Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Feeding the Hunger

First the good news. After my Pilates class yesterday, I couldn’t tell what muscles I’d used, as I felt like I had spent an hour rolling around on the floor like a hooked fish. But today I can tell. My abdominals are pleasantly sore, as are the insides of my thighs and the muscles in my butt and lower back. This is good news to me, as I often feel like I’m not doing the exercises right and I’m using all kinds of compensatory muscles since my abs are so weak. So it's cool to have evidence that I'm actually using the right muscles after all.

As I have alluded to in past posts, though, I’m really pretty out of control with eating again. This is starting to feel really crappy. Yes, I seem to be losing some inches because of the exercise, but I’m eating unhealthily, and it feels nasty. I know that when I limit my carbs I have more energy, I don’t fade in the middle of the afternoon, and I sleep better. I also just feel more in control, which inspires more global feelings of well-being and self worth. I haven’t been bingeing lately, exactly…I’ve just been making consistently poor choices for meals, snacking a lot, eating huge portions, etc.

So what’s the deal? It’s weird to me that I’ve managed to start working exercise into my life, which has been a HUGE stumbling block of mine for the longest time, but I can’t seem to manage that and healthy eating at the same time. I think a bit of the problem is a logistical thing: The exercise takes a lot of time, and the cooking and eating well takes a fair bit of time, and I haven’t worked out a schedule for myself that allows me to do both. On the nights I’m at the gym I don’t get home until after 8, and my tendency has been to do the fast food thing as I drive between work and the gym (I know. How gross is that? A Quarter Pounder on the way to work out). Sometimes I’ve managed the foresight to pack some extra string cheese or something in with my lunch, and that gets me through the workout. What I need is to plan to cook on the weekends so that lunch and a late-afternoon pre-workout snack is an easy thing to grab.

But. As usual, the real issue doesn’t have anything to do with making time to cook. It’s a psychological thing. It’s about feeling pouty and put-upon and just not wanting to have to restrain myself in any way. It’s about wanting to be accepted the way I am. It’s about wanting to stick it to my father, who has, for nearly 40 years now, been waiting to see me lose the weight (there were a few years there at the beginning where he thought the chubby baby thing was cute).

And you know what else? There’s this one bit of unfinished business between me and my ex-boyfriend, with whom I broke up a year and a half ago. I’m a signer on a bank account of his, and I’ve never taken the initiative to email him and say “Hey—you probably need to find someone else to do this for you.” I’m assuming that this will involve meeting him at the bank, and I caught myself thinking the other day that I ought to wait until I lose some weight, so that I look really good when I have to see him. So. Avoidant soul that I can be, I’ve set it up so that as long as I’m fat, I don’t need to address this issue. I don’t have to endure the anxiety of sending an email, of calling the bank to figure out what, in fact, needs to happen, of perhaps having to see him, after all this time… And the big bonus is that I get to keep eating!

Sigh. Whether or not I choose to face the ex-boyfriend bank account issue at this particular point in time, I think it’s time to start working toward healthier eating again.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Pilates Sucks Ass

Pilates class number two this evening. Last week was beginner’s luck, or the honeymoon, or the calm before the storm, or some other metaphor that would capture just how incredibly, suckingly sucky class was tonight. I felt like a giant, fat flailing infant, unable to even hold my head up correctly. The instructor didn’t talk to me at all tonight, which made me feel as if she had totally given up on me and was just going to let me roll around back there as long as I appeared to still be breathing. I said something to that effect after class to my friend J, who came with me. She wisely pointed out that I was all embarrassed last week because I got a pointer from the instructor, and this week I was all sad because I didn’t. What do you want? she asked. Good question. What I want is to be 70 lbs thinner and really fit. Failing that, I guess what I want is the courage to keep showing up and sucking, until I suck no longer.

