How I Fooled Myself Into Running 3 Miles

When I was a kid, my mother had this way of getting us to go to school whenever we said we were sick. It started like this:

sick_girlKid: I don’t feel well. Maybe I should stay home today.
Mom: Why don’t you get dressed and see how you feel.
Kid (after dressing): I still don’t feel good. Maybe I should stay home.
Mom: Why don’t you eat breakfast and see how you feel.
Kid(after eating): I really don’t feel good. I seriously think I should stay home.
Mom: Why don’t you go to school. If you still feel sick, I’ll pick you up.
Kid resignedly gets on the bus. (Unless you were currently vomiting or had a temperature of over 100 degrees, you went to school.)

Most of the time, once you got there, you put up with school and made it through the day. I can only remember one serious exception, where I seriously needed to stay home, and was forced to go to school.

How does this apply to me and exercise? I use that same formula today to trick myself into exercise. It starts like this:

Running on treadmillMe: I don’t want to exercise today because [insert excuse].
Me: You don’t have to exercise. You just have to walk around the blocks and get a few more steps…. Oh, but put on your workout gear in case you change your mind.
Me (after getting down the block): You don’t have to exercise, but why don’t you walk a little more. Try a mile. No biggie.
Me (after walking 1/2 mile): This would go a lot faster if you just ran the last half mile. You don’t have to do more than that. Just a half mile.
Me (after running 1/2 mile): Seems silly to get all sweaty for just a half mile. Why don’t you just finish off a the other half and make it a mile. Just a mile. No big deal.
Me (after running a mile): Gee, your time was pretty good. Don’t you want to see if you can run a little farther? Just go for 2 miles and call it a day. Don’t go too fast. Just take it easy.
Me (after running two miles): Well, you already committed. What’s one more mile. If you make it the full three, then you don’t have to exercise tomorrow. Think about it. Get it over today, and you can take tomorrow off.

It seems as if I can just get myself to put on the workout clothes and walk out the door, it is much easier to convince myself to do more. All I have to do is get past that first hurdle.

I’m in love with the “FU” Fairy!

I’m in love with the “FU” Fairy!
Note: I have no problem saying (or writing) the “cuss” words, but I want to keep this a clean blog, so please forgive my abreviation.

This article was in my FB feed. I love this article. Not just about saying “FU” (sometimes politely) to people who fat-shame, but to remember that we have the right to say “FU” (firmly, but without cussing) to anybody who has the temerity to overstep:

  • Is that all your eating? or Are you eating all that? –  FU
  • You’ll meet someone when you stop looking – FU
  • When are you going to have kids? –  FU (for my sister)
  • You look really tired. –  FU
  • Pretty much any sentence that starts with “You should…” and ends with unsolicited advice. –  FU
  • You should/shouldn’t give your child that medication. (usually related to behavior) –  FU
  • If that were my kid…. –  FU

I had a long conversation with my daughter last night. I don’t want her to wait until she’s thirty (or forty-something) to find her “FU” Fairy. She came up with a few of her own:

  • Anything talking about her genetalia. –  FU
  • How do you know you are gay? Aren’t you really bi? –  FU
  • “You would be beautiful if you lost a few pounds/changed your clothes, dressed more like a girl, etc. –  FU

I’m so proud!
When do you need your FU Fairy?

No Guilt – No Temptation – No Aftermath

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Me and my mom, circa 1966 (you do the math)

This past weekend my siblings and I threw a party for my Mom’s birthday. It was a “milestone” birthday, so we had it at a place. It was a brunch (I love brunch food) complete with mimosas and birthday cake (ice cream cake, no less).

Now I’ve been doing this new food program since early November. I took a mini break for Thanksgiving, and gave myself several passes for the extended Christmas to New Year, with OK results. I remember feeling not great about going “off,” not because I felt guilty, but because it seemed to mess up my digestion. I blamed some of it on gluten (I consider myself accidentally gluten-free) and some of it on added fat (my diet is almost fat-free, except for natural fats in nuts and meats.

I’ve gone out to dinner a few times, but ordered very carefully, just eating mostly fish (broiled) and veggies (steamed). But this was my first big event since the holidays and I figured I had two choices on how I was going to handle it:

  1. I could give myself permission to vary my diet
  2. I could stay 100% on target.

I finally decided to stick to my plan. The decision was made by weighing pros and cons. For me, the deciding factor was “What constitutes a reason to go off?” If I can go off for this party, then would I go off for every party? It’s that slippery slope. You could find reason why every family function, dinner out with friends, etc. is reason enough to “treat yourself.” So I took the hard-line.

