Uncharted Territory

Today, I did something I have never done before.

I put on a size 12 jeans, buttoned them, and zipped them all the way to the top.

A friend of mine was cleaning out her closet and asked if I would want her size 12 jeans. I told her I didn’t think I could fit in them but I would give it a try. After meeting up with her at the gum, I headed home with my bag of too-tiny-for-me-jeans, thinking I would see how far I had to go before they fit and use that as motivation to stay on track.  I was surprised when I was able to pull them up over my hips without any tugging or shimmying. I was absolutely flabbergasted when I buttoned and zipped them. I didn’t have to suck it in, I didn’t have to lie flat on my back, and I didn’t have to get a pair of pliers to pull the zipper up. I just put them on like they were any other pair of jeans. And they fit.

Now this may not seem like much, but to me this is HUGE. I have never, not ever, been a size 12. I was wearing size 14 jeans by the time I was in 5th grade, and they only got bigger from there. I have spent 0 hours occupying this little space in the world. It’s a bit strange, I have to admit, to be at a goal you could never conceptualize. It’s gone from abstract to reality.

Thank you, Ryan Gosling, these are some nice jeans!
Thank you, Ryan Gosling, these are some nice jeans!

I don’t know who a size 12 Jamie is. I am very familiar with the size 16 Jamie. That’s the size I have spent most of my adult life at. The comfortably chubby size. The “I can buy my pants in the regular section of Target so I can’t be that big,” size. The size I could diet down to and maintain without too much effort. The big-enough-to-not-be-noticed-but-not-so-big-that-I-stand-out size. It’s the size that I could disappear.

I am also familiar with bigger sizes. Size 18, 20…and up. Those are the self-loathing sizes for me. The disconnected sizes. The sizes where I used food to hide from all the hard things. The size where I didn’t recognize myself in pictures, and thought “I can’t possible look like that,” when confronted with reality. The slumped shouldered, eyes to the floor sizes.

November 2013 vs. Today
November 2013 vs. Today

I am a little less acquainted with size 14. That’s the size I had to struggle to get down to. The people-are-starting-to-notice-me size. The size I would occupy briefly and then quickly abandon all that had gotten me there, fleeing back to my comfy size 16s. This was the size of potential, the maybe this is possible size. And it freaked me the fuck out every time I reached it.

I think what made this time different is that this is the first time that I’m losing weight to be healthy and not to be some size. I didn’t do this to change how I look, I wanted to change how I felt. I’m never going to have a bikini body, but I do have a strong body. I have a body that can run 5 miles, that can hike up mountains, that can lift and pull and sprint and jump.

I have a body that I love because of its capabilities, not because of its size. And that means more to me than any jeans ever could.

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Team Challenge Results

The last six weeks have flown by. Last time I wrote, I had just started my third six-week challenge, a fitness and weight loss competition, at my gym. My goals for this challenge were to increase my fitness, lose 6% of my body weight, and be able to run a 10K. Yesterday, my team had our last workout where we repeated the fitness assessment we did for our first workout. Here are my results:

Reps completed in 1 minute interval:

Push-ups- 1st workout 33 Last workout 40

Battle Jacks- 1st workout 59 Last workout 66

Rows: 1st workout 32 Last workout 34

Sit-ups- 1st workout 44 Last workout 49

Ball slams- 1st workout 37 last workout 44

Transfers- 1st workout 13 last workout 15

Burpees; 1st workout 11 last workout 14

Full Plank hold- 1st workout 1:00 last workout 1:12

10 minute Run Distance: 1st workout .85 last workout .93

Weight: Down 6%

Truth.
Truth.

So yeah, I rocked that assessment. I was especially proud of the run. I think I could have gone faster but I started slow to make sure I didn’t burn out and then I got really into my music and didn’t notice how much time had passed. When I did notice, I only had like three minutes left to sprint as fast as I could. Which is still not that fast, but way faster than I ever thought I could run. And three more burpees in a minute is maybe the most amazing of all since burpees were designed by the devil to make you foresake all that you love just to have them be over. I don’t really understand why getting up and down off the ground is so freaking hard, but it is like logarithms hard. Are logarithms hard? I don’t actually know but they sound like they would be, so you get my point.

