It has been a roller coaster of emotions for me the last few weeks in the physical fitness department. Topped off with a seriously depressing climax last week. And as I've said before I wouldn't be an honest blogger if I didn't share the bad times as well as the good. So here goes....
Remember Hubby and I both started HCG together and quit early because neither could give up the gym and are training for the same upcoming relay race. I'm so glad we're both committed to living more healthily since it would be much harder to make healthy choices alone - which I've had to do in the past. Plus, it is amazing to see a smile on his face now that he can play basketball again - something he thought would never happen with a bad back and recent ACL replacement. He was always very active before his injuries and it's no surprise that he bounced back quickly. He's lost thirty pounds and is back to looking like the Greek god I married sixteen years ago.
All well and good except when I find myself comparing my slower results (which makes them feel like non-results) to his lickety-split total body transformation. And feeling very jealous. And resentful. Such a girl response, I know.
Seriously, I'm happy for him. Except I also hate him for it because it was so quick and easy while I work my ass of for less noticeable results.
Last month I worked with a trainer who laid out all my workouts for me and kept me accountable with weekly communication on how I'd stuck with it. And I made it a very conscious choice to cut out all the bad stuff that I know I shouldn't eat - like desserts at lunch and sweets at night. I felt like it made a huge difference. Lifting weights has my upper body noticeably if not visibly leaner - I had to tighten my chest strap on my heart rate monitor, I can fit my upper arms in a shirt I've been hoarding and hoping to wear eventually and I can fit more comfortably in my bras. (Yah, less back fat!) So when it came time last week to see my trainer and do my assessment to see my progress in numbers and data I was less than happy to see that nothing had changed. Nothing. And according to her I'd actually gained body fat in my body composition. How the hell does that happen? I lifted weights three times a week, ran 15-20 miles a week on average and your numbers say that I gained fat? What the fuck?
I won't lie. There were tears... There was more than one f-bomb... There were several outbursts with the words "bull shit". All born from frustration since I expected it to be much better news after such efforts. And after working this hard I want results like Hubby has, damn it!
I partially feel bad for my poor trainer who, two months in a row now, has had me in tears at our monthly assessment appointments. Last month she talked me into signing up with her for a month of coaching. Which didn't work. And this month got me scheduled for my RMR testing - Resting Metabolic Rate - which I did Saturday and led to me signed up for a 9-week program with a nutritionist. (It makes sense... I'm exercising six times a week, both cardio and weights, and I should be dropping the weight like Hubby. Since I'm not, I have to look at the nutritional aspect of it. Preliminary discussions with both the trainer and the nutritionist have them thinking that I'm under eating. Lovely... then where's the cookies?) But I also am a bit unhappy with my trainer for not first focusing on the good things that I had to find out for myself by looking at my data AFTER I got home. My upper body strength rating has gone from 50 to 63 in just one month. My sit and reach rating has gone from 10 to 12 in a month. My VO2 lung capacity has gone from 27 to 29 - in a month! But what did we focus on? Just the bad... I was disappointed looking back since that's not the kind of motivation I want or need.
At the same time, something a good friend said had me wondering. She made the comment that she thought her trainer fudged her numbers to get her to sign up for more training. Fudged as in made them sound better than she thought they were. I'm sure she said it in jest but the logical animal that I am started analyzing my data collecting. The body composition number is calculated by a three-site skin fold reading with calipers. They have a fancy shmancy one attached to a computer plus cheesy manual ones. I've done these readings three times now. The first time, sites one and two were computer read, the third manual (since I had my slippery pants on and it kept sliding off). The second time, all three sites were computer read (no slippery pants). This last time, all three were manual readings. I'm thinking that the inconsistency of the data collection not ever being the exact same method has to be a factor. Right? Plus, why is this the only thing measured? Oh, and two of the sites are skin to caliper but the other is over my pants? Seems less than scientific in my mind.
It's human to want to have some external factor to blame and I'm not discounting that this train of thought might just be rationalization. If it is, I'm fine with that. This is just my ranting and raving and trying to deal with the shit my way anyway, right?
