What I have learned so far…

Here are some of the lessons I have learned since I started my journey just five and a half months ago….

-I can eat whatever I want. This is one of the most important things I have learned and it is the concept I base my diet around. The idea is this; you can eat whatever you want, in whatever quantity, whenever you want. However, in order to do this you have to learn what your body wants. Eating is much more than taste. It provides us with the fuel we need to keep us energized and the nutrients we need to keep us healthy and strong. Typically, what we eat, and what we crave, is based off of taste but if we take the time to recognize how our body feels after we eat we will soon learn what we need and when we need it. It takes time and a conscious effort in order to reprogram your mind to ‘crave’ the things you actually need/want. Basically for me, no matter what I ate, I made sure to think about how I felt after. Did I have energy or did I feel sluggish? Did it give me an upset stomach or did I feel great? Did I feel stuffed to the point where I felt uncomfortable or did I feel satisfied and comfortable? After spending time recognizing these feelings I found my cravings changed to the foods that made me feel good and I would try to avoid those that didn’t. Where before all I wanted to eat were chips, burgers, fries, pizza now my body longs for fresh fruit and veggies, lean protein (grilled not fried) and Greek yogurt. These changes occurred not because I am losing weight or because it’s what I should eat but because when I eat this way I feel fabulous- it is what my body wants. This doesn’t mean that I don’t ever eat pizza or burgers, I still do but not very often and when I do I make sure I balance out my meal with some good carbs or swap out red meat for turkey or a veggie burger. As the saying goes; ‘eat to live, not live to eat’.

-Water is my friend, my bestest friend in the whole wide world. So, do you remember Monday’s post and how I had said my weight had jumped up from 236.8 to 239.2 after my time back home? Do you remember me saying how I would spend Monday drinking lots of water to see if it was true weight gain or just water retention? Well, I stepped on to the scale Tuesday morning and I was down to 237, just 0.2 pounds more than when I left. So I feel it is safe to say that most of that weight was from water retention and I am so glad to be rid of it. If you ever see a big, somewhat unjustified, jump on the scale you should think back to your eating habits from the previous day/week. Have you been eating lost of processed foods, eating out, or consuming anything high in sodium, more than you normally do? Well then, it is time to flush your system. Oddly enough you need to drink water to stop your body from retaining water. I try to drink at least 3-4L a day (recommended minimum is 64 oz, approx. 2L) and when I do I feel great. I should warn you though, if you drink that much water you will need to pee pretty frequently 😉

-I need to do what makes me happy. I wish I could say do only what makes you happy but if that were true my house would never be clean and the yard would be filled with dog poop. However, when it comes to how I spend my free time I make sure I do things that make me happy. This is especially true in regards to my workouts. I like walking but only outside and since San Antonio has turned into the third circle of hell I have decided to limit my outdoor walking time. I don’t like walking on the treadmill so I don’t do that anymore. I used to only care about my calorie burn and heart rate and it was a good habit to have starting off but now I am not concerned about those things. I do what feels good, what makes me happy. On Monday’s I take a Poi Spinning class. I doubt it even raises my heart rate and I probably don’t burn many calories but I love it, it keeps me moving and I have so much fun doing it. Isn’t that what really matters; increasing activity? I am lucky that I can afford to have memberships at multiple places and am able to take all of these classes that I have grown to love. *Side note: I was able to negotiate stepping up to a monthly membership, which affords me unlimited classes, at the Synergy Studio in exchange for Paul getting a kegorator- win-win. I do not take my circumstances for granted. Again, I cannot stress enough to those of you out there, especially those near big cities, take advantage of sites like Groupon and Living Social. Maybe you cannot afford a full price gym/yoga studio/boxing studio membership but an 8 or 10 class pass or a monthly pass discounted 50%+ could be in your budget. Another great tool is DVDs. I also won in the great kegerator negotiation of 2011 the rights to convert the spare bedroom into my Zen space which allows me a place to meditate as well as do Yoga, Qigong, and even Nia at home. For me, once I found things that I loved doing my life became so much better.

