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Changing the Way I Think About Losing Weight: "Body Composition Change" versus "Weight Loss"

Thursday, July 14, 2011

"Our own physical body possesses a wisdom which we who inhabit the body lack. We give it orders which make no sense."
-Henry Miller

I am now on speaking terms with my body, but it took me a long time to get to that point. Part of what has been helpful in getting to know my body better has been to learn how it works. Nothing taught me more about how weight loss works than my anatomy, physiology, and exercise physiology courses. In particular, exercise physiology showed me how the energy systems in the body work, and how the muscles and the cardiovascular, endocrine, and nervous systems respond to changes (especially exercise). I also explored the physiology of weight loss and had many discussions with professors about the specifics of how the body loses weight. Most of all, this drilled in my head that there is a bigger picture when it comes to losing weight, and that is that the body composition is changing. Body composition simply refers to the percentages of lean mass (bone and muscle) and fat mass in the body. A major part of my mental transformation has been shifting my focus from the vague term of "losing weight" to thinking in terms of "body composition change.” When we “lose weight,” it might be water, fat, or muscle (hopefully not bone--yikes!). But thinking in terms of body composition change, I am aiming specifically to lose fat and gain muscle (but of course, one does not "replace" the other, per se). I believe that building lots of muscle mass primes the body to maintain a leaner body, too. Essentially, I don't want to be skinny, I want to be lean and muscular. I believe I will know it when I see it, hence why I am not particularly hell-bent on a particular goal weight.

I think it really helps to have a basic understanding of what is actually happening in the body during weight loss, as it helps explain why certain things such as exercise and eating the right foods are important. I don't have a background in nutrition, but I am educated in exercise physiology and psychology. I will be doing a some entries called Nerdrageous Blog! where I will address some of the technical and academic parts of weight loss and weight maintenance, with regards to exercise physiology and mental changes. I covered a variety of areas in school, and some of my favorites included exercise psychology, metabolic flexibility, adaptations from strength training (muscle, nerve, cardiovascular, and endocrine adaptations) and their contribution to weight loss and maintenance, and anti-obesity tendencies in health and exercise fields.

I have been trying to apply some of the principles I learned to myself and my own weight loss journey. I started using SparkPeople actively in August, 2010, and for a long time I kind of felt like I was getting nowhere. I didn't actually start SparkDieting until January, 2011, but I now realize that the small things I was working on prior to that prepared me to be ready to lose weight. I still tried to weigh regularly prior to January, and I really appreciate that SparkPeople simply logs the number without giving any “feedback” on that number. The WeightWatchers online tracker gives you a big smiley face if you lose, and a sad-looking face if you don't lose. Oooh, I hated that face. My normal losing pattern is that I lose for a couple of weeks, then no loss or a tiny gain for a week or two. It took me a long time to realize that this pattern is perfectly acceptable and it does not mean that I'm doing something wrong. If I am truly overeating, than I aim to fix it, but if I have small gain when I'm doing everything I should, I don't worry at all.

I've talked about my previous weight loss with WeightWatchers when I lost 95 pounds. Unfortunately, I have no other measurements from that journey; I didn't measure myself and I didn't take pictures. Part of what prevented me from reaching my goal was the frustration of getting stuck in a plateau for several months after losing 95 pounds. However, I was training for Olympic distance triathlons, and my body composition was probably still changing (I looked more ripped than I ever have). My brain was glued to the scale, though, and I felt I was not getting “results.” The stern look of the weigher at my WeightWatchers meetings also told me that I wasn't progressing as I should. I really wish I had taken pictures and other measurements--I think it would have made the difference between keeping going and giving up. I let the scale be the sole feedback on my progress; it ruled my life, and ultimately won. Being in school for kinesiology helped me learn to have a different relationship with my body and to think differently about what to expect from weight loss.

