I haven’t changed a thing except my intensity. You know how the trainers on tv and in every book or online article you’ve ever read they say if you hit a plateau you need to change something? Welp, that was definitely the case. I haven’t changed my diet or the amount I exercise,* but I did change my intensity.
I’ve been going back and forth about what to do, as you know. I’ve been really focused on building lean muscle mass while also burning fat. That is a really tricky proposition because the workouts and diets to reach each goal are fairly different. I decided to not concern myself with any more muscle build until I get the fat off of me. After the fat is gone, then I can kind of bulk up a little, I guess.
So what am I doing that is different? I dialed back the intensity of my workouts so my heart never goes above149 or below 130 during my workout. It’s working well- I’m finally below 208 and I’m back to my all-time low of in the 205’s! Yahoo! Clearly this is working and I should keep it up.
After sitting for an entire summer, watching the scale go up and down, hitting anywhere from 208-218, I am so glad to see movement of my weight to under 208! I know it’s not much, but I feel like doing a victory dance. My nutrition and high activity level are working together, again, in my benefit. Maybe I should have bought that eyelash extension Groupon; I may earn my reward for getting under 200 sooner rather than later!
Yesterday a mass email and Facebook post went out to all of the teachers who left my school last year.* In it, we were wished a great start to a new year and words about missing seeing one another were shared. It triggered a huge outpouring of grief in me over missing out on seeing all of my former staff comrades, all of my former students, their families, their little brothers and sisters. I guess the community at large… It gave me a huge case of the sads, and I got a little worried about my year.
The worrying was needless. NEEDLESS
So, the sads yesterday? HA! Today at about 2:00, I looked up at my class of buzzing 2nd graders. They were busily cutting out superheroes with scissors, picking up scraps, chatting quietly with friends and I was smacked upside the heart with pure joy. I am so happy that I can’t even believe it. I was sobbing when I told Bradley about my day, but not with tears of grief, sorrow or anxiety, I was sobbing happily. With joy.
I’m telling ya.
I’m a super lucky teacher this year. I’ve struck gold.
*A tiny bit of backstory- last year the teachers at my school were given a rare opportunity to switch schools. Several of us were excited about change and a fresh start, so we set out to find new homes. Most of us landed at different schools, but we keep in touch and are a nice, little, supportive community.
We ran Friday! Dear reader, it has been a stone’s age since I’ve shared a derpy run pic of the day, but here you are, my sweaty mug, running down the road. We ran a little under two miles at a 11:30 pace. For hitting the actual, real-live road in front of our house again for the first time in a month, I’ll call it a success! Plus? I’ve now met one of my weekly goals- run outside. See how that goal list just propels me forward?!?!
Then, today, we called a couple of friends and had a fabulous time at the high school track running and walking for a little over an hour while the kids ran, walked and played. It was really fun to see two of my favorite friends and actually spend some uninterrupted time talking, running and walking with each of them. One of my friends and I are doing the Rock and Roll Half Marathon in June of next year and the other is just beginning to run. I’ve been hitting the gym pretty well this week, so I let myself have a rest day and didn’t push too hard. Since she’s just starting, we only ran just under a mile and walked at a really good pace for the rest. It was a really fun way to get a workout in on the last official day of summer!
So, to recap my goals for the week:
I’m 4-5 miles in, two outdoor runs, I’ve got two days with 10,000 steps both days and I’ve already hit my 150 minutes of cardio.
See that picture?!?! That is exactly how I felt when I got on the elliptical today. I don’t know about you, but I find that if I get away from my exercise routine for any significant length of time, I lose confidence in myself as an athletic, capable person. This morning I knew I needed to get it going. August was so busy that I didn’t get all of my workouts in. In fact, I would say that I probably worked out about eight to ten times during August. Maybe more, maybe less, but we hiked, traveled, got my classroom ready, swam and a myriad of other things. Exercise for the sake of working out just seemed exhausting!
Today my goal was to break that cycle and finally get back to it. I didn’t rely on motivation or anything else to get on the machine, I had to use straight up determination. It was all up to me, nothing external was going to get me rolling and I wanted nothing to do with the workout! I was grumpy, surly and irritable as I started the workout. Everything was an inconvenience, and the most irritating thing was that my son was watching Handy Manny on the tv in our home gym, and that’s what made me realize what a crab I was being. He was working out, too, which is very impressive for him. I needed to let him use the tv, I could use my iPad, so I just got going and stopped letting small inconveniences ruin my ability to work it out!
