Thursday, May 20, 2010
I just had a CRAZY idea. I mean seriously, I think someone might have to lock me in a loony-bin.
I had a GREAT swim tonight - and quite possibly it is the reason for this crazy thinking I've been doing. I have a sneaking suspicion that I finally understand what "exercise euphoria" feels like... and I'm not sure that I like it - haha. But I'm darn well posting this as proof of this feeling before it goes away and I can deny it!
So I'm sitting on the bus on the way home, and I'm thinking to myself - I want to do a triathlon.
WHAT??? A Capital "T" Triathlon.
Now I'm not talking about doing this tomorrow - but maybe once I'm at goal. I've already decided that my goal reward is going to be a trip to Hawaii. But now I'm thinking that a REALLY good reason to go to Hawaii once I hit goal will be to do a triathlon. With my brother. Yeah - I'm going to drag other people into this CRAZY idea too. Stay out of my path - I might make you train with me.
I have NEVER thought like this before. Ever.
In previous weight loss efforts (let's be honest and call them what they were - diets), my only goals were tinier clothing, a smaller behind, and hotter dates. But the thought of being a Capital "A" Athlete never crossed my mind. Exercise wasn't really even part of the equation other than the painful, agonizing thing I had to do to get skinny. But every time I get in that pool, and every time I rock out a swim, and FEEL my muscles working and stretching and getting stronger, I feel like an athlete - and that feels good. In all the things that I have been called in my life - athlete has never been one of them. And I want that to change!
Oh Lord do I have my work cut out for me! The shortest triathlon involves a 750 metre swim, 20K bike ride and 5K run. I have no idea how many metres I swim a night - but I doubt it's 750 and currently I spend an hour doing it. I have a bike. I've ridden it once this year. It's a far cry from a street bike - a pink Schwinn Cruiser that I call "Roxy". Roxy's only ever seen about 5 miles total...in her whole life. And as far as the running is concerned - eesh. I walk home once a week - 2.5 miles. But the thought of running that distance scares the crap out of me.
But whatever drug was in that chlorine water tonight is making me feel that no matter how scared I might be of the Swim, Bike, Run routine - I can do it. I can do any darn thing I set my mind to. Anything. Throw it at me.
Ask me about this tomorrow and I won't know what you're talking about.
I know, physically, I won't be able to do this until I shed at least 100 pounds, so the goal is a distant one. But it doesn't mean I can't start training now. Swim. Bike. Run. Individually, I can do all of those things. I'll worry about putting them together later.
I guess I better tell my brother what I'm signing him up for!
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
It's been a long week. Well - at least it feels that way. I've been a bit more detached from my "Sparkiness" of late - checking my page only a couple times a day, using my nutrition and fitness tracker, checking in on the DGOTD and then signing off.
I guess it's because I've been struggling with being ME over this past week. It happens to the best of us - the attack of the ugly green monster - jealousy. And spending your days wishing you were anyone BUT who you are.
It started last Friday. My office-mate, who has been doing Weight Watchers for the past 6 months, hit her goal. I saw the post on her Facebook page and braced myself - it's all she ever talks about anymore. We used to be buddies - when she was new to the city I took her in and gave her a job and we'd hang out and do dinner and drinks after work, we'd watch Biggest Loser together every Tuesday night and cook each other dinner. Then her best friend from college moved to town and I was out of the picture. We still see each other every day at work, but we don't hang out anymore. She's a lot younger than me and her priorities are different. Plus - I'm her boss, and that just makes things awkward. Then she decided that she wanted to get skinny and started WW. Our office conversations went from dating and gossip to Points and her running schedule. It got boring - fast. I have done the WW thing - about 11 different times. It never worked for me. I know it's a great program for some people, but I can't help thinking that it's just a diet. Who wants to count points for the rest of their lives? But I watched her succeed at this thing that I could never do. Dropping pound after pound. Having everyone at work make a big deal about how great she looked and her success while I struggle along, drudge along, pull myself up by the bootstraps every time I see the same damn numbers on the scale. She's got cute new clothes, and cute new boots, and a cute new haircut. It infuriates me! Why was it so easy for her? She never plateaued, never had any issues along the way, and brought in CUPCAKES to celebrate her victory! CUPCAKES? Who rewards weight loss with junk food?
