Monthly Archives: May 2012

Reincarnate Yourself

StopQuitting

It is 10:38 pm according to the clock on my computer. I JUST finished my workout.

I didn’t want to do it today. It was the holiday weekend. I was tired. I didn’t feel in top form all day. I wasn’t sick but didn’t exactly feel well. I didn’t feel like myself.

I wanted another day off. I wanted a lazy day. It doesn’t feel like a holiday when you push yourself to do the things you HAVE to do when what you WANT to do is laze around with a cold and tasty adult beverage in hand.

I knew the consequences of taking another day off. I would be mad at myself and feel guilty, but I could get over that. Otherwise? Who would know? Who would care? It matters to no one else whether or not I take a day off.

My old self would have given in.

But I had this ad running through my head as I forced myself to put on my workout clothes and tie my shoes:

It brings tears to my eyes every time. I see myself in that ad.

I’ve mentioned before, the phoenix is a very important personal symbol to me. Isn’t that what all this is about? Shedding our old selves and coming back a little wiser, a little stronger, a little changed for the better every time?

It’s now almost 11 pm. I just logged my minutes and calories on my SparkPeople tracker, making sure I got it in for the day.

It might have taken me all day to get my workout in, but at least I can go to sleep tonight without having that lingering feeling of guilt or anger at myself for not doing it.

I don’t like the old me. It can stay behind if it wants to. I’m gonna keep going.

Emancipation

fear

Three months ago yesterday I moved out of my ex’s apartment and into my house. It’s weird…some days it feels like it’s been forever, and other days it felt like it was just yesterday. I’m pretty sure he’s felt the same too, as he was saying it had been three months six weeks ago.

I’ve had my ups and downs. I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD over the losses I had back in 2008/2009. Avoidance of things I needed to take care of…like the house? Flashbacks, like being unable to take care of others when they were sick? Nightmares, insomnia, anxiety, depression? I seriously had it all, and just didn’t know how bad it was. I didn’t get the help I needed then, and it became too much.

I was letting the fears get the best of me. Yes, PTSD explains why, but I hate admitting letting something like fear keep me from a positive future.

When our relationship fell apart last year, I didn’t have much to hold onto to get me through it. He said he was sorry for cheating and wanted to try to work things out, and I believed him. I said that working things out meant he had to stop the cheating. He promised he would. So I said I was going to move, but was taking my time because I thought he really wanted me to stay.

I still had a lot of fears regarding facing the house. And the thought being on my own after living with a person for nearly a decade was also scary. Those fears kept me from doing what I needed to do. I convinced myself that things would be all right as they were. That time would handle everything. I didn’t push myself to move.

I let the fears win.

Then I caught him at it again earlier this year. He doesn’t know how much I know. He thought he could lie and say he stopped, but I knew everything. I know what he’s said and done. I know the things he’s called me. He was done with the relationship long before I broke up with him. So much for wanting to work things out….

It all finally hit me. It was the proverbial rock and a hard place. I was letting the fear of moving keep me in a bad living situation. It was the fear of the unknown, being alone, that held me in an uncomfortable but familiar “relationship.” I realized I had a choice: Remain in a situation where I was unwanted, miserable, being used, and not getting the support I needed…or face those fears and give the unknown a shot at being good. It wasn’t a hard decision at that point.

FUCK FEAR, MAN.

I’m not saying that the past three months have been all sunshine and rainbows. I’ve had several days where the depression wanted to bring me down again. But I’ve gained SO MUCH by facing those fears.

Suddenly, I felt free.

I’ve taken to calling February 24th “Emancipation Day.” Sure, it was the day I moved out, but that means it was also the day I freed myself from my fears. Sure, they still linger and threaten to take over from time to time, but then I remember what I gained by facing them, fighting back, and defeating them.

I have a great house. I have a great new roommate. I am getting my health back, both physical and mental. I have friends…loads of friends! Friends who suddenly stepped up out of Acquaintanceville or who came back, rekindling friendships we had before. Friends who are interested in me as a person, not what they can get out of me. Heck, friends who are interested in more than just friendship, but kept their distance in respect for my previous relationship. Now they don’t have to.

I have so much support and love coming from all directions that it’s overwhelming sometimes. I have so much support and love to give, and it feels good to give back.

I’ve gained so much confidence again. I’ve been coming out of that dark place. I’m remembering who I am.

