It is strange how we can tolerate something unpleasant for an extended period of time as long as we know, whether consciously or unconsciously, that it will get better and be good for us in the long run.
I had been in a bit of a funk for a few weeks, and needless to say, skipping out on the gym was not helping. Out of nowhere I had gotten this feeling that I didn't belong there and so I seriously slacked off on going. Last week, I decided to stop wallowing in the negative and try to focus more on the positive. GEMINIAN1 had commented on my blog last week that she tries to stay realistic and how the word "negative" can mean different things to different people. I totally agree with her on being realistic, and I usually am a reasonable person who can objectively observe positive and negative aspects. But over the past several weeks, I've been lying to myself with negative thoughts, like that I will never succeed and that people don't like me. These negative thoughts were feeding into each other and the thoughts continued to get further from the truth.
I knew there was only 1 thing that would truly and effectively pull me out of the funk, and that was to get my butt to the gym. Exercise aside, I missed my gym buddies and trainers. I went last Monday and of course my trainer Nate gave me crap about missing a lot. I can't really define what my problem was, but I still didn't feel very relaxed being there. I reverted to feeling fat and awkward, like I shouldn't be there working out with all those fit guys. Luckily, there were some of my favorite guys at Jiu Jitsu that day. I was getting ready to roll with one of the guys who I hadn't seen in a while, and he said, "I heard you're getting good!" I asked who said that, if it was Bob, my Jiu Jitsu BFF, who compliments everything I do regardless of how good it actually is (kind of like my mother). He shrugged and said, "I don't know...everybody's been saying that."
Well, if I needed a confidence boost, there it was.
Nate also asked me if I was planning to compete in the next Submission Hunt, which is a large grappling tournament in the Twin Cities. I asked him when the next one is, and it is about 5 months away. So, regardless of how much weight I lose by then (although I would be THRILLED to lose about 40 pounds by the competition), I plan on competing and am going to train hardcore accordingly. No more disappearing from the gym. Whatever hesitation was inside of me needs to stay gone, and so far, my excitement for going to Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai is back.
I've also had a revelation with my diet. SMILINGTREE had mentioned a while back that she was going to try to eliminate wheat from her diet, and it got me thinking at that time. I had always associated wheat sensitivity with digestive problems, which I did not feel like I had, so I never thought I might have a problem with wheat. However, the scale has been absolutely stagnant over the past few months. Despite my mixed martial arts workouts and strength training and eating within my calorie range, the scale has not budged. I have been having long plateaus throughout this journey. I am truly an advocate of slow weight loss, but there is a point where even the best of us get pretty frustrated.
I started to think about how I was eating when I lost weight before (and felt GREAT), and it was while I was on the old Core plan from WeightWatchers. The Core plan focused on whole foods. Just by the way the Core plan was set up, I was eating virtually no flour or wheat products (pasta, breads, etc.), but lots of fruits, veggies, oatmeal, legumes, brown rice, and tofu as staples. I lost weight fairly easily and felt very energetic. Reflecting on my current food tracker, I had been eating some sort of bread and/or pasta product almost every day. Even though I was eating good bread (Ezekiel) and having reasonable portions of pasta, I now think I have a sensitivity to wheat. Last week, I went back to eating the way I had on the Core plan, and I lost 4 pounds. I saw my waistline visibly shrink as the bloating went away. I must have been retaining a ton of water. I have also had a very persistent skin rash that is now clearing. In any case, I am going to continue to avoid wheat and see if that keeps my weight loss going. I don't think cutting out wheat is a magic bullet for weight loss, but I suppose if someone has bloating and water retention from being sensitive to it, it could explain the unwavering number on the scale.
I am also going back to cutting out dairy completely. Dairy was not a staple in my daily diet like wheat products, but I still feel like crap if I eat cheese (the only dairy product I typically consume). I have been wanting to get back to eating vegan again, and the occasional pizza or cheesy pasta dish are the only dairy products I would eat.
It's amazing how little things, like a supposedly healthy grain, can be so hard to pinpoint as a problem. This process is truly nonlinear. ERLYWA had an awesome picture in her blog that so perfectly sums up this journey, I just had to steal it as a reminder to myself.