I ate two of them.
And then I wished I was her. Wished I had it that easy. Wished away my lifetime battle with this "thing" that has seemingly chosen ME to plague. Wished I was anyone else but myself at that particular moment in time. And then wished that those cupcakes made her gain back 10 pounds out of spite. (I didn't say my ugly green monster was friendly - au contraire - it is evil and vindictive and downright nasty).
I took a nice, long walk to try to work off the cupcakes and to attempt a re-balance of myself and my work thus far. I'm doing well, I'm making changes, I'm happy in my skin...but am I really? I ended my walk at the theatre for our weekend of performances. Four shows sitting in a dark booth, doing a thankless job that no one really even knows exists besides the people who work in theatre. I press buttons, I keep the show on time, I reprimand the actors when they get silly. I don't get to stand on stage and sing my heart out and carry on inside-jokes with my cast members back stage and take my bows to thunderous applause when the show is over. Applause. I live for that applause. It's why I got into theatre in the first place. And sure - I get the applause - but indirectly. People applaud when they love the show, and I am a huge part of that, but I'm not standing on the stage to get it. I'm the person at the back of the house that sits behind the audience - out of their field of vision. I wished I were an actor. I wished I were a singer. Wished I was anyone else but myself at that particular moment in time.
Over the weekend I was talking to one of our actors - she's one of those people who everyone loves. She's beautiful, has a great job, is incredibly talented and is engaged to an equally gorgeous, talented, and kind man. She's also Miss Suzie Homemaker - bakes her own bread, does home improvement projects, seems so wholesome and pure. I want to BE HER. So I was talking to her before our show on Sunday, sharing with her that I had channeled my "inner her" and baked bread that morning (and it is YUMMY bread). She told me about this blog that she's addicted to and said I should check it out for more yummy recipes and home improvement advice. I went home and Googled it immediately. And given my current state of "green" it was probably the biggest mistake I could have made. My foray into "The Pioneer Woman" involved a whole day (until 2:30am last night) reading her blogs about how she met and married her dream guy, lives on a gorgeous ranch in Oklahoma, has 4 beautiful children and a perfect dog, and just did a book tour for her first New York Times Bestseller cookbook. Ugh. If I was green before, by the time I made it through that I was reeking of pungent, fluorescent, emerald slime. I wished I was her. I wished for that perfect life. I wished I was younger. I wished for a do-over. Wished I was anyone else but myself at that particular moment in time.
Did I mention that all three of these women are redheads? I wished for red hair, and then went to bed and dreamed of cupcakes, and horses and being so fat I couldn't get out of bed.
I'm suffocating in jealousy right now.
So to appease the ugly green monster, just for 3 seconds, I'm gonna have at it - WHY MEEEEEEEEE????? *Kicks, stomps, jumps up and down screaming in frustration* AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!
OK. That's over. I'm done now. Picking myself up by my bootstraps and moving on. I've spent so much time over the past week wishing I was someone else, I've lost sight of me and who I am and WHERE I am right now. I'm reclaiming my "Sparkiness" and I'll be damned if I'm not going to be excited about this and for the future that I WILL HAVE. I have today. I have tomorrow. And every day after that will be better than the one before. Everyone is fighting their own battles. So many things come easily to me that other people struggle with. Sure I'm angry that my battle is out there for the world to see...on my thighs, but I'd rather be me than any of those women on a good day. 90% of the time. And as for the other 10% - I'm working on it.
