The Continuing Voyages

There seems to be this weird mid period during weight loss for me where I seem to think that I can stop tracking the things that I’m eating and still be OK. And I am. Sort of. I don’t immediately regain all of the weight I lost, but I slowly start creeping back up there in the amount and awfulness of the things I eat.

Who doesn't love giant stuffed animals?!

Who doesn’t love giant stuffed animals?!

This past weekend I went to PAX East as media, which means I pretty much run all over the convention hall and get interviews wherever I can. It also means I eat con hall food, which is godawful. Typical fare is pizza, burgers, and other fried things of badness. On the up side, I hit the recommended 10,000 steps daily that Fitbit harps on and then some for all three days of the convention. Go walking!

On the down side, I’m eating completely crappy food that my digestive tract makes sure to inform me is utterly and truly awful at a later date. Seriously. Trust me on this.

The other thing that happens during the convention is that I frequently end up seeing pictures of myself that typically I don’t really like. I see them and feel awful, fat and generally ugly. During the course of being grumpy about this, a friend was laughing at someone else basically saying this to her. That she should take down a picture she’d posted because it was unflattering. Her comment was, “What am I supposed to do? Hide my body? I am what I am.”  That hit home for me. My general body shape hasn’t changed, and it never really will. I am what I am, and even another 40 pounds of weight loss won’t change that. I need to learn to accept that. The result was me buying some clothing I probably normally wouldn’t have because it would make me look fat. I am fat. That’s the way it is. So, screw it. I’m buying what I like for once, and screw anybody who doesn’t like it.

10lb weightsHowever, I decided that I needed punishment for being a total slacker about tracking what I am eating are these. The other ones I have had been feeling too easy, however after hefting these, I probably should have gone a mid step. Oh well. They’re punishment, so my arms can suck it up, buttercup.

On the plus side, I managed to go the entire three days without my back exploding or otherwise expressing displeasure. I credit the yoga stretches I’ve been doing helping with that as well as the general core stuff I’ve been working on. There is that up side to this journey so far. I also dragged in a full sized futon mattress by myself tonight pretty easily. Go me.

I am about to go on vacation for the first time in ages, and I am terrified at what I am likely to do while I am gone. I realize that I’ll likely be doing some things for activity, but I’ll also be consuming things that are probably horrible. I will do what I can to limit the excess, but the excuses and that will need to go away when I return. I need to be back on track and keep track of what I am eating.

Maybe I need a total kick in the pants with a change in things I’m eating. Can’t hurt, right?

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Rewards Along The Way

lets-celebrateIt’s totally awesome when someone I know gets super excited about hitting some weight or fitness milestone. What gets me is them following up with wanting to celebrate it by going out to eat. My brain tends to grind to a dead stop. “Wasn’t the whole point of losing weight or getting more fit to learn to not do all of these things that make you regain weight?” my brain eventually kicks out when it resumes operations. “This doesn’t make any sense. Why would you celebrate with something that is probably part of what caused the problem in the first place? Isn’t this like an alcoholic celebrating a year of sobriety with a beer?”

I sat and thought about this a bit. I wouldn’t dream to speak for the world at large, but at least here in the U.S. there is a certain fixation with combining food and celebrations. Birthday parties, graduating from high school or college, baby showers, weddings, Christmas, New Year’s; they all celebrate with some kind of food product front and center. That makes the desire to go out to eat to celebrate just about anything, not just weight loss or fitness goals, make a certain amount of cultural sense.

Unfortunately in my case in particular, it can be detrimental to do something like this. I’m not saying it always happens, but it has in the past kicked off the lovely downward spiral of my personal issues with being unable to get some kind of signal from gut to brain that says “Full now. Stop. Please.” My brain and gut seem to not like talking to each other. Maybe they need counselling or a better long distance plan.

Tangent aside here, many weight loss regimens seem to support the “this seems like a bad idea” theory, and recommend non-food related rewards when you hit milestones you’ve set for yourself. I’m not saying the milestone has to be something like lost 10 pounds. In fact, it could be as simple as being able to walk three miles and feel good instead of wiped out, holding a plank for 2 minutes straight, or being able to easily lift that 10 pound box. Whatever goal you’ve set for yourself. The problem for me was actually thinking of things that I could reward myself with that weren’t tied to food.

I thought I’d suggest a handful of things for folks looking for a self-high-five so to speak, to jog the neurons in a non-food celebratory direction.

