A sometimes serious, sometimes tongue-in-cheek look at work, life, dieting, losing weight, getting in shape, getting bent out of shape and getting over it with a dose of humor.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Epiphany

I survived 3 days with family and my first day back at work and only escaped with minor scathes to my ego, a .7 lb gain and 1 giant pimple. Seriously, what is going on with my face? It's not flawless but it doesn't usually look like that of a hormonal teenager's either. Now, every time I blink I see it. I see it even when I close my eyes. I see it in my imagination! Okay, so it's not really that bad but it sure does feel like I am carrying mount rushmore around on my cheek. This is not how adult skin is supposed to behave.

Other than the horror and stigma of being a grown woman with a zit my weekend wasn't a complete wash thankfully but it wasn't as good as it could have been. For one thing, I found out on reaching Chicago that the surprise birthday party was actually at a restaurant and the menu had already been set. If I had known before I could have planned better or if it had been at home I could have had something else. Instead, I was pretty much at the mercy of the delicious but greasy choices at the buffet followed by the sugary treats. I was able to restrain myself to only about a third of a slice of the birthday cake and vegetables and chicken and then on Saturday and Sunday I stuck to the snacks and shakes for the most part which was good. Main meals were harder as I was staying with my aunt and food was paninis from Panera or sweets from the Indian market. Yikes! Scary to think that I used to eat like that every time I went home. Scarier still that I didn't really start gaining weight until the PCOS.

Seeing my cousins and relatives again was great though. We stayed up until 3:30 pm on Friday just talking. And then on Saturday we got back from dinner and spent hours watching old movie clips and talking and laughing. It was nice to get all the hugs and to have people look at me like I just waltzed down from the sky. When you are overweight and your self esteem has started to take a hit from other people's and sometimes even your own neglect of yourself some days it is easy to forget that you are worth being loved.

I deliberately don't talk too much about my relationships here a) because it's private and b) because I post under my own name. But let's just say there's this guy I had kind of started to like over the last few weeks. Normally, before, he would have been very interested but this time he kind of blew me off. And I don't know what's worse - knowing why he did what he did or knowing that if things change, that if I catch his eye again after I have lost the weight, I won't be able to see him the same way.

But the thing about a weekend with family is that even when they make you feel bad, make the occasional jokes at your expense, ignore your nutritional requests, give you a giant zit and make you gain .7 lbs, you know that at the end of the day they still love you, they still think you are pretty special and will always be there for you. And you realize you are not willing to settle for anything less from anyone else. As weekends go I can't think of a better one.

As for the rest, as Scarlett said, tomorrow is another day.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Breakthroughs

All last week I have been struggling on the weight machines. I still love them as much as always but it was hard getting through the set of 20. Heck, it was hard completing 10 sometimes. It was easily my hardest week so far. And then, yesterday, I ran through machine after machine - Leg Extension, Leg Curl, Double Leg Press, Row, Lat Pulldown, Chest Press, Overhead Press, Seated Crunch, Back Extension - at higher weights and they felt light as feather. Go figure!

Okay, so light as feather may be a bit of an exaggeration but it took me about half time to do 20 reps on each machine at higher weights than all last week.

I think I also broke through some kind of personal cardio threshhold. Typically my heartrate jumps up to 150-160 pretty quickly but both last night and then this morning, my heart rate stayed much lower even though I was working out at the same intensity as before. I also felt a lot less tired. This morning I did 50 minutes on level 6-7 and my heart rate stayed at around 145. Even when I pushed really hard it didn't go over 170. When I first started the HRM would read 170 within minutes and that was only at level 4. It's pretty cool.

Now if I can only muster up the same amount of enthusiasm for the diet part. I am flying out in a little over 24 hrs and I still haven't given much thought to what to do foodwise during the trip.

I did come to a rather startling realization though which could qualify as a breakthrough of another sort. I have always had body image issues, even at my lowest adult weight of 98 when I was probably too thin to be serious, and somewhere inside my warped commercial-driven, unrealistic standards of beauty-addled brain I have always held 99-100 as the magical number where I would feel "comfortable" with my weight. Looking over the program documents last night I came across the number for my lean body mass: 108 lbs. Which means if I were to go down to something like 100, not only would I have 0% body fat - probably not healthy - but have to lose muscle definition.

