My Gym & MY Gym

Man, the days are really getting away from me lately! Between work & work events, social engagements, and my constant status of “Am I getting sick again?”, time really seems to be moving faster than I’d like. I never have enough time to do everything I want!

One thing I *did* finally get around to doing though, was taking Penny to a class at the local My Gym. If you’re not familiar, it’s like a gym for kids — a play place that offers structured classes for your kiddos to help them develop various skills (and is just a lot of fun.)

My friend Anna asked if I was interested in meeting up for a class (the first one is free), and since it had actually long been on my list of things to do, my answer was a resounding YES! We also got our other friend of ours to join as well, and all of our littles had a ton of fun.

 

I really loved how many different activities and areas the employees at My Gym set up for the kids — they crammed a LOT of fun into the hour we were there! There was a “car wash” where they had a bubble machine going and kids rode a little toy car through a little obstacle course thing, tumbling time, swinging, and a demolition derby!

 

Plus some songs to kick things off, a story to wrap things up, and what they called “separation time” at the end, where they pulled out some toys and encouraged us to walk as far away from the babies as they’d let us. The goal was to get back to the check-in desk area (the kids are always still in sight), but you know Penny. Sean and I probably could have walked right out of the building and driven home and little Miss Independent wouldn’t have noticed or cared, hahahahaha.

I had so much fun with Penny at the My Gym class, and totally want to sign her up for a membership now. The only problem is that it’s more expensive than my own grown-up gym membership! Hahaha. We also were talking about doing swim lessons with her this winter, so I just gotta figure out what makes the most sense monetarily and schedule-wise. Alas, we just can’t do everything!

Speaking of the gym, my routine of working out 3 – 4 times a week was going really well (shockingly so, when you really think about how much I used to hate working out, lol)… until the plague descended and our whole household got sick, that is, and my schedule got thrown off like whoa. So I’m working on getting my motivation back up and my routine back in place — so far, I’m doing okay. The past week+ has had a lot of work commitments that have gotten in the way of me being able to go as often as I’d like, but I went yesterday and have a personal training session tomorrow, so I’m feeling optimistic about this week, at least.

August to October

My ultimate goal is still to get to the place where I am solidly working out 5 days a week and prioritize fitness as part of my daily routine, but you know, I’m still a work in progress, heh. Already I can tell you that while I may or may not have lost much weight recently (I haven’t stepped on the scale in a few weeks because I was getting a bit obsessive), I can absolutely see a difference in my strength, stamina, and endurance!

My clothes seem like they’re fitting a little better too, though while slimming down and losing body fat are obviously pleasant bonuses and additional indicators of my health improving, I’m not trying to make “weight loss” the main focus here. It just so easily leads to really negative thinking on my part — tying my self-worth to the scale, falling back into old, unsustainable habits just so I can lose weight a little faster, etc.

For now, Penny remains my biggest motivation and I’m finding it’s just the right kind of motivation. I want to model healthy habits for her, I never want her to feel the kind of self-loathing and shame that I’ve felt toward my body for so much of my life, and I just wanna, you know, keep up with her!

 

She gets more energetic and exhausting every day, so I gotta work to make sure she doesn’t leave me in the dust! We had another pediatric appointment to follow up on her ear infection and so she could finally get her 12 month shots, and she’s now 23 lbs, 4 oz. So, yeah, I’m gonna keep doing my arm exercises I think, hahaha.

Progress, Not Perfection

Aloha, friends!

I’m back from another sweaty session at the gym and thought that it might be a good time to update you on how all my fitness & physical/mental health stuff is going!

As I mentioned about a month ago, I’m having a mid-life crisis in the midst of a sort of life overhaul. I was feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and found my self-esteem and general happiness were in a steep decline. So after whining about it and feeling sorry for myself for entirely too long, I finally determined I needed to take action and implement some positive changes in my life.

And since I’m not exactly a prudent person, I roared forth, guns-blazing, and actually initiated a WHOLE BUNCH of different lifestyle changes… basically all at once. Heh.

  

Some of them are, of course, bigger and more significant than others, but I like to think that they’re all positive changes nonetheless:

  1. I started taking vitamins
  2. I started waking up at the same time (ish) every day
  3. I started using my Panda Planner again
  4. I cleaned up my eating and started tracking in MyFitnessPal again
  5. I started working out (4 to 5 times a week)
  6. I found a therapist

Actually, I found two therapists, as I realized I wasn’t really jiving with the first one. I’m only a couple sessions in with my new one, but I love her so far! And after yesterday’s appointment, I’m also attempting to add in a seventh thing, which is to try and meditate & practice mindfulness first thing in the morning.

