Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Yoga Story

I love yoga.  I really never thought I'd say that about any exercise, but I really love it! I'm not great at it.  One look at me and you'll see it is not likely I'll do any advanced poses any time soon.  But I love the way yoga makes me feel.  I tend to carry a lot of stress in my neck and shoulders.  After an hour of yoga, that just disappears!  Yoga is challenging, but you get to work at your own pace and make any modifications needed based on your strength and flexibility. 

My first class I spent a lot of time in child's pose while everyone else was moving on.  It seemed strange at first, but with each class I've been able to do more and more.  I'm really proud of the progress I'm making.  Today I did half moon on my right side for the first time!  I still have a long way to go on the left side, but every class I take helps me get there. 

I do not love "hot yoga".  I tried that once, and it is not out of the realm of possibility that I might try it again in the future (with more preparation) , but the experience I had with it was not pleasant at all!  In 2011, I was working out regularly with a personal trainer. He had wanted me to try yoga, but I had refused on several occasions.  One day before a scheduled workout, he sent me a text that our workout would not be at our usual gym, but instead he would meet me at a yoga studio to do hot yoga.  I thought if I would just go I might like it, and if not at least he would get off my back about trying it.  Boy was I unprepared for the experience!  First of all, I was not near hydrated enough.. I had only had my morning coffee and one bottle of water that day.  Secondly, no one gave me any warning about how hot it was going to be, and what I should do in the class.  I really think they should have a "this is my first time at hot yoga" class so it's not so overwhelming!  And to top it all off, the people there were just weird.  They were just very hippy-trippy-granola types (I'm sure they were all very nice.. but it kinda creeped me out).  Now, imagine you're going to this place to meet your trainer, and he shows up late and they won't let him in.  So, there I am sweating my *$$ off, feeling light headed, and finding it hard to breathe (much less move) and there he is in the hallway looking in through a window on the door.  I was so miserable, but I figured I would keep trying, at least for a bit longer.  I think the instructor could sense my panic.  She encouraged me to just lie down on my mat and breathe.  I did that for what seemed like 7 hours, but was really only 7 minutes.  It was about 20 minutes into the hour-long class that I decided to flee.  I quietly got up and tried to gather my things.  The instructor stopped me and said (in a voice that came across as very creepy instead of soothing), "Toni, please don't leave... we love you.  Class, tell Toni we love her and we want her to stay." Then the class chimed in (in an even creepier cult like group voice), "Toni... we love you... please don't leave... we know you can do this."  It was all TOO bizarre, but I felt like I had to stay.  So I rolled my towel back out and just stayed there lying on my towel for the remainder of class.  Once class was over I couldn't get out of there fast enough.  Everyone was congratulating me for staying, and saying how proud they were of me.  Again it was probably very nice, but it came across as SO CREEPY!

I know someone will likely read this and say that not all hot yoga is like that and it really is a great way to do yoga.  To that person, I say "You may be right, but that has not been my experience".  Someday I may try it again.  Until then, I'll stick with sweating my *$$ off at plain old room temperature yoga!


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Moving More

If you read my post last week, you'll remember I took a week off from scheduling gym time.  It was a really great week of rest! 

I didn't go to the gym at all, but I did try to move a little more each day. 

I'm using Weight Watchers Activelink activity monitor.  It works similarly to a Fitbit (which I also have, but am not currently using).  More than a pedometer, it captures all of your movement throughout the day.  The first week you use it, it takes an assessment of your daily movements.  Once the assessment phase is over, it sets little challenge goals for you to increase your activity. 

I actually did my assessment the last week of Christmas break. I was ill 3 of the days, and did very little moving, so I don't think my assessment was reflective of my "typical" activity.  I could do the assessment again, but instead I'm just going with the challenge it currently has set for me, which is to earn 3 activity points per day by the end of 12 weeks.  I'm still at the earn 1 activity point each day phase of the 12 week plan.  I tend to exceed that goal regularly, but I figure it is better to start small and work to increase my activity bit by bit.

