Tuesday, September 04, 2012
This blog is about “time”.
And it’s about time we saw this fitness factor in its real dimensions.
And cross it off the list of excuses once and for all.
And I’m talking to you, the person who claims there’s no free time in your daily schedule for exercise. You’re too busy with work, family, errands and you just can’t find the time for a quick workout. Well, I’m sorry, your excuse is about to get self-destroyed!
Every creature on this planet is given exactly 24 hours daily. So, unless you live in a parallel universe where an ugly, torturing, time-eating monster is making your life difficult, you have the same amount of time as every other businessman, businesswoman, working parent, student, the list of busy people goes on. You need 20 minutes of your day to start a workout routine. That’s 1.4% of your daily time. And you need to repeat it 4 times a week which is 0.8% of your weekly time! So, you’re so busy you actually can’t devote less than one hundredth of your week in order to improve your health and the quality of your life? Are you trying to fool everyone around here or just yourself?
I know what you’re going to say. I don’t know, I have no right to talk, I’m a stay-at-home-mom, what do I know about busy schedules? I have lots of time to kill, I’ve been “accused” of that before. And you’re probably right. I have much more free time than you. But does this mean that you don’t have any? At all?
Don’t you ever watch TV? Don’t you log in to Facebook or Sparkpeople? Don’t you read the news’ headlines? Don’t you check e-mails? Don’t you ever read a book or a magazine? Don’t you talk on the phone with a friend? Whether you do one or all of the above, you certainly can trade 20 minutes of these activities for a healthier, stronger and fitter version of yourself, can’t you?
One of two things are happening. Either you don’t like physical activity and you’re just using this answer every time the subject comes up, or you have let this false belief - that exercise needs lots of time - keep you away from all the benefits that working out has to offer. If you belong to the first category, you should research your options once again. There are unlimited ways to put exercise in your life and maybe you’ll stop wanting to use the “time-excuse” if you find something that suits you.
If you’ve been led to a misunderstanding about time and exercise, and you’ve comfortably used it to avoid any fitness activities, it’s time to reconsider.
Your excuse is not valid anymore.
You can find a new one.
Or stop needing one.
Monday, August 27, 2012
I still remember myself running in high school.
And when the pictures come back to me I feel out of breath like I felt back then. As much as no other kid in school. And I still see myself being the slowest than any other kid and crossing the finish line last after everyone else had already cooled down. When I finished high school I was particularly happy that the physical education classes were a thing of my past!
Ever since then I never tried running for exercise again. And when I had to run for a reason, it always felt awful.
Watching sports that involved running, on the other hand, has always been my absolute favorite! Track running, marathons, sprints, hurdles, relays, you name it, I love, love, love watching! But I always believed that running is only for them. For athletes!
When I joined Sparkpeople and I met some of my best Sparkfriends who were experienced runners, I realized I was wrong all this time. Running is for anyone who has legs and a healthy heart. My heart has been playing games with me ever since I was 20 years old. That’s when those sudden, fast, heart-fluttering feelings started. But there’s nothing wrong with it. At least that’s what doctors have told me after many thorough exams for years. It’s just how my heart reacts to stress, physical or mental and it’s not at all dangerous. Yet, it happens, it’s frightening and it gives me another reason to be scared to run fast.
At the start of my fitness attempts while being a Sparkpeople member, I tried running on the treadmill once. It was so weird. I felt I would trip over and fall all the time! I thought it would take seconds for me to land with my face down like those funny compilation videos we watch on the internet – I never laugh with these by the way, I always feel sorry for them.
All of the above sum up my inner fears for running – for those of my Sparkfriends who were curious what I’m scared of. But this summer I was determined. I would go for my first run outside.
I hope you all runners out there won’t think I’m stupid that I chose the oddest circumstances to do so! High altitude, mountain village (either uphill or downhill – no straight road!) and on a humid day! Well, I needed inspirational scenery and that was the only choice I had. I put on my new HRM and I set off.