I downloaded the Calm app, as well as one called Insight Timer, upon her recommendation, though it’s absolutely going to take time for me to to be able to quiet my mental chatter… my brain is really used to being busy, lol. Calm’s first guided meditation lasted like 9 minutes and it was extremely difficult for me to focus. Guess that’s why they call it a practice, though!

Embracing all of these things is also helping me in working towards my goal of establishing more routine and reliability in my life. I think that the impetus for a lot of my uncertainty, anxiety, and discontentment that has surfaced over the past year has been the biggest change that has ever or likely will ever occur in my life: becoming a mother. This is not to say that I don’t absolutely, 150% LOVE being Penny’s mom, I do! Nor is it meant to be any kind of slight against her — I think you are all probably painfully aware at this point that Penny is pretty much a perfect baby. She’s awesome, we literally could not have gotten luckier.

 

But even though I have an amazing kiddo, a husband, a supportive and involved family, a great job, a comfortable living situation… I’ve still struggled. And that’s where the mental health component really comes into place, because honestly, I’m not even sure if I can identify exactly what it is that I’ve been struggling with the most — my identities as a mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, employee vs. just as a person? The general shift in dynamics that has taken place within all of those relationships? Just, like, I dunno, life?

And then you toss in this whole extra layer of guilt that comes from the thought that I don’t really have any right to complain in the first place. I mean, there are literally millions of people in this world that have it so much harder and struggle with so many real, identifiable issues that I honestly have no experience with and can’t even accurately imagine going through. Stuff like going hungry. Being in crushing debt. Being in a physically or emotionally abusive relationship. Living with a disease. Losing a parent, a sibling, a child. The list could go on and on.

And when I start thinking that way (which is admittedly pretty often because I never want to give the impression that I’m ungrateful or unaware of the privileges I have been granted), it just makes me feel worse. Like I shouldn’t even be devoting my mental energy to my own problems. I should just, you know, suck it up.

Obviously, that’s not true. It’s not a healthy way to process things — for me, at least. Because while it absolutely is important to keep perspective (being able to establish perspective can be a powerful tool), the reality is that we all have baggage. We all have stuff we’re trying to work through.

And so my therapist was quick to remind me, and I am trying to continually remind myself, that the struggles of others does not invalidate my feelings.

I’m allowed to feel what I feel.

And I’m allowed to feel them about whatever I feel them about.

Now, whatever comes after feeling those feelings, yeah, that’s a little different. Having a feeling does not necessitate acting on those feelings. That’s kind of a whole other can of worms that I’m not going to explore today though, lol.

The bottom line is, I’m absolutely still just in the beginning phases of figuring all this ish out, trying to build up my toolbox so that I can figure out how to piece together all the various bits of my life in the best possible way, to give myself the chance to be my best self. I’m making progress in a lot of ways — therapy is opening me up, working out is making me feel stronger, cleaning my diet back up is helping me feel more energized (and I’m about 17 pounds down so far), and all three are helping me feel better about myself.

Now, I still have low moments, self-deprecating thoughts, times when I’m not really sure if what I’m doing is working, or if it’ll be sustainable longterm, or even what I’m doing at all, lol. But being human is complicated, and working my way towards health (in every sense of the word) was never going to be a straight line. So I focus on the good when things are good, I work to keep my head above water when it’s less good, and I take comfort in the fact that I’m making progress at all.

 

P90: 30 Day Update

So, last we left off in my P90 saga, I had just entered my third week. I am now at the point where I’ve just finished Week 5, which included my 30 day weight and measurement update. I also spoke a little bit about feeling off in my fourth week, which caused me to take two days off from the whole six-days-a-week workout thing. Alas, I’m sort of embarrassed to report I haven’t really recovered from that.

Fortunately (and somewhat shockingly), I have still been working out and following the program, I just haven’t quite managed to get myself back up to doing it every single day. It’s been more like every other day which, granted, is better than nothing at all, but still not what I’m “supposed” to be doing.

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Somewhat ironically, given the name of this blog, I’m really having a hard time finding that in-between when it comes to working out. It appears to be all or nothing with me. So, once I let myself have a break, it becomes all that much easier to continue allowing myself to do so. And unfortunately, with me hopping on a plane today to head down to Savannah for the next couple of days for work, I’m not sure this issue is going to fix itself quite yet (though I am bringing workout gear so I can hit that hotel gym at least once.)

Thankfully, finally starting a new set of P90 workouts (I’m officially in “Phase B”) is indeed helping with ramping my motivation back up a little. I admit that just doing the exact same workout in the same order with the same jokes over and over did get a little bit taxing, and so far I’m liking Phase B a lot more because there’s no more “intro” talk — Tony knows that you’re already a month into the program, so he jumps right into things a bit more, and I appreciate that.

