Fat as Hell…

and not going to take it anymore!

What’s Next?

Today I learned what people sometimes call a “valuable lesson.”

For months now I’ve been doing my best to lose weight and become more healthy through, what can best be described as, shot in the dark fitness.  I’m a big believer in the idea that what works for one person may not work for another, so I read a lot, experiment more and adjust my thinking all the time, trying to figure out what works for me.  It’s all a guessing game and the one and only thing I know for sure is that I don’t know much of anything.  It’s not all bad news, of course… I mean, on the food front, I feel like I’m getting better all the time.  Even though I am by no means perfect, I’ve discovered some truths about myself and my body over the last several months and I know I’m far closer to understanding myself as an eater than I ever was before.

The exercise component of this equation, however, still remains a bit of a mystery.

Before deciding that it was time to take control of my life last summer, I *never* exercised.  And I do mean never.  Not only did I not “work out” (in any sense), my lifestyle was completely sedentary.  I’d tailored my jobs such that I spent most of the time sitting down, I did no yard work, very little housework and I never even thought about taking a walk in the evenings or during the summers when I was off.  Seriously, I can remember literally sitting in my car for, who knows how long, idling along in the parking lot of a store, waiting for another car to leave one of the front spots just so I wouldn’t have to walk very far.   I was a complete blob.

Nowadays, things are a little different.  Now I walk almost every night.  I have an exercise bike at home that I used all winter (it’s collecting dust now, but that’s just because it’s nice outside).  And I make the effort to move my ass from here to there, rather than spend all my time sitting on it.  But I have to admit, as far as exercise goes, that’s really it.  Every once in awhile I’ll do a 30 minute workout that I see on fitTV or I spend a few minutes lifting my little 5lb hand weights.  But that’s all.

Having said that, for a little while now I’ve been pondering what the next step for me — exercise wise —  should be.  With the amount of vigorous walking that I do, I feel like I’m getting a good amount of cardio in.  But I’m totally lacking in the strength training department.  And that’s a problem, because while I’m losing weight, I’m not losing that much flab.  My stomach is still huge and I’m fairly convinced that if I flapped my arms hard enough, I could probably take off.  I just feel like it’s time for me to start building muscle, but doing that requires equipment and knowledge that I simply don’t have.

And so enters the gym dilemma.

Here’s the thing, I’m NOT a gym person.  I absolutely abhor the notion of going into a room, full of (rock hard fit) people I don’t know, and doing the horrid, embarrassing, sweaty, smelly things that are required to peel off yet another layer of my fat.  Just thinking about it makes me cringe.  And yet, I know that if I’m really serious about all of this being about more than simply losing weight and if I’m honest when I say that I don’t just want to be thin not fat anymore, that I truly want to be healthy, then I’m going to have to do *something* besides walk each night.

So… today, I went to the gym.

A girlfriend of mine belongs to a local gym and for a couple of months now she’s been singing its praises and telling me that I should go along with her.  She really wants me to join (she says she’s desperate for a workout buddy) and so she offered to let me use a few of the free guest passes that she is given each month.   I told her that I would go once school was out, so she called me yesterday and we made a date to meet at the gym this morning.

The truth is, despite all my hesitation, I went into it with a pretty open mind.  I even told my husband this morning while he was brushing his teeth that I was kind of excited about it.  But by the time I got into the car and was heading there, my excitement was bubbling over.  I had the top down in my car, my shades and my work out clothes on and my “gym bag” and two big bottles of water in the passenger seat.  I was going to “the gym” so I could “work out.”  I felt sooooo cool, man.

And then I got there.

My friend was waiting in the lobby.  She’d already told the receptionist, a size -2 teenager, about me.  They had me fill out some paperwork and then, because I was a guest, and not a member, I was on my own.  The place was HUGE.  There was a cardio room, a weight room, a pilates room, a yoga room, a full gymnasium, racquetball courts, a swimming pool, a locker room, and a smoothie bar.  All of which, were jam packed with people whose combined body fat didn’t equal even a 10th of mine.

But still, I trudged on.

