My fitness went slightly off the rails in the last three months of 2014. It was a perfect storm of losing all of my favorite teachers at my dance studio, being broke, and moving up a level so eating more in order to gain strength. As I said in my half-marathon wrap-up, I did gain almost ten pounds from my lowest weight. I’m calling it a “bulk cycle,” since I did need the strength for the harder workouts I was doing. Unfortunately, because of the scheduling, while the workouts were harder, I was working out less often and I didn’t cut back on my calorie intake on all my extra rest days. I’m guessing that mostly what I added was fat, since my body fat percentage went up according to my scale. (I don’t expect it to be accurate… I just use it to gauge trends.) I’m not too worried because I know what works and I know what I am capable of. Sometimes these plateaus or breaks are good for assessing how vigilant I have to be about my diet. I still eat slightly more than I need to maintain the weight I want to maintain, so that means that when left to my own devices, I’m eating too much.
2015 Fitness Goals:
- Lose 20 pounds by Memorial Day
- Get to 25 miles a week in February
- Reduce comfortably-hard pace to 9-min mile by Dec
- Get the front splits on at least one leg
- Pull-up from dead hang
- Transition from straddle to stomach
2015 will be a good year for my fitness goals, I think. I’m registered for two aerial classes– fabric and trapeze– plus I’ll also be taking three classes a week at my current studio. I don’t know enough about fabric and trapeze to be able to set realistic goals, so I’m just going to go, work hard, and have fun.
I’m going to plan runs for the other days of the week, with a rest day on Saturdays, most likely, unless there’s a workshop. I’m still trying to work up to running 25 miles a week, but it does take time because of my twingy calf. In January, it’s likely my running will be three 3-mile runs a week and one 8-mile run. Eight miles is the furthest I know I can run pain-free on these hills. I’m not going to do any fancy speed-work in January– this is just for rebuilding strength. If I have time and energy, I might follow up running with my Cleo the Hurricane Rockin’ Legs-n-Abs video, which I did today. My running goal is to drop my comfortably hard pace from 10:10-ish to 9 by the end of the year (Santa Hustle 2015!!). Weight loss will play a major role, but so will my beloved hills, along with time on my feet.
My flexibility goals include working on my splits and backbends. I’m going to let my back flexibility progress at its own rate, since I’m pretty happy with it so far. I think I might be able to get my front splits this year. I’m less than a yoga block from the ground. I can’t say how well I’ll do at middle splits, but I would like to be able to transition from a straddle stretch to lying on my stomach, smoothly. So that’s what I’ll be working on for the middle. I think the Cleo workout will help. I hope the studio where I’m taking fabric and trapeze will let me stay and stretch for up to half an hour afterwards. It’s a LONG drive home.
I would like to reach my goal weight this year. I have a custom-made corset just waiting for me, paid for and everything, but it’s on hold until I get my final measurements. If I can get it by Memorial Day, I can wear it for the local comic con. I’ll take measurements at 120, since I suspect that will be a reasonable non-racing weight. I think I’ll be able to go 15 pounds either way without it being too much of a problem. (That does remind me that I need to start planning my skirt for that costume.)
Nutrition will be a big one this year. I did well calorie-wise for most of 2014, but my nutrition wasn’t optimal. I’ll be working harder on that in 2015, including planning meals and reading up on vegan diet plans for athletes. I’ll be logging on My Fitness Pal as well. (And I’ll be wearing my Fitbit to track non-exercise steps. I would love to get to 10,000 steps a day, but that goal isn’t as big as the ones I’ve listed above.)
I had an amazing time at the 2014 Santa Hustle in Galveston yesterday! I still can’t believe it.
I had signed up for the run for fun with a few friends of mine this summer, with the intention of seriously training for it in the fall. As you might have noticed, my fall training went badly and after every other run, it seemed I had to take extra rest days to get my calf to quit whining. My other exercise also went down the tubes as all of my favorite teachers left my dance studio and I was left with a very thin cross-training schedule. I gained about eight pounds from my low of 133.7. With all of this in mind, I went into this weekend with the stretch goal of 2:30, a hope that I could keep a consistent pace, and ultimately, the desire to just finish the thing. And have fun, of course.
This was my second half-marathon. My first was the Livestrong Austin Half in 2012, where I finished at 3:01 (2:47 according to my Garmin, but I paused it for potty breaks. Since my dinner the night before did not agree with me, I had had to take too many, too long potty breaks.) I’ve started three full marathons and completed one, the Green Bay Marathon in 2010, in 6:20. This is why I felt 2:30 was a stretch goal.
