Friday, August 10, 2012
So, I decided I had better learn how to swim. If I expect to get any cardio in while I'm in the boot, I've just got to bite the bullet and do it. I've honestly been deathly afraid to swim in front of people (at a public pool or at the YMCA)...especially in a designated swim lane. It makes me feel very self-conscious...like everyone is watching or something.
Also, I had no clue HOW to swim correctly and I haven't actually swam freestyle since high school. That was a long time ago. And about 100 lbs ago too.
A little voice in the back of my mind was saying, "Leah, you should learn this...because someday you might want to do triathlons." Oh wait...that wasn't in the back of my mind...that was on the phone...it was my trainer. Haha. Either way...that voice is nuts! But...then I read that book and got all interested in triathlons. Oh Lord...there seems to be a recurring theme presenting itself in my life now. Grrrr.
So, here is what I did, friends:
I went to the computer and Googled "How to Swim". I kid you not. I watched like 3 videos. I also Googled "How to Water Jog". Upon seeing how completely DORKY people look when they water jog, I decided the LEAST DORKY option in a public place would be swimming.
Last night, I dreamed I was swimming with a relay team. It was my first race and the team was shocked that I was actually good! In my dream, I was going over and over the technique from the Google videos in my head. I woke up and thought, "Maybe I should try this."
So I headed over to the Y for Adult Open Swim this afternoon. Picked up my very own pair of goggles at Kmart on the way there and hopped in that pool.
It was nerve wracking (sp?) sharing a lane with an older guy who obviously KNEW what he was doing and didn't have to take a break to breathe every two lengths. But, I DID find that the techniques I learned on YouTube made things easier than they would have been if I would have just gone out flailing.
The toughest part for me was negotiating the breathing. They say every three strokes and blow the air out when you are looking down underwater. But...I just could not get enough air. Hence, the break I took every two lengths.
In the end, though, I swam 20 lengths of the pool in about 30 minutes time. I thought about going another 15 minutes, but decided that half an hour was good for my first time out.
And I'm SO glad I stopped then!!! See, the thing is...I didn't actually FEEL the workout until AFTER I got out of that pool! Talk about exhaustion! That was definitely the fastest 670 calories I've ever burned!
But I feel great. And I didn't drown and I didn't die and no one made fun of me or even looked twice. So...maybe I'll do it again. And again and again.
Stay tuned as I face my next big fear: riding a bicycle.
Thursday, August 09, 2012
So, I had my pity party a couple weeks ago. I cried my tears. I re-aligned my mind to the reality of my situation (4 weeks in the walking boot and physical therapy in the water). I got the greatest pep talk ever from my very dear trainer and he helped me to kick out my negative thoughts and adjust my view of reality.
I have worked out a total of 320 minutes over the past 9 days. Considering running has not been a part of that equation, I'm really quite proud of this accomplishment....even though I know I can do so much more. And I will.
I have made some revolutionary changes to my diet...trainer calls it Table Training. I've really been reigning things in and doing the best I can to be as disciplined as I can with my choices. Not perfect, but damn close. Working hard to PLAN ahead...to make sure I get my protein, that I'm not going over on fat, that I'm eating as much whole and healthy food as possible.
I wasn't seeing any loss...but no significant gains either. The extra protein was making my body feel AMAZING. I have felt tight all over (in a great way) from all the strength work I've been doing and I just feel SO HEALTHY.
But the scale was not budging. Until today...I posted a 1.6 lbs weight loss. I was SO SO happy. I am praying that it keeps going in the downward direction.
Even though I'm doing absolutely everything in my power to help my body "heal" from obesity, the battle is so much more on the emotional and mental field than anything else.
Yeah...I feel great...but I miss running. I sometimes think about it in the middle of a workout and my heart feels overwhelmingly sad.
I'm a girl...I worry about things....
What if I go back to running and I don't love it anymore?
What if all this extra strength training and pool therapy really doesn't work?
What if I can't last for 7 miles anymore?
How will I possibly be ready for my half marathon in October?
What if this is a recurring injury?
What if I can't lose enough weight and my stupid obesity causes a bone bruise AGAIN?
What if I simply can't lose anymore weight, no matter what I do?
