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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Gym and Overweight People

On a Health & Fitness bulletin board I frequent, someone asked an interesting question...what do you think when you see someone who is overweight working out?  Apparently, she is overweight, and when she was riding her bike recently, someone yelled out to her that he felt sorry for her bike.  I find myself absolutely able to put myself in her shoes and imagine how she must have cringed to hear that.  After all, no one likes to be judged, even if it is by a small-minded d-bag like the guy who yelled that at her.

The gym I go to has a pretty varied clientèle.  I see young people and older people, thinner people and bigger people, beginners and veterans of the gym.  I have never felt like I should be embarrassed to be working out there, and I am definitely on the "bigger people" side of the fence.  However, I do take a look around the gym when I am there, and I do notice the people who are there with me.  And when I see someone who is closer to my size, I feel a little relieved not to be the only fat person there.

It's unfortunate that someone who is taking steps to make herself healthier needs to worry about something like this.  After all, it's better to be a fat person at the gym or on a bike or in a pool than a fat person sitting at home on her couch and eating bonbons, right?  However, as someone who is overweight, it's hard not to wonder what people are thinking when they see you sweating on the treadmill.  I hope they are thinking, "Hey, good for her!"

Being overweight often involves a lot of internal dialog.  Often, when you are planning a meal, you are worrying if it's "too much."  After you've finished a meal, you are worrying if it was too much.  After you have binged on something like ice cream or a bag of chips with dip, you know it was too much, and you hate yourself for it.  And you often find yourself telling yourself that you have already messed up for the day, so you might as well hit all your old favorites up before "starting over" tomorrow.  When you climb on the treadmill at the gym, you wonder what speed others are walking or running at.  You wonder if you look stupid.  And you wonder what other people are thinking about you.

Well, here's what I think.  Don't worry about what other people are thinking about you.  I know that I am doing this for me because I know that I am worth this.  I am worthy of feeling healthy and strong and fit.  I am worthy of feeling good in my own skin and of celebrating every pound of fat that I work off this body of mine.  After all, I only get this one body, and it is up to me what I do with it...not that small-minded type of person who is more worried about the bike that she was riding than the woman on it who was striving to do a little something for herself.  I think I am doing a great job...and if someone doesn't agree with me, he can keep it to himself.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


When I started this whole weight loss and fitness thing in January, I set as my first goal weight 250 pounds.  At the time, I weighed in at 274.6 pounds on the scale, and when I looked at that number and thought about how much weight I had to lose to be at a healthy BMI, I hyperventilated a little.  Just thinking about losing at least 100 pounds was so overwhelming, so I didn't think of it that way.  I decided to take it in multiples of 25 pounds instead.

I hit my first goal of 250 pounds a couple of weeks ago, and now I am working toward 225 pounds.  The lowest weight I have been since getting married was about 235 pounds, so when I hit my next goal, I will be the lightest I have been in a long, long time.  In fact, I cannot remember the last time I weighed that little.

Now that I am about 31 pounds and almost five months into this journey, I am cautiously allowing myself to think of the bigger picture.  I don't want to set myself up for failure, but I do want to give myself the credit I deserve and get excited about the future.  I recently turned 34, and I have started thinking that my 35th birthday will be good target date for a Big Goal.  And I have set as the goal a weight on my 35th birthday of 200 pounds.

This gives me about a year to lose about 45 pounds.  While it is true that my weight loss has slowed down and that there will be good weeks and bad weeks, I think I should be able to make this goal.  As I move further into the C25K program, I know there will be a day when I will be able to run for exercise without interspersing it with walking sessions.  And once I get through W4 of the program, I plan to add strength training (and therefore longer gym sessions) to my list of activities.  I feel good about this goal and feel it gives me something good to work toward.


Switching gears, I want to talk about something that is going on over at the blog Jack Sh*t Getting Fit.  Jack is doing a feature on his blog called W.I.D.T.H., which stands for "Why I am doing this here."  In this feature, readers are invited to write on an index card their reasons for getting fit.  The reasons vary from "For my kids" to "Because I want a better life" to "I don't want to die young."  Reading these note cards has shown me that, as much as I feel like most people I know can't understand this journey I am on, there are other people out there who struggle with the same issues I do.  There are people at different stages of their journey, some well into it and some just starting out, and they know what I am feeling.