-It’s only about me; I can’t compare myself to others. This is a hard lesson to learn and I try to remember it every time the green-eyed monster shows his face. I think being a Weight Watchers member makes it harder because at every meeting you are celebrating someone’s success and there are always people who have lost more, faster, look better than me, and make it look so easy. It is hard not to compare myself and my progress against other people especially when they are around my size and weight. It is hard not to look at someone and think she looks so much better than me even though we weigh the same and then I start to think about myself in a negative light. I hate my stomach area, why can’t it look like hers or she has such great arms and still after all the boxing and weights mine are flabby nastiness. Usually at this point I go to one of my sisters in arms begging for a reality check. Their advice helps put everything back into perspective. Sometimes you just need someone to remind you that this is your journey, it is only about you, and you cannot compare yourself to anyone else. You have to keep your focus on you; what you like about yourself, all of your successes (both on and off the scale) and the goals and vision you set for yourself. Yes, there are still times now when that jealousy starts to creep back up but now I know how to combat it and move on.

-It’s all about the scale; it’s not about the scale at all. I weigh myself daily because I want to know and because my weight gain/loss is a sign of how my body is reacting to what I am eating/doing. Some people prefer to weigh themselves weekly, monthly or not at all and I am not here to say which way is right. It really is personal preference. I think I will probably always weigh myself daily because that is just the type of person I am. However, what took time for me to realize is that it isn’t only about the number on the scale. This is another downside of Weight Watchers (although you can track your progress in inches versus pounds if you prefer) and it is hard to break out of that tunnel-vision. My weight, albeit an important measurement, isn’t the only thing that matters and learning to recognize other non-scale achievements was necessary for my self-confidence. For me this journey started off all about my weight and trying to get it under control so of course all of my focus was on that scale. Now, my journey has become so much more than that; it is riddled with personal triumphs and it is important to recognize those as well. Since February I have; started boxing as well as taken Bikram yoga classes (some things I thought would be impossible for a fat person to do) , I have walked 8 miles at one time and came in second in my age group at a 5K, I have tried a variety of classes I had never even heard of- Nia, Qigong, Poi Spinning, Journey Dance, HoopDance, and most importantly I started this blog which has brought me so much happiness and allowed me to make some amazing friendships. So no, it’s not always about the scale but sometimes it still is. Today I weighed in at 234.8. Do you know what that means? 51.2 pounds lost! Woo hoo! 🙂

-I can do so much more than I ever thought I could. You can see this from the list of non-scale victories listed above. Although this is something I have learned about me I know it is true for you as well. I think we all tend to underestimate our abilities and sometimes we let fear dictate our choices- I know I am guilty of this. However, if I can box and do Bikram while being 130+ pounds overweight I strongly believe that anyone can. Was it hard? Yes. Is it still hard? Yes. Should you let that stop you? Absolutely not. I strongly encourage all of you to try something new, something you might not think you can do, test the limits a little. I think you will be surprised to find out you can do so much more than you realize.

-I want so much more from my life. This short, 5 ½ month journey (which is ongoing) has taught me so many things but this is really important and encompasses so much. I want more from my life, plain and simple. I don’t want to sit around and watch my life pass me by day by day, week by week, year by year, because before I know it, it will be over. I want to truly live my life and for the first time in a very long time I believe I am doing it. All of these decisions I have made; to eat better, become more active, to try new things, they have all led me to enjoy my life so much more. I think what I expect from my life and how to get it is an ever evolving ideal but the most important thing is to keep changing for the better. Try to find your path in life because once you are on it so many opportunities will present themselves to you. Seize them. Don’t let any more pass you by. You deserve this. I deserve this. We all deserve happiness. Please don’t ever forget that.

Thanks for reading!