I think this is the first time since starting the program 5 weeks ago that I looked at the ideal weight range of 130-140 and felt that I might be okay with that.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A NEAT Concept

I have either reached a new low or a new high point in my life. I can't decide which. I just spent two hours last night playing a recording of a KBTC showing of a John Fogarty concert and dancing around to it in my living room.

In the 20/20 intro seminar they talked a lot about something called NEAT or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. It's the amount of energy you burn throughout the day on top of your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate - or the amount of calories you burn in a day simply by being) that does not come from exercise. i.e. if you spend 7 hours sleeping a day and 1 hour working out, NEAT is the extra energy you burn in the other sixteen hours going about your day on top of what you would have burned if you had just, say, slept through those sixteen hours. This covers everything from showering to shampooing the dog to fidgeting while you are at the supermarket checkout line, which I tend to do an awful lot of thanks to my impatient nature. But I digress. That's not the point. The point is that a Mayo Clinic research conducted by a Dr. Levine showed that the difference in metabolism between an active and a sedentary person comes not so much from exercise or Activity Thermogenesis as from NEAT or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis.

Let's take the example of two people. Say they both weigh 150 lbs and exercise 3 times a week for an hour each. However, person A normally goes through the drive thru at the pharmacy, parks near the grocery store or the office entrance and spends a lot of time on the couch upon returning home from work (or a person like me in other words) while person B walks briskly up to the pharmacist, parks further away and spends an hour tidying up the house and sorting mail on returning home from work. According to the same study, person B will have a higher metabolism overall because although both persons are burning the same amount of calories through sleeping and exercising, person B has a higher NEAT. And because our bodies have a memory for these kind of things, even if person B slows down for a day or two his or her body will continue to burn more calories than that of person A.

The really neat thing about NEAT (pardon the pun) is that you can reprogram your body to have higher metabolism by cultivating a more active day to day lifestyle. And the neater thing still is that it doesn't mean that you have to start coaching your son's or niece's little league baseball team anytime soon for this to happen. A person's NEAT can be increased by simply standing up when you would normally seat (at the computer for example), walking when you would normally stand, pacing when you talk on the phone, dancing around in your living room or even fidgeting at the bus stop. It's all these little motions in addition to your normal routine that add up over the 16 hours x 60 minutes x 60 second of your day to make a significant difference in your metabolism. Do the math. Even if you raise your metabolism by .02 calories/second we are talking 16 x 60 x 60 = 57600 x .02 = 1152 calories/day. Okay, so 57600 is a lot of seconds to fidget without a stop but if you do it even a third of the time, you have still burned an additional 384 calories in a day.

So, I am not sure exactly how many calories I burned in that 2 hours last night but I know I raised my NEAT. And that's pretty neat come to think of it.

Talking of neat things, I also got to go shopping yesterday after work and picked up some more rewards.


From left to right, clockwise starting with the lip balm. Vanilla honey lip balm, Pro Club pink breast cancer awareness water bottle, pink index cards for jotting down exercises, black 4x7 6-ring binder for logging workouts and a reward that wasn't on my list originally - Revlon Super Lustrous lipgloss in Pearl Plum. The lip balm was for completing a rather challenging 2nd week after a disappointing first, the water bottle for fitting in an hour of cardio in a very busy day, the index cards & the exercise log book for sticking to my 5 days/week minimum exercise goal and the lip gloss for making it through "LemonCakeGate" and onto my 5th week.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Week 4 Results & My First Indoor Cycling Class

If it is true that habits take 28 days to make then I should be well on my way to making some. This week marks my 28 days in the 20/20 program. 28 days of getting up in the morning to pack lunch and snacks, 28 days of working out almost every day, 28 days without chocolate, cheesecake or ice cream, 28 days of meal tracking and 28 days of getting up every Saturday at 6 am in the morning to join the early morning stragglers outside the gym door.

The first couple of weeks was actually quite easy. I was excited to go to gym at the crack of dawn. But not this last week. I woke up at 6 am to what looked like a dark and rainy night outside and all I wanted to do was go back to sleep. But instead I got up, put on my workout clothes, my shoes, my heart rate monitor, filled my water bottle and drove to Pro Club cutting through the flimsy strands of fog swirling under the yellow traffic lights. Afterwards, I felt pretty good. Not so much for having worked out as for having got up when I didn't want to. I am sure my challenges aren't over yet but for now that feels like a victory.

