Thursday, May 21, 2009
I love to run. I really must be a different person now than I was pre-Spark.
When I was a kid, I didn't know how to run properly. We had those mile runs once a year in middle school gym class; I'd sprint out ahead of everyone and get a stitch, walk, and after lap #1 I'd tell the gym teachers that I had asthma and needed to stop. I just assumed running was not for me and never would be.
I first started visiting gyms during the days when people believed in the "fat-burning zone" myth. I was told by a personal trainer that walking was better for me than running if I wanted to lose weight. I think some part of me intuitively figured out that working out hard was better than working light, but since "running wasn't for me," I stuck with StairMasters, step classes, and later, elliptical machines.
One summer - I think it was the summer I was 22 - I made one attempt to run outside while visiting a friend in NYC. I had just read _Body for Life_ which recommended working out in cycles of easier, harder, hardest, and beyond your hardest, and then back to easy again. Well, after one cycle of hardest and beyond of running in the Queens summer heat, I was done. Running was too hard. It was not for me.
I can't pinpoint the time that I started running on treadmills - it was at my current gym, which I've been going to for five years. I started with trying to run a mile without stopping. I remember being impressed with myself for going 5.0 mph, and then shocked when I could handle 5.5 mph. I didn't do this regularly at first, just once in a while to see if I could do it. After being quite irregular with this, I eventually added a one-mile run to the end (end? what was I thinking?) of my cardio routines on a regular basis. My goal was to finish that mile as fast as I could. This must have been around the time I started being serious with SparkPeople (and Weight Watchers... early 2007). I was super impressed with myself when I could do a mile in under ten minutes. Then I decided to see if I could do TWO miles in under twenty minutes. And then to see if I could do three miles..... at all!
A few months into this plan I had lost a bunch of weight (way too much too fast, I later realized), and I was extremely motivated. Around that time I'd befriended a seasoned Sparker named WannaBeSize2 (something like that anyway) who was fit, raced regularly, and inspired me (she has since had a baby and rarely uses this site anymore, I think). I remember looking up races in my area but being afraid to actually sign up until WannaBeSize2 wisely suggested that I "just do it." So I did. I was in my first 5K in April 2007, and finished in just over 30 minutes.
Fast forward to May 2009. I have now been in three 5K races, two 10K races (well, same race two years in a row), and have gone on countless non-race running excursions on my own. There have been some setbacks - not sure how much running I was doing while I was gaining back over 30 pounds twice - and also times when other activities, like Zumba or the elliptical, took the front seat over running. But I find that nothing quite combines the sense of power, effectiveness, and convenience of running. I feel powerful when I run because I realize that not just anybody can do it - you have to have a certain level of fitness before you can run with ease, at least without stopping to walk often. I know it's effective because it always makes me sweat, raises my heart rate, and makes me breathe heavily - and I think it might make my butt and thighs look better than other types of cardio, but that's just a theory. :) And it's so convenient because you can do it anywhere, any time! (I love biking too, but how much easier is it to just step outside and run than to get the bike down from its hook in the shed, worry about the bike functioning properly, having my lock and helmet and bike light with me, etc...)
So running is my preferred activity right now. A typical workout for me these days, especially since it's spring and so beautiful outside, is to go to the gym for strength training only (about 30 minutes of chest and abs, legs, shoulders and back, or arms) and then to head outside for a run of anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours! I have been running everywhere I can think of between my town and Boston, and I love the variety. Last night I ran at dusk at the Arnold Arboretum with its lovely scented lilacs...Jess was with me, but he was walking, so I'd run two minutes ahead and then turn and run back to him, and repeat (45 minutes total). I run in the suburbs around my neighborhood (boring) and along the Charles River in Boston and Cambridge (exciting). I love to run!