I am happy.

Sometimes I wish I had faced those fears sooner, but I think it happened at the right time. Would my relationship have survived? Maybe. But looking back at everything, would I really want to be in that relationship anymore? Not really. I learned a lot about myself and a lot about him, and it’s better this way.

But most importantly, I am free to be me again. I have learned how far down I can slip when I let my fears rule me. I have learned I have the strength to overcome them myself. And now? Now I have new goals and know I can attain them.

Come back here next February 24th. You will see a VERY changed person.

And I challenge you to do the same. What do you need to free yourself from? What fears hold you back from being the best YOU that you can be?

Face them. Break them. Find your freedom. It’s the most amazing feeling.

Note to Self…From Myself

GirlsFuckingSweatDear Aili,

You know damn well that weight loss comes from causing a deficit of calories. You want to burn more than you eat. It’s simple math.

But never EVER forget again that there’s such a thing as creating TOO BIG of a deficit, which will impede your weight loss goals. You want your body to burn fat, not burn the muscle you’re working SO HARD to build. You know those big solid lumps in your arms? Those are your BICEPS and TRICEPS. You got complimented on them today. DON’T LOSE THEM BECAUSE YOUR BODY IS PANICKING THAT IT’S NOT GETTING THE CALORIES IT NEEDS! Seriously, don’t be afraid of eating a little more!

I know you don’t like to eat breakfast, but GUUUUURL you GOTTA do it! And you’ve found several recipes and ways to mix things up that you won’t get bored, remember? No one says you HAVE to eat “breakfast foods.” Eat one of those little steaks for breakfast. Cook up a chicken breast. Have some salmon. IT’S OKAY. Save the eggs for a salad if you want. Just make sure you are eating enough.

Also: Veggies. Veggies are yummy. Veggies are full of water. You feel cooled off when you eat your veggies. SO EAT THEM. (Doing great on the fruit, though! Awesome idea to start freezing grapes again!)

Speaking of water, good for you on keeping up with that. Just push it a little more. You’re almost back to 3 liters a day. Your skin is looking better. One to two more glasses. YOU CAN DO IT!

You’re kicking ass on the exercise. The entire reason I’m writing to you, Aili, is because you may be kicking a little TOO MUCH ass right now. The amount of ass you’re kicking is fine if you make sure you’re eating enough. So start tracking that food RELIGIOUSLY. Then go kick more ass! KICK ALL THE ASS!

So yeah, eat a little more, track it, drink more water, and keep kicking all the ass!

Your bestest friend,

-Yourself

PS – Don’t let the scale tell you that you suck. It’s a stubborn bastard and a total jerk. Now your clothes…they’re telling you that you’re awesome. Seriously, you look HOT in that tank top.

Let me be your ego boost

GreatPeopleMakeYouGreatTime and time again you hear about people saying they can’t work out in public (gym, walking/running, playing sports, etc.) because they’re not fit enough yet. They feel like people will silently judge them, or snicker in the corner about the “fat ass” who is sweating on the treadmill.

Sure, there are a few of those types. But from what I’ve heard from most of the gym rats, the worst of the criticism is in your own head. When you are noticed, people might want to help you with your form, or are seeing the progress you’re making. To quote Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands. They just don’t!” So relax, you’re probably surrounded by some of the happiest people on earth! (As long as you don’t stand between them and their post-workout meal.)

But yes, you probably are noticed. You want to know my thoughts when I pass people on the trail during my runs?

The following are some actual thoughts I have had…I kid you not…

“They’re walking on their lunch break. Good for them!”

“I think I just passed by the Old Spice Guy! Or at least his twin brother!UNF!”

“DOGGIES!”

“Where did she get those cute shorts? Would my ass look that good in them?”

“I’m a Barbie Girl! In a Barbie wooor…OH FUCK, WAS I SINGING OUT LOUD?!”

“I wish I had a walking/running partner like that!”

“Damn, they look good!”

“I wonder what she’s listening to?”

“Aww, look at the kids! Oh wait, one’s whining. Ovaries have just shut down again.”

“My backpack’s got jets! I’m Boba the Fett! I bounty hunt for…FUCK, I PROBABLY LOOK LIKE I’M TALKING TO MYSELF!”

“Haha! My WoW shirt got noticed! For the Horde, bro!”