Regardless of how things have been waning slightly over the past week or so, I was pretty vigilant for those first 30 days, at least, so let’s see where that got me, eh? I took my measurements and some photos on Day 1, and again on Day 30, as recommended. While photo progress appears to have been minimal, as has my actual weight loss (I’m down about 4 pounds, which, on the one hand, hooray! But on the other, womp womp), I have made a bit of progress measurement-wise. So, without further adieu:

Day 1 (1/7/2015)
Chest: 43″
Waist: 38″
Arms (R/L): 15.5″/15″
Thighs (R/L): 30.5″/30″

Day 30 (2/10/2015)
Chest: 42.5″
Waist: 37″
Arms (R/L): 14″/14″
Thighs (R/L): 29″/29″

So, basically an inch off of everywhere, which might not be anything groundbreaking or Biggest Loser worthy, but I’ll take it! I do wish I had taken my hips/butt measurement back on Day 1 (it wasn’t prompted in the little P90 booklet so I kind of forgot about it) but I did measure it on Day 30, so we’ll see what progress is made in that department on Day 60. And hopefully by then I’ll have made enough visible progress that I’m down with sharing some not-sucking-it-in photos, hahahaha.

The workouts in Phase B are definitely more intense than those in Phase A (still with lots of options for modifications, which I am taking advantage of), so maybe my fitness level will start being ramped up even faster, doing more intensive work? Provided I actually get back to DOING it the full six days a week, that is. And outside of P90, since Yelp’s Fit Club is also this month, I’ve got a ton of other cool workouts (yoga, kempo, pilates, bootcamp, and more!) to throw into the mix to keep things interesting — and to keep me on track.

Speaking of which, my first Yelp’s Fit Club fitness class was on Friday!

Northern Virginia Yelpers gathered together for a Zumba-esque dance workout called Sweatvibes! And it KICKED. MY. ASS. In the best way possible, of course! Sweatvibes is an hour of super loud, super pumped up, super high energy dance cardio, and it was a TON of fun. And seriously, what a great workout — I was definitely sore the next day! All that arm-pumping really does you in, man! Thank goodness I’ve already been working out for the past month, otherwise I’m not sure I would have even gotten through the whole hour, haha.

 
Too bad my Fitbit is half-broken, so I only got like half-credit for sweating my butt off. So bitter… because if we know anything, it’s that if you didn’t take a picture/log it/post about it on Facebook, it didn’t happen, right? 😉

Aaaanyway, now it’s off to Savannah for me! I’m probably in the air as you read this, in fact! Here’s hoping I have the strength not to simply bathe in buckets of sweet tea and butter for the next two days, hehe. And I’ll see you on the flipside!

Fat Day

I had a fat day yesterday.

Not the good kind of fat day, where you think of it that way because of all the delicious, indulgent, decadent, rich foods you ate. (I’ve had more than my fair share of those kinds of fat days too, naturally.) No, it was the kind of day where I felt fat. I know, I know, this is going to be one of those kinds of posts, and you’ll just have to bear with me. I can’t help it. For whatever reason, in spite of the fact that I ate pretty well, exercised, and had a wonderful evening catching up with my dear friend Sarah, I just felt fat.

We all have those days, I know. It’s just been tough for me as I struggle with the fact that I’ve basically lapsed into maintenance at this point, my weight loss is slow. Weight loss is a long play, I know. If you want to do it in a healthy, sustainable way, there really are no quick-fixes, no shortcuts. But I need to own up to the fact that I’m neither on nor off the weight loss wagon right now. It’s more like my leg is caught in a loop of rope and I’m dragging behind it. I keep declaring my intentions for ongoing progress. “Onward and downward!”, I say. But I’m not really doing much to follow through. Sure, I’m still watching what I eat (mostly), I’m actually exercising fairly regularly (shocking!), and I’m even counting the occasional day’s worth of calories still. But while I’m barely hitting half-pound losses every two weeks, all it’s really doing is keeping me from ballooning back up. And that might be fine, if I didn’t keep reminding myself that my original goal was — is — to reach 165 pounds, not 188.4 pounds.

So yesterday, I got down about it. And all my self-doubt crept back into my brain and started whittling away at the modicum of confidence that I’ve gained in this new body of mine. “Still fat,” it said to me. “You’re still overweight. You’re soft, squishy, and don’t even think about trying to cover it up with words like ‘curvy’ or ‘voluptuous’ or ‘big boned’. Fat, fatty, fat.”

So I broke down (just a little bit). And then I remembered that I might not be a size 6 yet, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t made progress. And if my own mind is warped enough to be telling me that I’m fat now, what was it trying to tell me back then? So I took to Facebook circa 2009 and reminded myself of exactly what it is that I’ve been fighting for (or is it against?) this whole time. Yep, that’s right folks. It’s time for another installment of Gretchen’s Weight Loss Photo Retrospective™!

