At what age?

There’s a lot of hate out there for the overweight.

I recently read a blog where the blogger was voicing their opinion of charging more for health insurance for those who are overweight and smokers.  There are a lot of people clamoring for an increased health insurance premium for the overweight.  I’m always struck by how fiercely those people speak out against the overweight – such animosity!

And let’s face it… in our society…. being overweight is something which is seen as shameful.  In fact, shaming the overweight is a common daily occurrence in every town in America.  Every.  Single.  Town.

Add to this that I’m back to tracking calories and so I’m perusing the MyFitnessPal message boards just to get my mind into the game of weight loss and already I have to step back from the message boards because there are so many incredibly fit people there degrading others who ask for advice.  Now most of them don’t mean to be anything but helpful but some of those people cannot possibly fathom what it’s like to be very overweight and just starting out.  You’re new, you’re scared you’re going to fail just like every time before, and you’re looking for advice.  Just today someone posted that they couldn’t find where to enter their walking as exercise and someone posted back that it was rubbish to log your walking anyway as that wasn’t a real workout.  (Trust me, I had to hold myself back from finding the medical article which stated real facts where walking was better for your overall health than running.)

See… there was someone looking for help on weight loss and exercise and instead of help… they faced what they’ve been facing for a while now… ridicule.

What I’d like to know is… at what age does it become acceptable to shame the overweight?

I doubt many of us would blame a 2 year old child for being overweight.  Rather, we would blame their parents.  So how about a 6 year old?  Do we want to explain to a 6 year old that they are overweight and begin giving them body issues which may develop into an eating disorder?  12 years old?  15?

Let’s face it folks, even if you wait until the age of 18 you’re being an asshole.  Someone who was raised in an unhealthy eating/living environment has developed their unhealthy relationship with food early on – and has lived with those disordered eating habits for years by the time they are 18.

Let’s look at my life.  I was never exposed to the concept of moderation.  You want it?  Eat it.  It never occurred to me that desserts shouldn’t be a regular part of life.  You know what wasn’t a regular part of life?  Vegetables.  I was pretty certain I hated vegetables.  And salads.  Gross.

When I went off to college I continued my disordered eating.  There were plenty of others around doing the same and so it just never clicked.  And when I moved out on my own?  I made the foods I grew up on.  Fried potatoes.  Lots and lots of fried potatoes.  I ate fried potatoes nearly every night growing up.  And yes, they are delicious.

My point here is that I find it absolutely ridiculous how easily people feel it’s perfectly find to shame the overweight.  They like to oversimplify as well.  “All you have to do is exercise and eat less.”  It’s really not that simple.  My dysfunctional relationship with food is a permanent part of me.  Habits are hard to overcome.  Many of us have deep seated emotional roots in our eating.  How dare anyone think it’s just ok to point a finger and call me fat and lazy?  Where was DCFS swooping in to rescue me from the eating habits my parents were teaching me?

If you wouldn’t do it to a 5 year old, don’t do it to an adult.  Have the common sense that these behaviors were learned and practiced for YEARS before that person became an adult.  Nested in those behaviors are there stress coping mechanisms, their depression coping mechanisms, their memories of their parents and their home… It’s not simple so shut your  mouth and offer support – not shame.

Typical New Year’s Post

2014 headerThat’s right, that’s a cookie.  Well, two of them anyway.

Before I make myself sit here and think of my goals for 2014 I’m going to force myself to think of all that occurred in my 2013.

  • Probably the biggest thing is my sister Shelly having a baby and me being there for everything in the hospital.  That’s a major first for me and a major first in that I’m learning how to deal with babies which I’ve never been very good at.
  • I started a cookie business without really thinking much about it or meaning to.
  • Half of my department at work (that’s 2 people) didn’t come back this year and neither did my old boss as he retired.
  • My aunt moved in with me for about 6 months during which time she slowly started driving me insane and during which I ate copious amounts of chocolate.
  • I began to hate my new boss.  I began to resent my school administrators for not caring how much work they dumped on me.
  • I exercised less than I have in probably two years.
  • I gained about 15 lbs.
  • I relapsed on a lot of bad habits.

