Category: exercise

chakra khan

I studied the menu carefully. My eyes darted all over the brochure to take in all the options. My pupils dilated. My mouth salivated. Half-chubbed, I began to narrow down my options. Orange chicken or General Tso’s? Spring or egg roll? Wonton soup or egg drop soup? Heck, let’s have it all!

I sat in the break room at work with a fellow employee. She was an older lady with pancake makeup and helmet hair. She perused the local newspaper and munched on dollar store potato chips.

I asked her if she had been and she said she hadn’t but that her son had and he enjoyed it. I told her I wasn’t sure what to get and she told me to get a little of everything. While that was the plan, I jokingly told her I didn’t need all that food.

“Yeah, it does look like you’ve gained some weight.” While I knew she wasn’t being rude, it did hurt a bit. But she wasn’t wrong. I have gained a good bit of weight back since losing 50lbs last year.

“Well, I have food problems,” I told her.

“We all do,” she said as she sat there with her eyeliner weighing more than she did. I was worried to look directly at her out of fear that the breath from my words might blow her over. The lady is skinny is what I’m trying to say. Of course, that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have food issues. But hers certainly aren’t as apparent as mine.

Despite her innocent yet paper cut-like comment, I did end up getting a sample of several things. And as I took the bags (plural!!) of food out of the restaurant, I was both giddy and a little sad that I had been looking forward to this moment all week. I wasn’t excited over seeing an old friend or catching up with a new acquaintance. I didn’t even ask anyone to eat the food with me. I wanted to go home and eat it all by myself.

And so I did.

The food was pretty good. There was a lot so I had enough to last me two meals. And it also gave me an upset stomach both times.

I don’t have this problem when I’m dieting. I eat greasy fried foods and always end up with angry bowels and a broken heart. And yet I keep falling into this cycle of pleasing and punishing myself. Pizza today and involuntary purging tomorrow! You’d think the threat of wicked hot sting ring would be enough to keep me away from the waffle fries. It’s not.

I don’t understand how I can do so well and suddenly completely lose all focus and drive. I wonder if it’s because I try too hard to do well. I count every calorie, record every exercise and then push myself to do better each time. Eat a little less, move a little more, and completely obsess over it. That leads to burnout which leads to burritos. My weight loss program has not been designed for longevity.

It’s really about balance. I know that. Eat well most of the time. Have a cheat day every once in a while. Go hard with the workouts and maybe have an occasional easy day. It’s not about deprivation but diversity. It’s about changing it up, having a slice of pizza when I really want it and then walking an extra mile or two the next time I hit my walking trail. It’s about skipping a workout but then having to skip dessert. It’s about checks and balances. It’s about enjoying good (bad) food responsibly.

But how do I find that balance? When I’m in my hardcore diet mode, it’s hard for me to have a cheat day because I think I’m ruining all my progress. Logically, I know I’m not. But I suppose my body/food issues are not logical. Maybe the answers cannot be found in logic. Or maybe logic is the answer to my lunacy.

What’s it gonna take to simmer down and lay off the Lays? Do I need to meditate, get my chakras aligned, or practice some positivity? How can I get in the right frame of mind to reward myself without reprimanding myself? How can I take the tension out of calisthenics? It seems I know what I need to do. And it’s really easy to sit down and write out a plan that is healthy in a physical and emotional sense. But it all falls apart when I try to put it into practice. Its when the irrational fears take over. It’s when I become this unforgiving tyrant. I can’t make any mistakes. I can’t flub up. I can’t work out hard enough. And even if I’m losing weight, it’s not a healthy attitude.

I know what I need to do. And I know how I need to think and treat myself. I just can’t seem to bring myself to do it. In my history of histrionics and shrinking hemlines, mental health has never looked good on my menu. But with my constant stop-and-start shrinking, it might be worth taking a second glance.

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yogi bear

Most people wouldn’t think of me as a tree-hugging hippie because I’m always eating garbage and I never go outside. But I wish I was more into nature and organic food and peace and love for all man, man. The problem is I don’t like bean sprouts and people are assholes.

