Where has the past year gone????

Hey there!  It has been eons since I posted here, and for that I am so sorry.  BUT!  I have been posting regularly over at the FabFit Blog, and I invite you to hop on over there & catch up on everything that has been going on in my life in the past year:

Quitting my full time job to become a personal trainer

Becoming a weight loss coach too!

Training for a half-marathon!

And so much more :)

Join me, won’t you?

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Learning from hunger

For the past week I’ve really focused on my hunger levels, and when I feel the need to eat something, I deliberately check in with my stomach and assess the situation.  I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon – in the morning, I wake up with no hunger at all.  Not full, not hungry, just…nothing.  Just a light, energetic feeling in my body (I love this feeling!).  After an hour or so, my stomach starts to growl and then I know it’s time to eat.  No urgency, just an observation.  Later in the day, however, hunger takes on a whole new dimension.  First thing in the morning I feel like “Oh look at that, I’m hungry.  I should think about making breakfast.”  But several hours later?  My thought process is “OMG I’M HUNGRY MUST EAT IMMEDIATELY!!!!!!”

These two completely different thought processes are usually triggered by the exact same hunger signal – there’s a light rumbling in my tummy, but I’m not light-headed or feeling like I’m on the verge of starvation.  In fact, sometimes the hunger levels that cause me to feel an urgent need to feed myself are less intense than my pre-breakfast sensations.  In the early morning, hunger is a part of my standard list of tasks, like taking a shower or styling my hair.  It’s just part of the day, unremarkable, routine.  Later in the day, however, it feels like an emergency, catastrophic and urgent.  Sometimes I eat my lunch at 10am, because I feel like I can’t possibly go another minute without food.

I explored this a bit with the help of one of the WS coaches, and some interesting thoughts came out of it.  I observed that each morning I wake up with the promise of a new day, a new start, a new chance to do everything I envision for myself.  My expectations are often very high.  I think “Today is the day I’m going to clear my to do list of all those not-so-fun things I’ve been putting off”.  But then I get distracted (hello, Facebook) after a few hours I realize I haven’t done anything I needed to do.  A million urgent things pop up that are more appealing than whatever project I need to finish, and most of them were not even on my to-do list.  Suddenly I need a pair of leopard print flats.  Urgently, as if my life depended on it.  Then I’m on to reserving a book at the library, and of course browsing the online catalog.  Oops – forgot to check the weather for tonight!  Does LA Fitness have a morning spin class tomorrow?  Better check FB again, something interesting might be going on…

You get the idea.

And then I decide I’m hungry for lunch…at 10am.   I’m annoyed and disappointed that I can’t focus on doing the work tasks I need to do.  And instead of JUST DOING THEM, I eat, or shop, or email, and even more time goes by.  Eventually my mind is so cluttered with thoughts of all the things I haven’t done, and the associated negative feelings, that I don’t stand a chance of focusing on ANYTHING long enough to cross something off my list.  And the list just grows longer and longer.  And I become more and more fearful that the whole house of cards will just collapse.

Sigh.

Complete disconnection soon follows, and there I am at the first opportunity – in front of the TV, with my iPad on my lap, eating dinner without tasting a single bite.   Feeling guilt, shame, frustration, anger, but mostly a feeling that I’m capable of so much more but I’m just squandering my life away watching reruns and stuffing food into myself.

Double sigh.

This isn’t the case every day (although a few years ago, it would have been an accurate description of 75% of my life).  There are many days where I’m incredibly productive and optimistic, and for that I’m grateful.  But those old habits, thought patterns, and destructive behaviors feel like they are still lurking below the surface and waiting to reassert themselves.  Sometimes they do, and that makes me sad, like I’ll never be fixed.

I think that’s why I’m so excited about this Weight School program – I feel like there is a level of accountability to the whole group to stay focused on making incremental positive changes until the habit is firmly established.

So.  This week I commit to:

  • Setting myself up for success, AND not beating myself up for things undone.  The mental list of failures will be wiped clean and I’ll pick one task each day that will be my number one priority.  Everything else is just icing on the cake (pun intended!).
  • Using my hunger as a cue to evaluate what’s going on in my head, before I consider whether I actually need to eat something.