About 15 minutes into the workout I started feeling better. It’s funny, this whole business of a runner’s high, or whatever, and how true it is. Nothing fixes a foul mood for me like a workout. My head gets cleared out, I start making plans, creating goals… It’s like everything becomes clarified and transparent somehow. I started using the commercials from The Biggest Loser for circuit timings (I was watching it on my iPad) to hop off of the elliptical and jump onto the stair stepper machine or to do some reps on my arms then back to cardio, either the treadmill or the elliptical. I watched almost an entire episode of season 11, burned well over 500 calories, spent 90 minutes in my spaceship (home gym) using all my equipment except the stationary cycle, and got a whole new attitude about my day!
While I was on my machines getting my sweat on, I remembered that one of the best ways for me to get rolling with a so,I’d workout plan is to use regular and reasonable goal setting, so I’m going to do that here.
By next Friday, I want to:
Hit 10,000 steps every day.
Hit 150 minutes of cardio.
Work my arms out three times.
Run outside at least once.
Run at least ten miles.
I’ve learned that I don’t really have food problems so much anymore. Which is really weird. Junky food is not satisfying to me any longer. I’ve realized, aside from my ice cream habit, I am not terribly interested in junk. I like my diet of eating all the protein, fruit and veggies I want and mostly just monitoring my dairy and carb intake and find that the other stuff makes me complacent, sluggish and apathetic. I just hope that this shift last until I die. Seriously!
Work started today. There aren’t any kids in class or anything until next Wednesday, but we are back. We are gathered around tables in the library debating schedules, sharing summer stories and laughing- lots of laughing. I think I landed in a pretty wonderful school. As for my classroom? I keep plugging away at it and keep leaving for the day feeling like I’ve made little progress- though I can rattle off the myriad of things that I did accomplish today. My room just seems a mess, still, and forget about curriculum. I have a big weekend ahead of me! That said, I know everything is fine and will be fine next week, it’s just a matter of getting this big list accomplished!
I wrote this several days ago, and keep second guessing whether or not I should post it. I’m embarrassed that people will think I’m crazy, but that very thought is what is making me post it. I know it is helpful for me to hear other people’s experiences reflect something like I have is helpful. Hopefully this might be helpful?!?! This day manifested a nasty anxiety/depression reaction for me that I’m fully over now. I think I was a little worried about a few things and a small thing triggered me.
I’ve spent the last, several years trying to shift the things I say to myself in my head. Of all the things that are a challenge in this weightloss project, the words I speak to myself are the hardest to get over. I possess a mind that is brilliant at oblivion and naïveté. I am like Joey, from Friends, sometimes. Like, it takes me a little longer to arrive at the punchline for some jokes, but it’s usually because I wonder if I’m thinking the right way! I just don’t see things and I usually assume the best of people until they show me, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are scoundrels. Because of that, I think I’m often blissfully ignorant of the things that people have said or looks that I may have received… But I can’t be ignorant of the things I make myself say to myself.
It’s horrible. At my lowest moments, I’m the one saying that I’m not good enough, that I’m not special, that I’m genetically predispositioned as an unconventionally attractive (read: weird-looking) person. I ask my self who I think I am and why I think I deserve the things I try for. I’m ugly. Fat. Lazy. Terribly awkward, terribly un-funny, I try too hard, I take it too far, I say the wrong things. I’m hopeless. I have a huge horse-head and flab everywhere. I’m a liar, I’m dishonest, slow, unintelligent, confused and a ditzy airhead. I’m not ‘adorkable’, I’m just a dork. I tell myself that everyone sees and knows all of this and they befriend me out of pity.
But the worst is when I tell myself I’m not special. Usually this is done through tears- I literally bully myself and make myself cry as I repeat it like a mantra, looking directly into my own eyes: you’re not special. You are not special. You are not special. You’re not special, at all… And I trade places, emotionally, as my eyes squint, meanly, like a bully, then widen in shock, as the victim, and fresh tears fall as I continue this sick game with myself. It feels strangely good to hurt myself deeply like that, something I don’t understand.
