So This is Average. For Me. I Think. Maybe?

When you’re trying to lose weight, it’s nearly impossible to keep a realistic view of yourself in comparison to others.  I like to think at this point in the game I have a pretty solid, healthy concept of how I look, how far I have to go, and how far I’ve come.  While I can’t help weighing myself a few times a week at the gym, I try and judge my progress via pictures and jeans size over a number on the scale because – as stated before – the scale is a dirty rotten bitch liar for the most part.  (Oh, didn’t I say that before?  I meant to.  Seriously.  That thing can suck it.) I was looking through some old pictures the other day that really made me stop and think.  About ten and fifteen years ago – two separate occasions, as I gained and lost nearly forty pounds during that timeframe – I was at what I would consider my ideal weight.  A size eight or ten, about 145-150 pounds, comfortable enough to wear shorts without fear of offending passerby.  But I still remember consistently trying to lose weight, or at the very least always being conscious of my size in comparison to everyone else.  My friends were almost all smaller than me, and it was impossible to see myself outside of that. I know I wasn’t healthy – I fought vegetables vehemently until this past year, had an affection for McDonald’s that bordered on stalker-like, smoked a pack and a half a day, and any and all activity was regarded suspiciously; i.e., “What do you mean, we’re going to walk?  Like how far?  Because no, that does not sound like fun and it’s hot out and we have a car, so really, no need.”  But to most people, I looked more healthy than I do now.  If you passed me on the street during one of those stretches of my life, your first thought wouldn’t be, “overweight,” “or “unhealthy.”  But I was both of those things. On the other end of the spectrum, if you’d passed me on the street between 2011 and 2013, your first assessment would have been “fat.”  There is no other word to describe it.  A lot of people shy away from the word – to this day, when I say it, people cringe and immediately say, “You weren’t fat.”  Yes, I was.  It’s a descriptor.  Take it however you want – it doesn’t have to be negative or positive, but it’s a real word that can describe someone’s body.  Does it describe everything about the person?  No.  Can it be a distinguishing factor?  Yes.  I remember hearing someone mention me at work when I was new – they didn’t know I was listening – and said, “You know, the new girl.  She’s blonde – the heavy-set one.”  And despite what my mirror and growing pants size was telling me, I was still surprised.  Like, wait, that’s the first impression I give off?  That’s not me. It didn’t get me off the couch, however.  I still had a year or so before my head caught up with me. When I finally did get my (fat) ass off of the couch, last January, I think my head was finally in the right place.  I was tired.  I was so heavy I didn’t want to do things, and I knew I was missing out because of my weight.  I could joke about it, but the truth was there – I was getting to the point that life was passing me up, and if I didn’t make changes, my world was going to get smaller and smaller.  Everyday activities left me breathless, and more than once the thought of just walking up the stairs to my third floor apartment exhausted me.  (In fairness, I will still take the escalator instead of the stairs and always hope the person in front of me just stands instead of walking up them because stairs still suck.  Seriously, those races to the top of the Sears Tower?  I would sooner run  a marathon than consider participating.)  I couldn’t shop in most regular stores anymore, fighting a size 20, and had to hold onto the wall for support just getting out of bed because my feet hurt so much from supporting all of this extra weight. So I wanted to get healthy.  I couldn’t even fathom being thin.  I couldn’t get my head around it; it was so far out of my realm I couldn’t see it.  I’ve written about how and why I started before on this blog so won’t go into it again, but mostly I just wanted to not be so unhappy, so out of place, so fucking out of breath and exhausted all the time.  I had a niece on the way and wanted to be able to play and move with her, not just sit in a chair in the corner because I couldn’t even get up and down from the floor. I read somewhere that the average woman is a size 16.  Then I read somewhere else that the average woman is a size 12.  Then somewhere else, I read that the average woman is a size 14.  About a month ago, I bought a pair of size 12 jeans.  I cried, I was so happy.  After fighting my way into a pair of size 20s last year, a 12 signified everything I was hoping for.  Average!  At last!  I called my mom on the way back from Old Navy, elated.  I was average!!  According to some magazines, I was below average!!!  After years of being overweight and out of sorts in my own skin, I was – at least according to the media – normal!  Average!!!  What a beautiful word! And I feel great about that.  I’m not going to lie.  I’m happy to be there.  But here’s the thing.  According to those same magazines, according to that same media, if you look at my weight versus my height, I’m still obese.  Not average.  Not even overweight.  Obese.  Based on just the numbers, I’m no better off than I was a year and a half ago.  How does that make sense?  How can the same scale that measures me normal in pants size call me obese by weight standards?  I don’t feel obese.  I work too damn hard to still have that label, right? I was talking to my sister the other day about exercising and eating well and what it means to different people.  On average, I work out or run six days a week. I   Iift weights, I take a spin class, I ride a bike to and from work ten miles a day. I run a 5K twice a week.   I haul that bike up and down three flights of stairs every damn day.  I haven’t missed a 10K step day on this damn Fitbit more than three times since I’ve had it.  My diet is about 85 percent clean.  I don’t eat processed foods, have veggies with every meal, skip fast food, and haven’t had a fucking potato in fourteen months.  And that’s to lose maybe – MAYBE – a couple pounds every month or so.  She made a point of how some people when asked if they work out might say they take a yoga class once or twice a week and that keeps them fit.  We were both like, “Everything I do just barely maintains where I’m at.  Can you imagine?”  (So unfair.  If this is what you can do, good on you, don’t get me wrong.  But just know in the back of my head, I want to hit you a little bit.)  What’s my point, you ask?  There is no average.  Everyone’s body is different.  Everyone carries weight differently.  Judging and basing yourself on anyone else’s standard – be it the media, your friends, your workout buddy, your husband, your sister, that girl in the magazine you wish you looked like, a number on the scale – is futile.  You’re just setting yourself up for disappointment.  Your average is the only one that counts.  Are you happy where you’re at?  Are you healthy?  Do you make good choices most of the time?  If you’re not there and want to be, are you working to get there the best way you can?  If the answer to  the above questions is yes, then you’re okay.  You are  your own best average. Don’t look at the numbers, because they all tell a different story.  And it’s not always yours.

