Tag Archives: exercise

Really, Truly, Love Your Body

This is one of those posts that I feel like the universe was telling me to write.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about fat acceptance, and the prejudice against fat people. It is something I really hate in our society, that it still seems just fine to make fun of people for being fat, in a way that isn’t acceptable against people for race, religion, or sexual orientation. I think the reason that prejudice against people who are fat is still considered “okay” by most people is that society seems to blame fat people for being how they are. They must be lazy, or lack self-control, or some other thing that is totally, absolutely, their fault. However, as a formerly fat person, would I seem like a hypocrite for speaking out against this prejudice? Obviously, I must think it isn’t okay to be fat, right? After all, I worked so hard to change that part of my life.

Here’s the thing…about a month before I started on this journey, I had totally and completely accepted the fact that I was fat. Not that I was absolutely happy about it, but I figured that I would always be fat, and there wasn’t anything I could do about it. I gave up trying to change that fact, and just decided to be as happy as I could be in my fat body.

Then one day I started having heart palpitations. I’ve told this story before, but that was the experience that changed my life. While the doctors all said it was normal, I figured that a stronger, healthier heart probably wouldn’t have issues like that. I realized that while I might never lose weight, I had to love my body and my life enough to make my heart stronger. I started exercising, not because I hated my body, but because I loved my body and wanted to make it better. The scale didn’t influence whether I kept working out, the fact that little by little my body felt stronger is what kept me going. After a while, I realized that if I really loved my body, I should start thinking about the fuel (food) I was feeding it, and I started eating healthier. I researched healthy eating, and worked hard to separate fact from fad. Every time I took a bite of food, I thought about what good that food was doing for my body. Very occasionally, I would eat something because it was good for my soul (hello dark chocolate mousse!), and I would never eat something that tasted gross just because it was healthy (I love my taste buds too), but most of the time I thought of food as the fuel my body needs to run, and eating healthy food as a way to help it run better.

I couple of days ago, I was chatting with a friend about healthy eating, and she mentioned that she knows what she needs to do to eat healthy, she just can’t do it. And yet, she feeds her daughter healthy food. Today while shopping at Trader Joe’s, I heard the clerk talking to a co-worker about how she feels sick all the time, and she knows it’s the crap she is eating. She said someone asked her about how she could feed that stuff to her kids, and she stated that she would never let her kids eat like that, they eat healthy food. I was the same way, my kids have always eaten healthy, even when I was eating crap. I taught them to listen to their bodies to decide if they were still hungry, even when I was not doing the same. Why do we do this? I think it is because we love our kids enough to teach them to love their bodies. We need to love ourselves and our bodies the same way.

These experiences were all leading me to come to this realization, that it is all about really, truly loving your body. Then this afternoon I saw this amazing video from Caroline Rothstein,  Fat is Not a Feeling, where she talks about this exact thing. She says it much more powerfully than I could ever hope to. I have a serious girl crush going on.

Is it easy to overcome years of compulsive eating, emotional eating, self-hate, self-doubt, all the other destructive behaviors and thoughts that got us where we are today? Hell no, I still struggle with it almost every day.

Every time I start to “feel fat” or get afraid that I will gain the weight back, that is when I lose sight of why I am doing this and put my health in jeopardy. If I just continue to love my body, and give it the food and exercise it needs to be healthy, it will continue to be healthy. It really is that simple…and that challenging. Love yourself enough to overcome the challenges and love your body enough to treat it the way it deserves to be treated.

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Maintaining…and Maybe Losing a Little

I haven’t blogged in awhile, because my kids started school and all those fun after school activities started as well. I also teach music as a volunteer at my kids’ school, so I started back up with that too. I think I’ve gotten into the groove of things now.

It is almost 3 months after I hit the 100 lb. loss milestone, and I’m mostly maintaining, although still losing a little bit very slowly. I still weigh myself every day, and my weight goes up and down a bit throughout each week, but there is a very slight downward trend over time. This is why I like having a digital scale; I use the Withings scale, which has an iPhone app with a graph that shows the moving average–or general trend–of my weight. Today I hit a new low weight, putting me only 1 pound from my original goal of 135 lbs. I don’t know whether I will actually stay that low though…sometimes these outlier lows and highs happen, not sure why. Still not really trying to get to the 135 lb. goal before my skin reduction surgery, though it would be fine if I end up there.