My mom gave me a few Runner's World magazines the other day and I've been falling even more in love with running as I've been reading them. They make me wonder whether I should attempt a race longer than a 10K, which I have so far avoided thinking about - I know that my speed gets drastically lower and my soreness higher when I hit around seven miles. But when I read about other people's first half and full marathons, I always feel like, "Yeah, I could do that." Yesterday I read a whole article about qualifying for the Boston Marathon. I will tell you right now that I will NEVER qualify for the Boston Marathon, but something in that article caught my eye... it said that certain people are allowed to officially run in the Boston Marathon without qualifying, and one group that doesn't have to qualify includes people who live in the towns along the marathon route! Hello - the marathon goes right past my condo complex!! Not that I'm even contemplating a marathon right now. I think it would put my body through more harm than good. But that's an interesting little tidbit. I also recommend reading running magazines for motivation - it was more motivating than reading a general weight loss magazine - those seem more geared toward beginners who only want to change their looks rather than their fitness level.
So where do I take my running from here? I still am undecided about the race my friend is doing at the end of June - it might be too hot to run then, but it's at 9 a.m. before it gets really hot... My friend who is doing that race told me yesterday that she's fallen off the wagon, so I'm not even still sure if she's planning on doing the race at all. I'll definitely do the Tufts 10K again this October (you reading this, Terri? Hopefully we can make more effective plans to meet this time? :) ) and I'll definitely aim to beat last year's time... but for the most part, I still want running to be something fun, not something that makes me feel stress and pressure. That means more emphasis on just doing it, less emphasis on pushing pace etc. (Except when I intentionally do speed work.)
This is getting long but I also just want to add that my strength training and stretching are both coming along too. I have recently increased weight for several of my strength moves:
*My biceps concentration curls have just gone up to 20 pounds from 15
*My bench presses (do you still call them that if you use dumbbells instead of barbells?) are now done with 25 pounds in each hand up from 20
*I now squat with a bar with 25-pound plates on each side instead of 20...and I'm sure I could handle something heavier still if I really pushed (I get nervous about my back with these squats...)
I'm also focusing on stretching in general and hamstring flexibility in particular... I have tight hamstrings so for me it's progress just to be able to wrap my hands around my shoes when I sit with my legs straight out in front of me. I can do that now!
So here's to running - the exhiliration, the sweat, the lowered resting heart rate, the tighter butt, the chance to explore new parts of the city... and here's to every Sparker who ever helped inspire me to run - thank you!
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Now that I have defined my goal weight as 140, I have a whole new perspective. This is the first time I have had a goal weight that I absolutely knew I would achieve. On all my pre-Spark diets I had no idea what I was capable of, and on both of my previous weight loss attempts with SparkPeople, my goal was always to lose a little more and a little more - that is NOT a sustainable goal, of course!
Now, in contrast, I have a realistic goal based on reflection of my own needs/abilities as well as on my knowledge of healthy weight. I have chosen a goal that is well within the healthy range (my BMI at 140 pounds will be 22.6). It is not the lowest weight I have ever achieved (that's 132), but it is a weight that I have never attained without months of hard work (carefully monitoring my eating and exercise). At 140 pounds I will likely settle in around size six. I won't be asked to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated, but considering I was overweight as a teenager and throughout most of my adult life, 140 is challenging enough. In short, 140 is the happiest medium I can come up with between being challenging yet attainable.
I know I will reach 140 - I'm just 17 pounds away! I will probably hit my goal by mid-September if I continue to lose about a pound a week. I have two and a half years of practice with losing weight and I feel like I have that part down pat. However, from September until infinity (or pregnancy, whichever comes first!) I plan to MAINTAIN that weight. That's the part I don't know how to do yet, but I WILL LEARN and I will do it! It may take a little trial and error, but I already have a lot of knowledge from weight loss that I can apply toward weight maintanence, plus I have the wisdom of my Spark friends who are already in that stage to help guide me. :) Also, I have a perfect role model at home - my boyfriend maintains his weight by practicing healthy habits without even thinking about it. Maybe I'll get there someday.
When I hit 140, the first thing I think I should try is maintaining my exercise efforts while increasing my calorie range - let's say by about 300 calories per day. I am hoping that the extra calories will give me enough energy to push myself with my workouts so I will continue to get stronger, faster, more flexible, etc. I will have to continue tracking all my food and NOT fall into a trap of feeling like I can let up my guard because I'm at goal. However, I must also not fall into the opposite trap - not increasing my calories, continuing to try to lose more weight.