One of my professors talked a lot about ideal body compositions in athletes (high % of lean mass, low % of fat), and that got me thinking that perhaps I should be approaching my weight loss in the same manner. To me, weight loss means, "I don't care where it comes from, just get this weight off of me." To me, it matters greatly what weight is being lost. Just like eating whole foods will produce better results than eating junk, even when eating the same amount of calories, I focus on muscle mass versus fat mass when losing weight. This is the principle behind why I try not to lose more than 2 pounds per week on a consistent basis. Anything beyond 2 pounds is likely to be lost as muscle mass; losing muscle mass not only throws the body out of whack now, I think it makes it much more difficult to maintain weight later on. Although at my weight I could safely lose up to 1% of body weight per week, I am aiming to lose no more than 2 pounds per week (preferably closer to 1 pound). Yes, the "weight" is coming off slowly, but I believe this allows for building more lean muscle mass, which will (hopefully) make me more successful in the long run.

The term “body composition change” makes me think of a more continuous process, rather than the separate steps of “weight loss” and “weight maintenance.” I do have a goal weight set, but I am aiming more to have a nice and lean body composition, so that number is not particularly set in stone. I may find I want to go lower or be comfortable at a heavier weight, but I probably won't know that until I am closer to that weight. I have been taking measurements including weekly weight and monthly pictures and measuring inches; I should really be measuring my body fat with calipers as well, so I will be starting as of August 1st. Additionally, I consider my weekly weigh-ins to be mini-measurements, with my overall monthly loss being the true measurement. Thinking in terms of body composition change has helped take the emotion out of the scale, and it has been very freeing to not be afraid of the scale.

Another major aspect of considering body composition change is to think about the ways in which we can increase our metabolic flexibility, which will be the focus of my first Nerdrageous Blog! entry. It helps me to write these things out, because I get more ideas about how I can focus on my goals and come up with new ways to approach my goals.

I love seeing SparkPeeps' progress blogs, especially when they demonstrate that the scale doesn't always tell all. For an excellent example of body composition changes versus weight loss, check out APIRLRAIN888' blog:

She has sadly been MIA, but she has lots of great posts where she shows how the scale may not be moving, but visible changes can be occurring.

“If you focus on results, you will never change. If you focus on change, you will get results.”
-Jack Dixon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CDGOLDILOCKS 7/19/2011 10:35AM

    I like the term "body composition change". Since body weight lost is what most people cheer and celebrate, it can be frustrating not to see that number decrease every week. I wish I had a better understanding of what is going on inside my body when the scale doesn't move.

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CHEEKY1000 7/15/2011 6:31PM

    Thank you! Now if I could just see body comp changes. lol I've only lost 10 pounds and evidently no inches because my measurements haven't changed in 6 weeks. That's not entirely true. I've lost 1/4 inch from my neck. So apparently, I lost those 10 pounds from my neck. Was I a freakin' bull frog? lol Anyhow, thank you for the information!

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DARKTHOR 7/15/2011 11:18AM

    I love your blog here, lots of important things for people to think about. I have been consciously working on losing weight slowly, to help maintain my muscle mass (or even increase it). The scale is just a number, our health is the reality.

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ABB698 7/15/2011 12:53AM

    You nailed it! Love your writing! Even though this is a numbers game of sorts, it's about SO much more than that. It really is a learning experience of all sorts. And that's what makes them lifestyle changes, being educated about our bodies!
Happy Friday!!

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HIKINGSD 7/15/2011 12:21AM

    Great blog, thank you!

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1HAPPYWOMAN 7/14/2011 11:26PM

    Thanks for this blog! You keep on inspiring me to be more active! I'm really looking forward to learning about how to increase metabolic flexibility....

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    Where's the "Get your Sparkpoints" button at the end of this article? LOL Very informative!

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SHARON-MARIE 7/14/2011 4:21PM

  What a great and very interesting blog!

I'm looking forward to the Nerdrageous series.

Be blessed,

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OWENSAUNT1 7/14/2011 4:10PM

    Looking forward to Nerdrageous!

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HVSOAP 7/14/2011 3:58PM

    I know the feeling having just broken through a plateau myself. But I have to say I LOVE shopping for new clothes and the fact that I can now purchase clothes in the regular ladies department now rather than "women's" just makes me want to cry tears of joy.

You keep on sparking! You are my inspiration!