Anyone else out there have similar experiences to share?  How does procrastination & the resulting emotions impact your eating habits & self image?  I’d love to hear from you – let’s get the discussion going!!

 

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Ending the Struggle

I seem to use the word struggle a lot when I talk about weight loss.   In fact, a search of this site for the word struggle yields 22 posts.  Add the words struggled and struggling, and 11 more pop up (you’d think I’d consult a thesaurus once in awhile).

Yesterday I started thinking about why I use that particular word so often.  There are plenty of other words – challenge, battle, journey.  And struggle evokes such specific imagery in my mind, of someone tied up or being held against her will, trying desperately to break free.  Hmmmm.  I looked up the word on Dictionary.com, and this was one of the definitions:

To make (one’s way) with violent effort.

Geeeeez.  Are my issues with food that deeply entrenched that I feel like it will take VIOLENT EFFORT to change them?  Like there’s someone holding a gun to my head?  Perhaps I’m not as well-adjusted as I think I am.

After a week of working through some of the exercises in The Weight School, lots of interesting feelings are starting to bubble up.  One of the most prominent is a very real fear of giving up food as a source of comfort, distraction and stress-relief.  Yes, over the past 3 years I have greatly reduced my reliance on food for those functions.  But I still pull it out as a coping mechanism when things get really crazy.  Because I know it works – numbing out with food distracts me enough from whatever the issue is to allow me to get through it without too much pain, or at least that’s how it seems in the moment.

In my very first blog post, I wrote:

Food is my rock, my support system and my dearest friend. I know that last one sounds crazy, but hear me out. Food is the friend that always comes over on a Friday night when you don’t have plans. The friend who is always there to comfort you when you’re sad, celebrate when you’re happy or just to hang out on the weekend. The friend who never criticizes you, agrees with your every opinion, doesn’t expect anything in return and always leaves you with a warm, comfortable happy feeling.

So now I know why I’ve failed every time I’ve tried to lose weight in the past – who would voluntarily cut off all ties with someone that makes you so happy and comfortable! I mean seriously, that’s just insane! But what I’m slowly realizing is that the friend who always agrees with you and never challenges you isn’t really a friend at all. That friend doesn’t encourage you to reach outside your comfort zone and try new things and make new friends.

That was in July 2008, and four years later I am still relying on that old friend, food, when things get tough.  Therein lies the true ‘struggle’ – my grownup self knows that food will not solve any problems.  But my rebellious teenage self hasn’t gotten the message – and she is fighting with every tool in her arsenal to keep those bad habits around just in case she needs them.

As I become more and more aware of what’s going on under the surface, my rebellious teenager is starting to chill out.  I’m acknowledging her point of view, then gently reminding her that if hunger is not the problem, food is not the solution.  I’m thinking perhaps I can satisfy her need to express herself by getting a new tattoo, or perhaps some hot pink highlights.  But I’m going to have to exert my parental authority about this food thing, enough is enough.  Time to grow up and act my age!

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Bring It On

Hello after a looong absence!  It’s been a busy year but I’ve really missed writing here.  Lots of things going on!  My personal training business is going really well, and I’ve gotten to my lowest weight in almost 10 years.

But still, I’m struggling to keep losing.  Every pound lost has been a battle – it just seems like it should be easier.  Earlier in the summer I went to a Beck Diet workshop which was very insightful & gave me hope that there might be an easier way.  And last week, I signed up for The Weight School, offered by Susan Hyatt and Brooke Castillo.  This is a 3-month online program to help people get to the ‘why’ of their food issues.  And all I can say about it so far is WOW.

I’ve considered myself to be a success story with regard to weight loss – over the past 2.5 years I’ve  lost 75 pounds, and kept it off.  This is a big deal – the first time in my life that I’ve maintained any kind of weight loss for more than a few months.  But I still want to lose more, and it just seemed like I had reached a brick wall.  My initial reasons for losing weight were to improve my health and to just generally feel better in my own skin.  Mission accomplished!  I feel awesome, am able to run and bike and just generally participate in anything that strikes my fancy.  Getting dressed every day is a joy instead of a chore.  And I think that’s part of why my weight loss has stalled – I reached my initial goal of feeling better both mentally and physically and if the Universe decided right now that I could never lose another pound, I’d honestly be OK with that.  I like what I see in the mirror and feel comfortable in my own skin.