In preparation, I made sure I ate my yogurt, apple, and almonds for breakfast. I brought with me the now-ever-present rice-and-beans. At the party I stuck strictly to decaf coffee and water. The only food I took from the buffet table was the cut fresh fruit. While others piled plates of bagels, eggs, french toast, bacon, and sausage, I ate my own food. I expected to feel terribly deprived, but I really didn’t Looking at the plates of others at my table, the food didn’t even look real. I can’t tell you why that was, only that I wasn’t even a little tempted.

When the cake came out, I had a moment. It was mint-chocolate-chip ice cream cake! And it was just that right amount of melty that I always loved. I refused a piece of my own, but I did have a small bite of someone else’s cake. (Just to see what I was missing.) I was a little concerned that the sweetness would be a strong temptation, but I was surprised. The cake was good, but not compelling. I had my one bite, mentally shrugged, and thought, “not bad.” And that was it. I didn’t need more. I didn’t really even want more.

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My mom was always dieting and always told me she was fat. Look at her! She is beautiful. (This is a topic for another day, I guess)

Now, I’ve made it through many a party or event before with equal self-control, but here is where the story gets a little crazy: There was no aftermath. In the past, moments of true self-control in public have led to uncontrolled binging, once in private. For example, I’m “good” at the party, and then go home and eat 3 servings of ice cream and 2 candy bars. Sometimes I justify with, “Well I was so good….” and sometimes I don’t even bother justifying.

This time was different. I had chili for dinner. A reasonable serving, even. Just meat, tomatoes, and beans (more beans than meat, even). No bread. No carbs. No sweets after dinner. Just a regular serving and that’s it. I thought maybe the next day would be bad, but it wasn’t. I actually feel kind of good about the whole thing.

I can’t explain why this is working or what is happening. It just seems that the further I get from “regular food” the less control it has on me. You know when it is the hardest? When people want to talk to me about it. They grill me on what I eat, and that makes me think of how long it has been since I ate anything else. So stop talking about it, please. Just let me do my thing in peace. I don’t know if this is something I can do long-term, or if I’m just doing a fad, or what. I just like how I feel right now.

The REPLY that turned into a POST

So, I started writing a reply to a comment on my Oops post, but then the reply was so long I thought, maybe I should just write another post, so here it is.  Thanks, nuchtchas!nuchtchas comment1

I tell people to get rid of their scales all the time. But I want my scale, especially now. I’m doing something pretty drastic and I need to know how it is working. I need to track if I’m getting healthier. The scale is only one of the tools I use, but it is an important tool. I can’t track based on how I feel, because I’m constantly pushing myself with exercise which means some (or all) of my muscles are hurting at any given time.  In addition to my weight, I keep track of calories eaten vs calories burned, steps walked (fitbit), hours of sleep, and body measurements. Ideally I should track heart rate and blood pressure, but I don’t have any way to do that.

garfield-scale2

I might never have known I was sick last year if I hadn’t been weighing in every week. I was dieting and exercising like crazy, but gaining or staying the same.

For me, the scale is like checking the mileage on a car when you fill it up. If your average mileage unexpectedly drops it may mean there’s a problem with your engine.  I want to keep an eye on my weight because if I’m not losing or I’m gaining, chances are I’m doing something wrong. Likewise, if I start losing too fast, there may be a problem.

The problem (and the reason I wrote the Oops post) is because I put too much value on what the scale says. I’ve been trying to keep weigh ins to once ever two weeks, so I wasn’t due for a weigh-in.  Also, I had given myself permission to relax a little on the food side over the holidays, so weighing in the day after wasn’t my healthiest (sanest)  choice.

It’s kind of like a parent telling their teen “You can stay out as late as you want,” and then staying up waiting just to see what time they come home and yell at them if they are too late. (Okay, it’s not really like that, but that was the best analogy I could come up with.)

So, I’m keeping my scale, even though I’ll probably support your decision to chuck yours. But I’m trying to keep it as only one indicator of many. And not let my whole self-worth and value rest on what the scale says.

One Way

Have you seen this video?? You have to watch. At least once.  I’ve watched 3 or 4 times.

I could have title this post “Learning to Love Yourself by Taking Care of Yourself.” The thing about this video that I love is that she isn’t saying I’m worthy of love now that I lost weight but rather Now that I put this much effort into myself I realize I was worthy of love all along. I totally loved the end where she is dancing. And her final words aren’t I’m going to lose another # of pounds, but rather “I have to learn a lot of things and there is still more to go.”

I also love how much she is celebrating her achievement, not the number of pounds lost.  She lost 18 pounds in 100 days and 51 pounds in a year. This might seem painfully slow to someone who is focused on the pounds lost, but the whole point of this one is that the pounds don’t matter, it is the journey. It is the commitment to yourself to feel better, to feel stronger, to be healthier.

