Thursday, January 31, 2013

Here I was thinking the whole endorphin thing was actually a myth

So obviously it's not been a week since my last entry, as is customary for me (except during December when I was a major slacker). Yet, I couldn't wait a whole week to write this. I went to the gym today as usual. I got on the elliptical first, also as usual. I got my music going, and from the first minute, I knew it was going to be a great workout. I could feel it. I just didn't know how great. Not even exaggerating, it may have been the greatest workout of my life. I ended up beating my personal best time for a 5k by 3 minutes (27:46)! It was incredible. I just kept thinking of all those comments yesterday and how great they made me feel, and I think it gave me some kind of insane energy surge. Usually near the end, my feet start hurting, but today I felt like I could do it all day. I had sweat pouring off of me, but I felt absolutely fabulous. Usually I can do small surges of 7 mph, but today I was consistently doing 7 mph the majority of the time. When I got done with the 5k, I saw no reason to stop. I kept going for 2 hours and ended up doing well over 12 miles in that time. This is from someone who took 17 minutes to do 1 mile when she started, and had to take breaks to even do that much.

I was grinning like a complete fool the entire time. There must have been some crazy level of endorphins in my system. Then that Avril Lavigne song "Smile" (go ahead, judge my music taste if you must) came on my ipod, and the chorus really rang true for me:

And that's why I smile
It's been a while
Since every day and everything has
Felt this right

Because everything did seem so very right in my life at that moment. It may seem silly and cliche, but right at that moment, I felt like I could accomplish anything I wanted. Sometimes this process is a lot of work. That's why it was so awesome to have days like today where things seem effortless. 

This may seem like a pretty random entry, and some of you may be kind of wondering why I even wrote it. I just wish I could express even a tenth of how awesome and powerful and joyful I felt in the gym today. Something that great needed to be shared, especially since I feel like all those kind comments yesterday really played a large part in why this workout was so outstanding. So for that, I thank you! Hopefully, my workout tomorrow will be just as great.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The one that millions (okay, tens) of people have been waiting for: Progress pictures!

Well, the time has come to share some pictures. I'll admit that I have been putting it off somewhat. Waiting until I weighed less, until my waist was smaller, until my arms were smaller, until I was more toned. Waiting until I was finally good enough. But I realized I need to change my thinking some even after all these months. Because even though I have made gigantic strides in self-confidence, if I don't start thinking that I am good enough right now, why would I believe any differently when I finally weigh 128 lbs? That number isn't magic. There is nothing to prevent me from seeing all my flaws at that weight anymore than what I weigh right now.

I worried about what people would think of what I look like now. What if they didn't think I looked different now? I have actually voiced these concerns to my family and was told that I was being ridiculous and I sounded like I was fishing for compliments. But the truth is that I was not fishing for compliments, and on a rational level I realize that it is ridiculous to have lost 135 lbs and think that I don't look drastically different. What can I say? Sometimes I still look in the mirror and see a 328 lb girl staring back at me. Sometimes I still feel like I take up a 328 lb amount of space in this world, which is evident every time I am surprised to have extra room in a booth or movie theater seat. It's evident when I try on clothes and get stuff 3 sizes too big to try on.

I will forever regret not taking a before picture because it bothers the OCD side of my personality every time I think of it. But I think that is what kind of makes the weight loss venture different from my others. Every other time, I have taken a before picture. I also made lots of graphs and nutrition plans and exercise plans and every other kind of plan in the universe. That was part of the problem. I tried to change everything all at once, and it was too much. This time, I kind of creeped into things. I changed a little at a time, until now, 7 months later, all those little changes have added up to a huge lifestyle (and physical) change.

So anyway, I rooted through my old pictures until I found one that I believe is around 10 lbs less than my heaviest weight. Please note the pillow on my lap, a token effort to hide some of my bulk. As many overweight people know, you always try to have something, be it person or pillow, in front of your body.