You know what my note card says?  It says, "Because I am worth it!"  And I am worth it.  It's easy to get down on yourself and feel worthless and useless when you have a problem with food.  When you are in the midst of a binge, it's easy to think that you might as well just keep eating because you don't deserve to be fit and healthy, to be attractive, or to feel good.  However, I know that I am worth it.  And that is why I am doing this here.

Make it a great day, everyone!

Edited to add:

My submission for the W.I.D.T.H. feature:

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Moving right along...

My sister posted something on Facebook the other day about a song that was stuck in her head, "Movin' Right Along" from The Muppet Movie.  I am a huge fan of the Muppets (although my favorite movie of theirs is probably The Muppets Take Manhattan), and I feel like this song has a lot to say about the journey I am on.  And this has been a big week!  Because I am going out of town for the weekend and will be away from my official scale, I weighed in today.  I am down an additional 2.2 pounds from last week for a grand total lost of 31.2 pounds since January 4!  I am so thrilled by this because it is the first time ever that I have been this successful for this long at a weight loss effort.  I feel like I can take on the world now, and I am not even finding it as difficult as I would expect it to be!  I am still eating what I want to eat, but I am eating "bad" foods less often and paying attention to my portions and moving more.  This diet and exercise thing really works!

And speaking of moving more, I hit a big milestone at the gym today.  As I have mentioned, I have been doing the Couch-to-5K program, and since I was in such bad shape when I started, I decided to do week 1 for two weeks in a row and week 2 for two weeks in a row.  Today was to be my third day of my second take on week 2.  For those not familiar with the exact layout of the program, during week 2, your goal is to run (or jog) for 1.5 minutes and walk for 2 minutes for a total of 20 minutes.  Today, when I got on the treadmill, I didn't want to be at the gym at all.  I am in total vacay mode because I don't go back to work until next Friday, and I plan to enjoy my time off.  But I got started anyway, which is a great first step.

At the end of my first 1.5 minute run, I still felt like I could keep going, so I decided to try to jog my way through the 2 minute walking segment as well.  Once I made it through that, I decided to piggyback the next jog on top of it.  And then I decided to jog the next walking segment as well.  All told, I jogged for the first SEVEN MINUTES of my 20 minute jog/walk   I then walked for 3.5 minutes, jogged for 3.5 minutes, walked for 3.5 minutes, and then jogged for the final 1.5 minutes of the workout.  I am so excited that I did this, and I no longer fear moving on to the week 3 workouts, which involve some 3-minute jogging  segments that should be no problem for me!  YAY!

My goal for the weekend (I am going with my parents to Pittsburgh to visit my sister and see her graduate with her MBA from Carnegie Mellon University) is to have fun but also get some exercise in and drink plenty of water.  I would expect that my eating habits will be a little off, as we are going out for two nice dinners and will probably eat our other meals out as well, but while I plan to enjoy myself, I don't plan to eat myself silly.  All things in moderation, right?

Make it a great day, everyone!

Thursday, May 06, 2010


So picture have a day or two of excess.  A fast food lunch, birthday foods at work.  You don't go too far over your calories, but you do eat more "junk food" than you have been.  You step on the scale.  You have "gained" 3.2 pounds.

I put the word gained in quotes because those of us who have tried to lose weight before know all about water weight.  Eating more junk food usually means eating more sodium.  Eating more sodium means that you end up bloated and retaining water.  However, no matter what the reason is, seeing that higher number on the scale is not fun at all.  That is where I was on Monday.  Even though I drank a lot of water and Crystal Lite on Sunday in hopes of diuresing a bit (that's a fancy nursing term for "peeing a lot"), I still found myself looking at the scale Monday morning in horror.  I weighed in at 250.2 pounds.

I knew that it was a false weight gain.  And within another day, I was back down to 248.8 pounds, and two days after that, I was down to my current weight of 245.6 pounds (29 POUNDS LOST SINCE JANUARY 4!).  But those first few days of the week were a morale-killer!  I know that I should not be weighing myself every day because of the events that lead to these false weight gains.  However, I just can't help myself.  The scale is there.  I need to know.  So I step on the scale and acknowledge to myself that I will not always like what I see.  It makes it a little easier to take.  I only record my weight once each week, though, so I don't necessarily "count" every pound up and down.