Also during this time, I was signed up to run in the Mermaid Series 10K. I did the training, completed all my long runs (the longest being just over 6 miles), and was ready for the run. And then the day before my race, I woke up with an atrocious head cold that had been making its way through my family the previous two weeks. Was I bummed I couldn’t run? For sure. But I know that I can. I stuck with training even when it was hard, or too hot out, or when all I wanted to do was curl up with some cookie butter and watch reruns of Project Runway on Hulu Plus. And while a medal would have been nice, I don’t need a medal to tell me what I am capable of.

Tomorrow is the finale, where the winning team of the challenge will be named. I think we have a good chance of winning, but it doesn’t matter that much to me if we do or not. I worked hard with my team, women I care for and respect, and with their support, I was able to accomplish all the goals I had set for myself. Winning would just be a bonus.

Team Challenge 2.0

Hi all! Sorry for the long absence. There was visiting family, and my husband’s birthday, then Christmas the next day, then my youngest son’s birthday, then New Years, and then the two weeks after New Years where I just continued eating like I was preparing for hibernation. Yikes.

Needless to say, I got knocked off my routine and have been struggling to get back to it ever since. My workouts have been consistent, probably the only thing saving me from digging through the garbage bag of fat pants in the garage for something to wear, but not at the same intensity as when I was doing personal training. I have been running 3-5 days a week in preparation for the 10K I am running next month, and going to Body Pump twice a week. Definitely respectable, but I have been avoiding the Tabata and HIIT training that really pushed me to my limits.

Knowing I needed something to get my ass back in gear, I signed up for Team Challenge at the YMCA I go to. Team Challenge is a six week program designed to help participants adopt exercise and a healthy diet as part of their lifestyle. Participants are placed in teams, with each team led by a personal trainer. Each team member earns points by attending team workouts (two per week), fitness classes, or working out on their own, and for weight loss (up to 6% total). At the end of six weeks, the team with the highest points wins. You also get health and fitness advice along the way as well as two bootcamps where all the teams come together for a group workout.

team work

This is my third time doing  Team Challenge. I love Team Challenge for many reasons. I love (and need) the outside accountability to stick to my diet. When my actions affect others, I am much more likely to do what I need to. I also thrive on the competition, not only in the overall challenge, but within the group workouts as well. If we are running sprints outside while holding medicine balls over our heads, there is no way I want to be the one lagging behind. I push myself harder than I ever would on my own, and I get a deep satisfaction from seeing what I am capable of. Maybe the best thing about Team Challenge is the relationships you build, not only with your team members, but with your trainer as well. I have worked out regularly with some of the women I met on my first team and my trainer Alley.  I know that one of the reasons I haven’t slacked on my workouts is because I have people in my life who share my same fitness goals and who I look forward to seeing. Exercising isn’t so bad when you have friends to do it with.

My goal for the challenge is to lose 6% of my weight, which should take me to a weight goal I have been trying to reach for the last 4 months. I also want to build as much strength and agility as I can. And I am going to totally rock the Mermaid 10K next month! I am excited and super motivated for the coming weeks ahead. This is just the boost I had been needing.

Happy Saturday!

 

*This post is not sponsored.

Falling in Love All Over Again

I’ve never been athletic. When I was a kid I played tee-ball, but I was never that great at it. My most vivid memories from the three years I played are being smashed in the face by a line-drive hit by my coach and crying after a kid named Zack ripped the wings off a ladybug while waiting for his turn at bat. When I was around 12, I decided to return to my former glory as living baseball target and signed up for softball. I was shocked to discover that my abilities hadn’t improved after years of lethargy, and soon mastered the skill of getting hit by the pitch to avoid the humiliation of actually swinging at the ball.

