Saturday, April 30, 2016

Moving My Body Forward - Phase 6

As I write this post, I sit here wondering if I should, for accountability purposes, go and weigh and measure myself.  Isn't that supposed to be what the measure of progress is?  First I take away the photos and now I'm taking away the numbers?

I am walking a line right now.  There are so many fitness experts out there who are telling me I shouldn't live by the numbers.  I should go by how I feel.  My weight and measurements don't matter and I should not judge myself by the scale.

On the other hand, I wonder if not weighing and measuring is just a copout.  I just don't want to see proof that I'm not making any progress.  My eating habits are still not great.  I'm still eating too much at mealtimes and eating too much between meals.

Right now I am going to go with the former and not do any weights or measurements.  Maybe I'll change my mind in the next Phase.  Maybe I'll change my mind next week.  I can step on the scale any time I want.

I have begun to notice a bit of shrinking in the size department. I always go for the larger sizes first (the 12s, the 14s, and the large), but try things on and find I need the size 10 or the medium.  I tend to have issues fitting clothes because I'm between sizes.  A size 12 is too big in some areas, but a size 10 is too small in others.  If I find something that fits and looks good, I snatch it right up.

I'm not letting my size stop me from clothes shopping.  I'm not going to wait until I'm a smaller size to buy clothes I love.  I want to buy beautiful clothes that fit me now and make me feel good now.  I do worry (in an optimistic way) that if I buy these bigger sizes now, I will just have to trash them in  a year.  The future is uncertain.  Even with my workout on track, I may never need a smaller size again. I buy for the present and not the future.  Old clothes can be donated or sold on Thred Up if the time comes.  I'd rather have a great wardrobe now than wear a bunch of clothes I don't love in hopes of some future body.

I'm working on a post about clothes shopping.  Watch for it.

This past phase has been going well.  My elbow still hurts, but there is still progress on that front.  About 3 weeks ago I began having terrible pain.  It hurt just to type.  I was convinced I had done some damage somewhere and I should go back to the doctor and see if I needed another MRI or more therapy.  Then the pain went away as soon as it arrived.  It seems that resting my arm for a week at a time doesn't help.  I spent enough time resting in February and March to see that it didn't make a dent in my progress.  On the other hand, working out doesn't seem to hurt it.  I have loaded it to the point of (mild) pain and it didn't seem to cause any harm.  I have been making progress in the gym.  I am adding weight every day.

The sleep habit was fairly successful.  I am sleeping somewhat better since I started to concentrate more on bedtime rituals and having no "screen time" for at least a half an hour before bed.  I am strict with myself to make sure the TV is off by a certain time (or I leave the room if Kevin is still watching).  I almost always take a bath, do some coloring, or do some yoga in the evening.  I am surprised at how well coloring works, especially since I don't find coloring to be all that relaxing or therapeutic on the surface. My semi-temporary (semi-temporary because I do intend to go back someday, but plan to say off for a long time) withdrawal from Facebook has also helped because I don't do a last-night check of what's happening online and I don't go there when I wake up in the middle of the night. Not only does this cut back screen time, but it also keeps me mentally calmer.  I do still wake up in the middle of the night, but I have managed to go back to sleep all but two nights in the past month.  I nod off less during the day.  I am also seeing small effects on my appetite and hunger levels.

I know I'm supposed to practice one habit at a time, but I have decided for this phase to practice one major habit and make sure I keep specific other habits in place to ensure more success.  I am going back to the eat slowly habit.  I noticed in the past few weeks I have been going back to wolfing my food down.  I need to work on that.

Phase 6 Plan: 

Habit: Eat Slowly. Eat a fruit or vegetable with every meal. Have a sleep-inducing ritual.

New Rules of Lifting For Women - Stage 4
Sunday: AM NROLFW weight workout, PM Riding lesson
Monday: Tap/jazz dance class
Tuesday: NROLFW weight workout
Wednesday: Interval cardio on machine or Zumba session
Thursday: NROLFW weight workout
Friday: 30-40 Interval cardio on machine or Zumba session

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Moving My Body Forward - Phase 5

Stronger, but not smaller.

This month I will not be sharing stats.  I have no time or inclination to weight or measure myself.  Although I finished NROLFW State 2, I have not had much time to focus on health habits.

So much has been happening.  I just finished another play.  It was fun and thrilling and I had a great cast to work with, but it was also exhausting and time consuming.  There was a fire in my building that took out the laundry rooms and I will be scrambling to find times and places to do laundry in the coming weeks until repairs are made.  I had a bad cold that still lingers intermittently.  My elbow, seemingly almost healed, has taken a turn for the worse.  My insomnia has been raging. 

On the good side, I'm killing it at the gym these days despite the elbow.  I am adding more weight every week.  I still have to be cautious for certain exercises, but I know once the pain is gone I can bring myself to 2014 strength levels.  I still have to watch how much weight I lift and I still can't hang by my arms or pull on it too much.  TRX cables are out of the question.  I top out at 60 pounds on the lat pulldown machine (and even that hurts a bit).

I am beginning to understand why accountability to a coach works so well.   My 4-week exercise stage stretched out to 6 because of the missed workouts from rehearsals, insomnia, and illness. I didn't go to the gym the week my cold was at its worst.  I have skipped cardio days on nights when my insomnia was bad.  I missed the gym during "Hell Week" of rehearsals.  I never would have done that when I was on Lean Eating.  I would not have dared report that I missed a workout.  I was paying for that program.  When I'm not accountable to anyone but the occasional blog reader, I don't feel as compelled.

I was feeling rather down the other day when I caught sight of myself in profile in a full-length mirror.  I can fool myself into thinking I don't look so bad when I am facing front.  From the side it's a different story.  That's the angle where I can truly see how big my stomach is.  When I doing well with diet and exercise, I can turn sideways and see just how cute my butt looks curving out nicely from behind.  My butt still curves out cutely, but it's hard to tell because my stomach sticks out far more.  My butt gets kind of lost.  I know it sounds sort of shallow, but I am growing impatient with myself.  I know it's my own fault that I'm not seeing progress.

I have to keep reminding myself that I'm not on a timeline.  I'm not trying to be perfect.  I'm just trying to be better.  I'm trying to be healthier.  Life is always going to happen.  I should prioritize exercise and healthful eating, but there are times when it can't be a priority.  Sometimes I do need rest.  Sometimes I am in pain.  I have to look at the bigger picture.

I worry that my body has reached a new "set point".  It seems every few years my weight rises to a certain point that I will go above, but struggle to go below.  If I'm stuck at this weight now, how much bigger will I be in my 50s? My 60s?  You could argue that I'm active so it will always be a safeguard against dangerous obesity, but there is no guarantee I will stay active.  I'm far more fragile than I look.  In the past 10 years I have had issues with my knees, shoulder, elbow, and hip.  The hip needed surgery and the elbow has become chronic.  Can my body realistically sustain high levels of activity?  There is a reason why I'm not athletic.  Maybe my chronic klutziness and inability to perform well athletically is just my body telling me it can't handle heavy physical activity.

If I don't fight it, what is the alternative?  My joints stay intact if I don't stress them out too much with heavy lifting and high impact cardio.  I gain weight.  Do I end up with diabetes?  High blood pressure?  High cholesterol?  These things are all in my family.  I could be next in line.

I am trying not to be hard on myself for saying there are times I need to sleep in during many of the Phase 4 challenges.  There have also been times when I have said there is no reason to sleep in.  Rehearsals don't always run so late that I can't go to bed at a reasonable hour and then wake up in the morning to work out.  There is no excuse.

There will be challenges awaiting me in Phase 5.  I can meet them or I can use them as an excuse again.  I hope I do the former more than I do the latter.