But…I feel like stopping now, before I’ve reached my true goal weight, is a cop-out.  Because giving up when things get difficult is what I’ve always done…and there’s a voice inside me telling me that deciding to stay at this weight would really just be quitting because I’m afraid to do the rest of the work I need to do.  The easy part is over – taking off enough weight to feel better – and the hard part is just beginning.

I say BRING IT ON.

I’ll be posting about my experiences with this weight loss program periodically, and if you’re interested in learning more about it, I urge you to check out Brooke’s book “If I’m So Smart, Why Can’t I Lose Weight“.  It’s a game changer.

 

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Fab-Fit Update

Well, here I am, 2-months certified!  I have a small number of clients & training is going well.  At the moment, I’m in the throes of figuring out the business end of things and preparing to renovate space in our house into a fabulous workout studio.  The current workout space is very bare bones but completely functional – and until the new studio is finished (probably in June), the existing area is working out just fine.  My new equipment was delivered a couple weeks ago and I love it:

So versatile – you can work every muscle group in every possible way – the only limitation is my imagination.  I’ve also attached a TRX suspension trainer to the pullup bar, which allows my to challenge my clients even more.  Woohoo!

I’m still working on the weight loss.   I’ve averaged a loss of about a half-pound a week for the past couple months and am currently at my lowest weight in 8 years.  Progress, but like anyone I just wish it would move faster.  The way I’m eating right now gives me energy and is sustainable in the long run so I’m trying to look at it as if I’m already in maintenance – I’m just eating to maintain a much smaller body.  I’ll get there eventually, it’s just going to take awhile.

I still struggle with the fact that I don’t project the image of a typical personal trainer!   I’m still 50 pounds above my desired weight, and although my body is strong and fit, it doesn’t necessarily look that way to the casual observer.  Just this afternoon I went to a local fitness equipment store and asked the man at the counter if they allowed personal trainers to leave business cards.  He said yes, and when I opened my purse to pull out my cards he said ‘Are YOU a personal trainer?’  The emphasis might have been real or imagined, but I’m so used to skepticism about my athletic abilities from strangers judging a book by its cover that I usually just assume others just see me as a fat girl who probably couldn’t walk a 5K, let alone run the entire distance or even *gasp* finish a triathlon.  I recognize that this is MY problem to deal with, and I can choose to care what others think or just believe in myself and not worry about it.  95% of the time I choose the latter but some days my confidence goes on holiday and I feel like I can’t be successful as a trainer until I fit the mold.

For those of you that saw my earlier post on deleting my entire website by accident (and thanks to those that commented and said hello!) – I’ve managed to restore the entire website (with the exception of my last post).  Phew.  Lesson learned – always backup your website!

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Fabulously Fit!

Hi everyone!  Sorry it’s been such a long time since my last post but there has been so much going on in my life I had to stop writing for awhile to make sure I gave 110% in other areas.  And with that being said…I have some exciting news to share! 

Some of you may remember that I’ve been soul-searching for the past couple years to determine a new career path.  Last October, I made the decision to pursue a career in the fitness industry.  After several months of study and preparation, I passed my Certified Personal Fitness Trainer exam with AFAA earlier this month and am now open for business!

My new venture is still in its infancy but so far I’m having a great time and feeling incredibly fulfilled and at peace with the direction my life is taking.  I have four clients at the moment and each of them has inspired me and taught me so much!  Right now life just feels like one big playground :)

If you’d like to hear more about my new adventures, why not stop by my Facebook page to say hi and see what’s new!  My website, www.FabFitTraining.com is established but still under construction – please check back often to find out how things are developing.

My weight-loss journey is still an ongoing process and hopefully I’ll get back to posting here a little more regularly as things settle down.  The scale hasn’t dropped much over the past few months – BUT – during all this turmoil and craziness of studying, working full time, training clients part time and also managing construction of a fairly substantial addition to my home, I’ve managed to maintain my weight and my fitness level.  With my exam out of the way I’m finally able to turn some of my mental energy back to weight loss and things are moving downwards again. 

I’m unbelievably excited about this new phase of my life and am looking forward to sharing with everyone!  Thanks for reading these past few years and supporting me with your kind thoughts and comments, it’s been an absolute pleasure!

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What’s This Whole Barefoot Running Thing All About?

This is the first in a series of posts about my experience with minimalist running.

Two months ago,  I bought a pair of Vibram Five Finger shoes:

They are crazy ugly and make my feet look like flippers…but after running in them for about six weeks I’m going farther and faster than ever before.  Yes, I get a lot of funny looks – once another runner on my favorite trail actually called them ‘knucklehead shoes’ – but they have changed my life for the better and opened up a whole new world to me – so I’m sticking by them!

It all started earlier this year when my friend Abby, one of the UnDieting Divas, started using them as a last-ditch effort to run without pain and found that many of her running-related complaints completely disappeared.  Intrigued, I started to consider whether they would work for me.  My left hip was always achy, even after a short run with lots of stretching, and I was beginning to wonder if running was not really my thing.  But would these shoes, with their complete lack of cushioning or support, be appropriate for someone carrying a lot of extra weight, or would they be a recipe for injury?

A few months went by, and I continued slowly building mileage in my favorite Brooks running shoes – but I kept thinking about Abby and her pain-free runs.  However, with the SheRox Triathlon rapidly approaching, it didn’t seem wise to change my routine so I decided to stay the course and perhaps give them a try later in the summer.

Meanwhile, I read Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall. If you’re a runner, or someone who wants to start running, or just enjoy a good story, please give this book a read!  I can’t summarize the story nearly as well as the Amazon write-up, so I’m just going to quote it here:

Isolated by the most savage terrain in North America, the reclusive Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s deadly Copper Canyons are custodians of a lost art. For centuries they have practiced techniques that allow them to run hundreds of miles without rest and chase down anything from a deer to an Olympic marathoner while enjoying every mile of it. Their superhuman talent is matched by uncanny health and serenity, leaving the Tarahumara immune to the diseases and strife that plague modern existence. With the help of Caballo Blanco, a mysterious loner who lives among the tribe, the author was able not only to uncover the secrets of the Tarahumara but also to find his own inner ultra-athlete, as he trained for the challenge of a lifetime: a fifty-mile race through the heart of Tarahumara country pitting the tribe against an odd band of Americans, including a star ultramarathoner, a beautiful young surfer, and a barefoot wonder.

This book was so inspirational on so many levels – but the part I enjoyed most was the history of running in America, the evolution of the modern running shoe, and the reasons why a large sector of the running population is reverting to barefoot or minimalist running.  I completed the SheRox Triathlon and decided it was time to find out for myself whether this whole ‘barefoot running’ movement was just a passing fad, or whether it was something that could really work for me.

My first run in the Vibrams was very tentative.  I had my music on very low volume since it was early and still dark, and I wanted to be sure to hear any zombies that might be lurking behind the treeline.  Without heavy sneakers on, my footfalls sounded so quiet and stealthy, like a cat stalking prey.  It’s hard to explain the feeling of walking down the street in minimalist shoes – it’s almost like I’d just escaped from something, or that I was breaking the rules and getting away with it!  Anyway, it was a wonderful feeling and after a few minutes of walking, I broke into a trot and was delighted to find that it felt great!  I could really feel the surface of the road under my feet – not in a painful way, but more in a ‘hey, that’s a new sensation’ sort of way.  Again, it’s hard to describe but it was a delicious feeling.  My first workout consisted of a few 5-minute intervals of easy jogging interspersed with 2 minutes of walking.  A couple days later, I tried it again, and bumped up the intervals to 7 minutes.  I kept it there for a few more workouts, and slowly eliminated the walking bits until after a couple weeks I was easily doing 3 miles with no breaks!

