Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Don't mistake my kindness for weakness

Please take a moment to admire my new title picture. While it may seem like a simple task to some of you to create a photo collage like that one,  I am sadly somewhat technologically retarded when it comes to things like that. So I am probably slightly prouder of making it than the average person.

So as I was trying to figure out what kindness quote to use as my title this week, this profound quote was the first that came into my head: "Be kind, rewind." I considered actually using this quote and having people maybe think there was a deep cryptic meaning behind it, but then I realized it was just stupid. Moving on.

The kind of kindness (say that 3 times fast!) that I am talking about is kindness to yourself. As readers of my blog have no doubt deduced (what is with all the tongue twisters today?), I have a record of being quite cruel to myself. Thankfully, a lot of that was in the past, but the mean thoughts still occasionally do slip in. Sometimes I get so driven to succeed that any kind of compassion towards myself does seem like a sign of weakness, even though the rational side of myself knows that is ridiculous. I mean, as important as it is for me to push myself, it is equally as important to give myself a break now and then. That does not come naturally to me. I have to make a conscious effort to do this. I think a lot of this stems from the fact that I still have some fear that if I cut myself some slack, I will go too far and go back to what I once was, which can NEVER HAPPEN.

What is ironic about this the fact that I am a pretty nice person to other people usually. Kindness to others does come naturally to me (probably a good trait to have as a nurse). It's only to myself that I am an evil crazy person. When other people are having trouble with their weight loss, I have no problem giving them encouragement. And it's not fake encouragement either. I mean every word. But sometimes when I find myself having the same kind of problem with my own weight loss, the dialogue in my head is anything but encouraging. I say things to and about myself that I would never say about another human being.

This is something I'm really trying to work on. It's not easy, but after all, I have a lifetime of negative self-talk (haha, a term I remembered from a college psychology class) to get past. It doesn't happen overnight. But I am making a good amount of progress. For example, when I only lost a pound today, I did not freak out and think what a loser I am (well, I guess since I lost only a pound, "loser" wouldn't really be appropriate). I focused on the fact that I have now lost 68.8 inches from my body. I focused on the fact that my BMI has gone from the crazy high number of 62 all the way down to 35.6. I was able to focus on the fact that I ran a mile faster than I ever have this week. I was able to focus on the fact that I am becoming quite the healthy Crockpot recipe connoisseur. And I was able to focus on the fact that I am feeling happier and stronger every single day. Being proud of myself for these things does not mean that I am arrogant (another fear of mine). It means that I am taking the time to be kind to myself and to remind myself that I am good enough right now. And that's not a sign of weakness; it's a sign of strength.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Make your mess your message

Random weekend entry, but I have to write when the mood strikes. I was watching 20/20 about Robin Roberts' health problems and how she has dealt with them. She was asked why she was allowing herself to be filmed during such a hard time, and she said something that really struck me, "Make your mess your message." Now, let me be clear, I am in no way comparing my struggle with weight to all she has been through with cancer. But I really believe in the truth of what she said.

I've struggled with weight pretty much my whole life, obviously more in the past couple years than previously. But for the most part, before last June,  it has been a private battle. Sure, I might have told people I wanted to lose weight or tell them I joined Weight Watchers or something. And a few years ago, I even let myself be filmed while being weighed in on camera for that weight loss competition (I will say that scared the crap out of me). But I didn't share anything below the surface. I tried so hard to act like my weight wasn't that big a deal, I guess hoping that other people would feel the same. When I gained so much weight a year ago, I didn't share with anyone how much it hurt. I mean, at what point in a conversation do you bring up the fact that your joints hurt like a 75 year old? At what point in the conversation do you bring up the fact that you feel nothing but utter disgust when you look in the mirror? At what point in the conversation do you go, "Oh by the way, I need to lose about 200 lbs."? I felt so ashamed, and I let it keep me from getting the help I needed for far too long.

As most people who know me can tell you, I hate asking for help. Well, I guess I should use the past tense and say "hated" (although I can't honestly say that it will ever come completely naturally to me). I like to be good at things. I like to seem strong and in control. I'm kind of a perfectionist. So anytime I'm doing well, sure, I'll share that. But when I start having problems, my natural instinct is to keep it inside. Don't let anyone know that I'm struggling. Because I can handle everything just fine on my own. Let me just say, that strategy has never worked out for me very well. In fact, a couple of years ago it completely blew up in my face dealing with another issue. But I know now, letting people know when I'm having a problem and asking for help when I need it does not mean that I am weak. It's a sign of strength and maturity. It's taken me a very long time to learn this lesson (mainly because I'm stubborn as a mule), but I got there in the end.