  • Get yourself a snazzy new haircut. – New you, new ‘do!
  • Buy something you’ve been holding off on. – I frequently put off buying something for a lot of silly reasons, so this one’s pretty good for me. New shoes, a new winter jacket, a new video game, the possibilities are endless.
  • Indulge in one of your sillier likes. – What do I mean? Well, I have a fun fascination with weird socks, so I’d buy a couple pairs of those. Maybe you like collecting video game figures or Lego models you build and keep on a shelf. Go for it!
  • Get a manicure/pedicure/massage. – Sometimes a little relaxation and pampering is awesome.
  • Pick up the latest installment in that book series you’re reading. – I know, this is probably only me, but I do devour books.

Some of my own reward socks!

That’s just a few but if you’re having trouble thinking of things like I do, maybe it’ll jog a thought or two loose. Maybe I’ll end up helping myself down the road re-reading it, who knows.

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Sometimes This Just Sucks

This SucksI’m not going to lie or sugar coat the process of getting more fit or losing weight. Sometimes, it just sucks. You feel like things are going nowhere, you bust your ass trying to work out and be more fit, but you see no results. It’s infuriating. You’re doing so much and all you want is to see some kind of change, but there’s nothing to show for all of the time you’re spending busting your ass.

It’s enough to make a person want to ragequit. In fact more than a few times today I have actively debated doing as much.  What’s the point if I’m not making any progress? I have done measurements that aren’t moving, and in some cases getting bigger. I am not eating bad things because they don’t help matters. I am drinking so much water and contemplating giving up soda, for what? Numbers that don’t move and me being miserable? If this was any kind of a game, I probably would’ve just tossed the controller to the floor and walked away for several hours to calm down. But I can’t walk away from myself, and that’s where the problem is.

People are telling me about their successes in weight loss, and I can certainly appreciate the struggle they went through to get there. I just seem completely unable to drop any measurements at all this go around, even with the variety of exercises I’ve been doing. I’ve been doing the 30 Day Squat Challenge and the 30 Day Plank Challenge at the same time. I’ve been doing some kettlebell workouts for my upper body, trying to build up some muscle mass. And all I seem to be getting in return is defeat.

Folks are telling me it should be muscle mass or tone, but it’s not helping the voice in my head yelling “Screw this!” I hate exercising. It’s tedious and awful. I know it gets results though. So where are they? It feels like after 3 weeks I should be seeing something, anything, but it feels like I’m getting no results.

I have friends telling me that my measurements can be skewed. If I’m not measuring the same way every time, I could be messing things up. Mentally, I can grok this. I really do get it. It’s still not helping my complete frustration at the moment however.

Should I give up? Man, I’m not going to lie to you, it’s tempting. It’s so much easier to just sit on my ass and keep doing what I’ve been doing. Will I give up? Probably not. It’s day 15 of the plank challenge and day 23 of the squat challenge. My brain is wired to finish things I start at least, but damn it’s frustrating.

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Well, now what?

Now What?


That brings me to today-ish. Well, more accurately the end of January. I got tired of loitering around a weight that I didn’t like very much. To be frank, I’m also kind of tired of being the fat person in every group of people I work with. It’s not like they point it out or bring it up to me, it’s purely me being self conscious. I know this. I know it’s ridiculous. I know it’s bad body image. I’m not going to change 30 years of programming overnight.  Right now I’m just trying for less unhealthy, where I can do things I’ve even potentially been thinking about doing without mentally stopping myself and thinking, “Well, I could do that… if I was in better shape.”

What do I mean? At one point I had pinched a nerve in my left shoulder to the point it was making my whole arm numb. I ended up going to physical therapy for it to resolve the problem. Somehow the topic of snowboarding had come up and the physical therapist, who is also an avid snowboarder, said that I didn’t have the core strength to do it. It hurt to hear it at the time, nobody likes being told basically they’re unfit. But he’s right. I don’t. I sit at a desk all day at work, then I come home and sit at the desk all night editing audio or writing articles or playing video games. Then I go to bed. The muscles never get used, so of course they’re basically not there.

I have plenty of excuses why I didn’t do it. I have no free time. I have patellofemoral syndrome (aka runner’s knee, I know, the irony!) and it hurts to exercise. The gym is intimidating and expensive.