As the days go by and my anxiety and sadness worsens, the inclination toward medication becomes more and more likely. I’ve been pondering taking some kind of anti-anxiety or anti-depression medication from around the time I was a senior in high school. These medications actually alter your brain chemistry and to me, that’s a scary thought. Sure, it might change me for the better but what if it changes me in other, not-so-good ways?

One of my high school classmates was on anti-depressants for several years and he said he didn’t like it. The medicine only dulled his depression and numbed his senses but didn’t really make him feel better. And sure, many factors could have contributed to his feeling that way: medicine type, dosage, his own brain response to the medicine but it didn’t make me feel better about venturing into the Prozac Nation. I don’t want to turn into Britney Spears. Did you watch her documentary? Total robot.

And for the same reason I try to stay away from drugs, sex, and alcohol (even prescription glasses as silly as that sounds), I don’t want to be dependent on something to get through the day. I don’t like the feeling of knowing I have to be connected to something at all times. What if I miss a dose or can no longer afford it or they stop making it? Is it going to send me back into a downward spiral and cause me to crash harder?

That’s when yoga entered the picture. Yoga seems like such a peaceful and relaxing practice. And it’s supposedly not only good for your body but your mind, and in many instances, your soul. Bingo. Sounds perfect for me because I’m hurting in all those areas and it taps into that crunchy granola side of me hidden behind the layers of potato chip grease and synthetic fibers. What a perfect and natural alternative to anti-depressants.

Several years ago, I bought a book called Yoga for Depression and read two chapters before I put it down because I really wanted to better myself! Eh. I picked it up again a few months ago and managed to read ten chapters before I put it down because I was really committed this time….Eh. So, as I read the book, the author wrote about her journey with yoga and I got the impression she relied on yoga the way people rely on anti-depressants. She said she felt sluggish and out of sorts if she missed even one day of yoga. Was she dependent on downward dog? Did the effects of yoga not last longer than a day or two?

I understand yoga, just like physical exercise or any other positive behavior, takes some time and dedication but it seems like a lot of trouble to experience a fleeting feeling of contentment. Are the effects of yoga not cumulative as I imagined? Do you not feel better overall?

Another problem I have with yoga is the five million types of yoga out there. Which one is best for me? I’ve experimented with various yoga programs over the years but none of them felt right so I eventually gave up on it.

A few months ago, I switched my focus back to yoga. I wanted to re-dedicate myself to becoming more emotionally and spiritually stable. I found a few DVDs and as I tried them, I concentrated on my breathing like the soothing lady voiceover said to do. But as I went through the DVD, she kept saying, “At this point you might feel like (blah blah blah) and I kept thinking to myself, “Oh, God, I’m not feeling any of that,” which then sent my semi-serene state into a tizzy. I wondered what I was doing wrong, why I wasn’t feeling these sensations the soothing lady voiceover said I should probably be feeling. Did I break the yoga? Or was it because I was too broken to find bliss?

I realized yoga actually gave me more anxiety than it alleviated so I took the DVD out and gave up. Again.

I still have the DVD and should probably give it another shot but I also feel like I’m too stressed to de-stress, if that makes any sense. I’ve got so much going on in my mind that I can’t concentrate on chilling out. It’s almost as if I need to get rid of some of the stress on my own before I can really focus on doing right by the DVD. It’s like gastric bypass patients that actually have to lose weight before getting the weight loss surgery. The problem is I’m too mentally famished to shed some of this excessive agony by myself.

The whole thing feels like a mess. I’m not sure what’s going to work for me anymore. Pills or poses? As much as I’ve tried to hold off on actually considering medication, maybe I really should take a serious look at it. Should I Namaste with yoga a little bit longer or become a Lexapro at pills? I don’t know what’s right for me. And will I be dedicated to either one enough to see positive results?

one-step program

I always feel I do better when I’m making goals and working toward them. When I wake up with no direction, I usually get nothing accomplished and feel terrible at the end of the day. It’s difficult to make goals sometimes because I am an all-or-nothing type of person. Moderation is a hard concept for me to grasp because if I’m going to do something, especially something I don’t want to do, I want to see fast results. Otherwise, it’s easy to give up.

There are some days when I feel I have to starve myself, work out until I’m dizzy, write ten chapters and read an entire book in a day for me to feel like I actually did something productive. And that’s not healthy because trying to meet such high standards on a daily basis only sets myself up to crash and burn. And I always do. And that makes it harder to get back on track.

