Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Repeat to self: I am NOT a Mayan sun priestess

We haven't had any running adventure stories in here lately, so I felt like it was about time. Luckily, fate provided me with a fantastic story filled with adventure, danger, humor, and of course a stunningly beautiful heroine (wait, strike that last part).  It just doesn't get any better than this, folks. Well, actually it most likely does get better than this, but as I appear to have a knack for turning my misadventures into humorous anecdotes (if I do say so myself), I'll tell the story anyway.

I spent Sunday night at my boyfriend Brian's apartment, and since I had taken a rest day from running Sunday, I needed to run Monday morning. So Brian showed me a 3.5 mile route I could take around the university right near him. It seemed simple enough, just follow the sidewalk he said. He gave me his key so I could lock up in the morning and be able to get back in upon my return. I promised to try to not wake him up. Actually, I said I would be "stealthy." As anyone who knows me can tell you, this was a foolish promise, as I have a clumsy streak approximately a mile wide. We go to sleep. Here is what follows the next day:

  • I wake up at 3:20 am. I intensely dislike setting an alarm for 4:30 in the morning just because it alarms me to even acknowledge that time exists, so my rule of thumb is that if I wake up any time after 3 am, I get up and run then. I always seem to wake up sometime between 3 and 5 without fail. I immediately break my promise of being stealthy by fumbling around in the dark and having to turn on a light so I can put in my contacts. My early morning brain forgets to bring my phone. This is a problem later (foreshadowing!).
  • I have extreme difficulty locking the door. Enough difficulty that Brian hears and has to lock the door for me. Although, to be fair, he maybe should have told me that his lock was "tricky" (his words) the night before. My promise of early morning stealthiness is officially shattered. 
  • I finally start my run. I feel pretty safe, as the path is well lit and easy to follow. I thought maybe there would be fellow runners, but it's a little early for that. I finish the 3.5 miles at about my regular pace (at least, I think I did, as my phone is back at the apartment).
  • And here's where things get dicey. On my first loop, I noticed a blacktop trail that seemed to follow an even wider loop around the university. In my infinite wisdom, I decided to follow this trail on my second loop. This was a poor idea.
  • Things go fine until I realize I am actually well behind the university, in a poorly lit wooded area. At some point, I become surrounded by woods on both sides. I am sure during the day this trail is very picturesque and beautiful, but right then the only thought I could conjure up was that this is how people end up murdered, mugged, and/or raped. And also, why didn't I bring my pepper spray?!? Naturally, this thought compels me to run faster.
  • Eventually, the blacktop trail ends. As in, just stops. Not loops back around the university. I am now in a completely unfamiliar neighborhood. This situation is not ideal. The thought crosses my mind that I could just backtrack, but I have no desire to go through the sketchy forest again. 
  • I decide to use my frighteningly accurate sense of direction to try to run in the general direction of Brian's apartment. I use the term "frighteningly accurate sense of direction" in as ironic a way as it can be used, as my sense of direction is so poor that it is frequently mocked by friends and foe alike. I often actually get lost trying to navigate office buildings. 
  • I quickly lose track of which way I have turned, as I run through what seems like endless neighborhoods. In a moment of what I can only suppose was delirium, I decide that if worst comes to worst, I can wait till the sun rises and use it to navigate my way back. Like I could seriously do that? Did I think I was some Mayan sun priestess or something?!?
  • As I run, I contemplate the simple fact that this whole situation could have been avoided if I just had my phone with me. Directionally challenged though I am, even I am capable of following GPS directions. 
  • I turn into a wealthy-looking subdivision. This does not seem to be leading to a main road. I turn back around to the road before the subdivision. At this point, the Melissa Etheridge song "I Run for Life" comes on my iPod. I am not yet at so melodramatic a point that I believe I run for life, but at this point I do believe I may run for my sanity. Because seriously, at this point I am running just to try to reach some kind of road I recognize before I go crazy. I do not care where this road is at or how far it is from Brian's apartment, just that I recognize the road. 
  • I eventually exercise a modicum of good sense and decide to listen for road sounds and look for bright lights in my quest to find a main road. This is an infinitely better idea than my sun navigation idea. 
  • At last! Salvation in the form of a road I recognize. I am not sure exactly where it leads, but I do know the name. I run on this road for awhile until up ahead I see what appears to be a traffic light, Is it a mirage? I hope not, as this could indicate extreme mental illness since mirages are not as common in the suburbs as in the desert. 
  • It's a main road I recognize!! I am a bit farther away from Brian's apartment than I thought, but I know how to get back. Along the way, I gain a second wind. I feel like I could run for days! Either it was a second wind or I was just that relieved to know where I was. 
  • Of course the door won't unlock and Brian has to open it, apparently deciding there was a better chance that it was me back from my run than it being a crazed killer with extremely bad lock-picking skills. While I was pumped up back from my crazy misadventure, Brian simply looked like a man that had now been woken up twice by his crazy, running-obsessed girlfriend and just wanted to go back to sleep. Because it was only 5:30 in the morning by this time. What felt like days running in the wilderness of the suburbs was a mere 2 hours. My story could wait till later.
When we woke up again at a later hour that normal people arise from slumber at, Brian was much more interested in my story and thought we should try to retrace my steps to see where I had ended up and how many miles I had covered. I couldn't remember some of the street names, but we eventually figured out my route, and Brian seemed to enjoy pointing out the spots where I could have easily run back to his apartment. I ran a total of about 9.2 miles or perhaps a bit more since I did backtrack at some places. So my pace was 3 or 4 minutes slower than usual, which didn't surprise me as I had walked some stretches trying to figure out where I was at. But I did run more than a mile more than normal, so that was a win. 

In conclusion, I can be a directionally-challenged spaz at times, but I am at least entertaining.