Yeah, I know. I can hear you thinking it. I am too. I decided to start with controlling my diet. Nerd Fitness sends out emails periodically, and one of them mentioned that the biggest thing you can do to start with to be healthier is to watch what you’re eating. OK. I can do that! I’ve done that a zillion times already! No problem!

I was doing better with my passive exercising, but some days I’d eat nothing while others I’d eat the entire cupboard if I had to. Friends of mine have been having amazing success with NutriSystem, but I wasn’t sure I could stick to their available menu items. There are a lot of them, but I know even the Lean Cuisine and Healthy Choice things I tend to snag for lunch (I know, I’m a lazy bum!) tend to have things in them that I don’t like, or that don’t like me very much. My stomach and any color peppers? No. Bad. That lead me to decide one more time to try the calorie counting route.

I know I could use My Fitness Pal or Lose It! or any one of a bunch of applications out there to count calories and make sure I wasn’t going overboard or not eating a thing for thirty six hours. However, I re-signed up for Weight Watchers. I know it works, it’s worked many times for me, in fact. I don’t do the meetings, typically I only do online. They have communities and what have you, but I’ve only stuck my toe into that pond so to speak. Mostly, it’s a quick, easy resource for recipes for me and a system that I’m comfortable with.

I have been back on the bandwagon, so to speak, since the end of January. It’s helping, I think, but this latest incarnation stresses doing exercise a lot heavier than in the past. Or maybe I’m just hearing it this time.

They have a list of healthy routines to get into. A few I’d already been doing, so go me! I’ve started using the standing desk at work for 30 minutes at a time occasionally through the work week. There are a few more routines that they suggest that I know I should pick up, but baby steps, right?

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Starting Small

Baby StepsI’m not going to lie here. The origination of starting small came before I’d looked at Nerd Fitness at all. It came from something relatively mundane, really. At work we have a bit of a premium on meeting space, to the point where sometimes we end up going up or down several floors to find an available room to have a meeting in. Going downstairs isn’t so bad. Following everybody back up was another matter. After one meeting down a couple floors, I followed everybody back upstairs. I almost died from the effort.

I was so embarrassed that I went into the bathroom to sound like I was having an asthma attack, basically. I stayed there until I could breathe normally again. At this point, I was still driving to work, so I decided to walk up the stairs to my car in the garage to try to be in better shape. The first day I bit off too much, trying to go back up to the fifth floor, I had the same insane time trying to get myself back under control. I think I texted someone saying that I climbed five floors and almost died.

But I stopped taking the elevator, or sometimes I would just go up until I had three flights of stairs to climb up.

Baby steps, right?

Then it was announced that the bridge I’d drive over every morning to get to work was about to be half closed down for major repair work. For years. On top of that they were building a bunch of additional office space in the area with no extra parking. I knew that driving and parking once I got to work was about to become a nightmare. I made the decision to cut over to using the subway, driving part way to work, and riding that in for the bulk of my commute.

At first I started parking where I found space in the morning, and walking down the stairs to where you paid to hop on the train, then back up two flights to the actual train platform. I know, it’s as ridiculous to do it every day as it is to read it. Then there was the added bonus of the short walk from the station to work. I slowly started being less winded all of the time walking and slowly got better on the stairs.

Then I decided to make myself have to do more stairs, and I started to always park on the sixth floor of the garage. I walk down the escalator in the morning, mostly to make sure I catch the next train, and walk up them at night. It was progress that I could see. I was gradually getting less and less winded as time went on, and I was okay with that.

Why am I doing this to myself, you ask? I have some kind of a mental disconnect with just going to the gym for the sake of going to the gym. It is utterly miserable to me to make myself go there, do a bunch of stuff, and leave. Yes, I know, it makes me healthier, but I’m not doing anything. It’s probably the gamer in me that makes me want to feel like I am making some kind of solid advancement on a goal when I’m doing something. When I’m going from the car to the train, I’m doing the daily quest “go to work you lazy bum.” There’s a reason behind it, so to speak.

Quincy Adams Station

Yes, I ran up these escalators. Like the wind.

But baby steps are paying off. I am now a little over four months of doing this passive exercising. I was running very late the other night due to train malfunctions, and trying to make it home in time to DJ. I ran up two escalators between the second to fourth floors and then the fourth to the sixth. Ran. Up the escalators. With my work laptop in the backpack on my back. And when I got to my car I realized I wasn’t that winded, I was pretty okay actually.

Level up.

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