“Water…water!” *a minute later* “Oil…oil!  Room service! Room service!”

“They think I look like I’m about to pass out, don’t they? DAMN MY FAIR AND RED-TONED SKIN!”

“Ooh, it’s that lady with the beastly abs that I saw the first day I took a walk here! YOU GO, BEASTLY ABS LADY!”

“I wish I had thought of that. Tomorrow: French braid!”

“Where did she get that cool water bottle?!”

Yeah, that’s pretty much it. Now you might be thinking that I didn’t post any of my negative thoughts or criticisms on here. I know I’ve passed by people who were more overweight or out of shape than I am. Honestly, I’m usually thinking good thoughts toward them, and am proud that they’re out there getting it done. Most of my negative thoughts are toward myself. I think that I don’t look as good, or I’m aware that my butt jiggles when I run, or I know my face is tomato-red.

And then I pass by a stranger and we do the smile-and-nod thing at each other. Suddenly I feel accepted, despite all my flaws.

Give it a shot and get out there anyway. It’s true that most of your worries are in your head. I guarantee you there are plenty people who see YOU as they pass or drive by and think, “Man, I wish I could do that!”

RICE

knee-painSorry, folks. This post is NOT about wonderful starchy carbs (which I certainly enjoy post-workout—I’ve been described as looking like a panther crouching over its kill when I get my post-workout meal). It’s about basic injury prevention and treatment.

A few weeks ago, I went to my ex’s apartment to bring home a bunch of boxes of my stuff. I hadn’t been working out much at that point, and I could feel the flights of stairs in my knees after hauling 25 boxes and box-like items down the flights from that apartment, and back up the stairs in my house. Then, to clear my head, I took my usual 4.15 mile walk.

My knees were sore, but not too bad.

Then that night I managed to sleep with my left leg tangled in my sheets and my knee bent at an angle.

When I woke up? SEARING PAIN.

I treated it as best as I could by staying off my feet and putting ice on it. It was okay, but not fully healed, when I made it worse that weekend when I got the rest of my belongings.

Since then, I have been fighting to get it healthy again. It would feel better for a while, then I’d do something and begin to feel the ache and pain creep up on me again. It felt fine BEFORE Legs Day. The next day it wasn’t so good. Or it was great on Saturday. Sunday? It might not have been a great idea to wear those cute heels just yet.

I went to running websites and blogs to try to figure out what exactly was wrong. Shin splints sounded like a possibility since I tend to overpronate. And I won’t lie, the thought that I caused a stress fracture scared me. But I SWORE to not become a “cyberchondriac.” Besides, the pain was more around the knee. Patellar tendonitis looked like a possibility, too, but still didn’t seem to fit the bill.

I finally figured out that it’s bursitis. On one hand, OW. On the other, YAY FOR FIGURING IT OUT SO I CAN TREAT IT!

I had actually been doing the right things for treating it: RICE.

RICE (sometimes PRICE) stands for (Protection), Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. It’s not a cure-all for ALL injuries, but is definitely the go-to first aid when you feel a pain that is not the normal soreness from working out.

Thankfully, I didn’t really need the Protection aspect of it, but it’s something to keep in mind if for some reason you have to keep going despite a potential developing injury.

Rest: This much is obvious. Think of pain as your body’s way of telling you to stop whatever it is you’re doing NOW. If you’re strength training, definitely take at least a day off from that body part. You should be doing that anyway. Don’t follow Legs Day with ANOTHER Legs Day. (I shouldn’t have to say that, but I’ve seen people do it.) If you’re running, take a day off. Or walk, if you must keep moving. (I did have a day where it was annoying me, not painfully, but I also had DOMS from Leg Day and wanted to take a short walk anyway to try to deal with THAT soreness.)

Ice: Pain like this is often due to inflammation. Take an anti-inflammatory pain killer like Advil, and ice the body part that needs it. In my case, figuring out that it was bursitis meant I finally figured out which part of the knee needed the ice. Don’t put the bag of ice directly on your skin, and don’t keep it there for too long. 15 minutes at a time should be enough. You don’t want to give yourself frostbite! Give yourself an hour or so off of the ice, and then ice again as needed.

Compression: Having a brace or even ACE bandage to apply light compression to the area should be applied to accommodate swelling.

Elevation: Try to keep the injured area above heart-level if you can, but definitely elevate it for circulation.