At the dietician's this week I also had a taste of another victory. I lost 2.4 lbs bringing my total weight loss to date to 7.0 lbs. After last week I really wasn't expecting much so I was pretty much through the roof.

If this week was a celebration of perseverence, it was also a week of firsts in many ways. This is the first week since starting the program that I saw pretty impressive results (for me anyway), without outside influences - that is, I wasn't sick or dehydrated or skipping meals, - my clothes are defintely fitting better, and I attended my first ever indoor cycling class. I actually left work to go attend the class at noon, came back, worked until 6 pm and then went back to the gym for my Pilates session as my instructor is on vacation next week and can't do Monday. I honestly don't remember the last time I changed into my gym clothes twice in one day, not even when I was active.

Workouts

  • Sun - Morning walk - 1 mile (2554 steps with step counter)
  • Mon - 1 hr Pilates with instructor
  • Tue - 40 min bike + weight machines (upper body)
  • Wed - 39 min cardio circuit (bike, elliptical, outdoor walk)
  • Thu - 40 min bike + weight machines (upper/lower body)
  • Fri - 1 hr Indoor Cycling class + 1 hr Pilates with instructor
  • Sat - 22 min cardio + weight machines (lower body) + core
The Indoor Cycling class on Friday was brutal. The next morning I couldn't even shift my foot 2 inches from accelerator to brake without wincing in pain. My heart rate during warm up was easily high and my legs felt both solid as steel and limp as noodle at the same time which was weird. Jacque didn't ease up on me on the weight machines still. Thank goodness for trainers. If I was working out on my own I may have slacked off. Which I did on the cardio. We typically do about 15-20 minutes to warm up and then I do another 20-25 minutes on the video bike on my own afterwards to make sure I get at least 40 minutes in. Yesterday I could only do 9 min warmup and another 11 minutes on the video bike before I was beat. I was done. Couldn't do a second more. And yet, I can't wait for my next indoor cycling class! Wonder what that says about me. Maybe I am some kind of a closet masochist. Just never knew it before! Jacque came to the cycling class with me for support and she was laughing. I was literally gasping, unable to get a word out, and every time she asked me how I was doing I yelled, "I LOVE IT!"

Next Week

Julie's back. I really missed not being able to talk to her last week. She laughed when I told her that I specifically drove out to Whole Foods at 11 in the night to buy lemon cake. Granted it was a mini piece and I only had half before throwing the rest away but still. But she said not to worry about it. That it was important to stick to the guidelines but if I did slip what was more important was that I stop myself from going too far and got back on track as soon as possible, which I did.

This week the addition is cheese. I can have caesar salads now. Minus the croutons of course. And cottage cheese with fruit or string cheese for snacks. This should make the weekend easier. I am going to be in Chicago Fri - Sun for my uncle's birthday. Since I am going to miss the dietician appointment Julie went over the following week's changes as well. I can have additional fruits like apples and pears after Thursday which means more options which means greater flexibility while I am away from home 3 days. I just have to figure out how to turn down chocolate cake without upsetting my aunt.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Week 3 Results & More Psychobabble

As I mentioned in my last post, when I went to weigh myself last Friday I found that I had gained .2 lbs. Since my dietician was away at a conference and I didn't get a session with her last week I couldn't be sure if this was because I was sick the week before which typically makes me temporarily lose weight or if I was doing something wrong diet-wise.

And then on Saturday, I crashed down on my knee during a running step off attempt on the treadmill at 3.7 mph, gave myself a real beauty of a bruise and on Monday I found out that I have some nerve damage on my feet from the high blood sugar, a torn meniscus on my right knee (probably a leftover from my knee injury four years ago) and some arch problems for which I would need custom orthotics and new running shoes before I can attempt any sprints again in the near future. I think I have officially broken the "bad news comes in threes" myth. Even when I am underachieving, I am an overachiever!

For all the reasons above, and the fact that I am struggling with the amount of planning & cooking involved, I have been having a hard time staying focused on the positives this week. That is until this morning when I woke up, put on my size L previously-too-snug tunic top and realized that it was actually a bit loose. Not swimming loose. Not, "Look ma, I am a size 4 again!" loose. Not even remotely "Ready to buy size mediums" loose. But loose nevertheless.