Then, here is my first official monthly progress pic, taken 6 weeks into my journey when I had lost around 40 lbs. I do enjoy the mug shot feel of it. 

 I'm working on not being disgusted by these pics, because after all they are still me, but it is hard at times. Yesterday I asked my mom to take my monthly pics like normal, but I wanted to look a little nicer. She was so sweet and turned it into a little makeover by doing my hair and makeup. I'm a pretty minimal makeup girl usually, and I think a lot of that was due to the fact that it kind of felt like, "What's the point?" before. I mean, no amount of makeup was going to make a guy ignore the fact that I was 328 lbs. Anyway, the makeover was pretty fun! So without further 30 week pictures from yesterday!

I look at these pictures, and I can honestly say that I think I look pretty good right now. Of course, I still see flaws and areas that could be better, but what I focus on is the fact that I can actually stand to look at these pictures and not be ashamed. I'm working on giving myself credit for what I have done and where I am at right now. No more waiting until I am good enough. I don't have to wait until my final goal until I am proud of myself. I should be proud right now for what I have done. 135 lbs is a massive amount of weight to lose, and to have done it in 7 months without being crazy; I think that is pretty special. Hope you enjoyed seeing the pics...let me know what you think!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Black Swan moment: So perfect it nearly killed me

My body is pleading for me to have mercy on it. And this time, unlike last time, I will listen to it. I know it's totally normal to have aches and pains when upping your workout intensity and amount. But my body hurts so much from the 2 a day grueling torture sessions that I put it through this week that it's hard to sleep even though I am dead tired. So that leads to me rethinking this ambitious endeavor because I realize that it can be a very slippery slope back to crazy and obsessive workouts and lettuce and canned crab meals (with 6 whole peanuts for dessert!). Just like I can never go back to being a coach potato, it is just as dangerous for me to relentlessly drive myself to the point of exhaustion. It's not sustainable, and will only lead to me burning out.

I wanted to work out twice a day this week because I was really curious what I could do if I pushed myself that hard and was completely on point with my food. I think I had to get it out of my system or something. But now at the end of the week, the scene that keeps popping into my head is Natalie Portman at the end of Black Swan with the mirror shard in her body saying, "I was perfect." It cracks me up that that came in my head, but it is kind of a lesson. Because, you know, I don't think it's anyone's goal in life to be such a perfectionist that they completely lose touch with reality and kill themselves while believing they killed someone else. Anyway, I exceeded my calorie burn goal every single day. I ate almost exactly the right amount of calories every single day. I was perfect. And it paid off...I lost 5.4 lbs this week, my biggest loss in a while. I was kind of scared when I stepped on the scale though because when I was in that contest before and worked out like some kind of nutcase burning thousands upon thousands of calories and ate 500 calories a day, I actually ended up losing NOTHING. That devastated me after all that work, but what can you expect? I was treating my body like crap, so it decided to shut down.

So while I was perfect this week technically speaking, I felt far from perfect. By the end of the week, the aches in my body didn't feel like the good kind of ache I usually get after a hard workout. It just felt like my body was screaming for a rest. Plus, I wasn't looking forward to my workouts like I normally do. Usually, a workout is a good time for me to completely clear my head. When I am pushing hard and have sweat pouring off of me, for a little while it's like nothing else matters except for me beating my previous personal record. I just literally can't think of anything else when I am working that hard. That is a good and healthy thing. But all these intense workouts were just too much this week. I started dreading putting by body through that again. And that is not a good or healthy thing.

