Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Magic Numbers

Everyone has 'Magic Numbers' somewhere in their head about something. It might be how many calories they can eat at a meal, or total in a day. Or it might be a weight they're trying to reach, or a weight they're trying to lift. Maybe it's how much money they need to be making, or how much money they can spend. These 'Magic Numbers' might have been reached through careful calculation, through consulting online calculators, or by simply picking a number out of the air. But once we have these numbers in our heads, they seem carved in stone. No matter what speaks to the contrary, these numbers are truth.

I tend to have a lot of 'Magic Numbers'. One for every problem. Recently I needed to buy new Jeans. The ones I had were starting to get a little baggy, and they were developing holes in embarrasing places. So I created a magic number in my head. Once I reached 150 lbs I would buy myself new Jeans. I reached 150 lbs and went and bought myself new Jeans, and found myself wearing another 'Magic Number'. Or rather, the size smaller than it. I was wearing size 8 Jeans. This took a full twenty minutes in the dressing room to fully comprehend. Jeans came off, size 10s went on, size 10s came off, size 8s went on. I did this three or four times. Checking the tags six or seven times to make sure I wasn't just mistaken. I walked out of the store with two pairs of size 8 Jeans, feeling a little heady about the whole thing. Sure, a size 8 is larger today than the last time I could squeeze into a size 8, but that number, as illogical as it sounds, made me happy.

Today I stepped on the scale and saw that I had dropped below 150 for the first time in almost 5 years. Sure it was only 149.9, but that .1 lb made a difference! I was under 150.

And then I sat down and thought about it. I am not happier with my body because it fits in a size 8 Jean. I am not happier with my body because it is under 150lbs. Sure they are milestones, signs that I'm doing the right thing, but these numbers aren't the goals.

The goal number I had in mind is still there, blazing in fire in the back of my mind, tauntingly out of reach for now, but the real goal, once I get past all of these issues with numbers and image, the goal that we all nod our heads at but no one puts up on the wall in a chart or in a list to check off, that goal, is a healthy body.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Overdoing it

Yeah I overdid it yesterday. Not on the cardio, I only ran on the treadmil for 15 minutes, but on my strength training. The problem was there was this fit little girl next to me on the mats who was just powering through a HUGE long set of strength moves. Situps, bridges, planks, just everything. So I felt the need to push myself. I upped the weights I normally use from 10 lbs to 12.5 lbs. I added in extra exercises. I powerd through roughly twice the session I normally do.

And today I pay for my vanity. Ow.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Avoiding workplace food-pushers

Recently one of my biggest diet pitfalls has been the "workplace food-pusher". You know that person. They *love* to cook or bake, and they're usually really good at it too. They also don't ever seem to care that you are trying to eat healthy, or, worse, seem to think that eating healthy is some sort of punishment or is in some other fundamental way, wrong.

So there you are, Just starting your day, having had a healthy breakfast with a healthy lunch packed neatly in your bag. You went to the gym that day, and so you're feeling good about yourself. Little do you know you are about to be faced with a *dun dun dun!* emotionally charged food crisis.

Last night, after going to the gym and only getting in a short session before work, I was faced with a colleague holding out a tray of "banana cake". I was hungry, as I usually am after a workout, and the really expensive, not so good for me mozzarella and pesto sandwich I had just demolished had not filled me up. Then the kicker. He needed people to try it to see if the recipe was any good. "Sure, I'll try it." I said, thinking, naively that "trying it" involved a small taste. He dished out a two inch thick, three inch long "slice" of the cake, and proceeded to top it with whipped cream. All the while talking about presentation being important. "OK, I thought, just eat a little, declare it amazingly scrumptious, and move on." But then emotional issue problem number two entered the situation. The chef of the dish happened to be talking to someone else in the room, and mentioned that someone else had "tried" the dish, declared it delicious, and then proceeded to not finish her piece. "If she liked it so much, why didn't she finish it?" Was the conclusion. So in the interest of saving egos, I ate the whole piece. It was alright, nothing amazing, and if you believe the chef, not too bad for me (but it was cake come on lets be realistic.)

Now normally this wouldn't be an issue. One day, one cake, no problem. However, one of the key traits of a "food pusher" is consistency. This is becoming a two to three time a week problem.

Luckily for me (and all of us since this post is now helpful instead of just whining), Ali over at The Office Diet wrote This post, appropriately titled "How to refuse a cookie".

Anyone else have any advice on keeping "food pushers" from destroying your diet?

Monday, September 22, 2008


This is one of those topics that people talk about a lot. Especially when they're talking about either adding a little more exercise into your life or about saving the planet. Usually people talk about walking instead of driving, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

Fortunately, I live in NYC, and as such, don't own a car. I walk everywhere, except when I take the subway. As far as elevators go, my apartment doesn't have one, but at work, it's mandatory. I mean there are stairs...somewhere...but I work on the 14th floor, come on people!

