Saturday, December 7, 2013

Week 47 - Always Learning

Sorry I have missed a week of updates.  Honestly, there isn't much I can say about the past two weeks that can't be consolidated nicely into one post.

The dreaded family celebration of gluttony known as Thanksgiving is over.  I don't want this post to be any sort of confessional about what I ate.  As the coaching team at LE has said, "What happened last week stays in last week."  What I should remember most is how grateful I was that the weather cooperated and that I was able to make it to Chicago to see Kevin's family and what a great time I had with everyone.  If I'm going to remember the food, I'm going to remember how much I enjoyed everything and not obsess over every calorie I ate.

I did make a few observations while I was away though.  My trip was a learning experience in so many ways.

The observation I made is that old habits die hard and I should never automatically assume a new habit is in place.  I have spent a lifetime wolfing down large amounts of food.  Pacing myself, eating slowly, and putting down the fork when I'm just at the level of satisfaction, are definitely becoming a part of me, but they are not totally ingrained in me yet.  I had a few moments where I know I should have stopped, but I kept going because food was there and the food was delicious.  To my credit, I have at least learned how to stop before I'm painfully stuffed.  I can't remember the last time I ate until it hurt. 

That total damage for the week was about four pounds, but it came off easily enough, so let's just move on from that.

The weekend was a nice break from the usual routines in the gym.  I did my normal weight workouts (as best I could with the lame gym provided) but kept my cardio just to swimming.

Swimming, like many other exercises I do, is something I enjoy but am not terribly good at.  I don't have to be good at something to enjoy it.  After all, I have been horseback riding and dancing for years and still pursue those activities with pleasure.  I have always loved being in the water, but swimming as an athlete will never happen. 

I remember the first summer I had to take swim lessons at day camp.   It was a disaster.  Even though I would get in the water, even in the deep end, without any complaint, I spent the entire summer in the lowest beginner group.  I just could not summon the coordination to properly execute a front crawl.  I remember the lifeguard pulling me out of the pool and making me practice the stroke over and over again on land.  If I got the arms, my kick would be critiqued and then it was more work practicing with the kickboard. 

I spent years working on it on my own, supplemented with instructions in middle school gym class.  I thought by the time I was in college and had to take swimming lessons again (I attended what was probably the only college in the US that not only required four credits of gym, but also required one of those credits be swimming) I was doing fine.  I ended up with a B- in that class.  In that class I had to learn to execute four strokes perfectly.  The coach said everyone in the class had an A in elementary backstroke and side stroke and at least a B in the breast stroke, so you can imagine what my grade in the front crawl must have been!

I still work on my lame front crawl when I have a chance.  On a Florida vacation several years ago I made friends with one of the hotel employees who ran the recreational programs and who had spent most of her life as a swim instructor.  She noted I tend to drag my right arm when I swim, so she gave me that to work on.  I play around a bit with arm, body, and head positions as well as timing my strokes (breathe every stroke or breath every other stroke). 

I had a really fun time playing with my strokes in Chicago this year.  I used the pool for my interval cardio.  I would do two lengths at a vigorous crawl (and sometimes not such a vigorous crawl) and two lengths at a more restful stroke like the breast stroke or elementary backstroke.  When working on my resting stroke I would sometimes play with paying strict attention to form, making each muscle movement count.  I would pretend I was in dance class and work on full leg extensions and keeping my toes pointed.  I treated frog kicks as if they were develope`s .   It was a great workout.  I wish I could swim more.  Unfortunately my gym doesn't have a pool.  In the summer I have my mother's pool when I can get to it or else I just have to wait until I'm in Chincoteague, in which case, swimming means spending hours with my boogie board.  That's a great workout, but not quite the same as playing with pool laps.

Then there came the moment of truth.  How do I look in a bathing suit now? 

I would definitely say there is an improvement.  My favorite suit from last summer fit me much better that Thanksgiving weekend.  It's not such a struggle to get into it.  I saw more definition in my waist.  I was still disappointed by the amount of armpit chub around the straps and bust area.  I saw the most improvement in my legs.  I always hated the way my legs looked so tree-trunk-like in a bathing suit.  The tree trunks are gone.  The 2" I lost in my thighs have made all the difference.  I can even see a bit of muscle defintion.

I'm still not ready for a bikini yet.  I doubt I ever will be. 

This week, post Thanksgiving, I still had some "Old Habits Die Hard" moments.  My body may be learning how much food I need to eat, but my brain and appetite are still learning.  Twice this week I had to deal with intense post-lunch food cravings.  On Monday I had a reasonable amount of leftover chili for lunch.  I was afraid it wasn't enough lunch and that I would be hungry later.  I became convinced of it.  I ate my lunch slowly and mindfully and when I was finished, I felt perfectly satisfied.  I was still convinced I needed more food.  I was sure I would be hungry again at any moment.  I was on the brink of going out and buying a snack and I was pretty sure that snack would not be something nutritious.

I really had to work to talk myself off the ledge.  I reminded myself over and over again that I wasn't truly hungry at that moment.  I did my best to distract myself from the intense desire to eat.  I promised myself that if I really felt hungry later on, I could get a snack.  There was no reason to eat if I wasn't actually hungry just as there would have been no reason not to eat if I did feel hungry.  I felt the same way two days later.  I used the previous situation as a reminder that I could get past the craving and carry on.

I can't believe there are only 3 weeks left in the program.  I want to get to the 20 pound mark.  That would be 2.8 pounds right now.  Can I do it even though I have a party to attend tonight and I know the food there will be plentiful and delicious?

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