Thursday, December 19, 2013

My iPod caused me to lose any modicum of self-respect

First of all, let's all pause to admire my use of the word "modicum" in the title. Not only is my blog entertaining, it also helps increase your vocabulary! Well, sometimes. This past week, I had an extremely traumatic event in my life. Well, maybe "extremely traumatic" is a bit of an exaggeration, but it was quite upsetting. Brace yourselves: I almost lost my beloved iPod at the gym. Now if you don't know how much my iPod means to me, you may scoff (good word!) at my panic. Seriously, no exaggeration here, I cannot work out without music. Like it's so bad that if I go to the gym and discover I left my iPod at home, I drive all the way home and go get it. And if my battery is dead, I wait to work out until it's charged.

So anyway, I had done part 1 of my cardio and went to the locker room to drink some water before strength training. I meant to put my iPod in my locker (because for some reason I don't like music when strength training), and instead absent-mindedly left it sitting on the bench. I do my my strength training, and return to the locker room later and discover my iPod is not in my locker. I look again...still not there!!! At this point I am beginning to freak out. I never do well when I lose things because I get so worked up that I'm not very effective looking for whatever I lost and end up looking like a deranged idiot. Case in point, instead of first going up to the front desk and asking if someone turned in an iPod like a normal person, I begin frantically searching the locker room looking like afore-mentioned deranged idiot. I'm not proud of this, but I got it into my head that I may have accidentally thrown the iPod away so I dug around piece by piece in the trash can. Yes, I seriously, without even a second thought, dug around in a gross gym locker room trash can. You can see how deeply my dedication runs. At this point, after witnessing both my frantic search of the locker room and the trash can,  the other woman in the room with me is looking at me like I might be slightly crazy and/or dangerous. I have enough presence of mind to feel slightly ashamed of myself, embarrassed that my iPod compulsion has driven me to such behavior. After that disgusting experience, I finally got the bright idea to see if anyone turned in an iPod at the front desk. Miracle of miracles, someone was honest enough to turn it in! I tried to act like I was merely grateful to have found it, instead of practically delirious with my heart beating out of my chest. I mean, I do have some pride.

So in honor of finding my iPod (or maybe just because I feel like it), I would like to share a few of my favorite work-out songs for the past few months. Some of them I like because they have a good beat and others because of the lyrics. Be warned; there are some cheesy songs here. I really don't care, because when you run as many miles as I do, you do what it takes to keep going one more step. And if what keeps me going is "I Touch Myself," well, that's just the way it is. Just kidding, that song isn't on my playlist, although I did apparently download that song once for an unknown reason. So without further adieu:
  • What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger) by Kelly Clarkson: Duh. Kind of an obvious choice if you know me at all. Although sometimes I wonder if working out may actually kill me one day. 
  • Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys: Not the greatest beat for working out, but love the lyrics!
  • Never Say Never by Justin Bieber: Yes, I am embarrassed by this choice. Justin Bieber is truly a douchebag, but what can I say? Great beat, and I love the message of the song.
  • Chances  by Five for Fighting: Kind of slow to work out to, but good for warm-up or cool-down. Who hasn't needed a second chance at one time or another?
  • How You Like Me Now by The Heavy: Random choice after all the pop, but I heard this song and it made me feel bad-ass for some reason. 
  • Brand New Book by Train: This was the theme song on The Biggest Loser a couple years ago, and I really love the lyrics. The only problem is that it doesn't speed up till 51 seconds (yes, I do know exactly how long) into the song so I have to time my running accordingly. 
  • Scream by Usher: So this is my go-to ending song when I'm really trying to push hard. Unfortunately, I failed to really listen to the lyrics for months and realize what this song is actually about. Let's just say Usher and I had two very different types of screaming in mind. 
  • Roar by Katy Perry: Another obvious choice. Love the song, though the music video is somewhat confusing to me. Saying you've "got the eye of the tiger" does not mean you have to pretend you are in the vicinity of a real tiger and his eye. 
  • Applause  by Lady Gaga: I actually hated this song at first, and still do hate the message. Seriously, what kind of message is "I live for the applause?" Terrible! Sounds like a "Stars Gone Wrong" E! special waiting to happen. But I love the beat and the song grew on me after seeing the weird Kia hamster commercial 10 million times. 
My playlist actually has around 120 songs right now, but I didn't figure you would appreciate commentary on all of them. And yes, I do realize I am a Top 40 Hits cliche. I'm always in search of new songs though, so let me know if you have any I should check out!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Back to the basics: The power of a food scale, an elliptical, and a complete lack of ego

Lately, I've been trying to get back to the basics. It's been kind of humbling really. It's so easy to think that I know so much more than I did when I began, mainly because for the most part that would be a true statement. I do know so much more than I did then. But part of the problem is that it's easy to let things that I did religiously in the beginning slip by the wayside as time goes by.  But as I said a couple of weeks ago, I am trying to remedy that. My main mortal sin (should I say a Hail Mary?) has been not measuring out my food. I've never been great at estimating measurements, and I'm especially not great when it involves eating something delicious.