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Things I Tried and Failed Today

I feel like a lot of the posts I write on here are all, “Rah, rah, you can do anything!  Just give it a try!  I did and it was great!”  I suspect to anyone not interested in working out or trying gluten free mac and cheese, I can be annoying as hell.  But I do believe these are great sentiments.  I’m a big proponent of trying new things because truly, you don’t know until you try, right?

Sometimes, though, in the spirit of being positive, I gloss over the misses and failures.  There are plenty, believe me.  My fastest mile run, to date, is still over 13 minutes long.  I ran a 5K over the summer at which one of the guys was running had not run or exercised in several years.  He had been up drinking the night before, was relatively out of shape, and had eaten a giant breakfast.  I had carefully prepared, been running for six months, cut off my alcohol consumption early the night before, and drank my super healthy protein shake for breakfast.  He finished a full seven minutes faster than me.  Disheartening, to say the least.  Another example – I tried a Zumba class a couple of months ago.  I have never in my life felt so awkward, uncoordinated, and sorry for myself as I did during that hour.  You want to cheer yourself up?  Watch me in a Zumba class.  I went to the circus recently and there were elephants on roller skates that were significantly more graceful.

But I do keep trying.  That being said, I tried two new things today that we shall never speak of again.  The thought?  I would like to trim up my midsection a bit – okay, a lot – and yes, I know, everyone says just keep doing planks because they’re the best thing for them.  However, I hate planks with a white hot fury I didn’t know I possessed, so I’m up for about anything else.   The result?  Utter, complete failure.

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                                                                                                           Makes it look easy, doesn’t she?  LIES. 

So, the premise of this is relatively simple.  Place your arms on the comfy padded arm rests, grip the handy hand grips, take your feet off of the steps, and lift your legs repeatedly.  Sometimes in a sideways motion, if you want to get all fancy like this bitch. 

Here’s how it went for me.

Hmm.  Now that I’ve climbed up these step things, I can’t seem to turn around.
***awkwardly turning around, only slipping off of the steps once***
Okay.  So these handy hand grips are a little further away from the back pad than I thought.  Probably to make it easier to lean back when you pull your legs up.
So just take your feet off of the steps, already, and give it a shot, spaz.
HOLY FUCK!  CAN YOUR ELBOWS ACTUALLY COLLAPSE?
I can’t even hold myself up – how do people move their legs?
Okay.  That little tiny dude did it.  You watched him.  Surely you have more strength than him.  Maybe lean back and try and swing them up?
Nope.
I wonder how long I can stand here pretending to be in between sets before everyone realizes I’m a big fraud.
Try again.  Maybe if you try one leg at a time?
Right.  Everyone can do that, dumbass.  You’re just standing on one foot.  While supporting yourself with both arms.
I’m so super glad there’s a mirror right in front of me.
GET DOWN.  GET DOWN RIGHT NOW.