Somedays you win the war. Somedays you gain an inch on the battlefield. I am learning that victories come in all shapes and sizes. I had my second meeting with Stacy, my 20/20 counselor, yesterday. Something she said stayed with me even after I left the meeting. I was expressing my frustration with the slow weightloss and she said, "But the important thing is that you are losing weight. Once you have lost all the weight it won't matter whether you did it in 3 months or 3 years." Once you have lost all the weight it won't matter whether you did it in 3 months or 3 years. One simple statement, one profound truth. I have to keep remembering that.

On the progress front - workouts are still going great, I have my final sleep evaluation tonight and I went for my Podiatry consultation yesterday and will be getting the custom orthotics next week.

I did have a moment of anger/frustrtation/weakness on Monday during which I had a 1/2 of a 3.5 oz slice of lemon cake and 1 Lindt truffle. I am not sure what the rationale was behind consoling myself with sugar (or was I rebelling?) on learning that I have nerve damage on my feet from high blood sugar but there it is. But it's done and over with and this is the first time I stopped at 1 Lindt truffle so that's progress. In fact, it is a testament to my tremendous willpower because seriously, who stops at only 1 piece of chocolate?

Next on the list - first indoor cycling class and a visit to the knee doctor.

Workouts
  • Sun - 40 min stationary bike + walk to Bellevue square mall & back (16 blocks)
  • Mon - 1 hr Pilates with instructor
  • Tue - 60 min cardio circuit (elliptical, bike, treadmill)
  • Wed - 65 min cardio circuit (elliptical, treadmill)
  • Thu - 40 min cardio + weight machines (upper/lower body)
  • Fri - Rest
  • Sat - 40 min cardio + weight machines (lower body) + core
This week so far:

  • Sun - Morning walk - 1 mile (2554 steps with step counter)
  • Mon - 1 hr Pilates with instructor
  • Tue - 40 min bike + weight machines (upper body)
Week 4:

Same as last week. Julie was out so I didn't get any diet modifications this week.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Aches & Pains

I did finally get something to eat yesterday. At 4 pm. I don't know if it was because of this or because I have been running low on sleep and calories all week but I really felt yesterday's workout. All this time I was thinking, "This isn't so hard." I mean, the losing weight part, yes. But not the exercise part. I can typically do a 40 minute cardio and then run through the weight machines pretty hard for another 30 minutes and feel next to nothing. Not so yesterday. I was supposed to do 2 sets of 15 reps each. Halfway through my first set of leg extensions I was about done. The weights were higher. I have gone up 10-40 lbs on each of the machines since starting, but still. And I can still feel it today. In my arms, my back, my shoulders & legs. Reaching up to get a can from the top shelf or twisting around to tie the seat-belt. My muscles feel like lead.

It takes me back in time. To 9th grade to be exact. There were 6 or 7 of us, including one of my best friends. We were representing our school in a national championship. We still had to finish the coursework and take any final exams but other than that we were excused from all our afternoon classes for the next 6 weeks. Every day at noon we would file out in front of the envious glances of our classmates and pile into the training bus. Little did they know how little they had to be jealous of.

Little did we know!

We had to run lap after lap around the stadium. Then we would do drill. Then march. Then squats, then lunges, then jumps, then flips. Then more drill. Synchronization. March. More jumps & flips. The training went from noon to 6-7 pm in the evening. Sometimes we would go longer and it would be starting to get dark. My mom used to have to regularly shake me awake at dinner. I think I even fell asleep in a bowl of pea soup once.

I ached talking, walking, sleeping, beathing. I honestly have never known sore muscles like that except for one other time. The first time I went running.

This was some time after I had started working. My life had become increasingly sedentary and I didn't like going to the gym very much. But I was no longer lugging around a T-square and a drawing board all day, walking home 16 miles each weekend or playing tennis or swimming until dusk. I needed something to stay fit and since I was travelling all the time I needed something portable. So, one fine day in Chicago, after work, I went back to my hotel, put on my brand new running shoes and went for my first ever run. Holy cow! I still remember it. Everything hurt. I hurt in places I didn't know I had places.

That's how I feel today. And I love it!

I am sure anyone reading this post is wondering why, if I love it so much, did I ever stop. I busted my knee 4 years ago. For six months I could barely walk. It was another six months before I could even take the stairs and slowly at that. But afterwards? Yes, I could have started running then. I should have. But I had gained weight and I was embarrassed by it. I wanted to lose it first. Some logic. If I had just gone back to being active maybe I would have halted the weight gain at that point. Instead, the weight crept up, I grew increasingly more demoralized and slowly stopped even the little exercise I was doing.