Activelink is a pretty cool little piece of technology and, if you know anything about me, you know I love my technology!  It displays a percentage of your goal reached, and is pretty motivating.  When you reach 100% it flashes all the lights (nothing too exciting, but still an indicator that you are doing well).  The best thing about it, is when I plug it into my computer it automatically adds the data it has collected to my tracker!  That means I don't have to count up my activity points, they just show up in my tracker!  Brilliant!

I really hate to exercise.... that is not an overstatement... I actually HATE IT!  I don't feel good at it, and it makes me hot and sweaty (really sweaty... it's not pretty) and generally uncomfortable.  It's the worst!  But I understand that it is a necessary evil, so I make myself do it.  It's just part of being healthy and I accept that.   There are 2 exercises I actually enjoy (a little).  One is yoga (but not the "hot" kind).  The other is walking outside (weather permitting of course).  I wish I could do one or both of those every day, and that would be enough, but I know I need to challenge/push myself to do more than that at least some of the time.  I don't think I'll ever push myself like Bob & Jillian push those Biggest Loser contestants, that's kind of extreme.  But I make myself run a little and set goals for fitness with my gym buddy.  I think we'll be back to the gym this week.  We usually do 3 days of yoga and 3 days of treadmill.  It's a lot, and I generally hate it when we're going, but I usually feel pretty great afterward. 

Here are the ways I am working to get more activity in my life:
  • The Gym - 5-6 days per week, usually 3 Yoga classes & 3 treadmill workouts
  • The Parking Lot - I park about as far away as I can from work (and other places I go) just to get a few more steps in my day
  • The Stairs - I work at 2 schools that have classrooms upstairs, and even though it is just one flight of stair, I would sometimes take the elevator.  Now, I only take the elevator if I am moving something that I cannot carry up the stairs!
  • The Post-lunch Walk - I've started walking around the campus (indoors if the weather is bad) for about 5 minutes after eating my lunch.  
  • The Walk-Break - If I have a day where I am sitting at my computer instead of teaching, I take regular walk breaks.  Every 45 minutes I make myself get up and walk around for a few minutes at least.
And one more (this one I'm nerding out about)....Xbox Kinect! I've had my Xbox 360 for over a year, but this weekend I went ahead and bought the Kinect.  It's kinda awesome!  So far I only have one game...  Just Dance Greatest Hits.  It's pretty fun.  Reminds me of when I was a pre-teen and would close my bedroom door, turn up my music and "just dance".  I'm not a great dancer, and rarely dance in public (those of you that have witnessed my "moves" just be quiet.. please).  Even though I don't have the "moves like jagger" (and especially the moves like Adam Levine), dance is a pretty fun way to get moving!  My challenge for the week is to "just dance" one song for every TV show I watch.

  -14.6 (I made it past my 5% goal!)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Hitting Walls

This weekend I hit a wall.  It was the "I am so sick of scheduling my life around working out!" wall.  I want to say this wall did not come from 3 weeks of a new workout plan for the new year.  I think this wall has been growing higher and higher for months.

I have a close friend that I workout with regularly.  We set 2-3 week goals for working out and then do everything we can to meet those goals.  If we succeed, we pick a reward (like buying a new outfit or taking a road trip).  If we fail, we have a punishment (it's called "push-up pyramid"... yes, it is as bad as it sounds).  We've been setting goals and experiencing rewards (and punishments) pretty consistently for the last 4 months.

You'd think with all that activity I would've lost weight, not gained it last year!  I'm just thankful the activity kept me from gaining more.  Now that I have my food intake (I hate using the word "diet") under control, working out should make more of an impact.  But I'm getting a little off topic here... back to THE WALL.

