Saturday, July 9, 2011

New Year's Resolutions: A Half-Year Update

This is a diet-and-exercise posting, in case you find that kind of thing boring...just be on your way and I'll see you back here next week.

I only kind of half-mentioned it on my blog because I'm superstitious about these things, but in January, I made a New Year's Resolution. Since the year is halfway over, I'll spill the beans publicly here.

Before we had children, I had to fight a bit to keep my weight within about 10-pounds of where I wanted to be. It was a bit frustrating, but nothing too bad, since I also typically got 6-10 hours of exercise a week. I could put away a lot of calories before they'd catch up.

In 2006 I got pregnant with e-baby. I was already about 10 pounds over where I wanted to be, but I gained the recommended amount of weight during the pregnancy (about 25 pounds) so it was no big deal. It was easy enough to keep some exercise going, but I knew that the days of 2-hour workouts were shelved for at least a couple of years.

A year after she was born, I was 15-20 pounds above where I wanted to be. It was hard to drop any weight, but my priorities had changed, so I wasn't really concerned.

Then I got pregnant with Jambuca. And let me tell you, that pregnancy was miserable. I was so tired, all the time, and unable to ever take naps (between e-baby and work, who can nap????). I gained 30 pounds on that pregnancy, and started out heavier to begin with. A few months after he was born, I got down to within 5 pounds of my pre-Jambuca weight, but couldn't move it any lower.
Then life got away from me.

2010 was also a very tough year at work. We lost a few team members to other departments, some high profile projects came our way, and everyone was doing the work of 2-3 people each. I did no exercise, no diet management. Just worked, slept, ate, and managed my home life as best I could. Every few months I'd realize that nothing in the closet fit anymore, and go buy new stuff. I tried starting diets over and over again, but they never stuck.

Then in August, my dad had a massive heart attack (and a miracluous recovery)and well, who gives a crap about diet and exercise when you're worried about your dad staying alive? I gained about 10 pounds in the next 2 months after that.

By the end of the year, my bank account was feeling thin and I was feeling fat. I was 35 pounds overweight. I had trouble going up the stairs. My knees hurt. My hips hurt. My back hurt. I had developed sleep apnea, reflux, and carpal tunnel syndrome all related to being overweight. I was seeing a chiropractor, a massage therapist, a physical therapist, and and ENT on a regular basis. Every office visit with every specialist was a $20 co-pay. In 2011, it would be going up to $30 co-pay. My boss probably wondered why I was always at some appointment. And none of my clothes fit (again).

On New Year's Day I made a resolution: No New Clothes in 2011. I wasn't sure how I'd make good on this resolution, so mom and I talked at length about what works, what doesn't, what I can live with and what I can't, how much I'm willing to suffer, etc.

By Jan 4, the revised goal was to lose 30 pounds in 30 weeks (and hopefully another 5 pounds by the end of the year). That 30 week goal roughly corresponds to when I'd have to be in a swimsuit next -- vacation in Marquette the first 2 weeks of August.

The diet is a 4/3 hybrid of 2 different diets. Four days a week, (M-Th) it's lean protein, low fat cheese, a little nuts, fruits, and vegetables but no starches, breads, sugars, potatoes, rice, fried foods, cream, butter. Then three days a week (F-Su) it's lean protein and vegetables only (no fruit) except for one meal a day, which is a "Reward Meal" in which I can have some sort of starchy/sweet/fried treat, about 200-300 calories. This makes it easy to go to a party or dinner with friends and not feel like "the freak who won't eat anything normal." It also means that if I am DYING for a buttermilk biscuit, I just plan accordingly. Every day, everything that I eat is written in a journal, along with my morning weight and any exercise. Notice no mention of calorie counting or restrictions-- anything I'd have to really keep track of like that would be destined for failure.

Part two of this plan had to include exercise because, well, I'm grumpy without good exercise. Every day the plan was to shoot for at least 20 minutes of SOMETHING, but never let 48 hours pass between workouts. Twenty minutes is really a bare minimum, with a goal of about 4-6 hours a week of real exercise activity.

At first, everything was difficult. Stepping for 20 minutes was hard. Running 2 miles was hard. Avoiding sweets and breads was hard. But I started losing weight, so I kept it up. As I lost weight, the exercise because easier. As I got used to the diet, the eating part got easier. Then the exercise got a lot easier, and my aches and pains dropped away one by one. By Easter I had lost 20 pounds, I no longer needed the chiropractor or the physical therapist. Around that time, my weight loss slowed way down, which you can expect.

But the universe had a plan for me... in May, I got an email from a triathlon series I had participated in back in 2005 that there were only 60 spaces left in their upcoming women-only triathlon, the Ramblin' Rose. It's a super-sprint, which means really, really short-- 250M swim, 9 mi bike, 2 mi run. Their tagline: "YOU CAN DO THIS." Holly carp, there it was, right in front of me. You can do this. Like they were speaking directly TO ME. Backstory: In 2005 I quit my part-time job teaching aerobics to devote more time to triathlon training, did 3 races, and the next winter got pregnant. It was 6 years since my first and last triathlon season. I had loved it. I have wanted to get back into it ever since. I could do this. Two weeks from the date of the race, I registered. Not enough time to lose my nerve.

Now, um, up to this point, my exercise was still pretty basic stuff. I wasn't even sure I could still swim 250 m. So those two weeks I spent a lot of time at the pool making sure I could swim 250 without stopping. I could. Do this.

Race day was gorgeous. My parents were in town, the sky was blue, it was a cool morning. Waiting around for my start time, my BFF sent me a text message that she was going to register for a triathlon in Raleigh in August, and that I should, too. I was STOKED at the idea. Then I hit the cold water and it took my breath away. After a panicked dog-paddle the first 2 laps, I was able to finally do a poor excuse for breast stroke to finish out the distance. The bike was better - I passed every single person I could see until the finish line. The run was good - I was pacing a 10 minute mile, which is fine. I CAN DO THIS! It was a good enough way to start the season. I'd have to work on getting rid of those race-day jitters, though, if I didn't want to drown.
I decided the next day that I wanted to try to do one triathlon a month until October.

In June, a friend and I participated in a longer (sprint) triathlon, the Smile Train. It was AWESOME! I was smarter about the water and warmed up before the start, which was a great idea because the swim was super smooth. I'm super slow in the water, but I can actually swim pretty well, as long as I don't get myself freaked out. This race, by the way, had really, really great officiating. But that's a story for another day.

Fast-forward to today. It's only three weeks until the Marquette trip and the 30-week goal date. I've lost 29 pounds. And tomorrow is the Triangle Triathlon, which will be my first open-water triathlon since 2005, and 3rd race this year. I'm excited, feeling great, and just hopeful that this is something I can do for my whole life, not just this year.

Oh, for the record, although I tried Olympic distance triathlon in 2005, there will be no such shenanigans this year. Sprints are long enough to be challenging, but short enough to be a lot of fun. Super-sprints are even more fun because it's over before your body really realizes what you're trying to make it do. And it better be fun if I'm waking up at 5am to do it.


Nebeli said...

So proud of you!

We should formally give you the title of Ms. Motivation! Congrats!

I am happy to hear you feel as great as you look!

LizardBreath said...

Well, you look fantastic and continue to motivate me! I totally understand the busy days! Can't wait to do my first tri with you! Wish we had more opportunities here!