What if, what if, what if, what if???
It's mental torture, I tell you. It's one thing to be able to control my ACTIONS and do all the things I know to be right for my body at this time. It's quite another to tame the tongue of the doubt demons within. (borrowed that term from Francie Van Wirkus, author of the book I read yesterday)
What it comes down to is this: am I beautiful right now? Am I proud of who I am RIGHT NOW?
I took my 6 year old to the public pool on Tuesday. It was just her and me. We went the moment it opened and I told her we could stay as long as she wanted to stay. She was over the moon excited. This child loves me to death. To her, I hang the stars. I am her hero and her world. She says "I love you" to me at least 15 times a day. She is so cuddly and always wants to be touching me or near me or hugging or kissing me. She adores me.
Why can't *I* adore me like that?
My 9 year old is so proud of me for all that I've done and am doing. She brags to her friends that her mom can run 7 miles. She refuses to let me say I'm fat and she always tells me that I should not say mean things about myself.
My 4 year old boy...ohhhh my 4 year old boy!!! There is not another boy on this planet that I am more in love with. (Sad...but true. Maybe not healthy, marriage-wise, but that's a whole other blog!) That little boy is my heart walking on two legs. He still kisses me on the lips! He expresses his love continuously and tenderly and never ever ever stops. When I put on make-up or a dress, he gently caresses my arm and says, "Mommy, you so pretty." Talk about melting your heart!
At the pool, Elayna and I took one of those photos of ourselves where I reach out as far as I can and we get in close so we can both fit in the pic. I had pool hair and Elayna had blue teeth from her snow cone and we'd been out in the water and chlorine and air and heat all day.
I was shocked when I saw it. It's not often that I take a picture of myself and I actually feel beautiful. I made it my phone background. And, I'm not kidding...I can't stop looking at it. There is something perfect about the coloring and the lighting and it's just...beautiful. I told my husband that if I die soon, he better use that picture at my funeral. Yeah, I'm weird and think things like that. LOL.
*I* am beautiful in that picture.
Why does it feel wrong to say that? Why isn't that OK? If my kids can say it to me, why can't I??? Well, starting now...I can.
Make no mistake about it...I will keep working hard. I have goals to reach. But I am beautiful now. And I need to start treating myself as such.
And so are you.
Wednesday, August 08, 2012
Today, I woke up feeling not quite right. Something was wrong with my stomach and I was just feeling nasty. I tried to remedy it with healthy food, plenty of water, caffeine, rest. The feeling still remains and additional symptoms have presented as the day has worn on. In short, I feel like crap.
It must have been fate because I was perusing my Facebook newsfeed and noticed a post from a friend, Francie Van Wirkus (who I added because she'd made some funny or great comment on one of SANDIEGOJOHN'S posts awhile back). From the time I added her, she's been great about occasionally commenting on my FB stati and encouraging me in my running, working out, etc. I quickly began to think of her as a real FB friend, not just a friend of a friend.
I knew she had written a book because, well, she's been plugging it on her FB page. I've eyed the posts lazily, not sure if I wanted to invest the $0.99 to buy it.
The REAL reason I resisted buying it is because I worked for a full year in self-publishing. I was the authors' first contact when they bought a contract and I helped them get all their materials prepared for editorial or for print. To be quite honest, that awful year in self-publishing taught me one thing: just because someone calls herself an author does not mean they even know how to construct a sentence or write in the English language. I'd say 98% of the materials I saw on a daily basis were absolute JUNK.
There was an overwhelming sense of guilt in that job - on the one hand, the fact that these people plunked down thousands of dollars to print their book and they had no idea our company was mercilessly taking their money and their book had no chance of ever selling more than 10 copies to friends and family and on the other hand, that we were marketing these books on Amazon, etc as something worthy of some hard working person's money. It was despicable and, frankly, evil.
So...it is with deep mistrust that I view ANY book or any author these days...especially eBooks and especially books on Amazon. I have to be honest...I have no idea if Francie's book is self-published.
But today I decided to go for it. I mean, it's $0.99. And, well, I really just had a good feeling about this. I have learned today that it doesn't matter whether Francie's book was self-published or not. If my experience with the self-publisher has scared you...then it also ought to tell you that if I ever do recommend a book highly, it is absolutely QUALITY.
