One of the perks of taking a review writing break is that it really clears up my schedule. There has been many a moment when I’ve wanted to strike out and write a post not related to reviewing but didn’t because I felt like there was no room in my schedule for it. That may sound strange because it’s my blog and I should be able to do what I want to, but I feel a very strong sense of obligation to the publishers and authors I promote. I should be using my little space on the inter-webs to showcase them, not ramble about my own issues. Not today though! So, as the title states, this is not a bookish topic. For the most part, this post will just be me rambling on about my thoughts on fitness and my new journey towards getting fit and my feelings in general on peoples mindset that skinny is perfect. Feel free to skip it if that doesn’t sound like your thing! But I’ve had pieces of this post floating around in my brain for about a week and I know it won’t go away until I get it down.
First off, there are a lot of models and actors and writers and other famous people trying to promote the idea that you don’t have to be slim to be beautiful. I admire all of you for that. Seriously, I could not be more awestruck than I am with you people. Anyone who can love how they look in spite of what anyone else says and rock that kind of confidence has my eternal devotion. I am inspired by the fact that you can love your curves as is. I have always had self-confidence issues, so I applaud you for that. The question about it that really sticks in my mind is the health aspect. There is no denying that the standard medicine’s definition of “heatlhy” weight per your height is bullshit. Standing on a scale tells you nothing about that weight. How much of it is muscle? I guarantee you that body builders would be considered grossly obese because they have to weight a ton to have that much muscle mass. I suppose the doctor’s would try to push them into a different category, but my point remains valid. On the other hand, there is also no doubt in my mind that excess additional weight can cause problems. I look at my boss, who is 76 years old and very overweight and I see the effects (affects? No matter how much I try, I can never remember the difference between these two) it has on his health. He wasn’t always overweight. The weight gain happened in his later years due to a medication he had to take. But now, he can’t loose the weight and it’s taking it’s toll. I see him trying to lose the weight and failing and it breaks my heart and worries me.
His health issues have pushed me into the realization that I never want to be like that. I never want to be in that situation. The best way I can think to avoid that is to get into shape now and stay that way, to always put effort into it. I think the decision to lose weight is a very personal decision that should not be taken lightly. For me, it’s that worry of the future and also the knowledge that I have not always been overweight. In high school, I was slim and active. I didn’t sit at a computer or a desk all the time. I was out running around and goofing off, like any normal teenager. Then I graduated and worked a year in retail. Again, always on my feet and running around. If you think people working retail don’t get a workout, then you have never unloaded a truck full of merchandise with only 3 other people to help you! In 2008, I started working at my current job. I am a receptionist/dispatcher/owner’s gofer. It is a desk job. Since starting this job, I sit down all day long. I go home and I’m so exhausted from the mental strain that I don’t do much beyond collapse into a chair and work on this blog or dive into a book or a TV show. As you can imagine, I’ve put on some weight since that change. It’s the slow weight gain that creeps up on you. You don’t really realize it until none of your clothes fit….even clothes that aren’t that old. I don’t know exactly how much weight I’ve gained over the past few years, but I know that I now (or the last time I stepped on a scale) weigh
190 188 (I weighed myself at the gym and got a nice surprise!) and I weight 140 when I was in high school and active. That’s 50 pounds! 50! I am uncomfortable in my skin and I hate how I feel sitting down. I know this is due to my inactivity levels. I sit for 8 hours a day at a desk and then I go home and I sit some more. Even disregarding the fact that I am overweight, it’s unhealthy to sit on your ass all day long period.