I actually enjoyed dealing with this because it meant I had an excuse to sit somewhere with my leg propped up and do nothing but knit or watch tv. Relax? What’s that?!

When I wasn’t resting, and before exercise, I focused a little harder on stretching my legs and knee. I’d warm up with some dynamic stretching, and was certain to do some static stretching after. My exercise focus has turned to strengthening my knees, and I have been taking my time to make sure I was using proper form. I push hard enough to strengthen the muscles, but not so much to cause further injury.

In my case, it helps that I’m also losing weight. It’s said that losing 1 pound of weight takes 4 pounds of pressure off the knees.

For me, Monday was Legs Day. Yesterday was my walk (it definitely helps with DOMS) and Core Day. Today I don’t have a walk, and it’s Arms Day. Tomorrow is just a walk. I can tell that my knees are feeling stronger, and my left knee is feeling better.

So if I can emphasize ANY point in this post, it’s to listen to your body. Recognize the difference between soreness and actual pain. Treat it immediately, and build yourself back up so you can continue kicking ass!

Product Review: Yurbuds Ironman Inspire Ear Buds

yur_buds_2I normally don’t do product reviews, but I know some friends were interested when I mentioned on Twitter that I got some new ear buds for working out.

I had been using some nice Apple In-ear ear buds, since the ones that come packaged with an iPod are uncomfortable to me. They were great at noise cancellation, and were fairly comfortable for regular use. I love them to wear on planes because of these two factors. However, wearing them on a run was an entirely different story.

I have fairly small ears, so the most comfortable ear tips were the smallest pair. The medium were just a little too large for comfort. But the small ear tips were small enough that I constantly had to push them back in, even for easy workouts like a walk or ride on a stationary bike. Jogging with them was hell.

When I read about the Yurbuds Ironman series earphones, I thought they were worth a shot. I read the reviews, and of course the reviews were never consistent. I decided to give them a shot anyway.

I almost bought the Inspire Pro at Best Buy, but decided I didn’t need the mic. It was fine to trade down to save the extra $10. I wish I had known about the Inspire Duro, simply because I’ve found cloth-covered cords on my mice and gaming headsets to be more durable and less prone to breakage. I’m pretty sure the reason I didn’t know about the Duro was because they were going to replace the regular Inspire set that I purchased, but they just weren’t out yet. Best Buy didn’t have the Duros, and I no longer see the regular Inspires on Yurbuds’ website. *shrug* C’est la vie.

So anyway, I came home with the Yurbuds Inspire headphones. They were definitely different than what I was used to! The package contained the headphones, an extra (larger) set of the molded silicone ear tips, a nylon case, some “trading cards,” and the owner’s manual.

I felt the instructions for putting them in (they have a “twist and lock” technology) weren’t that great, but after a few tries it was pretty simple. When you’re used to in-ear earbuds, these were a little strange-feeling at first because you don’t feel them where your previous earbuds fit. So for a while they always felt like they were falling out, even when they were locked in. I’ve gotten used to that, however, and have discovered that it takes no small effort to knock them out of place. They definitely stayed in my ear rather securely, even on high-sweat workouts where the motion from jogging would have knocked my Apple earbuds out. Overall, I find them very comfortable once I got used to them (as compared to regular in-ear earphones).

Some people complained about the sound quality. Honestly, I can’t tell much of a difference between these and my Apple earbuds. The ONLY difference I’ve noticed is that these aren’t really intended for sound isolation like the Apple earbuds. They do block most of the outside noise, but not to the same degree. This doesn’t bother me as I WANT to be able to hear traffic or when there’s a biker coming up behind me when I’m jogging the trails.

The only thing I don’t like about these earbuds is that the cord is VERY long compared to most normal headphones, and feels slightly flimsy (which I’m guessing is corrected in the Duro set). I usually have to fold up a few inches and tuck it into the waistband of my pants so it’s not flopping all over the place. The long cord could get annoying if I wanted to wear these while lifting weights. I have accidentally caught my hand on the cord while I was running, but the earphones did not pop out of my ears. In fact, I think they pulled my iPod off of where it was clipped to my shorts!

I’ve had these for several weeks now and I definitely love them as my workout earphones. Some people have said theirs broke quickly, but obviously I couldn’t tell you my experience with that. I tend to be very gentle on them, and most of my activity with them has been walking/jogging.

Your mileage may vary, but I really like these earbuds. They are certainly the best I’ve ever used for exercise.

Structure

GetDietBackOnTrackFor any of you who have been following this blog, you might have noticed when I tend to fall off the wagon. The number 1 reason? Lack of structure.

If my exercise plan is great, but my diet plan is not, then I will let the exercise slip. Or the other way around. It’s almost inevitable. I need to have enough structure to keep me occupied, but enough flexibility to keep me from getting bored.

For example, when it comes to diet, I’ve done so many types that I’ve lost count. Weight Watchers and Nutrisystem come to mind, because they both had something I needed, but lacked the strength of the other plan. I liked the flexibility of Weight Watchers, but if I could convince myself that 16 of the day’s 20 points can be spent on getting a Chick-Fil-A sandwich and small fries, I’d do it. Justifying “bad habits” allowed me to slip. However, it had the accountability of the meetings and weigh-ins. Nutrisystem, on the other hand, had a structured meal plan to follow EVERY DAY that kept me on track. I lost more weight on Nutrisystem, but then I got bored.

With fitness, barring any injuries or real life issues, I had fewer problems as long as I could work my exercise into the day. I found it easier to set up a plan (workout 3 times a day for 4 to 6 weeks) and remind myself that it only adds up to 12 to 18 workouts.

But if my eating schedule wasn’t figured out (I feel better with about 5 small meals per day), then I was likely to let my exercise slip.

“Oh, I’ll get my workout in a half hour after I eat!” Yeah, but 3 hours later I still hadn’t eaten because I didn’t know what I wanted.

THIS HAS CHANGED!

It wasn’t easy, and I can share the details in another post if people are interested, but I sat down one weekend and put together a plan based on pretty much ALL THE RESEARCH I had put together from last year and previous diet attempts.

I knew I needed: Structured meals that ensured I got the required numbers (calories, nutrient macros, timing, etc.), but allowed for flexibility in foods and schedule. I needed to plan what to have pre- and post-workout to replenish my body’s energy stores as well as feed developing muscles. I needed to figure out how these meals would fit in with a workout schedule, so I had to plan what I was going to do as far as strength training and cardio. The day’s workout would determine my nutritional needs.

I wanted to work on the timing of which foods to eat to keep me sated throughout the day, but I wanted flexibility in those meals so I didn’t feel like I was eating the same boring “Grilled chicken and a salad” every day for lunch. This also had to keep in mind my personal tastes, like the fact that I’m not a fan of the soup-and-salad lunch. It also meant I had to plan meals and figure out which ones I had to cook, and figure out the most efficient way to work cooking into my daily schedule.

Working around the needs of a new roommate posed a challenge, too. I no longer wanted to be someone’s personal chef (even if it was my meal as well), but I had to make sure that if I made a meal for the both of us that it sated both of our needs and tastes. Thankfully, she’s very supportive of this effort.

Finally, I wanted to make sure that I had a “Cheat Day” worked in, so we could still enjoy going out from time to time and not feeling deprived of (most) foods we love. Likewise, I needed to work in days off from exercise to keep from burning out or causing injury.

You know what? Once I figured out some basic meal requirements and put the structure in place, suddenly planning meals themselves and even grocery shopping trips became SO MUCH EASIER! I have a regular shopping list, know how many days worth of salads or eggs to have on hand, how much of X type of meat to buy, and what kinds of snacks to get. I know that if I need 32 oz. of V8 for the week, and my 64 oz. bottle is mostly full, I don’t need to buy any more that week. I know I need Y number of oatmeal servings, and can easily see if I have enough or need more. There’s less grocery waste going on, as well as less time being spent at the grocery store. (As well as less temptation to buy things that I know are bad for me!)

When I don’t have to worry about figuring out dinner every night (“Tuesday will be stuffed peppers, Wednesday will be grilled salmon…”) I have more time to focus on my workout and other Real Life Things. No more wandering in the kitchen for an hour, trying to decide what to cook.

It feels good. I finally have a food plan that keeps me on track, and I have checked it against my daily nutritional requirements to make sure I was getting enough. I have an exercise plan that keeps me going. It’s making me stay motivated, yet streamlines my day so I can spend more time doing Other Things that I didn’t have time for before.

And I can even say it works! Last week I got back on track, losing nearly 2 pounds!