Francie Van Wirkus is a REAL author! Not only can she string together a sentence and do great things like...you know, spell and stuff. Her material is riveting for any aspiring runner, swimmer, biker or triathlete. Or for any parent who finds it difficult to balance career, family and health.
The book is about her journey from basically no fitness to running to doing triathlons and, ultimately, to her experiences with the ultimate of all races, the Ironman.
Although I am not a triathlete (I refuse to say I'm ONLY a runner...a good friend, ABSOLUTZER0 once told me to never use the word ONLY in regard to my running, because every bit of it is a personal accomplishment and I agree), I was able to relate so closely to so much of Francie's story. She has a way of describing things in a way that makes you feel you are there, racing beside her.
The chapter called "Bee Sting" made me laugh out loud several times. Her story was anything but predictable. I found myself trying to guess the outcomes of certain relationships and events and races and I was wrong every time. I love when that happens!
Throughout the book, what struck me most was Francie's outstanding determination and strength. I mean, she's an Ironman for goodness sake...of course she's an amazing athlete. And yet, she was so candid and vulnerable about her shortcomings, her doubts, her fears...so completely and unbelievably HUMAN. It's impossible to read this book and not feel at the end that she is your close friend.
So much of what she said struck me deeply. Becuase so much of it is what I have thought and felt in the past few months with my own metamorphasis from average mom to athlete.
This excerpt, in particular, speaks to me regarding the training I've put in for my half marathon thus far:
"I learned the hard way that no one else was going to prod me to do it or make time for me. I included my family in my progress, to help them be a part of my success but ultimately, they were fair weather fans. On a cold winter day at 5:00am, they wouldn't be the ones to kick my rear out of bed and get on my CompuTrainer. Or head ot the pool when I didn't feel like it. I owned my goals completely and the only excuses were mine."
Along the way, Francie suffered so many injuries and setbacks (as athletes do). This was, in some strange way, so soothing for my soul. Reading this, along with watching the Olympics this week, has taught me that I am not alone in this injury business. And nothing is over for me. This is just a temporary issue to handle. I may need to think about it in every training period and every race for the rest of my life or I may not. Either way...it's not going to be a barrier to cause me to quit.
Running isn't all there is. I had the best workout in the pool yesterday. I did some laps, but also some deep water running and some shallow water running with a 50-lb kid on my back. I burned 700 calories. But, even better, I realized that I don't have to waste away physically while my ankle injujry heals.
"At a time when I was working on healing, my competitive spirit still had an outlet for working hard and building fitness. Now that I'm a born again swimmer, I notice others who are like me, forced into the pool due to some other injury but coming out the other side with a new love for the water."
I can only hope that I get there with swimming. At this point, I'm still scared to death to do anything in the water if any people are around. I am plagued by self-consciousness and feeling like I'm just out of my league. My trainer said, "This is a great opportunity for you to learn to swim and gear up for a possible sprint tri next year." I was like, "Are you freaking kidding me??? There's no way in hell I'll EVER be a triathlete! I'm having enough trouble being a regular old runner!" But, if there's anything I've learned from running...it's this: never say never.
The other angle of Francie's book that was just so touching and beautiful was how she weaved her family into the story. No, strike that...they weren't weaved in....they WERE the story. Her athletic career was weaved into THEM. And I so respect that.
A couple of my favorite excerpts on this that hit me pretty hard:
"I learned the hard way that as parents, we should put our kids first, but not at the expense of our own essence. In no way are we helping our kids when we let ourselves erode into near nothing for their sake. They need us as their best resource for healthy growth now and for years to come."
"You can have your family be your priority and still do something for you. It does not matter if your goal is a marathon or a musical instrument, if your vision for success is strong, it can withstand just about any challenge. It takes a big effort to be capable of doing this but the payback received is enormous. Balancing it all in a healthy way takes practice and a willingness to make mistakes."