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SYZYGY922 7/14/2011 3:57PM

    I also care mostly about my body fat/lean mass percentages. That's why my goal weight is 150 lbs and not something like 120. I'm only about 5'0" (just under 5'1" if I stretch up as high as I can) but I'm about 120 lbs of lean mass. That would put me almost in the overweight range even if I had 0% body fat!

I'm trying not to get hung up on numbers, but it's so hard. I have some calipers and I have had bioelectrical impedance analysis done twice (but not recently). I want to stay as close to my current lean mass as possible and just get rid of the fat! I wouldn't mind being heavier if it was muscle.

At my absolute lightest, I lost a lot of muscle mass due to unhealthy eating. I weighed little, but it was NOT a pretty sight!

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FREECANDY 7/14/2011 3:31PM

    I too have been trying to think of my changes in terms of body composition instead of just weight loss. And while I fully admit that seeing the scale move sooo slowly when people who have been on SP for a much shorter time than I have are blowing by me in terms of weight loss can be frustrating, I'm seeing changes in the way my clothes fit, in the way I look in pictures, etc. and that keeps me motivated. I don't want to lose muscle, I want to gain muscle. And if that means losing weight much more slowly, so be it.

I can't wait for the Nerdrageous blogs. I love nerdy stuff.

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Lessons Learned from My Saxophone (and releasing the song)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint’, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”
-Vincent Van Gogh

I had my second saxophone lesson yesterday, and I was more self-conscious than I would have imagined playing in front of someone else for the first time in over 12 years. Last week, we mostly reviewed things and I didn't have to play much. My teacher wanted to evaluate my skill level yesterday, so he had me bring in some of my old books to have me play some music. He would then decide what I needed to work on.

He opened one of the books and pointed to a piece. "Go ahead," and waited for me to start. I played the piece, then he shook his head and grabbed the book. "You're too good for this book."

"Uh, no I'm not."

"Yes, you are. Hmmm...let's see..." We walked out into the store and he got a book that was filled with music that made my heart skip a beat and my eyes widen; my immediate thought was, "No way can I play that". The music looked harder than anything I remembered playing in the past, and there were pages upon pages of daunting scales. Smiling, he said, "Here, this is better. We'll work with this."

He reviewed some stuff and has assigned a Handel piece for me to work on. I couldn't imagine playing it. He told me to play the first few lines. I concentrated as hard as I could, and started playing. The notes sputtered out, just individual notes floating in the air with no connection. I thought maybe he would say, "You're right, let's try some simpler stuff," but he shrugged. "You'll get it, just keep working on that."

Today I put my sax together to practice, and stared at the music for a second. "Okay, here's goes nothing." With steel-faced determination, I started to play. I stumbled over the notes and barely got through the past few lines. The little "This is too hard" voice whispered in my head. I tried again a few times and was getting frustrated.

Then I stopped and took a deep breath. I told myself to just let go, not think so hard about it, and let the music come out. "It doesn't have to be perfect," I told myself. I started to play, and it actually sounded somewhat like a song. I played through it again and it sounded even better. It is the first time since I've started playing that my practice has sounded like actual music. The deep joy that I used to get after putting my soul into a song came back; I didn't want to put my saxophone down. The muscles and nerves in my hands and fingers remember how to play, and are ready for more.

So the next time I have doubts about my abilities, I'm going to let go. The song will reveal itself. It may have been trapped for a long time, but it has been released. I'm learning that the less I think and the more I simply do, the more I discover. My body already knows what to do; perhaps I need to let it guide my mind more often.

"You see things; and you say 'Why?' But I dream things that never were; and I say 'Why not?'"
-George Bernard Shaw

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CHAITEAKITTY40 7/15/2011 11:41PM

    Love this blog! Glad you are getting your sax mojo back. I love that Van Gogh quote!

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GEMINIAN1 7/15/2011 8:23AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
I think this is *so* cool. I'm a HUGE fan of all kinds of music.
(I don't play anything; but, people have told me that they see me on piano or drums?)
I'm going to nick name you "Lisa" (after Lisa Simpson) just kidding.
(Although, I do emoticonLisa S.)
Wonderful way to keep the hands and mind busy; makin' music.
I like the lessons that can be taken from the last couple of paragraphs and applied to other parts of life.
Have a music filled day my friend ... :-)
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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FANGFACEKITTY 7/14/2011 10:04AM

I used to play sax long ago in another life. I stopped after college when I injured my hand and had some minor nerve damage. My fingers didn't always do what I wanted, I got frustrated & sold it. I sometimes wish I hadn't. I may now borrow my son's sax and start playing again.

