Thursday, March 31, 2011

Beauty: maybe it's time for me to work out what it is for me?

I've been thinking about beauty today. And I've been realising that, while I know that I vacillate around wanting it, I'm not sure I know any more what it is.

I know beauty's subjective. What's pleasing to one person's eye does absolutely nothing for someone else. And that's not only true of build, complexion, muscle tone, bone structure, or hair or eye colour. It's just as valid for manner, attitude, confidence, grace... any of the below-the-surface attributes that are sometimes held up as aspects of "real beauty" when people want to believe it's a virtue that lies wholly beneath the skin. But what strikes one person as tactful, considerate and gentle can strike another as being a disingenuous, passive-aggressive, self-sacrificing doormat.  And what one person sees as having confidence in themselves and their unique strengths can strike another as arrogant self-delusion and wilful ignorance of their faults.

I know the more I learn about beauty, the less I know what it is for me. Beauty, after all, is all in the eye of the beholder.  And when something's that subjective, that open to individual variation, how can we possibly have any kind of collective agreement about what constitutes it?  Without a collective agreement, we each have to decide what beauty really is to us. But how exactly are we supposed to figure that out when we're constantly bombarded with messages about what we should consider to be beautiful?  I know that super-slender, super-made-up, super-airbrushed fashion magazine models don't register as beautiful to me (well, most of them don't, anyway - occasional exceptions occur).  Nor, I feel very awkward in saying, because I want to believe I'm more open and tolerant than this, do obese people - at least not physically, although I've met some with definite inner beauty that awes me. In fact, I realise as I write this that physical extremes of any kind don't register as "beautiful" to me. Nor do androgynous men (although, oddly, sometimes androgynous women do... I have no idea what's up with that).  But these are all examples of what I don't find beautiful.  It doesn't help to answer what, exactly, I do.

I know I'm... conflicted... about my own physical "beauty".  Some days, I truly, truly  feel beautiful. I see myself in the mirror, and my eyes seem big, dark and sparkling, my skin seems clear, my hair behaves itself as it falls sleekly down my back, and my clothes seem to flatter my shape (larger than socially desirable though it may be) and fall in nice lines that flaunt the curves I enjoy having, and hide the ones I don't.  I'm at peace with myself and even I can see it in the reflection looking back at me.

Other days, though, I just can't feel it.  My hair is a wirebrush rat's nest that refuses to co-operate with anything I try to do it - my skin seems to create enough oil to solve the world's energy crisis - the circles under my eyes pulse like black holes - and nothing I wear hides the rolls of extra flesh that have come with growing older.  And don't get me started on the not-just-skin-deep stuff. On those kinds of days?  I snap and I snarl and I snipe at the people who love me. I'm irritable and self-absorbed. I act like an inconsiderate toddler throwing a kindergarten tantrum - and even as I'm doing it, I wonder how anyone could possible see *this* and think it's attractive.

Sometimes, people I care about - people I trust - tell me I'm beautiful.  When I'm feeling that way to start with, the recognition - the acknowledgement and affirmation that I'm not deluding myself - is a precious gift, and the smile that lights up my face as I thank whoever said it is 100% genuine.  When I'm not, I try to smile and say thank you anyway - but I wonder if the person who complimented me can tell that it hasn't sunk in. I wonder if they can see that my inner saboteur has taken their well-meant words, and is in the process of tearing each one into bleeding shreds like a rabid wolf with its prey.

Sometimes I can pretend I don't give a damn about beauty.  I tell myself I'm deeper than that. That my mind is occupied with far more important things.  That caring about being beautiful is allowing the outwardly-focussed, materialistic culture I live in to dictate what does or doesn't have worth in my life - to impose its standards on me. On days like that, I try to reject those standards, and simply be who I am, in the body I've been given, in clothes that feel comfortable, and with the minimum amount of fuss and bother I can possibly manage.   Other times I realise that actually, feeling beautiful feels good... and I want that feeling as often as possible. So I find myself searching for clothes and makeup that will flatter me, doing exercise that will shape me, playing with skin care that will fix my complexion issues, and attempting inner work that will transform me.  All with the goal and hope and dream of being a generally beautiful person - inside and out.

Like I said, I'm thoroughly conflicted.  And I think it's time to openly acknowledge it.

I'm not sure where to go with this realisation. I think I've known it for a long time, but I'm not sure if I've verbalised it before.  I'm fairly certain it's a big part of why I'm often so conflicted about my weight loss, and why I've done far, far better with the practical goal of losing weight for Trailwalker than I ever did when I just aimed for a number on the scale, a specific dress size, or the ability to squeeze back into those damn leather pants.