But there are other days when it’s like a switch has been flipped and I can understand and utilize the idea of doing and eating and experiencing things in small portions. I can have a slice of cake and not feel guilty. I can do moderate exercise for half an hour and feel like I burned some fat. I can write a chapter in the book I’m writing or read a chapter in a book I’m reading and I feel like I accomplished something. It’s during those times that I do my best and feel my best.

For a time last year, I woke up and made daily goals, usually involving exercising, reading and writing. I’d write during my lunch break at work, exercise when I got off work, then read before bed. Sometimes I wrote a lot and read a little or exercised a little and read a whole lot and didn’t write very much and there were days when I didn’t get around to doing one thing on my list because I got too busy or felt lethargic. That was okay because the majority of the time I accomplished most, if not all, the things I planned to do. When I had a goal to strive for, I had direction. When I had direction, I actually got stuff done. And that felt good.

This is the time to get back into that mode, to make goals and strive toward completing them, to get stuff done. If I fall short on a few things, that’s okay because I can always make it up the next day. It’s a tired expression but every day really is an opportunity to do better. I just have to remember that and not beat myself up if I can’t get it all done in one day.

It’s a one-step program, taking things one day at a time, one goal at a time, one accomplishment at a time. It’s all about patience and persistence. It’s about always reminding yourself of the good your doing, how the small things add up to big changes. And that takes a lot of energy and when you don’t have much to begin with, it can feel overwhelming. But it’s worth it. I just have to keep that in mind.

I’ve done all this before. Not once but twice. And I can do it again.

simple moves

I have to say, I’ve been working out consistently and killing it during many of the sessions.  Just like I did last year, I started out on January 1st and got up and put my trainers on and poured sweat and shredded muscle tissue.

It was actually a lot easier this time around, too, because I’m used to it now.

YES.  I’M USED TO IT.

Prior to last year, working out was equivalent to eating dog crap but now it’s no thang.  It’s weird but kind of awesome.

That’s not to say I haven’t had my bad days.  I’ll get up and go through the motions sometimes.  And I used to feel bad about it because I feel like if I’m going to work out, it needs to count.  I don’t want to waste my time flailing around and not burning enough calories to matter.  But I saw a quote on Facebook that said something like the only bad workout is one you didn’t do.  Made me feel better.  Made me realize it does matter.  It does count.

But, as I said, sometimes I really put 110% into the workout and by the end, I’m drenched in sweat and my body hurts and when I wake up in the morning in pain, I like it.  I know it’s actually not good for you to be sore like that but it makes me feel like I really did something so I welcome the pain.

I’ve made a lot of plans for myself, mostly just little things to keep me occupied, and I’ve mostly stuck to those plans as well.  I get up in the morning and make a mental list of all the things I want to do that day and truly strive to do them.  I never get everything on my list done but I actually don’t mind because I know I’m at least working toward a goal.

I used to be so aimless and it saddens me to think of all the time I wasted sitting around and thinking about stuff and not actually doing anything to make those thoughts actions and make those actions accomplishments.

But that’s changed.  I’ve been working on my book daily and reading daily and working out daily.  I’m exercising my brain and body.  I’ve been trying to go to bed early and most importantly, I’ve become a frugal mofo.

I’m ashamed to say I used to never check my bank account.  I bought things without checking the price and had no budget.  Believe me when I say I was not financially secure enough to do those things.  In fact, last month, I finally checked my online statement and saw how dangerously low it was.  I was shocked to see it a couple of thousand dollars less than what I ignorantly assumed was there.  Oops.

But no more.

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devil on your back

“And every demon wants his pound of flesh…”
-Florence and the Machine, Shake it Out

Do we all have demons?  Are we all required to claim a vice at the beginning of our lives?  The world is stained red and we have to suit up with sex or alcohol just to make it through.  We all feel the pull of pain and we choose different methods of self-medicating.

My method’s with the marshmallows.  I eat my feelings.  I stuff down my pain with pasta.  I’m fat.  I’m in the fat group.  That’s my addiction.  That’s my comfort.  That’s my demon.  And it’s disheartening to know I’m a part of such a problem.

I’m the fat stomach the camera from one of those news segments covering “Fat America” zooms in on as I walk across the street.  I’m the open mouth stuffing fries into my face.  I am the target audience for diet pill advertisements and fat burning exercise infomercials.  I am inundated with Burger King coupons and thin model magazines.  I’m torn between the temptation and the torture.  My brain is assaulted by all these mixed messages of decadence and deltoids.

The holidays hit me pretty hard.  I have to admit, despite my weight loss and my new healthy attitude toward food, I’m still addicted to the (good) bad stuff.  And for the past two months, I have shoveled food in my mouth at any given opportunity.  Naturally, I let myself go during Thanksgiving and Christmas but I also went wild in the days between.  Let’s not forget my birthday was also wedged in there so I had to celebrate with a gigantic pizza and cake.  I ate a lot of fast food and couldn’t wait until dessert so I could dig into marble cake with whipped icing or Mom’s homemade peanut butter balls with almond bark.  I ate with abandon and didn’t give a crap.

I always justified my eating habits by saying it was a temporary holiday thing and I would go back to normal after Christmas.  But now that it’s the new year, things are hard.  All I want is more cake and that’s something I wouldn’t have dreamed of five months ago.  Did I somehow change my chemicals by eating healthier and then changed them again by eating garbage?

If so, the transition begins yet again.

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santa claws me in the face

Thursday afternoon, I put on my frayed trainers and headed out the door.  The weather was perfect for a good walk to I had to go out and enjoy it.  I knew I only had a few days of good weather left before the air turned too cool to go outside.

Things were great.  I wasn’t too hot.  I wasn’t too sweaty.  Ear buds were firmly in place, pumping music into my extremities.

And then the school bus passed me.

It’s always awkward when vehicles pass me.  I can see people crane their necks to look through the rear view mirror at the bearded stranger walking down the dirt road.

It’s worse when it’s a bus filled with curious and obnoxious children.  That particular bus has passed me a few times and I always caught glimpses of smashed noses and oily forehead prints on the smudged glass.

Being the beautiful day it was, the bus windows were down to allow the sweet little bastards angels to enjoy the cool breeze.  As the bus rolled past, I saw a white ball whirl by me and hit the blades of grass at my feet.

I looked up and saw glowing brake lights as the bus skidded to a stop.  Through the blasting music, I heard the bus driver’s booming voice spill over the open windows.  I surmised he was yelling at the littering little snot.  I was only feet from the bus so I slowed my pace.  I didn’t want to pass by and risk being pelted with more paper or insults.

“What the hell is this guy doing?” I asked myself about the driver.  The bus just stood in the road, the brake lights illuminating my embarrassment.

Finally, I just turned around and walked in the opposite direction.  I heard the squeak of the tires as the bus started up again.  I didn’t look back until I was down the hill.

Oh, why do I always find myself in these awkward situations?  I kept thinking what the kids must have been thinking.  “Hey, John, let’s throw this piece of paper at the fat loser walking in the dirt road!”  I don’t like being “that” guy, the one people think they can push around or make fun of.  Especially when it’s a bunch of middle school shits playing the bully. 

I looped back around to the spot where I was almost hit with the wad of paper and found it on the ground.  I picked it up, smoothed it out and saw it was poorly colored paper Santa.

By the way, you did a crap job putting that Santa together, Pablo Prickasso.

I just wanted to burn some calories and clear my head, not catch a paper cut from Kris Kringle.  Thanks for the holiday cheer, Timmy. I hope you get coal and canker sores for Christmas. And people ask me why I don’t like kids! 

path

I’m not even an outside person but the cool breeze has been so nice I honestly felt guilty for not going outside and soaking it up.  It seems it’s hot the majority of the year, freezing for a portion of it, and then there’s about two good weeks of perfect weather.  I didn’t want it to go to waste so I have been walking outside more.

There’s a dirt road next to my house that I walk along.  Sometimes the foliage gets a little overgrown and it does a number on my legs.  Lately, they’ve been breaking out into a rash (even when I wear athletic pants to cover them) and there’s also the occasional douche bag that doesn’t slow down when they pass me and it kicks up dirt into my eyes.  But when the weather is cool and the sweat is flowing and no one is around but me and the cows, it’s great.

