Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Running: It magically morphs you into a supermodel at 5 am

I've really gotten back into running over the past month or so. I had kind of gotten away from it for a while, but I was getting way too bored with the elliptical and just walking on the treadmill. It was time to head back outside to run in the wilderness like my ancestors (okay, more like run outside in a well-lit subdivision). Also, in the interest of honesty, I don't actually know if my ancestors ran anywhere at all.

So, this time of year where I live (a.k.a. Hot and Humid Central), running outside is pretty much limited to sunrise or sunset unless you think it's a barrel of laughs to get heatstroke or something. I picked sunrise because I figured it would get my day off to a good start and plus, despite no real evidence to back this up, it seems less likely that I would get mugged or something at dawn as opposed to twilight. Let me say, I look pretty awesome at 5 am. Here is a picture:

Yup, you know me, raring to go in my leopard bikini! Oh wait, are you trying to tell me that I still haven't morphed into a Brooklyn Decker clone? Bummer. Maybe I look more like this:

Yeah, I think that face pretty much speaks for itself. The vacant expression that says, "Why the hell did I think this was a good idea?!?" No matter how enthused I am the night before, I just can't seem to manage any enthusiasm at all that early in the morning. It takes too much energy. I try to avoid looking at the clock that early as much as possible because then I can at least pretend it isn't such an ungodly hour. In an effort to make sure I do actually get up, I've taken to sleeping in my workout clothes many nights so all I have to do in the morning is put in my contacts and put on my shoes. Hey, whatever works!

So yeah, I drag myself out of bed and head outside. And usually by then, I'm at least somewhat happy to be there. I am helped by the fact that I no longer sound like a dying animal after running approximately 30 seconds. Running wasn't so fun when that was true. I thought people who talked about runner's highs were crazy or maybe just actually high. Playing soccer as a kid, I was a good sprinter. Despite having short legs, I was somehow still able to go pretty fast. But distance running just never seemed like my thing. But now I'm starting to get into it. I can rack up some decent mileage. Don't get me wrong; it isn't pretty. While it's fun to think I look graceful and fierce when I'm running, I know the truth. It looks more like this:

But that's okay. My form may not be anywhere close to perfect, I may not be going fast, but the point is that I am doing it. I am doing something that I would have thought to be impossible this time last year. And what makes me feel even better about running is that I have a pretty good excuse for not running. My left foot is, for lack of a better phrase, jacked up. This foot has been 1) run over by a treadmill as a child, resulting in a gigantic keloid and my phobia of running on treadmills 2) had severe second degree burns after being splashed by boiling spaghetti sauce 3) had surgery to correct a clawtoe (umm, yes that is an actual condition that is about as sexy as it sounds), which means my big toe has a screw in it and can't bend and is also shortened, there is a lot of hardware in my foot, and my arch got shaved away 4) had surgery to repair a torn tendon and 5) had more second degree burns from being splashed by very hot queso dip (obviously I am really not good with hot items). It's been through a lot. Weirdly, my right foot has never had anything at all happen to it, so at least the scarring is limited to one foot. Please admire my extremely ugly foot:

Really the only problems I have with it are due to the surgery, but I just thought it was funny to list the crazy amount of unfortunate incidents that have befallen my poor foot. The whole anatomy of my foot has been changed. so running isn't the easiest thing. I basically now have one foot that is narrow with a high arch and one foot that is wide with no arch. This makes shoe shopping super fun! Not. So what happens is that every mile or so into my runs or even actually when I'm just walking on the treadmill too, the ball of my foot simultaneously starts hurting like it has a bad bruise and starts going numb. Sounds bizarre I know. This is only relieved by stopping to rub my foot for 30 seconds or so and then I'm good to go for another mile or so. Needless to say, this looks a little weird. I've tried all different kinds of orthotics, resting, icing, etc but to no avail. I've just come to accept it. But that's why I'm so proud that I run anyway. Between that and my asthma, it would be so easy to just say that I can't be a runner. But I know that is an excuse. I do what I need to do to be able to run, whether it's rubbing my foot when I need to or using my inhaler, and I don't let anything stop me. It's worth it to me, and every day as I feel myself getting more endurance, getting faster and stronger with every mile, I am more and more proud of myself for becoming the athlete that I always knew that I was capable of being.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone

Ah, this post. It has been permeating (SAT word!) in my mind for the past couple of weeks. Like some of the harder posts I've written before, it demanded to be written even if it was difficult to share. But as you probably know, my philosophy here has been to be completely honest about what is going on with me because I almost always feel better after sharing. I realize over sharing runs rampant these days with Twitter and the Facebook (haha, I sound like an old geezer), but I think I've been pretty reasonable about my sharing. I mean, I haven't shown you guys any crazy naked loose skin pics or anything! I apologize for that image.

Anyway, so today I wanted to discuss dating. Or to be more accurate, my lack of dating. This is kind of embarrassing for me to discuss. I have a mental image of people reading this and putting up a big L for loser on their forehead (do people still do that?). Because I kind of feel like a loser sometimes when I think about how little dating experience I have compared to other 28-year-olds (ahhhh, when I write it out it reminds how close to 30 I'm getting). But what I hope will happen is that some people will read this and realize they're not the only ones who have struggled with this. Some of you may be thinking, "Umm, I thought this was a weight loss blog. What the hell does dating have to with weight loss?" In my case, it has a lot to do with weight loss. I wish I could tell you that when I weighed 328 lbs, I was a confident woman who believed that men could see past my size to the real me. That is what the Lifetime movie version of me would be like. However, I was not that woman, and I am somewhat sad to say that we live in a world where physical appearance plays way too important a role. I'm not going to be so pessimistic as to say that guys who could see past my size don't exist. I'll just say that they are very tough to find. But in actuality, it wouldn't have mattered if a guy like that was right in front of my nose. My goal at that size was to be invisible. I didn't want anyone to see me, didn't want anyone taking too close of a look. I'm going to take this time to have a little Oprah moment: "You get a car, you get a car, you get a car!" Haha, not that kind of Oprah moment. I believe it is very true that you cannot start to love someone else until you love yourself. I know that sounds incredibly cheesy and cliche. However, that doesn't make it any less true. I think a lot of women think that if they can just find someone who loves them, if they can just find someone who thinks they are worthy, then they will start to believe that about themselves. It doesn't work that way. You have to love yourself and believe in your own worth before you can expect others to do the same. When I was bigger, I couldn't even stand to look at myself in the mirror. I couldn't see anything besides my size. I couldn't see past my own size to all the other things that are awesome about me (if I do say so myself). Whether I knew it or not, I gave off a vibe that said, "I'm not worth anything." I couldn't see who in their right minds could possibly want to be with someone like me. And that's just sad. So yeah, as I've lost weight, of course I've started to like the reflection I see in the mirror. But more than that, I've started to see that I have a lot of really admirable qualities. I also of of course have a few not-so-admirable qualities, but so does everyone. And now I finally feel like I am ready to share all of that with somebody else.