According to the scale in 20/20 lounge this morning Ihave gained .2 lbs this week. I know there're some possible reasons behind this. I was sick last week which would made the weight lower. PCOS is a factor. And then there's the fact that I haven't ate or slept much this week which probably didn't help either. I should be happy I didn't gain more. But tell that to my brain. I could feel the disappointment etched in my every facial muscle as I walked out of the center.

The aches I can get over but the pain of disappointment? That's harder.

I am not giving up yet. Jacque sent me an email today asking if I wanted to do the Oct 28th 5k. I doubt I can finish one now but I want to run so badly and remember how it feels. I told her yes. Just for fun.

When I left home my mom still had the national championship outfit. It was a white tee with a tigger picture on it and some lettering (or something like that) and a pair of orange shorts. I doubt I will ever fit into them again. I was 106 lbs then. Size 0. But I think I will ask her to send them to me if she still has them. When I was very young I had rheumatic fever. I was bedridden for months. My legs had atrophied to the point f being stick thin. My bones were brittle. Doctors didn't think I would live, let alone run some day. I did it once. I can do it again.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Oh, The Irony

And just when I was ready to start celebrating too. All I have had since waking up at 6 am this morning is a 20/20 breakfast shake. There goes my next reward.

Seriously, sometimes I don't need to go too far to look for saboteurs. I am it. I have the usual excuses, of course. Work, meetings, emails to send out. But if other people in my office get time to eat that doesn't really work very well, does it? So, what is it? All this week I have been struggling with food. Why? What's going on in my head? Sometimes I wonder if the weight isn't comfortable. Maybe a psychological crutch, a security blanket, that I cling to for whatever reasons.

Or maybe I am just overanalyzing and truth of the matter is I need to stop guessing and go get some food. The hunger is making me have crazy thoughts.

I wonder if rewarding myself for eating for a change would not be a little too ironic.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

More On Rewards

I wish I could write in detail about all my workouts. I can't believe how much I like them. At the end of every workout, no matter how hard it was, no matter how long it was, I feel like it was over too soon. Yesterday I went to the gym 10 minutes early so I could get in a few more minutes of cardio before my trainer showed up. When I first started my legs were aching after 5 minutes. Yesterday, even at the end of 20 minutes I felt like they were light as feather. It is amazing what a difference only two weeks can make. I managed a total 1 hour of cardio and also learned some new core exercises on the balance ball. As I was leaving I still felt like I could have gone back in for another hr and a half.

Somewhere inside this sedentary pile of loose clothes is a spandex clad exercise nut waiting to burst forth.

It actually gave me an idea for another reward: Index cards. Yes, index cards. More specifically, pink index cards to write down the exercises I am learning so I can do them later. (Do they even make pink ones? I hope so).

On the drive home sipping my cold 20/20 shake (I almost don't hate it anymore) I came up with some guidelines.

#1 - The reward has to be something I will use but wasn't already going to buy.

#2 - It can't be food or even, and this is tempting for me right now, exercise. It has to be something tangible that I can touch or see, like the lip balm, so that every time I use it I am reminded how I earned it.

#3 - It doesn't have to cost a lot.

There is a rationale behind these guidelines. In the past when I have thought about rewards in the context of weightloss or fitness I always set the bar ridiculously high and the reward, proportionately extravagant. I was going to lose 40 lbs, run a half marathon and celebrate by going to Paris. And when it wasn't that, it was food. "Lose 5 lbs, get an ice cream." Only, I think we all know I didn't exactly stop at 1 ice cream and often spent the next few weeks recovering from the ravages of my so-called reward.

So, this time I want to consciously take advantage of my strengths. I like competition for the pure joy of competing. I don't need someone to compete against. All I need is a challenge to overcome, a test of my strengths. Putting manageable short-term goals out there and dangling tangible rewards at the end work for me at that level. I have a greater chance of succeeding with this approach than if I keep focusing too far into the future. It's good to reach for the sky as long as you realize you have to build a rocket first.

After I got home I sat down with pen and paper and revised and refined and fine tuned my list of rewards. I think I have got something pretty workable for now.

Lip Balm

I still don't have a picture of this but it's the one I bought this weekend to celebrate getting through last week.