Here’s an aerial view of the dirt road.  My house is to the left close to the top of the 3D symbol.  I walk to the road and then walk up and down it.

 

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salt soul

I finished Insanity on a lackluster note last week.  I had a lot of plans with people after work and that made it hard to exercise because I got home late and had to be up early for work and I also gave myself the lame excuse that one more week wasn’t going to make a difference.  I didn’t have a six pack before that last week and I wasn’t going to have one after.  I think I worked out three out of the six days I was supposed to, which isn’t terrible but I really wanted to finish strong.

Not a great end but the fact that I pushed myself for two months and sweat buckets each time is great.  I have muscle definition in my arms and I can do way more push ups and crunches than before I started and I have way more stamina…ladies.

I want to go back to the 8-week workout I started back in January.  I thought it would be a good idea to cycle through all my fitness programs  but I also want to take a week to do some lower intensity workouts, like my mom’s walking DVDs, before I hit it hard again.  You know, something to give the old knees a break from all that Insanity pounding. 

Just for kicks, I popped in my P90 DVD two nights ago and breezed through the workout!  Insanity has really gotten me in better shape.  I remember huffing and puffing through P90 when I did it several months ago but this time around I was really able to keep up.  That was a good feeling.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still tubby and tire easily…just not as tubby and don’t tire as easily.  It’s improvement and I’ll take it!

I’ve also tried to incorporate walking outside because the weather has been gorgeous lately.  I’ll post pictures of my route on my next entry.

I’ve been a bit more relaxed with my workout schedule.  Since I’m not following any program, I don’t feel as compelled to be strict, which is good and bad.  I haven’t reached my goal weight so I shouldn’t be so relaxed but at the same time, I have worked hard this year and I’m really just taking an easy week or two but I do intend on going hard again, even through Thanksgiving and Christmas.  With my work schedule and family obligations and tons of turkey, I’m sure I won’t be able to exercise every day but that’s okay.  As long as I keep going.

I think I’ll be able to.

It’s only the days that I want to exercise that I don’t that bother me.  I also need to add that I’ve been eating badly lately.  Lots of candy.  Slipping in more and more fatty foods.  I need to reel the cheating in big time.  I’m being too lenient with my diet.  I can understand slacking off on the exercise after the boot camp from hell I went through for two months but food should remain non-negotiable. 

So when I eat crap and then don’t exercise on a day I’m supposed to, it worries me.  Sometimes I don’t get up and go but other times, despite my internal conflict, I push it all aside and just do it.  By the time I’ve got my shoes on, all hesitation is gone and I’m good to go.

I just feel better when I exercise.  Don’t get that statement wrong.  I haven’t turned into one of those people.  I don’t physically feel better but I do mentally.  It’s one more victory, one more fight against the calories I’ve consumed, one more attempt at creating a balance.  I’m starting to see that every bit of physical exercise is worth it, despite how I felt about the last week of Insanity not making a difference.  Sure, I wasn’t going to get ripped but I could have burned off some of those extra candy calories. 

It’s just when I wake up in the morning and I’m hurting, when it’s difficult to bend my legs to get out of bed, I love it (although it’s actually not good because it means I didn’t sufficiently stretch) because it makes me feel like I really worked out, really pushed myself.  It’s like how I feel when I sweat profusely.  I know I accomplished something.

I also hope some of that salt has seeped past the skin, that a switched has been flipped on, that I’ll continue to be physical because I know I need to be.  Food is such a temptation for me and I am still so weak, despite the weight loss, despite turning down doughnuts, I still struggle.  And exercise is a good way to offset the days when I can’t say no.  I hope exercising becomes a part of me, something I do regularly.  It doesn’t have to be every day but at least four times a week.  And not even every week.  Maybe some days I can do five days a week and others three.  I don’t have to be strict about it but I need to be firm, to keep myself accountable and remind myself that I need to get up and go, to feel the fat fall away as the sweat pours out. 

binge and not break

Yesterday, I felt I ate too much.

I really tried not to freak out about it because I’ve made so much progress when it comes to slipping up.  I’ve learned (or thought I had) that I can just let it go, realize that making a few missteps here and there will not undo all the progress I’ve made.  I know that.

