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.

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?

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.

Reality sinks in

You know how you have those moments of confidence which are strong enough to send you surging forward, determined to tackle any obstacle which threatens to hold you back?

And you know how, once that confidence fades, you’re suddenly stricken with insecurities about the path you’ve just set yourself upon?

I’m feeling that right now.  I spent spring break realizing that a job change likely means me moving.  A job change means I have to interview.  A job change means I have to fill out this ridiculously long online application which requires me to do background research on myself because I cannot remember the answer to some of these incredibly probing questions. (Seriously, am I running for president here?)  Quite frankly, all of it has left me feeling horribly insecure.  Am I really ready to move on?  Am I really ready to start making these finite decisions?

The answer is obviously yes, else I wouldn’t have started down this path.  It’s just hard.  (Ok, scary.  I’m scared.)

On the exercise front… April marks the annual exercise challenge at my chiropractor’s office.  I’m going to be trying to put in as much time as possible while not totally overdoing it.

I’m still doing relatively well on the exercise front.  I did take two days off this week but they were mainly weather related.  Other than that, I’ve even gone out and put in my run time with a headache. I’m still painfully slow with running.  It’s a combination of what my back can handle and what my fitness level can handle.

My C25K app I downloaded ages ago has updated to include a slightly modified version of the program with week 1 having 30 second, 45 second, and 60 second intervals instead of all 60 seconds.  I’ve been pushing myself with those over the past week and boy does it kick my butt!

Prior to doing the intervals, I was running a very slow (4.2 mph) half mile, walking 1/4 mile, and then running a likely even slower half mile.  I wasn’t capable of running (jogging?) a full mile but I felt confident I could get there.

Well, today I got there.  I’m slow, but I’ve always been slow.  My average pace was 4.8 mph and I”m ok with that for right now.  I felt ok afterward.  My back wasn’t completely gone and I was definitely winded, but I wasn’t dying.

All in all, I feel good about it.

With the increase in physical activity coming up in April, I’m not sure what sort of improvement I can expect in the next month, but I’m hoping I’ll be able to at least run 2 miles at this pace by the end of April.  I’m not trying to work miracles here, I’m just trying to rebuild.  You know?

I plan to throw in some cycling, some Curves time, a lot of walking, and of course the running and jogging this next month.  I really want to be a serious contender for a top contestant.  I want to be the top in my team and I’m determined to do it!

Spring Break! (at home, which isn’t as exciting)

The weather has been gorgeous around here.  The temperatures have most certainly been well above the norm for this time of year.  I’ve been trying to do my whole running thing after work in weather which is suddenly 80 degrees.  Sure, 80 is fine during the summer… but right now?  It’s a freaking humidity heat wave which makes me feel like a wet noodle and which turns my hair into the frizzy locks of medusa only my snakes don’t hiss.

Well, yeah, the weather has been gorgeous…right up until this week when I’m on spring break.  As I sit here right now my hands are freezing and the wind is blowing so strongly outside it keeps making my garage door make these horrifying noises where I’m nearly certain it’s going to buckle in the middle.  I’d open the garage door but then the horror which is the garage would likely wind up strewn about the neighborhood making me incredibly unpopular with the neighbors.  (I just turned up the heat as I cannot stand the 63 degree house anymore.  I’m so cold!)

So yeah, my life just got typical.  I’m not a big travel person.  Now, there are a variety of reasons for this but mostly I sort of glitch out over spending money on travel.  I grew up with little to no money and ever since I started working (in 8th grade) I’ve been a bit of a money hoarder.  I panic when my money reserves are touched.  So travel just isn’t something which is on my list of things I’m going to do without being coaxed.  So here I sit on spring break and that’s ok as I’ve the major task of applying to different schools.  You know, now that the actual application process is here, it’s incredibly frightening.  I just tried to file an online application which required so many nitpicky details about this, that and my grandmother’s molars that I literally cannot finish it until I send for a few things so I can reference them.  Really?  Do you really need to know these details?  I mean, is the only reason you’re not asking for the color of panties I’m wearing because it would be considered sexual harassment?

All I can say is:  Wow.

In other news, I’ve been doing really well on the exercise front.  I’ve taken up the mentality that I am starting new (which I basically am after over a year of failures, setbacks and disappointments after a car accident) and so I’m starting small and giving it my all.  I figure it’s better than starting big and finding a setback again, yes?  I’ve been logging my workouts on the MapMyRun app that a friend got me started on.  He currently is slacking off but it’s been very motivating for me to put my workouts up there for him to see and it’s given me a sense of accomplishment.   I’ve taken a screen shot of my last 8 workouts (no real detail there) for your viewing pleasure.  I had to eliminate my location from the entries.  I don’t want you people stalking me and stealing my shoes.  Anyway, I’ve been doing the C25K again on yet another phone app while also running this phone app and so most of those runs that you see actually involve a lot of walking and then some intervals…. so don’t wonder if I’m crawling on all fours and calling it running.  I am slow to begin with and when you throw walking in there… yeah, my times get really slow.

As you can see, I went for a 9.5 mile bike ride on Sunday.  My sister and I took it pretty easy as it was our first time out this year.  I had a great time, actually.  The day was beautiful and the weather was almost on the cool side.  I didn’t sweat much which is good as I held my phone in my bra.  (The last time I did that I did NOT have otterbox defender yet and I actually broke my phone by getting it all sweaty.  Try explaining THAT to Apple.  (Actually, I think they were confused as I did NOT explain it and I sent it in and they did not tell me it was water damage.  I’m thinking they were confused by the presence of salt seeing as there is a lack of ocean water in Illinois.)  After the ride, my sister and I went to one of my favorite breakfast places where I finally sampled the Red Velvet Pancakes.  I have acquired a bit of an obsession with red velvet and I really don’t know why.  I’ve begun craving it when, honestly, until about a year or so ago I didn’t even know it existed.  These pancakes?  They were so good.  I would have done the frosting differently, but the pancakes were divine.

And this brings me to my final topic.  As I was driving through town yesterday having just bought my resume paper for the random places which don’t take electronic submission (and really, do they HAVE to sell you 100 sheets of resume paper?  I mean, really?) and I spot something light in my hair as I’m glancing through the rear view mirror.  My first thought?  Why do I have such a blonde highlight already?  And I was about to brush it off at that when I realized it is only March and there is no WAY I have a blonde highlight.  So there I am at a stop light, scrutinizing my hair and trying to single out the ONE hair which had appeared blondish and I finally grab hold of it when the light turns green.  So I plucked it out and then gasped.  It.  Is.  Gray.

Now, I’m not really one to freak out about growing old.  It’s pretty much a non-issue with me the majority of the time…. but I have to tell you… seeing my first gray hair… really had an impact on me.  I was a bit speechless.  I had this sinking feeling in my chest like…. omgitsreallyhappening.  That feeling lasted all of 4 minutes and then I moved on with my day.  Even now looking at the photo, I just cannot get over how freaking gray that sucker is!  And you know, I’m left to wonder how many more there are.

To anyone else out there on spring break, I wish you safe travels and/or happy relaxation!