So I tend to end up just skimming the walking articles, nodding my head and thinking "wow I'm so Eco-friendly and healthy! Go me!" Then I was walking around the city on Saturday, just hanging out with friends and generally wandering the lower end of Manhattan, and my feet started to hurt. This made sense, as I had stupidly chosen fashion over comfort and was wearing heels. I ignored the issue, they only hurt a little, but it got me thinking about walking in general. Were there proper ways to walk? Could I actually be doing damage to myself by ignoring the fact that it was starting to feel like I was walking on sharp rocks? How bad are heels for you?

So, to satisfy my curiosity about walking, and yours, A slew of links.

walking.about.com - Walking for fitness, weight loss, half marathon and marathon training, racewalking, recreational walking, tour walking, and volksmarch walking.

TheWalkingSite.Com - A resource for walkers of all fitness levels.

the Walking wikipedia entry - because wiki knows all!

Aolhealth.com/fitness/walking - AOL Health's entry on fitness walking

- Walking, by Henry David Thoreau, reformatted for the web (HTML format). Just for a little inspiration ^_^

Do you walk?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Treadmil fashion show

Somewhere around a week ago, I saw something that made very little to no sense to me, which subsequently got me thinking.

I witnessed a woman, a relatively attractive, and in good shape, enter the locker room at the gym, stow her stuff in a locker, take a shower, change into her workout gear, then proceed to do her hair and makeup before heading out to the gym to work out.

I observed this as I pealed myself out of my own sweaty gym clothes, took a shower and dressed and brushed my hair ( I don't usually wear makeup ) along side her. The entire time I was thinking about how little sense it made to me. I was taking a shower because I was heading to work, and because I had recently finished my workout, smelled slightly better than the inside of a hockey bag. Why would someone bother to worry that much about how they looked when they were heading to do something that would make them look like, well like they had run a few miles.

Then I started thinking, and noticing my own behaviors and emotions. I realized that what I wear to the gym is a source of some anxiety to me. I spend a lot of time convincing myself that it doesn't matter what I wear, I am there to work, not to show off. I have stood in front of the many full length mirrors in the gym, evaluating my outfit, Do I look frumpy? Is it weird that my shoes don't match? Why is that lump showing up on my stomach and how can I tug my clothes to hide it?

Or worse, while I'm on the treadmill, or standing on the mats doing my strength workout and some very fit or very tiny, or because I live and workout in NYC very chic, girl comes over to run/lift/stretch/be generally cooler and better than me, I start the mental comparison check list. There really isn't any conscious decision that goes into this process, it's virtually instinctual. It usually lands me firmly in the "not as good as her" category, but that's my issues talking.

What has been occupying my mind lately is the fact that we, as women, feel this need to be "presentable" at all times. That even in the gym, where we are supposed to get sweaty, gross and generally work our butts off, we tend to play the "fashion game".

Why is that?

Friday, September 19, 2008


I've been thinking a lot lately about what stands between me and my goals. Mostly it's myself, or rather my reactions to things.

When presented with difficult circumstances in life, my tendency is to withdraw into things that are comfortable to me. Mainly, staying home and watching TV or messing around on the computer, doing things I consider "relaxing".

Working out, for all the good ways it makes me feel, is not something I consider "relaxing".

My roadblocks are mostly mental. Getting over that feeling that going to the gym is an "obligation", "work", something I "have to do" vs. something I "want to do".

I am, for instance, sitting here currently trying to convince myself that I *must* go to the gym today, seeing as I did not go yesterday due to having not gotten to sleep until around 3pm - after being awake for a total of ... 23 hours strait. Good excuse, yes, but now I'm sitting here, still tired and stressed and *really* not wanting to go to the gym, trying to convince myself I'll feel better afterward. Which I will. But for some reason that doesn't help get me there.

In fact the reason I'm most likely going to go is because my S.O. is expecting me to go. In fact he's meeting me there. So I have to. And because if I don't go, what am I going to write about here except about how I've been slacking off?

So it's firmly in the "obligation" and "have to" category. Any ideas on how to fix this?


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Food and Figure

My recent brush with Olestra has me thinking a lot about the crazy things we do (eating and other disorders aside) to try to fit into this societies view of what our figure should look like.

Just the fact that there are still products on the shelves with this noxious ingredient in them is an indicator of how ingrained in our society the "thin at any cost" idea is.

Backstory: A couple weeks ago I saw "Fat Free Light Pringless!" splashed across an inviting pale blue can in the Duane Reed near where I work. "Woo!" I thought "They'll most likely taste funny, but I'm craving salt and chips and that can is just what I need!" Foolishly the only part of the label I read was the Serving size and Calories per serving. "Sweet! I get to eat 14 whole chips for only 70 calories! Score!" Later, around 3 or 4 am, close to quitting time anyways, and after ingesting about half the can, I happened to be looking at the packaging and noticed in tiny print "Product contains Olestra". My stomach sank, literally. Since then I have been trying desperately to get my system running normally again.