When I was 10 years old I was selected to sing at the Grade 8 commencement ceremonies at my school. My song:
If I were a bird, I could fly
High as the stars in the sky
But a bird I'll never be
So I'm happy, you see
Just being me, being me
Being me, Being free
Being all I can be
I can pass every test
Cause I'll give it my best
Just being me, being me
If I were a bell, I could chime
Ring-ding-a-ling, all the time
But a bell I'll never be
So I'm happy, you see
Just being me, being me
I am a light, I can shine
The light of the world, I can shine
Jesus love shines through me
And I'm happy, you see
Just being me, being me
I can always be myself
Better than anybody else
Just being me
Being all I can be
I can pass every test
Cause I'll give it my best
Just being me, being me
I can always be myself
Better than anybody else
Just being me
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
I've been working through the idea for this blog for a few weeks now. This morning I am mad at the scale again, so I think it's time to get this out of my head and down somewhere that I can see it.
Only ten pounds into my journey and I have already hit a plateau. I knew it was going to happen, but so soon? It's frustrating to say the least, but I've been trying this new mantra on for size, and it seems to be helping with the disdain I have for those 3 ugly numbers on the scale...3-0-0.
A few weeks back in one of my regular therapy sessions, I was spouting about the new-found (at that time) SparkPeople, the amazing tools and the fact that I had already dropped a handful of pounds. I'll be honest, I was looking for a "Good for you!", "Great job!" or "Way to go!" from my therapist. I didn't get one. Instead, she looked me straight in the eye and said - "I want you to have a boring weight loss".
At first I kind of laughed it off. I understand that this is a forever journey. I understand that what I'm doing is by no means glamourous. I get that it's about the little things. But do I REALLY get that it's all those things? Like I said - this comment has stuck with me for almost a month now and over the past month it has grown to become a fully fledged thing that I am now living with and is changing the way I am looking at what I am REALLY doing here.
My weight loss is NOT an event. Events pass. Everyone makes a big deal about events, and when they're over, people pack up and go home. I've treated weight loss like that in the past. The next big thing. You graduate school, you get married, you lose 100 pounds. Here comes Miss Jenn - look at her now. And then when I'm done with the "event" - I quit. I pack up and pack it back on.
When you lose weight too fast, it's easier to look at it like an event: that project you completed last summer; the time so-and-so got skinny. If you can package it in terms like that - it's an event, and you run the risk of being able to pack it up and put it away.
Boring weight loss happens so slowly and over such a long period of time, it can't be quantified by anyone but the person doing it. There's no big reveal, no "Ta Da!" moment. Most of the people in your life don't even realize it's happening. It's just you, and your life and your new way of living healthfully. And it's NOT easy - especially for those of us who love being in the spotlight. But learning how to separate a need for attention from my weight has been a big, bad lesson that is only now just coming about.
A plateau is just your body's natural way of letting your brain catch up. You might think that your head is in the game since you're doing so much planning and counting and tracking and thinking about weight loss. But when weight loss slows down, it isn't always because our tracking and counting and planning is off. Perhaps it is because psychologically, we're not ready to be another 10 pounds lighter.
What does being 10 pounds lighter actually mean to a person? 10 pounds can mean a new clothing size. 10 pounds can mean a loss of inches. 10 pounds can mean lower blood pressure, and better lung capacity, and more energy, and less mindless eating. 10 pounds can mean the difference between being morbidly obese and just obese. 10 pounds can mean that other people might notice that you're shrinking, and maybe you're not ready to let other people in to your personal business just yet? Maybe it's just time to settle into that 10 pound weight loss and just "be" 300 for a little while. Live in 300, breathe in 300, stretch through it, roll it around on your tongue and check in with how it really makes you feel, right now. And then once you're mentally caught up to your weight loss, you'll be ready for the next 10, 20, 50, 100.
So I'm embracing my plateau. I'm having a BORING weight loss. It doesn't mean that I'm quitting. I'm just living - and tracking, and planning, and exercising, and counting - the same way I have been for almost a month now. Because wishing me a boring weight loss wasn't the only thing my therapist said to me that day. She also shared with me her real wish for me: a wish for a life that is so much bigger, and fuller, and more complete, and more grand than any one weight loss event could possibly give me. Losing 100+ pounds is definitely a big deal, but eventually the congratulations stop, people quit noticing, and life carries on, leaving you with everything you had before, just in a new body. The real gift by the time you get there if you have done it right is the life that comes with it.
I have decided that by the time I get there, it won't be about the weight lost or my small body, but about how much my brain has gained and my HUGE spirit. So bring on a boring weight loss - it's not like changing this quickly is going to happen overnight anyway, so I'm not going to waste my quality time trying - I'm too busy living my life to capacity!
Monday, May 10, 2010
Human beings are really amazing. We have the capability to adapt to just about anything. We live in crazy climates, we support any number of stresses on our bodies physically and mentally, we have children, we hold multiple jobs, we deal with the car when it breaks down, we grieve death among family and friends, we strive, we achieve, and just when we think we couldn't possibly handle any more - we do. We adapt. We make it work. And that is truly why we are at the top of the food chain.
Personally, I am coming off the back of one of those weekends - one of those weekends where I couldn't possibly have squeezed in one more little thing - and yet, looking back on it, I am amazed at what I managed to accomplish.
I am a professional stage manager for live theatre in Chicago. I am also the general manager for a theatre building that rents facilities to theatre companies without performance spaces. We have 4 spaces in total - 2 mainstages and 2 studio theatres that switch up every 6 weeks or so with a new show. We rent for rehearsals, meetings and any number of other events all year long and at any and all hours of the day. Needless to say, I have a very full work life that I wouldn't give up for anything, but when I am working on a show myself (as I am currently) it leaves me basically NO personal time. My show schedule on the weekends requires me to be in the theatre immediately following work on Friday night for an evening show, for both a matinee and evening performance on Saturdays, and a Sunday matinee. Besides commuting home and back for brief periods of sleep and to feed the cats, I usually don't see the light of day for an entire three days in a row. Monday morning comes bright and early and I start the whole week over. It's exhausting.
So imagine my "joy" when my director came to me this past week and requested that I be present for the technical rehearsals of a high school show that is partnering with my company on our current production. It's a fun concept - the high school (an arts academy) is presenting the same show as the professional company, and as a bonus to the young generation, they get to bring their show to our set to perform on the professional stage for 3 dates. I would have killed for an opportunity like that in high school. However, since doing this required that they work around the pro schedule, it meant teching their show at 9am on Saturday morning before my already double show day, and at 7pm on Sunday following our afternoon performance. Add to that my brothers' (they're twins) birthday on Saturday and Mother's Day on Sunday, plus my monthly meeting with my nutritionist that was also scheduled for Saturday morning at 9am and I thought my head was going to explode.
I was not looking forward to the weekend. On Thursday I started mourning my upcoming lack of sleep. I rescheduled my nutritionist to Sunday at 9am, called my boyfriend and joked that I would "see him next year", and as I pulled a dirty pair of jeans from Mount Washmore to wear yet again, accepted the fact that laundry just wasn't going to get done this weekend.
We had a good show Friday night, but I declined the offer to go out with the cast afterward which upset me. I was resenting everything that had to do with this dumb schedule. I sent my brothers a "Happy Birthday" email with gift certificates attached and wished them a better day than I knew I was going to have.
Saturday went as expected - 9am-1pm with the highschoolers, then immediately into pre-show checklist for our 2:30pm curtain, wolfing down a Subway sandwich backstage in 5 minutes while the audience was coming in to the house, show until 5:30pm, followed by show breakdown and set-up again for the 8pm show. While the rest of the cast went to our director's house for dinner between shows, I stayed at the theatre to make sure everything was ready for the kids. The actors were nice and brought me back a couple slices of pizza - not exactly diet friendly, but at this point, it was welcome. Good Saturday night show, but by the time the curtain came down at 11pm, I was socked. I limped around to do my post-show checklist and fought back the tears of exhaustion as I waited for the bus to take me home - resentful again that I didn't/don't have a car. After finishing show reports and logging my food intake for the day, I fell into bed at 12:30am. Did I really have to do all of this again tomorrow? Ugh.
But Sunday morning arrived, and I was awake. My place was a MESS, so I ran around to tidy up before my nutritionist arrived (it's really awesome that she does home visits!). I finished a general sweep of my apartment and decided that while I was at it, I may as well unload the dishwasher since it had been full of clean dishes since Wednesday and the counters were starting to pile up with dirty dishes again. Managed to get that done before the knock on the door.
It was a really great meeting. I got lots of encouragement from a doctor's perspective about my Spark nutrition program, and then we started to talk about my schedule - Wasn't it amazing how much I was accomplishing? How much energy I now have? How I am more apt to take on things now when my plate is already seemingly full? How I was managing to fit exercise into a jam-packed weekly schedule and making it work for me? And it got me to thinking - I really do perform at my best under stress. When I get ramped up - there isn't anything I can't do. Doors open, opportunities seem to fall in my path, and I am primed to go get 'em.
On Thursday, I had planned that I would go back to bed when she left and get another hour and a half of shut-eye before I had to go to my show call. But once I became aware of the level at which I was and have been performing, something in me clicked. I wasn't tired anymore. I loaded the dishwasher, finished cleaning up the rest of the dishes, made myself a great breakfast, called my mom, and got my laundry sorted all before leaving my house. We had a great show Sunday, after which I joined some of the members of our orchestra for a nice dinner, and then returned to the theatre for the kids' show with fresh eyes. I had a great time watching them play in our space, and was so proud of them for how far they had come even since Saturday morning. When my boyfriend arrived to pick me up at 10pm, I was tired, but still happy that I really had managed to get it all done! When I got home, I threw on a load of laundry - just because I could.
I have learned that tiredness begets more tiredness, and that the more we sit on the couch, the more likely we are to want to continue to sit on the couch. But it works in the opposite direction too. The more we get out there and "just do it", the more active we become all round AND the more we are able to accomplish. That's a good incentive in my book! It takes a big push to get started, but once the snowball gains momentum, well - we all know what happens then, right? Snow cones for all! :) Bottom line - It gets easier.
Am I still exhausted today? Yep. But look at everything I have to show for it. I adapted, I made room for life to happen, and because of that - I continue to grow and expand (but in places other than my waistline!)
Thursday, May 06, 2010
When we would take family trips as kids to Florida, my mother would always plan our route around all the Cracker Barrels on the way. I can remember getting the Cracker Barrel map of the US and following our route based on where we were stopping. I found out not long ago that my mom doesn't even like Cracker Barrel, but she would have my dad drive out of the way sometimes so that we could stop there cause we kids loved it.
In university, when I was eating on a prepaid meal plan, I can remember walking all the way across campus to get this particular bagel and cream cheese that I loved to eat for breakfast, or to the pub that was in another dorm because their burgers were the juiciest and the fries came with extra mayo.
I've had food binges that have driven me to walk to CVS in my pajamas for another pint of ice cream or whatever candy of the month is on sale, I've spent the last dollar in my bank account on Dairy Queen or Starbucks, and I have been that person who stands in a line 20 people long at the street fair to get a funnel cake.
I have canceled plans with my friends to watch my favorite television show, and I routinely re-arrange my schedule and go out of my way (most of the time to the detriment of my own sleep schedule) to be everything to everyone whenever they need it.
But exercise? Why would I do anything extraneous for exercise? Exercise is work enough on its own. Heck, I have so many excuses and reasons not to exercise, thinking of going above and beyond anything over just getting off the couch is crazy-talk to me.
But yesterday I proved myself wrong and performed the unthinkable! I went to some pretty extraordinary measures to go swimming.
My previous blog post "Closed for Maintenance" details my adoration of the pool and my renewed love of exercise in water. So I knew that this week was going to be challenging because my convenient pool was closed. So I set about yesterday researching new pools, still within the Park District (thus free), with a Wednesday night Adult Open Swim, that I could get to fairly easily by public transit as I am "wheel-less" for the time being aside from the extra tires I carry around my mid-section.
You wouldn't believe the number of pools that are "Closed for the Season"! Closed for the season? Isn't it Spring going into Summer right now? I would have figured more would have been opening, not closing. My two top choice alternative pools were now out of the question. Strike One for exercise. But I'm still determined...
I finally find a pool that looks doable. It's in another neighbourhood of town, literally 1 block north of my old apartment where I lived for 2 years. How did I not know this existed? But that is still a LONG way from where I live/work now AND swim time is not until 8:30pm when I get off work at 6pm AND it only goes until 9:15pm - 45 minutes when I usually have an hour. Strike Two for exercise. But this is my only option, so I'm not giving up yet...
The gears have been set in motion at this point. I determine that I am going to this pool, but that I'll go home first and pick up a return that I have to make at a store that is really close to the pool and that I would have had to travel to anyway. Awesome. Score One for exercise.
The bus ride home takes forever! By the time I get home I'm hungry, but I don't have time to prep a meal and eat and still get the return done and to the pool on time (plus I don't like eating a big meal before I swim anyway), so I grab a banana, change my clothes, grab my swim bag and head out the door. Bus #1 arrives within 2 minutes and I am on my way. Score Two for exercise!
Bus #2 is delayed, but arrives just when I'm thinking seriously about starting to walk to my destination (but I have come this far so going home doesn't cross my mind). I get to the store, make my return, and walk down the block towards the pool. Subway is on the corner, so I make a quick trip in to pick up a post-swim sandwich and a pre-swim milk because I'm still hungry. The milk does the trick as I reach the pool. 3-2 for exercise.
At this point I am REALLY happy with myself. I went out of my way, I arrived at my destination, I did a little multi-tasking - I am a superstar, and now it is time for my reward. And what a reward it was!
The pool was EMPTY! 3 lifeguards sitting there just waiting for me to walk in. How awesome. My other pool is so crowded normally that I can barely find room to fit in a lap length and we bump into each other constantly. Not here. One other person showed up, did his 20 laps and then left - but the rest of the time was ALL MINE. I was in swimmer's heaven. Huge locker room - all to myself. My pick of the showers. Not having to worry about keeping my towel from slipping off while I get dressed (not that I actually care about that anyway, but sometimes other people do). Exercise wins by a landslide!
I banged out an awesome swim for 50 minutes (since there was no one there they let me dive in a little early), had a nice long shower, and prepped for the long trip home with a good book. Although I arrived home later than I normally do on a swim night, I still felt accomplished. I enjoyed my Subway sandwich and filled in my Cardio tracker for the day. And get this - I also discovered that I had been calculating wrong and that "Swimming - General" burns far fewer calories than what I have actually been doing. SP breaks various swimming strokes down in the Cardio tracker, so knowing that I spend most of my time doing breast stroke actually DOUBLED the number of calories that I burned. Once I figured that out, I also discovered that maybe the reason I didn't lose anything last week is because I'm not eating enough for all the calories I'm burning! Now doesn't THAT feel good?
Today I feel great. Now, instead of going to great lengths for junk food or unhealthy behaviours, I have proven to myself that I can be one of those people that goes out of my way to get in an evening of exercise instead of being anxious on the bus at 7:56pm because my favorite tv show comes on at 8. Television is recordable, in Chicago, food is available 24/7, but I'M here right now and doing what is right for myself is the thing that can't wait. I deserve to be gone out of the way for. I perform extraordinary feats for other people every day. This time it's my turn. And that is NOT crazy-talk!
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