I hate when I get into a cycle like that, and sometimes it’s really hard to stop it. Like, right now, I’m in this cycle. I had a hard, hard, f*cking day, today. I got a professional haircut- the first pretty much since I’ve been with Bradley (he usually cuts and colors my hair) and it just resulted in a barrage of insecurities raining down on me. I hated on myself viciously, I told myself I’m not special, and right now, I am a willing believer. I believe all of those lies and I know they are lies. I also know that I have a strategy to chase them out.
You see, over the past few years I’ve been doing this to myself in another way. When I feel good, really good, I allow myself a selfie photograph. I allow myself to look long and hard at myself saying that I’m worthy of the challenge I’m giving myself. If I don’t try, I fail by default. I’m generous and caring. I’m actually smart, quick and clever. I’m successful, funny, likeable, honest, warm and kind. I tell myself I’m a great teacher, a good mom and a wonderful wife. I allow myself to marvel at my mermaid hair, make duck faces, kissy faces- any faces I want and let myself be charmed with what I see. I tell myself that I’m beautiful, I let myself be surprised at how pretty I am and wonder if it’s a trick, briefly, before I let myself blink back into a place where I’m enough. More than enough. A place where I matter. Where I’m special. Where I stand out. Where I’m more than adorkable or even more than a non-standardly beautiful woman. When I feel bad I try to replace one repeating negative loop with another, and it’s getting easier, but it’s still hard. I didn’t even want to write about it here because I knew as soon as I started writing about it I would have to put the strategy into practice.
And I did. I told myself that it’s ok to get new hair. That it’s ok to spend $100 on a cut and color. I’m worthy of having hair that has been treated with kindness. I would never say I deserve it or am entitled to it, but as a treat once every 16 years, I think it’s ok.
I feel a little better, now. I began this post, went and saw the movie Maleficent, with my family, and a little distance from reality was helpful. Realizing I haven’t posted any comparison pics in ages, I looked through my photos and lined some things up to post here, and saw the difference I have made in myself. I saw the strength I have laid out in photographs before me. I saw the evidence of my power as a woman and human being. I remembered possibility and began to come back to earth again. I forget how far I’ve come, sometimes. I made myself see it. It was a good thing to see, tonight. I needed the boost.
When I committed to keeping a blog about my weightloss, I committed to recording the entire process: the good, the bad, and the ugly. It was a testament to my commitment, the confidence I had in my drive. Honestly, though? It seemed more straightforward than it has been, to honestly and openly share the whole process. When I looked at Katie, from Runs for Cookies, as she documented her Weight Loss project and the resulting skin removal surgery, I wondered what the big deal was? Why was she so embarrassed to share pictures? I wondered why she didn’t want to let people know what her skin looked like. I was curious, because I wanted all of that saggy skin! I wanted to see what I should expect. To me, from the outside, it never seemed like it should be a big deal to show her skin to other people. To have that saggy skin that doesn’t have the fat inside of it anymore seemed like a badge of pride, not something to be ashamed of. A scar, for sure, but nothing embarrassing.
It turns out that the whole skin issue is one that is more difficult to contend with than I had realized. I honestly think I wouldn’t mind it so much, but it actually hurts! It actually makes clothes fit weird! It actually causes me open wounds! It stinks! Well, not like ‘phew! Who cut the cheese?’ stink, but, like as the colloquial kind of stinks/sucks/bites. Though, as with any skin, if I didn’t wash, it would stink. Fact of life, peeps. Anyhow…
I was expecting smaller tatas. Really I was. You can’t expect to lose over 100 pounds and not see some breast density shifts. Through the gift of genetics and some generous eating habits, my rack topped out at a 44DDD. After giving birth, I didn’t call my 44L nursing bra ‘my bra,’ I called it ‘the apparatus’. I was happy when I was done using it. My point being that I could out-boob a lot of gals. I had plenty to share, more than we ever even needed at my house. You get the idea. So, I squeezed into bras for years, bursting out, practically, of ones that, these days, my once grandiose chesticles pool in the bottom of like rain in a barrel. I decided to measure up, bite the bullet and find out my new size. Clearly, after 130 pounds I need a new bra, yes? Deserve one! Need one for back to school! I found out that I’m a 38C. I’m almost sad to see the parade of D’s gone.
