Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Being Accountable

Boy do I ever hate being accountable. I know it is necessary but I do not like it. It goes against my very fiber and being. Having to document every bit of food that enters my mouth. Lordy have mercy.

It is not my favorite thing to do. Yet lets face facts. It is what works. It is absolutely necessary if you want to control your intake. I love food. I am always cooking something for someone. The kids eat their things, my husband eats his things, I eat my things and I am tasting and cooking it all. This can be very dangerous. Especially if you are at home and wandering from room to room in and out of the kitchen, fridge, etc....

Now I have always eaten well. Lots of vegetables and fruit. Organic when possible. I was raised that way and learned a lot. I don't eat a lot of milk products as I was badly lactose intolerant as a child. Yet I am sure I eat too much at a sitting and I love my chocolate.

I do have a thyroid issues and have been on thyroid medication since I was a young girl. So my metabolism is not kind. Not kind at all. Historically I would start some sort of diet system and it would work for a while. Then my metabolism would just get used to it and adjust and it would stop working well. This would frustrate me and back I would go to my old eating style. Each step down would be followed by a larger step up. I am sure this is a very common problem. Yet I had to figure out how to break it.

To do this I was going to have to track everything in and out. So I used an application on my phone called My Fitness Pal. There is also Spark People. I only decided to use this one because my friend Sarah was using it. I started on December 31st 2012. This was just 12 days after I did my first hot yoga class.

The program is fantastic for several reasons. Firstly I has a scanning option so you can scan the bar code of your food and load it that way. It also nets out your exercise. So If I do a hot yoga that burns 1400 calories and I eat 2000 calories worth of food that nets out to 600 calories for that day. It also summaries information daily, weekly etc. You can see your progress, graphs, charts, etc. I am a very technical person that loves statistics and analytics so this shows me the money so to speak.

So I started tracking. I put in my Curves work outs, my Hot Yoga work outs, and my food intake. I had a goals for calories, carbs, etc. I noticed a pattern of ups and downs with hot yoga days low and curves day on the higher end, yet still below my goals. So I was rocking it out. At first I had one day of hot yoga and four or five of curves, then it increased to about 50/50. This pattern of ups and downs kept my metabolism going. Shocking it up and down without expectations setting in.

Tracking has become not so bad because I am eating decently, not being crazy about it, and working out every day Curves, Hot Yoga, Curves, Hot Yoga. I am seeing progress. My clothing is getting bigger, I know that if I stop tracking accountability goes out the window. Yes it goes against my very fiber, I hate doing it. But I do it. I will keep doing it. I must.


November 2013

The Groupon expired and I joined curves with a one year contract. I was a little worried about justifying the monthly expense. However I did it anyway. I proved over the previous two months that I would use it. Curves was definitely my gate way to working out without the regular frustrations of timing issues. A quick in and out and muscles worked out. I have to admit that it was all I could handle and I was happy to be accomplishing it. I started to see little changes in my body. I don't think I was seeing weight loss but definitely some toning happening.

My clothing was laying a little better and I was feeling a little stronger. The good thing about curves is you can't hurt yourself. The machines are based on resistance and the more you push the harder it gets there is not fear that you could wrench your back. I was going 4 to 5 times a week and really missing it if I could not go.

Another really cool thing about Curves is the stretching beast as I call it. After you finish your 24 minute of machines you head for this structure that has different stretching bars and stations around it. When done correctly it will take 6 minutes to go through. It introduced me back into stretching. While I loved to stretch it took so much effort to do it right especially when large and inflexible to begin with. With this it was efficient and fast. You know how you try to kick up and grab you foot behind your back and stretch, well the stretch beast had a place to hook your foot at different heights so you could stretch without being about to reach your foot. Totally cool.

I kept going to curves but in my own way I started to kind of slack off a little and spend more time talking and put in less effort. It was a slow creep, but still was a reality. Then one morning I was starting my first round when I noticed a women really putting in the effort. I will call her Mary for the story. Mary was probably in her early 80's. She was running on the spot during the breaks between each machine. She was fast footing it and when she hit the machines she was really pumping. I noticed her before but did not think too much of it.

