Friday, September 16, 2011

Revisiting and Revamping

For a long time I considered shutting the old blog down since I wasn't sure what to say after my last post. Instead of creating something brand new, I decided to keep the same format. Why? Well, let's just call it laziness keeping things simpler. There's so much on my plate these days and I truly don't have the time to reinvent the wheel. You know who invented the wheel? The Sumerians, and I say, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." I digress...

Today marks day two of two days in a row of exercise. Yeah, I know what you're thinking: "How long will she stick with it this time?" I have my doubts, too, however, there's been so much change in my life the past six months that I figured I should return to some old habits like exercise. I've been feeling so blah lately and I completely realize that if I reintroduced exercise back into my routine, I'd feel better. I know this to my core, but sometimes getting my ass off the couch or stopping myself from doing every chore under the sun is difficult. What I realize is that exercise is for me. Me, me, ME! I make the bed, I do the dishes, I fold the laundry, but I don't take care of the thing that's most important: me. This seems to be the story for so many of us, especially for women (you know who you are). I realize I'm a total caregiver, almost to the point of being a martyr (which is a super bad character flaw, by the way). Today I say, "Enough!" Okay, well, yesterday I said this since this is day two. Anyway, you get the point.

Beyond exercise, I'm seizing control of my career. Many of my readers know I am applying for the PhD program in Visual Studies at the University of California, Irvine for next fall. I'm taking the dreaded GRE next Thursday and have been in contact with the pertinent people at UCI regarding what I'd like to accomplish there, if accepted. Beyond that, I submitted a pretty kick ass (that's what people I've shared it with tell me) abstract for a paper that hasn't been written yet for the yearly meeting of the Art Historians of Southern California in November. If accepted, this will be the first time I've ever presented anything to a professional audience full of colleagues and peers... *gulp*

So, this year is the time to move out of my comfort zone and shake things up a bit. I've lived far too long in the shadow of other people and doing things for other people. Does it seem to selfish to say this is the year of me? Because it kinda is. And I don't feel bad about it. Not one bit.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

What Next?

My Year of the Miniskirt has come and gone. A friend asked me what this year would be and I cleverly quipped, "The Year of the Bikini - NOT!" Ha! Even if I were thin enough to wear a bikini, I wouldn't. It's just not me and, frankly, I really think women of a certain age need to keep it classy.  Bikinis are for the young.

What have I learned these past 14 months (as I started this blog in March of 2010)?

1) I love food. Yep, and my love for it outweighs (ha!) the want to lose weight quickly.

2) I am a contented person no matter what I weigh. I've addressed this topic of self-esteem before in this blog. Confidence is really what it is all about and I (usually) have that in spades.

3) Being healthy, but not obsessed with it, is important to me. I'm stronger, leaner, and wiser than I was 14 months ago, but I still love doughnuts and will eat one on occasion.

4) With number 3 being said, I really am a middle-of-the-road kind of person. Yes, I can be all or nothing with many things, but at my core of who I am, I am accepting and patient of myself, never extreme about really anything.

I'm sure I've learned more than these few things, but these are the most important to me and I think they say a lot about me as a person.

Will I lose more weight? Yes, I plan to, but all in good time.  I'll have times where it will come off easily, and other times where it's just not that important to me to make the full-on effort. And that's cool. I'm fine with that. The tortoise won the race and so will I, slowly and steadily.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Three Miles

When I talked about being better than my mind and the stupid road-blocks it tends to put up, I believed it. I finally reached my personal goal of running three miles without stopping or slowing down and at a good pace. I started out at 5 mph and was completely floored how easy it was. I was thinking, "Uh, this isn't much of a workout," so I bumped it up to 5.1, then 5.2, and then I said, "Screw it! Let's go to 5.5 mph." I'm so glad I did! I ran a mile at that speed and finally started sweating. I backed it back down and as I was nearing 2.5 miles, I briefly thought, "Hey, I can stop. Do I really want to run another 1/2 mile?" When I got to 2.5 miles, I was all about getting it done. I settled in on 5.2 and cruised that last half mile. 

While three miles may not be a lot to some, this is absolutely HUGE to me.  I am extremely proud of myself. I will give props to Jillian Michaels and the 30-Day Shred as my endurance is through the roof!  However, I did some Pilates today and realized that those are some of the most difficult exercises for me - darn middle-aged middle. That's the one area I need to target, so while the Pilates moves are hard and awkward, I will keep doing them two times a week - thanks again to JM for instilling in me my new sense of determination. Otherwise, you'll find me on the treadmill or on the trail. Can't wait to run another three miles tomorrow!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

30-Day Shred... Complete!