"The only failure is in not trying at all."

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HIPPICHICK1 7/14/2011 9:57AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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CANNIE50 7/14/2011 12:21AM

    "the less I think and the more I simply do, the more I discover" - lovely & wise. I envy your ability to play, especially the saxophone - I LOVE the saxophone. emoticon

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MILLISMA 7/13/2011 9:21PM

    You did it!!!! Wish I could hear you play.

emoticonMary Anne

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EMRANA 7/13/2011 8:20PM

  Sometimes all we need to do is get out of our own way! YAY YOU!


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HIKINGSD 7/13/2011 8:08PM

    Excellent blog!

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SHARON-MARIE 7/13/2011 8:03PM

  What a great encouragement - to you and to all who will read this blog entry!

Be blessed,

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SMILINGTREE 7/13/2011 7:34PM

    When your body remembers something your mind does not, the feeling is both surprising and amazing.

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    That's wonderful!

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Epic. Success.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

"For God's sake give me someone who has brains enough to make a fool of himself."
- Robert Louis Stevenson

Is this the definition of failure?

(picture from

One of my co-workers said jokingly one day, “There are no accidents, there are only inadvertent achievements.” Perhaps then “failures” are “spontaneous learning experiences.” I can't control the fact that I'm not perfect, but I can control how I react to the situation, and even decide to learn from it. I try to create success by redefining what failure means to me. One of the biggest areas where people utter the “F” word is when it comes to exercise. Exercise has become such an ingrained part of my life that I can't imagine that there was a time (i.e. most of my first 25 years) when I let the fear of failure hold me back from trying. I used to be paralyzed by a fear of failing. I had to fall flat on my face before I realized that the ground below would catch me, and that I could laugh at myself and then get back up.

I remember the first time I got an “F” in a college. Failure doesn't get more bona fide than seeing a big fat “F” on a transcript. Not only did I feel like a failure, it was written out, plain as day. Yes, I was disappointed in myself, but moreover, I felt relief. It turned out that the Earth actually continued to rotate and the sun rose the next day despite my failure. I finally asked myself, “What am I so afraid of?” I always imagined that I was the only person in the world who had ever messed up in any way, and that I would become a laughing stock if anyone found out about my failure.

Earning my first “F” was a pivotal moment for me, as it was the first time that I really embraced the idea of failure. I felt like I was wearing a scarlet “F”, yet no one seemed to notice. Then I started walking down the street, and would imagine random people and their flubs: " I bet that woman has gotten behind on her bills before." "That guy has applied for dozens of jobs and never gets called back." "That chick has probably gotten really drunk and told secrets she never meant to tell." "I bet that guy is a bad kisser." Maybe these people had not had these particular failures, but I realized they have probably had failed at something at some point. Anyone who claims to have never failed is failing at telling the truth. It took me a long time to get comfortable with failure, and accept that it's going to happen...sometimes I'll see it coming, sometimes I won't.

We picture crossing the finish line as evidence of having been successful, but isn't there something to be said for getting started? And why are we so afraid of flubbing and looking stupid? We are very quick to berate ourselves the slightest perceived failure, yet blow off compliments before they even register in our frontal cortex. When we were kids, we're often praised just for trying: “Yay, you did it, you tried!” As adults, we get, “Just go get done what needs to get done.” We may consider attempting something, quickly dooming ourselves with the thought of, “I'm sure I wouldn't be any good at it.” I certainly fell into this line of thinking; I never had to worry about failing at anything, because I could rest assured that I would suck anyways.

