Monday, May 31, 2010

Week 3: Princesses Shouldn't Have to Have Patience

Running. How hard can it be? Right?! One foot forward, switch, next foot forward, switch, arms at sides-pumping, trees whizzing past your peripheral vision, air goes into lungs and back out and, wait. That is precisely what complicates matters. When my feet are forced to propel me faster than 4 miles an hour, my lungs refuse to cooperate. Donzo. Brakes. Urrch. No good, no go. I should probably quit smoking. Really, really quit. Going from one and a half packs a day to 1, 2, on a bad day, 3 cigarettes a day is, as my nine-year-old reminded me tonight, merely an improvement. But I can't congratulate myself on any success just yet. My daughter, the mini-sage, does not approve of my improvement. I still run. Let's call it lurching though, in keeping with the spirit of integrity I am attempting to imbue this blog with. Lurch, trip, gasp, wheeze, repeat. Seriously?! Ladies and gentlemen: if I can do this, anyone, and quite literally, anyone, can do it. On the upside, I'm so excited (or, if you prefer, insert any slightly hyperbolic state of emotion here: )to see the progress of my measurements, I decide that time has magically fast-forwarded and ta-da! It's been a month since the last round of data gathering. Reality check: it has not been a month--it's been two weeks. I don't know what I was expecting, but I wasn't expecting what I got. After hours of bike rides, weight lifting, walking, lurching, tennis games, parking a block away from the grocery store, wearing wrist weights and turning down donuts (DONUTS?! Ahhhhhhh....I LOVE donuts), very very few things changed. I've lost 2lbs. Hmmm...does 2 look better when I spell it out? Two pounds. Definitely better. More than an inch of me has left my waistline, and yep, that is about it. I hear Casey's mantra--"you are not your numbers". I do a quick estimate of how many calories and avoided exercise hours led me to my current state--I settle for a lot and then decide more intensive action is needed: I join my girlfriend for a jog-hike. On a mountain. On a rocky trail. Uphill both ways. Just kidding about that both ways part. This is her idea of fun. If I believed in purgatory--that is closer to what I would call this hike. I live in a desert and if you know nothing else about deserts, you know they are HOT. And don't believe that crap about dry heat, 110 degrees is just hot. I remembered the sunscreen, my pants, and water. I forgot my pedometer, my camel-pak and wrist weights. I am brave. I smile and tromp off behind my friend. She jogs this route daily. I have never been here. She is more patient with me than I am with my fat. I am thirsty and drain nearly all my water before we are halfway through. Oops. Now, I am really really thirsty. She gets runner's high. I get queasy and dry heave on the side of the path. I am reasonably certain stars don't shine at the same time as the sun and communicate my turn for the worse to my friend. Her knee is acting up. I would feel relieved, but then I would have to make room for guilt. I tell her this--the truth is less complicated than any other explanation. She wants me to come do this again. I will. It was fun.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Week 2: The Trepidatious Princess

trep·i·da·tion (trěp'ĭ-dā'shən)
n. A state of alarm or dread; apprehension. See Synonyms: fear.

The worst part is over, right? I mean, getting started is usually harder than anything else. I made a decision: get into better shape, take control of my health, create a better flow of energy through my life, etc. And I followed through. I have my personal trainer/life coach/kickbutt friend Casey. I have a small cadre of girl friends and family members to love me through every aching muscle. I walked and jogged on the days I said I would. I bought squeezy little workout clothings, a stability ball and 5 lb. dumbbells. Last Thursday morning, I talked to Casey on the phone, just like we planned. She emails me two sets of weight lifting workouts. Some of these exercises require the use of gym equipment. Uh-oh. The gym?! Out loud, I agree enthusiastically, but inside, I'm starting to think that is just asking too much of me. When I did my treadmill test, I scurried in toward the treadmills, iPod headphones already scrunched into my ears and sunglasses that stayed on my face the whole time. I do not know why I am afraid of that place--the people are nice enough, but it fills me with feelings of dread and inadequacy. Thursday night, I do not go to the gym. Friday, I intend to go the gym, but end up riding my bike for 15 miles to watch Iron Man 2 at the Cine-Capri. Saturday, I arrive at the gym at 10:45 pm and find out they are no longer a 24-hour facility. They closed at 7pm. Darn. I play two games of tennis with my girl friend over the weekend--an hour and a half of good sweaty fun. My arms, legs, chest and butt ache in that totally good-my muscles are starting to get used to being used-kind of way. Sunday evening, I finally roll into the gym. I pull out my little slip of paper, memorize the workout, and stuff it into my pants pocket. I say hello to the desk clerk this time and stride confidently to the back, where they store the dumbbells, benches and stability balls. I pick my poisons: purple dumbbells and a beige ball. I go through each set: arms, legs, arms, legs; 4 different combos, 2 sets and 12-15 reps of each exercise. I focus intently on my form and my breathing. The half hour whizzes by, I'm drenched and curiously satisfied. I have conquered the gym! Okay, not conquered, entirely. But I showed up. And that really counts for something.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Week 1: Potato Gets Off the Couch