My husband and I decided to get a room in Galveston the night before so we wouldn’t have to face unpredictable I-45 traffic early on Sunday. We got to packet pickup with 30 minutes to spare. I discovered that my size small hoodie was way too small and traded it in for a size medium. This did not bother me, as I consider myself a medium and it annoys me when size small is too big for me. The medium is slightly snug on me, but since I am eight pounds up from my lowest weight and over 20 pounds heavier than I want to be, I figured it was better for me to get that one and leave the size large for people bigger than me. I know it will fit fine when I reach my goal weight. After packet pickup, we arranged dinner plans with friends. My husband found an Italian place with pasta e fagioli, one of my favorite dishes, but we eventually agreed to go to a different place as that place was a bit fancier than what we were dressed for. The second Italian place we tried was full, but we lucked out and got space in the third.
I suspect it was not a good night for the staff, as our service was very, very slow. We saw others get seated after us, but get their food before we did. However, our waitress was very nice and they put on a whole pot of coffee just for me! I enjoyed it because I like places where I don’t feel rushed. This is why I don’t eat at American chain restaurants. I felt like we would have been welcome to stay all night if we had wanted to. Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay all night because we wanted to get some sleep before the run. I had a delicious, piping hot lentil soup with pasta. We made our way back to our hotel and I tried to get to bed by 10, with a planned wake-up time of 5:30am. Unfortunately, the person in the room next door kept their TV on all night and I had forgotten my earplugs and my sleep headphones. I managed to doze, though I was awakened by someone stomping quickly up and down the stairs several times throughout the night. I finally gave up on sleep at around 5am. I ate a Clif Builder’s Bar (the chocolate peanut butter is accidentally vegan) and drank a cup of coffee and a liter of water. I also took two generic naproxen tablets. My digestive system did what it was supposed to do and we were ready to head out at around 6:45 for an 8am start. We found parking about three blocks from the start and ran into a member of my local running club while walking to the start.
I felt really good, although I was cold. We wandered a bit and got the lay of the area. The starting corrals went from 6-minute-mile pace to 9-minute-mile pace. There were a lot of us lining up in the back! The announcer started telling us the race was starting any minute now at about 7:40, which got confusing, since race start time was 8am. He talked (and talked, and talked, and talked) until it finally was really time to start. They started us in three waves, one wave for the 6 and 7 minute milers, one for the 8 and 9 minute milers, and one for the rest of us. This seemed to work out really well, although at least two stroller people started too far up. I quickly settled into a comfortable 10:20 pace, intending to do the first three miles very comfortably. Two of my friends passed me about half a mile in, going about 9:40 or 9:50. Although I did have to pass people, the first few miles were not as congested as I’ve been in in other races and it was pretty easy to find a groove. I did spend a lot of time playing tag with Gallowalkers, but eventually passed them for good after about an hour.
I got passed quite a few times in the first hour. Every time, I would look at my watch to make sure my pace wasn’t lagging. I was almost always around 10:20. I tried not to let the people passing me get to me, since one of my goals was to keep a very consistent pace. I felt like I was working comfortably hard, not struggling a bit. My form felt good. Nothing hurt. Even though miles three through nine were pretty much into the wind, I was able to keep a very consistent pace. After about an hour, I realized there was a possibility that I would be able to run the whole way and set a PR. At about an hour and 50 minutes in, I realized I would definitely finish in under 2:30. I started crying at about two hours because I was so happy.
The wheels started to come off at mile 12, which was more than I deserved with my lack of training. I struggled to get back to my 10:20 pace and ended up doing an 11:14 mile. I did walk a little bit, but was able to get back to running. I had hoped to do the last mile or so in 10 minutes flat, but I just didn’t have it in me. As usual, I had trouble eating. I ate a cookie at the first stop, about a mile in. It didn’t make me sick, but my stomach did warn me not to try that again. I had Gatorade at mile 6, but that was also a potential mistake. The rest of the time I stuck with water. It was nice to run fast enough to not have to worry about water running out, since I had decided not to wear my belt. John was meeting me at various places on the course just in case, so if I needed it, I would have it.
