November 18, 2014

Down Size

With the hustle and bustle of life these days, I just realized that I'd forgotten to share a pretty big and exciting thing that has happened lately, something about a year and a half in the making (for me, at least).


Shortly after my son was born, a journalism professor named Ted Spiker reached out to me regarding my weight loss and the stories I'd told on my blog. He was working on a book about weight loss and fitness, and wanted to interview me to include my story in his project.

About fifteen months later, the book landed on my front step.


It's weird to see your name in print. Strange to think about strangers reading my story, even though I've been sharing everything here for four years now. The strongest feeling, though, is anxiety and guilt, feeling like I don't deserve to have my story told.

The story of my life before and during my weight loss is intense and stunning. The story of my life since returning from California, though, is static. I've become a wife, a mother, and an aunt - all really remarkable and wonderful things, and my current measures of personal success. But as far as weight loss goes, it feels fraudulent to have my name in a book touting my accomplishments; today, I weight even more than I did when the interview took place.

My weight loss journey has not been a fairy tale, but rather, a cautionary tale.

This is what happens when you treat symptoms rather than illnesses.

A catalyst to my initial weight loss was the idea that "what you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it." I don't know when exactly I lost the deep senses of motivation and determination, but I can say with sad confidence that they're gone, and that I don't know how to retrieve them.

I forget what I was looking for the other day, but I stumbled upon an old blog post of mine - this one - and fell into a rabbit-hole, of sorts, reading old blog posts.
We both marveled at how the urge to binge fades when we immerse ourselves in pure joy - feeling loved, feeling supported ... that fills the empty space we keep trying to fill with food.
Since moving to California, I've found myself with a lot of quiet, free time - an emptiness I've filled far too often with food and tears. The tears are good; the binges are not. This weekend ... I found myself thinking about things other than food. And I felt hungry for the first time in ages, something I've missed. When every day is a day one, it's easy to forget what it feels like to be hungry - truly physically hungry, in need of fuel and energy ... not emotionally hungry and in need of love, comfort, support, whatever else.
Eating healthy at mealtimes is easy for me, and exercising (especially when I set challenges for myself) has always been enjoyable. The biggest challenge for me, now and always, is binge eating (secretly, in hiding, before and after meals) to soothe my stresses, quiet my anxieties, and calm my depressed thoughts. My life is full of many terrific things these days, but there's still a heavy feeling of emptiness, a gaping hole I keep trying, with futility, to fill with food.

November 13, 2014

Fitness Leadership (Week 4)

I thought I would post more about the Fitness Leadership class but honestly, last three weeks have been pretty much the same. I go there and do the Tuesday or Thursday workout, the girls offer critiques and advice, and then I go home starving and sweaty. This week, the workouts changed a bit - now that they have seen what I can do, they are starting to push me a bit more and in different ways. Here is the Week 4-6 workout:

Tuesdays
Warm-up:
Stretch: bicep stretches, tricep stretches, shoulder stretches, hamstring stretches, quadricep stretches, lower back rotation stretch
Treadmill: (1) 2 min, 0 incline, 3-4 mph [fast pace walk] (2) 5 min, 5% incline, 3.5-4.2 mph [faster pace walk] (3) 3 min, 0 incline, 3-4 mph [walk]

Cardiovascular conditioning: (2 min rest between each exercise)
Side shuffles: shuffle to side 10 yards, shuffle back, 3 sets with 45 seconds of rest between each set
Burpees: 3x8 (with high reach jump)
Step ups: 3 boxes high, 3x30 sec

Resistance training: (2 min rest between each exercise; repeat 3 times)
Goblet squats: 15 reps, 20 lbs
Walking lunges: 5 yards, 15 lb dumbbell each arm
Leg press machine: 10 reps, 110 lbs

Cool down:
Bike: 5 min, low intensity
Roll out on foam roll

Thursdays
Warm-up:
Stretch: bicep stretches, tricep stretches, shoulder stretches, hamstring stretches, quadricep stretches, lower back rotation stretch
Elliptical (cardio machine): 10 minutes, low intensity

Cardiovascular training: (2 min rest between each exercise; repeat 3 times)
Jump squats: 10 reps
Flutter kicks: 35 seconds
Speed skaters: side to side, 1 minute
Plank: 30-45 seconds

Resistance training: 
Military press: 3x15, 10 lb dumbbell each arm
Rest 1 min
Dumbbell fly (laying down): 3x10, 10 lb dumbbell each arm
Rest 1 min
Shoulder extension/abduction: 3x10, 5 lb dumbbell each arm
Rest 1 min
Tricep dips: 3x5

Cool down:
Stretch: mostly arm stretches, some hamstring and quad stretches

Some things I am doing for more time (like the plank), some things I am doing that I didn't do before (lots of the stuff with weights). I will do the Thursday workout with the girls tonight - if it's anything like the Tuesday one, I'll be sore tomorrow. I am still a little sore today, though not as bad as yesterday was. Yesterday I could barely walk!

One thing that was emotionally hard about Tuesday's workout was that the girls had be do burpees, which I used to do when I was smaller. Back then, I loved them - it was remarkable to me that my body was able to move that way. I felt so light. Now, though, I feel heavy. I feel big, uncomfortable, uneasy in my body. I did them, but I struggled.

I told the girls about how I have a hard time when I go back to Connecticut to visit my family for the holidays, and they said they would show me some exercises I can do without machines so I can keep active even while I am away from the gym. I hope I can do them well enough to show my mom too - she has been very depressed lately, she had a stroke last summer and still hasn't fully recovered, and she has been gaining some weight. I completely understand that, so I want to help her as best as I can.