Fat Fridays: Big Changes, New Goals

It’s Friday. Thank God. This has been a very long week. Very long. Today is going to be one of my busiest days. I think I will be able to start relaxing somewhere around 5:30 tonight. I’m counting down the hours. 

I received news this week about our foster daughter who has been with us for two years,  possibly starting the reunification process with her family in the very near future. It was unexpected news. I’ve been a bit out of it the last several days as I try to process how I feel about this. 

Last weekend I decided to sign up for a 5k race on December 18th. I’ve never done a 5k before or any kind of race since I was in elementary school. I felt like I was needing some motivation to keep on exercising. A goal to work towards. I’m pretty excited about it. At least, I’m excited about it until I’m actually out running. And then I find myself wondering why on earth am I choosing to do this? This is hard. I’m not feeling great joy. And then I finish running and all the good feelings come back. Yay! I’m going to do this! 

I talked to my trainer and asked her to give me workouts that will help me get ready. I think she’s planning on having me run four days a week. I have very modest goals. 

Goal #1 Run the whole race without having to stop and walk.

Goal #2 Try to finish in 36 minutes. 

And that’s it. And even if it takes a couple minutes longer, I don’t really care. Just running the whole thing without stopping will be a big accomplishment for me. 

I am glad that I set this goal. It’s been helpful this week as I’ve been dealing with crazy emotions. Here, I’m going to take all this nervous anxiety and go run it off. I’ll let you all know how the training goes. 

See you next week.

Fat Fridays: Exercise, it’s All in the Mind

Today my trainer gave me the hardest workout I’ve had yet. 

30 seconds burpees

Run 4 mins

15 jump squats

Run 4 mins

30 seconds High Knees

Rest 1 minute

Repeat 5 times. 5!!! 

It took me 70 minutes to do the whole workout. I did it in my living room and outside my house on the sidewalk. Every time I ran 4 minutes I would go down two blocks and then come back to my house, go inside, do the next exercise, gasp for a minute or two and then walk back outside to run. It was a total of ten 4-min laps. By about lap six I was not going as far down the second block, by lap eight I had shortened that distance some more. And then, lap ten, I decided I was just going to walk and treat it as my cool down. According to my fitbit I burned 869 calories. I haven’t really noticed any effects today from such a long workout, except when I tried to go upstairs to put my kids to bed and suddenly, walking up the stairs, it felt like my legs had turned to lead. But, aside from stairs, I feel great. 

When I started this workout I was intimidated. I knew it was going to take a long time and I was sceptical that I would be able to push through and do the whole thing. I knew it was going to be a mental game. I found it interesting, therefore,  that the thoughts that came to my mind while I ran were about childbirth. For those who are just tuning in, I have eleven kids. I gave birth to ten of them. So, I’m running down the sidewalk and I have this thought, at least this isn’t as bad as childbirth! Multiple reasons why, but the main one is I could stop running if I wanted to. Just stop. I could make that decision at any time. Childbirth, there is no stopping that thing. No going back. No pause button. It has begun and there is no stepping off of that train. 

So this is how I comforted myself as I gasped and panted down the sidewalk. This does not feel as bad a labor contraction. In fact, this is a walk in the park in comparison. In fact, running feels pretty good if I was given the choice between the two. Aren’t I lucky to be running right now? Instead of giving birth to a baby?? The other thought process was, Hey, if I could give birth, then I can do this. If I could give birth TEN times then I definitely can run these ten laps. 

Other ways I motivate myself while I’m running: chant a mantra in my head like, This is the last lap, this is the last lap, this is the last lap (kind of reminiscent of that old kid’s movie “Ice Age” where the dodo birds are exclaiming over the Last Melon. And if you don’t get this reference, I’m sorry, I have a lot of kids, I have seen this movie countless times and I can probably recite it to you.) I also like to keep my eyes open for neighbors driving past or walking past. Having an audience makes you run a bit faster or at least try to keep going instead of giving up and just walking. 

I find that completing a workout mostly has to do with what is going on in my mind rather than how my body feels. If I can stay distracted from the physical exertion of exercise and think about other things, I can keep going to the end. But if I focus on how tired I am, how much I don’t want to be doing this, etc, I am so much more likely to give up and not finish. 

All of this to say, I think I need to come up with a list of engaging things I can think about while I exercise. I’ve already covered childbirth, how about the most embarrassing moments of my life, I’m sure thinking about that would kick up my speed a bit. The possibilities are endless! 

Fat Fridays: Which Direction are You Looking?

Losing weight is kind of a funny thing. You drop some pounds and you look at yourself and you’re so excited. I look great! I look so much better! Isn’t this wonderful! But then, after a while you start looking at yourself and thinking, man, I need to lose so much more weight. Look at all this fat. This is so depressing. 

It really has to do with your perspective. Which direction are you looking? If you’re looking backwards then losing weight feels great. I used to be THIS much and now I’m a lot less!! Yay me!! But when you’re looking forwards, it can get depressing. I want to weigh THIS much and I still have so far to go. Uggh. 

This week I found myself kind of in the UGGH category. I’ve lost a lot of weight (44 pounds as of this morning!), but in order to hit my goal weight, I still have 62 pounds to go. Argh. I’ve been having to encourage myself. I’ve been keeping a log of my weight loss and I went back and looked at the numbers. Ok, a month ago you weighed this much, you’ve made a lot of progress! 

