Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Operation: Back to Fit

The last couple of weeks have been sort of an emotional roller coaster. I'm feeling back to normal day to day other than being tired and ready for bed by early evening yet now I am feeling the effects of my out of shape body and hating where I am currently with my fitness.

This morning I stepped on my Wii Fit. Although I haven't been on it in almost two years, that little bastard hadn't forgotten how much I used to weigh and took great pleasure in proclaiming that I now weigh thirty three more pounds than I did the last time I checked in. Thirty three. That's a tough number to swallow for anyone I'm guessing. Because of my water retention side effect and it's accompanying "diuretic dance" as I like to call it, I've been tracking my weight daily and have stabilized here for the last couple of weeks. Now that I can eat all the veggies and salad I want, it's time to get back to my normal healthy eating which I know is one of the biggest pieces of my fitness that will be easy to see results with.

And then there is my exercise. I've been struggling to run again - or rather to find the will to run again. So much so that I kind of decided that maybe I wasn't really going to be a runner anymore or at least for a little while until I can drop some of this extra weight. Running while you're packing around an extra forty or fifty pounds is pretty painful and discouraging. But that left the question of what to do instead. I already know that whatever I'm doing I have to enjoy or else I won't stick with it. Running and yoga are the only things I've ever tried that I loved and stuck with long term. After lots of brainstorming, I decided on swimming and cycling. I hear tons of people all around me touting the low-impact yet extreme cardio benefits of cycling but have never tried it and I have always loved to swim but never went to the gym to actually swim laps. It was worth a try...

I thought the Universe and the stars were aligning to point me in a solid direction toward cycling. I've got a friend who is selling a road bike who is the same height as me - apparently that determines the size of the bike that's right for you. And, I've got another friend who is recommitting to fitness after a year of injury setbacks who is a cyclist. Knowing everything is better with a buddy, I thought it was a perfect fit to team up with her.

Last week was a fabulous week of torture and July 17th marked the inception of my current mindset which I like to think of as "Operation: Back to Fit". Workout Buddy and I sat down Tuesday night and discussed our schedule and options and I mapped out a plan for the week:

     Monday: Yoga
     Tuesday: spin class/walking
     Wednesday: walking
     Thursday: Yoga
     Friday: lap swimming/spin class
     Saturday: cycling
     Sunday: rest

It all looks great on paper until I plug in the reality of when all of these activities were going to occur. Mornings. Now granted I've been getting up early for yoga at six o'clock in the morning every Monday since December and willingly agreed to add another class on Thursday morning at six thirty when summer started, but I always have several days of "sleeping late" in between to recover. The plan now is to get up early to do all of my exercise during the week. I know how amazing I feel when I start my day with physical activity but it still isn't easy for me to drag myself out of my comfy bed when it is still dark outside. Now I'm deciding to do that every day of the week? Good lord I hope I can do it and survive the rest of my life without turning into yelling sleep-deprived mommy with my girls after work. One thing I've had to admit to myself is that my life is far different than it was even a year ago and fitting in my daily workouts has becoming more and more difficult. Getting up early and claiming the time before everyone else wakes up and starts demanding my time is the only way. Sigh.

Wednesday morning hadn't yet dawned when Workout Buddy and I set out for a very brisk morning walk. Walking seemed like the easiest part of my plan before that morning and then the reality of exactly how out of shape I am became disturbingly clear. Three miles in an hour and I could barely carry on a conversation the entire way. Then there was how sore my hips and back were the rest of the day and most of the next. It was then that I really accepted that I was starting over at square one. No wonder I had been so frustrated with my efforts at running the past couple of months. It's like starting in the middle instead of at the beginning and then wondering why you can't finish. DUH. I guess another example of how far my head has been in the sand. But, it also motivated me to work hard so I can see the results I know will come with starting at the beginning and building my cardio endurance.

Alas, Woman cannot run on yoga alone...

I was so exhausted by Friday that when Hubby called to tell me plans were changing and he was not staying at the gym with the kids until I could get there after work to swim my laps, I was more than happy to just go home and rest up. Don't judge. It's my first week... (I'll have to thank Baby Sister for her full-fledged whiny-butt show with Daddy somehow.)

Saturday morning was my first cycling adventure. I have a mountain bike that I've had for twenty years and probably ridden a total of under three hundred miles so it isn't like I don't know how to ride a bike but I'm also far from experienced. I have no gear - not even a bike helmet. And when Hubby got the bike down out of the rafters of the garage we found the shifter was broken and I had only one gear. Luckily Workout Buddy had an extra mountain bike and an extra helmet so the plan wasn't completely derailed. I strapped on my gloves for lifting weights, dressed in my yoga gear and strapped on a pair of running shoes wondering if there were special shoes for cycling and what else I was going to need if I decided I was going to like cycling and headed out.