And so we go back to what I said in the beginning of this somewhat rambling (sorry) post: Make your mess your message. That is exactly what I have done with this blog, and in doing so, I have gotten rid of so much shame. I'll be frank. When I started this blog, I was scared out of my mind. I felt such shame and embarrassment and disgust over my weight that I couldn't help but think that everyone else would feel the same about me, even if they didn't say it. But a funny thing happened. Every time I wrote some previous secret shame like my starting weight, it was like a burden had been lifted. And now every time I write about a time I've struggled, or even in this entry sharing about how I can be a super-stubborn perfectionist control freak, I feel better even before anyone comments. Struggles and secrets that are shared are not so scary anymore. Sometimes I feel like I get more out of sharing that stuff than I do the great stuff. And actually, sometimes I feel like my readers get more out of hearing my struggles. No, I'm not saying my blog should just be one big whine and moan fest (because that would just be depressing!), but I can't tell you how many times people have written to thank me for sharing something I'm struggling with because they are struggling with the same thing. It helps so much to know that you are not alone with your struggles. It means a lot to know that I have helped someone, even just a little bit, in their own battle. So I'm sharing my mess with all of you; the good, the bad, and the ugly. I want my message to be real, and sometimes reality isn't pretty. I just want to put this out there: Don't be afraid of sharing your own struggles and asking for help. No matter how much you believe otherwise, you will not regret it. Don't let shame keep you from getting the help you need in order to live the life you deserve. And don't forget, you never know when the struggle you share will help someone else deal with their own. On that note, sounding somewhat like a Chicken Soup for the Soul book, I shall conclude this entry.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Easy, breezy, nauseous?

The plateau has been vanquished! I destroyed it by eating whatever I wanted last Friday. No, that is not a typo. It still seems very counter-intuitive to me. I wrote into Chris Powell from Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition (it's pretty cool...he writes back so much that I feel like we're pen pals or something) about my plateau, and he recommended trying to confuse my body. This could be accomplished by changing your work-out routine (which I had already previously tried) and having a high calorie day. He said plateaus are caused when your body gets used to what you have been doing. Confusing your body like that increases your metabolism and you lose more weight. At least in theory. I had high calorie days in the beginning of my journey and kind of sporadically as of late, because I just don't feel cravings for junk like I used to. I thought the point of the high calorie days was so you didn't feel deprived, and since I already didn't feel deprived, I saw no need for them. But I guess they actually serve to boost your metabolism too!

Anyway, I decided to try to eat double my normal calories (so 3000 calories) on Friday. Although, I also decided that I wouldn't just keep eating after I was full just to hit that number. I thought it would be a piece of cake. But as it turns out, my stomach has changed more than I thought. I've really been wanting bacon lately, so I made a bacon and egg English muffin for breakfast with Greek yogurt. I realize that's not super high calorie, but I wasn't going to go get a fast food breakfast just for the extra calories when I really enjoyed my lower calorie homemade version more. I went out for lunch with my mom and sister and I had a salad with real ranch, and a chicken parm sub. I ate all the salad and 3/4 of the sub. And I felt REALLY full, even though my mom commented that I didn't eat an unusual amount. And then I felt nauseous. I hated feeling sick, but at the same time, I felt happy that my body rejected those foods as foreign. Because it wasn't so long ago that my body would have have felt right at home with those foods. Anyway, I kept the food down, but was still so full that I couldn't tolerate an afternoon snack.  By dinner I was somewhat hungry, so I had some wings since I had been wanting those lately. I seemed to do better with those than lunch. I sat down to input my food log in the Bodybugg website and was shocked to see the total number of calories come up as only 2100!?! Seriously?  I felt like I had eaten 100,000! Pretty crazy. But I stayed true to my promise and ate what I wanted, not just a certain number of calories. And it totally worked! I will say that my heart was beating pretty fast when I weighed in this morning though.

In the interest of honesty here though, I will confess that I did not change up my workouts even more this week like I meant to. I was pretty busy and it was just easier to keep doing the same old thing. But record for a mile: 8:39! I'm pretty sure the old guy next to me at the gym thought I was crazy though because in order to hit that time I was alternating between mouthing the words to Kelly Clarkson's "Stronger" and then silently repeating, "When your mind and body tell you that you can't, prove to yourself that you can." Because both my mind and body were at that point screaming, "Quit running, you crazy freak!"

I also entered a contest that Ellen DeGeneres was running to be a Covergirl. She wanted someone that exemplified strength, beauty, and independence. While I still had some occasional doubts over whether those particular adjectives applied to me, I felt proud enough of what I have done these past months to think that I should enter. So I wrote an essay about my story and did an inspirational/corny video that showcased my shrine to myself in my bathroom. Well, not really a shrine (sounds creepy), but I have a bunch of motivational stuff in there since that's where I go first thing in the morning after my 4:30 am alarm goes off and I really want to pull the covers over my head. I figured not just anyone has something like that in their bathroom, nor would they film a video in their bathroom period, so at the very least it would make me stand out. I also took all my pictures for the contest in work-out clothes because I said the gym is where I feel beautiful. I'm not sure if I can post the picture I ended up choosing, so here are a couple of the other top contenders:

The jumping pictures burned a fair amount of calories because I ended up running and then jumping around 20 times. And then, because I am not afraid to laugh at myself, here are a couple of the "fail" pictures:

Actually this last pic is me trying to demonstrate how difficult it is to keep both keep your eyes open and stick out your neck to avoid the dreaded double chin when jumping. Pretty difficult. Luckily, my mom had a weird knack for being able to get the pictures of me while I was in the air.

Update: I crushed my personal best for a mile this afternoon at the gym. I took 12 seconds off my previous time of 8:39. I'm now at 8:27!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

You say "plateau", I say "evil soul crusher"

I realize I'm beginning to sound like a broken record here at this point but...the scale gods appear to have forsaken me yet again this week. Down a crummy 0.6 lbs. I'm sorry, but WTH?!? And yes, I've heard all the platitudes about how it's a miracle I haven't hit a plateau before now, it's only to be expected, it happens to everyone, blah, blah, blah. The truth is that while I know all of those sentiments are true, it doesn't make it any easier to step on the scale all excited because according to my Bodybugg's calorie deficit this week I should have lost 4.2 lbs, and then see a FREAKING 0.6 LB WEIGHT LOSS STARING BACK AT ME (well, staring without eyes I guess). I wish I could tell you then when I am slaving away at the gym every day, my only thoughts are of the fact that I am getting stronger and generally healthier everyday, and that weight loss is only a distant thought in my head. Well, I'm here to say that while I am genuinely happy to be getting healthier and stronger, the truth is that measurable results like weight loss can be a lot more motivating to think about when you feel like you're about to hurl if you run for one more second. What can I say? I'm still a work in progress. I'm also human. While I work very hard to stay positive about this journey of mine, I can still get disheartened just like anyone else.

So what to do, what to do? Cram my mouth full of the Valentine's Day chocolate that I selflessly (or perhaps more accurately, stupidly) made for my friends and family? Camp out on the couch watching Lifetime movies instead of hitting the gym, exactly like a cliche from one of the aforementioned movies? While I do love me some Lifetime (a.k.a. the "Men are bad and will hurt you" channel) movies from time to time, the answer is no. And while I do plan on researching some plateau-busting ideas, I'm pretty sure complete lack of exercise and excess calories through chocolate will not be on that list of ideas. Right now, I'm going to focus on some of the good things that have happened lately.

First up, my foray into 5 am workouts. Let me just say, I am not a morning person. I am most definitely a night owl. But I also have a handy ability that I discovered in college when I got up to work out that early, which is that I can easily fall right back asleep after my workout. So as long as I can get an hour of sleep after my workout, I don't really mind getting up that early. When my phone alarm goes off at the soul-crushingly early hour of 4:30 am, I do usually initially think, "What kind of masochistic idiot sets their alarm for the middle of the night when they don't even have to?" And then I look at the alarm read-out on my phone that says, "Don't be a lazy bum!" And then I throw my phone into the wall. Well, that last part is only in my head. I put on my work-out stuff that I thoughtfully laid out the night before. I put my hair into a gigantic frizzy pouf on the back of my head. I drive off into the pre-dawn quiet (actually, I like this part). I go into the quiet gym and put in my time. I think it may actually be easier since my brain is still half asleep at this point. I drive home, take a shower, and crawl back into my oh-so-snuggly bed. Back to sleep for an hour until it's time to get up for work. Hey, it works for me. Plus, when my brain actually wakes up later, I feel proud I already got in one workout for the day!

I've also started swimming, which I love! I've always loved to swim, but I've never done serious laps before. But I looked a bit ridiculous my first time because I stupidly went into it with the logic, I can wear my bathing suit from when I was 328 lbs for a little while because, duh, bathing suits kind of just mold to your body no matter what. Let me just say, they most definitely do not. It just kind of bagged everywhere. It was quite the look, especially combined with the goggles and swim cap that I thought would make me look like a serious swimmer, and that in actuality made me look like a big-headed alien. I hopped in that pool and just started swimming. I was not sure what to expect since I hadn't been in a pool since last summer. But all my hours on the elliptical and treadmill paid off. My endurance was much higher than I expected. I left thinking that it was a pretty good work-out, even though I was sad I couldn't take my Bodybugg into the pool. The next morning I discovered just how good a workout it was. My entire body hurt. But in an awesome way. It really is a total body work-out, as evidenced by the fact that muscles I didn't even know I had were all on fire.

I'm trying so hard to remind myself that progress isn't measured solely by the scale. It's hard though. I'm giving myself 10 minutes for a private pity party (although, sadly, chocolate and Lifetime movie-free). And then it's back to the grindstone. I'll keep on truckin'. And as Dory from Finding Nemo says, "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming!" And yes, I mean that literally and figuratively.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

In the middle of difficulty lies "ficul"... and I guess opportunity too

First of all, look at my cute little weight loss tracker above this entry! Pretty cool, right? I'm not technologically gifted, so it is good I even figured out how to put that on here. 

I'm not sure what I've done to anger the scale gods, but they have not been kind to me the last couple of weeks. I'm down 0.8 lbs this week. Weirdly, I would not be that upset about it if I knew what mistakes I had made. But I honestly do not. Even with my dad's birthday party (and the smallest slice of ice cream cake ever) and the allure of all that Super Bowl food, I was still right at my correct number of calories every day. Plus, I had a really spectacular week in the gym and went pretty far over my expected calorie burn every day, which is awesome. But at the same time, I'm not having crazy gym time like a couple of weeks ago, so I don't think it's a matter of overtraining. It's difficult to fix something when I don't know where the problem lies. For that matter, I don't even know if there is something to fix. What can I say? I've been pretty lucky thus far in my journey not really having a plateau. Maybe that's what this is, and the only thing to do is switch my workouts up a bit and keep powering through. It's just another chance to show that I will not let anything stop me from reaching my goals.

So obviously this week, I can't use my weight loss as motivation for the coming week. But as I collapsed on the floor by my scale this morning, pounding the floor with my fists and screaming, "WHY ME? WHY HAVE THE SCALE GODS FORSAKEN ME?" (ummm not really, but that would be good if I were on some kind of weight loss soap opera), I had a sudden flash of insight. Someday in the not-too-distant future, I will reach my goal weight. When that happens, I will not have weight loss to motivate me anymore. All I will see is the number hopefully staying the same week after week, year after year. So I'm looking at this week as practice for the rest of my life. I have to find something other than a number on the scale to keep me making good decisions and not regressing into a pile of Big Macs and slothdom (again, not sure if that is an actual word, but it sounded better than "sedentariness"). So without further ado, here are some of my non scale victories (NSVs) this week:

1) As I wrote about in my previous entry, I killed  it at the gym this week. Like my lack of weight loss, the timing of this sudden breakthrough is a mystery too, but a good one. Suddenly, almost every day I'm smashing my previous personal best times on the elliptical and treadmill. Plus, I have found the ever elusive runner's high.

2) There were several events this week that could have derailed me this week. I helped my dad celebrate his birthday, which per his request came complete with my mom's awesome lasagna and ice cream cake. In keeping my resolve to have some moderation, I had some of each. But unlike previous years and ginormous slices of each of those, I had a serving size (actually half a serving size of the ice cream cake). The same goes with the Super Bowl. I didn't pile fistfuls of wings into my mouth, nor did I sit glaring at everyone in the room eating wings while I sat in a corner eating carrots. I had some treats and I had some carrots too. So while the crazier side of me may want to freak out and blame those events for my small weight loss and vow never to have treats again, the rational side of me knows that was not the case.

3) I've started a small love affair with my legs. Well, maybe I wouldn't really go that far, but I do finally not hate them. I've had big legs my whole life, even when I was playing competitive soccer. My legs just have a lot of muscle mass and are never going to be stick thin, even if I weighed next to nothing. But I've kind of made my peace with it. My legs now are rock hard and I am very proud of that. They are powerful and super strong. And that's nothing to be ashamed of.

4) I've really started to believe I will make it to my goal weight. I'm not sure if I can honestly say that has ever been true before, mainly because it's pretty hard to believe in something that is so far away and that you have never seen before as an adult. I mean, the smallest I have ever been in my adult life was 170 lbs. The last time I was at my goal weight of 128 lbs, I think I was probably in 7th grade. So yeah, it was a little hard to picture that when I started at 328 lbs. But now as I'm getting closer and closer, I can start to see it and believe it's really going to happen. And when it does, I have big plans. I already have my dad working on figuring out a way for me to put back on the 200 lbs I lost with weights and then take it off, like they do in Biggest Loser at the end. Yeah, I will raise my corniness flag and wave it proudly. Plus, I'm pretty sure I want to go sky diving. We shall see. The plans may change.

So while this week was kind of a bust weight loss-wise, I had many more important victories than that. I'll keep doing what I'm doing, and eventually the scale is going to cooperate. Well, it will if it knows what's good for it (which it probably doesn't since it's an inanimate object).