As of yesterday, I completed the 30-Day Shred with Jillian Michaels. I have to say that this is quite an accomplishment for me since I don't remember the last time I did anything other than sleep, breathe or eat for 30-days straight.  Okay, so it was not 30-consecutive days due to the fact that I had a terrible cold for two weeks, my mother-in-law was in town and there was an issue with the car wash and my rear bumper that ate up one of my times to work out. However, working out an average of 6 out of 7 days is really good, especially for me. I did not let myself out of exercising just because I didn't want to.  I pushed through and, boy, am I glad that I did. It's pretty amazing how much more endurance and strength I now have. Did I lose a lot of weight?  No.  I didn't change my diet too much, but I did firm up areas that used to have a life of their own, got rid of the muffin top, and definitely lost some inches on parts of my body, including my mid-section. I see new pants shopping in my future.

The next step (after my birthday week next week) is to ratchet down to the basics: protein, veggies and fruit, maybe whole grains (like brown rice) thrown in on occasion. I built a lot of muscle mass while doing the Shred, but now I need to lose the "softness" (aka fat) around it so I can show all my hard work off. I mean, some of it is showing already as people are noticing the changes in my body (also proves people are looking at my body - ha!), but losing these last 18 pounds will really showcase it.

I told my niece, Cassie - who has been instrumental in keeping me motivated during this process, she basically rocks - that I was done with JM. And three seconds later, I'm downloading the two free Jillian Michaels' iPhone apps.  What can I say? She really does have good ideas for strength training. Running is great for cardio, but I have to keep up with strength and endurance training as well. I'm considering P90X as my next challenge, but I haven't committed yet. It might be the perfect thing to do in the summer since it's hot here and I really can't run outside when it's over 75 degrees (I have to treadmill it all the way) and I have time since I won't be working. I'll just have to see. 90 days doing the same workouts day in and out might get a bit boring.  30 days with Jillian was enough! Thinking out loud...

Anyway, I'm thrilled to get back to running, though not today. I'm taking a well-deserved day off and reflecting about my experiences with JM.  What did I learn?

1) I can do a lot of things that I thought I couldn't, now including full on sit-ups and push-ups (still on my knees, but I can go all the way up and down and my wrist is not hurting - yes!), thus...
2) I am strong.
3) I can do anything I set my mind to, even exercise for 30-days in a row - let's hope this spills over into lifetime diet changes/eating habits.

With that, I have no desire to be lazy and to lose all the things I have gained in the past month. Changing my body is great, but changing my mindset is, well, there are no words for it. We tend to be our own worst enemies when it comes to our minds and letting it convince us we can't do this or that, or letting us take the easy way out. I refuse to let my brain psyche me out anymore because I, as a holistic being, am better than that. I will push myself when I don't think I can run another foot or lift weight for another rep. I've learned that those moments are what cause the changes in mind, body and soul and that is a very good thing.

Monday, April 11, 2011

This Runner Is Changing It Up!

As many of you know, since most of you are my friends over on FB, I've been working on Jillian Michaels's 30-Day Shred.  I completed level one (10 days straight) yesterday and started level two today.  Level one was kind of hard at first, I was sore for about six days, but the last four days were very easy. Level two is a whole other story.  Grossness alert... I'm dripping with sweat.  Wow.  That's a workout! And I'm giving myself bonus points for being sick with a cold and still working out.  The old me would have wussed out and not done it, but the new, kicking ass me is not letting the germs win.  I don't think I've ever exercised 11 days straight in a row before in my life!  I'm not sure what or who flipped me into "on" position regarding commitment and motivation, but I'm digging it!

Although my measurements haven't changed much in ten days, and I've lost only 1/2 pound more (better than gaining, right?!), I can see and feel the changes taking place in my body:

1) I see it in my face
2) Sexy clavicles anyone?
3) Jeans look good on - no overhang (more bonus points for me being so honest and frank)
4) Some pants are now too loose
5) Fitting into pants buried at the bottom of my drawer that didn't fit so well before
6) Thighs are getting super firm
7) Losing middle-age post-pregnancy lower ab "pooch"

These are all super good things. I have one complaint, though, about the chest area.  Oh, well.  I can't have everything I want - ha!  It's just another excuse to buy some new sexy undergarments ;-)

I'm going to drink about a 1/2 gallon more water - ha! - and hit the shower.  I have to mentally prepare myself for day 12 tomorrow...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

52 Days

In 52 days I'll be 36-years-old and my Year of the Miniskirt will officially be over. I've decided it's time to completely buckle down and present the "52 Day 20-pound Challenge."  I lost four pounds recently by not doing really anything different (and I've not been exercising regularly), so who knows exactly why I lost the weight, not that I'm complaining!

I figure if I can keep my caloric intake down and work out at least five days a week, I'll shed these pounds in no time.  I may even invest in the 30-Day Shred with Jillian Michaels - my niece has been doing that program and says it's crazy intense.  I like the fact that it's only 20 minutes per session, so that's totally doable.