Which brings us dating (insert scary music here). I had to be forreal (fake word) with myself on this one. I can say to myself all I want that now that I'm smaller I'll just go start picking up men right and left at bars. Am I more confident? Yes, but the truth is that  I will never be the pick-up-guys-at-bars type of girl. I know online dating gets a lot of flack, but the idea of it appeals to me. I like the idea of dating someone based not just on the fact that we have mutual friends, but based on the fact that we have a lot of common values, likes, and dislikes. I'm not going to lie though. This totally scares the crap out of me. It is outside my comfort zone, but I'm trying to push through. Part of me keeps thinking I should wait until I hit my goal weight to start. But I recognize that that is the unhealthy perfectionist side of me, and that I am good enough right now, not 46 lbs from now. I can't just not live my life until I'm 128 lbs. It's not like that number is magic and when I hit it men will flock to me or something (although that would be awesome). So I am being brave and filling out a profile on Eharmony. Some of the questions are really weird though. A prime example would be the one where I'm supposed to rate how overweight I am. The scale goes from "Not at all" to "Very." I, of course, am completely stressed out about that one and am over-analyzing. I am by no means stick thin, but I'm also nowhere near what I used to be. I decided to go in the middle and put "somewhat," but then I was stressing that guys would see that and just dismiss me from that alone. I guess I probably wouldn't want guys like that anyway. Why can't they just look at my picture and decide?!? And then we get to the "What are you passionate about" question. I mean, am I supposed to put "world peace and long walks on the beach" or something along those lines? It's such a cheesy question that I can't seem to come up with a non-cheesy answer. Hey, if nothing else my adventures in online dating could provide new funny anecdotes.

I hope to finish filling out the profile tonight. I've kind of been procrastinating finishing because when I do that, it means that this is actually happening. I mean, I hope something happens. Of course, a tiny part of my brain (the same part that tells me I'm still not good enough) is saying, "What if no one wants you?" I just tell that part to shut the hell up while I get my date on though. So with that said, I'm jumping in. Watch out world (or more likely, the greater Wilmington area)!

P.S. Like I said, this is kind of freaking me out. Any words of encouragement, advice, or whatever would be greatly appreciated. Yeah, I'm not above needing confidence boosters lol.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results

How do you all like my new photo collage? I especially like the oh-so-flattering before shot of me with the "Help me!" sign. I took that one when I tried out for The Biggest Loser last year. Hey, I wanted to stand out, and an orange in the mouth and crazed look in the eyes does that for you. Apparently it wasn't enough to actually get on the show though, but maybe I was just too much awesome for them to handle. Hahaha.

I'm going to start out by saying that this post is probably going to serve to illustrate just what an ongoing process my journey is. I say that because it seems like by this time I would have gotten this figured out. But I think  it's really going to be a lifelong thing though. I've been feeling very "all-or-nothingy" (not actual word) lately. Actually, weirdly enough this nursery rhyme just popped into my head about how I've been doing lately. Part of it goes, "And when she was good, she was very very good, and when she was bad, she was horrid." I have no idea how in the world I remember that, or actually where I learned it at all. But it is pretty accurate. The other day would be a perfect example of this. I have decided that I need to start getting up really early to go running outside, in addition to my normal gym routine. Now, I honestly did think this out and contemplated whether it was too extreme to do in addition to the gym. I decided that it was not too extreme. The truth is that these last 48 lbs are not going to come off as easily as the first 48 lbs. If I want this to happen, I have to be willing to put in the work. Anyway, so the other day I started off my day by running a 5k and watching the sun rise. I drank a low carb smoothie for breakfast and headed to work. I was good at drinking my water all day. I went to the gym and did my cardio and strength training. Awesome day so far. But this is where things get dicey. I started thinking about how well things were going, but then that little voice in the back of my head started whispering not-so-healthy thoughts to me. Thoughts like "If eating 1200 calories makes you lose weight, 1000 calories would be even better" or "If having low carb days every other day helps you lose weight, maybe you should do that every day" or "If extra runs are good, maybe you should do them in the morning AND at night AND go to the gym." Obviously, at this point alarm bells were also going off in my head, which partially drowned out the little voice in there (my head is apparently a very noisy place). I see these thoughts written down, and I know that kind of thinking can be very dangerous for me. It is an absolute must for me to maintain a lifestyle that is actually something I can do long-term. If I start getting too extreme, I know for a fact that I will go back to my old ways. After all, that is exactly what happened before. I think a lot of this thinking lately is due to this plateau I feel like I have been stuck on. I lose a little, lose a little, gain some, lose some. It is very frustrating. I feel like this past week, I may have finally busted past it, but I am still irritated. In my rational brain, I know that at the weight I am now, plateaus are common and I am not going to lose large amounts like I did before. However, that doesn't make it any easier to work so hard and see no results on the scale.