Okay.  So that didn’t work.  Let’s try this other option, shall we?

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                                                                                                                 Anyone can do this, right?  MORE LIES!!!

Here’s how this goes.

Okay.  Even I know I don’t want that much of an incline.  I’ll just adjust it a bit so I’m not hanging upside down when I get tired.
Hmm, this knob doesnt seem to want to come out.  I’ll just pull on it a little harder.
***Flying backwards onto my ass after it snaps out at me like a snake***
Right.  It wasn’t graceful, but this seems like a manageable angle. 
Maybe no one saw?
Of course everyone saw, asshole.  You’re surrounded by mirrors.
Okay.  Climb on up. 
***Awkwardly attempting to bend myself into a pretzel***
Got it!  Now, other leg.
Well, fuck.
Yes!  Okay.  Now, sit up!
Fuck. Me. 
Courtney.  You have to do this. 
Able to sit up, but does not work any muscles other than the horrified sector of my brain that caught a glimpse of this in the mirror.
WHY DID YOU LIE BACK DOWN?  GET OFF OF THIS TORTURE CHAMBER AND STOP THIS MADNESS IMMEDIATELY.
Right.  You’re going to have to either A)Yell for help while lying upside down in gym clothes and being suffocated by your own boobs or B) Die here. 
Sit. UP.  Do it now.

Summoning every single muscle in my body and every prayer that I’ve ever heard, I managed to get myself up far enough that I could untangle myself from the horror bench and limp, dejected, toward the door.

I guess planks aren’t so bad, after all?

How To Lift Weights for Beginners (When You Have No Idea What You’re Doing.)

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Recently I posted here about joining the gym as an overweight girl and how intimidating it was. Since it didn’t kill me as expected, I kept going, and found out it I really liked it. Despite still being the biggest girl I’ve seen there, no one has laughed me out of the place yet and curiously, being surrounded by people fitter than me has been motivating. It’s amazing what a change in mindset can do – instead of seeing these fit people and despairing of how far I have to go, I think, “Look how great l will be if I keep this up! ”

Last week while I was on the floor, still desperately trying to do a pushup, a girl caught my eye. She was exactly what I want to look like. Not skinny, but solid. Not teeny tiny like my hips won’t ever allow me to be, but lean muscles, strong legs, and awesome shoulders. I watched as she walked over to the weights area, hefted some weights onto a barbell, and proceeded to bench press what I now know to be almost a hundred pounds. (More on that explanation later.) She was the only female in the area.

Because I am a glutton for punishment, I immediately thought, “That. THAT is what I want to do here.”

Here’s the thing. I’ve never really lifted a weight in my life. I have some dumbbells, but my heaviest ones are eight pounds and I struggled to use those in my at home workouts. I know how to work all of the machines, but I get bored with them. I feel like I’m just playing at working out instead of actually accomplishing anything. (Not that there is anything wrong with using the machines. There’s a very good chance it’s operator error.)

So I went home and did some research. And then I did more. I Googled beginner’s programs, I watched endless YouTube videos on proper form. And then last week, I grabbed my towel and water bottle, and walked confidently over to the weights area, ready to start.

I took this while in was standing around, pretending to stretch.

I took this while I was standing around, pretending to stretch.

Unfortunately, it was a Monday. Do you know how many people start a new exercise program on a Monday?  All of them.  So the weights area was full of all shapes and sizes of men, grunting and sweating and dropping weights on the ground after their sets, even though there are clearly posted signs stating this is unsafe. (Rebels.) It also must be noted about 75 percent of them did not appear to be following proper form, according to my research. (I firmly believe Google makes me an expert in everything. Seriously. I once fixed a car after watching a YouTube video.)

But none of my research prepared me for there literally not being room for me. So I stood around like a dolt, pretending to stretch, until one of the benches opened up. Which brings me to my first lesson.

