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….

 

This Is What Three Pounds Looks Like

*****I wrote this on April 4th of this year and posted it to my main blog, crazinessiscontagious.com.  I’m starting this blog with this particular post because I think it is so important to concentrate on how you feel, how you look, and all of the positive changes you are making rather than a number on a scale.    The number does not matter.  The night I wrote this was the first night I really thought, “You know what?  I am going to do this.  I’m going to do this in a healthy way, for me, and not for some stupid number on a scale.”  And I am doing it.  This is just where it started.

April 4, 2014

It was the Christmas pictures that did it.  There was my beautiful sister, almost seven months pregnant with her first child, looking radiant standing next to me – fifty pounds (at least, I didn’t ask.  I have to maintain some sanity,) heavier than her, looking like a distorted, bloated version of myself.  What struck me the most wasn’t how heavy I was; it’s not like I hadn’t realized my pants were getting too tight and I got out of breath trying to put my boots on.  I knew I’d put on a considerable amount of weight.  But what struck me the most was how unhappy I looked.  I didn’t look like me.  The me I knew was happy, she wasn’t this puffy person desperately trying to smile.

Once I had untagged myself from all of those unflattering pictures, I made a decision.  I didn’t want to be that person.  I did not want to be the person that did not want her picture taken.  I wanted my as-yet-unborn niece to have photos of her aunt that loved her, not just a vague recollection of a fat lady.  Those pictures snapped something in me and made me question what else I was missing out on.  I’m self-aware enough to realize if I was hiding out from the camera, I was hiding out from other things as well.  What else was I letting pass me by?

So I made some big changes.  I cut out the carbs and sugar, switched my six or seven  Diet Cokes a day for gallons of water.  I quit drinking beer.  (I switched to vodka and diet Sprite.  I’m not a saint.)  I ate vegetables.  Instead of my previous late night dinners of loaded baked potato soup, mashed potatoes, or spaghetti with a half a loaf of garlic bread, I made mashed cauliflower with chicken.  I made smoothies with spinach every morning, despite my previous disdain for anyone that would do such a horrible thing to a delicious beverage.  I found out I was wrong.  They were delicious.

And I started running.  I had quit smoking almost a year prior but still had the smoker mentality that went something along the lines of, “If I am running, you better start, because there someone behind me with a murderous weapon.”  I had never run.  Ever. I always got a C in gym class because I would never run the whole mile.  But I found this Couch to 5K program that boasted it would enable me to run a 5K within nine weeks.  I didn’t believe it for a second after the first day, when I damn near passed out after running for sixty seconds.  I signed up for one anyway.

The biggest thing I did, however, was not get on a scale.  I hadn’t had one in years, and I decided that instead of weight, I was going to concentrate on this 5K.  I set what I thought was a realistic goal: One, I was going to finish the program.  Two, I wanted to run the whole thing and finish under 45 minutes.  They weren’t lofty goals.  There are people that can walk a 5K in 45 minutes.  But they were my goals, and they weren’t directly related to a number on the scale.

I felt great.  Each day after I completed my run, I was exhilarated.  Every other day I was out there; in the bitter cold, in the snow, in the rain – I would run.  I couldn’t believe it – I was doing it!!!  After a couple of weeks, my clothes were fitting better.  I had more energy, I was smiling a real smile again – I was happy.  I was me again.  Most of all, I was so damn proud of myself.  I was achieving my weight loss goals like I never had before.

About eight weeks into the program, I was over at my sister’s for lunch.  I went to use her bathroom and spied the scale on the floor.  I couldn’t help myself.  I had to see.  I mean, it had been eight weeks!  After all of the changes I had made, at the weight I started, I was confident I had lost at least fifteen pounds.  I had done the low-carb thing before – the wrong way, with no exercise, subsisting on bacon and peanut butter – and lost eight pounds the first week.  So I was, for the first time I can remember, excited about getting on the scale. I kicked off my shoes and stepped on, eagerly looking down at the number.

That can’t be right.

THAT CAN’T BE RIGHT.

It is impossible that I have only lost three pounds.  After all, I’d been eating vegetables.  I got off and let it reset.  Clearly it was malfunctioning.  I got on again.

Damn. It.

In eight weeks, after letting nary a potato or beer cross my lips, after drinking gallons and gallons of water a day, after drinking spinach for breakfast, after increasing my endurance to being able to run a mile and a half at a stretch, after turning down Portillo’s four times, after throwing away the crust on the work-lunch Lou Malnati’s pizza, after eating all of this cauliflower – THREE POUNDS.

In short, I was devastated.  All of my hard work, all of my good feels, all of my pride and energy; it was like it had never happened.  According to that scale, all of my work was for basically nothing.  And the next thought that crossed my mind was, “Why even bother?  I might as well go back to macaroni and cheese for dinner!”

How. Stupid. Is. That?

I knew I’d lost inches.  My clothes fit better, I’d been getting compliments, the foot pain I’d struggled with for the past year was non-existent.  I was able to keep up when we went for a walk.  I was able to run a mile and a half, for Christ’s sake.  I was no longer sweating while trying to zip up my boots, in fact, I could fit my whole hand in between my leg and the top of them, whereas weeks before I could barely get them over my pants. My yoga pants were dragging on the floor even when I wore shoes.  I didn’t resemble John Goodman anymore.  I felt great.

Yet I was letting a number on a scale determine whether I had been successful. Somehow, none of those great things I’d been feeling mattered anymore, because the scale said they didn’t.  Anyone who has ever struggled with their weight knows that the scale rules all.  The scale has the final say.  The scale tells you whether you are doing well or badly.  And in the end, the scale will break you.

I can say with complete confidence that if I’d been weighing myself every day throughout those eight weeks, I would have quit about three weeks in.  No way would I have continued the running that has made me stronger, eating food that doesn’t require a nap after consuming it, drinking water instead of pop, because the scale would have told me I was failing.

So I’m very glad that I don’t own a scale.  Because if I did, I wouldn’t be wearing jeans two sizes lower than I was in January.  If I owned a scale, my smile would still look stretched and forced.  I wouldn’t be excited about the summer, looking for clothes and planning activities that I know I’ll be able to enjoy.  If I owned a scale, I sure as hell wouldn’t have run three straight miles yesterday.  I wouldn’t be looking forward to running a 5K next week – in fact, I’d be dreading it, because it would be another failure.  All because of a number that means absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things.

Throw away the scale.  Eat well, be healthy in whatever way works for you, and be happy.  Get your smile back and be proud of what you can do.

ImageImage

This is three pounds.