I love this woman. I love this video. She is so inspiring. I think I’m going to watch it again.

Cook-a-thon

So my food plan these days is pretty basic. I keep waiting to get fed up and go on a binge, but actually this plan is a bit of a relief. I don’t feel the need to binge. After the crazy food smorgasbord that is the holidays, my simple fare is actually appealing. But, because of travel and house guests, I had fallen behind on the food prep. So last night, after a full day of work, and a double workout (45 min with my personal train working on abs and then a leisurely 2 mile run) I realized I needed to focus a little on food.
The beauty of my plan is that I can get a lot of the cooking done in one big batch. It comes down to shopping and packaging, mostly. First, I needed a quick run to the supermarket to pick up essentials: single serve greek yogurt, apples, single serve pineapple, kale, mushrooms, single serve hummus, sugar snap peas, etc. I had meat in my freezer, and plenty off rice, beans, and almonds – all of which I buy at the bulk store.
Next, I cook up the rice and beans for the week. 4 cups of brown rice into the steamer. Then on the stove I cook up 4 cans of black beans and mix in the cooked rice. I separate into individual serving sizes using disposable plastic containers. I get 10 days from this mixture. This is a lot of rice and beans. Mixing it properly takes some doing, but other than that, it takes the roughly the same amount of time to make one or two servings as to make 10. This way I only have to do one clean up and I’m set. I don’t season the rice and beans when I pack them, because as I go through them I like to use different seasonings: salsa, soy sauce, marinara, etc. I even mixed in some pea soup once.

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At the bulk store I buy a giant bag of raw almonds, and each week I separate out the appropriate number of ziplock bags and put a handful into each back. The first week I weighed the bags to see if they were 1 oz, but that takes a long time, and what I found is that about half my handfuls are just under 1 oz and half are just over 1 oz, so if I just grab randomly, it should work out. I like to reuse the ziplock bags as much as possible.
After all this, I had to eat, too. I knew if I ate first, I would never do the cooking or shopping. I had some home-made pea soup which gives me the protein and fat I need after my workout, and tastes so yummy on such a cold night. It was pretty late when I finally ate. I would have liked to have skipped dinner all together, but my new mantra is don’t skip meals. Plus, I think I needed the extra calories.
I have to admit I felt really good about my productivity. The fridge was filled, my belly full, and the kitchen clean. Just having everything sitting there, set to go, will keep me on track all week.
And, all this work paid off. I had to catch a 6:03 train this morning, and I was able to grab everything I needed food-wise in a matter of seconds. It all would have worked out splendidly if I hadn’t have put a bit of soy sauce in the rice and beans before I left. On the train I noticed that the soy was leaking out of my plastic container and covering everything. I was really (REALLY) tempted to dump the whole thing, but I had spent so much time last night preparing and packaging everything, that I just couldn’t do it. I scrounged up a plastic bag from a newsstand vendor and pushed through. I may not have been so resourceful if any of the soy had gotten on my clothes (just saying).
Friends and family keep asking me if I get bored eating the same things every day. Sure I do. I would totally rather be eating fun and fantastic foods. (I started to list them, but this was having a negative reaction on my stomache, so I deleted them. Use your imagination.) This is the world’s most boring food plan. But it gives me the nourishment I need, it fits into my schedule, and it is convenient and easy to stick to. I’m never hungry. I don’t obsess about food. I don’t have uncontrollable cravings. Over the holidays, with some of my “bites of this” and “bites of that” I did get food cravings. I had an upset stomach. I found myself wandering into the kitchen late at night, grazing for food. I am so much happier in “detox” mode, that I’m willing to live with a little boredom.

My Exercise Relationship: It’s Complicated

I have an on-again off-again relationship with exercise. I don’t think that’s unusual for people trying to get fit and healthy (note, I’m not saying get thin). My relationship started fairly recently (as in the past few years). The first time I lost over 100 lbs I did it mainly through diet, with very little exercise. I only added exercise during maintenance when I started to gain again, hoping to not become a regain-statistic.

Why does every cartoon of a fat woman running have to show her belly hanging out? I couldn't find one properly dressed!

Why does every cartoon of a fat woman running have to show her belly hanging out? I couldn’t find one properly dressed!

This time around, with more than a hundred-thirty pounds to go, and an added decade, I figured I would need to throw more activity into my progress. And thus I began flirting with exercise. I have issues with my ankles and my back, so I seriously needed to take things slow. It started with walking, slowly increasing my pace and distance. I started with a treadmill, but really enjoyed getting out and about.

As I walked more and more I felt myself getting stronger. My legs felt better. My back felt better. I felt younger. It didn’t have much impact on my weight loss, but I focused on food for that and made very slow progress. For a while. Then I wasn’t losing anything and after I while I realized I wanted more.

