Monday, April 21, 2014

A Healthier Holy Week

Holy Week is always an exercise in madness for preachers I think.  Bulletins and services and stuff, oh my! I've been ordained for six years now, and every year it was the same story... I'd get so busy that I'd forget to take care of myself.  And then the inevitable too-tired-to-move-the-entire-week-after-Easter bit. And usually post Easter sickness. But for the first year ever, I handled my stuff, instead of being handled by it. I ate well.  I went to the gym and busted it as planned.  I slept.  I didn't stress.  And I had fun.  (And I realized yesterday that I've consumed nary a peep... and I love peeps!  I kept thinking I would buy one package but I just never got around to it.) When He-who-trains used to give me the schpiel about this being a lifestyle, not a diet, I thought I got it.   But maybe I'm just now understanding:  Health isn't only about body weight or what you put in your mouth-- it's about the whole proverbial enchilada.  When I started The Pudgy Parson, this is what I envisioned for myself.  All the pieces coming together in a way that works for me, that leaves my body as a faciliator for all the things my brain and heart dream up.

During Holy Week, there was a day of remembrance for me.  April 15 would've been my best friend's birthday.  We were friends since we were children, but she was killed in a skiing accident in 2001.  Every year since her death, I've marked the day by having a private birthday party for her, including eating a rich dessert in her honor.  Even last year, I celebrated with cheesecake.  But this year, I just couldn't bring myself to do it, at least not like I had.  She was athletic (a gymnast) and health mattered to her.  And she always wanted me to take care of myself too.   Her family had a pool, so we spent hours in it, but even as a kid I was heavy-- and she always knew how much that bothered me. So this year, I still wanted to mark the day... I had a few bites of mexican flan (seriously, maybe an 1/8 of the dessert) and said a prayer of Thanksgiving for who she was and all she meant to me, and it was enough.  Some part of me believes she'd be thrilled, with the celebration, with who I've finally found the courage to become.

On Saturday, He-who-trains had my workout partner and me in the martial arts room doing kicks for cardio.  I've not spent any time in there since I first started at the gym, which was well over a year ago. I remember it being horrible-- not having to do the kicks, but having to look at my body in motion in all those !@%* mirrors.  I couldn't even focus on the kicks because I was so distracted by what I saw. I wanted to cry at what I had let myself become.  But when I was in there on Saturday, it was a completely different experience.  I didn't love it, but I could at least accept it.  I could see my belly jiggle and squish up, but that wasn't all I saw. I saw how different my legs looked.  I saw my collar bones.  And I saw a face that stared back at me fiercely that told me there is a fighter inside, and she will not back down until she wins this one. There is no obstacle too big.  There is no food I want to eat badly enough to sabotage myself.  There is no room for excuses.  I know what I want, and I will get there.

In effort to practice self care, I'm doing a staycation this week, where I'll work a little bit-- long range planning and things that I can't ever seem to find time to do, but I'm actually energized. I'm gonna do some artsy things like paint and draw and take pictures.  I'm going to read books for fun.  I'm going to sit in the sunshine.  And I'm going to breathe deeply, because this, I think, is what it means to be alive... and well.

Monday, April 7, 2014


I keep hearing that I'm obsessed.  People think me strange that I don't eat just because I'm in a social situation that expects it. (Though it did make me smile to hear a church member say to a kindly, food sharing visitor who offered me some sort of fabulous dessert, "Oh she won't eat that".)  They find it odd that the gym is the first thing I schedule in my day, even if it means going at weird hours. Even my family, who is obligated to love me, thinks me kind of crazy because I plan my day around eating well.  And I'm fine with all that.  I've told myself that this sign is true.

Except that I am beginning to wonder if there is some truth behind it. I'm on a mandated three day a week workout plan, because it's intense enough that I need four days of rest.  Whining did not seem to change the mind of He-who-trains on the matter.  It never does.  But my whole day has felt off knowing that there was no gym time scheduled into my day.  I feel antsy and grouchy.  I don't quite know what to do with myself or my time.  I'm not in the mood to do house work (though the house is in decent shape except my piled up laundry that I really should fold) and I can't settle down to read. I might actually get killed if I went out for a run (or at least if I got caught), but even knowing that, I still want to  am having to fight myself not to do it anyway.  Even though my knee is puffy, which I know means that I should plant my butt on the couch and ice and advil.  (If any trainer, especially mine, happens to be reading this... that's what I wound up doing. Promise!)

I know I'm doing all of this for my health (and to show myself that I can... and to have a body I've always wanted...and to wear the cute clothes I see), but some times I think I lose sight of the health aspect.  I know that health means getting enough rest. I know that overtraining is stupid and could sideline me for way longer than I have the patience to take. It no longer feels right to not be at the gym when I feel perfectly fine.  I feel weak and silly and lethargic and whiny and grouchy. If you'd asked me this a year and a half ago, I never would've imagined it. But I'm pretty sure that gym going has become part of who I am--it's a piece of my identity now.  The people are my people.  The world makes sense in the gym.  I feel like I've achieved something, which is pretty remarkable considering my job rarely has quantifiable results.