I chose downhill – the other way seemed scary. The beginning of the road was a bit steep so I walked to warm up and once it got a bit smoother I started running. It was late in the afternoon, the sun had begun to set behind the mountains and you could actually “see” the humidity around the sun rays escaping through the sparse clouds. It felt great! I had no music with me and all I could hear was the sounds of nature. It was just me, the mountains and their beauty. Exactly as I wanted it to be.
I ran for about 2 km. The HRM reading reached 180 at some point but I didn’t feel as much out of breath as I expected to. On my way back I chose to walk.
The next day I could feel the downhill road taking its revenge on my shins. But I really didn’t mind. I knew that if I had gone uphill instead, I would have been disappointed and maybe too frustrated to want to go running again.
Back to the city my options are limited to say the least. My neighborhood is not runner-friendly, I have to get two different buses to go to the closest park and all the track fields around are not open to public. But, at least I’ve got a treadmill. It’s not my favorite option but, for now, it'll do - as long as I manage not to fall! I just finished my first week of the 5K training. The plan is to finish it by November when the Athens classic marathon is scheduled and I’d really like to take part in the 5K race of the day. I have so many things to learn and I keep reading all my friends’ race blogs trying to find all the required motivation. I have to thank you all for the feedback and the invaluable support you’re giving me.
I’m trying to discover the runner deep inside me.
And in case she doesn’t exist, I’m going to have to create her!
Friday, August 24, 2012
I’m sure most of you can recall the following situation from some time in your past.
You’ve just come back from summer vacation. You had a great time! You went out, you had fun with friends or your family, and your good time involved lots of food and lots of drinks maybe. You tried some new desserts that you couldn’t resist, you overindulged in your favorite ice cream flavors and of course you couldn’t say “no” to one or two or more cocktails whenever you were in that beach bar. The past few days you’ve started to feel your clothes becoming a little tight on you and you know you must have gained some weight. “Well, it’s just a couple of pounds,” you think. “I’ll get rid of them in no time.” And you approach your scale to prove that your estimates are right. But once you get on it, your smile disappears and panic sets in. And unfortunately, there’s nothing wrong with the scale…
There are many similar incidents in my adult life timeline. And not only after summer vacation. After Christmas, after Easter, after stressful periods at work. But this summer it was different. I wanted to prove to myself that I had learned my lesson. And I was determined not to relive the above experience especially after having almost reached my goal weight. A little less than three weeks was a long time away from home and I could easily get derailed. So, I made up a strategic plan that could help me enjoy my vacation but at the same time avoid a bad “reunion” with the scale!
First, I created the right mindset. Just before I leave, I joined the “At Goal & Maintaining” team. “You’re a maintainer now,” I said to myself. “You just can’t come back and have to start all over again. What will your new teammates think of you? Is this the motivation you want to share?” I kept the words in my mind and moved on.
Those were my eating strategies:
- I stopped tracking completely. This is not my idea of vacation. After all, I had no internet connection where I was and actually writing down everything would be difficult.
- Healthy breakfast was a must. No matter what had happened at dinner the night before, the day had to have a healthy start. But temptations were all around. My husband and kids would enjoy various things for breakfast, from bacon and eggs to muffins and delicious pies. So, for only two mornings I allowed myself to have a big chocolate-filled croissant. That’s the only thing I craved. No deprivation and damage kept to the minimum.
- At lunch, I followed the quarters’ rule. If my plate was divided in quarters, two of them had to be vegetables, one protein and one carbs. With my father’s organic vegetable garden, that was really easy to follow. Fresh vegetables available all the time!
- Dinner was the hardest part. We ate out with friends many times and their choices were far from healthy. But I always tried to choose the “least unhealthy”. And limit alcohol to a glass of beer or two glasses of wine.
- Snacks were always fruit, as many of them as I wanted. It helped with my sweet tooth cravings and with the occasional boredom bingeing.
- There were a few days when I just couldn’t follow any plan and would eat all the wrong things. It’s ok, it happened. I never allowed myself to do that for a second day in a row. Even if I ended up doing it every other day – which I didn’t – half the days would be healthy eating so my odds of maintaining would be 50-50. Well, better than zero, right?