I think there's probably a lot more beauty-related musings inside me still to be explored.  But I wanted to get these thoughts down into writing now, in the hope they'll prompt some kind of epiphany somewhere off down the track. Maybe one day I'll be able to figure out what beauty actually is to me. And when that happens? Maybe I'll finally know whether it's something worth the constant struggle to achieve.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

One small step for style, one giant leap for body image

So yesterday I did a huge, giant, enormous, big brave thing.  No, really.

Are you ready for this?

OK, here it is then: I wore boots, leggings and a mid-thigh-length tunic to work.


"Why is this such a big deal?", I hear you ask.

Well, it's like this, see.  All of us have bits of our bodies we're... not as happy with as we could be, right?  In my case, the "bits I'm not happy with" are pretty much everything below the waist.  And I have my reasons: I have a weirdass lymphatic circulation thingy going on, which means that even when I was at my alltime skinniest and friends/family were telling me I'd gone too far with my weight loss (although I'd only *just* slipped into the very top level of "healthily overweight" by the BMI charts), I still had very round, very swollen, very balloony legs and ankles.

I've had the issue checked by a doctor or two over the years, each of whom agrees that, given how active I am in my daily life:
  1. No, really, lymphatic swelling has absolutely bugger-all to do with my weight. It's not actually my fault for being overweight, but they can't tell me what it *is* due to. Basically, it's just one of those things that just *is* - kinda like me having mutant thumbs or a jewish nose
  2. If the oedema (that's the technical name for lymphatic swelling) didn't suddenly show up out of the blue, and it's not painful or stopping me doing anything practical that I want to do, then there's no real health reason to be concerned about it
  3. If I *do* want to do something about it, I'm probably looking at long-term use of diuretics to reduce the fluid levels (yeah, no thanks, I like my electrolytes the way they are, thanks), and/or wearing fairly tight compression stockings to physically *squeeze* the fluid out of my legs (until I take them off, when it'll probably all flow back in again - and yeah, again, no thanks - taking care of what is effectively a cosmetic issue by wearing something really ugly and uncomfortable seems to defeat the purpose, if you know what I mean)
So I figured that if it's not affecting my life in any way other than keeping me from fitting into 95% of the allegedly-my-size boots on the planet, then I really don't want to start frakking around with my body's delicate biochemical balance or sentence myself to wearing compression stockings for the rest of my life. So the obvious answer is to just live with it, dress around it, and focus my time and energy on other FAR more important matters.

Which sounds all very smart and sensible and stuff, but despite the smartness and sense, somewhere underneath the surface, I've retained a definite sense of... shame... I guess you'd call it, about my legs.  Because they're not shaped like "normal" legs. Despite their strength. Despite the fact that they've been instrumental in getting me 88km into Trailwalker last time around. Despite the fact that they've carried me nearly 1,500km since I started  tracking my mileage back in August last year.  You'd think I'd be proud of them, regardless of their shape, right?

Yeah, not so much, I'm afraid. For the past decade or so, almost any time I've left the house, I've dressed in either long, loose trousers, or a long, ankle-length skirt.  Oh, I'll *very* occasionally wear leggings when I'm out running, or exercising at home. But otherwise? I hide them away to the greatest extent I can. Even when I was training for Trailwalker through the heat of summer last time around, I still wore long cargos to walk in, rather than shorts for most of it (I did *try* to wear shorts for part of it, but it was a HUGE deal psychologically for me when I did)

So anyway. I made a decision back last year that if/when I completed Trailwalker, I was going to buy myself a short skirt that showed off my (probably opaque-tights-covered, granted) legs. After all, legs that walked 100km, and that were instrumental in raising $2,500 for charity frakking deserved to be shown off, right?

That's an easy decision to make because, hey, it's off in the future, and I don't have to actually *do* anything about it right now.  And then earlier this month it occurred to me... one of my standard workwear combos recently has been a flattering, mid-thigh tunic worn over either jeans or dress pants.  And that I could just as easily do that over leggings or opaque tights as I could over pants. So I didn't actually *need* to buy myself anything new to "show my legs off".

Then, last week, I went shoe shopping - looking for some physio-recommended flats to wear to work, since wearing boots with heels  - even small ones - seemed to be aggravating a knee problem I can't afford to have this close to Trailwalker.  What I discovered  is that the new season's boots are now in... and that someone, somewhere must have heard my footwear-related prayers because they're FINALLY making boots that fit those of us with... wider calves and ankles.  And for the first time EVER in my life, I found a pair of leather, mid-calf boots that fitted over my ankle and lower calves. And there was MUCH celebration in the Starfire-verse, let me tell you.

So of course, I... errr... grabbed the aforementioned boots. And a couple of other pairs of comfy, flat ankle boots while I was at it. I've never had so much success with boot-shopping in my life, and I wasn't about to let any of them slip through my grasp. Which brings me through to yesterday. I wore the midcalf ones. And leggings. And a mid-thigh tunic. And I... shock... horrror... gasp... *showed off my legs*.

The results were AMAZING in the extent of their anticlimacticness. No-one said a word. It's possible that this is because it looked truly godawful and everyone was too polite to say anything. But it's also possible, and FAR more likely, that no-one actually noticed. After all, I'd worn that tunic before over black pants. It's possible it didn't actually look all that different over black leggings.  The key thing from my subconscious's point of view, however, is that no-one gasped, blanched or ran away in horror when the shape of my legs went on display. No-one gently took me aside and explained that, really, I didn't have the legs to be wearing such styles, and should really go back to wearing looser pants. No-one, in fact, appeared to be looking at my legs one way or the other.  Which is to be expected if you're thinking about such things rationally and logically.  Can you tell from this post I haven't been able to do that for a long time?

Anyway: I'm figuring on some kind of "aversion therapy" thing here, where I do the whole tunic-and-leggings thing on a regular basis over Winter... and hopefully at some point, I'll graduate to doing the same thing with opaque tights and above-the-knee skirts.

Who knows?  By the time summer rolls around, my subconscious may have even made it to the point I'm ready to let just a little skin show?

Friday, March 18, 2011

It's my weight-goal and I'll change it if I want to

So, what's it been now... three months? Slightly over.  Well, at least the posting gap's been slightly smaller this time round.

And things have indeed changed since December.  In several ways - the biggest of which (at least from a weightloss viewpoint)  is that on-again, off-again, on-again, off-again Trailwalker is now on again.

Which is great news when it comes to avoiding the predations of the Beast.  Not quite so good when it comes to the weightloss journey - hey, I defy anyone (well, any mere mortal, anyway) to eat cleanly and keep regular comfort food out of their diet when they're exhausting their meagre willpower stores on simply getting their butt out the door 5-6 days a week regardless of the weather, and keeping it out the door for 70-90km and 14-16 hours a week of nothing but walking.

At the same time, I don't want to backtrack and lose all the ground I've worked so damn hard to gain over the past 18 months or so. So what I'm doing instead is giving myself permission to just maintain where I am for now (and by maintain, I mean, allow my body do its usual 2kg-either-way-yo-yoing-in-less-than-48-hours thing).   I seem to be able to hold steady at somewhere between 76.5kg-78.5kg without putting too much thought and obsession and planning into it, so I've decided that, at least until Trailwalker's over, that's good enough for me.

This initially felt like I was giving up... at least until I realised I was looking at it through one-or-zero, black-or-white, binary-only coloured glasses.  If, on the other hand, I look at my weightloss journey as something I get to do in my own time, under my own rules - and furthermore, as something that is... really... simply the intro course for a way of eating and relating to food that's going to last me the rest of my life - then the decision to maintain is just me having the flexibility to acknowledge that right now, I have a goal that's more important to me than my original weightloss one was.

So, in practical terms, that means I'm still:
  • Tracking my food more days than I'm not - as much to make sure I'm getting enough calories as it is to make sure I'm not blowing out on a regular basis.  But I'm also not beating myself up if I go a day or three without tracking, especially if that day happens to be one where a/ I'm doing 30km+ walks; and b/ I'm eating food that makes my body feel good and nourished and not-hungry, even if I'm also eating some crap
  • Trying to drink lots of water and drink not-too-much of everything else (tea excepted - my tea addiction remains with me, unchangeable through thick and thin)
  • Trying (with varying success) to get more fresh-fruit-and-veg - hell, even frozen/dried/canned/whatevered fruit-and-veg - into my diet. Some days I do pretty well, other days not so much.  This is an area I've really slacked off on over the past few weeks, and I suspect kicking myself up the butt and improving it would do wonders for my mood... and possibly my training too.
  • Trying (again, with varying success) to eat semi-mindfully with a focus on how a given food will make me feel - not just as I eat it, but afterward. And, of course, with a focus on how it's going to fuel all those crazy-long walks that I'm doing.
  • Weighing myself weekly - just to make sure I"m not kidding myself about being able to limit the effects of slacking off.

What I'm NOT, on the other hand, doing so much of right now is:
  • Denying myself comfort/stress food as and when I want it:  I'm still limiting my portions - a couple of squares of dark chocolate at one go, not a bar; or a small serving of chips when I'm craving salty, fatty food - plus I'm still trying to eat it mindfully when I do eat it, but I'm making the choice to indulge my desire for comfort food far more often than I did before the Trailwalker thing was confirmed.  Partly that's all the extra stress that the organising side of Trailwalker is creating in my life. Partly it's the "but I deserve it, damnit!" voice that looks at the crazy distances I'm making myself walk and wants to reward myself. Partly it's knowing that when you're burning an extra 4,000-5,000 calories a week, you can afford to splurge a little more often.  The trick here will be remembering to pull myself back from the extra indulgences once Trailwalker's over
  • Cooking dinners from scratch: (and by "from scratch" I mean "using ingredients that don't ALL come from a packet"). Cooking and I have had a... troubled relationship in the past. Sometimes we're grudging allies, but most of the time, we prefer to ignore each other.  So for me, deciding to cook and actually preparing food to be cooked takes a huge amount of willpower out of all proportion to the physical effort involved in the act of cooking. Always has. Right now, I don't have that willpower spare. So instead, I'm compromising and looking for semi-healthy convenience foods that can just either be microwaved or eaten cold. Or, not-irregularly, buying semi-healthy takeaways like sushi, salad wraps or Nando's, where I know the nutrition data. I know it's not perfect. But it's the best compromise I'm willing to make right now.
  • Bringing my lunches into work from home: I did have this set up as a good routine habit for a while last year. And I intend to go back to it. But again, I'll do it *after* Trailwalker.
I think, to some extent, I'm using the same techniques that I kept hearing motivational expert after motivational expert, diet coach after diet coach, recommend back over the Christmas break to stop people losing track of their good habits and intentions completely over the Silly Season. I'm accepting that the period from now until Trailwalker *isn't* normal life for me; and trying to keep my weightloss goals on track as though it were - not having the flexibility to adapt to the reality of what life is now for me - would be getting into an all-or-nothing thought pattern that won't do anything good for my pysche or my weightloss.  Better to cut back on my goals, and put a finite timeframe on when I'll pick them back up again.

So. Here's how I see it working:
  • Right up until Trailwalker (until Friday 8 April): I'm going to keep on keeping on as I have been above.  If I can tweak what I'm doing to feature more of the "good" stuff in the first list, that's great.  But the ultimate arbiter of whether what I'm doing is enough is a/ whether I have the energy to do all the training I need to do; and b/ whether I'm managing to keep my weight in that 76.5-78.5kg band
  • Trailwalker weekend and the two days immediately following (9-12 April): I'm planning on, quite simply, eating whatever the hell my body wants while I'm on the 100km walk; and whatever the hell I feel like the two days afterwards while I'm resting and recovering and taking time off work. I'm going to trust my body to let me know what it feels like, and trust my mind to be present to whatever I'm eating so that I stop when I've had enough.
  • The third day after (13 April):  this is my last day off work - I'm going to use it to check in, reset my goals and intentions around my weightloss journey, and then go do some healthy grocery shopping to make sure I have the foods in the fridge/pantry/etc that will support those goals and intentions.  I'll also look at what my next exercise goal is going to be once Trailwalker is over and done with - I have vague ideas about setting myself a half-marathon to run-walk, but we'll see what happens when I get there.

So yes. I'd love to be supergirl and keep up that wonderful rate of weightloss I had going late last year and into the Christmas break. But you do what you can do - and I think, at least for now, that intentionally maintaining is about the best I can hope for.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

OOOPS! Did we forget to factor our *holiday* into those goals, Starfire?

So I've just got back from an amazing long weekend holiday break with my husband to celebrate our 6th wedding anniversary in the gorgeous Bay of Islands.

We stayed in Paihia, in a little B&B called Morepork Lodge.  And we had an AWESOME time. We saw lots, did lots, learned lots, read lots... and of course, as you do, ate lots.  It wasn't tooooo bad.  I kept my food intake reasonably semi-healthy most days (except yesterday. Yesterday, there was a sinfully rich seafood chowder that was... well, I'll start by saying that it was divine, that it came in what amounted to a buttery cob trencher, and that it basically seemed to be the bastard lovechild result of a gastronomical orgy between butter, cream, cheese, wine and fish... and then try very, very hard to just leave it there), but I decided that it was going to be too hard to track food while I was up there, so I just... didn't.  And because of that, I know that quantity-wise, I ate a lot more at each meal than I'd got into the habit of eating since I started tracking. Because the portions I tend to automatically use out of habit are NOT the portions that are assumed in "per serving" nutrient breakdowns.  Thus no tracking pretty much = more food, see?

