Sunday, April 28, 2013

Living like Winnie

"You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." ~Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh

    I first saw this quote tattooed on my cousins body--which maybe makes me a laugh at little bit.  But the quote has sort of grabbed ahold of me, and it's become something that matters to me--something that I have to remind myself every now and then.  Because not only have I been guilty of limiting myself, I've been just as guilty at letting other people's thoughts and expectations limit me.

    He-who-trains taught me a lesson once. It was a high intensity cardio day, and I had been on the bike for almost 45 minutes.  I was sweaty and tired and fully believed that I had given it everything. I thought when the timer said "45", I was done.  Of course, that's the moment He-who-trains chose to come up and tell me that I wasn't done-- that that was only the first half.  And not only that, but that I was to crank up the resistance.  It's admittedly been awhile, but he said something like "When you think you can't go any more or any harder, put your head down and push through it."

I did.  And I'm only exaggerating a little when I say I thought I was going to have a heart attack.  If I thought I was sweaty before, I had not yet begun to sweat.  (No seriously, like wring me out because there is no dry spot on my shirt sweaty.)  But I've not forgotten what I learned: that there is much more in me than I am often able to realize.

This morning I preached on the passage in Acts where God tells Peter not to "call unclean what I have called clean."  In some ways, it's a passage about putting up walls-- and about how they come crashing down in the presence of God. And when Peter is trying to defend himself to the religious authorities because he's done what God said, he says, "Who am I to hinder God?" I like that question and it's a good one for the church.  But maybe an equally good question for someone who struggles with self doubt is "Who am I to limit myself?" I realize that I often put up walls and draw lines and create boundaries for what I can and can't do.  But when I stop with it for a while, sometimes I surprise myself. I realize that there is more in me for which I cannot often give myself credit.  Sometimes I do things that I really didn't think I could do.  Maybe that's pushing through at the gym, or maybe it's shutting up the voices that tell me I need sweet carbs (which thankfully I am no longer craving-- LOVE this new program!)  But maybe it's more than that.  Maybe it's having the courage to own my stuff and do something about it.  Maybe it's not apologizing for where I am and just simply standly firmly in that place.

I don't often take life advice from animated characters, but maybe I'll make an exception.  I am strong-- strong enough to be who I am, to believe what I do, and two stand on my own two feet. And to one day get out of this body that has spent way too long holding me back.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

It's the end of the world as I know it...

After getting tired of hearing me whining about being stuck, He-who-trains came up with a new way to torture me:  two workouts per day, 1200 calories and very few carbs.  And then he helpfully added "and I'd better not get any texts about how hungry you are."  I was joking around and thought I was telling him that I was completely ok with this and said "Oh, I may still whine, but ok."  And he made a very good point. "No whining" he said.  "Your attitude affects your success." (Or something similar.)

He's right.  (Of course he's right.  He's always, irritatingly, eye-rollingly right.) I hadn't given much thought to that.

And I'll take that to heart in other areas.  But I'm actually looking forward to this in several ways.   First of all, I guess this sounds lame-o, but there won't be a lot of choice involved. (Kinda like how I was the only high school senior who liked having standardized dress--there was very little planning involved in getting ready for school.)  600 calories are taken up with protein shakes, and then another 160 or so with a fruit and milk preworkout snack.  That only leaves 400ish calories that I have to figure out (and that won't provide a lot of options!)  I like that I don't have to figure out a solid breakfast-- that's been a struggle since I was a kid.  I'm just not a meat and eggs sort of person in the morning. Even oatmeal was a struggle some days.  But liquid breakfast that requires no planning? Yes, please! I'm also pretty excited about the exercise time in the morning.  I've missed that since I started training in the afternoon.  That was always "my" time-- time to think in some ways.  Nevermind that it sets a better, more productive tone for the rest of the day.

I'm betting He-who-trains expects me to be pretty miserable, but to see results.  But even if I am hungry-- so what? There's so much much about this that makes my life easier.  And I expect it to work. Besides, I'm in a place in my life where I'm done taking the easy route.  Been there, done that, got the (much larger) Tshirt.   I don't need easy-- I need all this excess to go away.