Start with Weights Much Lower than You Think You Can Lift

Did you know the bar itself weighs 45 pounds? I sure didn’t. I thought I’d add 15 pounds to each side just to be on the safe side. Luckily, before I laid down I had to move the bar to the lower rung. (That’s probably not the right word, but you know what I mean. I hope.) When I almost dropped that on my foot, I quickly realized that if I’d added thirty pounds, I would for sure have ended up on YouTube myself as one of those gym fails entitled, “Stupid Girl Nearly Crushes Windpipe on First Bench Press.”)

Ask. For. Help. 

Seriously. The gym employees really are there to help you. The first time I did back squats, the bar just happened to be at the height I thought was good for me, which was right above my ears. The next day I was set to do them, it was about six inches above my head. I stood there debating how hard it would actually be to just do them from that height or whether I should just skip them before I screwed up my courage and went and asked one of the trainers for help. Rodrigo not only showed me how to safely move the bar down, but that the best height for me was actually just below my shoulders. Of course, then he made me do a few while he watched, during which time I prayed to everything in the universe I didn’t drop the bar or worse, fart, and he adjusted my form a little too. (I guess YouTube doesn’t know everything.)

Don’t Be a Dick. 

This isn’t gym etiquette, it’s just basic manners, but apparently it needs to be said. If you sweat all over something, wipe it up. If you’re a big strong man lifting sixty five pound dumbells, put them back in their proper spot instead of on the top shelf where twenty pound weights go so people (read, me) don’t pick them up, unsuspecting, and nearly throw out a shoulder. If it’s time for your weekly conference call, don’t conduct it while lying on a weight bench as though you’re lounging in a hammock. If you’re going to drop the weights – defiantly against the aforementioned posted signs – be sure no one is trying to navigate around you because if anyone is going to get their foot broken that way, it is me.

Most importantly, find a program that works for you, and do your research, YouTube or otherwise. I used this particular one, and checked out all of the videos on proper form on bodybuilding.com.  It does bear mentioning that this really isn’t something you should just jump into, because all joking aside, it’s easy to see how one could really get hurt if they’re not sure what to do. Despite my belief that YouTube makes me an expert, your doctor would probably disagree.

That being said, don’t let it intimidate you. Everyone had to pick up that barbell for the first time, and everyone has laid down on that bench and initially thought, “Wait, why am I doing this?” There’s no reason you can’t be one of them. Cmon, drink the Kool Aid! It’s fantastic.

**Also, you’re going to be sore. Really sore. Be ready. **

How to Be the Fat Girl in Gym Class

*****ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON XOJANE.COM******

 

I’m the biggest girl at my gym.

I first got the idea to join a couple of months ago when I saw all of the classes that the gym closest to me offered.   Apparently I need some variety in my workouts and I loved the idea of having a whole bunch of different classes available to me.  I liked the idea of being able to try one out and if I didn’t enjoy it, oh well, move along.  And if I couldn’t find one I liked, there were still treadmills and elliptical machines I could use instead of trying to run around Humboldt Park all winter, decreasing (hopefully) my chances of falling on my ass on black ice.

I was hesitant though; what if the whole gym was filled with little tiny girls in spandex?  What if they were all 22?  What if everyone in the class I wanted to try was awesome at it and I would look like a hippopotamus trying to roller skate?  What if I got to a machine, sat down, and then couldn’t press the weight I picked because I apparently have the arm strength of a weak six year old?  What if I was the biggest girl there?

Telling myself I was being ridiculous, I got on my bike a few weeks ago and headed up there, determined to join and not even look at anyone before signing up. Though I was slightly thrown off by the stunning membership advisor named Myles, (female) I persevered. I was joining the gym!

You know that feeling you have when you go into a new situation and realize that all of your fears of the unknown were completely unwarranted and you’re totally fine and feel silly for even worrying?

This was the exact opposite of that.

I was the oldest person there. I was the biggest person there. I didn’t know how to turn on the TV or where to put my water bottle. I almost face planted on the treadmill because treadmills have gotten fancy in the fifteen years since I’ve been in a gym.

But I ran on the treadmill for my thirty minutes, feeling great until I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and realized that I looked like I was only pretending to run.