The finish line clocks were broken. The one on the right said 2:07 and the one on the left said 1:47. Since I had my Garmin, I knew they were not accurate. I was still so happy with my time that I cried a little bit at the finish as well. I got my medal, banana, water, and potato chips and ran into my friends who had passed me. They had also made their goals for the day! We all suspect the course might have been a bit short, but the organizers say it was measured and certified. I wasn’t too worried. Even with the extra quarter mile that seemed to be missing, I still would have finished under 2:18. My official time was 2:14:55. 15 minutes faster than my stretch goal!!! And I wasn’t in pain! My hips and butt were a little sore, but it was symmetrical, which was good, and the soreness told me I had been using the correct muscles. (Today, however, my calves are screaming at me.)
It was an amazing day and a nice course. There were not a lot of spectators, but I was okay with that. I was tuning out a lot of stuff anyway and listening to my running playlist.
My time is so encouraging. I never thought in a million years that I could ever finish a half that fast! I’ve never run 13.1 miles that fast in my life. And that was pretty much detrained. I think weight loss and cross-training have made a huge difference. I have a lot of new core strength and upper body strength and that has helped my form quite a bit. Now, I’m wondering how fast I can run if I do actually train and stay consistent!
Things I will do again: the lentil soup was the perfect pre-race dinner. The Clif bar two and a half hours before the start was also a good idea. Stopping all liquids two hours before start was also good, as was having a single cup of black coffee. I felt like I could have used the portapotty one more time at the start, but I didn’t have to stop at all during the race.
Things I have to work on: I have to figure out what I can take in during the race. I wonder if the last mile was so hard because I ran out of energy. But anything with sugar seems to upset my stomach while running.
My next goal is to train for a sub-2 half, while also speeding up my 5k.
I’m taking an unplanned rest day today. I was scheduled for two pole classes and a chair class, but I am worn out. My computer feels so heavy. So, instead of going and doing a bad job and possibly getting hurt, I’m staying home. I will walk the dogs around the block and I might do some foam rolling, though I’m almost too sore and bruised for that! I got a bit enthusiastic these past four days– three days of running in a row and then four hours of classes yesterday. Today, I have to protect my almost-entirely healed calf and my healed rotator cuff.
I hit a new low on my weight- 133.7. It’s actually happening. Sometimes I can’t believe it. But, yesterday, I found chocolate cat cookies at Trader Joe’s. Since they are unintentionally vegan, I ate half a container. I don’t feel bad about it, but I do take it as the warning it is. I’m not eating enough and I’m not choosing nutritious enough food. when I say I’m not eating enough, it’s not a shortage of calories– it’s a shortage of nutrition. I have to get better about planning my meals. And I need to make sure I eat a bowl of oatmeal every day. When I’m full of nutritious food, I don’t binge on sugary, empty junk.
I’m not worrying too much about my calories today, either. Because of how tired and sore I am, my first priority is fueling my recovery so I can make it to my classes tomorrow and do my best. I also want to run about 9-10 miles this weekend, split over Friday, Sunday, and Monday.
Today is a beautiful day in the Piney woods. It was 66 degrees at around 10am when I set off for my four mile run. I struggled a bit on the hills in the last two miles, but I don’t feel too bad about that. My first mile was 10:18 and wasn’t that difficult! I might actually get fast enough to qualify for Boston! But first things first– preparing for that half in December. I need to fit in two more shorter runs this week and then a 5-mile run next weekend. Gotta get those long runs up! Tomorrow, I think I’ll do an easy two miles. I’m trying to get my half training schedule straightened out– long run, recovery run, fast run, and one more run just for miles. And they’re all hill training, because that’s what I have.
I’m working on a post on starvation mode. Hint– it’s a myth. I hope to have the sources cited and pictures up with it by tomorrow (Sunday) night.
This is an older post by Greta Christina, a body positivity advocate who found herself needing to lose weight because her weight was affecting her mobility. I’ve read this post a few times now and I think it captures a lot of what I want to say about fat acceptance as it is currently being practiced. I am all for fat acceptance and body acceptance. 100%. Love your own body, no matter what size it is! But don’t lie to yourself and other people. And if someone wants to consider herself body positive, that should extend to bodies of all sizes, not just obese. And body positivity shouldn’t mean attacking people who have decided to lose weight.
Unlike Greta Christina, though, I have never identified as a fat woman. I was a chubby kid, but always right at the top of the healthy range. I was a healthy weight adult until we moved to the States and I got fat. So I never did identify as fat. But I am someone who started to experience the health issues related to being obese. And now I am someone who can compare how I felt at 201 pounds with how I feel now at 135 pounds. Life is easier at 135 pounds, but not because of some kind of conspiracy against fat people. It’s because the human body is simply not meant to be above a certain size. Things I struggled with at 201 are effortless at 135. I have an easier time learning some new things in pole class because I’m hauling less mass over my head. My run has gotten much faster even though I’ve run so few miles this year because of my calf. It’s simple gravity and physics.