Here’s where the problem with this comes in. I have lots of skin area and little volume to keep it full, if you catch my drift. The skin pulls from the top ‘corners,’ under my arms, around my side to under my shoulder blades, connecting to all the tendons there that previously were supported in many areas by my flesh, not just the top side edges… If breasts have edges? Corners??? Imagine, if you will, a zip lock bag with a c-cup size of water in the bottom and you can imagine how it pulls. It hurts my back, my underarms and, quite often, makes me feel like I have paper tearing under my skin. It occurs daily and now I’m kind of freaking out that I might have to have surgery on them, too, or wear a bra 24/7 forever. Shiver.
Clothes fit weird. Things that fit my waist have to fit all of this extra skin in there too. It is just like a slightly inflated tire that hangs around my middle, just under my belly button. When I’m trying on clothes, I actually have to stuff it in my pants. Sooooo sexy. This is why I wear compression clothes all the time; it keeps everything in place! On top of that, things that fit my trunk (where the bulk of my excess skin is) don’t fit my legs and arms, and my torso is extended because of the skin that gathers under my belly button. Yes, there is still fat in there. Hopefully when I lose more it will get even easier.
My belly button can’t breathe. If you take the jump at the end of this article, you can see how my tummy has completely folded over, and it’s just like that all the time. It used to be, that as long as I wore my compression tanks, bathed daily and kept it clean that nothing would happen. A little extra maintenance, but nothing worse than shaving my legs, but lately it’s just constantly sore. And, to me, kinda gross. I’m just not hip to open, weepy, weird wounds. Maybe that’s just me…? Don’t think so. The wound may help me to qualify for my insurance to cover some of the skin removal surgery cost, but we will see.
I do find the skin a little embarrassing. I understand Katie now- as great as it is to be deflated, I want the evidence gone. While I think it has a kind of neat texture, I also think I feel like an old, flaccid lady sometimes too. I don’t always like the scar, I don’t always want to wear the information that I’ve lost a lot of weight on my body, sometimes I just want to be me and not be celebrating my so-far-so-good weightloss project. So there you have it. Guts and all, the good, the bad and the ugly.
Mostly though, and I need to make this clear, I’m really happy with everything. Daily, I’m grateful that I decided to take myself on and lose the weight. I’m proud of how far I’ve come and I’m determined not to let it go. Living with any of these ‘problems’ or embarrassments is a pleasure to endure, compared with what I lived with before.
I am ever looking for more information about diet. Everything I read says to do the weights because the weights build muscle and to do the cardio because it burns fat, but I want to eat a diet that helps me to build muscle and burn fat at the same time! It’s pretty tricky. At this point, I have decided to throw my hands in the air and just pick one- and I pick weightloss. I can bulk up and build muscle later, I guess. Not that I can’t build a little while I lose, I just feel the need to be focused on that one area so my head will stop spinning.
Anyhow, as I was looking around for the magic diet that will be everything for me, I noticed that some folks who are presently training take pictures of their food and share it on their blogs, so I decided to do that today to show a typical diet for me. What I realized along the way was that taking pictures of everything I eat before I eat it actually prevented me from eating some stuff. Like, there was this heel that I cut off a delicious looking multigrain bread loaf and I so wanted to pick it up and eat it, but the thought of taking a picture of it totally deterred me. That made me think that photographing my food for a while might make me more attentive to my calorie intake.
It wasn’t a perfect system, as I found myself getting tea and water downstairs at 10:30 last night and I nibbled on some tomatoes and mozzarella leftovers and had a bag of pop chips, but in spite of that, I liked doing this and may again in the future when I feel myself unwinding. By the way- those Doritos were simply sitting on the table, nowhere near me, when I smelled the most delicious smell in existence. I sniffed around until I got to the Doritos bag and discovered that they should seriously make a plugin of that lovely corn chip plus cool ranch flavor. Mouth watering. I guess it’s been a while since I’ve had a real Dorito!
Today’s workout was good. I spend 30 minutes running on the treadmill while watching the original Tenacious D HBO show on Hulu or Amazon Prime. I don’t remember which, I just know I squealed with happiness when I made that discovery. I loved that show when it came out in the 1990’s (I know it’s filthy, but sometimes you need filth to distract you from sweat) and I never saw it completely. Guess what I’m watching today while I run again? The hottie behind me worked his arms, crunched his abs and ran too. I felt pretty satisfied with this day! I’m noticing that I’m eating pretty fresh and for decent weightloss, but I definitely need to up my protein!