My habit for Stage 5 will be to get more sleep.  This is not an easy habit for me because I am a chronic insomniac.  I am not a "night person" and I fall asleep early and easily.  Unfortunately, I don't stay asleep.  I often wake up sometime between midnight and 3AM and sometimes don't go back to sleep again.  This has been an issue for me since I was in middle school.  I also do not do well sleeping in.  Even if it's a weekend if I wake up in the middle of the night, my body won't compensate for the lost sleep by sleeping later.  I rarely ever sleep again once the sun is up  - at least not in my bed.   I will fall asleep in front of the TV, in meetings at work, or in the car though.

Sleep deprivation is said to be a major cause of poor immunity (my constant colds and coughs), excessive hunger, and sweet cravings.  If I get more sleep, will I have few weight problems?

I can't make myself sleep, but I can do things that seem to have helped increase sleep quality in the past.  I need to commit to doing one of these habits each night.

1.  No screens except for reading novels off the iPad.  Once the TV is off, I will not hang out online.  (I recently deactivated my Facebook account, which is going to be helpful.)

2.  Color.  I complain about how my coloring book often creates more stress than it relieves, but I do find I sleep through the night more when I've had a coloring session before bed.

3.  Yoga.  I have noticed that a quiet session consisting of maybe 10-15 minutes of soothing poses has also led to more continuous sleep.

4.  A hot bath with mineral salts.

I'm moving into Stage 3 of The New Rules of Lifting for Women.  Let's see how much more I can build without causing more pain.

Phase 5 Plan:

Habit: Create sleep-inducing rituals

Sunday: AM NROLFW weight workout, PM Riding lesson
Monday: Tap/jazz dance class
Tuesday: NROLFW weight workout
Wednesday: Interval cardio on machine or Zumba session
Thursday: NROLFW weight workout
Friday: Interval cardio on machine or Zumba session

Although I am not doing a progress measurement this month, I want to report how well I did on the vegetable habit.  I had about 80% compliance.   I really worked to plan my meals to make sure that I had vegetables and fruits with each one.

A daily meal plan might look like these:

Breakfast: Smoothie with frozen fruit, coconut milk, almond butter, and a half a container of Greek yogurt.

Lunch: Almond butter and jelly sandwiches with carrot sticks

Dinner: Spaghetti and meatballs in tomato sauce with a green salad

Snack: Apple and a handful of nuts

Breakfast: 2 eggs, tomatoes, and toasted Ezikiel bread

Lunch: Quinoa with roasted fennel and parsnips

Dinner: Roast chicken with sauteed spinach and sweet potatoes

Snack: Carrot sticks and a bite of cheese

Monday, April 4, 2016

Okay. I Admit It

I'm a realist.  I know death is a part of life.  Everyone dies.  In the 21st Century we are lucky most Americans are living well into their 80s and 90s. 

Unfortunately, not everyone lives that long.  In this period of good health and longevity, people still die in their 60s and 70s, seemingly struck down in their prime.  It happens.  Even if we maintain good health, diseases can sneak up on us and kill us.

Fame doesn't protect you from death.  Our favorite musicians, actors, dancers, and comedians all have to go some time, right?   Being a celebrity certainly doesn't do much to help with longevity.  Celebrities don't live the same lives we do if you stop and think about it.

I know how exhausted I feel when I am in the midst of rehearsing and performing a tiny community theater play.  I can't imagine the stress of shooting a movie.

 I remember in college I felt like a week on tour with the concert choir on spring break was a grueling ordeal.  What must it feel like to be on the road for months at time with your band? 

This type of stress and the accessibility that fame and money give you, do not lead to the most healthful of lifestyles either.   We all hear the stories of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll.  The glamorous life is a fast one.  Try naming a famous actor or musician who doesn't smoke cigarettes.  How often do the media criticize actresses who seem to be starving themselves in pursuit of a svelte ideal?  If this were my life, I probably would have been dead 10 years ago.

That being said, I will admit that it really does seem like a disproportionate number of celebrities have died in 2016 so far.