So.  I can do this...right?  I want to conclude my year of blogging with the goal I set out to accomplish in the first place.  It's been a year of ups and downs, mainly losing and gaining the same 10 pounds, so it's time to really commit and get it done.  I'm only 35 for 52 more days.  Oh, and you better believe I will be wearing a miniskirt on my 36th birthday ;-)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

On Motivation - HELP!!

I just took a virtual stroll down memory lane with my blog. It's just over ten months old already - wow! Where does the time go? I've realized that I have taken off and put on the same 10-15 pounds for most of 2010 and now into 2011 (going down the scale now). This fact is quite fascinating to me. Looking over my blog posts, I see a consistent theme of two steps forward, one step back, sometimes one step forward, two steps back. I think the most difficult thing for me is that I have great self-esteem, and only I would perceive this as a problem - haha! The reason this is a problem is that it keeps me from being motivated from losing weight; I feel good and I'm still cute (self-esteem/narcissism, potato potahto). I don't feel like an overweight person, no one treats me like an overweight person - probably because a lot of us are carrying an extra 10-15 pounds anyway, not that I'm judging - and so I just do my thing. What is my thing? Cooking and baking... AND eating. I happen to love running as well, but not as much as cooking, baking and eating apparently.

What can I say? I do my best. I'm down 7.2 pounds (again) and while I'm happy about that, I also am concerned that when things get busy again in a few weeks with work and German class, that I will, once again, fall of the wagon of eating healthfully and regular exercise. I'm working on week four of my new lifestyle regimen and making a habit of eating well and exercising 5-6 days a week.  Will I keep it up when the going gets tough?  History says, "NO!!" but I want to break this cycle.

What do you do to stay motivated, especially for those of you who have a good sense of self and great self-esteem and are healthy even with extra weight? I'm all eyes (since I'm reading) for what you do to stay motivated.

Friday, January 14, 2011

And the Shoes Came Off!

Well, I've gone and done it.  I've joined the ranks of those "kooky" barefooters.  The Vibrams came off today in a grassy soccer field, which, apparently, is a tremendously great surface to run on.  Not only is it grassy, which is comfortable and soft, but firm because the ground has been packed down quite a bit by those busy-bodied soccer players.  It's the best of both worlds!  I don't have to worry about dips twisting my ankle and it's gentle enough on my pretty virgin feet.

And... believe or not, I actually am following the sound advice of barefooters everywhere, I took it slow.  I only ran around a couple soccer fields, I walked on the pavement and ran across a concrete lined bridge and then I stopped and put my Vibrams back on before I hit the gravel trail.  I'm not brave (or stupid) enough to run on the trail sans shoes quite yet.  One step at a time.  Literally.  It's funny because after I put my Vibrams back on, the minimal amount of material between the soles of my feet and the ground felt really thick.  The mind-body connection while running barefoot is phenomenal.  Wow.

I'm a bonafide barefooter and the abbreviation of my name, Barefoot Emily, is BFE - haha!  That one really cracks me up in my runner's high brain...

Tomorrow, we hit the beach - winter in Los Angeles rules.  Running will be a part of the day.  I hope it's part of yours, too.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Running the Stiff Out

Happy New Year... seven days into it!  Of which, I've exercised five.  No new year's resolutions are coming from this gal, though, since I usually set the bar too high and fail along the way.  One day at a time for me.  I know I'm going to have good days and bad days and that's okay.  I'm just hoping that for the next five weeks that I'm not working that my healthful eating and exercise regimen will become a habit so that I can continue that while I'm back speaking German and teaching art history.  That will be the true test.

Anyway, the real point of this blog is about letting go and staying loose when running.  On the treadmill today (yes, I know I should be out on the trail, but am having some weird aversion to it right now), I was really thinking about my form.  Then I let it go.  Really, I let the idea of how I was running go and just went sort of limp.  I kept running, but let all the tension out of my body, even my facial muscles.  What an amazing relief!  It was only then that I got into a real groove. Actually, it reminded me of this scene from "Friends" when Rachel was pretty embarrassed by how Phoebe ran, but then Rachel realized how much more fun running was when she let go: Phoebe and Rachel running.

I felt more connected to my body because, let's face it, our bodies know what they need to do.  Our brains get in the way much of the time.  I'm an overactive thinker and sometimes that's not a good thing.  When we over-think what we are doing, we tend to wreck what's best for us whether it's exercise or making an important decision.  As human beings, I think we lose sight of and mistrust our instincts in a variety of situations.  I'm always telling students to go with their gut feelings when they are taking exams because those instincts are usually right.  Yet, we tend to push them aside, or more accurately, our brains take over and get mighty bossy.

I wish for you a mindful, yet mindless, 2011.  Take each day at a time.  Don't forget to enjoy whatever you are doing from moment to moment, even if it is eating yet another salad or exercising the sixth day in a row.  Loosen up and have fun!