So I'm scaling it back this week, reminding myself that this journey of mine is not about perfection as much as it is about moderation. Would I lose weight faster if I repeated this past week over and over? Yes, I'm sure I would, but I'm equally as sure that I would gain every bit of it back. This isn't about doing this for a year or 2 years, or however long it takes to meet my ultimate goal. It's about doing this for the rest of my life. So if a behavior of mine is not realistically doable for the rest of my life, it will probably be cut out. Back to normal this week, and normal never sounded so good.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

199.8: No longer condemned to the boring fate of other random numbers

Whew, it has been quite a week! I AM NOW UNDER 200 LBS!!!! Caps locks are reserved for special occasions since it implies yelling, but I believe this is an appropriate time since if I saw you in person I would actually be yelling that sentence at you (and in the process, freaking you out and making you partially deaf). Let me tell you, if I had gotten on that scale this morning and seen a number that started with a 2, I totally believe I would have had a full-blown temper tantrum. The scale may have actually gone out the window. My cats and neighbors may have been scarred for life from all the screaming. Oh, I could be calm and mature, and go on about how I'm sure it would happen for me next week and how the number isn't the most important thing, but let's be real here: I would have been royally pissed off. I wanted it to happen for me this week, not next week. I worked so hard and it would have been crushing if it hadn't paid off. But it did! That scale read 199.8 this morning and it may have been the most beautiful number I've ever seen. So beautiful that I took a picture of it:

This picture is now currently the wallpaper on my phone (well, sometimes it's the wallpaper. My phone is still acting psycho and doing things on its own, so at times my wallpaper randomly becomes a Bee Gees album cover). It may seem silly, but I've worked so hard to see this number. I'll do whatever I want to celebrate it (well, except maybe pig out at Outback or somewhere equally calorie-laden). I don't know if it's because I was so sick with my kidney stone when I lost 100 lbs or what, but getting below 200 lbs is more emotional for me than losing 100 lbs. I seriously cried for like 10 minutes when I saw the number today. Maybe it's just seeing a 1 in front of my weight instead of a 3. I have a very clear memory of me thinking about getting below 200 at the very start of me losing weight, and it seemed like an impossible task. So far away that I could never get there. When I got under 300 lbs, I wasn't too excited really. Mainly because I was still in shock that I had ever gotten to that crazy point. I just wanted to forget I had ever been there. So there was little celebration for the milestone. Also, when I got under 200 lbs during my crazy college weight loss competition days, there was little celebration as well. That's mainly because I was acting like an obsessed nut job. I was so busy eating my lettuce and canned crab and getting my 15 miles a day in on the elliptical, that I barely even registered the milestone at all. I saw under 200 and just thought that that wasn't enough to win the contest and I needed to lose more! I believe that that little instance is a prime example of why that weight loss attempt ultimately failed. It was crazy and made me crazy (of course, this period was during the last semester of nursing school, so that by itself was enough to make me crazy even without the insane diet). So yes, I am fully celebrating this milestone now. 128 lbs looks a lot closer this side of 200.

In other news, I am kicking my work-outs up a notch. I wouldn't really say that I am plateauing, but my weight loss has steadily declined as I get smaller. I know this is completely normal, and I'm not being crazy thinking I'm going to lose 6 or 7 lbs a week like I did in the beginning. Although wouldn't that be awesome? No, I am just hoping that by upping the intensity and frequency of my workouts, I can average around 3 lbs a week again instead of 2-2.5 lbs a week like I am currently losing. Hence, I am going to the gym at the ungodly hour of 5 am and also again later when I get off of work. I have assured people that I am not being crazy like when I lost weight before. I just recognize that the weight is not going to come off as easily as it did before, and I need to work harder for every pound. Hopefully, the hard work pays off next week. Otherwise, we may still see that afore-mentioned temper tantrum.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Biggest Loser: Now causing emotional break-throughs near you

Many of you who know me also know that I love the TV show, The Biggest Loser. Well, except for last season, which was a disaster. I've watched since the very first season and I am a huge sucker for all the inspirational moments, both real and manufactured by clever producers. I'm not really a fan of how it gives people at home unrealistic expectations for their own weight loss, but I do love the overall premise behind the show. I actually auditioned for the show this past summer, about 3 weeks after I started losing weight. It was a great experience and I met some awesome people that I still keep in contact with. However, it was a sobering experience as well. There were 3 flights of stairs we had to climb and quite a few people had extreme difficulty making it up those stairs. At that time, when I went up the stairs I was a little winded and joked about the work-out, but for me it was never a question of actually making it up the stairs. But for some of those people, it was a major ordeal. It made me see where I was headed if I went back to my old ways.

Anyway, The Biggest Loser had its season premiere this past Sunday. Of course, I was excited about it, but when the show came on, and when I later read comments on the BL Facebook page, I had way more emotions than just excitement. Some of them were kind of confusing. Hence, this blog entry. First off, I was thrilled when they talked about auditions for next season. Not because I will be auditioning, but because I do not qualify to be on the show anymore! You need to have at least 85 lbs to lose, and that is not me. So that was awesome. It also felt great to be watching the show after having lost so much weight myself. You have to understand, every other season of this show, I would empathize with the contestants and their struggles at the beginning and I would vow to lose weight with them. And every season, somehow I would end up watching the show with a bowl of ice cream or chips in my lap. Ironic, I know. I would see these people at the end looking so great and happy, and I would want so badly for that to be me. But somehow, I just never wanted it badly enough. Sometimes I get mad at the person I used to be. I think "Just get off the couch!" It seems simple, and ultimately the solution to weight gain is just that simple. But getting to that point emotionally is not simple. I try to remember that when I judge my past self. I truly believe that when you are morbidly obese (by the way, I really hate that term), in order to lose weight you have to reach a point where being that heavy is more painful physically and emotionally than the pain and sacrifice it takes to lose weight and keep it off. Watching the show before, I was not at that point yet. But this season is a completely different ball game and I'm so happy about that.

So yeah, I watched the show and it was great, especially with Jillian back. Sometimes I feel slightly like a masochist when I say that I would really love to have her as a trainer to scream at me and push me so hard that I puke or pass out, or maybe do both at once and risk aspiration. I have managed to work out so hard on my own that I did puke one time. It felt strangely like a victory lol. After the show, I got on Facebook and saw all the comments about the show on their page. Many of them were what I expected about loving the show and the contestants, blah, blah, blah. But what captured my attention were all the people writing about how they've tried out for the show for 7 seasons and how they'll keep trying out. Or how they were waiting on the show to pick them to lose weight. Or how they've gained 40 lbs since last summer's auditions. Or how they just can't lose weight without this show. It made me sad. I mean, duh, no surprise. Those messages were full of desperation and sadness. Obviously, it made me sad. But what I didn't expect was the anger. I was mad at these people for waiting for this TV show to change their lives instead of changing their own lives. And then I promptly felt like a terrible person. I mean, I was  these people 6 months ago! Where is the empathy? But the truth is, I do empathize with them. When you have 100, 200, 300 lbs to lose, it can feel like an impossible task. It's hard to even know where to begin. Rather than trying to tackle it, it is so much easier to rely on a TV show to save you. It's so much easier to keep auditioning season after season, and keep saying that next season will be the one where you will be rescued by The Biggest Loser. I think the anger I felt was probably actually anger I felt at myself for waiting so long to rescue myself. Anger that I waited so long to live this way. Anger that I wasted so much time being unhappy and unhealthy when it didn't have to be that way. The truth is that I just want those people on the Facebook page to know that they can do this without The Biggest Loser. So I posted about what I have done the past 6 months, and how much weight I have lost. It felt kind of like bragging, which I didn't like, but I posted anyway because I felt like it was important. Even if only one person saw my message, saw that I had been where they were and changed my life so drastically on my own, and then decided to try to make a change themselves.