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My moving average from the last 6 months

At the weight I am today though, I am just inside the “healthy” range on the BMI scale. That happened for the first time 10 days ago (Sept. 6), but then my weight went back up by a pound or so and I was back at the very bottom of the “overweight” range. Just goes to show that the BMI thing should be taken as a guideline, not a hard and fast rule. I am really healthy right now, a size 8 (and sometimes a 6 depending on the store), I look and feel strong, I am full of energy, and that is all before any of my skin reduction surgery.

As I had hoped towards the end of my weight loss, maintenance has merely been a matter of continuing on as I was doing throughout this whole journey. The only thing that has changed is I feel a bit more free to go out to dinner occasionally, and perhaps have a treat now and then. I still eat lots and lots of veggies and quite a lot of fruit, and watch my portions on everything else. I don’t feel at all deprived, I am eating delicious food. I honestly can’t imagine going back to eating all the junk I was putting into my body before. I still go to the gym almost every day for an hour, and I alternate between cardio (usually Zumba or Cardio Kickboxing) and strength training (usually BodyPump). On days I don’t have the time to get to the gym, I often do the 7-Minute Workout so I still benefit from the energy boost of a workout.

When I first started losing weight, I remember reading this study about maintaining weight loss that made me very depressed. Basically, it said that when an obese person loses weight, their metabolism slows down because the body wants to return to the weight it had grown accustomed to. The study also said that the hormones that regulate appetite change so that a person who has lost a lot of weight is hungrier. So maintaining a weight loss was very difficult, if not impossible for the people in this study.

However, if you read the study further, the people in this study were put on a highly restricted diet, and lost the weight very quickly. As far as I can tell, they never learned to eat healthier, or to live in a healthier, maintainable manner. This is why I continue to tell my friends (and anyone else who actually reads my blog), PLEASE DON”T GO ON A DIET! I feel like you are just setting yourself up for failure if you do. Just try to gradually make healthy changes in your lifestyle until you are living in a way you can maintain, that will also help you achieve your goals.

Healthy Lifestyle Tip #6: Try a Change of Focus

My whole life I had been trying to lose weight. I had tried so my diets, joined countless gyms, read many websites and advice columns. I’d had some success on occasion, lost a bit of weight, but I had never kept it off. Finally, I realized that I was likely going to be heavy my whole life, and just decided to accept that fact.

Then, about a year ago, I developed some heart palpitations. I had this occasional flutter in my chest as my heart skipped a beat. I went to the doctor, and she said this was just something that sometimes happened. She did a bunch of blood tests, and while my cholesterol and other numbers weren’t great, they were all within normal. She of course told me to lose weight, but she never connected my weight to the heart palpitations. Even though the doctor found nothing wrong, and the palpitations stopped on their own, the incident still scared the crap out of me. I have 2 young kids, and I want to live to see them grow up and have kids of their own. I decided that perhaps if I exercised and made my heart stronger, maybe the palpitations wouldn’t happen again. That was when I decided to buy Zumba Fitness Rush for the Xbox. When I started, my whole focus was just improving my cardiovascular health, and getting more fit. I wasn’t thinking about losing weight at all.

I have often wondered why I’ve been successful this time, when I haven’t been so many times in the past. And I honestly believe that it was the change in focus, from losing weight to improving my health and fitness, that has made all the difference. Losing weight is a very slow process. Getting to your goal weight can take years (a bit over a year for me). However, as soon as you start regular exercise, you are already becoming a healthier person. The evidence is almost immediate. Perhaps you are no longer out of breath when you climb the stairs. Then, you are able to walk a bit faster than you did the week before. For me, it was being able to do more intense and longer Zumba workouts. The progress was obvious and quick when I wasn’t concentrating on numbers on a scale.

Then one day, I noticed I was having an easier time controlling my eating, and my pants were getting looser. I have heard that regular exercise reduces your cravings, and that definitely seemed to be the case with me. I realized that if I payed attention to what I was eating, I might actually be able to lose weight this time, and I started logging my food using MyFitnessPal. However my focus remained becoming healthier, and in further pursuit of that goal I started paying more attention not only to the calories in the food I was eating, but what that food was doing for, or to, my body. I read some books, and realized just how unhealthy most processed foods really are, and just what they do to our bodies. I decided to eat mostly whole foods, especially vegetables. I realized that I could eat an unlimited amount of vegetables, and as long as I controlled my portion sizes of everything else, I still lost weight. It was revelatory. I never had to be hungry! And the vegetables were good for me!