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August 10, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Fitness, Life, Weight Loss. 8 comments.

Balancing My Yin and Yang

Last night I went to a Qigong (pronounced Chi, like tai chi, gong, like the gong show) class offered at the Synergy Studio. This was the second time I had taken a Qigong class and I enjoyed it just as much as I had
the first time. In Qigong our focus is on manipulating and controlling qi (energy that exists in all things); i.e. good qi in, bad qi out, and every session always begins by having us purge ourselves of our bad qi.  The regulation of qi is through our body, mind and spirit. We learn that qi travels through the body along twelve main meridians which correspond to organs; our lungs, large intestines, stomach, spleen, heart, small intestine, bladder,
kidney, liver, gallbladder, pericardium, and the entire torso region. The amount and flow of qi is affected by a person’s mental, physical or emotional state related to the Mind, the Body and the Spirit. As we were practicing last night our trainer told us that if one of those three areas was not functioning properly we would feel it and in turn we should pull more qi into that area.

Another concept our trainer talks frequently about is Yin and Yang; which is a prevalent concept in most (probably all, but not 100% sure) Chinese philosophies. Yin and Yang are opposing forces that are always interacting and influencing each other but neither force can be destroyed. What we are working towards is to achieve a balance between these forces. In qigong we have Yang organs (known as fire) and Yin organs (known as water) and what we strive to do is to balance the qi between Yin and Yang. Our movements always include both forces. During my first class the instructor made a comment about Yin and Yang that resonated with me. He said that our Yang qi is what we want, our desires, but our Yin qi is what will actually happen. What he meant by this comment was if our Yin qi and Yang qi are not aligned we will not be able to fulfill our desires.

At this point in the post you may be wondering why the heck I am babbling on about qigong and Yin and Yang but this all has a point, I promise. I wanted to talk about how I felt hearing the above comment, about having our qi aligned in order to fulfill our desires, but also wanted to give you some background first on qigong. I know this practice will come up in future posts (I am starting an 8 week training program this summer to better educate myself) so I thought a little explanation would be good. Ok, so now that is done – back to the comment. When I heard this statement last week it was like a light bulb went off. How many times have you set out to do something or tried to change something in your life but were unable to? How many times has this happened and you felt like no matter what the circumstances were you still would have been unsuccessful? I know there were plenty of times in my life I had expectations and desire to change things but was unsuccessful and I think this was because my Yin and Yang qi’s were not aligned.

Ok, maybe it had nothing to do with my qi but what I do know is that no matter how much you may want to do something or change something if you are not 100% committed to it, you can’t. I think about the people I see at
WW, not everyone is like this but some are and I want to use them in this scenario, who are just going through the motions at the meetings. These people only following the plan sometimes, not exercising, not breaking out of past bad habits, not committing themselves to changing their lives and what happens is
they start to struggle and blame WW and eventually quit. Of course the program won’t work if you are not ready to make the necessary changes. WW is not going to come to your house, prepare your meals, tie your sneakers and push you out the door. WW is a plan and if you don’t follow it honestly, you will not be successful.

I am not judging these people. It is hard and you have to be ready to admit to yourself that you NEED to change, you need to get your life back under control, or it won’t work. I have been down this road before and was unsuccessful so many times. I was never fully committed, at least not Mind, Body and Soul. This applies to everything we do in life, not just WW. It’s like addiction. People say that you cannot help an addict until they are ready to help themselves and sometimes even when they think they are ready, they still end up back where they started. We cannot force change on others just like we cannot force change on ourselves. We have to be at the point where we are ready to openly embrace these changes 100%, the good and the bad. It’s not easy but nothing worthwhile ever is.

I am lucky this time, right now, to be at that point in my journey where I am successfully changing my life but I know there are still areas that I need to change but am not able to just yet. Instead of excuses, this time I choose introspection to see why I am unable to align my Yin qi and Yang qi and hopefully bring about the change I want to see in myself.