All in all, 2013 could have been better but it could have been much worse.  What I really want to focus on this year is getting back to a healthy weight, exercising on a regular basis, and finding some time to be present in my life.

Getting back to a healthy weight means a change in a couple areas of my life.  For one, I need to start exercising again and this means finally throwing in the towel on the whole running thing.  My body just isn’t the same since the accident.  I cannot seem to get back into it without a bunch of aches and pains which just make me take days off.  Walking and cycling will be my new things.  Once I start exercising, I typically start eating better (why oh why are they sooooo closely linked?).  I need to be mindful of what I put into my body.  It’s no coincidence that I feel like crap all of the time when I’m eating crap all of the time.  Balance.  I need to be sure I take some time for ME and actually do something which betters ME.

I started this paragraph thinking I had something else in my list but I guess I don’t.  Taking care of my body pretty much encompasses everything I feel the worst about right now.  Must fix!

What about you?  What are your goals for the new year?

 

Looking Ahead: 2013

I never used to make resolutions at the New Year.

There were always things I thought I’d do in the upcoming year, and most of the time, it was lose weight.  However, it just seemed as though resolutions never worked for anyone.  They were a source of self-disappointment, something I think most of us could do without.

My attitude on resolutions has changed dramatically (likely due to my new love of goal setting) and while I certainly hope to lose weight this upcoming year, weight loss is not a resolution of mine.

What is?

Exercise.

Plain and simple: Exercise was a pretty big part of my life for a little while there and I’ve never fully come back from my car accident.  Old habits die hard and it was all too easy to fall into laziness again.  Throw in the extra back pain I now have and boy is it ever easy to find a reason not to exercise.

The problem is… I felt better when I exercised with a vengeance.  I felt empowered and alive and at peace with my body.  My body was never perfect, it was always overweight… but I didn’t hate my body… I took pride in it.  Sure it was a work in progress… but I’d made so very much progress!

I want that back.  I want that drive and dedication back.  I want to feel that way about my body again.  I want to climb a mountain one small step at a time.

So there you have it. I resolve to rekindle my love of exercise in 2013.

What’s your resolution?

The Two Sides

I have my period.  It’s not anything necessarily noteworthy except for a couple of things:  First, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to see a loss for my weigh-in tomorrow (we all know TOM lovingly gives us some additional water bloat) and that really kind of sucks because I kicked ass this week with my exercise and my calorie counts.  All things being equal, I should lose at least a pound from last week… but I’m pretty sure I’m going to wake up tomorrow at 176.6 yet again and even though I know I’ll be down a whole bunch all at once… blah.  The second thing about my period is the hormones make me emotional and introspective and melancholy.

And with the hormones surging through my system, I’ve been sitting here all morning sort of thinking of all the things I miss.  This is when you expect some sort of message about how much I miss my grandmother, right?

Did I mention my period hormones make me shallow as well?

I woke up this morning craving breakfast.  Not an ordinary breakfast – but a meat lover’s skillet from the local diner.  YUM.  I have no idea how many calories such a thing contains.  An entire day’s worth?  Quite possibly that and then some.  And it got me to thinking about my weight loss and the things I miss.  I won’t list them all but let me spout off a few:  Obviously, eating a meat lover’s skillet without knowing how many calories it contained and not really caring.  I miss the way I had no idea eating 5 cookies was bad for you.  I mean, I knew they were sweets and thought it was mostly the sugar content that was bad.. not that eating 5 cookies meant you’d just inhaled 1500 calories or better.  I miss the solace and comfort I could find in food, coming home at the end of a stressful day and finding comfort in a bag of chips.  I miss staring at a quart of Ben & Jerry’s and not thinking that I should probably just forego the ice cream altogether.

See… stuff along that line.  Self-pity brought on my period hormones.  Seriously, I’m not this big of a whiner.

So then, as I was switching out a load of laundry and my side ached as I bent over into the washing machine, I began to think about the things I did not miss.  You know, like hating the way I looked in every photograph.  I don’t miss that.  I don’t miss feeling worried I won’t physically be able to do something.  I don’t miss feeling winded when I try to keep up walking with my friends.  I don’t miss gasping for air during a lecture.  I don’t miss feeling ashamed of my body.  I don’t miss how ugly I felt in the eyes of the public.  I don’t miss shopping at plus sized stores.  I don’t miss the lack of new experiences I had.  I don’t miss drifting through life without goals.