- I continued tracking. I used the “Cardio Trainer” app on my phone which uses GPS and I could track my hikes in the forest.
- For cardio, I planned to use every opportunity I had. Swimming while I was close to the sea, hiking while I was in the mountains.
- For strength, I knew I wouldn’t have any equipment available. So, before I left home, I created two 45-minute schedules of strength exercises based on body resistance like squats, lunges, pushups, crunches, etc. I hadn’t imagined how difficult they would be at high altitude!
- I grabbed every opportunity I had for exercise. I took my kids horseback riding and I tried it, too. I went on hikes in the forest whenever I could and… I went for my first run (blog coming soon)!!!
Everything worked out as it should have. When I came back, my scale greeted me with the same number I had left it. Post-vacation scale crisis successfully averted!
I shared my strategies with you in order to help anyone who’s going on vacation and is nervous about ruining their weight loss journey. Some tips may work for you and some may not. But they can give you ideas for your own strategies. All these things may sound stressful to some of you, but believe me they weren’t. After having been used to a certain type of healthy living for a period of time, some things just come naturally. You just have to remind yourself all the time of how far you’ve come and of what’s more important to you. And I guess that’s a rule of maintenance in general. Priorities!
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
I was never the summer type. I don’t like heat, I can only stand sweat if it’s the product of a good workout and until recently the word swimsuit sounded like torture to my ears. Summer vacation was something I looked forward to only if it involved visiting new places, doing new things and going sightseeing. “New” was my synonym for summer vacation.
This year I visited no new places and I saw no new sights I had never seen before. My summer vacation was spent in places I’ve been many times in the past and there were actually no new things to see. Yet, I had one of the most relaxing and enjoyable vacation I’ve had in years. There were many reasons for this. One of them was that my children are no babies anymore and I didn’t have to run around them all the time fearing that they would do something reckless or dangerous and they would hurt themselves. I could do “grown-up things” – that’s what my daughters call them – with my children and that was really fun. We actually spent lots of time lying on the beach, sun tanning, reading our books – at last, we can all read now! – listening to music, playing and having fun!
Another reason was the lack of swimsuit-season-panic! Every year I would dread the time I would have to walk on the beach wearing a swimsuit. I would spend my whole summer thinking “Come September, I have to do something about my weight. I have to stop eating!” And my overwhelming feelings of disappointment would only cause me to eat more and more. This year I just had to maintain and check myself once more on whether I had actually made a lifestyle change. It seems I had! I’ll make sure to write a blog soon about my maintaining strategies.
Our vacation started by the sea. We visited a small seaside village on Evia island and stayed there for four days. What we actually did was staying on the beach all day. We just walked from the hotel room to the beach and back, nothing else! The weather was more than perfect and the Aegean sea was just calm and… perfect.
That’s where we spent our days.
I tried to experiment with my camera attempting to take a picture that would look like oil painting using some settings I had read about. I don’t know if I succeeded but I really like this picture. It’s like summer memories. Colorful and fading at the same time.
That’s the view from our hotel room at dusk.
Full moon! The view of the moonlight on the sea surface was stunning! Unfortunately I didn’t have an appropriate lens for that but I did my best with what I had.
Then we moved up to my favorite place in the world. My mountain village. I have never actually lived there but I spent there all my summers as a kid and a teenager.
We stayed with my parents for two weeks. We met friends, we went hiking in the forest, horse-riding and even river-fishing! – this one was just for fun, we didn’t actually catch anything!
We also visited Meteora again. For the children it was the first time. Meteora is a combination of huge rocks located right in the middle of country land near the town of Kalambaka. On them, there is a big complex of monasteries whose building started in the 14th century. If you ever come to Greece, don’t miss them!
Can you make out the huge net standing on top of the tower? This was used to take monks up and down back then!
Unfortunately, my camera battery deceived me on this day. Even though it looked full, it died when we got in the first monastery. Argh!!!
That’s the view from above.