I also tried to keep the exercising up, with various degrees of resulting success.  Our B&B host loved walking, so I got him to show me a couple of nice local walks on two of the days I was there. They weren't the kind of long walks I'm used to (one was 8km, which was OK, the other was somewhere between 3-4km), but at least they involved movement. And they were pretty, and filled with much scenic.  So that was all good. And the other two days, I managed to sneak in a little walking on top of all the incidental exercise we got through the various tours and stuff we did.  I didn't, however manage to get ANY running in while I was there. It just didn't happen. I probably could have made it happen if I'd been a bit more dedicated, but I didn't. It is what it is.

So the result of not factoring the holiday into my goals?  Well, basically, the first week of December is, I think, pretty much a write-off goalswise. I refuse to let this ruin the fact that the holiday was amazing; but at the same time, I don't do myself any favours by making excuses or trying to pretend that I did better than I did. And I did, after all, say that I was aiming to have one week with reduced mileage, back when I set my December goals.  I wasn't planning for that to be the first freakin' week of the month. But hey. Again, it is what it is.  And if I end up having two weeks of reduced mileage? So be it.

On that note, I'm not expecting anything pretty from the scales when I do my weekly weigh-in tomorrow. But, y'know what? That'll be what it'll be too.  If I've put a couple of kilos back on? Well, then, I've put a couple of kilos back on. Contrary to what my inner melodrama queen may wish to say on the matter, this will not, in fact, cause the earth to tilt on its axis, the sun to eclipse, the rocks to melt or the seas to boil. I'll just have an extra couple of kilos to take back off.

I'm just hoping I can remember this philosophical attitude tomorrow morning when I step on the damn scales...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Goals for December in the Starfireverse

Well, since setting goals for November and holding myself accountable for them each week seemed to work out so well, it only makes sense to set myself a whole heap more for the final month of the year, right?

So, here we go: goals to take me through to the end of the 2010, and get me there in what I hope is a healthier and fitter condition than I started the year out.
  1. Keep tracking my food, and aim for a calorie intake of between 2000-2250 most days. This is slightly less than it was last month, but that's because I'm slightly lighter, and my BMR is therefore slightly lower.  I should say that on days where my calorie burn is up over the 700 or so mark, I'm perfectly OK with adding a wee bit more to my intake if I feel like I need it.  In fact, on days when that burn hits 1,000cal+ in a day (which occasionally happens), I expect to take in more, since I REALLY don't want to be exceeding a 1,000cal/day deficit.  That way lies major dumb in the Starfireverse. But the major thing is to stay aware of how much I'm putting in vs how much I'm burning. Which is where keeping up the tracking comes int.
  2. Increase my total weekly distance goal to a minimum of 50km per week EXCEPT for one week of the month, when I'll drop it to between 35-40km to give my body a rest for a bit :-)  I've exceeded 50km in at least 2 of the weeks of November, so I already know I can do it without putting too much strain on my system - I'd just like to hold myself to this level for December.
  3. Run 60+ cumulative minutes in a single interval session: As I said in my previous post, the B210k format isn't always working for me right now, and often the second and third intervals in any given session end up being broken down into lots of smaller intervals anyway.  So rather than keeping on banging my head against this wall in December, I'm going to switch focus to setting a goal around total distance run, which is really what I care about after all.  Currently, I'm usually topping out at somewhere between 40-50min of running in a session.  By the end of the year, I'd like that to be at 60min - or higher.  I'm going to work on the basis of shorter 8-10min running intervals, with 2-3min walk breaks between them, and see if that helps to get my total minutes up better than the way I'm doing it at the moment, where I seem to manage the first interval, but it exhausts my reserves too much to deal with the subsequent ones.
  4. and speaking of running... Run-walk Race 1 of the Westfield Albany Lakes 10k, ideally finishing it in under 1 hour 25.  I was initially thinking of aiming to finish it in under 1:30, which is my previous PR for walking a 10k, but based on the times I've been run-walking training sessions recently, I think 1:25 should be achievable. Although, to be honest, this race is going to be my benchmark, given that it's the first 10k I've entered as a runner, rather than as a pure walker.  The idea is that whatever I get for this one, in the end is fine, as long as I manage to run more and walk less of each subsequent race in the series thereafter
  5. Lose another kilo. Yep. Again, I'll be happy with just one over the course of the month.  To be honest, my short-term weight loss goal is just to finally break the 80kg barrier, and get into the 70s again... however much of a technicality those 70s might be. And if I can do that by the end of the year? Well, that makes a nice little timepoint to aim for, doesn't it?