Hey.  It's the end of the world as I know it.  And I feel fine...

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Countering Cortisol

So...this is apparently what I do.  I write, and then I don't.  And it's been two months of lame-o don't.  I got busy, and then it was Lent, and then Easter, and then knocked off my feet and out of the gym for almost two weeks.  And things were going well enough not to have anything to say. I thought I was winning the battle-- after all, my knees rarely scream anymore-- even when doing squats and the legpress.  I was losing inches, and a few pounds here and there. I am beginning to see a shape emerging.

I started with He-who-trains five months ago, and while I'm glad I've lost the 27 lbs, it's definitely not what I hoped to achieve in that time. I was thinking I would be closer to 40-50lbs down.  And as warmer weather approaches (though clearly not today...brrr) I will want to wear tank tops. I had imagined that my arms would not jiggle this year.  I thought this would be the first summer in years that I would even think about a pair of shorts.  And maybe even that while I wouldn't be perfect, I wouldn't hate my shape come beach time in June.

Perhaps I didn't have realistic expectations.  Or perhaps I've not been as faithful about eating well as I should've been.  Or maybe I haven't pushed myself as hard as I could've in the gym.   Or maybe it's something else.

Several weeks ago, I started getting a new lecture (in addition to the other lectures!) from He-who-trains: that cortisol is significantly hindering my progress.  And further, that until I got it under control, that I physically wouldn't be able to see the results I wanted to see.

I've been doing a lot of reading. (The most helpful has been The Coritsol Connection.) Cortisol is the stress hormone-- and it does all sorts of nasty things when it gets out of control.  It is part of the "fight or flight" reaction, which is good, but when people are under chronic stress, the levels are not well regulated. When the levels stay too high, at the very least, it causes a craving of carbohydrates and a sense of lethargy.  But those things are tiny in relationship to the other things: increased blood pressure, suppressed thyroid and immune functions, decrease in muscle density, storing of fat, impaired cognitive functions, and a host of other things.

As I've been reading, I've realized something.  I've kind of always been stressed out--even as a little kid.   Even as a child, I had more to-do lists than anyone could imagine (since the advent of technology, my post-its are digital-- which at least keeps them from taking over my world.) Even as a child, the thought of being late would make me nuts.  And I've always had a sense of being too busy to enjoy things.  My dad used to tell me to "go ragdoll" because my muscles were always so tense-- and I could never make myself do it.  I've paid for it too.  In seminary, I underwent MRI's and all sorts of tests because I had a headache that wouldn't go away.  (Later ruled stress.)  Several years ago, I was nauseated almost every day for nearly a year. (Also later ruled stress.) And I'm always catching whatever bug is floating by.

If He-who-trains is correct (and he usually is), and even with all the diet and exercise in the world, I won't be able to overcome this, then I have good reason to be nervous.  I don't exactly know what to do to correct a lifetime of bad habits, but I've realized that doing nothing is not an option.  I don't know that these small things are enough, but they are something-- some place to begin. So here is what I'm re-committing to do, in effort to begin to manage my stress.

-Start writing again.  Here, but not just here.  In journals, at my other blog.  On lists.  Everyday, somewhere.

-Walking Bella-- not for exercise or because she needs to do her business, but because it makes both of us happy.   It's a good place to gather my thoughts before the day runs away with me.

- Doing creative things.  Taking pictures, and drawing/painting, knitting.

- Keeping my space neat (and cheerful).  I don't function well in clutter and mess, and it's easier to stay on top of it rather than having to take a day to recover from the toll my week has taken on the state of the house.

-Cooking.  Having healthy meals ready to go in the fridge--that makes it easier to be diligent about eating well.

-Practing some form of Examen at the end of the day.  Reflecting on the things for which I'm grateful, and the things that didn't go as well as they should.  Asking myself how I did in meeting goals.

Yeah, so I've committed to all these things before.  And I've slipped.  But I kind of like what Zig Zigler said: "People say that motivation doesn't last.  Well, neither does bathing.  That's why we recommend it daily."  Today's a new day, and it's time to begin again.