I started in the locker room where I was greeted by lots of half naked to completely naked skinny girls.  A dream come true for others, perhaps, but no so much for me.  Luckily, I was able to find my way to a locker with my eyes closed, where I stored my stuff and then fumbled my way out and upstairs to the cardio room.  There I found an open spinning machine.  The moment I sat down, the size 0 girl to my left groaned.  She literally groaned.  I tried to smile and make eye contact, but she wasn’t having any of it. She rolled her eyes and groaned as if to say “oh great.” Apparently, sitting next to a fat girl at the gym was not her idea of a quality work out.  But, not to be deterred, I spent the next 10 minutes trying to figure how to a) adjust the seat so that I could actually reach the pedals, b) get both of my feet into the plastic strappy things and c) turn the damned thing on.  Of course, I was in the front row.  Lots of people saw me struggling.  No one offered to help.  Eventually, however, I worked it all out and then, at last…  I was ready to spin!

And spin I did.  For 20 whole minutes.  I set the machine to a program that went from lower to higher intensity in small graduated spurts.  I pushed the resistance up to what seemed like a low to medium range and then I spun my little legs off.  The entire time,  the same phrase kept running through my mind:  “Don’t look at anyone… Don’t look at anyone… Don’t look at anyone… Fuck! You looked at someone!” <Repeat.>  I tried to watch one of the 10 televisions that were mounted to the wall, but I kid you not, they were ALL set to the food network.

*sigh*

After my 20 minutes of spinning, I took my jello legs back downstairs where I watched (but did not join) the pilates class (which my friend was a part of).   At this point I was very tempted to give up.  I cannot tell you how out of place and uncomfortable I felt, but instead I decided to head back upstairs to the weight room to see what strength training, which was why I was there in the first place, was all about.  Two things I noticed right away:  a) everyone in the weight room looked *very* serious about pumping iron and b) every single one of them had a trainer/friend either telling them how to do it or cheering them on while they were doing it.  And it was then that I realized that there was no way I was ever going to be able to do that.  I watched for a few more minutes but then headed back downstairs where I dodged more naked girls, grabbed my stuff and then left.   And I don’t think I’ve ever felt so relieved as I did the moment I walked out that door.

On the way home, I called my friend to apologize for leaving early.  She didn’t answer, of course, but I left her a voice mail and explained that the gym simply wasn’t for me.

At this point, the old me would have headed to the nearest Burger King to drown my sorrows/embarrassment in an elephant sized order of french fries, but instead I went home, threw about a dozen blueberries into a cup of yogurt and sat down to write this post.

And here’s the really surprising part: I’m not upset at all about it.  Truly.  In fact, the more I think about it, the more thankful I am that I had the chance to go and to confirm what I already suspected.  Sure, it was all very embarrassing and uncomfortable, but it’s over now and I’ve learned something:  I am not a gym person.  The gym is not for me.  Great.  Now I can cross that option off my list.

The thing to do now, of course, is to figure out what *is* for me.  Clearly, this is easier said than done and the truth is, I haven’t a clue where to begin.  If the gym isn’t for me, then I don’t have that many options left, beyond buying more exercise equipment to keep here — but that doesn’t really solve the problem of not knowing how to use it.  *shrugs*  For now, I’m not going to worry.  I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing *and* do my best to have a little faith in myself.  I may not have all the answers, but I’ve done alright so far.  I’m sure, given a little time, I’ll figure this out too.

*fingers crossed*

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June 18, 2008 Posted by | exercise, losing weight | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Ready, Set… Walk!

Well… it’s the first “official” day of FatBridesMaid’s Pedometer Challenge, and I logged another (what is for me, anyway) big day. Most of my steps were had tackling the flowerbeds in my front yard as well as a 3.5 mile hike through a nearby nature trail that runs through a beautifully wooded nature preserve near my house. (The walk was absolutely gorgeous, and I have to say, I think that I saw more butterflies this afternoon alone than I have in my entire life).

I did my very best not to look at the pedometer during the day and to just go about my business, but it was so hard not to sneak a peek every once in awhile. Further, it’s absolutely amazing just how much motivation having that little bit of plastic magic around my waist afforded me. Even if I don’t *win* the challenge, I feel like I will have gained so much from having participated. For someone like me, who hates to exercise, little contests like this one really help to put the spring back in my step when I can feel myself dragging. I absolutely know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I moved my fat ass far more this weekend than I would have had I not decided to become a footstep beancounter.

