I’ve been extremely inspired this last week or so by this story I saw on Facebook about Mirna Valerio. She’s a true inspiration, and evidence that you can be extremely fit and still not look “traditionally” fit. This is something that’s really been resonating with me lately because I’ve been doing kick-ass strength and circuit training workouts since February yet if you look at me I look no different now than I did when I started.
I have friends who take up strength training workouts and within 6-8 weeks start to look cut and defined and start gathering the compliments. I do it for 8 months (and counting) and…nothing. Oh, if I point out a specific part for you and flex it really hard you might nod and smile and agree that I look great, but if I don’t point and flex it’s not obvious at all.
That’s genetics. I simply don’t build big showy muscles. There have been other times in my life when I didn’t have a job and I’ve gone for broke with weight lifting, with a heavy schedule and formal workout rotation and personal trainer, and despite putting in the same level of effort as any bodybuilder…nothing. If I point at a muscle and flex it you can kind of see that there’s something under there but without pointing it out…nothing. I don’t get ripped, I don’t get shredded. I may get a little bulkier but there’s still a layer of fat and extra skin over the bulkier muscles that will always be there. (OK, that last part’s not genetics: I have a lot of extra skin from when I was 200 pounds heavier. Barring cosmetic surgery on my arms and legs to remove it, it’s always going to be there.)
I guess if I were a different kind of person this might put me off. I might think, “Well, I’m not getting any visible results, why bother putting in all the blood, sweat, and tears for not much of a result?”
And here’s my answer: The longer I’ve been at this weight maintenance thing, the more I’ve come to the realization that fitness, for me, is ultimately about what I can do, not what I can fit into.
I’m a member of a Facebook group where several ladies share about their exercise activities. Everybody is positive and the more experienced ones recommend workouts or ideas for the ones who are newer to regular exercise. It helps to motivate everyone. And I noticed one other thing: Those who are accustomed to regular daily exercise help to normalize the idea for the newer ladies that YES, this is something we do every day, 5-6 days a week. It also helps to reinforce for an old hand like me that YES, this is something that everybody has to do, not just Big Losers like me.
I think sometimes people who don’t have an ingrained sense of how much work weight loss or maintenance can be need to see how much of a daily chore it really is. Just like brushing your teeth or going into work, it’s something that needs to be done, and it’s something that those of us who are doing it regularly often don’t bother mentioning because well, it’s a habit. I don’t come on here every day and tell you what I did, but if it’s a week day you can be sure I did something. Yesterday I ran a 5K route, today I did a 30-minute circuit training workout. Tomorrow I’m going to run again, the day after I’ll do another circuit training bout. Like clockwork.
I guess I’m like a broken record these days, but this is really working for me. Work hard, sweat, get out of breath, face red, feeling like I’m gonna die, for 30-60 minutes a day, 5-6 days a week. And eat sensibly, keep it under ~1600 to 1700 calories a day, most days.
So, what do you do regularly for exercise? If you haven’t found the thing yet that you can keep doing forever, how are you looking? When’s the last time you tried something new, or something outside of your comfort zone?
Good news everyone! I just put my jeans on for the first time in more than 3 months (yes, I only own a single pair of jeans because generally speaking jeans aren’t my friend). Summer’s over and it’s time to put on the long pants again. Anyway, despite swearing off the scale in January and flying blind for 9 months, my jeans fit just fine! Not even tight or anything, they fit exactly as they did the last time I wore them!
I’ve successfully cut the cord! Finally! I am now able to manage my body without getting on a scale every week and beating myself up or sabotaging my efforts, depending on the result. I’m doing it – the promised land of long-term weight management! No scales, only occasional food journaling on MyFitnessPal, and working out hard for 30-60 minutes 5-6 days a week, eating sensibly. I’m staying the same size! I’m so pleased!
Saturday I went to my 20-year college reunion. But before that I got up and did Day 6 of the Killer Body workout, because, dammit, I’m not going to do days 1-5 then skip out on the last day!
I had a surprisingly good time at the reunion, mostly because I got to see a friend who was there celebrating her 40-year reunion (my college does one giant reunion by 5-year increments, so we had everyone from class of 1945 to class of 2010 there, with a few break-outs for class-specific events, but mostly all together). None of my friends from my time in college were there, although I didn’t have many to start with. I wasn’t much of a joiner, and as a music major I spent 2-4 hours a day practicing my instrument on top of the usual academic load, so I really didn’t have time for clubs or sports or other interest groups.
Regardless, I was delighted to find a new piece on the side of the art building. It sums up how I feel about life in general these days, and looking back, how I wish I could have seen all the other times in my life. Even the bad times were learning experience and all of them contributed to making me the person I am now. For example, if I hadn’t married the first time to a very unsuitable partner, I wouldn’t be as well-equipped to recognize and cherish the wonderful man I’m married to now. The little bumps and occasional spats might seem so much more momentous if I hadn’t already learned just how bad an ill-fitting marriage can be, and how to identify one.