So this entry ended up being a weird psychological analysis about my Biggest Loser feelings. Riveting stuff, I know. But the show caused so many different emotions that I had to kind of write them out. Thanks for listening to me trying to apparently be my own psychologist. Hey, my rates are cheap! Tune in next week for something more entertaining.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Houston, we have a problem

If I were writing a purely inspirational, feel-good blog, I would choose this moment to tell you that I was a good little healthy solider over the holidays. I maintained my usual habits and exercised every day for 5 hours! Christmas food had no hold over this super-human weight loss machine! And all of you might secretly hate me a tiny bit and also think I am somewhat of a freak for exercising 5 hours a day.  But most of you know, this is not primarily that type of blog. Sure, I love sharing the good things that happen and when I do well, but most of all, this blog is an honest blog. I've got to share the set-backs too.

The plain truth is, I underestimated the allure of holiday eating. I thought my healthy habits were so firmly engrained by now that not even the power of of a delicious holiday sausage ball could derail them. I did do pretty well through-out the month until about maybe Christmas Eve. I practiced moderation. I had a few treats, but maintained my regular diet the rest of the time. But I said Christmas Eve was my cheat day. I had french fries for the first time in months. But I still kept it somewhat in check that day. I had low cal dressing. I got a lean sirloin at dinner. Then came Christmas day, and with it, a sausage egg and cheese casserole and cinnamon buns. I thought, "It's Christmas! I can have some if I want!" So I did...along with a lot of other crap that day. Even then, the week could have been salvaged if I had gone back to normal. But what happened is that my family and I went out of town to visit relatives. It started with a ham dinner and went downhill from there. I would know in my head what would be the reasonable things and amounts to eat were, but I quickly squashed those thoughts down in favor of shoving more wings and deviled eggs in my piehole. And every night, my stomach would let me know just how much it did not appreciate this treatment. What's worse is that midweek, I (and half my family) caught the flu. So then, even though I was all prepared with work-out clothes and my ipod, any thoughts of actually working out went right out the window. I felt so bad, I also had thoughts of throwing my whole body right out that same window. 

If you read my weigh-in updates on Facebook, you may be thinking, "You couldn't have been that bad. After all, you lost 1.2 lbs!" And herein lies the sole benefit of having the flu. No matter how much crap you have eaten during the week, you too can still lose weight by sweating it out via fever and burning mega calories through coughing! Hmmm, maybe I should patent this weight loss method? So yes, I did indeed lose weight this week, but it's not exactly anything to be proud of.

So here I sit on January 2, ready to turn things around, as probably 99% of people on this planet say they will. I'm full of New Year's motivation, but incredibly frustrated because I'm still pretty sick and working out is not even an option right now. Well, I guess it would be an option if my goal was to hack up a lung and take a fun trip to the emergency room. But weirdly enough, my being reasonable and not working out right now is evidence itself that I really have made a change. Example: I've written before about being in a weight loss competition a few years ago. During the contest, I got walking pneumonia. Combined with my asthma (yeah, my lungs obviously aren't the greatest), I should have been nowhere near the gym then. I couldn't accept that though, and I went to the gym anyway. I kept working out even when I was wheezing and coughing. I kept working out until I had a crazy asthma attack, passed out, and then had to be wheeled out of the gym on a stretcher. Yeah, let's just say I wasn't really big on moderation back then. So my listening to my body right now and taking it easy is a really big step for me.

In the past, I may have used my set-backs in the past week or so as an excuse to give up. And that would just be really sad. I have perspective now. I can look at what has happened and be realistic about it. Instead of throwing in the towel and thinking I can never get back on track, I know that this past week was just that--ONE WEEK. What is one week in the scheme of things? Not very much at all. At the same time, I won't make excuses for myself either, because just like being too hard on myself, not holding myself accountable is dangerous as well. The truth is that I didn't do a good job this past week. I let myself go a little crazy. I acknowledge that fact, and I am moving on. I'm getting well, eating healthy again, and making up my triathlon training schedule. I got great triathlon stuff over Christmas and I can't wait to use it. I'm excited to be back on track for 2013, hitting my goal weight this year, and completing my first triathlon!