That said, now that the weekend is over, I’m looking forward to seeing how many steps I naturally take during the average work day. My job involves both working at a desk *and* running around like a lunatic, so I’m interested to find out how that translates into actual movement. I think, having that kind of data will help me make smart choices about my evening exercise. Right now, I’m just sorta doing what I’ve always done because, frankly, I couldn’t come up with a better plan of action. I mean… what the hell do *I* know about exercise? I read a bit and try to tailor my plan of attack based on what I hope are sound practices, but mostly I’m just shooting in the dark. But now… armed with the knowledge of how many steps I’ve taken in a day, *hopefully* I’ll be able to be a bit more intentional about my evening exercise regiment — adding more cardio on days when I don’t walk nearly as much at work, and concentrating on strength training on those days when I keep the pedometer busy during the day — rather than just doing whatever I’d arbitrarily assigned myself at the beginning of he week.

That’s my theory anyway.

In the meantime, I’m going to *try* to log my steps every evening here with a picture just to prove that I’m not fibbing. And hopefully, by the time the three weeks are up, I’ll have made increased physical activity a *habit* that I can continue long after the challenge is over.

*fingers crossed*

April 20, 2008 Posted by | exercise, pedometer challenge | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

What Me Worry?

I forgot to post yesterday’s weigh in:

260.8lbs – 261.6lbs = +.8lbs

Ok. So that means I’ve gained 1.6lbs over the last two weeks. I know I should be disappointed in myself, or something, but honestly, I just want to shrug and say big deal. Considering the weeks I had, *only* being up a pound and half (or so) seems like a miracle. Besides, this week is already going well. So far… I’ve stuck to my caloric guns and I had a really good work out today. I can totally feel it in my calves and in my tummy and I actually smiled earlier as I felt the sweat start to pour off me.

Oh, don’t get me wrong… I still hate exercising, but it feels good to be back in the saddle.

Plus, I did a little “jogging” today. Of course, I have to use that term loosely, because what I did probably wouldn’t be called jogging by actual joggers, but it was definitely beyond the scope of walking and it nearly killed me, so I figure I’ve earned the right to use the word “jog” at this point. Anyway, it was literally, the first time I’ve run since I was forced to during PE class way back in high school, and I have to say, it felt pretty good… better than I would have thought. I didn’t actually set out to jog, but I was doing some walking and, frankly, it just wasn’t enough. My heart rate was up, but not enough to make that much of a difference, so I thought, well.. I’ll just pick up the pace a bit.

Now… I think I may have mentioned before that the loop around my house is exactly .2 of a mile, so I know if I go around 5 times, I’ve made a mile. Anyway, I have to say that I never thought I’d make it around even once, but I actually “jogged” around the loop twice! Woo hoo! .4 of a mile! I had to walk the remainder of my journey, but I felt like a total rock star even going that far.

Anyway… it’s been a good day. And, I’ve made a decision. Starting this week, I’m moving my weigh ins to Saturdays. I’m going to stick with my “weigh as often, or as little, as you want to, but record your weight once per week” plan… but I’m making the big day Saturday from here on out, (or at least until I change it again), because I feel like knowing at the beginning of the weekend how I did the week before, will allot me more time to prepare a meal/exercise regiment for the week to come. Right now, having Monday as D-Day isn’t working as well for me as I would like because by the time I’ve weighed, I’m already in work mode, and it’s tough for me to change that week’s plans when the week has already swung into action. *shrugs* We’ll just see how it goes, I suppose.

In the meantime, I’ve been reading some thought provoking, inspiring and truly heart wrenching posts lately from some of the bloggers that I glean the most encouragement from… and I’m reminded of a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that was, admittedly, said about something very different, but that I think applies here: “We may have come here in different ships, but we’re all in the same boat now.” Each one of us is taking this journey for different reasons and we’ll all get there by different means, but in the end, I think there’s more than just an extra large waist band that links us. Forgive me if I sound a bit arrogant, but I think, quite frankly, that we’re a pretty incredible group of people: brave, strong and very much worth taking care of.

So… here’s to taking good care of ourselves.
We damned well deserve it. :)

February 26, 2008 Posted by | losing weight, weigh day | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments