Tuesday, March 09, 2010
When I first started going to the gym five years ago, I used to laugh inwardly at all the guys in the free weight area. There are a lot of guys at my gym who spend all of their time on free weights, and they invariably spend a lot of time between sets flexing their muscles and staring at themselves. It always struck me as funny that these guys were so vain they were mesmerized by their own muscles.
Then I lost 25 pounds through exercise alone. I was still eating junk food, so God only knows how much weight I would have lost if I'd combined that with eating well. I did at least half an hour of cardio every morning before work, then did strength training 3-4 times per week. And truth be told, I ended up loving strength training way more than cardio. It was really great to see how much my body was changing and how much stronger I was getting.
And then, a funny thing happened. I noticed that between sets, I was always flexing, staring, and feeling my muscles, especially my arms. Summer came and I bought a wardrobe full of tank tops and sleeveless shirts- all the better to see my arms and shoulders. I even, briefly, took up guitar because my arms made me want to play, for some reason. I still don't really get the connection, there.
Then I fell off the wagon. I got busy with grad school in late summer and had less time. Took a long vacation in October and had less ambition. It wasn't long before I'd gained back the weight and all my pretty muscles got blurred and soft under the fat. And I didn't want to look at it any more.
Flashforward to 2010. I'm working out. I feel strong. I've lost about fifteen pounds. I follow every C25K session with core and upper body strength training. And in the past couple of weeks, I've caught myself absently touching my shoulders, or flexing my biceps and then giving them a squeeze. The lat pulldown machine at the gym faces a mirror, and I keep catching myself watching my arms flex while I work. Same thing with my legs. Right now, the running is my only regular lower body workout, but I'm already seeing changes in my calf muscles and my thighs. I've lost two inches in my thighs since January and I can feel the long muscle shaping up.
So once again, I'm falling in love with my muscles. Staring at them. Feeling like I can't keep my hands off them. It's a good feeling! And I haven't laughed at those boys in many a year.
Thursday, March 04, 2010
I was just listening to my iPod while working and shuffle popped up a real favorite, Social Distortion's "Far Behind." I've always loved it, but this time it made me think about my fat. So, I'd like to dedicate this song to my fat and all of the bad habits that contributed to it.
"With friends like you, who needs enemies?
You ain't right, you ain't never gonna be
You're out of the car, I'm afraid you've been declined.
You shake my hand, while you're p--sing on my leg
I'm cutting you loose, I don't need this misery
Your soul is toxic, you ain't no friend of mine. NO!!!
You talk real trash, when I'm not around
To build yourself up, you gotta tear me down.
You'll have to excuse me, I got better things to do
You smile through your teeth, you talk out your neck
Every chance you get, you're going to stab my back
Your time's run out, I've got nothing left for you.
I'm leaving you far behind
I'm leaving you far behind
Stop wasting all, all my time
I'm leaving you far behind, Yeah!!!
So I'm pulling out the weeds, I'm taking stock
You can talk the talk, but can't walk the walk
Your narcissistic ways have gotten the best of you
So I'm leaving you to sink in all your glory
For you and me it's the end of the story
Get out of my way, I've got better things to do."
Tuesday, March 02, 2010
I've been on edge for the past week or so, and I've just about had it. Last Wednesday, I got the shocking news that my cousin's wife was killed in a workplace accident. Thing is, it was the kind of workplace accident that makes the front page of Yahoo news. See, my cousin was married to Dawn Brancheau. It seems like only minutes after I got the phone call from my dad relating the horrible news, I found that groups were using her death for their own amusement or to push their agenda forward. Honestly, I haven't made up my mind about the captive animals debate, but these people aren't winning my support by putting out a message that reads to me like, "This is what happens. We told you so! And oh, yeah, we're sorry she died, I guess," And as for the bored teenagers on Facebook with their disgusting jokes, well, I think "special place in hell" just about sums it up. And now I've seen horribly intrusive pictures of the funeral all over the place and my dad tells me that some photographers tried to take pictures inside the church.
So, since February 24, my mental and emotional state has been about 90% negative. I'm angry. I'm disgusted. I'm sad. I'm worried.
It's emotionally draining. And it's definitely had an effect on my weight loss goals. I haven't worked out. I've barely kept track of what I was eating. I haven't cooked. I've had fast food that I didn't really put any thought into. I had a freaking Big n' Tasty value meal for dinner last night!