Water bottle

The pink breast cancer awareness water bottle. I saw this in the Pro Club magazine and have been wanting it ever since. Jacque (that's my trainer) said we would focus on working the muscles hard Thursday which meant no cardio other than the video bike, which in turn meant getting my cardio in another day. I typically don't workout on Wednesdays because it's a long day starting with an early morning status meeting at 7 and ending with support group and mid-week grocery shopping at around 9 in the evening. By the time I get home and have prepared dinner I am wiped. After working out Tuesday I stopped by Pro Shop and spotted the bottles. I had one in my hand, was reaching into my purse for my credit card with the other when I decided no. I could have the bottle but only if I exercise tomorrow. I didn't know how I was going to fit it in but that's what made it a challenge.

I will post a picture of the new water bottle after I change the batteries in my digital camera. .. Yes, I got it. I worked out during lunch and not only that but beat my goal of 40 minutes by doing a full 65 minutes of cardio. I keep looking over at it. It's pure validation.

Exercise log book

A book to record all my workouts - reps, weights, time, type etc. I am not sure if there are such books in the market. If not, I will probably just buy a small notebook and partition out the pages for different types of workouts.

I don't think I have quite explained my goals yet. There are some in my Goals post but most of them are long-term. I deliberately haven't set any short-term goals. There will be challenges every day, some new, some old. Part of being able to do this for life will involve being able to deal with situations I can't control, events I can't plan for. In Microsoft terms this will be what we call "dealing with ambiguity." If I can't do that I will fail. So, for this and most of the smaller rewards that follows, I am not setting any specific goals. My overarching goal will be to stick to the plan, stay motivated and keep doing my best. On a weekly basis, I will evaluate situations as they come and decide if it warrants a reward or not.

Pink index cards

Standard 3x5 or 4x6 index cards - but in pink - to write down exercises, like the balance ball ones this week and the Pilates leg circles I learned Monday that I would like to remember how to do on my own.

Lululemon yoga pants

Like these below in a size 4 or 6 preferably which means this would probably be more of a long-term reward.

Pilates lessons

Pilates private lessons. I am already doing this so it's less of earning and more of justifying. I will be in Chicago for 3 days soon surrounded by family who I know would push things I shouldn't eat. My aunt's idea of affection the last time we got together was to try to ply me with alcohol. (Still a bit of confused about that one actually. Did she have a wager with someone to produce a drunk niece? Who knows.) If I can go three days without going "offplan" (or going mad) I think I would have earned at least 2 classes!

New hairstyle

This is not so much something I want as possibly something I need. I am kind of stuck in a hair/beauty rut. Still iffy about this so we'll see.

New perfume

Something heady and exotic.

Manicure

Vixen red or French, I can't decide. But does it really matter as long as it's a manicure?

Paul & Joe powder brush

A big fluffy brush for my loose powder.

Gucci bag

I even have the bag picked out. How about that?

New shoes

Because Carrie was my shoe alter-ego. What more can I say. And because over the last few years I have neglected my appearance and wardrobe and I feel it's due. I need new shoes.

Trip to Rome

Last but not the least, Rome.
Rome evokes in me visions of romance and transports me to another time in history when the golden age of renaissance was unfolding through Europe bringing with it a new awakening and a new consciousness. I want to visit the Colosseum, look up at the big domes of Pantheon, sit quietly in the Sistine Chapel, enjoy the sunshine in the Baroque Squares, roam the gardens of the Villa Borghese, dip my hand in the Fontana di Trevi... I want to soak in the history, the culture and the sunshine. Go to the museaums and the main library and drink coffee by the roadside. Get lost in Roman splendor and discover the poetry in its rubble, away from the cadence and cacophony of everyday life. Bike through the Italian countryside and go for a dip in the ocean. And then stop into a spa for a luxurious rub down at the end of the day and finish my trip by window shopping the coveted designer labels lining the street of Via Condotti.

But the bag, shoes and the trip to Rome will have to wait. Not sure for what yet. Probably until I reach my goal weight, run a 5k or both or more. But it's motivation to keep keep working at it until I get there.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Daydreaming, Blogging & Pilates

What I should be doing is getting tickets for my upcoming trip to Chicago for my uncle's 60th birthday. What I am doing is sitting around daydreaming about what I will look like, feel like, at the end of this and how many "rewards" I can "earn" in the process. Nothing like the prospect of guilt-free shopping to send a girl into tizzying daydreams. (The girl in question being me that is. I am sure there are plenty of women stoically indifferent to the allures of shopping.)