But still. Workout complete!
The following day was the day of my first class. The class is called Body Combat – a mix of different martial arts combined with cardio. It started at 6:30. Between 6:15 and 6:25, I went to the bathroom three times. There’s something uniquely weird about being an adult in a brand new situation. I don’t know what I was afraid of – I didn’t really think anyone was going to laugh and point – but still, I was nervous as hell. The class was an hour long; what if I literally couldn’t keep up?? Seeing all of the people lining up outside the door, with their gloves – what? No one told me I needed gloves!! – and their overall…. Fitness, I suppose, I second guessed myself. And I almost didn’t go in.
But I had been so excited about it. And everyone has to start somewhere, right? So I went in.

Terror. The only spot left – because OF COURSE I had been in the bathroom when the doors opened – was right in the front to the left of the instructor. Floor to ceiling mirrors and now there were people behind me to witness? Ugh. I had to pee again and we hadn’t started.

Then the music started and the first song was a remix of “Wrecking Ball.” I love me some Miley and got all into it, punching and kicking with all I had.
We went through a whole series and I was so proud – I was keeping up!

Two things happened simultaneously here that were hurtful to my feelings. 1) I caught a glimpse of myself in one of the many, many mirrors and realized that I looked less like the warrior I felt like and more like an octopus that had lost control of itself and 2) the instructor yelled, “Okay! Warmup is almost done!”
It had been ten minutes. I was sweating and already sore. 50 more minutes??

But I kept on. I couldn’t always keep up, but I was close. I concentrated on the girl in front of me who seemed to know all of the routine. I was concentrating so hard on not looking like an idiot that I forgot to look at myself in the mirrors.

During a set of particularly awkward – for me – kicks in which I was sure everyone was laughing at me because I looked like I was trying to pee on a fire hydrant whilst jumping, I glanced up to look around the room.

Not one person was looking at me.

Not one.

They were all looking at themselves in the mirror or at the instructor, and that’s when it hit me. These people are just like me!

The only one concerned with how I looked was me. Everyone was here for the same reason. Guess what? It wasn’t to laugh at newbies.

After the class, everyone was smiling and congratulating each other. Everyone was sweating. It wasn’t just me. And every single one of them came up and welcomed me to the class, telling me to keep it up and keep coming back.

Maybe they noticed my shape in comparison to theirs. In fact, I’m sure they did. But how is that really different from me noticing their body in comparison to me? You are smaller than me, I am larger than you. Both of us look stupid trying to do that back kick thing, right?

So yeah. I’m the biggest girl at my gym. And no one cares.
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Little Earthquakes

If you’re on a weight loss or fitness journey and are part of any sort of online support, you’ve heard – well, actually you’ve seen – the term “NSV.”  A non-scale victory is any positive change you’ve noticed that doesn’t directly relate to the scale.  It can be a dress fitting better, zipping up that old pair of jeans you couldn’t squeeze into a month ago, a compliment from a co-worker.  It can be making good food choices at a barbecue, drinking all the water, staying away from fast food, throwing away the Halloween candy – anything that doesn’t involve that dirty rotten liar of a scale.

Because the scale can be a bitch.  I don’t own one, and I’ve said before that I truly don’t believe I would have continued this healthy lifestyle, wouldn’t have made it a lifestyle, in fact, if I’d been weighing myself from the beginning. I stand by that statement.  For women, at least – I’m not a man and my husband subsists on pizza and tacos yet maintains a steady weight of 143 so he’s no help, and yes, that is fucking infuriating, thank you – the scale is designed to beat us.  It’s counterproductive.  When I did Weight Watchers successfully, I lost somewhere between two and four pounds a month.  Which is great. But here’s the thing – it took me months to realize I was actually losing consistently.  I pulled out my old book just for shits and giggles and took a look at my stats over the course of a month.  After I regained consciousness at realizing how much heavier I was now than my starting point ten years ago – it’s totally normal to gain sixty pounds even though you haven’t had kids, right? – I still had to take another look at the numbers.

The first week, I was down one pound.  The second, I had gained four.  The third?  Down seven.  Then the fourth, back up three pounds.  So for the entire month, I lost a grand total of one pound.  But I rejoiced at the seven pound loss, despaired at the gains.  I changed things around every week based on what the scale said.  When I had lost, I tried to keep doing what I was doing, but could rationalize that extra low-fat chip or bite of pizza.  When I gained, I not only beat myself up, but tried to cut calories more, which resulted in the inevitable “I’ve been good all week I deserve a cheeseburger,” meal.  Rationalization is never a good thing, and the scale makes you rationalize both good AND bad, which is super counterproductive.  And when your hormone levels and cycle can give you up to a ten pound swing like mine does two weeks out of the month, there’s no way to beat it.

So I only weigh myself occasionally.  As I don’t belong to a gym, my number on the scale isn’t very definitive; I weigh myself every couple of weeks or so, when I happen to be at someone else’s house.  So it’s even more of a swing; different time of the month, different clothes, different scales, the whole thing.  The overall trend, however, is consistently down, other than one time when I weighed at two different places within a week.

All of that being said, however, I’m still human.  It’s not like I’ve become some person completely immune to wanting to be near my high school weight, and I do get discouraged occasionally – usually right after one of those scale encounters – because with all of the changes I’ve made, I feel like it should be more.  This feeling is exacerbated because this time around, I really am doing the right thing, I really have made this a lifestyle as opposed to a diet.  I don’t count calories, I don’t count points, I don’t even really count carbs.  I eat a lot of the same things, so I have a general idea of where I’m at, and if I make something new, I run it through MyFitnessPal just to make sure I’m not way off on the nutritional info.  (Sidenote?  It is astounding how much food knowledge I have acquired.  Apparently actively trying to lose weight for your entire life does have some advantages.)  I eat about 90% clean and allow for a little wiggle room and the occasional treat, but for the most part?  I’m healthy as fuck.

So after weighing in at my parents’ over the weekend, I was a little disappointed to see no change from the week before.  It’s been almost six months – with all of the changes I’ve made, how have I only lost 15 pounds?  And right here?  Is where the NSV’s come in.

At this time last year, a Sunday might look like this: Get up around nine or ten, either eat a plate full of some delicious, macaroni-and-cheese-based leftovers or head to McDonald’s for my favorite, a Quarter Pounder with Cheese meal – large, naturally – and lay down on the couch.  This was ostensibly to watch a movie or some TV, but within a half hour, it was a nap that might last until noon or one.  It’s Sunday, right?  Day of rest and all that.  Then we would sit outside and maybe barbecue, have some beers, and I would spend a good portion of the time hoping that no one suggested going anywhere because it was so hard for me to walk.  (I also suffered from self-diagnosed plantar fasciitis, which has since disappeared.)  If we needed anything from the store, I would beg and barter with my husband and friend to go so I didn’t have to, because it took me so long to walk there and back and carrying anything more than myself up our stairs exhausted me.  Then I’d eat a big old dinner – baked potato soup being my favorite – and immediately fall asleep.  This was normal.

Can I tell you about this past Sunday?  This past Sunday, I woke up at eight.  I brushed my teeth and washed my face, grabbed my backpack and keys, and headed out on my bike.  I rode three miles to the beachfront, then biked the lakefront path another two or three miles before realizing that the gale force winds that were making my ride enjoyable were going to make it equally unenjoyable on the way back.  I turned around and the wind was so strong I could barely make the pedals move, but I powered through and rode all the way back.  (It sucked. So much.) Then when I got home, I made myself a protein shake and headed back out on the bike to the store.  Did I mention I live on the second floor and have to haul the bike up and down the stairs?  In the past, that alone would have made me not willing to go anywhere.  Sunday, I not only carried mine up and down twice, but – for reasons too stupid to explain here – had to haul my buddy’s bike up the stairs as well.  His bike is approximately as big as me and is apparently made of solid steel.  I’m pretty sure it weighs at least a ton.  In the afternoon, we went to a festival, and while I certainly indulged a bit, I did it while standing, never once having to sit down and never once having to ask everyone to slow down walking because I couldn’t keep up.  I was so happy.

It’s these everyday things that make me realize how far I’ve come.  Not a number on the scale.  If I could magically be at my “goal weight,” but have to eat and feel the way I did last year, I wouldn’t do it.   And that? Is the biggest victory of all.

Except these pictures.  These help too.

Christmas, 2013

Christmas, 2013

Tonight, after a workout that kicked my ass

Tonight, after a workout that kicked my ass. Also? I could barely get that shirt over my head last year when my sister brought it home from Italy for me.

