Changing my body and changing my life

Today I noticed that there is a difference between my experience of food when I’m in a feeding frenzy – just wanting to eat and eat and eat – and when I am not. Someone brought in chocolate cake to work today. It was there right after lunch which is, ironically, one of my feeding frenzy risk times. After a meal I often feel like keeping on eating. I decided, first of all, to just wait. The cake wasn’t going anywhere, and I told myself I wasn’t having it now, and later I would decide what I would do. Later I decided I would make it my treat of the day. However, I was out of feeding frenzy mode by that time and I noticed that it was easier to eat it slowly and savour the experience. In feeding frenzy, eating often happens so fast that I get little psychological satisfaction. So helpful tool #1 today was waiting to eat until I could appreciate it.

Prior to that I went to run/walk 8 km this morning. This was one of the hardest mornings yet to get out of bed. I had a slight headache and just felt exhausted and unmotivated. I had not gotten up the day before because I had been up doing housework to almost midnight. Yesterday was actually the run day and today was supposed to be a rest day, but I figured it made more sense to switch the two, and I still think so. However, not getting up yesterday, for some reason seemed to make it even harder to get up today.

But I forced myself out of bed and outside. Helpful tool #2 was my MP3 player. There is something about music that is motivating. A few weeks back I asked a co-worker to put together a playlist for me. And he did! He picked fairly quick moving long lasting songs. Having that new music has been great. Sometimes I will feel bored with music though, so listening to a radio or listening to an audio book have been a way to add interest to my times out.

Something I am finding challenging is figuring out how much and what to eat. While I’m still following the Mayo Clinic Plan, now the maintenance plan, I still suspect I will gain a lot of weight because I think my metabolism is just too efficient – i.e. my body uses energy sparingly and prefers to store it. I was on a bit of a roll with lower calorie amounts, as much as I found I felt deprived I kind of knew how much to eat when. Now I’m floundering a bit.

I don’t think I can deny it any longer. It’s not just water. It’s not just muscle. 5 pounds means that at least some of what I’ve put on is fat, pure and simple. I thought I was snacking within a calorie count that I could balance with exercise. I was wrong.

It’s funny how the things that have worked for me – reading my reminders each day, self-talk, eating slowly, sitting down, etc. – become so easily abandoned. It’s funny how fast I start to believe that I need food for comfort, for enjoyment, to fight boredom.

Today I went 18 km. I was exhausted on the 2nd half, even though I hadn’t worked that hard on the first half. I was skimming over Stanton’s book and noticed that he advises varying the intensity of weeks, hard and easy, in training. I’ve just been trying to build, build, build. Maybe I need an easy week, but is that wise when I’m going to do a half-marathon in less than a month?

I am really, really enjoying food, enjoying not feeling hungry so much. My weight is fluctuating up and down within about 3 pounds. I’ve noticed that my weight seems to rise when it’s raining. That is also when my husband’s back acts up; he says it’s because of the low pressure, it seems to make joints swell. I’m wondering if low pressure can also make water retention more likely.

I am still having trouble with having normal amounts of sweets but it’s a bit better now that I don’t feel deprived.

My helpful tool that I want to highlight is my MP3 player. Running with music can be very motivating. But it does have to be the right kind of music. As I’ve been upping my running, I realized that a lot of my music was slow and not exactly invigorating. Jan Arden, for example. Praise and worship which does have some upbeat songs, but tends towards more contemplative. One day at work I passed Gary in the hall. Gary works for another program, but we’ve talked on occasion and I know he used to be a radio DJ and still does some work in the music industry. I decided to take a chance and ask him if he’d make me a playlist of songs that would be good for running, and he said yes! So now I have some new music, and I’ve added some of my favourite songs to it.

But sometimes I want to have something to think about, so there’s always CBC Radio which, imho, has some of the best radio programming around, especially The Debaters (although it’s never on when I’m running). And then there’s audio books. Winnipeg Public Library branched into more electronic resources in the last year or so.

I haven’t had time to post for a few days. Hubby’s back went out and when that happens I pretty much have to take over the household – all cooking, shopping, housework and most childcare falls into my lap. So something had to go, and it wasn’t about to be my training. I’m still keeping that up. I have to set my alarm for 5:30 each morning to get it in, but I’m doing it.

I’ve really been thinking through my goal weight, my food intake and my training. Basically, I’ve felt very discouraged that not only is my weight plateauing, but I have been gaining steadily in the last couple of weeks. I will admit to more than my 1200 calorie goal on some, maybe even many days. But what I’m getting from credible sights is for the amount of exercise I do, I need about 2400 calories a day to maintain, and even if I’m going past 1200, I have not been doubling it.

I’ve probably gained muscle. Quite sure of it from the feel of my body. But I was also hoping to lose fat at the same time.

I’ve read in a few places that training is hampered with low calorie diets. I’ve also read that fat burning potential during workouts can be hampered if one hasn’t consumed enough carbs.

I’m also tired of feeling discouraged by a number on a scale and putting so much effort into reaching that number without results.

So I’ve decided, at least during training until the half-marathon, to return to a more normal calorie amount. I’m not going up to 2,400, but I’ll try aroung 1800. Yesterday was the first day. It felt amazing to not be thinking about hunger all day long.

Healthy, not happy

I decided not to chance an outside run with 60% chance of rain and just went on the treadmill. Disappointing, though, I’d really like to get out. I did 14 km this morning and it took roughly 2 hours. The treadmills says I burned about 1000 calories. Nice. That of course was followed by ravenous hunger, which I’m still trying not to respond to by stuffing my face with everything in sight. I am eating, mind you, but trying to stick to the plan.