I feel like this wall has been building itself up, week by week, over the last 4 months.  Every time I've had to sacrifice a preferred activity because of going to the gym... two more bricks on the wall.  Every time we have to coordinate our schedules so we can workout together... two more bricks on the wall.  Every time we go to the gym even though there are excuses not to go... two more bricks on the wall.  Every time we pass up happy hour with friends because of a workout... two more bricks on the wall.  Every time we push through a workout that isn't going the way we really want it to... two more bricks on the wall.  That "I am so sick of scheduling my life around working out!" wall has been building and building.

So, Saturday after getting up, and dressed, and driving to the gym... we looked at each other and said "maybe we should take a break".  Maybe 6 workouts a week is wearing us down.  Maybe we should not go to yoga today.  Maybe we should just go to breakfast.  Maybe we should take the week off!  So, instead of walking into the gym and doing yoga, we drove to our favorite breakfast spot and split a delicious breakfast!  We laughed at ourselves all the way there.  It seemed funny that we would get up and drive to the gym, only to leave and go to breakfast instead.  But I really think we needed a break.  In fact, we deserve it!

So, Maya Angleou says we all deserve a day... I'm taking a week.  It's not to say that I won't workout this week.  I very likely will workout some this week.  I'm taking this week off of managing schedules and saying no to fun activities. I just need the break.  And I deserve it!  No rushing from work to the gym.  No going and fighting the gym crowd in the evening.  No syncronizing schedules. No fear of punishment. This is a week of rest from all those cares.  Each day that wall will get a little smaller, and then I will have the energy to tackle it again.

Here are some walls I seem to encounter regularly:
  • The "I just want to eat food that tastes good" Wall
  • The "I'm sick of counting points" Wall
  • The Great Wall of "Diets"
  • The "Scale doesn't show my progress" Wall
  • The "I'd rather be napping" Wall
How do we go about avoiding these walls?  Or at least dealing with them when they appear?  I think rest or taking a break can certainly help at times.  I think the important thing is to see the walls for what they are and work to rebuild around them.  If taking a (reasonable) break will help, then do it.  Just don't give up.  Don't stop working toward the goal.  Give yourself a moment (or a week) but make sure you get back to it once the moment is over.

One thing I do to make sure the "I'm sick of counting points" wall doesn't grow too tall to manage is that I give myself one splurge meal each week (usually right after my WW meeting and weighing in).  For that one meal, I allow myself the opportunity to eat anything I want.  I don't count points for that meal.  Instead, in my tracker, I write "splurge" and then count it as all of my remaining daily points.  That really seems to keep me on track for the week.

  -12 lbs!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Truly Unflattering Pictures

I rarely love a photo of myself.  Even the one in my first post taken when I was at my thinnest, is not that great of a pic. There are few pictures I've ever seen of me, that I have truly loved and I'm pretty sure all of them are from childhood (mom has a frame full of my favorites that I gave to her for Mother's day years ago.).  It's not to say I suffer from extremely low self-esteem or anything.  Even at my current weight (you're dying to know how much I've lost so far right?... Stay tuned..) I think I'm an attractive human.  But photos just don't capture that on a regular basis.  Photos do however, tell a version of the truth that I don't always see in the mirror. At my thinnest, I still saw a heavier person in the mirror.  Now, I just see me, but I don't usually see the weight.  In photos I always see the weight (good or bad).  There's something about being able to freeze a moment, then step back and look at it.  There's power in that.  It was, after all, a photo that led me to join WW in the first place.  And a photo that has brought me back to it as well!

With all that in mind, I've decided to take a picture of myself each week.  No frills, no fuss, just 52 truly unflattering pictures taken with the terrible front facing camera on my cell phone.  I think I'll add one to the end of my post each week and with it I will document how much I've lost.  That should help keep me on track!

And now we have photo #1!

Along with (DRUM ROLL PLEASE) my total lost since December 23rd....


Ok, that's kind of awesome for 2 weeks on plan... I really don't expect that rate to stay the same, but I'm VERY happy with this as a beginning!  Honestly, I'll be elated any week with ANY loss. Even a -.1 on the scale will be a victory!