 

 

 

 

 

Torture Comes in Many Forms

My DVD’s came on Monday.  Well, they apparently actually came on Saturday when, after waiting all day long, obsessively following my tracking number that said the package was certainly arriving, I finally gave up at 6:30PM and headed out to the park for some drinks.  According to the postal service, they tried to deliver at 6:37PM.  Which is about par for the course for my life.  At any rate, I picked up my package at the post office Monday, proudly holding it on the bus, hoping fellow passengers would see it and realize my fitness prowess.  (Unlikely.  The bus was full of teenagers that made me want to kick them for not being able to complete a grammatically correct sentence.)

But I digress.  I really was excited.  I had kind of put off all exercise until it showed up, and I was really looking forward to getting started on the next challenge in this journey of mine.  I knew it would be hard, but I was ready.

Or so I thought.  The following is the shortened version of the past three days, as narrated by the inner monologue that constantly runs through my head.  Be forewarned, my inner monologue uses a lot of creative profanity.

Day One – Upper Body Fix

  • Yay!  Here we go!
  • All right, warming up.  This is good.
  • Hmm, jumping jacks suck a lot more than I remember.  I’m probably going to need a better bra.
  • This is a warmup?  I’m already sweating.  And I don’t sweat.
  • What do you mean, get my weights?  No one told me I needed weights!  (This is my only complaint thus far.  When you order there is no mention of the program requiring dumbbells.)
  • Okay, I have substitute weights.
  • I wonder if I’m the only person using a can of tomatoes and a jar of peanut butter as weights?
  • That question pretty much answers itself, doesn’t it, Court?
  • No matter.  Okay.  We’re lifting. Feel the burn.
  • And this really fucking does burn, already.
  • I’m pretty sure that little time counter at the bottom telling us how far we come is going to be my arch enemy in less than five minutes.
  • Yep, I hate it already.
  • Okay, lie down on the floor.  This is good.  I can do this.
  • Plank?  Why so soon?
  • 60 seconds of plank?  NO.
  • And… there’s an ant on the floor.  Now I can’t concentrate.  How does one ant even get to the second floor?
  • Pushups?  Okay.  I’m going to watch Kat.  She’s the “modifier.”  Kat’s my people.  Hi Kat!
  • Kat can do pushups a lot better than me.
  • Nose three inches from the floor?  Piss off.  How about I just concentrate on not breaking my nose when my arms give out?
  • No, trainer Autumn, I cannot do “anything” for 60 seconds.  Especially fuck you planks.
  • First round done!  I did it!
  • What do you mean, repeat?
  • Okay.  This is good.  We’re sweating, we’re burning, this actually feels good, if feeling good means you feel like your arm muscles were turning to liquid.
  • Done!

Day Two – Lower Fix

  • Is that the alarm?  I should roll over and turn it off.
  • I’ll just push myself up off of my tummy to press snooze.
  • *Arms collapse* Welp, that didn’t work.
  • OW OW OW OW OW OKAY.  Got it.
  • Trainer Autumn seems awfully perky about “Leg Day.”  **Note – apparently the more excited a trainer is about something, the more it’s going to fucking suck.**
  • Kat doesn’t appear to be hurting very much.  I aspire to be you, Kat.
  • Sumo squats!  Those look fun.  It looks like Autumn is doing a plié, but like a badass.
  • Huh.  Caught a glimpse of myself in the window – it appears I’m trying to take a dump in the living room.
  • I should probably close those blinds.
  • Hey, but I’m doing these!  All those years of being told I was strong – apparently it’s all in my legs!
  • But wait, what did you just say?  We’re doing this part again?  Because I’m pretty sure the muscles in my ass are actually on fire.
  • Bonus exercise?!  WTF, Autumn.  A bonus is supposed to be a good thing.  Like that “child’s pose” thing we do?  Doing that for 60 seconds would be a bonus.
  • Also, am I the only one that finds that super awkward, that they call it child’s pose?
  • THIS IS NOT A BONUS PRIZE THIS HURTS.  I HATE PRIZES.
  • Done!