I wonder if people who live on the Mediterranean look at that crystal-clear, turquoise-blue water every day with awe. I can’t get enough of blue water- in the mountains or tropical ocean (I’m not picky). Like, I have to take a picture of it whenever I see it! Such was the case, last Tuesday, at Lake 22! Gorgeous.
Lake 22 is, simply put, famous around Seattle. When you mention that you like to hike, people rattle off a list of hikes that are ‘just great when you have little ones’ or are just a great experience, for one reason or another, and Lake 22 is always on it, along with Wallace Falls, Ice Caves, Heather Lake, Little Si, Rattlesnake Ridge and Mt. Pilchuck. We had plans for Rattlesnake Ridge and Pilchuck, but our kids spoke up and said that the views are pretty, but they prefer a swim hole at the top, like a reward for all their hard work. We could hardly argue with that reasoning, so we are rethinking our end of season hiking this year.
Lake 22 is in a nature reserve that was set aside in the 1940’s and left, pretty much, untouched from then. There are old growth trees, several waterfalls and the views along the ridge are gorgeous. The lake is pretty, but I agreed with the guide, the true beauty of the hike was the trail.
The trail was made up of a variety of walking surfaces- we walked through waterfalls, through sticky mud, over boulders, on fist-sized gravel and beautifully maintained bridges and boardwalks! It was a fairly intense trail. Sometimes I feel lame for saying things like that, so this time I kept track of my heartrate as I traversed the trail. I got about 1200 feet of elevation over 2.5 miles. It took us about an hour and a half to go up, and my heart was consistently in the upper 140’s- solid cardio! That’s a good workout! I hate it when people talk down hikes and downgrade them to a walk in the woods or whatever. Hiking takes work. I’ll admit it. It’s just work that I love. My most favorite form of fitness!
My daughter said that Lake 22 was her best hike ever. I think it had something to do with the fact that we also brought our nephew along. I sustained my first-ever-since-childhood skinned knee, complete with embedded gravel, which I’m strangely proud of. It was a really fun hike, one that we will happily return to.
We find most of our hikes in a book called Best Hikes With Kids-Western Washington and the Cascades. I’ve used it since before I had kids, mostly because it has a difficulty rating for kids (and overweight, middle-aged women, I’ve always added). If it says it will be moderately difficult for kids, I know it will be the same for me! If you’re looking for hikes with kids, this site from the Washington Trail Association has a pretty solid list of hikes to take with kids. While you may not have kids, I think that these are probably hikes with special features that make them either more accessible (easier), interesting (waterfalls and extra beautiful)and more fun (swimming)!
On those hot, 95 degree, August days, it is exceptionally difficult for me to get outside, in running shoes, to do much of anything. While I’m better about using my treadmill, the best and most pleasant thing I discovered this summer was to do laps in our little backyard pool! We bought a 15 foot wide, 42 inch deep paddling pool for the kids this year. On the days that were just too hot to exercise, I would go walk and run circles in the pool for 30 minutes. It is a great, progressive workout. At first I can only walk through the water, but as the current picks up, I’m forced to go faster and faster, if I want to keep up the thigh focus of the workout. Not only did the running-in-the-pool method of cardio help with keeping cooler in the hot summer days during a workout, it also gave me a fabulous leg workout! On top of that, the last time I did it, I kept track of my heart rate. It stayed in the 140’s the whole time I was moving, and if that’s not a good cardio workout then I don’t know what is.
My kids would say the best part of Mom’s pool workout is her stellar whirlpools! They love to swim along behind me on their paddleboards, swirling quickly around the outside circle or twirling like a leaf in the center. We all enjoy it!
That said, whenever I hit the pool with the kids, we have an agreement:
1. Stay out of my way. I only use the pool sometimes and appreciate the ability to get a solid workout in… Plus, I will kick you out if you mess it up! Mostly I don’t want to hurt you (or me) by tripping on you and landing on you!
2. If you find yourself in front of me, go to the middle. It’s the fastest way to support staying out of my way!
3. No splashing. I’m a major killjoy in the pool, I guess, but I am usually wearing my pedometer and it can’t get wet.
4. After 30 minutes of letting me get my cardio in, I’m a really fun mama who will dive in, splash, continue the whirlpool, make up dance routines and generally have a good time. I need it by then- I’m all hot and sweaty and need to cool down! Ironic, huh?