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The Befores

Oh yeah, we’re gettin’ fancy with the photo layouts up in hurr!

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The Nows

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Going Out: Then & Now

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Christmas: Then & Now

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Harry Potter Fanaticism: Then & Now

Okay, I do feel better. I’ve come a long way! And yes, for a while now my weight loss progress has… slowed, that much I do admit. But I know what I’m capable of when I’m focused, motivated, and on track. I need to reevaluate my current lifestyle a little bit to get myself back into progress-making mode: crack down, get back to my calorie-counting roots, etc. The bottom line is that I am going to get there, eventually. Progress is as progress does, you know? And I’m staying the course, continuing on this journey, cliche saying, cliche saying. 😉

Care to come along for the rest of the ride?

NSVs (Weigh-in)

NSV, in the weight-loss world, is an acronym that stands for “non-scale victory”. This is a term that I was not familiar with prior to starting this li’l ol’ blog here, but is something that I have come to appreciate more and more as my journey has gone on. See, in the beginning, it is ALL about the numbers. When you’re significantly overweight, and make an honest effort to start turning your health around, the weight starts to come off so quickly that it’s all you can do not to scream your losses from the rooftop (or in my case, proclaim them to the entire internet. Which is what I did do. Heh.) But as your progress slows, and it gets harder and harder to shed each full pound, you have to start looking to other things to validate your journey. And if you don’t have measures besides the scale to mark your progress (because yes, you ARE making progress!), it will break you. And believe, it is already all too easy to give up.

scale destroyer

My first NSVs all had to do with clothing. After all, aside from the digits on the scale, the number on the tag at the back of your jeans is probably the one that holds the most weight, right? (Pun intended.) Even when my weight loss for the month would only add up to a few pounds in total, I might have been able to jump down a dress size that month, or had to have my bra size remeasured. Of course, these kinds of number-centric victories have a shelf-life too. There are only so many sizes you can drop before things slow down, just like the scale does. So while I still thoroughly enjoy being able to pull items off the rack that don’t have an “X” on their size label, since getting down to a size 12/L, things haven’t really budged too much in that department (thankfully they haven’t gone in the other direction either though!). Still, it’s a (slightly bittersweet) victory in and of itself just to be able to bag up the clothing that no longer fits and haul it off to Goodwill!

donate clothing

So as someone who has only been able to validate my health progress by way of numbers, imagine my surprise to realize that I’m actually starting to put stock in non-numerical measures. Things that are actually more related to my — gasp! — fitness, than my weight or clothing size. Things like being able to walk up the three flights of stairs from the parking garage at work without gasping for air anymore. And being able to successfully complete a full cycle of 40-lb chest presses without dropping the barbell into my throat, or sets of walking lunges without falling over. And at the risk of sounding even more superficial than I normally do, I consider self-esteem boosters like catching a guy checking you out as definite NSVs. After all, the Gretchen of Old never used to get that kind of attention, so why not consider it a mark of weight loss success? Numbers are still important, of course. They are a literal measure of progress. But they are not the be-all and end-all of weight loss, and they are certainly not the sole determination of my success.

And with all of that said, let’s take a look at how I measured up (ha!) this week, shall we?

Starting Weight: 246 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 190.1 lbs
This Weigh-in: 190.0 lbs
Difference: -0.1 lbs

See, now this is a perfect example of a weigh-in that I probably should be frustrated at. I mean, seriously? 0.1? Not even allowing me to (re)see a number that starts with a 1-8? Shockingly, I am not upset by this. I’m starting to learn that my body’s pattern is not to drop weight super consistently every single week, and now that I’ve accepted that, only the gains really get to me. I’m really starting to come around to the idea that maintaining for a week or two, in my opinion, is not a bad thing. My overall goal is still weight loss, after all, and after the past 60 — now 56 — pounds lost, I’ve really come around to that. Hopefully that doesn’t sound like justification or an excuse. I honestly don’t mean it that way! I’m just trying to keep that positive attitude going. After all, as I’ve been saying, it’s that negativity and single-minded focus on the numbers on the scale that led to my weight loss downfall over and over in past attempts. It’s only this time, when I’ve started trying to see beyond my actual weight, that I’ve been able to keep going (counter-intuitive, isn’t it?). Through months of plateaus, through more than my fair share of dips in motivation, through all my wishy-washy, ho-hum weigh-ins, I am still fighting the good fight — and am armed to the teeth with NSVs to help me out along the way. 🙂

What’s your favorite kind of NSV? Clothing-related? Fitness-related? Self-esteem-related?