Today I spent 12 hours reading this entire book. It was my personal marathon for the day. I was completely immersed in another athlete's life all day long and to say I was inspired would be an understatement. I think this excerpt from one of the last chapters so perfectly encapsulates the spirit of this story:
"Forget the excuses of not having the time, the support, the money, whatever. Anything worth having must be worth fighting for. Taking time for me is always going to feel weird and be hard because I work 40 hours a week at my job and at least another 60 hours a week as a Mom. Giving time to me is a premium that I must not waste. Putting my children first doesn't mean I have to die inside. What good am I as a Mom if I am constantly muddling through mediocrity? How can I expect to raise kids who will reach for the stars if I'm not doing the same?"
I highly recommend this book for all my running/athlete friends and family. It always helps to hear about someone else's journey. We all need inspiration and I know I'll remember nuggets from this story as I run my first half marathon....and then my first full...and who knows what after that? Don't we all need a little inspiration?
So, go on...buy the book. If you don't have a Kindle, but do have a smartphone (like Android or iPhone), you can get a free Kindle app for your phone. Yep, I read an entire 194-page book on my phone today. Haha. Now...you KNOW that was a good book! Haha.
Check it out! Let's all go and make Francie a hundred-aire overnight!!! (If you become a millionaire overnight, Francie...you better tell me. Because that will mean that I have a million readers...and then I will just die. Ha!)
I promise, friends...you won't be sorry.
Monday, August 06, 2012
So I was pretty excited to attend Deep Water Exercise this evening - been craving a great workout. This particular class is at the gym on campus and is specifically geared towards faculty and staff. It's free and you can jump in anytime you want without signing up, so you can't beat that deal. We pay for a gym membership, but since we are staff, it's only $14/month and it automatically comes out of our paycheck. A pretty awesome deal, considering they have two gyms...one on each side of campus.
I remember that I went to this Deep Water Exercise class after I had begun to heal from my big accident two years ago. Granted, back then, I was struggling to do simple things like straighten my arm or, you know...put my hair in a ponytail. So...I remember this class being absolutely killer and an amazing workout! I specifically remember my foot cramping up just 5 minutes in to the first class.
Needless to say, I was raring to go today. I could not WAIT! Got in that pool and was ready to WORK!
It felt like we started out pretty slow, but then we started to get going a bit more (doing more water running types of moves) and I was thinking, "OK, yeah...this is about to get really good!" Then I was confused because we were removing our buoyancy belts. Turns out, 45 minutes was over already and we were stretching.
I was actually....ANGRY. Frustrated...because I didn't feel that my body had done anything yet. (To be fair, my long runs have been hitting almost 1.5 hours lately.) And here we were already done! I refused to stretch. Haha. Instead, I started water jogging and, while everyone else got out of the pool super fast, I took my time water jogging and getting as much of a burn in as I could as I slowly made my way to the edge of the pool and forced myself out. I was the last one out.
Everyone was thanking the instructor profusely and saying what an amazing workout it was...la la la. I thanked him, of course, because it's polite to do that. But, inside I was so confused.
Is this really where I'm at? Am I really TOO FIT for this class? That's both disappointing and incredibly empowering at the same time.
On the one hand, I realized that my water therapy will not be as easy as just joining a class...but that I will have to actively seek out a pool and do my OWN workout if I really want to get the burn and physical conditioning I'm looking for.
On the other hand, I felt so much confidence in my own body's strength. It was thrilling beyond measure and it let me know 100% that, when I get back to running, I WILL be kicking that half marathon's ass!!!! And maybe even SANDIEGOJOHN'S! We'll see! Haha.
For now, though...I'm focused on keeping my fitness at its peak and LOSING WEIGHT. I absolutely don't want this injury to recur and I've got to get the pounds off!!!
Tomorrow, I'm taking my girls to the pool and we are going as soon as they open. I intend to stay for most of the day and I will be in that pool as long as my body will allow it. I REALLY can't wait for that! Don't worry, dear Sparkies....I won't OVERDO it! I know how to listen to my body, that's for sure.
For tonight, I think I'll do some kettlebells to feel like I actually did something today. What about you? What are you doing for fitness today???
Sunday, August 05, 2012
So, I made it through Day 3. No weight loss today, but no gain either. And, remember, I'm still at a net total loss of 2 lbs...for 3 days, that's not too bad.