I'm very glad I didn't doom myself to failure when I decided to try triathlons. I did not even know what was involved in a triathlon or in training for one, but it sounded cool. Deep down, I had always wanted to do something cool, so I signed up for the sprint-distance Lifetime Fitness Triathlon in 2007. Then I found out what was involved, and faced training head on. I signed up for swimming lessons and started working out with a triathlon training team. I was oddly unstressed about training. But at that point, I was also fairly hard on myself for having bad training days. I would still continue my training, but I would berate my failed workouts.

We see it all over SparkPeople--the “failed” workout. The “failed” exercise program. The “failed” training plan. The biggest thing I can stress, having trained for races and with helping people train and with working out consistently for many years: sh***ty workouts are normal and to be expected. Exercise became a lot less stressful when I lowered my expectations of what I would get out of it and how I would feel after workouts. Everyone has crappy days, from beginners to elite athletes. I usually look forward to my workouts, but I'm okay with the fact that sometimes I may be less than enthusiastic about working out. For instance, my workout routine the other day looked a little like this:

1) Sigh deeply thinking about putting the workout DVD in the DVD player--Man, that's like SO MUCH WORK. Don't I have enough problems without making myself get all sweaty?
2) Grumble as I put on my workout clothes.
3) Piss and moan throughout the warm-up.
4) I'm hungry. I'm tired.
5) Man, these weights are HEAVY.
6) C'mon...isn't this thing over yet?
7) Finally...oh, that's right, I still have kettlebells.

(Pause between workouts to type some of this blog entry)

Was I elated after my workout, so happy that I did it? Nah. I did it. I did it because it's just what I do. Some days I just get 'er done and call it a day; some days I don't even make it that far. But what I don't have any more is the self-defeating idea that an off-day means I've screwed up my exercise routine. I think part of what helped me get over the post-bad workout freak-out was to simply identify myself as an athlete. Since I am an athlete, I really don't have to prove anything to anyone else.

Did I show up and do it? Am I training like an athlete? Good, then it's settled, I'm an athlete. Athletes don't give up after a bad day. Athletes learn from the bad days and take the experience as feedback on how to improve, not as a reason to quit.

Didn't make it all the way through a workout? That's fine. Not excited to work out today? Eh, it happens. Not being excited does not mean that the motivation is gone. There is something to be said for an exercise routine becoming an unexciting part of my life...this just means that it's habit, and that the excitement and enthusiasm are no longer needed to prod me through a workout. Some days do feel like epiphanies and I feel like I could go on forever, but I don't expect that on a day-to-day basis. I have learned a lot about accepting the off-day from being around two groups of people: my triathlon training team and my kickboxing groups.

One of the guys in my triathlon training group (I shouldn't even group myself with him--he's an accomplished Ironman triathlete) will stop his workout, throw his stuff in his car, and go kick back and have a beer if his workout isn't going well. No regrets. And this is someone who eats 4-mile swims for breakfast. How did he get to be so successful? He is determined, focused, and driven, but he also knows when to back off. He knows when he's having a good workout, but that if he backs off from a bad workout that he has not “given up.”

When I was in Muay Thai fight training, we weren't always in the mood to workout. Unlike other workouts, this meant that we literally got whooped. My coach was a very calm man who had grown up as an orphan in a Muay Thai boarding school in Thailand, and then spent years as a street fighter in Thailand. For someone who had such a rough life, he seemed to have a lot of balance within himself. He was the one who helped me to see the, “You win some, you lose some,” philosophy. If I was having an off training day and getting mad at myself, he would put pat my back and just say serenely, “Today is not your day.” I had been pushing myself for 2 years through triathlon and running training, and I had never accepted before that it might be okay to have a day that was “not my day.” He taught me balance between having a great workout and having an off-day.

I don't need to be perfect, I just needed to change my definition of what it means to be successful. I think back on the things that I have attempted and have “failed,” but if I did my honest best, then I succeeded. Trying is the foundation upon which success is built. Without trying, you have nothing. It may have been a comfy little existence to never try, but I had to give up those warm fuzzies and be willing to risk making an ass of myself every once in a while. Ultimately, I have learned my limits from my failures. If I reached the point of failure, then I know I have done every single thing I could in trying to reach that goal. It may not feel like that at first, but I can see that now that I am better at giving myself credit for my achievements--and my attempts.

