Cheering myself on

I was going to give myself a week before writing another post. It was going to be an overview of the week, with the idea that I’d commit myself to a weekly update on my activities. But honestly, I think I deserve a little ra-ra, cheering at this mid-point. And if I’m the only one here to give it to myself, well, so be it.

I’d love to say I lost X number of pounds or upped my endurance, but neither is true (and it’s been less than a week). They’re not even the goal of this blog. Because I think all of that will follow on the single point I made previously, making the decision to actually do something. Or, I suppose more accurately, not allow myself to make the decision to not do something. But that is so much more unwieldy.

And today, despite having a cold, despite PMS, despite a sore knee, despite having to take my husband to work (because it was 17° fahrenheit this morning and even he can’t cycle in that), I went to the gym. I had several reasons I could have used to not go, normally would have used to not go. Who wants to do yoga when they can’t breathe? But I didn’t let myself use any of them to not do it. That sounds so small. Hell, it is small. But it’s a huge first step for me.

Look, I even took a picture. It’s not a great one. I’m cold and squinting into the sun and I rushed it because I hate to be seen taking a selfie. But I wanted documentable proof I did it today. IMG_20170315_100343_edit_edit

This is a big deal for me. The last time I went to the gym (which I’ve been paying for all this time, by the way) was in September and I wouldn’t even say I went often then.

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And strange things happen when you’re away for so long. The 9am yoga with P. class is usually my favorite class of the week. But you guys, it was so hard! Things that used to be easy I struggled with, and my flow, getting smoothly from one pose to the next, sucked. Because I was stiff and slow. And my right wrist is apparently never again going to like having pressure on it when laid flat on the ground, like in a plank. It’s healed, but it is what it is. That’s a serious annoyance.

Plus, when you don’t see people for a long time you kind of subconsciously expect them to be the same as when you last saw them. So, when the instructor walked in a full eight and a half months pregnant, I was a little taken aback. (8.5 months pregnant and still kicked my butt.) I didn’t even know she was preggers in the first place, which is one heck of a visual reminder how long it had been since I’d been to class!

I’ll still do a Sunday round up of the week. I did make it to Tae Kwon Do on Monday, but only because I have to take the children anyway and it’s an easy class. Plus,  I pulled out my old FitBit. So, I should have a general idea of how things went.

Here’s to cheering yourself on!

This is where I’ve been and where I am.

I have a blog. I have a body. I have a vague goal. I have support. I have resources. What I don’t have, are reasonable excuses. Don’t get me wrong, I have a hundred excuses. But they all basically boil down to, “When I was faced with the option of doing something active or not, I chose not.” I can dress that up so many ways—I didn’t feel well, I was on my period, I wanted to finish my book, I didn’t shower, I already showered, it’s too cold, it’s too hot, I have an appointment—but none of them are reasonable excuses.

I’m rarely too sick to do something light. I can workout on my period. I can read my book on a recumbent bike. I don’t need to shower to go sweat. I can take a second shower. I can wear a coat. It’s air conditioned in the gym. I can go before or after the appointment. None of the hundreds of excuses I tell myself should hold the power they do. But they still keep working, because when it comes right down to it, I don’t want to exercise in the moment. I want to have exercised, but not to actually have to do it.

And the thing is, I know, absolutely know with 100% certainty, that if I can get in the habit of doing it, if I can get past the initial instinct to make excuses, I will be happier, healthier, and frankly enjoy myself. I know this. I’ve been that person. (See, sweaty and grimy and happy? In a jacket no less, because it was cold.)

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But I’ve fallen out of habit and, in my experience, forming the habit is the hardest part of a workout regime. I had a friend in high school who used to run cross country track, she once told me the hardest step in a run wasn’t the last one or the one up the steepest hill. It was the one out the door. I believe this and that’s the step I’m trying to make right now.

I have been an active person. Even as recently as last year I was doing yoga 5 days a week and tae kwon do (with my kids) 2 days a week. I was as strong and slender as I have ever been in my adult life.