A quarter of a mile into the ride I was fighting the urge to throw up after struggling up a horrific hill. I knew about this hill going out, had indeed psyched myself up for it knowing it was the hardest part of the planned course. But oh my god it was worse than I ever dreamed it could be. Thinking, naively, that since that was the worst part and the rest of the course was "flat", I pictured the next six and a half miles to be easy to moderate exertion. I was quickly disappointed in the rolling hills with very little down slopping which translated meant I had to actually pedal the whole way. I was unable to keep up with my friend's road bike and her ten times as many gears OR catch my breath. Hard core cardio is an understatement when it comes to cycling. Overall the ride was enjoyable but only because the last half was downhill or truly flat as advertised. The chauffeured ride home after we arrived at our pickup for Bountiful Baskets helped immensely I'm sure. Workout Buddy's husband took me and all the fruits and veggies and jam-making ingredients home while she headed out for the rest of her twenty mile planned ride.

That ride was both more fun and harder than I had ever anticipated and served to bring my thinking full circle when it comes to my fitness plans. I realized that I truly love running and have all the gear and then some to be a runner. What I don't love is being where I am now feeling like I'm back where I first started. However, I'm not really and truly back at the beginning when I know I'm still able to run for more than thirty seconds at a time because when I did start that's all I could do. Plus, if had lost all my cardio base I wouldn't have had so much fun after the hill or been able to pedal for an hour without stopping. If I switch to cycling, I would be starting at the very beginning on a road I've never traveled before. With running, it is a road I've traveled successfully to three Ragnar Relays and a half marathon with countless other 5Ks and 10Ks along the way. I just need to put on my big girl panties and get going already!

This week will be even easier knowing I survived last week and have a solid plan of attack. I'll add in swimming to see if I like it and go from there. Every journey has a beginning but that beginning isn't a neon sign flashing in the middle of the road, it lives in our commitment to start living the way we say we want to live and celebrating the triumphs and setbacks along the way. It is a journey so here's to the beginning of this one. Again.

Monday, July 8, 2013

My own little challenge

I've been looking back on my blog entries and feeling like a broken record. Could I talk about anything besides my health the last few months? Unfortunately I haven't been writing, or running, or over achieving in any way besides staying on top of my laundry and dishes while dealing with my new crazy reality - even at work. So I decided to challenge myself to find things to blog about that had nothing to do with my health. Instead of coming up with lots of fun and entertaining things to talk about, I didn't blog for weeks. *Sigh*

So, here's some random thoughts and things I'm grappling with this week.

1. My lack of motivation to run again. I need a fairy godmother of running to appear and smack me upside the head with her magic wand so I can get my running mojo back. It is apparently really hard to get back into a daily workout regiment mindset after almost a year has gone by. I ran a couple of weeks ago and my calves were super crampy and my lungs have lost a few steps which had me kind of dejected. It's one thing to assume you are basically starting from ground zero and quite another to actually see proof that you've lost basically everything you once had and fought so hard to develop. I've committed to a relay race in late August, a 5K in September and a half marathon in October with my running buddy but have yet to start whole-heartedly training. What the hell is my problem? I think part of it is emotional since my bought and paid for half marathon that was supposed to be my triumphant return to running after my pulmonary embolism came and went without me there. I cried that morning which is kind of unlike me and maybe I haven't completely gotten over the loss. There's nothing I hate more than admitting I can't do something and it really got to me. Time to grab the boot straps and get my shit in gear before it's too late.

2. Yoga. On the flip side, my yoga practice has morphed into amazing levels and makes me so happy. I was on call last night, didn't get to bed until almost one in the morning and got paged at two, three and four (almost on the hour) but still got up in time to make my six AM class. It's been seven months of regular practice and I can feel measurable results both in how my body feels and the things I can do. I have a very solid core that I am aware of all day long for the first time in my life. And I can do a back bend, a hand stand (against the wall, but still) and all sorts of poses I never thought possible. The best part is that I now am confident enough to do my own practice instead of having to have someone lead and tell me what to do. It was amazing to wake up in the morning of our book club overnight retreat and bust out a half hour session of yoga by the pool with two of my fellow yogini.

3. Book club pressure. It's my turn to pick the book for my book club. The last six months flew past and where I usually voraciously read a grip of books in an attempt to find the perfect one, I find myself under the gun with not enough time to pick the way I want. I read forty five books last year and have already read almost half that many this year but when I put together my short list yesterday it was a struggle to find even nine that are remotely worthy of consideration. Of those nine, I've narrowed it down to only three that I feel would yield a great discussion. One I eliminated as too long to read in a month because even I balk at a mammoth of eight hundred pages when there's a deadline to finish. Two were angst ridden young adult novels with little to discuss when I tried to make a list of topics for the group. A couple were science fiction and had great premise but again, not a lot to discuss. One was beautifully written but ultimately just a short story about a very depressing subject with nothing much to discuss beyond the big reveal at the end. What I'm left with is a beach-read romance with a twist that I fear is ultimately filled with cliche that people won't find enjoyable enough to discuss, a post-apocalypse tale that overall is grim but gives a ton of discussion, and a Pulitzer prize winner that I fear is far too controversial for my group as a whole. This last one I have wanted to pick for several years and still finds its way onto my short list. Going into this year I just KNEW it was going to be the year. And then we've read several very controversial books that pushed the envelope of the group already and do I really want to pile on yet another book that people will either hate dragging themselves through or will simply choose not to read because they really want something light and happy? Oh the pressure of picking the book for discussion! No one is arguing that I might put a tad too much thought and analysis into picking but that is kind of the norm for my amazing book club.

Wow, it can be done! Here's to much more to talk about in the coming months other than my health.