And you know what? I'm done with that. I haven't been working so hard to give in to this now. Time to get back to doing the work. I'm allowed to be sad and angry. I'm not allowed to let it take over my life.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
This week, I feel like I've taken a giant step backward, even though I still seem to be moving forward. Last week, I was all about declining paczki, "food is fuel," and getting to the gym regardless of how I felt or what time it was. This week, I just feel lazy and gloomy.
I think it started over the weekend. I went to my parents' house in Northern Michigan, where they don't have high-speed internet and don't exactly eat healthy food. I had a follow up test to my thyroid scan in Ann Arbor, so I was able to get away early and fulfill something I'd promised my mother: fried walleye from Krzysiak House in Bay City. While I was there, I also picked up some house-made kielbasa (3.5 pounds!), a loaf of homemade bread (white), and some kruschiki (angel wing cookies). I was in full-on Polish food mode. And Polish food isn't exactly light. We had a cookbook called "Polish Cooking for Americans" and I swear every recipe had either sour cream, butter, or sausage. So dinner was fried fish, french fries and the slice of apple pie my father served me without asking if I wanted it.
On Saturday, I went skiing for a couple of hours and felt fantastic. Skiing felt better than it has in years, and I spent most of every run making strong, short radius turns. I quit when my knee started getting sore, because I didn't want to push it. Right now, running is more important than skiing and I don't want to miss one because of one turn too many with the other. I tried to eat reasonably healthy, but I ate too many fried foods and not enough complex carbs or plants. I honestly don't think I ate a vegetable all weekend.
I did make sure I got home in time to get to the gym and run on Sunday. But I honestly have no idea what I ate that day. So much for mindful eating! I doubt it was anything too bad, but I don't remember. On Monday, I made a family Polish recipe in the Crock-Pot and found a way to make it healthier than we always had. I also stayed at work late and decided I was too tired to workout. I didn't pack my lunch because I hadn't had time to shop. On Tuesday, we had a lunch at Mitchell's Fish Market and I felt mostly virtuous all day with the food. Stayed late again, bought some groceries, ate leftovers, and instead of going to the gym, I went to Target and bought a TV for my bedroom. "I'll go tomorrow night," I thought. On Wednesday, I had a pretty healthy lunch from the cafeteria at work, but preceded it with a piece of birthday cake. And at the end of the day, just when I was planning to head home while it was still light out, for a change, I got news that my cousin's wife had been killed in a pretty shocking and terrible way, so I spent a few hours looking at news reports and message boards (her death is a pretty big news story). And after all that sadness and shock, I just couldn't make myself go to the gym.
So, here I am, struggling to stay on track and trying to find a way to get back to where I was last week. I don't have any plans for the weekend other than extreme housework, so I should be able to refocus on mindful eating and intentional fitness. I can't do it today, but I can commit to it tomorrow.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
I honestly don't know what that book is about, but the title "Eat, Pray, Love" pretty much sums up what's on my mind today. Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten period leading up to Easter. It's one of two fast days during Lent, the other being Good Friday. My friends who are Hindu or Orthodox Jewish laugh when I describe a Catholic fast day. Since Vatican II, fasting is described as eating one meal, preferably at midday. You can also eat two snacks ("collations") which, combined, cannot equal the main meal. You must also abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays during Lent. A Catholic fast seems to be less about fasting and more about being hungry enough to think about it and the reasons for it.
So, today is a day of mindful eating which is a little more mindful than usual. Besides being a fast day, it's also a work day and a C25K day for me. Exercise is not recommended on a fast day, for obvious reasons, but I think I can make it work with minor modifications. For breakfast this morning, I had a banana and a Kashi granola bar. I did not have coffee, but allowed myself plain hot tea. For lunch, I had two ounces of tuna on wheat, and an orange. I will have dinner before going to the gym, and it will be oatmeal, an apple and possibly some baby carrots. I know I will be short on nutrients today and I'm consuming about half of my minimum calories. However, this is not a regular practice. It happens today, and tomorrow I am back to regular mindful eating, which seems to involve me eating healthy food, and a lot of it!
If I start running and feel like the lack of food is affecting me, I will stop running. If I get hungry before then, I'll have a glass of skim milk (liquids are okay). But I think I'll be okay. And while I'm being okay, I'll think about Lent, what it means to me, and how I will use the next 46 days to develop good habits and be a better person.
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