Saturday, July 14, 2012
Today is my half-birthday and it's such an amazing change from where I was six months ago in January. I was steadily gaining on the scale, depressed, spending every day in my bed. I was a shut-in and hated what I'd become but had no motivation to change it. My birthday wasn't the turning point for me... that didn't happen until a month and a half later, and I only got worse until then. The previous year had been rough [to put it mildly], I hadn't been able to afford eating and was borrowing large sums of money from my family just to pay my rent. A solution presented itself, but it meant giving up a job I loved [although admittedly didn't pay the bills] and friends I considered family. I haven't seen my Chicago friends since I moved, a thousand miles is a big distance and none of us have money to spare for travel, and I'm *still* unemployed and without friends in this area. I spent a lot of time wallowing and feeling like a failure, it took a LONG time to get over it. And it still hurts, if I think about it, but I've got other, positive things to concentrate on.
Today, I went to the gym and beat my personal elliptical 5k PR [26:35, 1:30 faster than my previous PR!] and ran four minutes on the treadmill [it may not sound like much, but it's one minute more than last week and eventually my ankle will be able to handle doing Couch to 5K for real]. I've lost about 30 pounds [tomorrow's my official weigh in, but the scale today looked pretty great], and my energy levels are amazing. I bike at least 50 miles a week, and I feel weird if I *don't* get out of the house and do some exercise every day. I nourish my body with healthy food, and I'm rewarded with more energy and less chronic pain [I haven't had ANY back pain in over two months!]. I'm much happier with my life, and I've taken steps towards making it everything I've ever wanted [we're not just talking physical health here]. I'm trying to get back into school, to pursue a career that's always been my calling but I've always been too afraid of failure to attempt. I've been examining myself and making improvements on what I can. I've had some setbacks, especially when it comes to my anxiety, but I'm still improving.
I'm excited to see what the next six months have in store for me. I'd originally hoped to be at my goal weight by my birthday, I don't think that's going to happen anymore but at least if I lose another 30 pounds in the next six months, I'll be pretty close. And no matter what, I'll be lots closer than I was six months ago. Here's to another six months, or sixty years, of good mental and physical health!
Tomorrow morning, I'm going to a meet-up of other cyclists in the area for a 20 mile ride on the bike path. This will be a personal challenge for me, not because of the route [it's my normal cycling route], but because it involves 1) getting out of bed and the house pretty early [I have to be on the road around 9am] and 2) meeting strangers, and having not even a single person I know with me. I'm really struggling with my social anxiety, and I'm trying to not let it win, but this will definitely be a challenge. But it's something I really want to do! I want to meet fellow cyclists in the area and maybe make a friend or two. You don't know how badly I want that, but my social anxiety keeps getting in the way. So here's hoping I can deal with it.
Thursday, July 12, 2012
You know those days where you just can't get your body to cooperate? That was today for me. Maybe because I got less sleep/rest than usual today [I was up at 7:30 and out of bed by 9, whereas I usually sleep past 8 and laze about in bed until 10 or so]. Maybe it's because I did a different workout yesterday [30 Day Shred… my ankle did NOT like it, so it's put on the back burner again]. Maybe it's just because I've been pushing it hard and it wanted a break. All very good possibilities. But whatever the reason, I was definitely having an "off" day today.
On the bike ride to and from the gym, I had to get off my bike and walk up hills [once on the way there, once on the way back]. My body just did NOT want to make it up them. Granted, they are VERY difficult hills and I *always* struggle with them… but I always make it up them. Oh well, walking up them one day isn't bad. There are a bunch of other hills on the route and I did all of those.
Then at the gym, I set the elliptical for my regular 30 minutes [well, 30 + 5 minutes of cool down] but hit the wall pretty early on. I usually hit the wall around 10 minutes in or so and it goes away within a couple minutes, but today that came at 6 minutes in and I struggled to push through it. I struggled a LOT. To the point where, at the 15 minute mark, I was still struggling and knew that I wouldn't make it to 30 minutes. So I adjusted my time to 20 minutes, a little disgruntled but it's still better than nothing.
I then hopped on the treadmill and thought that maybe I'd get back on the elliptical after walking for a bit, but about halfway through my 15 minute routine, my knee started acting up. Now, my knee having discomfort is nothing new, it was a fact of life for many years [yay debilitating conditions!], so I know when I can ignore it and when I need to listen to it. Today was one of the latter instances [especially since I still had the bike ride home to consider!]. I lowered my speed and incline, finished my treadmill workout, and discarded the idea of getting back on the elliptical. It just wasn't happening today.
Still, I hadn't felt like going to the gym at *all* earlier in the day so at least I went and got some stuff done. Maybe it's not up to par compared to my usual workouts, but it still wasn't bad. Between the two bike rides, the elliptical and the treadmill, I still burned 883 calories so I'm only a little over 100-150 calories off from my regular gym burn. Not too shabby for a day I really had to push myself to accomplish anything.
Tomorrow I'm planning to do a leisurely bike ride, just 10 or 12 miles on an almost entirely flat route, so that should help my body rest. Also, even though today I was only on my bike for about 5 miles, it was enough to complete my "bike 100 miles in 21 days" goal for Le Tour Challenge on MapMyFitness. Woohoo!
Oh yeah... and I went to Subway after the gym [it's right next door so I usually treat myself once a week] and there was a new [to me] guy working who kept flirting with me. I can't remember the last time someone actually flirted with me! It was just good fun, but it felt great.
I think I'm going to spend the rest of the day relaxing in a bubble bath with a book… it seems to be what my body wants!