As promised, real-life, real-time results (photos to the right, measurements below):

DATE 5/14/2010

neck 13 1/4"
shoulders 16"
chest 37 3/4"
bicep ® 12 1/4"
bicep (L) 6 1/2"
forearm ® 10"
forearm (L) 9"
waist 32 3/4"
bellybutton 35 1/4"
hips 40"
thigh ® 19 1/4"
thigh (L) 23 1/4"
calf ® 14"
calf (L) 9"

waist to hip ratio 32.75:40


fat lbs 52.6
% fat 34.0%
LBM 102.0

height 5'5 3/4"
weight 154.6

max push ups 60 seconds 12 off knees
13 on knees
12 minute Cooper treadmill (distance) .76 miles

So. I'm 30 lbs. overweight. After months of speculating on how and why this happened to me, I decided to get a hold of Casey. I've known Casey for a decade; she has a lot of acronyms after her name that mean she knows everything there is to know about food, fitness and yoga. She is an impressive specimen of a woman. I'm sure she can help me. We email. She lives in California, I do not. But, she can help me.

(She can help you she is):
Michelle Casey, RYT, CPT
Fitness, Nutrition and Yoga

I can't afford her, I can't afford not to afford her. I send her money. We begin. She is very thorough and wants to know a lot about everything. She is wonderfully encouraging. She is one person I know who will not shame me into doing this. That fact makes me want to do this even more. I fill out the questionnaire. Casey says I am not my numbers; when I get measured and step on the scale I want to cry anyway. Casey schedules my workouts with me a week at a time and we have a weekly phone sessions to check in live and see how I'm coming along. I send her my measurements, test results and the dread "before" photos (see above). Yes, I felt as miserable as I look in that picture. After our first phone call, I go running with my girl friend on a Saturday afternoon. It's hot and I still smoke and I run for 3 minutes. Maybe not even 3 minutes. That's all I've got. Then I walk, and run and walk and run and before either of us realize it, we've been gone for more than 2 hours. Cardio is quickly replacing cigarette in my vocabulary now. I text Casey every time I get out and move during the week--I love this. Wednesday evening (during a week I had finished 4 finals for school), I suggest to my boyfriend that we go for a walk instead of staying on the couch to watch one of my favorite movies. We walk. It feels awesome. I'm pinching myself to make sure it's still me. I love this.

A Couch Potato Princess: the Back Story

Hi, I'm Elly.
I have embarked on a journey from couch potato princess to fitness queen, but I just started last week. Nothing has really happened yet. I will be posting weekly blogs and once a month, I will be sharing my measurements and progress photos (warning: those with sensitive eyes may need to look away!) I'm not aware of too many fitness success stories where I got to watch the actual evolution of someone who lost a lot of weight or got into really good shape. Maybe there are good reasons not to share your ups and downs with the world, but I'm ignoring those, if they even exist. I'm either brave enough or stupid enough to let you all know how I'm doing, while I'm doing it. Cheer me on, empathize with me, not-so-secretly hope for my demise, do what you will. I'm putting it all out there, in the hope that someone will identify with a real woman who is living a real life, and trying to whip the old earth suit into shape while all of this realness is going on. (Another warning: no one is more merciless towards me than I am, I apologize in advance if the self-deprecation reaches toxic levels. I will try really hard to be more funny than mean to me). did I get here? I turned, awhile ago. My blessed metabolism failed me. I could no longer consume mass quantities of donuts with impunity. In fact, everything I ate stayed with me. I gained 30 lbs. This is not the most weight I have gained in my life, but those other pounds were associated with pregnancy, or the prevention thereof. I am 5'6", I have a medium-med/small frame when I weigh 125lbs (this is optimal weight). I will never ever have Kate Moss's thighs. I have a booty, not a butt--this was true even in high school when I was supertwiggy. I'm okay with these details. Now, these 30 pounds have distributed themselves from head to toe, so everyone who loves me says wonderful things like, "you don't look like you weigh 154.6 lbs!" Let me assure you, the scale is brand new and it isn't lying--I even got a 2nd opinion. That is indeed what I weigh. I have a tattoo of a creepy doll on the inside of my arm--even she's put on a few! But let's face it: this is about more than my weight, or looks, or self-esteem. Two things are more important: my long-term health and the kind of role model I am for my daughter. I have been talking and talking and talking and...(Brad, Anna, Jenna, Lianna, Marci, Casey--I'm nominating all of your ears for sainthood). Less talk, more do. So I did. This blog is the story of my doing. Thank you for reading.