And now we get to the "and when she was bad, she was horrid" part of the nursery rhyme. Well, I guess horrid would be a bit of an overstatement. "Naughty" may be more accurate. Yesterday I couldn't do my outside run because it was raining. I did go to the gym, but it was a lackluster effort. It didn't feel like a good day. So since it didn't feel like such a good day, my eating kind of reflected that. I went over to my parents' house and made these little fried peach turnovers with my mom. They were absolutely delicious. Was it okay for me to have one? Of course it was. Treats are fine and important to have in moderation. However, it was not fine for me to eat one right after we cooked them and then eat two more after dinner. They were small, but I still should have only had one. So after that, it felt kind of like yesterday was down the drain (even though I know that is stupid extreme thinking), so I had some popcorn at 10 pm. The popcorn was only about 100 calories, but that wasn't the issue. The issue is that I make it a point never to eat that late, and also that I wasn't really hungry. I was bored. I have got to get it through my stubborn head that one poor decision does not have to automatically lead to another poor decision. Sigh...

What can I say? I'm a work in progress. I am happy that I recognize these areas I need to work on. That means that I can address them before they potentially become more chronic issues. I just need to keep repeating my motto, "If I can't do it forever, then I shouldn't do it now!"

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Have some poison with that Twinkie

My family celebrated my sister's 21st birthday this past weekend and I made quite a few not-so-great food choices. My feelings are mixed about this. I scheduled her birthday as my high calorie day because I knew what I would be eating. However, now I feel like I should have limited myself more, high calorie day or not. But at the same time, I have to live my life. I mean, should I always have to miss out on treats? I don't feel like it would be healthy to do that. But add a couple pretty high calorie meals to the 500 calorie slice of Coldstone ice cream cake, and that becomes a pretty big high calorie day. It felt kind of a like a free-for-all. Don't get me wrong, it was all completely delicious, but I felt like CRAP afterwards. That food just sat in my stomach even a day later. I felt sluggish and gross. So was it worth it? I honestly don't know.

It's situations like these where I am still trying to figure out the space in between all or nothing. I'll be honest here. Sometimes, just for a little while,  I want to be like the other people I see eating who don't worry about calories and just eat whatever they want. It's a lot of work to constantly be thinking about how many calories different foods have, and sometimes it's irritating because I can't just turn my brain off calorie-counting mode when I decide to have a high calorie day. It's not possible for me anymore to be able to eat junk and not know exactly how many calories it has, exactly how much sodium, exactly how much scary processed crap. Most of the time this makes me happy, but every now and then, I wish I could just turn that part of my brain off and take a break.

Lately, I have been contemplating not having high calorie days anymore. The problem with that is that high calorie days are actually good for your metabolism because it confuses your body. I think what I really need to do is try to give up junk food high calorie days. I could just have high calorie days where I eat a few hundred extra calories of healthy food instead. Maybe on rare occasions if I was really craving some specific junk food, I could have it then. I'm not making this decision based on weight loss. I don't have enough high calorie days really to affect my weight loss. This decision is more for my mental health. I hate how I feel after eating junk. I feel terrible physically and I also feel terrible emotionally. Eating that stuff also seems to make me more likely to make poor decisions in the days after. The more I focus on clean eating, the worse I feel about putting anything processed in my body. It feels like poison, which is what it pretty much is. The few minutes of pleasure I get from eating junk is not enough to compensate for all those side effects. It's just not worth it.

This post is kind of all over the place, but that's how I'm feeling. It's hard to decide what I need to do sometimes. It's also still hard for me to not see junk food as a reward at times. So sometimes when I refuse to eat junk, it can feel like a punishment instead of the reward it really is. If anyone has any thoughts or advice on this, I'm all ears!