I do see myself making progress, however.  The pounds are still coming off, as they have consistently since I started taking better care of myself in January.  I am making my way through the C25K program, currently planning to finish Week 2, Take 1 tomorrow.  Next week, I will do Week Two again, and the week after that, I will be attempting to run three minutes without stopping.  I am paying attention to my body when on the treadmill to try to gauge how I will take this jump from jogging for 90 seconds at a time to jogging for three minutes at a time.  Yesterday, I didn't want to go to the gym at all, but thanks to the encouragement of some of the girls on the Health & Fitness board on The Nest, I got out the door and got it done.  I have been having some pain in my non-arthritic knee, and I was all set to use that as an excuse not to go.  However, I went, and I felt so good about myself when I was done.  I then spent part of the afternoon with an ice pack on my knee, and today, it feels good.

While on the treadmill yesterday, there were times that it was a struggle to keep going.  And I was trying to decide if it was my legs or my lungs that were making it such a struggle.  If it was my legs, I really thought I could soldier through.  If it was my lungs, it was a case of my stamina being lower than I needed it to be, which is another story then.  I did not really decide yesterday which it was.  I know that my legs were really tired by the end of my workout and that I stepped gingerly off the treadmill after my cool down and stretch.  I know that by the time I got to the grocery store after leaving the gym, I was very stiff and had to hobble into the store to grab a few things.  But I also know that my lungs were ready to switch to a walk by the time each jogging segment was over.  So I guess that I am making progress in both areas equally?  I am hoping by the end of next week, the 90-second runs will feel like cake and I will be more than ready to move on to week three.

Make it a great day, everyone!

Monday, May 03, 2010

Food and where it comes from...

For the past couple of weeks, I have been reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.  In it, she details her family's year of living on their farm in Appalachia and really taking control of where the food they ate was coming from.  They raised chickens, bought local beef and pork, grew their own vegetables, canned and dried food for the off-season, and relied on local farms and farm markets to round out their diets.  As someone who buys all of her food at the grocery store and tries not to think of where it comes from, as well as someone who hits the drive-thru more than once each week, this is a new and interesting look at food and its origins.  It has gotten me interested enough that I have started seeking out alternative resources for the foods I eat.  I certainly am not planning a "cold turkey" approach to these changes, and I am sure that an occasional fast food run will be part of my life, but this book has really opened me up to the thought of living more locally and really paying attention to where the food I eat is coming from.

As usually happens when I become interested in a topic, I have started seeking out more information on this local food phenomenon.  The Nest's message board community has a "Green Living" board that I have been frequenting more as of late, and there are a lot of women on there who are doing better than I would ever hope to do at living cleanly and locally in their communities.  Without fail, these women recommend the books by Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food) and the documentary Food, Inc., as a way to learn more about this food movement.  After I finish Animal, Vegetable, Mineral, I have The Omnivore's Dilemma on my nook and ready to be read.  I think this book is probably a little more hard-hitting than A,V,M in that it is less the story of someone's personal experience and more an informational book designed to teach you about the food you eat.  And right now, I am watching Food,Inc., for the first time.  I say the first time because I will clearly have to watch it again.  It is alarming.

So far, I have cried over some baby chicks heading down a chute, some adult chickens that couldn't stand up because they had been bred to have such large breasts, a cow that was so sick that it couldn't stand, and some screaming hogs that were being led to slaughter.  I have been awed by a woman who lost her toddler son to E. coli poisoning and now has made it her life's work to improve the food standards in America.  I have been inspired by a farmer who doesn't care to make it big in the national markets but instead wants to grow and produce the best food he can without giving up his ideals.  I have been sad for a family that uses fast food as a way to fill their bellies because it is the way they can stretch their dollar the farthest.  I have been angered by the stories of the companies who are keeping hidden the way their suppliers treat their animals because they know that the American public would not be happy with these stories.  At this point, I am only halfway through the program.  I can't even imagine what kind of emotions I will go through during the rest of it.