And of course, as before, I'm aiming to stay  balanced while I do all of this.  Because none of these goals really mean anything if I break myself on the way to achieving them.

Any thoughts for what you want to manage by the end of 2010?

Roundup of the November Goals... and new ones for December

So back when I was setting my goals for the month of November, I settled on 6 basic ones:
  1. To track my food intake every day, and aim for between approx 2100-2300 each day
  2. To burn a minimum of 2,500 calories in exercise a week
  3. To log a minimum of 40km a week
  4. To make it past W2 of the Bridge to 10k
  5. To lose a kilo
And, of course, the most important one:
  • To stay in balance while I'm doing it all.

And y'know - I'm pretty pleased with how I went:
  1. I tracked my food all but (I think) 2 days out of the month. I stayed between 2000-2300 most days. Occasionally I actually had a little more - usually when I'd done more than 600+cal of exercise and genuinely felt like I needed more; and I'm absolutely OK with that. In fact, I'd far prefer it to sticking to a predetermined limit that ignores how much my body is telling me it needs on the day. And it apparently worked too... I've been losing weight at a rate I'm happy with on this calorie intake, while still feeling (mostly) like I had the energy I need to deal with not just my training, but everything else in my  life.  
  2. Yeah, I think I hit the calorie burn without even trying every single week. To the point where I'm considering upping this for December to actually make it challenging (but more on that in the next post).
  3. I also hit my 40km without REALLY trying all but one week of November, so I'm definitely looking at upping this in December. The one thing I'm conscious of, though, is that if I'm increasing my weekly distance like this, it's probably smart to actively plan to include a rest week in there where I deliberately aim for a lower distance. I see that in most marathon training plans, so I can't imagine it being a bad idea here. Plus, y'know, that balance thing.
  4. I did indeed make it past W2. I actually even made it to W4. But then things started going pear-shaped again, and I found myself managing the first interval of any given session, and then seeing the others just turn to custard.  I think I'm going to keep using a modified version of the programme, but not let myself be limited by it.  What I really care about with my running interval sessions, really, is total distance covered in any one session, followed by total distance run. If I manage to run 45min cumulative total in a session, I don't really care whether I'm doing it in 3 sessions or 10. As long as I'm doing it, it's all good, and all plays into how I'm planning to run-walk the races I'm now signed up for.  So yes, this goal was achieved, but the equivalent B210k goal won't be following me into December.
  5. I did indeed lose a kilo.  In fact, I *NEARLY* lost 2 this month. So I'm well pleased with this. No rapid, dramatic weightloss, which would suggest that something was seriously wrong with how I'd calculated my calorie intake and/or exercising. Just a nice, steady loss that feels like a tangible reward for the mostly-good eating and exercising behaviours I've consistently managed for the past month.

And for the main question: did I stay in balance?  I think, for the most part, the answer is "Yes".  I didn't always manage it 100% of the time, but for the most part, when I started feeling like I was getting unbalanced I noticed. Early. And I did something about it.  I didn't pretend it wasn't happening, and I didn't dive headfirst into it.  And that, I think, more than achieving any of the goals above, makes me feel like November has been a VERY successful month in the Starfireverse.

May there be many, many more like it :-)

How was your November?  Any successes or lessons you feel like sharing with the class?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Nike "Kiss my Butt" ad - the body image I WISH I had

My bestest friend in the world (you know who you are) sent me this ad today. And aside from the strange spelling of "ambassador", which I gather is actually quite acceptable in the US, I really, really like it*.

It's the kind of body image (not to mention the kind of glutes, although I'm not really sure I want them enough for the aforementioned 10,000 lunges) that yeah, I'd really like to have. 

That kind of "This is what is. I'm proud of it. And if you don't like it, that's your problem."

I'm not there yet.  But one day, please gods, I will be.

Also? YAY for using models with short legs and SERIOUSLY sexy quads. Because, whoah. Especially with the boxing wraps to accessorise, this lady is very definitely my type :-)

More like this one, please Nike. And Asics. And... well... pretty much everyone, really.

*Well, OK, I'm also not 100% sure about that whole border collie herding skinny women away from deals at clothing sales. Because a/ I'm not going to fit the same clothes as the aforementioned skinny women, so why be a dog in the manger? and b/ I'm really not sure about the whole "butt as border collie" metaphor - possibly someone in the marketing team was burning the midnight oil a little too long when they came up with that one -  is it just me that finds the image vaguely disturbing?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Running, NSVs (and everything else) roundup - Week 3, plus weigh-in

Image courtesy of the Stock Exchange
Pretty good week this week on most fronts (well, running aside - that didn't go so well, but you get that sometimes).