Thank god I'm an analytical, data-hungry girl and for years now have done basically quarterly and sometimes monthly measurements. These measurements - in my handy dandy spreadsheet - give me valuable insight into how my efforts are actually paying off. While I wanted to just throw in the towel, say to hell with it all and grab a pint of ice cream with a side of girl scout cookies (because either way I'm not losing weight!) instead I did my monthly measurements. Because despite it all I was curious.
I'm so glad I did! Guess what - I've lost inches everywhere except my thighs which have stayed the same. AND, I'm thinner according to the measurements than I was at my lowest scale weight a year ago. Which means I've added twenty pounds of pure muscle thanks to my efforts over the past year. Go me! Definitely not the dismal picture painted by the earlier skewed or at least questionable numbers.
Another aspect of my roller coaster ride came to light last week when I realized that I no longer look forward with joyous anticipation to my runs. Really? I love to run! I used to wake up in the morning and immediately start thinking about when I was going to get to run that day. Now I've skipped a couple due to lack of motivation. So I started taking stock and trying to determine what is different. The only thing that has changed is that instead of just running and concentrating on how many miles I need to run, I've been doing what the trainer has told me to do for heart rate zone training. I am a short girl at five foot two inches with squatty legs, which means I can't run very fast anyway. And now I'm having to run slower to keep my heart rate in the "right" zone. My legs hurt more from running slower and I'm just not having any fun when I have to worry about how high my heart rate is going. I thought it was worth it because keeping my heart rate in the proper zone to burn more fat was the goal. But it clearly hasn't given me the trade off I was expecting.
Yesterday it all changed. I headed out on an eight mile run. Before I left I mapped out my route using the MapMyRun website. I strapped on my heart rate monitor so I could make sure I stayed in zone two and three so I was at least aerobic in my efforts. I charged up my iPod for an hour so it would have a full battery for the two hours it was required to play for. And I fired up my cool new app on my Droid phone to see exactly how far I went according to GPS so I could calibrate my Nike+ foot sensor when I got back - because I don't think it is calculating my mileage accurately lately. Yes, I'm a gadget geek. Are you really surprised?
Halfway through my chilly, mildly rainy run, right after it turned mostly uphill with a headwind... yeah, it was not really fun at that point... my heart rate monitor stopped registering on my watch. I tried to fiddle with the strap through my clothes and finally gave up. About ten minutes later my GPS lost the signal from the satellite so no data to calibrate with my foot sensor. SHIT! Twenty minutes later after forty minutes of sustained uphill - have I mentioned how much I hate uphill running? - with the wind strongly blowing into my face I stopped, screamed FUCK YOU into the wind at the top of my lungs, and turned around to go back the way I came instead of finishing out my loop. About five minutes later my iPod battery died.
Seriously? Are you kidding me?!?! EVERY. SINGLE. GADGET. With the exception of my Nike+ which I was questioning before I even left.
Turns out, it was the Universe talking to me...
With no gadgets to obsess about, no hill to be running up and the wind at my back I rediscovered how much I love to run. Just run. Not caring about how fast my damn heart is beating. Because guess what, if it is beating too high and I'm up in the anaerobic regions I get out of breath and I naturally slow down. And who cares how far I go when I go except for bragging rights on Facebook and Twitter and as a way to gauge how soon I'll need a new pair of running shoes. Without the iPod distraction I even noticed the wheat fields and horse corrals I was running past which I have only vaguely registered before. That horse running around the corral? It was super pretty with it's mane and tail swishing spiritedly. Thank you, Universe... I'm listening.
I'm going back to basics and, other than the nutritionist, I'm not dropping any more money in personal training and gimmicks at the gym. I'm a smart girl... I can google workouts for weight training and I can read articles on how to improve speed and endurance for my running. Hell, there's probably an app for that, too, I just have to look! And without all the pressure to perform perfectly I might just relax and have some fun while I'm at it.
So while this particular roller coaster ride of emotions had me feeling more down than up, I have turned it around and am re-focused on me and the things that I want to do. Do I still secretly hate hearing that number read off joyously every morning when Hubby steps on the scale? Of course... I'm a chick! But it doesn't have to stab me in the heart anymore because I know how exciting it is to see results and I want that for him as much as I want it for me. Maybe the stress released by this decision will free up some of my stubborn fat cells... they say stress will inhibit weight loss after all. Either way, here's to a much more enjoyable month ahead with more measurable results for my efforts!