And really, aren’t both paragraphs up there filled with negative things?  I mean, who needs to find solace in food?  No one, that’s who.  Who needs to be ignorant of how many calories 5 cookies contain?  No one.  And I certainly don’t need to miss anything in the paragraph of things I don’t miss.

To put it simply, even though I’m whiny today and feeling sluggish because I’ve taken one day off exercise this week… I’m able to realize that my life has a lot less negativity in it these days.  I’m not perfect.  I don’t have all the answers.  I have so much more to learn… but the big deal here is… I’ve come so far from where I was.  My life is better now.  I am happier now.  I fear less.  I live more.

I hope you do too.

Reeling Myself Back IN – Exercise

I haven’t been the best fitness oriented person on the planet since my car accident.  I mean, prior to the accident I was like… I don’t know, ready to run a half marathon and ready to climb tall mountains and ready to do all the things I was always too fat and out of shape to do before.

Mind you, I wasn’t skinny.  And mind you, I wasn’t trying to lose weight anymore as a lot of people tell you that’s really hard to do when you’re running longer distances and, quite frankly, running made me super hungry and I was having a joyous time eating anything I wanted and not gaining any weight.

Ok, the whole “I used to be a size 22 and now I”m a 14” thing probably played into my attitude.  It’s easy to feel like a million bucks when you’re in a 14 and you’ve lost 55 lbs and you feel like you have control over your body for the first time in your life.

So anyway, I likely wasn’t in the best mindset for maintaining a loss when the accident happened.  I also don’t think I could have ever anticipated how long my recovery would take seeing as how nothing was broken or bloodied (aside from a broken tooth) – three cheers for hyper-mobile joints that never want to recover!  (Please note the sarcasm.)

I realized I was in a bit of trouble last summer, which was 7 months after the accident and during which I exercised very little.  It was so easy to fall back into my old, lazy habits and just not do anything.  I did get up off my butt a few days/week and attempt to run but the failure of being able to do what I used to do – or even a fraction of it – just discouraged me.  And then the school year hit and I stopped exercising for the most part.

And for all of that, I’m up 8 lbs since the accident.  I don’t think that’s the worst thing in the world.  I’m feeling mildly accomplished that I didn’t gain like 15 or 20 lbs back.  I could have.  What that tells me is that I really have changed SOME of my habits.  But you know, the longer I went without exercise… the worse I started eating.  It’s a slippery slope.

So, first thing?  I got back into exercise.

It hasn’t been easy.  My back still isn’t where it used to be – and even back then it wasn’t tip top.  A busy week can see me not exercise at all.  A bad week with my back can also see me not exercise at all.  Like last week?  I went on two walks one day – a 3 mile walk and then a 2 mile walk later in the day.  Nothing I didn’t do all at once in April… and yet… by the end of the two miles, my hip joints were wasted.  I could barely walk the next day.  Exercise?  Yeah right, not without a chiropractic adjustment… which costs $20 every time I go… and yeah, that adds up because I go once a week regularly (loose joints, remember?) and spending $40 in one week just seems madness.

I also can’t go crazy.  I can’t set a distance goal for my running/jogging.  I can’t do high impact exercise all the time.  And so I find myself doing a lot of walking.  It feels like a failure, walking.  I have to remind myself it’s not a failure.  This is what I can do without over taxing my body.  This is better than nothing at all.  And it’s true.  However, compared with the crazy goals I was setting for myself before… this exercise for the sake of exercise feels a bit empty… and so I am currently trying to remember that exercise can just be taking joy in movement – and that’s ok.

And June 7, I hit a milestone.

See that?  I hit 100 miles.

I started using that app sometime in March.  I don’t always run, there are two bike rides in there and an awful lot more walking than running…. but I hit 100 miles.  I also know I didn’t really exercise for about 3 weeks of that time.  So I’m feeling pretty good about the 100 miles.  It’s also given me the ability to make a new goal – a distance goal.  I just have no idea what sort of goal to set…. but at least I’ve got an idea of a type of goal I can set without meaning I’m going to injure myself trying to get there.  A distance goal I can do.  A distance goal doesn’t mean I have to run 3 miles, it doesn’t mean I have to run at a certain pace.  I don’t even have to run.  I just have to put in the distance.