I've had quite a few Non-scale Victories (NSVs): a couple of pairs of pants that have DEFINITELY been fitting more loosely, and one that I've had to retire due to being silly-loose now. I also had a white summerweight work-shirt that I'd been putting to one side till I'd lost enough weight to fit into it again... except that when I tried it on just to see whether I could wear it yet, I discovered I'd missed my opportunity window, and it was, in fact, too big now. And, on top of that, I had a workmate comment that I was looking really good and healthy, so that kind of made my afternoon.

The best one, though, was going out on Friday night for dinner with my husband for our wedding anniversary. I'd told myself that I basically had permission to eat what I wanted, but I still found myself making *reasonably* healthy choices for the entree and main (which were seriously DELICIOUS). Then I ordered dessert, because it sounded so good, but when it came out it was... OK, but really not worth the calorie investment. So I had maybe a third of it, before deciding that, no, y'know, I just wasn't enjoying it - and left it. No drama, no big deals, no angsting. I just left it.

Exercise-wise, it's been a pretty damn AWESOME week in which I managed to make, and exceed, pretty much all my weekly goals (except for that running one I keep mentioning - see writeup for Saturday):
  • Monday 22 Nov:  5.5km neighbourhood loop walk. Daily Burn: 390
  • Tuesday 23 Nov: 8.6km running session, with 4 running intervals of 17, 16, 12, 6 in there - definitely had difficulty with that last interval - may need to back out a bit. Daily Burn: 709
  • Wednesday 24 Nov: AM: gentle 4.5km neighbourhood walk. PM: hard-out "conquering the mountain" 12ish km walk with a friend who's offered to 'push me' a little to get the intensity up. Daily Burn: 1,291
  • Thursday 25 Nov: Complete rest day - and ye gods, I needed it!
  • Friday 26 Nov: AM: 1 hour of boxing (yay, my trainer is back!). PM: 3km of walking to meet husband for anniversary dinner Daily burn: 500
  • Saturday 27 Nov:  Attempted an 11km route with 3x 20min running intervals.  Managed 18 on the first, then everything kind of went to custard from there. Still, when all the little intervals were added up, they totalled ~43min and ~5.6km, so not a total loss. Daily burn: 877
  • Sunday 28 Nov: Repeat of Wednesday's walk with my friend. This time with a different HR monitor on, though, and the calorie burn looked somewhat different. Daily burn: 850

So for my overall week's exercise, I did 8 sessions, with a combined total of 4,600 odd calories. So I think I'll definitely up my weekly goal here for December.  And I covered 53km,which I'm well pleased with, even if not as much of it as I would have liked was running.  If I can do a little more of the same this coming with (but with a little more of it running and a little less of it walking), I'll be a happy Starfire

Weight-wise, I'm pretty happy as well - I've dropped another 800g, putting me on 80.7kg.  The which I am SERIOUSLY happy about... although I'm also trying to remind myself that, hey, it's just another marker of progress. It's good, but not the be-all and end-all.  But yeah. It's looking like I might well be able to manage to break 80kg by the end of the year :-)

So that was my week. How did everyone else go with their weekly goals and exercise/eating?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Ambivalent goals: AKA "Well, hello there again, hipbones!"

Image courtesy of The Stock Exchange
I mentioned back in my "Give me a Reason" post that a couple of my reasons - the ones I'm least comfortable with, funnily enough - revolve around visual appearance.  I don't like that they're reasons, but as mentioned in that post, I don't think I'm really doing myself any favours by trying *desperately* to pretend that they don't motivate me.

One of them was about the appearance of muscles. I love the look of muscles moving under my skin - especially when I'm working out, but also those "surprise, bet you weren't expecting us!" appearances I used to get sometimes when I was getting dressed in front of the mirror and there'd be like... whoah... abs... are those really MINE????

What I'd forgotten, when I wrote my reasons post, is that I also used to like being able to see my hipbones occasionally. Now before you panic and figure the Beast has got its hooks well and truly into me again, I should probably say that I'm NOT talking about the angular, gaunt, protruding hipbone look. It's more... when I was lying on my back and I turned my leg to one side, I'd occasionally have this moment of... hey... there's a bone under all that curviness and muscle and flesh.