People often mistake attacking other women with body positivity. I will be so happy when the songs Anaconda and All about that Bass finally reach burn out and disappear. I really hate those songs. People embrace them as body positive anthems when they simply are not. It’s still women attacking other women. And Nicki Minaj, who I normally like, sounds completely unhinged when she’s telling skinny bitches to get off the floor.
As for me and my body, my weight loss has started back up again this week. I also had to take some extra rest days. I hope that will translate to more strength. Tonight is a four mile run, possibly in the rain. I haven’t run in the rain in years.
I survived my first week of Level 4 classes. I had a Level 4 class on Tuesday, Wednesday, AND Thursday, plus two fit classes, a level 3 class, a level 2 class, and some non-pole classes. It was ten hours of classes total over three days. I struggled, as I expected to, but I feel like I did okay. The best part was after attempting rocking diamonds (a strengthening exercise that prepares you to invert) all week, I got them during open pole on Saturday! Plus, I inverted several times and held myself off the pole without my arms! Also, during Saturday’s Level 3 class, we played with handstands. I have a good headstand, but I have struggled with the balance and strength for handstand for months! My instructor had us kick up to the wall and I was finally able to do it! I learned headstand away from the wall, but it’s a lot scarier to learn handstand away from the wall. Since I can pike up to a headstand, and now I can kick up to a handstand, I can work on combining the two elements– the balance and control of the pike and the strength of the handstand. Then I can learn tick-tocks! (I don’t know what they’re really called, but you go from downward dog into a scorpio and then drop into wheel/backbend, and then go back. Of course, I will also have to get more confident dropping back into a backbend. I’m getting closer, but still scared.)
After all those classes this week, I thought Friday’s run would be awful! Instead, I did my two miles at a 10:30 pace! I haven’t sustained two miles at that kind of pace since I was about 21! I was slightly winded at the end, but it definitely wasn’t all-out effort. Losing weight has been magical for my running. I wish it hadn’t taken me so long to grasp the simple concept of Calories In < Calories Out! I spent so much time making excuses and lying to myself! This week has not been a weight loss week. I decided to eat enough to keep up my strength for my new schedule. That means “eating back” most of the calories I burned. I’m probably going to do the same thing next week as well, then start cutting back slightly again the week after that. It makes the weight loss more sustainable if I plan on having some maintenance days, instead of trying to make every day a losing day. It does take longer, but even at this pace, I’ll be at my goal weight in about six months.
Tomorrow is my “long” run. It’ll be four miles, since I’m building up the mileage very slowly this time. I’m trying to find the right level of stress to keep me getting stronger and faster without getting hurt again. I just need to be able to do a pretty comfortable 13 miles by December. At some point, I’ll have to add a morning run so I can get to three runs a week and still have at least one rest day.
Yesterday’s three mile run was terrible. I felt like I was slogging through molasses. Conditions were very similar to my terrific run on Friday, so it was either asthma or I hadn’t eaten enough. I might have overestimated the calories in my rice and tamari soup. I’m temporarily adding back in the tsp of sugar in my morning lattes while I figure this out.
After my run, I came home and had a lackluster stretch session. My right hip still feels “stuck.” There’s something weird about the alignment of my pelvis, but I’m not sure what. I do know when I lie on my stomach with my knees apart and the soles of my feet touching, my right “hip-bone” doesn’t really touch the ground like my left. If I could figure out what’s going on and then fix it, I would probably see lots of improvement. A visit to a chiropractor is definitely on my list of things to do when we have extra money again.
We’re going through some temporary difficult times right now– nothing too bad and nothing we can’t work through– but it means making some small sacrifices. That makes this the perfect time to experiment with my diet! I’ve long been intrigued by the concept of macrobiotics and I tend to like to eat the same thing over and over. I also like food that is simple to prepare and easy to transport. I’ve gotten hooked on Clif Builder’s Bars, which are delicious and accidentally vegan, but which also contain way too much sugar. I’m at that age where I have to pay attention to my skin and I’ve read that too much sugar makes the skin look unhealthy. Because of losing 65 pounds (with about 18 to go), I definitely have loose skin. Some of the remedies are not available to me because they are not vegan, but I can certainly make an effort to cut back on my sugar and make healthier food choices. I need to do this anyway since as I mentioned yesterday I’ve been promoted to Level 4 in pole class and I need to pay attention to my nutrition to have the energy to do three Level 4 classes a week.