Motivation feeds into motivation, and learning from my failures has helped me feel more successful. Nothing will ever be perfect. But I haven't let arthritis, injuries, or even gaining over 90 pounds stop me from failure, listen up. You are not in my vocabulary. Maybe I will utter the word, but it rolls off of me like the drops off sweat from my hard work. You are in the dust, perhaps trying to catch up, but you never will. If I try my best, then I am at my best. No one, including me, can demand anything more.

"I can accept failure, but, I can't accept not trying."
- Michael Jordan

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GEMINIAN1 7/15/2011 8:49AM

    Wow!!! Where do I start emoticon
This Blog rocked; of course emoticon
Love the poster and the quotes too.

I'm so excited / intrigued by the Muay Thai AND the coach.
There's *so* many great point in here.

One thing that I was thinking as reading was, wouldn't it be great to do some sort of "mind erase" because it seems like when not knowing what's being getting into it's ... "just do it" ... all the way baby. This came into my head while reading your explanation of the tri. Like, you didn't know what was involved and the training and and ... you just knew "you wanted to do it".

For me, that applies to other areas in life. For one example, I took on a huge room remodel and I just went into it knowing that "I wanted to do it" with *no* foresight of just how "crazy involved" it was going to get.
Now, it seems like, I'm somewhere "in limbo" between, being *really* excited about doing the next room and, "Oh man, what a 'butt-load' of work."
But, if I could "erase" the first room I'd "just do it" ... like the first go at it.

Thanks for the Blog and making me think
There's nothing I love more ... than thinking.
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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PAMELA6289 7/14/2011 1:48PM

  So true, my dear!

It wasn't until I stopped relying on the emotion of motivation to get me moving that I actually had success.

Since motivation is an emotion, it'll come and go without notice. So, for me, the answer was to stop listening to motivation and just do it anyway.

And, like you said, I have good days, bad days and everything in between, but I work out because that's what I do. It's a habit now.

You are such a talented, smart, funny writer! emoticon

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FANGFACEKITTY 7/14/2011 9:41AM

    Amazing! Awesome! Thank you for sharing. I have recently been thinking about all the negative "f-word" blogs I have been seeing over the months and how that mindset is what is really holding people back. You have put into words what I was thinking.
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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ABB698 7/13/2011 8:09PM

    Clicking the big fat I LIKED THIS emoticon, because this was amazing! You really have a way with words. 90% of this journey is mental, and you've got that part covered with frosting and a cherry on top! (Fat free, calorie free of course) emoticon

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    Great blog. You really know how to express yourself. You should write a book someday about fitness. I'm completely serious.

This blog made me think about failure in my life. I haven't failed at very much, but that's because I was always so scared to really "go for it" and do the really hard things. This is in terms of things I have wanted to do like go back to school, try for a different career, and audition for an orchestra (work-related things). I have tried my best at times and failed. When I really worked my butt off and wanted it more than anything. The thought of trying THAT hard and failing makes my heart hurt. There's no worse feeling than failure when you really, really put your heart and soul and body and mind into it. The thought of failure scares me. A lot.

But any day that I actually do a workout is a success! I was kind of down after having to slow my progress on the C25K, but my run last night was really good. I felt like I was pushing myself, but I wasn't dying. It was great. Thank you for your help letting me understand that it's OK to slow down!

Comment edited on: 7/13/2011 6:18:43 PM

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OWENSAUNT1 7/13/2011 5:01PM

    well spoken, as always. How do you do it day after day? Oh, I guess the answer is in the blog! Thanks!

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LINDAJ0621 7/13/2011 2:57PM

    Wow, this is an absolutely amazing blog!!! You definitely have a gift as a writer, but more importantly I think, is the deep understanding you have gained of life! Very impressed by this one....keep them coming!
emoticon emoticon emoticon

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CHRISTINA791 7/12/2011 6:11PM

    Great insight!

I recently had to back off for a week or so because I was starting to show symptoms of overtraining (My mental process: "No, that only happens to crazy althletes and stupid beginners!"). It was almost as hard to allow myself to slow down, give my body what it needed, and to *trust* it as it was to get my butt down to the gym back when I first started.