I spent yesterday with a migraine, as the usual penance for having a great time on Saturday. *sigh*
Today I got up and went for a run, the usual 3 miles/5K route. I’m not sure how this week is going to shake out exercise-wise, but I am sure that I feel the urge to get a little more cardio into the mix, as last week’s program was focused largely on strength-building exercises.
And finally, I’ve now gone about 9 months without stepping on a scale, and my clothes still fit! I have worked out how to maintain without the scale! Oh frabjous day! This system is working – I must keep doing it!
HOLD THE PHONE.
Cripes, I don’t even know what to say about this article I just stumbled across:
Summary: It’s harder for people who are young now to lose weight despite doing the same exercise and eating the same things, than it was for people in the Baby Boomer Generation, due to various environmental, physiological, and behavioral factors. It lists 4 factors that have scientifically been proven to cause weight gain or prevent loss, and yeah, 3 of those 4 (if not all of them) are definitely a factor for most people living today.
And then the last half of the article is utter bullshit, where they ask an “expert” what you should do and he says that it’s all your fault anyway because you don’t move as much as older generations did and you eat too much sugar, oh and try to exercise more and eat better (which contradicts what was stated in the first three paragraphs of the article, and I quote: “People were about 10 percent heavier in 2008 than in 1971 and five percent heavier, despite eating the same amount of food and doing the same exercise.”). So the last half is really stupid but it’s about what I expect from articles on Yahoo! Health anymore.
This week I’m doing the Killer Body DVD. There are 3 workouts: Monday I did arms, yesterday I did core, today I did lower body/legs. I’m gonna be sore, but tomorrow I start in on arms again, etc. Good workout! The one-minute cardio intervals are significantly harder than her usual 30-second ones. More than twice as hard, I think! Harder than they have any right to be. The Core workout yesterday left me sore in places I’ve never felt before, so yay!
It’s been an exciting week since I last posted. Not in the fun Las Vegas kind of way either. Since my last post I’ve taken my husband to the ER 3 times for complications resulting from his knee surgery, and he fell down 2 flights of stairs while having a drug-induced panic attack on Wednesday, resulting in a badly sprained (and marvelously bruised) ankle on his previously-good leg.
So as you can see it’s been all butterflies and unicorns here.
I’ve tried to keep up with my exercise and eating habits amongst all the chaos. Yesterday I went for a run after strongly informing him that he’s on lockdown and not to move until I come back. In fact, he’s pretty much in lockdown in the bedroom until he’s healed up. So I am making a lot more trips up and down the stairs than usual, and that’s got to be worth something!
I also have taken yesterday and today off work since it became pretty clear that doing my paying job while also trying to care for him during recovery was too much and I wasn’t doing either very well. Tuesday I did Level 1 again of the Yoga Meltdown DVD, and since that was the third or fourth time I had done Level 1 I thought I would try Level 2 this morning.
I learned something. I learned that I’m not ready for Level 2.
Sooo not ready for Level 2. There are two moves that are so far beyond my capabilities that I can’t even see them if put a telescope on Mars (what? Yes, I’m reading The Martian right now, isn’t everyone? It is highly engrossing!). There’s a move called Crow, where she says to start by putting one foot up and then the other and I’m hunched there thinking, I can barely get one foot up for a single second! Obviously this is going to take some time. And then there’s something called a Wheel, I think? I could probably hold it if I magically found myself in it, but pushing up to it from laying down? Hahahaha! I’ll just lay here and do a bridge instead. I may never be able to do that move, much like a push-up from my toes. I am, however, finally starting to see some glimmer of improvement in doing a chattaranga pushup from my knees, so that’s something!
I feel like I need a more remedial Yoga DVD if I’m going to keep doing it, and I enjoy it so I think I will. Yoga has been a nice respite this week during a very crazy time! But I think what I have is too advanced. Please, give me your recommendation for a Yoga workout DVD for people who have no experience with yoga and have to work up to things like Crow and Wheel slowly, over perhaps years!
I’ll probably do Level 1 a few more times before I look at Level 2 again, if I ever do!
My husband had knee surgery on Wednesday. I’m very fortunate to be able to work from home most of the time these days, so I have been looking after him. Boy it keeps me hopping though! I’m running downstairs to check on him, and back upstairs to my home office a LOT more than usual. That’s got to be worth some exercise points, right? Right.
I have to say, though, I thought I was much more badass at this Hardbody workout until I did it with somebody watching (he’s set up on the couch in the living room, where I do my workout). With him there I was intensely aware of every time I took the easier modification or stopped doing it a motion or two before the trainer on the DVD. I don’t think it’s good for me to have somebody watching, I feel very self-conscious! I mean, he was reading a book, but he was there.
I’m hoping for cooler weather tomorrow. We’ve been having an epic heatwave all this week, the temps have been 100 or over every day. No running outdoors in that mess! Tomorrow it should drop by a good 20 degrees, so I’m hoping to get a run in first thing in the morning while it’s (hopefully!) nice and cool.