Day Three – Pilates Fix

  • Is that the alarm?  I should turn it off.
  • Hey, my arms worked!
  • Not so fast there, Wonder Woman.  Your arms don’t hurt because apparently your stomach muscles got ripped in half during the night.  It’s like some sort of awful displacement therapy, except you have no control over it.
  • Okay, Pilates.  I liked Pilates when I did them before.  Make your core strong!  Woohoo!
  • 20 minutes go by, during which I spent approximately 18 minutes flopping on the floor like a fish, trying to lift phantom limbs.
  • Remember when you liked Pilates before?  You were 60 pounds lighter and ten years younger.
  • And if we’re being honest, you weren’t all that good at it then.
  • Trainer Autumn just said this is an “active rest day.”
  • “Now, in plank position, rotate your hips first to touch the floor on the left, then the right.  Go!”
  • Yeah, you can fuck right off with that noise.  (She thought as she balanced on her hands and knees, trying to figure out how to get up or down without breaking anything.)
  • You’re a bad lady, trainer Autumn.
  • But you could bounce a quarter off of your ass into next week, so I’m sticking with you.
  • Done!

 

The Next Challenge

Since I made the decision to get healthy, I’ve made a lot of changes.  I completely overhauled my eating and drinking habits and went from zero activity to running three times a week and signing up for 5K runs.  I’m proud of that.  Very proud.  But something strange happened after I finished that first 5K; I lost all motivation to run.  I still did it, and I kept my eating on track, but the luster and excitement around running?  Was gone.  I didn’t worry too much about it, figured I’d rest a little bit then get back into it, maybe even training for a 10K.  But somehow one week became two, and I just didn’t have that fire and determination I had had when I was training for that 5K.  When I couldn’t run 60 seconds straight, I was determined as all hell and pushed myself every time I went out there to do better.  And I loved it.  Once I completed the challenge?  Meh.

I needed a new challenge.  I’ve never considered myself a competitive person, but it turns out, trying something I had previously thought was completely out of my league is a big motivator for me.  That’s why I decided to look into Beachbody programs.  If you’re unfamiliar, take a look at their website – I won’t go through all of the details here.  The bottom line, Beachbody programs are tough.

When I first decided to start running, I spent an exorbitant amount of time looking up success stories of people like me, people that were obese when they started, that couldn’t even walk a block and were now running marathons.  People 100, even 200 pounds heavier than me, that completed the program.  Some people look at that as an unfair motivator.  Me?  I love that shit.  Show me someone in worse physical shape that can do what I’d like to – to me, that helps me believe I can do it.  The before and after pictures were so inspiring to me!  Here were women that started out looking like me and had great success.

The Beachbody before and afters?  Are a different story.  Their before pictures looked like what I pictured my after to be.  Sure, there was the occasional story of someone who started considerably overweight that had completed the program and made amazing transformations.  But for the most part?  These were people that went from extremely fit to unbelievably fit, not from fat to fabulous.  These weren’t my people.  These were people wanting to become fitness instructors, people whose entire lives revolved around working out.  Not people like me.

But then the stubborn streak I didn’t know I had came out.  Why couldn’t this be me?  I didn’t think runners were my people either – in fact, I often scoffed at how miserable they looked, running past me as I sat on a bench, drinking a beer – and look how that turned out.  I may never look just like them, but who’s to say I couldn’t get close?  There’s nothing written saying that once you’re fat, you can never be thin and toned, right?  So I decided.  I wasn’t going to try – I was going to complete a Beachbody program.  I contacted a coach that I was friends with on Facebook – the lovely Beth, who I’ve known since I was six but haven’t seen since college.  She had success with the workouts, had done a lot of them, and seemed to really believe in them as opposed to just out there trying to make money.

**I’m explaining how I went about this for a reason.  Beachbody programs are expensive, and there are a lot of people right now on social media touting it as the end all solution to losing weight.  Do your research.  I went back and forth with Beth for a few weeks before I decided on a program both of us thought I’d be able to handle, with modifications, at my fitness level.  She was honest in what she thought I could and couldn’t do, and I appreciated her honesty in telling me what was probably out of my league.**

The program I chose is the 21 Day Fix, a kickstart to healthy eating and exercise.  Now, a fix always sounds suspicious to me.  You’re not fixing me in 21 days, I promise you that.  I have a lot more work to do.  But the program is designed to get you on the right track, with a hard workout schedule, 30 minutes a day, seven days a week.  Each day concentrates on a different part of your body.  (My assumption for this reasoning is so every single part of your body doesn’t hurt all at the same time, rather, they space it out so a DIFFERENT part of your body makes you hope it will fall off each day.)

My DVD’s came in Monday.  Wish me luck….