But it will slow me down.  And now that I’m so close to reaching my goal and because it’s so close to the end of the year, I really want to stay strong and not mess up so I can be sure I’ll reach my goal weight by Christmas.

It’s not even that I ate really terrible foods but I just ate too much during my three meals.  I’m constantly comparing the foods I eat to how much I exercised and thinking if it will cancel each other out.  For example, if I feel I really pushed myself with a great workout, I might have an extra serving during meal time or opt for a low fat dessert afterward.  Or if I feel I just went through the motions during the workout, I’ll cut back on my food intake to try and compensate.  Just trying to create balance, y’all.

Yesterday, I did really well as far as cardio.  It was so nice outside and I had to take advantage of the cool wind so I went walking for an hour and I was such a BAMF that I immediately went inside and did an hour of Insanity.  Two hours of exercise?  That’s just not me.  I’m such a lazy, unmotivated person.  But not yesterday!

So maybe subconsciously I gave myself some jiggle room and ate too much.  But during every meal?  What I should have done is been proud of all the calories I burned and kept it that way instead of replacing them with heaping piles of noodles and cheese.  But I love noodles and cheese.

So I’m a bit pissed at myself and kind of embarrassed about it because I feel like one of those people who are obsessed with every calorie they take in and freak out over having too many Tic Tacs.  I’m definitely not like that.  Yet.

This certainly isn’t the first time I’ve overdone it with food.  But I think this is one of the few times I haven’t planned it.  Usually when I cheat, I plan it out.  I tell myself that I will have pizza on Saturday.  That way, I still have control.  I know when I’m going to be bad because I’ve planned it and allowed it and I’ve internalized it and accepted it and it’s okay.  But yesterday, I didn’t plan it.  I didn’t allow it.  It just happened and that took away my control.  And that sent me into a minor flush of frustration  

I’ll be okay.  That one day is not going to undo all the hard work I’ve managed to accomplish.  But I guess it goes to show that no matter how much mental progress I’ve made in regards to trying to lose weight in an emotionally healthy way, I’m still going to encounter setbacks and self-loathing from time to time.  The key is not to let it envelop me.  The key is to acknowledge it and simply move on from it.  Tomorrow is a new day and a new chance to do better.  And in fact, I have done better today.  See, there ya go.  There’s always a chance to start over, to regain focus, to renew drive, to throw out punishment and take in awareness and acceptance. 

salt lips

I thought I knew about sweating when I was doing Power 90 but I had no idea how profuse the perspiration would be until I started Insanity.

I’m now on my 2nd week of the 2nd month.  It’s weird to think I only have 3 weeks left.  It’s went by pretty fast, which I’m grateful for because I get bored easily.  I’m already ready to move on to another program and in about another month, I can.

Insanity will be the 3rd fitness program I’ve finished this year.  I did the X Factor ST workout, which is an 8 week program.  Then I did Power 90, which lasts 90 days.  And now I’m on Insanity, which is 2 months.  I took a couple of days off between programs and then had a break when I had my surgery but except for those few occasions, I’ve been pretty consistent and have been doing well and that feels pretty good.

But Insanity doesn’t.

The actual program is every bit as tough and sweat-filled as the infomercials suggest.  I’m sweating buckets within the first five minutes and it doesn’t stop until well after I’ve finished.  And now that I’m in month 2, the workouts are longer, sometimes lasting an hour.  Imagine throwing your body on the floor and across the room and slinging sweat for 60 whole minutes, with only 30 second breaks here and there.  It’s tooouuughhhh. 

I bend over to stretch and the sweat pours into my eyes and mouth.  It’s like diving headfirst into the ocean.  I hate the ocean.

I hate to sweat.  I sweat all the time and it’s annoying.  I usually sweat at work while everyone else complains about being cold.  What the what?  But when I’m working out, I welcome the sweat.  I’ve already mentioned it makes me feel like I’m really accomplishing something.  And when I’m on the floor, trying not to cry and/or throw up from the pain in my back and arms, I look over at my shoulders and see the sheen of sweat and how they are becoming more and more defined each day and it gives me that push I need to get up and toss myself across the room one more time.

I taste the ocean.  I taste the pain.  I taste the triumph of one more day accomplished.