From crazy small portions to add-ins that cause you to lock yourself in the bathroom for weeks, food shopping has become a dangerous prospect for the dieter.

What kinds of crazy things have you encountered?


Monday, September 15, 2008

A weekend of ups and downs

One of my biggest problems right now has been finding time to get to the gym. It's not that I don't have free time, it's that my free time is all clumped together at one end of the week, which is also my free time for getting everything else I have to get done, done. Add in a little stress, the fact that it's football season (GO BILLS!), a boyfriend that you want to spend some time with, and a serious video game addiction...and yeah there went my weekend.

I am however grateful to whomever it was that first pointed me in the direction of H.I.I.T. (it was either tokaiangel or MizFit, I honestly can't remember), they are saving my life right now. With two H.I.I.T. sessions this week, I am actually still loosing weight. Which is amazing.

The low point this weekend came when we finally managed to get a hold of the pictures from my S.O.'s brothers wedding. I was shocked at how big I looked. In fact, I honestly think I don't look like I lost any weight. It was overwhelmingly disappointing to see those pictures, and realize that my body is nowhere near where I thought it was. You'd think after loosing around 25 lbs that I would be able to look at pictures of myself without cringing. The facts are that Yes, I'm wearing a much smaller dress size in that picture, and Yes, there aren't any weird stomach lumps or hip rolls, but my god my arms are huge and flabby and I'm just so wide.

*sigh* I think I need to work on my body image at some point...

There were a lot more high points than low points this weekend, although none of them are fitness related. The Bills won, we're 2-0 for the season ^_^ We got some shelves installed in the apartment, and quality time was spent with people.

I also went grocery shopping and got enough stuff ready for my work week. So I should be able to just grab and go, and not end up buying expensive stuff to eat for "midnight dinner".

How's everyone else hanging in through the little ups and downs?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Let's hear it for the H.I.I.T.

Yesterday was my second (official) attempt at H.I.I.T. training. Here's how my workout went:

I tried the treadmill for a warm up, walking for five minutes, then running for ten. My ankles started bothering me by the end of ten minutes, so I promptly removed myself to the stretching area for a good long stretch/strength session.

For my abs I did several sets, 20 sensei mark specials, 30 ab choppers, 30 toe touches, and 30 side crunches. For the arms I did a short set, just 30 push ups, 30 kickbacks on each side, and 30 hammer curl/overhead presses on each side. I did all weight requiring exercises with a 10lb hand weight. I did a lot of stretching interspersed between those, and my ankles were feeling better by the time I was done.

Then it was time for the H.I.I.T. portion of our evening. I did it on the elliptical machine again, to spare my ankles further punishment. I set the hard session to a lvl 10, but when that didn't feel hard enough half way through the workout, I upped it to 11. I did a 20 minute session, with 2 minute intervals. By the end of the 20 minutes I was completely whipped out, however by the time I had showered and changed, I had mostly recovered. I started wondering if I hadn't pushed myself hard enough.

Later however, my butt muscles decided to voice their opinion. I am sore.

Today is a rest day, then tomorrow I plan to try to up my time on the treadmill by a few minutes, but not too much. I'm trying to build my ankles up, not sideline myself again. Then it'll be time for another H.I.I.T. session. I'm aiming for two a week, with a normal workout in there too.

How's the H.I.I.T. going everywhere else?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Rebooting the fitness routine

My work hours have gotten even crazier than they were. M-W I work 12 hour days, from 7pm-7am. I'm still not into the swing of that schedule, and it's been keeping me from a consistent gym schedule.

Having started the H.I.I.T. sessions will help. I do one 20 minute H.I.I.T. session on the ellipticals on the days that I work, which helps keep my time in the gym down, and allows for a shower afterwards. This is however extremely frustrating to my S.O. who isn't doing H.I.I.T. and therefore feels gypped on gym time.

I'm hoping I can find a better balance in my life again. I had a good schedule going there for a while, and was managing three full sessions a week at the gym. Now...I've been getting one, maybe two a week. True, some of the reasons for not going to the gym have involved some major activity (Moving, Moving friends, Walking the entirety of the new *giant* Ikea here in brooklyn) but nothing gym level.

While the H.I.I.T. sessions are kicking my butt (literally, I feel it a lot in my behind) I'm gaining weight again. I have to be honest a lot of that is due to mostly poor food choices lately, and very little physical activity, but it's frustrating none the less.

So, any ideas on ways to fit workouts into an already crammed schedule?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Getting back to the gym...finally

The hardest part, for me, of trying to get in shape is getting back on track after an injury or illness. The longer I am away from the gym the easier it is to slip into old habits, and the harder it is for mr to convince myself to go back. At a certain point it is almost like starting over, and in some ways it I'd worse. Workouts that were easy are now greuling.

Butniugh whining. I am back on track, mostly. Internet gets restored Friday, so posting should be more regular then.

Tracking Transformation: Where I stand now