So far, about 6 weeks in, I’ve had no pain or discomfort aside from the muscles in my feet and lower legs being very, very tired and a bit sore at times.  Think about it – your feet are normally clad in shoes that absorb impact and provide significant stabilization.  So the numerous muscles in your feet, which are there to help keep you upright, don’t have to do much work on a regular basis.  They become weak over time and need to be redeveloped to be able to manage the new demands of operating without assistance.  To help increase the strength of my feet, calves and ankles, I’ve actually started doing my weight training workouts with Rena in bare feet, which has made a noticeable difference.

Vibram Five Fingers shoes are just one example of the new minimalist/barefoot running trend. There are dozens of choices for minimalist shoes out there and quite a few resources to get started.  Two weeks ago, Ken and I met a legend in the barefoot running world…stay tuned for my next post about that experience!

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don’t think. instead, b r e a t h e…

I’m a little less freaked out and panicky today!  Yesterday was really an emotional rollercoaster but I did my best to just feel the feelings and recognize that reality and my brain are not always in alignment.  This morning I woke up feeling calmer and more rational about everything, and able to verbalize my concerns a bit more logically!  The thoughts that keep surfacing are worries that I might not be able to lose any more weight, and disappointment in myself for losing the control I had over my eating.  A few months ago it didn’t feel like I was following a strict program, it just felt easy and normal and truly effortless.  Now almost every food choice is a struggle.

I feel like a lot of the things I’d like to do with my life – becoming a group exercise instructor, or a weight loss counselor, or a health and fitness writer – are dependent upon completing this weight journey and reaching my goal.  Who’s going to take weight loss advice from someone that can’t take those last 60 pounds off?  So I feel like every minute I waste by eating things that don’t support my weight loss goals is a minute farther away from a career change.  Somehow I need to keep that thought in the forefront of my mind when faced with a food choice.

Another factor in this whole internal drama is that a lot of people have told me they’ve been inspired by watching the changes in my body over the past couple years.  You’d think this would be a good thing – and it truly is – but there’s a flip side (in my mind) to every compliment.  I feel like a fraud since I know that if they really saw how I’ve been eating for the past month or two they wouldn’t be so inspired anymore!  I know this is my own weird issue and I need to work through it, but it really weighs on my mind sometimes.  Of course, the easiest thing would be to get back to eating in a way that I feel is in alignment with my goals…but I guess that’s easier said than done.

I know it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, and I should just accept compliments gracefully and be thankful that I’ve had a positive impact on a few folks.  Everyone struggles and I hope that I can at least handle this rough patch in a way that lets other people know that we’re all human and that keeping quiet about the internal battles isn’t always the best way to get past them.  I’m definitely proud of the progress I’ve made so far and am happy that if nothing else I’ve been able to maintain my loss for the past few months while simultaneously increasing my fitness level.

So that’s where I’m at this evening, feeling a bit less dramatic and a lot more reasonable. I guess I just need to ride out this wave of emotion and try not to use it as an excuse to go completely off the rails and eat everything in sight.  I think I can do that.  I’m just going to concentrate on not gaining any weight back for the next few months while I try to work through some of these issues.  Rena gave me some great advice today:

don’t think.  instead, b r e a t h e….

And that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

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Feeling Anxious

I was busy all day today, touring a contract manufacturing site (in high heels – WTF was I thinking?), taking in a lot of information and asking lots of questions, but somehow I still found time to feel anxious and a bit panicky about yesterday’s decision to renounce calorie counting.  I feel like tracking my food (or worrying about not tracking it because I’m straying from my plan) has been at the center of my world for so long…what will happen if I just stop doing it?  In theory, it sounds great to say I’m going to listen to my body and eat for nourishment instead of entertainment.  In reality, it’s very scary indeed. I toyed with intuitive eating last October, and gained back 10 pounds…which led me directly to Weight Watchers and back to the obsessive counting.  Forty pounds later I look and feel much better, but inside I’m still confused and struggling.  Why can’t I look at a menu and not feel deprived just considering having a salad for dinner?  I feel like every meal is a hurdle, an obstacle, a choice that I’m destined to make badly.