Monday, July 09, 2012
A friend of mine called me an athlete this morning. I was shocked. I don't consider myself an athlete at all, just maybe in the beginning stages of possibly becoming one. Especially since this friend regularly runs half marathons and is running her first full marathon this fall, and our entire group of mutual friends are along the same lines. I can't run [grumble grumble stupid ankle], but of course there are athletic things other than running. I do bike a lot, I know. An hour a day, minimum, on days I don't go to the gym. 20 mile rides are becoming more of a norm. But I don't think that I qualify as an athlete.
So why not? I guess I don't feel like one because I know that my body is capable of so much more. I still struggle with hills, and my average speed is only about 13mi/hr [although it's steadily increasing, and I've been getting up to 17mi/hr on flat stretches]. But aside from hills, I don't feel like I'm really pushing myself. Despite living in a hilly area, the bike path is mostly flat so I don't get much practice with hills. [There are hills in the 2 miles to/from the bike path, and on my route to the gym, so I do get some hill practice in. But it's not a lot.] The rest of the ride is easy, even if it's over 20 miles. 20 miles isn't much, in the cycling world. I know that my body can do more.
Even though cycling is my exercise of choice [and has been for over five years], I've never participated in any races or even charity rides. The closest I've come to doing an "organized event" on my bike is Critical Mass in Chicago. I have plans to do organized rides, but they're far off in the future.
I guess my image of an athlete is just... not me. An athlete is someone who pushes their body to its limit, who's more fit than I am, who averages better speeds than I do. An athlete participates in races and charity events, and has a collection of medals to show their achievements. An athlete is not me: overweight, struggling to get up hills, taking time to enjoy the scenery. Or is it?
Sunday, July 08, 2012
I guess this was one of those weeks where you can do everything perfectly and it just doesn't show. I know these weeks happen. But it doesn't mean that I'm still not frustrated.
I was at the gym three times this week, and went for long bike rides [an hour or longer] three other days. I did yoga, and worked on strength training three days a week. I burned an average of a thousand calories each day from exercise. Sparkpeople told me that I wasn't eating enough for that level of activity, so they upped my calorie range... and every single day since they did that, the scale kept climbing. On Wednesday, my weight was down 2.5 from last Sunday's weigh in. But then I added in more food, DESPITE feeling full and satisfied, and I gained about a pound every day after that. So, in the end, at today's official weigh in, I was up 2 pounds. Argh. So frustrated!
I don't even WANT to be eating this much food, my body and my mind were satisfied with eating 1200-1350 calories on most days and it was working for me. These past few days, since I've been eating more, I've been extremely bloated and I've just felt GROSS because I've been eating more than my body wants. Isn't the whole point of "making lasting food choices" to learn to listen to our bodies' hunger signals and stop eating when we're full? For me, getting to the 1550 calorie minimum that sparkpeople wants me to eat means pushing way past that comfortable feeling in my stomach. Plus, trying to plan to get all that food in every day was stressing me out.
I'm going back to what I was eating before. It was working for me. If it stops working, then I'll switch it up. But right now... no, it's way too much food, I'm not happy about it, and I don't want it. Give my extra calories to someone else.
Here's hoping for a better week this week. I already took my scale frustrations on a 22 mile bike ride, so that was a good start.
Thursday, July 05, 2012
Today was just one of those absolutely amazing days at the gym. Whereas I had to push myself through Tuesday's workout, today was a breeze. I did my usual 35 minutes on the elliptical, still making my way up the resistance levels [today, level 7 for the first time]. My usual speed is between 5.5-6.0 mph, but today I stayed above 6.5 without even feeling it. I usually hovered around 7.0mph, which is just unbelievable because when I joined the gym [less than a month ago!], I was struggling to maintain 5.0 on level 3. And I've only been to the gym six times so far [since I took two weeks off for my ankle], so to see improvements like that in such a short time... wow!
I beat my 5k PR, completing 3.1 miles in 28:20 [previous PR on the elliptical had been 32:40, on level 5!] which just shocked me. And then I moved to the treadmill and kept my speed around 3.5 for the most part, sometimes moving up to 3.7 or 4.0 and sometimes moving down to 3.3 [with a 2% incline]. And I was feeling so great, my ankle was feeling wonderful, that I decided to chance it and attempt a run. I ran at 5.0 for 3 minutes, I probably could've ran more but I didn't want to stress my ankle. I'm building up slowly and being *very* cautious with this stupid thing. Anyway, I didn't feel any ankle pain at all [and I still don't, four hours later... *knock on wood*] and although my form was all kind of lopsided [5.0 isn't really a running pace, and I'm actually really bad at jogging, but I didn't want to go faster because of my ankle], it was still a big accomplishment for me. Have I mentioned lately how impatient I am to be able to run? Because... yeah. Sitting out all these summer races is really annoying!
I also beat my times biking to and from the gym, and didn't feel like dying on the hills [I'm trying this radical new thing called shifting gears!]. And when I got home and looked at my HRM results, they all said the same thing: yes, I was working faster but my body wasn't working as hard as it usually does [ie, lower heart rate]. Which is good, a GREAT sign of improved fitness, but also means less calories burned! Oh well, I'll take it.
I don't know if today was just a fluke, or if I've actually drastically improved my fitness in a matter of days, but it felt great all the same.
Bike ride tomorrow [and checking out a new LBS!], and then Saturday I have to haul myself out of bed super early to get to the gym before going out with my mom. Seriously, I have to be out of my house by 9am. I'm usually still in bed [albeit awake] at that time! So... yeah, I'm definitely going to need some encouragement if anyone's around early Saturday morning.
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