'Failing' was a huge lesson for me and I think it did more for me than adding an extra km to my run ever could have. Sure enough, my body recovered and I got back on track, healthier than ever.

This is a great lesson that everyone needs to learn, and I thank you for doing such a great job of putting it into words.

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NINJA_SMOO 7/12/2011 5:47PM

  Awesome blog! Parts of it gave me goosebumps reading it. This is definitely a reminder I need more often! It's much too easy to get caught up in the 'failures'.

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HIPPICHICK1 7/12/2011 4:42PM

    Very good blog! Bravo!

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LAVLEI 7/12/2011 4:40PM



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FREECANDY 7/12/2011 11:02AM

    I love this blog, and it's all so true. Any time I feel like I'd rather sit around than work out I think of that old saying, "You only regret the workouts you don't do."

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SKYWATCHERRS 7/12/2011 10:56AM

    Flipping AMAZING post. You are a gifted writer with an extremely self-aware and insightful perspective on yourself and life in general. I love this post, thank you for posting it!! I especially loved, "I don't need to be perfect, I just needed to change my definition of what it means to be successful." - that really resonates with me and where I am in my life right now.

Bravo, kudos, hooray! You rock, sister.

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Tri, Tri, and Tri Again

Sunday, July 10, 2011

I haven't done a triathlon in 3 seasons, but after going with my friends to the New Brighton Triathlon a few weeks ago, I've had the itch to train again (not Swimmer's Itch--hopefully I don't get that). Today, I went to a lake to meet with a couple of my training buddies for a swim. It was my first time in the water in at least a year. We had been talking about doing a tri as a relay team next summer, and we have decided to do the Saint Paul Triathlon in August 2012. We'll be doing the Olympic (standard) distance tri, so I will be swimming 1 mile, and I have a goal to do it in 22 minutes (my fastest mile in a tri has been 25 minutes). Swimming has been my strongest leg in tris, so I think I can pull it off.

Well, if I'm going to train again, I suppose I should start with the basics:

Step 1: Put on swimsuit.
Step 2: Get ass in water.

Today at Lake Nokomis, after swimming. I'm not gonna lie, this was a little painful.

During Lifetime Fitness Triathlon, 2007. I hated my body a lot back then--too bad, it is capable of doing so much.

We swam for about 40 minutes today, and although my stroke could definitely use some work, it wasn't too bad and I didn't feel worn down. I realized I've really missed swimming. Once again, I kicked myself a little bit for my mental block and allowing myself to think that my weight was a barrier--I could have trained for a race this summer. I really should be swimming, too, because being in the water allows for greater expansion of the thorax, which increases lung capacity. This is important for me since I have arthritis in my spine that tends to cause breathing restrictions. However, swimming is good cross-training for anyone for this reason, too.

I'm really glad I decided to get over how I look and just get back in the water. The reason I appreciate triathlons is because people of all shapes and sizes do them. I was reminded of this when I was at the triathlon with my friends a few weeks ago. As much as I was anticipating feeling very self-conscious today, I was surprised that I didn't care what anyone thought. I mean, no one turned around and said, “Hey, how did that blue whale get to Minneapolis?” I didn't bother looking around and comparing myself to anyone else, because no one was looking at me anyways. After all, is this a figure competition, or training for a race?

That's what I thought.

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LEONALIONESS 7/15/2011 4:38PM

    I need you to follow me in the water yelling "STROKE. STROKE! WHO SAID YOU COULD DOGGY PADDLE!!! THERE'S NO CRYING IN TRIATHLONS!!!" Haha.

Tri in 16 days. OMFG. Help.
Mine is just a sprint, though. Think I can swim a quarter mile in under 30 minutes?
I do, but I could be off my darn rocker.

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GEMINIAN1 7/13/2011 2:12PM

    Between the "ants in your pants" and the "summer itch" you've got me rolling around on the floor laughing. emoticon
I like your "basics"; reminds me of the ole K.I.S.S.

I think you: are great, look great, and always will be great.

I'm really proud of you!
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CANNIE50 7/13/2011 1:56PM

    I'm catching up on blogs. I am glad I read yours. You are such a good writer and you make so many interesting points. I love what you say about your attitude about exercise. I exercise mainly out of gratitude. I am so grateful to be able to move, so I do.