After accepting my place as one of the non-athletically gifted, I embraced it. I forged notes and feigned cramps to get out of P.E. I scoffed at people who ran, saying the only way I would run is if someone was chasing me. And I wasn’t even sure if that would really do it for me. When I watched slasher flicks, I was always dismayed by the amount of physical exertion the victims put out before getting their heads chopped off. All that sweating and breathing hard just to end up dead anyway. It seemed to me it would be better just to stand still and get it over with.

But then I discovered running. And I fell instantly in love.

love running

I chronicled that love in this blog. I followed a couch to 5k program and worked myself up from walking to walk-run intervals, to running for 30 minutes straight,to running 5ks, to training for a 10k. I felt strong and accomplished, and deeply proud of myself. Running was the thing I never thought I could do. It was for other people, healthy people who ate wheat germ and wore shorts in public, but not for me. Except there I was doing it, and loving every minute of it. Then, two days before the 10k I had trained for months for, I couldn’t bend my left knee without excruciating pain. An emergency visit to a sports doctor later, and I was told I had a severe case of IT Band syndrome and wouldn’t be able to run my race.

I felt betrayed by running. I gave everything I had to my new-found love, and discovered that it wasn’t enough. All the miles and sweat amounted to nothing but a hurt leg and a broken spirit. I resumed my previous life as a couch sloth, but slipping back into this role was no longer easy. I had known a life with running in it and I missed it desperately. I thought of running often as one does an ex-lover, with bittersweet fondness and a deep sorrow for what was lost.

When starting back on my fitness journey, I was hesitant to go back to running. Jaded, afraid for losing all my fitness gains to another injury, I started and stopped the same couch to 5k plan I had followed before, always quitting at the first signs of discomfort. Maybe running and I weren’t a good match. Maybe all those people who say it ruins your knees are right. Maybe I should just concentrate on dead lifting my own body weight and forget about running.

But then I remembered the feeling of being on the road, the way my thoughts would quiet and my mind would open to the beauty all around me. I remembered the peace that would set in around mile 2.5, when my legs were strong and my breath was easy, when I felt like I could go on in this perfect balance forever. I remembered how, no matter how hard or ugly a run was, I would be filled with an overwhelming pride in myself. I just ran. And anything that came after that was easy by comparison.

So I went back to running because my love for it was strong than my fear. We came back together slowly, one mile at a time. It was hard at first, harder than I remembered, and there were times when I thought it wasn’t going to work out, but I stuck with it. It was raining yesterday and Ben didn’t want to go in his stroller so I bribed him by promising to take him to Starbucks. I loaded him up with a blanket and iPad and headed out the door. The air was cool and thick with the scent of fresh rain and smoke that was softly billowing from chimneys. The road was matted with wet leaves that silenced my steps. Everything around me was clean and new.

As I ran, I knew I was doing exactly what I was meant to be doing. If I had been on the fence about running before, this moment pushed me over the edge. I am in love, completely in love, with running again. And this time, I think it’s going to last.

Follow me on Instagram: @losingitblog
Follow me on Instagram:
@losingitblog

Pick a Lane

I was sitting in traffic the other night. My lane was at a complete stop while the other lanes around me moved forward, some at a creep, others faster. So I switched lanes, and after rolling forward a few car lengths, my new lane stopped moving and I watched, with building frustration, as the lane I was in began to move. When the red sedan with the stick family decal in the back window I had been staring at for five minutes rolled past me, I let out a sigh of frustration and flipped on my blinker, merging back into the lane I had been in. Which then came to a stop.

“Just pick a lane,” my husband, the king of zen and logically thinking, said from the passenger seat, “we will get there eventually.”

I don’t think he intended for this to be a life lesson, and I definitely didn’t take it as one at the time.. I think I huffed something along the lines of “if you know so much why don’t you drive next time?” Later that night, the wisdom of his words began to sink in. Pick a lane. Stay the course. See it through.

photo courtesy of write15minutes.com
photo courtesy of write15minutes.com

Readers of this blog may recognize that picking a lane is not my strong suit. To be honest, I tend to jump ship at the first sign of trouble. I have been working on my health and fitness for, well for forever but seriously in the last seven months or so, and in that time I have made definite progress and I have stumbled. The problem is that at the first sign of a setback I doubt everything I am doing, forget all past successes, and jump to the next new diet or exercise program. I am so sure that this one will be the One, until a few weeks in when my progress slows and then I find myself googling “best diets for weight loss,” at 6am.