I’m going to ease into this change by making a couple of small changes in the first week of September. I won’t add any extra sugar to my morning soy lattes (the vanilla soymilk I use has sugar in it) and I’m going to try one or two macrobiotic-type meals a day. I’m going to continue to limit my caffeine to before 3pm and only two a day. I will try to report my progress here.
In other news, yesterday’s three mile run was fantastic! I ran at an easy 11-ish mile pace and only really felt like I was pushing it at the top of the two nasty hills on my route. I’m eager to run a timed, flat 5K and see if I can finish under 30. I will give it a few weeks, though. Pretty soon, I can add a mile to one of my runs. Gotta get up to 13.1 by December! I feel good about it. It’s amazing what losing weight can do for your running!
This week, I finally got the courage to ask whether I was ready to move up to Level 4 at my pole studio! My teacher asked how I felt about my strength and spins, and I feel pretty good about them! I was waiting for her to suggest that I should move up, but I think they prefer to wait until the student shows readiness in part by asking. I’m very excited, even though this means being a clumsy beginner again, in Level 4. Level 4 is said to be the level that separates the women from the girls. Luckily, the schedule works out so I can keep going to my beloved Level 2 and 3 classes, where I can feel at least a bit competent.
Level 4 is going to be tough, especially since I have three days in a row with Level 4 classes. I will have to be really careful with nutrition and make sure I don’t live on ramen and soy lattes on that day. I should look for some protein bar recipes. I’m addicted to the Clif Builder’s Bars, but they get expensive and I’m sure two or three a day aren’t really the healthiest choices for me.
Tonight is an “easy” three mile run and then splits training. I’m working on splits six days a week, three days in classes, and three days at home. Tomorrow is a rest day from everything. Yay!
My site was down for a while after it was exploited and used for spam attacks. But now I’m back and my site is secure again. I’m thinking about the direction I want to take with this site. For more than ten years, it was a place for me to document my futile attempts to lose weight. Now, I’ve lost the majority of the weight I want to lose, so I think I want to focus on feats of strength and speed and thinking about the implications of weight loss.
I’ve now lost 66 pounds of the 80 I want to lose. I’m about 15 pounds away from my lifetime goal weight of 118 pounds. I’m absolutely thrilled with my progress. It really has been as simple as eating fewer calories than I burn. There are too many people out there who want to tell you that weight loss is complicated. It’s not. It’s insanely simple. But it is not always easy. This past week, I ate more calories than I burned because I was sad. That happens. It’s not the end of the world, it was only a week, and it did not ruin my life. I’m about three pounds up, but because I’ve been a successful loser, I know it will come off when I get back to doing the right things.
The thing is, people will tell lies about weight loss. They’ll lie to themselves about how many calories they eat. I know. I’ve done it. Calories add up, though. I can easily meet my weight loss calorie limit just through little snacks here and there throughout the day. I can eat too much without eating a single meal. When people are unwilling to admit that to themselves, they will not be able to get the body they want.
I have no problem with people who are happy with where they are. Frankly, other people’s bodies aren’t my business and I don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about them. However, I have actually had the experience of being verbally attacked because I was publicly happy about losing weight. When someone tells me I can’t express happiness about reaching a goal, I have to assume she is not as happy with her body as she claims she is. Someone who is really secure about her own body is not going to attack someone else for being pleased about reaching a physical goal. My weight loss goal is important to me because I am not a gifted runner. I have to give my body every advantage if I ever want to qualify for Boston. That means being very light, perhaps even lighter than 118 pounds. But even if my goal were purely for vanity, it’s all right because this is my body and it is my right to decide how I want it to look.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot since I discovered the dark side of “body acceptance,” which is a lack of acceptance for thin bodies or people who want thin bodies. I have a feeling that this theme will come up a lot on this blog in the future. This is a site where it is okay to want to be thin and it’s good to work hard to achieve goals. And in today’s society of gluttony, this is a site where it is okay to rigorously maintain a specific weight. Yes, I weigh myself every day. I don’t beat myself up over it because it’s just data, but when the trends show I am eating too much, then I need to eat less. That’s all. There’s no moralizing here, no “good” or “bad” or “evil.” Simply, my goal is to weigh 118 and if the scale is not moving in that direction, then I am not doing what I should be doing to reach that goal. Once I am 118, I will continue to weigh myself every day for the rest of my life. It’s not good or bad, it just is what I have to do to look the way I want to look and feel the way I want to feel.