This is not the first time I have noticed the extra weight and it is not the first time I have tried to do something about it. Over the years, I have taken small steps to at least prevent myself from gaining more weight. I started drinking water at restaurants instead of soda. While I do occasionally steal a sip or two of my husband’s soda, I mostly drink the water. I also drink water while I’m at work instead of soda. I won’t say I never drink soda at work. If I’m having a particularly bad afternoon or it’s that time of the month, I’ll get one. The amazing thing? I usually don’t finish it. I probably get 2/3rds of the way threw it before it’s time to go home and I pour the remaining out. I also switched to hot tea on my lunch break instead of soda. I know that arguments can be made that it’s not really that much more healthy because I put both milk and a good deal of sugar into said mug of tea, but it can’t hurt right? Basically, most of my plans involve cutting down on the soda. You hear everywhere that if you just cut soda out of your life, you’ll lose weight. I know that isn’t true. I know it because the part of that equation that they always leave out is you have to substitute it with a 0 calorie drink. I do know that soda is bad for you, which is why I’ve cut down on it, but I’ll never give it up completely. Why? Because it’s delicious. My life is too goddamn short to deny myself what I really want and what I really want is an ice cold glass of Dr Pepper. Also, there is no 0 calorie substitute that I find acceptable. I truly don’t like the taste of water. Really, that’s not me being difficult. I genuinely don’t like the way it tastes. I’ve gotten over that to some degree. I can drink it, I just prefer not to. I also hate those water flavor packets. They are all so overly sweet and gross. I like milk, but I drink whole milk and that has the exact same calorie content as Dr Pepper.
I’ve made one other big change. A little over a year ago, I moved much closer to work. I literally live half a mile from it. Now, as long as the weather isn’t terrible, I walk to work. Half a mile might not be much, but when you do it four times per day (once to work, home for lunch, back to work, home at the end of the day), it adds up. On a good day, I walk 2 miles each day. 2 MILES! When I say as long as the weather isn’t bad, I mean as long as it isn’t raining and it isn’t cold. I’m a wuss and didn’t walk much during the winter. If it was under 40 degrees outside, I seriously didn’t want to go. So yeah, that’s a step in the right direction.
Now, I’m adding some new goals. I want to learn how to run. I’ve read many a book where the heroine is a runner and they go on and on about how euphoric it can be. How they can run for miles and miles and it just clears their heads. I want that. I’m officially doing the couch to 5K challenge, though at a much slower rate than the creators envisioned. The one piece of advice that always sticks with me when I read things on getting fit is to start slow because it’s more likely to stick that way. Basically, don’t get gungho and go to the gym every day if you aren’t used to going at all. You’ll get worn out and tired and want to quit. I’m doing the opposite of that. I am going to go to the gym once per week at an hour per trip. Will that make much of a difference? Probably not, but the point is to ease myself into the idea of going to the gym and them up it to two days and then three once I feel comfortable with it. I am also adding running to my daily walks. On the walks home, I walk for 5 minutes as a warm up and then run for 1 minute and then walk the rest of the way home (which is only 2-3 minutes after the run). It’s only at one minute because that corresponds with the schedule I’m at on the Couch To 5K routine. Every time that running time is upped, so will the time I run for the walks. I only do it on the walks home though, not on the way to work because I don’t want to arrive to work even more of a sweating, panting mess than I usually do!
As I said, this is not the first time I’ve attempted to lose weight, but hopefully this will be the successful one! What’s different this time? Well, you guys for one. I’m going to do weekly updates to hold myself accountable for keeping up with it. Then there is the fact that my husband is finally on board with it this time around. He attended his sisters wedding a couple of weeks ago and his dress pants no longer fit. I felt really bad for him, but it pushed him to go to the gym with me, so yay for partnership! The other reason is that I’m bribing myself with books. I’m allowing myself to listen to the audiobook of something that is not on my review list while I’m at the gym (but ONLY while I’m at the gym). The first order of business is to listen my way through the rest of Colleen Hoover’s collected works. I’m currently 1 hour into Finding Cinderella. This was actually how I got myself to walk the first time. That’s how I read Slammed & Point Of Retreat. Unfortunately, back then, I let my review list seep into my walking playlist and that is what stopped me. My next review book was the final book in Rae Carson’s Fire & Thorns trilogy. I had finished the first book, but still needed to read the second one before I could do the third. I had the audio copy of The Crown Of Embers, but I HATED A Girl Of Fire & Thorns so I really didn’t want to listen to the next book. So I avoided walking like the plague because as long as I wasn’t walking, I didn’t need to listen to it. That’s fucked up logic, but it eventually kept me from walking so long that I didn’t want to go back to it. So, this time around, only books that I’m desperate to read that aren’t related to my review list, unless the review list one is so good that I just can’t stop listening. Flat-Out Celeste by Jessica Park was like that. I had to finish it as soon as humanly possible because I had to know what happened next. Another small reward I’m offering myself is that I wear a dress or skirt or something I deem “nice” the day after I go to the gym. On workdays, I generally stick to jeans and a T-shirt because that’s how I most comfortable, but I really like dresses and skirts. I’m really trying hard to stick to non-food rewards!