I asked Mary if she was a runner. She had those strong calfs of a runner. She said she was not. Her calfs while strong, were streaked with varicose veins and told the tale of time even if her muscles did not. She admitted to being a back packer enjoying camping in her younger days. I wondered what her story really was. She admitted she did four rounds, twice the usual curves work out, each time. I watched her sweat and really put it out there and I asked myself what the hell I was doing. This was an 80 plus women and the least I could do is put it out there too. I told her she was inspirational and kick it up a notch or three.

Finding a flow

April 29th 2013

Day 5: Definitely feeling the pain in my hips a little today. Frankly the amount of pain I am feeling is so much less than I used to feel on a regular day. Had to turn over a few times last night but nothing like it used to be. You see I sleep on a very soft bed with an extra foam pad and my hips used to just scream anyway. It was much worse on anything harder. So I know this pain but still so much less.

The Yoga class at Sumits stays the same for all 80 minute classes. You get used to the routine, the breaks, what comes next. Some times anticipating the moves. I have to try not to get ahead of the instructor. Deliberate movements, breath. Today I challenge myself to take two breaks. I manage to take one during the flow and one during the abdominal workout. Usually I don't take breaks. All macho and all.

Overall when I was done I hurt a lot less after the class then when I started. This is a very busy time at work with grading and grading and grading to do before graduation sets in for the students. Some how even though this is taking a bunch of time I believe I am more calm and productive during my on times.

Day 6: Well this is truly getting somewhere. Last night was my husbands 42nd birthday. We went to see Gov't Mule and danced for several hours. I was feeling it by the end of the night and was kind of worried this morning would be bad news. Usually I would have taken this excuse to take a break today. But not this time sister. Off I went to Sumits for the traditional 9:00am class. I tried to make myself take two breaks but only took one. Took a break during bridge. It was hot and the class was taught by a great teacher that really helps to correct the positions and get the most out of the experience. Firm and beautifully supportive.

The amazing thing about this journey is that it is one for the mind as well as the body. My body is transforming and my soul with it. There is a real beauty in the peace of being able to focus on your self and your breath every day. Looking yourself square in the face. Seeing. It is a big of mindfulness. Read those books years ago but was too busy to be mindful. Now I have to be mindful each day. I wonder if I will want to stop at 30 days.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Failure... no we don't set up for failure

As you read these you will realize that chronology is not followed. hehe. Chaos reigns.

April 2013:
It was finally time for me to embark on the thirty day challenge. I had said that when the semester came to a close I would do my thirty days and see what that would do for my body. What is 30 day challenge you may ask. Well there seems to be a culture at the hot yoga place to attempt to do a large number of days of consecutive hot yoga. This means that you either can not skip days or you need to double up. If you have ever attempted hot yoga you know this is a major accomplishment. When I first started hot yoga I could only tolerate once a week.

So now I was at that point and had to decide when to start. The plan was to do the 30 days before Wakarusa Music Festival, my yearly mama escape from reality and responsibility. The semester would be coming to a close, my teaching responsibilities would be coming to an end and I could focus on doing this each day. For the last few months I had been building up to this.

I was at Sumits Hot Yoga and I asked one of my great instructors, Emily, "So, being a mom, it is really hard to make it to 30 days in a row. You know kids stuff. Does anyone ever do a 30 in 32 days?". Her incredible strong and inspirational response was " Failure... no we don't set up for failure." She was so right. I had to dive in for 30 days. I had to embrace all that I needed to do and fit this in. If it meant doing doubles so be it. I was committed.

I am going to continue writing about these 30 days while I also build the history that lead me to this time.

Day 1: Very much like most days. I was used to doing three to four hot yogas a week so no big whoop. Emily asked me if that was going to be my first day. My answer ... depends on tomorrow.

Day 2: OK feeling a little sore today. I did the 5:45 on a friday which was a candle light class. Cool but it was harder to focus on my reflection. Harder to balance during the standing series. I got used to it as the class went on and it was actually rather cool. Not real flame of course. Just like LED lights.

Day 3: Saturday had to do an afternoon class. Kid stuff to do in the morning. My Son was showing a poster at a science show. Totally cute and worth it. Did the afternoon class. Felt good. I had done three days in a row before so not a big deal yet.

Day 4: First time I have done four days in a row. It was good. Honestly started the monthly monster so had to take a few breaks. The great instructor Sarah suggested taking it easy on myself during that time. It was actually hard to force myself to take breaks. I kept wanting to jump up and get back into the flow but I knew that the break takes discipline too.

Got home on Day 4 and spent two hours work in the back yard. We have one of those intex above ground pools. Last winter we had no snow and the most mild of temperatures in years. So, this winter we figured we would just leave the pool up and save ourselves the hassle. Well, turns out this winter has been long, cold and snowy. Moral of the story is that the pool was full of yucky, smelly, scary water. So the boys and I spent two hours bailing out the remains of the water that the pump could not remove. The thing that amazes me about this is that I don't hurt. By all that is holly I should really hurt. I mean I should be in traction. Instead I feel a little pain in my right hip but no big deal. I must have dumped out 100's of pails of water and tossed them, twisting, lifting and no big pain. Definitely in much better shape then I can ever remember.

This is what amazes me about this yoga. You are using your own body weight to grow your strength and it is so effective. No bow flex or free weights yet strength growing with every move. Flexibility, stamina, health.

The dude that is one of the owners at hot yoga asked me today how much I thought I would lose during my 30 days. I am not sure but I am very excited to find out. Not so worried about the lbs, More about inches and health. I am already doing so well.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Groupon

Sept 2013:

I styled myself a Groupon slut.  I enjoyed checking out the Groupon application on my iPhone and the emails looking for good bargains for sushi or good tech deals.  There it was, for the second time since the summer.  A two month pass to Curves for $25 dollars.  My friend Naomi, back in Toronto, had started going to curves and was looking great, sounding strong and a great role model.  So I was pumped.  I took a chance and pressed buy.  It took me a few days to admit it to my Husband.  Knowing it could lead to a commitment of time and family resources.

I told my two partners in crime, sisters of choice, lady friends, sisters in motherhood, what ever you want to call them, about it and we all dove in.  I started first, going every day I could.  You see getting the chance for a real work out was next to impossible in my busy world.  Full time job, charity work, raising two kids, etc etc.... Yet Curves I could do.  30 minutes in and out.  That is what worked.  A busy women can get in and out, with a sweat, a stretch and burning two to three hundred calories.

Most of the Lady's at the local curves were a bit older than me but they were inspirational.  They were there every day putting it out there.  Some of them slower than others but all of them there.  There is a group I liked to call the four Carols.  They came every morning and were a riot.  There were the favorite shows, trips, shopping opportunities, problems, and victories. I got to know this group and added my thoughts and energy.

I enjoyed the community of women. Women with experience and flaws.  A very strong group of women. Each one there for 30 minutes and out.  Off they would go to their days.  I committed to it. Each day I would drop the kids at school and go to curves.  My body started to crave it.  I started to notice little changes in the effort it took to go up stairs, or my ability to get out of bed in the middle of the night.

My muscles were awakening. I refused to have my measurements taken and would not step on a scale. A doctor I saw for menopause symptoms said "Don't look at diet and exercise with the outlook of losing weight anymore. This is the beginnings of menopause. Instead look in terms of being healthy."  So I focused on getting some muscles and feeling stronger.

The Situation

This is a story that needs to be told. Not sure if anyone is interested in hearing it but, it will be told just the same. So we find me sitting here ready to tell my story after much effort and overcoming many challenges. I am 43 years old and the mother of two lovely boys. This story really started about 8 months ago. So here goes.

September 2012 I was what you would call a large lady. Not in height, lord knows, as I was standing about 5 foot tall at that point and weight well over two spins. Always voluptuous but also carrying way to much for my frame. I would like to say that this was all the result of having my boys, however my weight problems pre-date that. Certainly having two kids did not help the situation at all.

I was feeling like a beached whale, dressed in organic cotton, facing the decision of to struggle or give in to the inertia. I know it is a great image, however that is truly how I felt. It took effort to get out of the couch and I kept making those 'ohy veh' noises. Like many moms, I still had the stamina to go above and beyond but it was costing me. I knew that something had to change as I felt way older than my 43 years. I worried about how I was going to be there for my kids and what kind of shape I would be in. With family history of diabetes and high blood pressure, I was feeling kind of doomed. My body hurt and I did not know what to do.

Now you may say to diet and work out. However after years of trying diet after diet and struggling with low thyroid I did not have much faith in a positive outcome. The claws of menopause had already started to leave their marks on my world. Hot flashes, cycle interrupt-us, etc.... The hill seemed way too high and the rewards fickle and unattainable. Kind of like the God's of Ovid had been watching me and tossing more hurdles than opportunities.

Then one day things changed.