I wish I could live so close to nature. It was very difficult for me to leave and come back to the city. I would wake up every morning by the sound of birds at my window and the first thing I saw was this:
It’s the view from my bedroom window.
I just didn’t want to leave this and go back to alarm clocks, traffic noises and tall, ugly buildings.
But… all good things come to an end. The good thing is that memories stay in our hearts forever. And they become our safe harbor when things get tough. We just sail into it, let the pictures, the sounds and the smells fill our mind and we make it through everything.
I wish you all have a small, golden treasure chest in your heart filled with this summer’s memories.
Thank you so much for reading.
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
"I’m sorry. I don’t think we have anything at your size."
I was at my heaviest. 90 kilograms, 199 pounds. I was at a mall, trying to find a gift for my niece. I went into a store that I would never walk into if I had gone shopping for myself. You know the ones. Where you’re lucky if you can find anything bigger than size 10, and both the customers and the girls who work there look like they have come out of the pages of a fashion magazine? That kind of store. And my niece actually looks exactly as described before.
I was browsing through clothes that I would never dream of wearing, when a very young, very fit, very thin shop assistant came towards me. She wasn’t smiling as they usually do but she had that awkward look on her face which looked like a grin of arrogance and disgust mixed together. She just stood beside me staring at me and just because I felt I had to say something I said: “Is this one size?” “Yes”, she answered. And she added: “I’m sorry. I don’t think we have anything at your size,” completing her comment with a disgusting look at me from top to toes…
I was never the kind of person who would stand up for myself no matter how unfair a behavior was. I would just gulp down my feelings and run away. Only to make them disappear later in the day with lots of chocolate and ice cream but that’s another story. In this case, I did exactly the same thing. I felt the tears filling the lower parts of my eyes and just said “thank you” and left before one of them would escape and run down my face! I was feeling embarrassed, humiliated, insulted, angry and desperate, all at the same time. And I did what I‘ve always done best in my life. I blamed myself.
Her words would sound into my head every time I would go shopping from then on. Her look had haunted me and would come right in front of my eyes every time I dared to enter one of these stores. I felt I had no right to shop there. I was unwanted.
Fast forward to last week.
Sales period just started here and having a very limited choice of clothes I decided to go shopping. Nothing fancy, just a couple of T-shirts and maybe some pants or a dress. I hadn’t gone shopping for a long time. Having got rid of almost 40 pounds and being officially in the normal BMI range, this seemed like a promising experience.
Or at least that’s what I thought so.
I soon realized that I felt exactly the same way. I saw a very nice dress at one of those “thin-girls’ stores” but I just couldn’t walk into there and try it on. The words echoed into my ears and the feeling of being unwanted there stopped me from going in. I chose another store that had clothes for women for all sizes. That, I could handle!
I chose some t-shirts and went into the changing room to try them on. When I came out wearing one of them, a very polite, smiling girl came towards me and said “It looks great on you!” I smiled back and she added giving out a sigh “When your body has the right standards, everything looks good on you!”
Is she really talking to me? I looked behind me to make sure there was no one there. Then I looked at her and I realized she had lots of extra pounds but you couldn’t tell at once because she was tall and with a very beautiful face. “So that’s where the sigh came from,” I thought. I went on to explain to her that I didn’t always have the “standards” as she had said but I worked hard for it. I don’t think she believed me, though.
For a moment, I felt like Julia Roberts at that “Pretty woman” scene where she walks into that store and asks “Do you remember me?” I would just like to go back to that store and ask that girl “Do you remember that you said you had nothing at my size? Big mistake, big! Huge!!!” Well, just a thought. I’ve already explained I’m not that kind of person. At all!
Have you had any kind of bad experiences when shopping because of your size? Use them! Promise yourself that you won’t allow anyone ever again to insult you or make you feel bad about yourself. No one has the right to look down on us unless we allow them to. You are much more than an image in the mirror and if you want to change this image, it’s because YOU don’t like it, not because other people don’t. And you CAN do it. Your way.
Get An Email Alert Each Time NUOVAELLE Posts