I come from a running family. Most of my siblings run. I have a niece who got a running scholarship and a sister who is a track coach. My mother is in nearly seventy and runs one or more 5k a month, frequently winning her age group. I was the oddball sedentary one, so when it came time to take it up a notch, of course I went the running route.

I started with a Couch to 5K app on my phone and advice from family members of how to run safely, minding my medical conditions. And I pushed through the minor pain and got up to where I could run 2 -3 miles. You can go back through my twitter feed to track my progress. (@fatnfory) Some weeks/months I’m so gung-ho. Other weeks/months I’m a no-show.  It’s the typical on again, off again relationship. I know I feel better when I exercise regularly.  But sometimes it is just to hard to do it.

I’ve added a new person into the relationship. I actually hired a personal trainer through my gym. I do a half-hour once a week, with my mom (the super-woman). Running is good, but I think I need to diversify.  It has only been a few weeks. We had some trouble with trainers leaving, but I think we have one now that will stick around.

Oops, I did it again.

I said I wouldn’t do it. I promised myself. I meant it. But I admit it. I caved.

I’m not talking about my food addiction. No, I’m talking about my scale addiction. I have promised myself that this time it isn’t about the weight. I’m focusing on being healthier at any size. I accept myself as fat. I love myself. Blah, blah, blah. I can’t help it. I just needed to know.

hippo scaleI’ve adopted this food addiction diet to help me get under control, but I’m also hoping that it will have some positive effect on my overall weight. Because I run better when I’m not carrying so much weight. And my joints are stronger. And my heart. And my mood.

I don’t need to be thin. I don’t think I’ll ever be thin and I’m okay with that. I really really REALLY want to focus on the health and not the size.

But I also wanted to see how much damage I did over Christmas.   I started my new food plan right before Thanksgiving. I lost about 16 pounds in that time frame. I kept myself to only one weigh in per week (a real challenge) just to see how things were going.

I was also really amazing in staying on program. Up until Christmas, which had it’s own issues. And then after Christmas was a vacation which included two 13-hour road trips (there and back) and 4 days with my dad and his wife (southern cooking and stress),  a New Year’s Eve party, and my Mom’s traditional New Year’s Day dinner.

Overall I rate myself good. Some days were better than others. I really impressed myself with how well I did on vacation, especially the road trips which can be really problematic. I told myself it didn’t matter if I gained or lost or stayed the same, because it only mattered that I kept working on my goals.

Yeah, I caved. I needed to know. I have this thing about numbers. I like tracking data. I needed to see the data. So I weighed myself.  If you need to know, you can highlight this next sentence to see the results:

I weigh exactly the same as I did the Saturday before Christmas. Exactly. No difference.

So there it is. Now I’m going to get back to my routine. Eat my rice and beans. Eat my almonds. Run my miles. And try not to weigh in more than once a week.  Probably.

And I will Walk 500 Miles and I will Walk 500 More…

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2,052,992 steps in 2013

Thanks to my fitbit (which I got last Christmas) I have a pretty good overview of my activity this year. I was pretty religious about wearing the fitbit every day. There were a few days I missed, of course, but overall, it has been a part of my wardrobe, whether I was exercising, working, or lazing about.

The fitbit was a huge part of my recovery last February. There were days that I could only walk 200 or 500 steps. Each day I kept track and pushed just a little farther. My best day was Sept 26. I walk/ran 20,302 steps that day (just under 10 miles).

Knowing that I had the fitbit on made me more likely to park at the back of the parking lot, for those extra 40 steps. If I saw I was close to my daily goal, I might do an extra walk around the block. I’m not consistent in my exercise, but I did feel the psychological push to get back to it because I knew I was tracking it.

keywest mapIn 2013 I walked 2,052,992 steps according to my fitbit. I’m calling this my baseline. I’m not saying this number is good or bad. It is just a number. A starting point. 2014 seems like a good time to set a goal, so I’m setting a fitbit goal for myself. I want to walk/run more than 3,000,000 steps this year.

That is about 1,400 miles, or the roughly equivalent of walking from my house to Key West, Florida. Or to Texarcana, TX. Or Fargo, ND.  Or to go from Paris, France to Rome, Italy. It would take between 25 and 30 hours to drive 1,400 miles. Or I could take the high speed train in China and do it in 8 hours. (I have this weird number thing. Sorry!)

I think it is doable. It means I have to do at least 8,000 steps for 300 of the 365 days. It is a big jump from my 2013 number (50% more, in fact), but I’m not planning on having surgery and being out of commission for 6 weeks. And I want something that will push me all year long. I’ll try to post once a month my progress and how close I get to my goal.