If you haven’t checked out the mapmyrun app, it’s pretty nice.  It’s easy to use, pretty user friendly – I’ve never had to look up directions for anything, and it even connected pretty easily with my heart rate monitor once I got the thingy to plug into my phone.  I was worried as the thingy (yes, it’s the official name now) wasn’t made by mapmyrun, and my heart rate strap is from my old garmin… but the thing worked!

So yeah, I’m feeling ok with my exercise level.  I’m doing the best I can.  I’m trying to make every session about fitness and movement and not about what I think I should be doing.  I’m not being so hard on myself, and I’m not feeling discouraged.  This is improvement.

Oh yeah, The April Exercise Challenge

So the last you heard of the April Exercise challenge I was furious over some person reporting an insane number of hours in a week.

So I asked about it the next time I went in.  And I was told they’d asked this person about it as well and apparently his doctor had told him he needed to start exercising or he was heading for a heart attack.  Lots of walking, I guess.  Lots of walking and retired.  I’m telling you, those retired folks can put in a lot of easy exercise time with the morning and evening walks!

So I calmed down a bit but when the third week came and went and that guy STILL beat me in hours (but not by nearly as much) I realized I wasn’t going to come out the office victor.  However, that insane person WAS on my team and so I consoled myself by realizing I would be on the winning team this year.

After the first week the office had reached 250 hours and it was a 2000 hour challenge.  I really didn’t think we’d make it.  At the end of April the office had accumulated 2381 hours.  I have to admit, I’m impressed.  Everyone really stepped it up.  The break down looked like this:

Final Team Totals

1st place Red Team = 486 hours                   Top Competitor = 51.5 hours

4th place Green Team = 329.5 hours             Top Competitor = 30.5 hours

5th place Blue Team = 280.5 hours                 Top Competitor = 35.5 hours

3rd place Orange Team = 393.5 hours             Top Competitor = 36.25 hours

6th place Black Team = 254.5 hours                 Top Competitor = 22 hours

2nd place Yellow Team = 425 hours                  Top Competitor = 39.25 hours

7th place Silver Team (staff) = 212 hours        Top Competitor = 32 hours

Awesome stuff!  My prizes?  A t-shirt, a reusable bag, and a hot/cold pack.  Not too shabby!

And here I thought I was kicking ass…

I know it’s been a while since I posted.  I have excuses.. allow me to list them.

Last week was crazy at work.  We had a big project in one of my classes, plus there was a school-wide project which culminated on Friday so things were crazy at work.  By the time I got home at night, put in my 1.5 hours of exercise, ate dinner, showered, gave the cats sufficient attention, and perused the job listings… I was beyond tired.

Plus… Monday night there was that whole… April Exercise challenge report that threw me into a bit of a funk.  I was fully expecting to be the top person on my team again… or at least CLOSE to the top person on my team.  I had 9.5 hours that I’d reported and when I got the reporting email… the top person on my team had done 18 hours.

Naturally, I immediately called them a liar.

I mean, I smoked the entire office the week before with 10.5 hours and someone comes out of nowhere with 18?  Excuse me?

I stewed over that, folks, and I’m not all that proud to admit it either.  Instead of focusing on my success in general, I was totally peeved at this person.  This person also beat me out this past week, but only by 1.25 hours.  I had 11 hours for last week and they evidently had 12.25.  Whatever.  The big picture here? My team is looking like we might be the winners!  I’ll take that… and maybe next year I can do something incredibly insane to be the overall winner.  I don’t know though, 18 hours in a week seems pretty steep.  If it were warmer and I was riding my bike… possibly.  I just don’t know.

So yeah, I got sidetracked and started with the negative thinking….which led to selfish thinking…which led to me being totally preoccupied with myself….which led to me spending senseless energy doing nothing but huffing and puffing and feeling angry.  Why did I let that happen?