While I make no promises to go completely clean with my eating or give up fast food completely, it is clear to me that there is a need for change.  As I am working to make myself healthier through diet and exercise, I am becoming more aware that there is a difference between staying within a calorie range for the day and choosing foods that will provide good fuel for my body.  With the help of local farms and farm markets, I hope to spend the summer giving my body higher quality fuel than I have in the past.  And through these efforts, I expect better health to follow.  As I take baby steps in this direction, I will blog it here.  If you are interested in more information on these topics, check out the official Food, Inc., website here.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Week Two Weigh-In

Today marks the beginning of the second week of my on-line weight loss challenge.  I weighed in this week at 247 pounds, which was 2.8 pounds less than last week...not too bad for someone who has been watching her eating since January!  I am going to Pittsburgh in two weeks for my sister's graduation from the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University, and my goals is to be down a total of 30 pounds as of that date.  As of my weigh-in this week, I had lost 27.6 pounds!

I mentioned in my last post that my birthday was this week, and I planned to be lenient on myself for a day for celebratory purposes.  In reality, I didn't track my food in my calorie counter for two days...yesterday and today.  My actual birthday was on Thursday, and I did track my food that day.  I did treat myself to an oatmeal whoopie pie from the Amish bakery at the farmers' market, but I did stay within my calories for the day.

Yesterday started out with a trip to the dentist for my check-up and cleaning.  At this appointment, I found out that two of my fillings, which are less than a year old, have voids in them and need to be replaced.  I wasn't super upset about this at first, but the more I thought about it, the more sorry I felt for myself.  Anyway, the result of that is that instead of the salad I planned for lunch (the chef salad from Wawa...LOVE it!), I went to Dairy Queen and got chicken tenders and fries.  I also had more chocolate than I should have had that day.  I actually ended up feeling a little bit iffy from it in the afternoon.  My husband and I went out to dinner at Red Robin and then to a movie for our birthday date night.  At Red Robin, I got soup and the Whiskey River Barbecue Chicken Wrap, which is yummy (no fries because I got the combo).  My husband and I also split guacamole and salsa with chips.  I did not have any alcohol (stuck with a Diet Coke and water), and I also didn't have anything to eat at the movies (I did sneak in my Klean Kanteen full of water to drink during the movie).  I would call that day, for the most part, a mixed bag.  I kind of gave in to emotional eating (although, quite honestly, if it had not been my birthday week, Friday would be my one day off of the week and I would have eaten something similar to that for lunch).  I also ate more sweets than I should have.  However, I also didn't eat as much at dinner as I might have on my usual type of "free" day, and I drank plenty of water.  I also avoided any drinks with calories in them (such as the Freckled Lemonade at Red Robin, as well as beer or margaritas).

Today, I packed my lunch for work, but I knew that my amazing coworkers had planned to bring in food to celebrate for my birthday.  I am so lucky to have such wonderful people in my life that care enough about me to do this.  We had yogurt parfaits in the morning with fruit and granola, which were yummy.  We also had meatball sandwiches, Buffalo chicken dip (YUM!), brownies, and strawberry-rhubarb cake.  I think it goes without saying that my lunch that I packed is still in the fridge at work (waiting for my return tomorrow), and I ate some party foods!  However, because I indulged at lunch and also a few other times in the afternoon, I came home and had a Luna bar as a snack before bed and am skipping dinner.  I am not hungry (thanks to several trips back to the Buffalo chicken dip throughout the afternoon), and I know I am over my calorie goals for the day, so I am calling it a day.  I did drink plenty of water today though!

Another nice benefit of having hit this level of weight loss is that I have gotten some nice compliments from the people in my life.  My mom has mentioned several times how loose my clothing has become.  But even better, my coworkers have mentioned what a difference they can see in me.  A nice part of that is that it gives me an opportunity to talk about the changes I am trying to make, which makes it much easier to stick to my guns.  I know I mentioned how appreciative I am of my coworkers, and I really am.  It's so nice to have such a great support system at work, especially since I spend a good chunk of time there each week.

I am looking forward to seeing the results of my second week of the challenge!

Make it a great day, everyone!