Image from http://healthesolutions.com/2011/10/03/wha
I've come to realize that I have become the person I was seeking to be by losing weight. I certainly haven't gone in a straight line to get to this point as it has taken several years to pinpoint so many things. I have found that the most effective tool I have learned to utilize is not diet or exercise--but patience. Patience has given me a way to keep things in perspective and to step back and find the solution to problems (because the solutions are there). Patience has lead to boldness that pushes me through uncomfortable situations. After sticking it out for a long time, I'm truly gettin' good now.
"Because in the end, being a bad-ass isnít about beating others Ė itís about testing yourself, and in the process, finding yourself."
ĖLeo Babauta (Thanks to SKYWATCHERS for the quote)
Monday, February 13, 2012
I was very excited to be offered to receive the new 28 Day Bootcamp DVD with Coach Nicole. She is trainer who is very positive without being over-the-top chipper, which is extremely important to me in workout videos. Sure enough, the Bootcamp DVD follows suit and she is encouraging and very pleasant to watch and listen to. There are several workout options to choose from, including cardio and toning (and 1 in combination), with shorter and longer options. She has good modifications for various levels, with 2 exercisers with her in the video. Coach Nicole stresses the importance of good form and gives form pointers on the exercises, which is great because some of the moves are pretty challenging. The timer at the bottom of the screen shows the time left in the segment, which is very handy for having to know how much energy to conserve and gives that mental push to get through challenging exercises.
One of my favorite features about this DVD is the unique clickable calendar. The calendar feature makes it easy to navigate through a month-long plan and provides several premix options to use as stand-alone workouts in the future. Having preset workouts makes the program more interesting and also takes the brain work out of workout planning. The workouts go from being shorter to longer, and some are cardio only, toning circuit only, and some combine both. I think this is perfect for beginners, who may be especially prone to getting bored by doing the same workout every day and may feel overwhelmed by starting an exercise program. Major kudos for the clickable calendar!
While the Bootcamp DVD is great for beginners, I don't think the exercise intervals are long or intense enough for an intermediate or advanced exerciser. An intermediate exerciser may find the program useful to get some fresh ideas for exercises to incorporate into training circuits, though. This program is most appropriate for beginner to advanced beginners and will help build muscle endurance. Some of the moves require a bit of coordination, so I would recommend that a beginner take their time getting acquainted with the moves. Once familiar with the moves, then people can really push themselves through the intervals. Beginners have very fast exercise adaptations, meaning that doing anything new will cause them to progress, but people will eventually want to incorporate heavy-weight strength training into their program. The Bootcamp DVDs can certainly be used for cardio at any point in someone's program, especially if very light weights are used.
Overall, I would recommend the Bootcamp DVD for beginners to advanced beginners who are looking for a solid introduction to circuit training. Advanced people may want to consider wearing weighted gloves (0.5-1 pound) to up the intensity. Of course, Coach Nicole's refreshing personality and approachability makes this a great first workout video for people, and will hopefully bring them over to SparkPeople if they haven't checked it out already. Most people are probably aware, but the DVD can be purchased at Target, and doing so earns major SparkPointage.
*I received the Bootcamp DVD free of charge from SparkPeople, and have not been reimbursed in any way for this review.
Thursday, February 02, 2012
Image from themoderatevoice.com
The month of January started out very strong--I felt in control and like I could truly keep up the momentum I had built. Then, come mid-January, we (finally) got a blast of truly wintery weather, and my arthritis flared up with it. Between being stiff, sore, and achy, the cold made me want to snuggle under the blanket with something warm and chocolatey. I still did a lot of my martial arts classes and stayed consistent with activity, but off course had to back up a little bit because of the arthritis. And then my eating went downhill. I had several binges. I weigh as much now as I did mid-December.
If I'm honest, I actually actively CHOSE not to make good choices. There were no particular stressors leading me astray. At least with stress and other strong emotions, I feel as though I am just coping with overeating. My joints were a little stiff, but not painful to the point of being truly stressful. I couldn't identify what triggered me to binge, but the urges were irresistible, and I caved frequently.