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On Dec. 16th of 2015 (so, a little more than a last year) I fell and broke my wrist. It wasn’t a serious break, but it’s awful hard to do yoga in a cast. I kept up with the TKD, because I have to take the kids regardless, but the yoga fell away and with it the habit of thoughtlessly getting up, getting my kids to school and going directly to the gym. I mark that as the beginning of my current circumstance.

Like many people my age (39) fitness is up and down. Several years ago I went on an elimination diet to rebalance the biology of my gut, with amazing result. I chronicle some of that here. That was the start of getting healthy and strong (which falling and breaking my wrist was the end of). But the thought that made me initially start that diet was a picture taken at Easter of that year. I was wearing white jeans, and a white and horizontal blue striped shirt. I was bent over helping a child with their Easter basket. I looked at it and thought, “That can’t be me.” Granted, the circumstances of that picture were as bad as they could get. It was simply an unflattering picture, but it was also eye opening.

I couldn’t find that same picture. I imagine I deleted it in disgust. But this one was taken about the same time. I’m not in such an unflattering outfit or position, but you can get an idea of my shape and size, my muffin top.

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Following on the realization of what I really looked like was a memory of several years earlier when I’d been stalked by a pack of dogs while out on a run (another I’m-going-to-get-in-shape jag). I was rescued by a stranger in large white truck who screeched to a stop between the hunched, slavering animals and me, slowly backing away and frantically repeating, “Don’t run. Don’t run. Don’t run. That makes you prey.”

That makes you prey. Fat Me in Easter whites was prey. When I found myself in the hot Florida sun confronted with a pack of dogs, I would have been able to run. They’d have caught me, but I’d had the ability to sprint. Easter Me wouldn’t have been able to. I was just prey, nothing more. I wouldn’t be able to sprint away. I wouldn’t be able to pull myself into a tree or over a wall. My body was without defense and or the ability to escape. I was just prey.

That thought lodged in my head and I started looking for options. I addressed the candida in my gut and got back on my thyroid medications, which upped my energy level. I started working out and lost a lot of my bodies inflammation. I lost 30 pounds and was happier with my body than ever.

Regression was slow until the broken wrist, then it was fast. Now I find myself 39yo, 5′ 6″, 185lbs, pear-shaped, soft and no longer strong. This is not where I want to be. I’m not so much worried about numbers. I don’t really care what the scale says or what size my jeans happen to be. What I care about is feeling confident and happy in my body. I want that back.

So, here is where I’m, starting. These are my before pictures, an improvement over the picture above, in red, but still not back where I want to be. The first I took just now, specifically for this post. The second was taken the day before yesterday. Between the two of them, you get a fairly accurate idea of my size.

I included the second so that I could pass on a little story from that particular belt ceremony. I went from blue to blue first that night, which requires the instructor to put a new belt on you. When Master W. was passed my new belt, he looked at the size and then up to Matser P., who’d passed it too him, and said, “Whoa, is that right? She’ll be stepping on it.” Poor Master P. looked confused, because all he’d done was pass the size I’d requested. “Oh well,” Master W. said, “we’ll get you a new one afterwards.” (He assumed it was too big.) He then wrapped the belt around my waist, where it fit perfectly.

Yep, in front of a whole room of people he made a big deal out of how big my belt, i.e. my waist, is. Nope, that wasn’t humiliating at all. (It was humiliating). The one good thing about being almost 40 though, is the amazing ability to shrug off things like that. I’d have died if that happened when I was 25. At 39, I noticed but let it go. But it did kind of highlight how people look at size.

Which brings us to this blog. Sitting on the couch, writing blog posts about exercising or diet (diet the noun, not diet the verb) will be as effective as buying new yoga pants that I never actually wear because I don’t go to class. But I’m hoping it will function as a catharsis and a motivator, or conversely guilt inducing if I have nothing to post.

This is where I want to get back to. That’s my goal, in case you missed it. I don’t even know what I weighed at the time, 155 maybe, just that I was happy with it.

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That’s my support too, my husband S., who cycles 26 miles a day, to and from work, rain or shine. No excuses from him.

Today I start something different.