As far as results, well, I’m not expecting anything major. Right now, I’m just trying to stick to the goal of running 5K. Right now, I wouldn’t make it at all. My thinking is that if I don’t put any other expectations on it, it will be harder to get disappointed if weight loss or slimming does not occur. Dream results? Still nothing overly drastic. I’d like to be able to fit into some of my outgrown jeans. Maybe not the little ones that I wore in high school, but 2 or 3 sizes down from where I am now. I’d like my stomach to flatten out a little. I’d like my thighs to slim up. Before you jump all over me on that because I know that controversy and it actually has nothing whatsoever to do with the aesthetic look of slimmer thighs. If that were the case, I’d be fine with them how they are. But since I’ve gained weight and my thighs have in increased in size, they rub together and chafe when I wear a skirt or a dress. That gets very uncomfortable very quickly and I would like for it to stop. The only way I can see to make it stop is to slim down a bit.
My journey so far, well, I’ve been to the gym twice. Once on May 12th and once on May 19th. On each of those days I stayed for an hour, doing the Couch To 5K walk/run challenge for 30 minutes (per challenge guide) and walking at a moderate pace for the other 30. After each of those trips, I have felt very tired and hot. I’m still in the run for a minute stage and I have one more session before the run for a minute and a half stage hits me. I’m really worried about that. Even when I’ve tried before, I have never been able to make it to a 2 minute run. I know that is pathetic, but the idea of running, even slowly, for 2 minutes is very daunting for me. Right now, I can make a minute without feeling like I’m going to die, but I don’t really want to go for more. When it’s all done, my legs have this jelly like feeling and walking on normal ground feels weird. It’s like that feeling you get after jumping on a trampoline and then walking around. You’re legs want to jump even though you’re mind knows that wouldn’t go well. I really like that feeling. I’m trying to change my attitude about working out. Instead of being irritated that I have to do this, I’m trying to go with grateful that I have the ability and opportunity to do it. It’s hard because I don’t get that endorphin rush (or I haven’t yet) that people go on about after working out, but I am trying to pick things I like and that jelly-legged feeling is the best thing so far!
I’ve ran for a minute each walk home since May 12th. Okay, that’s not entirely true. I don’t run on the day I go to the gym or the day after. The day I go, I’m saving my strength and the day after I’m in a dress and flip flops, which aren’t conducive to running. Also, I feel like the day after, I’ve earned a small break. The run on normal ground is a bit more difficult because the area I end up running in is this shady curve that doesn’t have much area beside the road and it’s a bit uneven so I’m always concerned that I’ll fall. This is part of the reason I go to a gym instead of just running outside, because I don’t live in a nice neighborhood where I can just run those streets. I like on a busy street with no sidewalks that frequently has tractor-trailer trucks speeding down it. It’s not ideal. Plus, I think I’d let the weather deter me from going if it’s too hot or cold or raining or whatever. The gym is temperature controlled.
Anyone else out there trying to dominate the Couch To 5K challenge? Let me know in the comments!