My January plan:
Image from http://www.flickr.com/groups/firesfiresfir
The urge to binge comes out of nowhere, when I am in any mood. It seems I am just as likely to binge when I'm having an otherwise good day as I am when I am very stressed about something. I know I have made progress--the binges are less frequent and usually less severe in the amount I eat, but I still cave to emotional eating far too often. A friend told me about how meditation has helped him learn to focus and has even decreased pain. He is much more even-keeled now.
I started learning how to meditate a few weeks ago, using DVDs from Rodney Yee and Maritza ( www.gaiam.com/product/meditation+dvd
+gift+set.do ) and some downloads from iTunes. I have been trying to do some every day. I have a long way to go, but it does really help. It has decreased the racing around in my head significantly. I have still been overeating, but am much more conscious of the urges. I've been able to, a few times, re-channel that focus from the meditation session and quiet the urges. I look forward to delving deeper with meditation and doing it on my own without a DVD or audio.
I purchased a book quite some time ago titled "Enough!: The Buddhist Path to Finding Release from Addictive Patterns" by Choyni Taylor, but never picked it up. I started reading it this week and I can already say that I highly recommend it. The book discusses how meditation can be used to build mindfulness, introspection, and equanimity (or "non-judgmental thinking"). Not only are these skills be developed through meditation, they can be enhanced during "emergency" situations. The book also discusses forgiveness and denial. I'm glad I started reading this now because it will deepen my understanding of meditation as a tool to not just decrease stress, but to stop it in it's tracks by having a neutral reaction to stressors.
I have also started working on my sci-fi novel again. I had a few ideas that rolled around in my head, but couldn't find how to fit them in. I have had floods of ideas over the past week or so and have actually sat down to do some writing. I hope to write a couple hundred pages over the next few months.
I have been practicing my sax a lot more over the past few weeks, and it is paying off. I think meditation may be helping stay a little calmer when I'm playing, too. Last week I played the best I ever have at my lesson. My teacher Jeff and I played some jazz duets, and people in the shop complimented me on my way out. It is the first time that I have been complimented on my playing since I started re-playing (well, except for my mom, but she doesn't count).
My plan for February is to focus on choosing to meditate whenever I feel a craving for a certain food or the urge to binge. I don't want to meditate as a distraction, but rather, to start to more deeply understand why I get these urges in the first place. I hope to deepen my mindfulness and focus this month, and start to get a better grasp on overwhelming urges to eat.
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
I was actually excited to go to my saxophone lesson last week. I had put in a lot of practice time, and had some extra practice due to working at home. I actually felt pretty confident walking into my lesson, for once. My teacher Jeff is not exactly Mr. Compliments, so I'll take what I can get from him. I blasted through one of the exercises and only made a couple of mistakes. Jeff nodded, "Huh, well that was...approaching good."
I started laughing, because I know that's about as close to complimenting as Jeff gets (although I have also gotten "not horrible" and even the coveted "not bad" before). Then again, I appreciate his honestly; I don't want someone singing accolades if I haven't earned it. I liked feeling so confident from having worked so hard the week before and to be able to show that to Jeff. I knew that even if I was approaching good, I will need to start putting forth more practice time to actually be good.
It's not just my saxophone. It's my eating, It's my Muay Thai and Jiu Jitsu classes. It's my other workouts. I have realized that I have been putting in as little effort as possible with all of these things. I overeat, and then I don't track it so I can pretend that it didn't happen (somehow the scale always catches it, though...hmmmm...). During my classes, I keep wondering how much time is left. I have been slacking during my workouts. I usually dread picking up my saxophone and hearing myself. It wasn't until this past week that I realized that I have been putting forth so little effort. Well, no wonder I haven't been getting far recently.
I can't even claim that I've been doing my best or trying my hardest recently. Needless to say, I am tired of approaching good. I want to actually BE good. I have been half-assing for long enough and I need to have some conviction about eating better, about practicing my saxophone more, about putting forth more effort at the gym. I have been in denial with my "I can quit whenever I want" attitude when it comes to overeating. I am not mad at myself at all, and I would not even say I am disappointed in myself, but I have reached a point where I am no longer satisfied with the changes I have made over the past year. I need to make some new changes. It dawned on me this week that I have been approaching good for quite some time now. It is time to surpass good and move on to excellent.
"A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes."
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