It also makes me think about the WHY of weight loss. Why am I doing this? I know when I was in my teens and twenties, weight loss was about achieving a certain look. I want to wear THIS size clothing. I want my measurements to be THIS much. If I can look like that model in the magazine, then I will be happy. And I think I thought I would be happy because then I would be attractive enough. Which is what our culture teaches us. You have to look a certain way or you are not really worthy of being loved. 

Well, I have been happily married for almost twenty-two years now and my husband has proved to me that he is capable of loving me through thick or thin. And while I would love to look my best for him, I don’t feel like I have to look a certain way to be lovable. (I say that breezily, but it was a long, hard-fought journey to get to this place.) 

I now find myself being motivated a lot more by health concerns. I am prediabetic. I know that my weight is a major contributing factor. I have spent long periods of my life completely inactive and I feel like I’m missing out on things I want to do because my body simply isnt’ strong enough to do it. I want to climb mountains, go on long bike rides, go running. I want to have energy to do active things with my kids instead of just watching from a chair. 

These past six months as I have been exercising daily, losing weight, getting stronger, I have started to appreciate and love my body more. Look at you! Look at what you just did! I am excited to think of all the things I will be able to do as I shed more and more weight. 

But, all of this brings me to the final point I want to make. This week I was at the park taking a long walk, almost four miles. It was so nice to be outside in nature. The sunlight was at that perfect evening slant, the trees were shimmering in the breeze, the grass was extra green. It was just a perfect time. And I was thinking about my goals, ONE DAY, I’ll be at the weight I want. ONE DAY I’ll have arrived. And I was thinking about my WHY for weight loss. And it occurred to me that I was already doing my WHY. I was taking time for myself to get out in nature and walk. I was being active and doing something I liked. I don’t have to wait for some nebulous time in the future when my scale finally says the magic number. I’m already living the life that I want. Right here, in the present. And instead of swiveling my head back and forth: future, past; focusing on the here and now seems better. 

Fat Fridays: Tennis Shoes and Dogs

I had a thought this week as I was getting dressed. What shoes am I going to put on? I’ve got three pairs of shoes that I regularly wear. My tennis shoes, my sandals, and my flipflops. Tennis shoes means I am ready to move and ready to work. I’m ready to take a quick walk around the block when there’s a lull in the day or I’m feeling the stress build up. I’m ready to run up the stairs to get something I need, I’m ready to clean, go to the store, do a workout…whatever. Tennis shoes=movement. Then there’s my sandals. They are very practical but prettier. I wear those when I know I’m going out: to appointments, the store, visit someone, whatever. And then flipflops. Unless I’m heading to the lake, wearing flip flops means I’m having a “Non-day” as I call it. I have no plans to accomplish anything. I plan on moving in slow motion. Lounging around a lot. Settling on a couch with a book. 

So, it occured to me that in my job (staying home, taking care of a giant house filled with nine children) tennis shoes are really the best bet. If I already have tennis shoes on, I’m a lot more likely to make my 10,000 steps a day. I’m a lot more likely to engage in spontaneous running around. I’m a lot more likely to accomplish my goals. And yet, here I am, writing this, wearing my flipflops. Cause I’m tired and feeling lazy and wanting to start this day off slowly. I’ve promised myself that once I’m fully awake, I’ll put my tennis shoes on. It’s an interesting mind game I play with myself. 

Note to self: get up and put on your tennis shoes every morning. It will make the day better. 

In other news, I went running yesterday with my dog. That was an interesting experience. My trainer had put down to run two miles and then walk two miles. And I thought, hmm, it would be nice to find a trail where I could just run two miles down the trail and then walk back. I know these trails exist in my city, but I usually just go to the park down the road from me cause I like to stay close to home. So, I was heading out to my car to drive to the park and one of my kids said, Oh, I thought you were going to run to the park. And I had this lightbulb moment. Oh, yeah. That actually makes sense since the park is about two miles from my house. I have never run in my nieghborhood, probably the main reason being that I don’t look very impressive when I run and I’d rather not show off that image to all my neighbors. But, there is also safety to consider. I generally don’t head out into my nieghborhood solo. I always have my dog or a herd of children with me. And while I feel like I’ve got a lot of good nieghbors, we do have an unsavory element that drives around in this area. So, I didn’t feel comfortable just trotting off by myself. 

My husband suggested taking the dog with me. Hmm. Ok. I guess we could TRY it. My dog does not have a lot of training (not the dog’s fault). He’s well-behaved, knows a couple basic commands, which is all we need. But, he’s not the best when we go out walking. He pulls on the leash and wants to stop and sniff EVERYTHING. I didn’t know how he would do when I required him to keep moving, WITHOUT smelling the roses. 

At the beginning he did pretty well. The first half mile he seemed to be saying, FINALLY! You’re going at my pace! He trotted along cheerfully and I only had to pull him a couple times when he got sidetracked. But, as we continued, he got more and more interested in his surroundings and several times he yanked me off my stride because he had come to a full-stop to inspect something. But, he did better than I thought he would. And actually, I made my best time yet for two miles! Almost two minutes faster than my previous run! So, I’m hoping to do this more. 

Here’s to Tennis Shoes and Running Dogs!