Obviously I’m not the only person who struggles with these issues – there are hundreds of thousands, probably millions, of women who have the same problem.  Some of them are trying to lose the last 10 pounds, some of them have 200 pounds to lose.  But for every one of them, there is another woman out there that doesn’t struggle to make good choices, who doesn’t look at a menu and think ‘my life will end right now if I don’t order the gnocchi in vodka sauce’.  WHAT IS THEIR SECRET??????

I’m so sick and tired of thinking about my weight and hating how I look in the mirror.  It’s exhausting and unproductive.  And yet the voice keeps chattering in the back of my head…you eat too much, you’ll never get to your goal weight, you’re fat, you suck at your job…on and on and on.

Twenty-four hours after saying I’m done counting calories and I’m a quivering mess.  It would seem that the food tracking was more of a security blanket than I thought?

Has anyone out there successfully transitioned from tracking food to eating completely according to what their body needs?  Was it a difficult transition?  I would love to hear your experiences!

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Being Present

After walking around Boulder for several hours today, turning the words from my earlier post over and over in my mind, I came to a startling conclusion: I am not present in my own life.

On the surface, it would appear this isn’t true – I have lots of friends and activities, as well as a job that carries quite a bit of responsibility and allows me to travel all over the world – but when I’m not working out or directly interacting with someone (and let’s be honest, a lot of my social interactions are via Facebook, which imparts a certain amount of distance and not-present-ness), I’m just not all there.  My job is a continuous stream of teleconferences, so I have very few face-to-face encounters.  As a result, it’s easy to multitask during meetings – checking my email while someone else is talking, for example – and so I’m not all that present at work.  The very nature of electronic life, which ironically allows us so many new connections with people around the world, has at the same time allowed me to become very disconnected from my body and soul.  There is no need to physically show up, and thus it becomes very easy not to mentally show up either.

Mindless eating, shopping, playing Facebook games, watching TV – these are all examples of distractions & escapes from life.  But…so is meticulously counting calories and paying excessive attention to what I’m eating.  Focusing on one thing to the exclusion of all others is another form of escape.  There has to be a happy medium!

I’m 43 years old, and I feel like I’ve been sleep-walking through my life for quite awhile. I don’t want to live the next 43 in the same way – and that means making some changes to my lifestyle.  No more avoiding real life by obsessing over calories.  No more shopping to distract myself from eating.  No more spending hours with activities that don’t add value to my life.

Each day I have 24 hours to be the best I can be.  Do I want to look back on my life and realize I spent that time amassing over a trillion dollars in Mob Wars?  Do I want to be able to say I’ve seen every episode of a reality TV show that makes me feel superior just because I don’t have piles of garbage in my home?  Or do I want to be able to say I had a positive impact on those around me and that I’ll be remembered for the person I was and the lives I touched?  There’s nothing wrong with using social media to keep in touch with friends and family, or watching a little TV here and there.  But if these activities are routinely getting in the way of something more valuable – like working on my goals – that means I’m using them as a distraction and not living in the here and now.

I’m also think I’m going to stop meticulously counting calories – I believe that my body knows what it needs and if I choose high quality, nourishing, delicious foods that make my body sing, and eat with intention instead of as an escape, the rest will take care of itself.  Expecting to count calories for the rest of my life is unrealistic – I need to learn how to eat according to my body’s needs and the time to start is now!  I’ll check in with the scale periodically to make sure things are going in the right direction and correct as needed.  It’s really not about the food anyway – it’s about experiencing each moment and paying attention.

We get one body, one life and one chance to make it count – so from now on, I’m choosing to make the most of each moment – enjoying time with friends and family, meeting and connecting with new people, learning about things I’m interested in, reading the stack of books I never seem to have time for, continuing to improve my health and fitness, and work on building a second career.

I think I’ll be blogging a lot more in the future, both here and at the UnDieting Divas blog, as a way to keep myself present and accounted for.  And I’ll be putting a lot more effort into building up the support group and trying to help others be present in their own lives.

Life is short and precious, and I’m going to make the best use of mine that I possibly can!

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