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    That's awesome! You're doing it...that's what's important!

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HIKINGSD 7/11/2011 1:18PM

    Good for you for getting back to it! Very impressive!!

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HIPPICHICK1 7/10/2011 8:37PM

    If people started with compassion, whether the compassion goes out to others or to yourself, the world would be a better place.
I love that you are training and I wish you all the best of luck with it and any triathlons you do in the future!!
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SMILINGTREE 7/10/2011 7:29PM

    All the posts about triathlons lately really make me wish I could swim. It's weird that I can't anyway - I love being in the water and live in a place with lots of places to swim. I'm a champion doggie paddler, though.

A month or two ago, my brother broke his wrist. He is right handed, and it was his right arm. He lives alone and has had a hard time with some things. He said, "I never realized what a useful fella I was with two hands." It's good to recognize what our bodies are capable of, even in the most basic tasks.

Good for you for getting back in the water! It's probably fairly easy on your knee too...

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CDGOLDILOCKS 7/10/2011 2:25PM

    I know exactly how it is to be so mean to ourselves. Of course no one would be so cruel as to say those things to you. You look GREAT in your bathing suit. You are amazing, getting out there and DOING the things that you want to do, living an active life.

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Friday, July 08, 2011

Not the most interesting blog post, but I am ants-in-my-pants excited today! I biked to and from the boxing gym (about 10 miles total), and my knee feels fine! After almost a year of not being able to bike, I'm back, baby!

I've never gotten a definitive diagnosis of what is wrong with my right knee, but it appears that an old running injury is to blame. I tripped and fell straight on my kneecaps while I was running about 3 years ago, and my right knee has been problematic ever since. The best guess is that I have a torn meniscus, but there has never been any imaging performed (like an MRI) to confirm this. Over the past 6 months, my knee got even worse, puffing up like a balloon and becoming almost completely locked. I also think I had developed a Baker's cyst (a cyst in the joint space in the back of the knee), making it even more difficult to bend it. I've done what I could--naproxen, icing, elevating, bracing...but it has been a long road. I have been getting regular ultrasound therapy on my knee over the past 6 weeks and that has made a world of difference in helping it heal. Yes, it is a little stiff and sore, but I have arthritis, so I'm used to that. I feel like I am at a point where it will be safe to start cycling again and isn't going to exacerbate the injury.

Cycling will also help build up some strength in my long-neglected quads, since I can't really do lower-body weight work right now (I think that's still a ways off). I am very happy to be able to bike again, as it is my 100% most favorite exercise EVER. Giving up running had been hard, too, but I realized the ache to go cycling revealed my favorite sport. I'm back in the saddle!

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GEMINIAN1 7/10/2011 9:09AM

    emoticon ants in your pants. Better get 'em out of there.
No but, seriously this is great news; great news.
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Here's to building quads ... emoticon

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MSDHARMA 7/8/2011 11:42PM

    Awesome!! I'm glad your knee is feeling better!

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FREECANDY 7/8/2011 8:21PM

    Great news! emoticon

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MNCYCLIST 7/8/2011 5:53PM

    That's great, glad to hear the good news!

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HIKINGSD 7/8/2011 5:08PM

    Good for you!

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GABENSEBSMOM 7/8/2011 4:10PM

    Woo hoo! That is fabulous news! emoticon

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MARVEEME 7/8/2011 4:04PM

    This is awesomely exciting for you, and most inspirational to everyone who reads it. Blessings, and smooth sailing from here, cowgirl!



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    Yay! Exciting news!

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SYZYGY922 7/8/2011 2:44PM

    Yay! That's so exciting! One of my dreams is to bike to the gym, but that would involve riding up a VERY steep hill that I can barely walk up with my knee. I do ride around my neighborhood, but it's hard. I'll probably ride a few miles on the bike trail this weekend though. Congrats!

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ARCHIMEDESII 7/8/2011 2:41PM

    emoticon emoticon

Believe me, I feel your knee pain !!! that why I'm thrilled for your successful ride today !


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