What are your thoughts on this? How do you feel about Eastern philosophy? Do you think there is truth
behind this or is it all a bunch of hooey? I would love to know what you think. Please comment
🙂

Thanks for reading!

July 1, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Life, Qigong. Leave a comment.

Friday Night Frenzy!

Wow! What a week. It has been a whirlwind so far and next week looks like it will be the same. I feel like I have been a bad blogger this week- it is really weird not to write every day. I mean I know what I write isn’t necessarily deep and moving stuff but it is cathartic to spend some time each day reviewing my life and my thoughts and not being able to do that this week has made a noticeable impact on my mental wellbeing. I am glad to be able to take some time tonight and write to you if for no other reason than to catch you up on what’s been going on here.  Well, at least the highlights.

Sunday I went shopping with my friend SF for a nice, lightweight, summery outfit to wear to Paul’s graduation. SF works at a retail store that sells plus-sized clothes for women, one of the few I typically shop at, which came in handy when I was trying to pick out outfits and needed different sizes/colors and whatnot. Normally I go shopping with Paul, he is always honest, knows my style (plain), and is very patient. It was interesting to shop with someone else for a change, especially someone who has a better sense of style than I do. Unfortunately, things did not go to well at the store. There just wasn’t anything I really liked or felt comfortable in. For me comfort is key because if I am uncomfortable with what I am wearing I will be fidgety and self-conscious the entire time it is on and that’s no fun. What’s worse was I was not thrilled with how the clothes were fitting. 30 pounds lost and I was still not wearing smaller sizes. My size for tops was big in the chest area (I think my boobs are the only place I lost weight) but still tight around my stomach. Pants were tight at the waist but droopy in the butt and it looked like I pooped myself- not really that flattering of a look believe it or not.  After a good hour or so looking I gave up and resigned myself to just wearing something I already had and left SF and the store.

As I headed home I became sad because I really wanted to buy something new, I wanted Paul to see my progress and think I looked nice, but also because I felt like what’s the point. I mean it’s been over 3 and a half months of me busting my ass every day and I was still the same size- how depressing. So, I decided to check out Target because it was on my way home. They carry a limited selection of plus-size clothes in store and I thought it was worth a shot. At Target I was able to find clothes that fit me better but they were too casual for a graduation ceremony. So off I went, still feeling somewhat hopeless. I should point out here that after both stores I called Paul who helped me feel less like crap about the clothes, or lack thereof, situation. Thanks Paul! As I was heading home I thought about something another WW member had said the day before, about how she shopped at Dillard’s so I decided to head over to the mall. I don’t typically shop at department stores. Heck, I had no idea that they even carried plus sizes until earlier this year so I thought I would check it out. Third time’s a charm, right?

I am so happy that I did because not only did they carry plus size clothes, they carried nice plus size clothes that fit me beautifully. I was wearing a size 20 pants, down from a 24 and a 2X top, down from a 3X, so yay for smaller sizes. I found a bunch of tops, pants, and dresses that all fit well and I loved and I even stepped outside of my comfort zone and tried on some funky prints because of the designer who made the clothes. I mean Michael Kors knows his stuff, I trust he wouldn’t want to make fat people look ridiculous and he most certainly did not. The clothes not only fit me but they made me feel good in them both inside and out. I was comfortable with the size, not too restrictive, and the feel of the clothes was so soft on my skin I just wanted to wear them home. Now I can definitely understand why people buy expensive clothes. They were so worth it. Yes, it was a big splurge for me and yes, I probably could have bought 3 times as much for the same amount of money at a different store but why should I? I deserve to feel good about myself and if Michael Kors can do that then that is what I am buying. I ended up leaving with two tops and a pair of pants but I know I will be back every now and again to buy something nice for myself. Next time I will bring a coupon 😉