I’m still kicking ass though… my own.  I have to keep reminding myself not to push it with the running.  I have begun googling to see if I can find other people who have the high heart rate problem I have and I’ve found a couple of threads that mention it… but nothing which gives it a medical name, and nothing that really gives much advice other than “do what it takes to keep your heart rate at 85% of maximum.”  You know… that would pretty much leave me “jogging” at a slower pace than I walk.  I am encouraged to see that others have this problem and they’re not all overweight… and they seem to be in various levels of physical fitness… so I’m going to keep researching and see what I can come up with…. because…. man… I had really forgotten how much it sucks when my heart rate jumps up into that 185 – 195 zone after about 2 minutes of jogging… and then trying to keep jogging.  It’s HARD.

Just keep moving forward, right?

It’s like Jenga… only with your life

I ran into someone I sort of know recently.  I say sort of know because she used to be the receptionist at my chiropractor and while we are friendly, I wouldn’t say we are friends or anything.  However, she too went on a lifestyle change and lost a lot of weight a while back.  When I ran into her I told her she looked great and she admitted she’d not been doing so great lately and had gained 5 lbs.  I told her I could relate and joked about how, the moment you stop exercising… you suddenly start hating your body again.  And those 5 lbs?  Doesn’t matter if you used to weigh 50 lbs more, those 5 lbs make you feel like the heaviest woman on Earth.  We giggled and I told her Id’ recently found my workout groove again and told her she’d find hers again too.

You know, it’s one thing if the exercising stops.  However, what I’ve found is that once the exercise stops… the healthy eating slowly slips as well.  Folks, my eating over the past year has slid backwards in horrific ways.  That is… until I found my groove with this April exercise challenge.

Let me backtrack first.  Last week I clocked in at 10.5 hours and when the results came in…. I was a full 2 hours ahead of the closest competitor!  I was completely surprised and also completely thrilled.  I am determined to match last week’s time and, while I’ve had 2 days of short workouts, I haven’t taken any days off this week (and I did last week) so, I’m looking like I CAN get there… which is awesome.  I’d like to be the overall top competitor.

What I found this week has been really surprising:  I am craving good foods.  My breakfast has improved, my lunches have consisted of mostly fruits and veggies (and I’ve thrown in Greek yogurt which is totally yummy).  And dinner?  I craved salad all week long.  I didn’t have the stuff on hand to make a salad, mind you… but I wanted it badly.  I finally got my salad Thursday night in the form of a Wendy’s salad which included grilled chicken, pecans, apples and was so yummy I was in heaven.  Last night?  Same deal, I was craving salad again so I got another fast food salad, this time from Burger King.

So, as I’m sitting here right now I”m reading through my salad books (I’m horribly unimaginative when it comes to salads) for inspiration because I believe I should plan on eating a few salads for dinner this week.  It’s been a while since I’ve craved a good salad.  It’s been a while since I’ve looked ahead at the menu to see what kind of salads a restaurant has before agreeing to go out to eat, but I remember once doing so.

It’s amazing how everything sort of fits together.  If you remove one thing, it can all come toppling down.  Put that piece back in… and everything stabilizes.  I feel good about myself again.  I’m not thrilled with the extra weight, but I’m not throwing a girlie hissy fit in the morning when I get dressed, either.  I just feel GOOD.  And that’s the big difference, isn’t it?  When you’re working out there is no guilt to feel for not working out.  When you’re working out, your body craves the good stuff.  When you’re eating well and working out… life feels good.

And that, my friends, is where I am right now.  (Until my next post when I update you on the job search and rant and rave about crap I’m frustrated with.  haha.)

April Challenge: End of Week 1

If you’ve been able to follow my ramblings you know I am participating in my chiropractor’s April exercise challenge.  To be honest, I haven’t exercised much in the past year.  I kept having back issues or setbacks and – honestly – I got used to being lazy after the car accident.

There is no other way to look at it, exercise is… well… work.  

I know, I know… nothing life changing in that statement above but trust me, it took me a long time to realize that (so long as I was doing it properly) exercise would never become easy.  You’re meant to step it up as you improve.  For a person highly sedentary most of their life, those are frightening words.  Anyway, before I begin rambling about other things for an hour, my point here is I hadn’t exercised much prior to April’s beginning.  I’d been slowly getting myself back out there and I was pleased with my progress but to be a contender in the challenge, I really needed to step things up.