It's getting hot during the day here in New Zealand, and yesterday was hot enough that I was lying around in some reasonably loose pants and a sports bra. And my husband asked me something and I moved, and... there was one of those hipbones of mine. Still well and truly covered by muscle and... well, not-muscle... but definitely there. For the first time in a long, long, long time. And I could see/feel it moving!  Which prompted a moment of glee, followed by an experimental *prod* *prod*, and then a distinct thought pattern of  "Well, hello there, again hipbone! Long time, no see!" and finally a sense of "Cool! Human anatomy is an awesome thing, and hey, look, I have some!"

As usual when it comes to this kind of stuff, I'm trying REALLY hard to keep it in perspective. It's a mark of progress. Which is nice. But it's not a particularly important one.  It's not like, for example, being able to run an entire 5k without stopping to walk at any point. Or finishing a 10k in less than 1 hour 20. Or being able to do 50 full pushups without stopping or breaking decent form. All of which are current short-to-medium term fitness goals that I will be celebrating like nobody's business when I finally manage to achieve. But it's still a mark. And I'm kind of enjoying it, even if it's mixed in with some... ambivalence.

And I wonder, am I the only one with goals I'm not always 100% comfortable with? Do you have weight loss or fitness goals that you're just a wee bit ambivalent about wanting in the first place, let alone conflicted about actually achieving? How do you deal with the ambivalence?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Running (and everything else) roundup - Week 2, plus weigh-in

Image courtesy of the Stock Exchange
A bit of a mixed week this past week. On the minus side, I seemed to be heading back towards injury-ville after Tuesday's run, and spent much of the week with a sore adductor/hip flexor combo that seemed to fluctuate between serious OW and just niggling.  So I backed off on the running completely until yesterday.

Also, with having been at a viking/medieval-themed wedding on Saturday night, my eating for the day was... not so great, and I ended up forgetting to track my intake for the first time since I found that tracking ap.  And of course, from a psychological viewpoint, there was the resurgence of the Beast earlier in the week too.

That said, on the plus side, I still did a reasonable amount of exercise despite pulling back. I still walked. I still had at least one date with workout-pr0n Bob. I still ate reasonably well, and I didn't blow out completely at the wedding (my personal favourite in the "I didn't deprive myself but didn't go crazy either" list was ignoring the brandy snaps, chocolate fountain and assorted other cakey type noms for a bowlful of fresh strawberries and a little of the dark cherry pottage - yum!).

And my personal victory of the week is actually a/ packing my running gear to take down to the wedding with me; and b/ getting off my butt and using said gear in a 10ish km running session along Wellington's waterfront, which was gorgeous, even in the drizzly rain. It's actually quite a neat feeling running in a strange city - it's only the second time I've ever done it (the first being in London earlier on in the year). So the week ended up looking like this:
  • Monday 15 Nov:  4.5km amble-pace walk... basically intended to be a recovery walk from the 12km running session I did Sunday, without spending an actual rest day. Daily Burn: 287
  • Tuesday 16 Nov: 8.4km running session, with 3 running intervals of 16, 16, 17 in there. Daily Burn: 669
  • Wednesday 17 Nov: REST DAY after developing some potentially nasty adductor/hip flexor shennanigans
  • Thursday 18 Nov: morning: 5.5km walk. Evening: strength workout pr0n with Bob. Daily burn: 677
  • Friday 19 Nov: 5.5km walk because I just didn't feel up to running. Daily burn: 354
  • Saturday 20 Nov:  5ish (estimated) km walking around Wellington. Daily burn: 321?
  • Sunday 21 Nov: 9.8km running session along Wellington's waterfront. Daily burn: 728

So for my overall week's exercise, I did 7 sessions, with a combined total of 3,000 calories. So again, no problem with the exercise calorie goal.  And I covered 38.7km, which isn't quite the 40 I was aiming for, but it's still damn close.

I'm going to be aiming to up the kms a little this week - probably not to quite the same level of crazy as in Week 1, but if I can get them somewhere between 40-50, I'll be a happy Starfire. I also want to do at least two workout pr0n sessions, and possibly work on acquiring another set of dumbbells for the using of therewith, since my little 2kg ones are getting a wee bit silly for some of the strengthwork.

Oh and weigh-in wise?  I'm pretty much in the same place I was last week - a slight drop of 200g, making me start this week at 81.5kg.  Which, given the way the week went, and the larger-than-expected drop from the previous week, feels total fair and reasonable, and hey, at least it wasn't a gain!  And, for a weekly NSV, my abs are apparently visible enough now for my husband to comment on them unprompted (for which, I suspect, I have Bob to thank)

So that was my week. How did everyone else go with their weekly goals and exercise/eating?