I just swore to myself that if He-who-trains asked me one more time what I thought about this workout plan, that I'd tell him the truth.  That I actually love it, except that I can only do it three days a week, which is far crappier than the fact that it nearly makes me puke every time.  But then, this:

And I'm only a little bit embarrased that that lifted my mood considerably. (This post was cut short upon receiving it... I actually had more whining to do! Clearly, it's in the best interest of the world that I go burn off some of that energy.  Other wise I'd be (more) intolerable.)

Obsessed? Who? Me?  Nope, no way, nuhuh. And I'm definitely not about to stick this quote on my refrigerator, beside my pic of my body goal.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Visuals and Notes from the Peanut Gallery

I have thirty five pounds of flour sitting on my kitchen counter.  It's annoying.  It will be in the way.   It will make me angry. And I'm not moving it.   Because it represents the 35 annoying, in the way, anger provoking pounds I'm carrying around that is too much for my body. It also reminds me that there was an ugly day when I would've had 20 bags of flour instead of 7. I'm all about visuals.

 Or at least when I'm sitting here, post workout, sore and tired, and wondering why I thought it was a good idea to give He-who-trains carte blanche to help me meet my goal.   Of course, he's pretty helpful--especially in the texting department. (Hmmm...clearly I wasn't super functional when I sent that text though.)

My bikini motivational squad of a cousin is also pretty helpful, though I didn't seem to get any sympathy from her either.  But on the upside, she is mailing me one of her bikinis to put up at my house. (My goal weight  for beach week is close to her weight, and we're built a lot alike.) I'll be like that Yoplait commercial, where fittingly, the song "Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" plays and the woman dilligently eats her yogurt while staring at the bathing suit.  And then of course, the yogurt is so awesome, that the shoulder strap falls right off when the girl finally wears it.  Yeah, that. 

Today's workout wasn't quite as awful as Thursday's.  Maybe my brain decided today that it is entirely too nice outside to die right now. Or maybe, having lived through it once, I at least knew what to expect. And my lying, motivational workout partner was even more rockstar--ish and kept telling me that I had this. She even volunteered to do the post-workout run with me.  I was busy trying not to fall on my face during the awful plyometrics, but I'm pretty sure He-who-trains even said that I was doing great work.  He (unfortunately) does not feel inclined to blow sunshine my way so I'll consider that a pretty big compliment.  Of course, he at some point followed that with "Just wait until you do that with weights in your hands... and then heavy weights."  And "In, two weeks, your rest periods will decrease by a third."

I will never admit this for fear that he will take it as an invitation to figure out new ways to torture me, but I kind of like this way of training.  I'd take going as hard as I can and (safely) pushing my limits over a pansy workout any day.  I love that feeling of proving myself wrong when my first thought is "There is no way I can do that." I love having to dig deep to make it happen.  I even kind of love the soreness (I say that until I wobble around in heels trying to lead worship tomorrow) because it tells me I did something, it reminds me that I'm alive and well, and that I've got things I want to achieve.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Bikini or Bust, 2014

I blame my cousin, who of course got good genes and has a lovely athletic body, and has probably not owned a one-piece bathing suit since she was six.  She threw down a decree that after years of me hiding in frumpy hide-it-all and suck-it-in bathing suits, that this should be the year I finally wore a two piece.  Actually, I'm pretty sure she used the "B" word... and I don't think she meant a particular group of islands. So I looked her in the eyes and said I'd think about it, while I silently resolved that I'd make it happen.  It's after all not about the bathing suit.  It's about being a really new person, and finally being free from an old image of myself.  But that was like 6 months ago, and I thought I'd have made more progress than this. Now, family beach week is just a little bit over three months away.

So I stupidly sat down with He-who-trains, and told him about this problem... and tried to ignore the grin that spread across his face as I told him that I wanted to go all in for the next three months.  I asked him to make a meal plan for me, which explains why there is stinky fish cooking away in my oven as we speak.  I also told him that, in essence, he could do whatever he wanted to train me.  He could get in my face, and push me harder than I wanted to go.  He said (and I quote) "You won't like it." To which I replied with utmost sincerity, and even believed that I meant it: "What I like is irrelevant." Note to self: Uh, seriously... you said that? Out loud?

He-who-trains thinks he's funny.  Post
workout instructions: "Hobble Home...Cuss me.."
Because he grabs a pen and smiles away to himself while he designed a workout to increase my endurance.  Or you know... my vocabulary of things that I shouldn't say outloud.  He told me to "eat the biggest Snickers bar I could find" (long story but I needed more carbs in my body) and to bring a puke bag.  I'm pretty sure I should've run away screaming... but wait, I also begged him to let me run again, so in effort to give me every. single. thing. I. wanted. he decided that I could run AFTER the fun workout he'd designed for me.