I believe that it was this continuous focus on becoming a healthier person that has carried me through to reaching my goal weight. I also believe that this is the reason I will never gain the weight back, because it is still my focus to be the healthiest person I can be. That goal has no end, however it has constant rewards. I continue to go to the gym, and I keep getting stronger, and my cardiovascular health just gets better and better. I continue to eat healthy, and I hardly ever get sick, my skin looks awesome, and I feel fantastic. For me maintenance changes nothing except perhaps eating (a very small amount) more, and that is okay because I really like all of the lifestyle changes I have made to become a healthier person.

So, if you have tried losing weight your whole life, perhaps it is time to stop trying. Just try to become a healthier person tomorrow than you are today. And then do it again the next day, and the next, and the next…

Healthy Lifestyle Tip #3A: Consider Buying a Pedometer

My husband read yesterday’s Healthy Lifestyle Tip, and pointed out that I didn’t mention wearing a pedometer as part of your effort to move more. I thought that wearing a pedometer should have its own post, but he was right in that it does fall under the same heading of moving more, hence the “3A”.

I wear a Fitbit, and I try to get at least 10,000 steps every day. I find wearing the Fitbit highly motivating in my efforts to move more, as simple things like parking farther away from the store, doing the laundry, or going for a few short walks throughout the day can build on your total steps. I find it really helps to have the feedback wearing a pedometer provides. Besides just the step count, it shows how many stairs you have climbed, and the website can show you how much of your day has been active vs sedentary. If you are a social person, you can “friend” other Fitbit users, and compare your step counts, or compete if that helps your motivation.

Sorry for sounding a bit like an advertisement there. I swear I am not in any way compensated by the makers of Fitbit. There are many choices of pedometers out there, from simple to sophisticated, choose the one that looks best to you. You might be surprised how much wearing one can motivate you to start moving more.

Couch to 5K

I’ve had this feeling in the past couple of weeks that I would like to try jogging. I have no idea why, it is never something I wanted to do in the past. I think partly, it is so I can run with my kids at a park without feeling stupid. Also, people talk so highly about it, I want to see if I can figure out what all the buzz is about. I have heard that I should be concerned about my knees, or my ankles, but I figure if something starts hurting, I’ll stop…or at least take a break, and just go back to doing Zumba every day.

As I was doing some research, I found out about the Couch to 5K program. It starts you off gradually, combination of walking and running, and eventually you can run a 5K (3 miles). There are a bunch of iPhone apps that will coach you–i.e., tell you when to start and stop running–but I only found one that would also keep track of my heart rate and calorie burn. It is called Jog Log, I used it today and it worked great. You can make your own play list of music to play during your jog/walk, it does GPS tracking, heart rate monitoring, calorie burn, and a very nice voice prompts you to run or walk.

I also found a nice place for my inaugural jog, as I didn’t want to start in my neighborhood. I live on a bit of a hill, and didn’t want to add the ups and downs when I am just getting started. I went to the Redwood Shores section of the SF Bay Trail. It was lovely, right along a marshy part of the bay.

So, the first day went great, it was a really easy start. Five minutes of warm up, then 8 repeats of jogging for 1 minute and walking for 1 1/2 minutes, then 5 minutes of cool down. Do I love jogging? Not yet, but maybe I could, who knows. The first day of the program is only about 25 minutes, and mostly walking, so I still came home and did Zumba for 45 minutes.

Down another pound this morning, which now puts me officially 1/4 of the way to my goal! Woohoo! It is all going great so far, I’m realizing exercise can be fun, which is just weird. I went out shopping yesterday because some of my pants were falling off of me, and bought a pair of pants 3 sizes smaller than when I started, which was pretty awesome. And I feel really good, which is the most important part.

A Lesson in Procrastinating

Today is a hot one in the Bay Area, it is supposed to reach a high around 90 degrees. I woke up, ate my breakfast, and was planning to do Zumba as soon as I had digested. Instead, I started fooling around switching my blog over from Blogger to WordPress…meanwhile, I didn’t even notice how warm it was getting. By the time I was done the house was already really hot. Doing Zumba when it is really warm…turns out, not as much fun. I always sweat like crazy when I do Zumba, and I’ve actually come to appreciate it. But that level of sweat was a little overboard. I feel proud that I got through the full 65 minute routine, but I have learned to really make sure I get my Zumba routine in while it is still cool in the morning.

Afterwards, I went into the pool to cool down, and learned something else. Zumba really doesn’t work my arms, but swimming sure does. I didn’t get winded doing laps like I used to, but my arms got really tired. I’ll have to add some swimming into my routine now that warm days have started.

Oh, and another 1/2 pound down this morning! Love to see the continuous progress!