Having a calorie range rather than a precise amount, I know I can manipulate things enough to make things work the way I want them to. I will continue the frequent weigh-ins and look for patterns. Daily fluctuations are expected, but I won't want any overall trends of increase or decrease. I'll have to continually monitor until I feel like I really have a good idea about what calorie range and exercise level helps me maintain the best. After that, I'll have to check in frequently to make sure I'm sticking to course, but it should get easier.
Beyond that, I'll just have to work on preventing emotional eating. Infrequent single large meals or treats will be fine for special occasions, but they'll have to be balanced out with lighter eating the rest of the day or even the day before/after- I should never have a full-day binge, and heavier than normal eating will have to be countered with heaiver than normal exercise! If I find myself having trouble sticking to this, I might have to reconsider my maintanence weight, but hopefully it won't come to that. I want my permanent weight to be something that makes me feel good, not hungry and miserable.
I'll have to try to satisfy emotional needs in other ways besides having big meals, and I will have to satisfy my desire to improve myself not by trying to lower my weight more, but rather by setting other types of goals, like new racing PRs, heavier weights for strength training, adventure vacations, etc. I'll also be able to reward myself with clothes, since my size will be stable.
Finally, I'll be able to plan mini changes to goal weight as stuff comes up in my life, but afterwards it'll be right back to 140.
I feel ready to take this on!
Monday, May 18, 2009
On Saturday night my boyfriend, Jess, his parents, and I all went to my parents' house for dinner. It was his parents' first time at my parents' house, and it went really well! This picture is his parents (his mom is holding my parents' dog), us, and my dad. I'm posting this picture for two reasons - one, to show my new haircut... I usually keep it long, but I'm 31 now and feel like shorter is more professional-looking. Maybe I'll go even shorter than this next time. The second reason to share this picture is to document what I look like at 158 pounds and size 10.
PS - Great run on the treadmill this evening...I didn't even want to go to the gym...had the Monday blahs (had the munchies and wasn't in the mood to work out - does this happen to anyone else on Mondays??), but once I got to the gym I did my full back and shoulder routine and then the treadmill. I did 5K in 29 minutes, and that included my warmup walk!
Sunday, May 17, 2009
I finally decided to commit to a goal weight of 140 pounds. To make it official, I changed my Spark Page goals and weight loss ticker to reflect this.
I intentionally picked a goal weight that is NOT the lowest weight I can achieve. It is a challenging goal, meaning it is lower than I have ever achieved without hard work, but it is also realistic. I am happy with how I look at 140 pounds - that is how much I weighed on Halloween when I dressed up as a nurse, and I like how I looked in those pictures. I know there is room for improvement when I weigh 140, but I know that ultimately a consistent weight is far healthier than trying to achieve a "perfect" body. Plus, just because my goal weight is 140, that doesn't mean I can't go on mini-diets to achieve something a little lower temporarily now and then, like for going to the beach, on vacation, or to a wedding. I can also temporarily allow myself to gain five pounds (holidays!), but I want to always stay within five or so pounds of 140, and then always get back to it.
I also changed my start weight on my ticker to reflect how much I weighed when I started keeping track in early April 2009, 165. (I weighed more than this before I started keeping track, but was too ashamed to record it.) So...that means I'm down 7 pounds, with 18 to go...140 here I come!
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Week 1 -1lb
Week 2 -2lb
Week 3 -1lb
Week 4 -0.4lb
Week 5 -2lb
Week 6 -1lb
...and it would have been two or even three pounds this week, BUT I had the "perfect storm" of a big dinner at my parents' house (WHY do I ALWAYS OVEREAT at my parents' house?!?!) plus TOM, so I'm actually relieved I lost any at all. But for the most part I've been making good choices and I'm pleased with my progress.
Get An Email Alert Each Time SEPPIESUSAN Posts