I'm pretty glad to have had a workout partner for this one, because we were both dripping with sweat, and this was definitely a misery loves company sort of event.  But she rocks, and she's a great cheerleader. She'll gently correct my form which is a far superior thing to having He-who-trains do the form correcting.  She'll lie to me and tell me I'm doing great and that I've got it.  And I'll turn around and lie to her and tell her the same thing.  This is a spectacular time to have a lying friend.  I highly recommend it.  It wasn't pretty, but we survived.  And when He-who-trains came in to check on us and said "Planned assassinations of the gym nazi will not be tolerated" (and again, with that big stupid grin) we managed not to admit that we were too tired to think about killing him, or you know, think about anything.  And nobody needed the aforementioned puke bag.  That's a win, right?

Of course, because I shot off my mouth about wanting to run and how well my knees were doing, I wasn't done. I headed down the road for a jalk, which was spectacularly fun for a couple of reasons.  1) I hadn't run in 6 months.  2) My legs were jelly from all the plyometrics that I'd done. And oh yeah, 3) I had already used all my energy trying not to die.  Of course, He-who-trains is also a sadist, so he ensured that I ran the road around the gym where I couldn't hide from all the gawking people driving by.  At least I didn't yell "What?! Beet red looks good on me!" or "No, really, I swear I haven't been drinking and the fact that I don't have control of my muscles is perfectly normal." I had to spend a couple seconds walking here and there because of a side stitch, but it wasn't as bad as I guessed it would be.  But then again, I was pretty much just pleased that I was still capable of being in an upright position and moving at all.

So I got what I said I wanted.  On the upside, except a small twinge, my knees held up fine. And at the end, when he snarkily asked how I was, I could say... and mean... "I'm good."  Being spent, having given more than I thought I had, leaving it all at the gym.  Yeah, that's good.

New mantra until July: Bikini or Bust.

Oh, and this is my wallpaper these days, in case I'm tempted to cheat.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

A (wo)man with a plan...

So, one week down of being on it meal plans.  I wasn't perfect, but I learned some things:  If I'm gonna join a local civic club, I'm gonna have to pack my lunch.  (The fare at the fete I attended: sandwiches with deli meat, mayo based potato salad, potato chips and cookies. Pretty much nothing I normally eat.  But I'll just remind myself what I've learned to say in the past year and a half-- that I don't go for the food.) I also figured out that I don't have to eat exactly what I had planned on any given day, as long as over the week, I eat the daily plans.  So... I have a menu of fairly standard lunches... all I have to do is pick the dinner that goes with the lunch.  (Breakfast and snacks stay pretty much the same.) That's easy.  I also realized that I feel about meal plans a little bit like I felt about standardized dress in high school: that contrary to popular belief or what would seem to make sense, it actually makes things a lot easier.  I chop vegetables once or twice a week, and cook staples like chicken breasts and pork chops.  From there, my "blrrgh...dinner again?" delimma is solved. And using myfitnesspal, I can duplicate meals (and it does the math for me!) so the planning part isn't even as complicated as I thought it would be.

I'm still losing weight, and I was cleared by He-who-adjusts to resume lifting again.  I've felt pretty good, and my energy level is starting to go up. My cravings for sugary foods have almost disappeared. (Which must mean I've finally gotten my protein levels back up to where they need to be.) I'm optimistic that getting away from gluten is doing good things for my body. I'm eating good food that I love, and getting farther and farther away from processed food. This feels like a win.

Cool moment of the week: When I walked back into the gym for the first time in two weeks, one of the other trainers saw me and immediately said "Wow! You look like you've dropped ten pounds!" And I smiled and said, "well... pretty close." Not cool moment of the week: spending all of Sunday morning (while I was trying to preach) hoping my pants didn't fall right off. Time to go shopping!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Hard? Not Hard!

So after 15 months of fighting for every. single. pound. suddenly I've dropped seven in a week.  Granted there are a couple of things that probably helped, including the fact that I was sick and haven't been lifting weights in two weeks.  (I always drop when I stop lifting for a bit.) But... I'm thinking it's more than that.  He-who-trains thinks it's water weight, and maybe some of it is, but I'm wondering if it isn't something else. Because I've lost an inch from my waist since Wednesday, and a half inch from various other places. I showered at the gym this morning, and thoughtfully packed some jeans that were only a little big a few weeks ago.  Now I'm trying not to give everyone in the coffee shop a show. The bathing suit which was snug two weeks ago hangs off my belly. He-who-adjusts swears that my body was inflamed from the gluten, and that I actually wasn't as big as I thought I was. That didn't line  up with anything of which I had knowledge, so I didn't get my hopes up.  I'm wondering now if my body is freeing itself from some things (after my weirdo breakdown last week.)  It'll be interesting to see what the next week or so holds, but this feels awfully good for right now.