Interestingly, I found the 2nd hour of my run/walk easier than the first. I was noticing more soreness, but as far as my energy, it seemed like my heart rate was dropping faster after each run and I didn’t have to walk as long before running again. I wonder if that’s about when the carbs I ate first thing in the morning started to kick in.

My weight has risen in the last week. On one hand, I think I should expect that, because I do notice more muscle tone. But I still think I should be losing fat, and more staying the same weight rather than gaining. In reviewing my eating, I’ll be honest – I have been giving in to my sweet tooth far too often. It doesn’t seem like the amount I give in should be stalling me that bad, though. Mind you, I don’t stop and count the calories often when I do give in. Maybe I’m eating more than I know. Today I am trying to do a reality check and return to the plan.

Here is my updated graph.

Today I was thinking about a former roommate of mine, the kind of person who seems to be naturally thin. When I lived with her was the first time I tried to lose weight, and was successful, and gained it all back when I got tired of paying money to Weight Watchers. That’s the trouble with weigh loss plans that involve corporations – they are designed to keep you dependent, because what profit is there in a person who can maintain a healthy lifestyle on her own?

Anyhow, back to my roommate. I would have killed for her body. She was not happy with it, however. I remember her cutting out a magazine picture of a thin, muscular, model and putting it on the fridge to motivate her to exercise. She was very active, and got me into cycling, which I still appreciate her for. But it wasn’t enough to be thin and healthy. She wanted to look different.

All throughout my weight loss I have tried to avoid the words diet and thin and use phrases that emphasize health, like healthy eating and healthy weight. A part of me means it, but a part of me lied. I want to be thin, not just healthy. And I want that thin to look a certain way on me. Which it doesn’t. I maintained my basic pear-shaped body. I can see my ribs on my top half, but I still have a pronounced abdomen thanks to three pregnancies and pronounced hips and thighs thanks to genetics. Even those final five pounds to my goal will probably not make that much difference in the long run. I’ll still look like me.

It’s been hard work to eat and exercise to change this body, but I knew what I needed to do. It seems to me the mind work that I need to start, to change from wanting something different to simply accepting my body as is, is also hard work, but the steps to that end are not so clear.

Getting real

The running book I’ve been reading has been quite informative. Don’t know how much is backed by research, but theoretically it makes sense. The author pushes for not pushing it. He keeps saying that no one has every been injured by running too slow.

He also went into target heart rate stuff. I’ve been using THR on and off since we got a treadmill 3 years ago and it came with a free heart monitor. I’m not sure where I got the THR I’ve been using, but it turns out it’s way too high, which makes sense because it exhausts me. When I adjusted it today, however, I realized that I get to my THR just by walking very fast, and even fairly slow running takes me right over it. So my helpful tool is getting real and realizing that to reach my goals I may have to stop pushing for speed so much and go for endurance. I probably need to expect that I’ll end up walking MOST of the half marathon. But apparently a lot of people do, so I won’t look like a total idiot. It probably also makes sense because my right foot has been bothering me for days and quickly acts up whenever I get on the treadmill. If I overdo it, I may end up doing damage to my body that keeps me from the marathon. Better slow and steady.

Getting real is something that Beck talks about a lot in her book. Measuring food. Weighing yourself. Realizing that everything we do has an influence and not making excuses for our bad choices that then ultimately bring us down.

But getting real is also the challenge of the day. I feel so good when I’m running. Like a real athlete. When I’m walking, I feel like I’m back to fat-Judi. And I keep thinking of that Dave Barry column where he calls speed walking “Walking Like a Dork.”  And I keep thinking that there are people who are running the entire marathon who will come in ahead of me, and I feel just a tad pathetic.

Today I paid the dues and signed me, middle and youngest child up for the Manitoba Marathon. Both the kidlets want to run in the 2.6 mile Super Run. I am also fundraising for the event, which raises money for individuals with intellectual disabilities. This is a demographic close to my heart, both because I have worked with individuals with cognitive delays and because Fragile X, a condition that causes intellectual disabilities, runs in my family, so I have many relatives in my extended family living with a developmental delay, including 2 of my uncles. Here is my fundraising page.

When I woke up and looked through the narrow gaps in the blinds it looked bright, and I thought, Yay, I’ll be able to do my long run outside.

HA! Silly me. This is Manitoba. Of course we would have snow in May.

So it was the treadmill today, and this was my long run, 9.5 – 11 km on the schedule. I managed to run about 40 minutes of the first hour, but after than I was beat and could only manage to run 2 to 5 minutes at a time and needed to walk a lot. That and my right foot is hurting along the bottom. Muscle? tendon? I’m not sure but I wonder if I pushed it too hard. I was planning for 10 km today, but I was watching a movie and to finish it off ended up walking it out to 11 km.

My favourite dish of today was a simple salad. I mixed lettuce,  diced green and orange bell pepper, tomato and green onion. In a skillet I sauteed some onion with a spray of oil then warmed 1/2 a cup black beans with the onion and some cumin, coriander and garlic powder. That all went in the salad, topped off with lime juice and a sprinkle of cheddar. I had used up my fats so I didn’t even add sour cream, like I usually would, and found I didn’t miss it. that is my helpful tool – discovering I can like things in different ways – like coffee without cream is okay, and salad without a fat of some sort is okay too.

This week I will have to move my runs to the morning to get them in – we simply have too many kids activities going in the evenings. Usually we just have music lessons, but I wanted all the kids in something active for at least a few weeks this spring. What I am finding challenging is the idea that I’ll probably have to get up before 6:00 to be able to get in the running I want to do to be ready for the half marathon. Which means I need to go to bed earlier, too, and I find getting everything done in the evenings to be a challenge.