Friday, March 6, 2015

A foray into my psyche: Buckle up, it's a wild ride!

Wow, I just realized it's been over a month since I posted! That's the slackest I have ever been. I'll chalk it up to the combo of being busy, it being winter when I seem to lose any motivation to do anything, and just pure laziness. Just as a warning, this post may be kind of spastic because I have a lot of thoughts in my head. Also, it may include me arguing with myself, mainly because I still haven't worked out how I feel about some stuff.

I'm not going to lie, it's been a tough winter. It's maddening the way I'll gain and lose the same couple pounds. But I also know I haven't been pushing myself the way I know I'll have to in order to lose the last 18 lbs. And there have been a few too many treats sprinkled in here and there. Sometimes I get angry at myself for being a slacker. But, I had a light bulb moment the other day when I realized my definition of "slack" may be slightly off. Because I have gotten to the point where I feel like I'm being a slacker if I run any less than 8 miles a day. I have to admit, I am slightly proud of this (who wouldn't be after sitting on the couch 24/7 in my previous life?) , but I also recognize I need to be okay with running 2 or 3 miles too and not feel guilty about it.

At times I feel like a fraud, like who I am to be masquerading around as a "success story" when I have days where I just don't feel like working out? Days where I choose to eat cake instead of an apple. Days where I don't feel like much an inspiration to anyone, least of all to myself. But you know what the truth is? What I have described is part of the definition of a success story. Somebody who isn't perfect. Somebody who has moments where a cheeseburger sounds a whole hell of a lot better than chicken. Somebody who doesn't rise to the occasion every time. Sounds weird, huh? But I believe that a weight loss success story involves someone who is truly living their life. Life isn't perfect. But having success is about having the strength to get up when you've fallen down and giving it another try. It's about having mainly good days, but not beating yourself up when your days aren't so great. When I first started losing weight, I was super strict. My life was losing weight.  Really, with the amount of weight I needed to lose, my life needed to be all about losing weight. And I was very good at it, if I do say so myself. My life now doesn't revolve around losing weight. I still count my calories, I still run 6 days a week, I still weigh every Wednesday, but I'm not obsessed with it like I was. And I think that is much healthier in the long run. Because what is the point of losing all the weight if you can't even enjoy it? Where is the victory in that?

I'm so close to my goal, and I just can't seem to get there. But then sometimes that little voice of reason in the back of my head (and sometimes, depending on my state of mind, the voice of excuses) tells me that I have no reason to be ashamed. I have kept off 170 lbs for over 2.5 years now. If I'm honest, that's a pretty awesome accomplishment. It certainly is something I have never even come close to accomplishing before. I often forget that maintenance in and of itself is an achievement.

Speaking of goals, I think sometimes (like we are all guilty of at times) I do get too focused on that one magic number on the scale. When I see I have not yet hit it, I feel like a failure. But really, isn't my goal more than just a number? My main goal is and has always been to be healthy, happy, and able to live my life. I am all those things now. That is a goal I have achieved, one that I take for granted too much, considering that 3 years ago at 328 lbs, being healthy, happy, and able to live my life seemed like a very distant dream. Whether I'm 158 lbs like I am now or 140 lbs like my final goal, I doubt that 18 lbs will make that much difference in my quality of life.

I decided I needed to have an honest talk with myself in order to figure out where to go from here. I needed to figure out why I want to lose these 18 lbs. Is it because I want to weigh an arbitrary "acceptable" number? Because if that were the case, according to the BMI charts, I need to weigh 105 lbs. And that's how I know BMI charts are crap because I would be sick if I weighed 105 lbs. I wouldn't have any muscle left. I think I would have to starve myself to get there. So no, I reject the notion of weighing a certain amount just because I am told that is what I should weigh by somebody who doesn't even know me or my body. Everyone is different. Everyone's bodies are different. 140 lbs is what my doctor, a trainer, and my nutrionist all agreed was a healthy number for me. And being honest with myself, there are some areas I do want to see improvement in. Most of the time, I know I look "normal" now (whatever that is). But there are some jiggly bits where I want to see less jiggle. I think losing 18 lbs will help that. It's vanity weight, as I don't think losing that 18 lbs will really improve my health all that much. My health is pretty great as I am right now.

I've never been in the position of just having vanity weight to lose. I've heard it's the hardest to lose because your body wants to hang onto it just in case of an impending famine (which is pretty unlikely with a fast food joint on every corner). So like I said earlier, I have to be super hard core to lose this weight. But I also recognize that could be dangerous territory for me and my all or nothing personality. This is the part where I argue with myself. I am fully aware that in the past, it was all too easy for me to get too crazy and extreme, to the point where I burnt out and then went in the complete opposite couch potato direction. I can't afford to let that happen. So the million dollar question is, have I reigned in that part of my personality enough to be able to have a period of really buckling down without being crazy extreme and overdoing it?

I believe that I have changed enough mentally to be able to safely do this. I just have to be honest with myself and listen to my body. I want to reach my goal. Yes, I know that goal isn't primarily a number. That number, that 140 lbs, may change. Maybe my body will be happy at 145 lbs. Maybe it will be happy at 135 lbs. I just want a number I am happy with that I don't have to kill myself to maintain. But mainly, I want to reach that number goal to say that I finished what I started. That I weigh this number not because it was too hard for me to go any further (which would be the case if I stopped now), but because this is my ideal weight. To be able to say, this is what I set out to do, and I did it. Not that this is what I set out to do, and I stopped at the 5 yard line because I was pretty okay with where I was at and didn't feel like putting in the effort required to finish.

I hope you enjoyed your foray into my psyche. It can get a little wild in there sometimes! Stay tuned for much more regular posts.