Today, I decided I'd be a LOT more prepared than I was yesterday. Because I knew I'd be at church from 8:30am - Noon, I made my first shake a 400 calorie shake with extra protein and made sure I brought my Nalgene full of water WITH me this time!
I didn't take a pic of it, but this morning's shake was a test of the claim that you can't taste spinach in a protein shake. So, I made the chocolate peanut butter shake, but added spinach. (1 frozen sliced banana, 2 scoops chocolate protein powder, 1 Tbsp Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa, 1 cup milk, 3 cups fresh baby spinach). The first sip, I thought, "You can taste the spinach a little." But, as I kept drinking, it just tasted like chocolate peanut butter...it really wasn't heavily spinach-tasting at all. It was pretty delicious actually. But...it WAS green. So, if you can't get over the idea of drinking something green...I don't know...maybe put it in a solid up with a lid and a straw? haha.
This shake had double the protein powder than I usually use. This, plus peanut butter AND spinach gave me a whopping 31g of protein!!! It was great! Along with the water, I was full all the way until lunch.
Shake #2 was my favorite from Day 2: Strawberry Chocolate Cheesecake. Mmmm. Added double protein to this one too and it was 280 calories. I drank this shake while my family literally sat at the lunch table in front of me eating fried pork chops, french fries and alfredo noodles. Although the smells were lovely, I have to admit...I felt pretty great about my choice.
Currently, I'm cooking up some homemade chicken korma, garlic naan and a fresh salad for dinner.
I have had SO many comments the past few days on this protein business and I can't imagine it's because protein is that interesting per se. I can only believe that the interest comes from legions of you who also want to try to boost your protein intake without having to drink something that tastes disgusting and makes you gag. Thus, there is a great curiosity about exactly what products I'm using that are actually making it possible for me to do this without grimacing!
MANY of you asked which protein powder I've been using. I'm NOT an expert on protein powders (heck, I don't even know what there is out there...lol...I just grabbed the cheapest one at the grocery store and also used one that happened to be sitting in my mother-in-law's pantry).
VANILLA: Body Fortress Super Advanced Whey Protein
I was leary of this (the one that my mother-in-law passed on to me) because it just looked scary. Super advanced??? I don't know! And, I only used half a scoop the TWO times I used it because it is pretty high in calories actually. I get the feeling this stuff is probably more for guys that are trying to bulk up and get muscles or something. Anyway, it tasted kinda blech...you know, like most protein powders do. I blended it really well...but it was still kind of gritty. Not so awful I'd be all sick...but it wasn't my favorite.
CHOCOLATE: Aria Women's Protein (sorry, guys!)
OK, one scoop of this stuff is like HALF the size of a scoop of that vanilla gunk. And it has a lot less calories. Frankly, when I put this powder in my shakes (even TWO scoops...as I did today, kind of as a test), I could not even tell there was protein powder in there!!!! It was great!!! And the reason I bought it...besides the fact that it was JUST FOR ME as a woman...is because it was cheap. It was about $7 for that can. Everything else was in the double digits. And I was not going to spend double digits on something that might be SICK. Haha.
I think the difference in these two is the consistency. I don't know if you can see it...but I took a pic of both to try and show you how much more bulky the vanilla is. The chocolate is very powdery and fine.
So, what now? My three day trial is up and, frankly, it was pretty easy. The drinking of the shakes was no problem. They were, for the most part, DELICIOUS. Super quick and easy to make and, with planning ahead, also pretty mobile.
I certainly developed a craving and appreciation for REAL food...but my body really does feel great, like it's been cleansed a bit. I really WANT to eat healthy foods like vegetables and lean proteins. I don't know...something about consciously making a choice to replace a meal with something that intentionally has an extra load of protein in it (and maybe even spinach!) just gets me into a "This is going to be a day of healthy choices" mindset.
I think I'm going to keep going with the protein shakes...maybe just replace one meal and a snack per day with them. It's really been fun being creative and finding new flavors too.
In other news, I am actually starting deep water exercise this week. I intend to go every afternoon this week, Monday through Thursday. I can't wait to do some cardio, guys. I'm just about to jump out of my skin. I need to BURN some ENERGY!!!!!!!
Hope you enjoyed this smoothie foray...back to regularly scheduled programming tomorrow.
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