You know, there’s nothing quite like exercise to remind you that you are a being made of muscle.

I promise I’m not doing anything overly strenuous.  I’m essentially adding an hour of walking to my daily exercise routine (ok so the exercise wasn’t daily before so THAT bit is stepped up as well).

Folks?  My muscles hate me.  They really do.  I have accumulated 10.5 hours of exercise this week (yeah!) and my body groans no matter what direction I move.  Not HUGE groans, mind you… but large enough so that I swear I can feel each individual muscle in my body.

Before everyone jumps in here and starts asking if I’m stretching enough… yes… yes I am stretching.  I am beginning to think I cannot stretch enough to keep my back happy though.  I have been following up my exercise + walking sessions with lots of stretching, followed by some yoga stretches, followed by me groaning in pain as I roll it all out on my foam roller (I have serious IT band issues if I don’t foam roll them daily).  I’ve even taken a tennis ball to my glutes and certain places in my back which just cannot seem to get stretched well enough.  So yeah, I’m stretching.  I’ve even looked up the more stubborn muscles on a chart like this one so I can figure out what I need to do in order to stretch it.

In the end… I think I’m holding up OK.  I’m not glorious by any means but, all things considered, I think I could be much worse.  I’m going to continue stretching like there is no tomorrow and I’m going to try to accumulate 10 hours of exercise this week.  Why less than the 10.5 I just had?  That 10.5 includes a 3 day weekend for me in which I was able to go out in the morning and again at night. Coming home from work and putting in that much time just might not happen.

Here’s to hoping my 10.5 hours puts me as the leader in my team.  I’ll keep you updated!

Everyone is Different

You know, I keep reminding myself that I cannot compare myself to others…especially when it comes to fitness/running.  Ugh, that reminds me.  I’m going to stop calling what I do running.  I’m jogging at best even if it’s the best I can do.

Ok, let me backtrack because I know my last post was all “I’m super elated at having run a mile!”

So what happened between now and then?  This happened:

And what is this, exactly?    You know, because we all know that isn’t MY run I’m posting.  That is my friend’s run.  He’s male.  He stands 6’1″ tall and weighs less than me.  He’s been a smoker for longer than I really know and he started running about a month ago.  His last run was over a week ago and it was one mile in six minutes and he says it nearly killed him.  At the time, all I could think was “you ran a mile in six minutes?  You could run two miles to my one.”  But he assured me I could certainly beat him in stamina when I get back to my old self.

And then he did nothing for over a week and went out and ran 1.78 miles FASTER than the original mile.

It’s things like this which make me want to cry.  I mean, I don’t even think I can reach the speed of 10mph.  I’ve seen 8.7 and I was like “woah, I was fast for a brief 30 second sprint!”  But 10 mph?  Never.

Now, I can remind myself that I didn’t exercise for the first 30 years of my life.  I can remind myself that I have shorter legs and more weight to carry around.  I can remind myself that I will improve with time.  But it doesn’t take away the short term feeling like a loser.  Isn’t that crazy how things can mess with you?  My entire weight loss journey and fitness journey has been such a mental and emotional battle along with the physical.  Yes, I know I shouldn’t compare.  It’s just so hard NOT to compare, especially when you’re someone who has grown up overweight, is used to being judged for being overweight and out of shape, and who has heard the scathing remarks made by the fast runners at events.  (My very first event was a 5k in which I was barely able to go the entire distance.  I was pleased at having finished around 45 minutes only to hear some super fit girl remark “There are still people just finishing???” in a tone reeking of disbelief and scorn.  Gee thanks, lady.)

So yes, it’s hard not to feel inferior and whatnot when faced with those stats.  I just have to remember that I am giving it my all (and continue to give it my all) and that I will improve.  My friend may be a freak of nature, but he was really fit in his younger years and he has those years of exercise that I don’t.  I will improve.  I will do the best I can.  I will remember to celebrate what I can accomplish… because it is far more than I ever dreamed I would.  And that, my friends, is something to celebrate.