He-who-trains threw down a gauntlet.  Even though I said I was going six months without a major case of wagon falling off (which starts today, by the way), that was apparently not enough of a challenge.  He correctly pointed out that I've never really done meal plans-- which involves planning out every single thing that goes in my mouth for a week, and making sure my calories and ratios are correct. He ascertains that a food log (recording what I have eaten) is not nearly as effective as planning my meals out in advance, and then making sure I stick to it no matter what.  He maintains that I'm not disciplined enough to do this, but he is mistaken.  I sent him a week's worth of meal plans last night, which will take me Monday through Sunday. And it figures in lunch out with some town officials.  It figures in a shopping day with my folks.  It meets the guidelines he set out for me almost exactly, except I've eliminated anything that contains gluten, and gotten my carbs through other sources.  He-who-trains thinks this is going to be hard for me, because of stress and a sometimes hard to predict schedule.  But eating well is not  hard.  Not feeling well is hard.   Not being in the body I want is hard.

Eating chicken and porkchops and apples and watermelons and other delicious things? So not hard.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

More body fun...

My body is up to no good.  I'd blame the chiropractor if I didn't like him so much. (Since he's apparently going to be a character in my story for a while, I guess he deserves a name like He-who-trains received.  Henceforth, I shall call him "He-who-adjusts".)   At least he warned me about the crazies...only he called it "re-tracing." Apparently, the muscles of the human body hold memories. And after beginning chiropractic treatment, old physical or emotional injuries can come back to the surface. He told me that if I had repressed any feelings, they could come to the surface in powerful and unexpected ways. He warned me that I might get angry or suddenly start crying.  I don't really understand it, but this article helped a lot. I'll be honest.  When he warned me, I couldn't quite picture it.  Or maybe I thought it was such a weird sounding thing that I didn't listen all that closely. It didn't sound like something that would happen to me. Which of course means that it did. I felt pretty rotten all day yesterday... green to be exact.  I thought I was low on carbs or somehow dehydrated.  I felt hungover and had no fun to show for it.  But there's a lot going on, and stress is high.  I made another scheduled trip to He-who-adjusts and I was apparently tense.  Imagine that.   He had to do a lot of adjusting to get me to stop hurting so badly. I went to bed early. I didn't sleep well, but around 1, I woke up sobbing--you know that ugly, animal choking sound type of cry-- for no apparent reason. I wrote a friend an angry and completely irrational letter (which I had the good sense not to send.) But this morning, at least emotionally, I felt fine.

Physically, however, it's been a pretty rough day. I almost feel like I have the flu. I'm supposed to be at church, but that is way outside the realm of possibility. My stomach is ten shades of mean, and I have a ridiculous headache. I can't concentrate on anything.  (Ask me how long this post has taken to write. Forget anything that I was supposed to be working on... of which there is much.  Fear inspiring writing deadline looms in just a few days.  This is NOT the time. I'm hoping by plowing through this post, that will settle my brain down a little so I can write something serious.)  I feel clammy and weird. My skin feels sunburned though I've not been outside for more than thirty seconds in several days. I thought it was stress or maybe I'm coming down with something, but I'm beginning to have another suspicion. He-who-adjusts recommended I try two things (he works holistically--viewing the body as a system.  He is trained in this sort of healing that goes beyond standard chiropractic work.) The first suggestion was that I get on some probiotics.  I will not describe for you my feeling on these things, or how much fun they've made me to be around, but maybe that's part of the process.  The other suggestion was that I go gluten-free.  He-who-adjusts suspects that I have an allergy to something, and the most common thing that produces this level of toxicity is gluten. (If this winds up being true, it could explain why I've had so much inflamation and have plateaued so much.  He-who-trains disagrees with the latter... citing my lack of consistent perfect eating.  But I'm already on that one as you can see here. He's going down.) Since Friday, I've not had any gluten of which I am aware. I've read labels and done some beginning research.  And now having felt awful for two days, I did some checking.  Sure enough. Lots of other people have had these exact same symptoms as they've gone gluten-free.  My body is apparently detoxing from gluten... which is weird, because I was having so little of it anyway.  How is this a thing? I get detoxing from alcohol or drugs or whatever... but wheat? Seriously? This article helped some, and so did this one.  I thought I'd go gluten-free for thirty days just to see what happened, but I'm beginning to wonder if there is something to this.

I wish I'd done a little more research-- this was not the time for this. But then again, maybe there's never a good time to feel crappy... and never a bad time to start being well.   Blrrrgh.

Anyone been through this? Would love to know what you've found helpful.  I'm on new ground here.