Here is just a partial list of the diets and exercise programs I have tried: Weight Watchers, Atkins, slow-carb, intuitive eating, vegan, detox diet, clean eating, whole 30, low calorie, high fat, running only, weight training only, HIIT training, Tabata, endurance cardio. Just reading this list makes me feel exhausted. So much mental energy used to finding the next best thing, the quickest solution.

Now I’m left wondering where would I be if I had just seen something through.

I weighed myself this morning, which in hindsight seems like a ridiculous thing to do post-Thanksgiving, and saw that I am up three pounds. My first instinct was to find something new, that what I have been doing (eating around 1700 calories, weight training and running) isn’t working, that it was time to switch lanes. Never mind the fact that I have had more energy with the higher calorie goal, or that I ran my fastest 5K ever this week, or that I’m starting to see some real muscle definition in my shoulders. And then I took a breath, ate my oatmeal, and went for a run. I decided to stay where I am because I know that it is the road that will lead me to my goal. It might not be the quickest lane, but it is the one that I am happiest in.

And I will get there eventually.

photo courtesy of pinterest.com
photo courtesy of pinterest.com

 

On the Night Before 35

Tomorrow is my birthday. It’s a big one too.

35.

Halfway to 40.

Solidly in adulthood.

I am now the age where I find myself squinting at the cover of Us Weekly while waiting in the check out line, wondering who in the hell the twelve-year-old on the cover is. I am the age where I am now purchasing wrinkle cream as a necessity and not as a preventative measure. I am the age where I find myself scowling at the driver next to me as his thundering bass line drowns out the soothing voice of Terry Gross during my morning drive.

While I am not ready for the nursing home quite yet, I am definitely not young.

And that’s okay.

Now, those who know me may be surprised by that statement. I have been freaking out about my age since I was 15 (oh my god, I am halfway to 30!). When I was turning 25, I ran out and got my lip pierced and a geisha tattoo to prove I was still young and spontaneous. The countdown to the big 3-0 was only softened by getting married a few months before so that I was assured I would not die a dried-up old spinster. Needless to say, aging gracefully has not been my strong suit.

But I have learned something over the last decade or so that I will share with you here; life gets better as you get older. Weird, right? But it’s totally true. Gone is the neurotic self-obsession, the chronic insecurity, the endless need for reassurance that defined my twenties. As a woman in my thirties, I have a clarity about who I am and what I value. My family has given my a deep sense of purpose. Through them I have learned how much I matter, how truly important I am. I do not ever question my worth as a mother or wife, these are roles that I have not only lived up to but excelled at, and that confidence has filtered into other aspects of my life.

The biggest change in my confidence has come in the last six months. Through losing weight and exercise, I have learned how truly strong I am. I have learned that I am capable of doing hard things. I am not a natural athlete, I still have to fight to keep from tipping over while doing stationary lunges, so the fact that I am doing squats and jump-ups on a daily basis is amazing. I no longer reflexively respond with “I can’t do that,” while daydreaming about things I want to do but haven’t tried. Now I think, “I can do that,” and I know with enough hard work and dedication I can. Or at least get pretty close. I don’t think negative things about my body anymore. The constant stream of criticism (ugh, my thighs are huge, my stomach is too fat for these pants, my hips are so so wide) has been replaced with admiration (dang, my butt is round, my waist is so small in these jeans, my back is so strong).

Confession: I may have made my seven-year-old feel my shoulder muscle on the way to school today. And when he exclaimed, “Wow mom, you are getting strong like the Hulk,” I responded with, “Heck yes I am!”

So I face the day tomorrow with pride for the person I have become. And the only phrase that keeps repeating in my head is:

photo courtesy of leeroberts.deviantart.com
photo courtesy of leeroberts.deviantart.com