I've also gotten stuck in a rut with my exercise routine. Even though I know better, I have been queen of cardio lately and have been neglecting strength training. Part of that is because I hurt my arm surfing (3 months ago! I keep thinking it will heal on its own, but no luck, probably because I keep overusing it) and can't do arm stuff, but I shouldn't use that as an excuse. I could still be doing everything else. Well, I can't say that I did strength training today (shame, shame), but I did at least switch to some form of cardio other than running. I used the elliptical, which I haven't been on in months. The elliptical was something I used everyday in the beginning, but as I grew able to run, I gradually stopped using the elliptical altogether. I guess I got it in my head that running is a harder workout. I think a lot of people believe that, but that is not true. I did intervals on the elliptical today and I had sweat pouring off of me (as always, you're welcome for that mental image). Running isn't a better workout than the elliptical; it's just different. I even felt how it was using different muscles. Can you phone in a workout using the elliptical? Sure, but you can do the same thing running. No matter what kind of workout you do, you have to make a conscious effort to push hard the whole time.

The truth is, I am a creature of routine. I always have been. I think it's a control thing. And actually as far as food goes, that is a good thing for weight loss. Research has shown that eating the same thing all the time bores people and so they view food more as just a source of nutrition and not something associated with emotion, which makes people prone to overeating. But as far as exercise goes, routine is terrible. You need to constantly switch things up to keep your metabolism confused. So as much as I may crave the same workout every day, I have got to force myself to switch things up.

So far, so good during this month of temptation otherwise known as the holiday season. I'm getting all my workouts in, and not going crazy with the treats. My goal of losing half my original body weight by the end of the year is good motivation to keep myself going strong. I've only got 4 lbs to go!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Sheryl Crow had it right; a change would do you good

Okay, maybe Sheryl Crow's song isn't exactly about the same kind of a change I am talking about here, but you get the point. Anyway, I get a lot of people that ask me if there was some "Aha!" moment that made me start losing weight. I can't say that there really was, although it would for sure be more dramatic if there was some crazy event like me having a heart attack or something. I'm really glad it didn't take something like that though! I think for me, it was a lot of little moments that added up until I had just had enough of it. I got to thinking of one of those moments this week when I was decorating for Christmas. I have a rule that the apartment has to be clean before I start decorating. This keeps me from procrastinating on cleaning because I want to decorate so much (I find it slightly scary how often I have to trick my own mind into doing things). So that's some work, and then I have to get out the boxes of decorations from storage, which always leads to me cleaning out the storage closet, and then consequently having 5 million bags of trash to take down to the dumpster. This year, it took me about a solid day's work to accomplish everything. When I finished, I even still had enough energy to go for a run. And that's when I started thinking how very different this scenario was from 2 years ago. It took me about a week to clean and decorate for Christmas because of how many times I had to stop for breaks. Even on stuff like cleaning the bathroom, which isn't exactly an endurance sport, I still had to rest. And as far as taking all those trash bags out to the dumpster and climbing up and down the stairs? I needed 10 minutes to recover from every trip. My physical decline had slowly crept up on me. I knew that I wasn't in good shape by any means, but I had no idea how bad it had gotten until then. I mean, it is somewhat alarming (and embarrassing) that a 27-year-old would be in that kind of physical condition.

 Christmas is also a time when people tend to take pictures of family. I've always been the unofficial photographer in my family (sometimes much to my siblings' dismay), but before that year I had usually made an effort to ensure I was in at least some of the pictures. In 2011, I was present in barely any pictures at all. I don't think it was even a conscious thing on my part. It was easy and natural enough to remove myself from pictures since I was usually the one taking them. But that Christmas we went to visit my grandmother and took a picture as a family. Here it is:

I was absolutely horrified when I saw that picture. I guess I actually thought holding that pillow in front of me could disguise some of my bulk. And this may sound stupid and narcissistic, but even now looking at this picture of my grandmother's last Christmas, one of my first thoughts is how terrible I looked. It's even worse at  my grandmother's birthday party in June 2012 in our last family picture with her because I had put on about 20 more pounds there.

 Again, selfish and petty, but I hate that in this picture, the picture that everyone remembers because it was the last one, I look like a gigantic blob. What can I say? I'm very human.

I think seeing pictures like these is part of the reason I tried to avoid being in front of the camera. Pictures don't lie, although I really tried to hope that instead of the camera adding 10 lbs, it had added 200 lbs. You can't escape from the harsh truth after seeing a picture. You can't pretend anymore that maybe other people don't see you as big. That maybe you don't actually look like you weigh that much. I wish I could say that after seeing that Christmas picture, I had my big revelation. Oh, I made my New Year's resolution weight loss plans, the same as I did every year. I even joined a gym, which I did not set foot into until June. It would be easy to have regrets about not starting to lose weight sooner, but regrets serve no purpose. You can't change the past. The fact of the matter is, I wasn't ready to change at Christmas. I wasn't ready in January or February or March or April or May. But I was ready that June. Like I said, by then it was a lot of little things that had added up to make me ready for a change. Maybe it was that birthday picture that was the ultimate catalyst because 2 weeks later, I had started on this weight loss journey. In which case, I hope that in time I can start to look at that picture not with shame, but with a sense of pride that this picture was taken right before I took control and changed my life. That that girl, the one who weighed 328 lbs, was the one who had the strength and courage to try to be different. I know my grandmother would feel nothing but pride about that.