I feel like a kid again, bursting with enthusiasm at the thought of Christmas.

But what exactly is a reward? Is it a reward if I was going to do it anyway? Like replacing my old gym shoes. How is that an incentive for anything if I know that I am getting a new pair of x-trainers no matter what? It may work for some but knowing me I am just going to run out and buy the shoes and forget all about the earning part. For me a reward has to be something exciting, something I want badly enough but wouldn't normally get or do. Which is really where the daydreaming part comes in. It's like a license for my imagination to run wild and free through the field of possibilities. But my imagination being what it is needs reigning in from time to time. Like now.

Here's what I have come up with so far:

- A new perfume
- Voice microrecorder
- Chanel No. 5 body lotion
- A new hairstyle (maybe, I am not sure)
- Manicure (of course!)
- Melon colored lipgloss (also maybe)
- New Gucci bag
- Trip to Rome...

I think it was the "Trip to Rome" that halted my daydreaming on its tracks and brought me scurrying to the blog. Next step may have been a "Trip to the moon." You know what happens when you give a kid with an imagination permission to roam free in a fantasy world. Thankfully, the beauty of blogging is that I can always get back to daydreaming at a later time and keep refining the list until I have got it.

At a practical level, I am debating whether to add something Pilates related to that list. The private session with the instructor yesterday was fun. She was supposed to show me the orientation of the machines for my group class but spent more time aligning my posture and instructing me on how to stand and breathe correctly. It was fun in a weird kind of way. However, it did show me that I have some ground to cover before I can jump into a class. We did a few exercises that I really liked. One was lying on my back on the reformer pushing away with both my feet. The second exercise was sitting up on the same reformer doing some arm exercises and the last was leg circles. I am going back for another private session next week. The only catch? The private sessions are $72 each and the classes are progressive which means you can't join midway. So, if I don't join a class this week I have to wait until Nov and private sessions between now & then would add up to $360.

There goes my Gucci bag!

(But they are cheaper in Italy so if I go to Rome I can actually save money.)

Pricy proposition apart I really do want to try Pilates. I have been sitting straighter all morning today. Every time I find myself slumping over the keyboard I automatically pull back my shoulderblades and straighten up. I am also more aware of my body, but in a good way. Right now, I am signed up for 2 more private sessions but I would like to do the whole month or 5 sessions total. Maybe if I make it a reward for something, some goal, I will feel more justified in spending the money.

Of course, now I will need goals. More on that later.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Celebrating Success

As personality traits go, being a perfectionist is a bit like getting the short end of the stick and not knowing it. The first time I had an indication of this was when I was ten years old and burst into tears in front of the tv because a picture hanging in the background of the show I was watching was crooked. I couldn't finish watching it. To this date I don't know what happened to little Stephen or Maya or whatshisorhername. Actually, I don't even know if there was a little Stephen or Maya or whatshisorhername because I don't remember what the show was about. But I do remember that crooked picture. And it still makes me cringe.

I spent half of my first support group last Wednesday looking around the table and thinking. "Look at all the paper. If I could only straighten it out..."

If this isn't bad enough add to it a certain amount of natural competitiveness and you get a whole new dynamic. Generally this translates to wanting to be the best or not wanting to play at all. Nice, huh? But fun as all this sharing is what exactly is the point? The point is, I don't celebrate progress - I celebrate success. And success for me is an all or nothing kind of deal. In this process I often ignore the everyday little accomplishments, banishing them to the kingdom of lost treasures to languish forgotten. So, fair reader, if you happened to say that 1 successful week wasn't worth celebrating, normally I would agree with you.

But not today.

Today I want to celebrate the fact that I went to the gym even though I was sick all last week, that I ate 4 servings of vegetables a day dutifully and even pretended I could get to like broccoli, that I did a full hour of cardio on a beautiful Sunday and that maybe, just maybe, I am stronger than a lot of times I give myself credit for.

So, what's my reward? Ice cream, of course. No, just kidding. As you can see it is the farthest thing from it. (Of course, this would make much more sense if I actually had a picture you could "see" but since I don't I will describe it.) ... It's a lip balm that goes by the exotic name of Vanilla Honey, smells like warm vanilla sugar and reminds me with every swipe that I earned it. Like a L'Oreal ad, with a twist.