Here’s one bit of goodness, though, to keep me slogging through the suck. I went shopping for grey pants Sunday. In the past, I’ve been about a size 22, but I could get into certain 20’s if they were stretchy or cut right. On Sunday, I tried on about 10 pairs of pants in a bunch of different cuts, fabrics, brands, etc., and I was a size 20 in all of them! And not even a tight size 20, but a comfortable, right-in-the-middle-of-the-range size 20. Woo-hoo! It’s not a lot of change, but I’ve also been eating like crazy (fodder for a future post, I believe), so it’s gotta be the exercise. Exercise, you’re a nasty beeyotch, but I might decide to keep you around.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Pilates Sucks, and Pilates Rocks

I went to my first Pilates class tonight. It sucked, and it was pretty cool. It feels like it’ll take forever to get the hang of—I could never remember to keep my abs tight, clench my thigh muscles, make my spine long and breathe in and out when you’re supposed to, all at the same time. Oh, and this thing called ‘bucket breathing,’ where you’re supposed to be inhaling into your lower back or something. Huh? At any given time I was probably doing one of those, or maybe two (except I’m pretty sure I was never bucket breathing). Not to mention the fact that my abs are so weak that I’m not sure I even worked them out very much—for me, it’s sort of like trying to exercise your hair. It just doesn’t move.

Sitting her right now I can feel that my thighs are going to be sore, and my lower back, and my ass…but I can’t really feel anything in my abs. I wonder if it’s going to take a few weeks to even get those muscles to the point that I can really work them.

A few things were hard for me:

1. I was the biggest woman in the class by quite a bit. There were clearly women that hadn’t been doing it for long and seemed a little lost and prone to flailing around, but nobody was very large at all. Except for me. I tried to put it out of my head and just focus on being there (and on that whole impossible list of things we were supposed to be doing all at once), but I definitely felt a more than a little self-conscious.

2. I hate being imperfect at things, and I was definitely imperfect at this. I felt like I was going to fall over and hit my head, even when I was lying on my mat. I had to keep reminding myself that it will become more natural over time, and in the meantime I just have to keep trying.

3. I have trouble asking for or accepting help. The instructor came over early in the session and corrected my posture on an exercise, and I felt like a total reject. Then, later on when she was correcting others on things, I began to worry that she had decided I was a total lost cause and she wasn’t even going to try.

Neurotic much?

But I’m going to go back, because I could see how this would result in some great toning, and I’d be really proud of myself if I could get to the point that I could really do the exercises. Unfortunately, I can only make one class a week because of my work schedule, and that seems less than ideal. Oh well…I guess it just means that I’ll be in flailing beginner mode for longer than I’d like. Core strength, here I come!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Great Workout Mysteries of the Universe

Since I’ve been working out with some regularity, one thing about it has been just baffling to me. At least for me, there are days when I go, and I’m happy enough to be there, and I sweat and work hard and I don’t much mind it, and I feel good when I leave. Then there are days when I work at the same level of intensity, and it’s insanely difficult. I feel miserable every second, and it sucks and it is so hard, and I am pretty sure I’m going to quit any second…and then it’s over and I feel good.

The thing I don’t get is why it’s hard sometimes and not others. It doesn’t seem to have much to do with how energetic or positive I’m feeling, how much sleep I got, how busy my day was, what I've eaten, etc. It doesn’t even seem to have to do with getting into a groove where I’m exercising a lot. Take yesterday, for example. I hadn’t been to the gym in at least a week. It was a busy work week with a lot of evening stuff, and I had my period and felt crappy all week, and I just didn’t get there. So I went to the gym yesterday thinking that it was going to suck and be difficult because I was kind of out of the groove, but I would just suck it up and it’d be fine again soon. So I get there, and it’s crowded, and immediately my iPod freezes, so I don’t even have music. Then the headphone jack on the elliptical machine I chose was broken, so I couldn’t get audio for the TV screen. So, I watched (but couldn’t hear) some show called Good Pets Gone Bad (people who survived animal attacks—everything from housecats to trained bears. Seriously.) and did my 30 mins on the elliptical.

And here’s the part that surprised me—it was the easiest 30 mins I’ve ever done. I wasn’t draggy and cranky and miserable, the time didn’t crawl by and I wasn’t making bargains with Jesus to get me through it. My heart rate didn’t even get up as high as it usually does. Normally I get myself up into the 150s and stay there for the 30 mins, but this time I peaked in the mid 120s. Weird. Did fitness come to call while I was taking a week off? Is this how everyone experiences their own improving fitness?

Prior to now, progress has been more subtle—I turn up the resistance on the machine every couple of weeks and/or add 5 minutes onto my time and/or increase my speed, then it feels hard for a while and then in a week or two I’m ready to increase one of the variable again. This, though, was just a really notable change., and at a time when I was expecting the exact opposite. Interesting.