I had mentioned last week about how I bought a Groupon for the Synergy Studio and had taken a yoga and Nia class with it. Well, the pass I bought was for eight classes and although I had fallen in love with the place right off the bat I decided this week I would use some of it towards trying out new classes. Sunday after shopping was Zumba which was so much fun. I have no sense of rhythm and I cannot dance but I like the class nonetheless. I am not sure how this happens but I always seem to be in the front row at these classes which makes me nervous at first but luckily for me the instructors and students at Synergy are so kind and wonderful that I don’t feel like a complete idiot when I end up randomly spinning around until I can figure out what is going on.  Needless to say, I liked this class so much I plan on doing it again this Sunday. This time I will wear different shoes though. I tried to wear my new ones to break them in and they ended up hurting me most of the class L

Monday I was back in the Gentle Yoga class which was a great way to stretch out and relax from my weekend. Starting the week off with yoga put my week and my body in alignment and allowed me to continue pushing through with a sense of calm and ease throughout some of the chaos. Tuesday I was at the boxing studio for class and then met up with SF for a three-mile walk afterwards. Since I have decided to walk a half-marathon in October I needed to start training for it because it is not something you would just do, or at least not something I could just do, without preparing for. So now I walk 2 times a week, usually after my boxing classes, and then a long walk on Saturdays. You will notice this pattern popping up in future posts so I thought I would explain where all these walks came from.  Boxing was great and exhausting as always and I am trying to adapt to walking in the extreme Texas heat. It has been in the 90’s at night when I walk- freaking hot. At least it is not humid yet, that would be too much to handle.

Wednesday I was back at the Synergy Studio for Hoopdance! Originally I was going to take the earlier Nia class but something came up that needed to be addressed immediately after work so I had to adapt my plans. The key to success, or at least for me, is that you need to be rigid when it comes to planning and follow-through as well as be flexible so when your plans go to shit it doesn’t ruin your day and you can still meet your goals/expectations. So there you have it folks, the key to success is to be a flexible, rigid person 😉 But I digress. Back to hoopdance! Hoopdance is basically hula-hooping to music. The class was pretty full and there were three of us new to hoopdance so the others just started right in while we received a tutorial on how to hoop. FYI- beginners use bigger hoops and I was given the biggest hula hoop in all of mankind to start off with. It was ginormous. I had never seen a hula hoop that big and it took some time to adjust to it. Basically the concept is the bigger the hoop the slower you rotate so it took me a while to get that timing down. It felt like I was hooping in slow mo. Very strange at first and then once I got the hang of it, it was exhilarating. It’s just you and a hoop and all of your cares and thoughts dissipate. It’s great. The instructor and some of the people in the class were amazing, they were doing all kinds of crazy tricks and fancy moves- it was awesome. My new goal is to get to that point. It is a great workout and even better I had fun doing it which is the most important part. I was so into it that I even gave myself a big ole bruise on my side- it was a really big hula hoop J I will definitely be coming back to this class again and I recommend you try it out sometime. If not a class then at least by a hoop and do it at home.

Thursday, after I returned home from Paul’s graduation, was another new class at the Synergy Studio- qigong. The best way for me to describe the class is by including an excerpt of the description from their website.

“Qigong: Qi is the body’s life force energy which is responsible for our vitality. Gong means skill, work or foundation.

Qigong (sometimes written as Chi Kung) then is the practice of accumulating and cultivating vital life force energy (qi) in the body. This is achieved through the coordination of physical exercises, meditation and visualization, and breathing exercises. Qigong developed into a systematic healing art that integrates body, mind and spirit and is a main branch of traditional Chinese medicine. The effects of qigong practice include prevention and healing of disease, relief from stress, improved physical strength, improved mental focus, improved sexual function, spiritual enrichment and a slowing of the aging process.”

I loved this class. As you can see, I pretty much love every class I have taken there. I love the mix of classes that are relaxing, meditative, healing with others that are fun, exhilarating and child-like. This class, like yoga, is definitely something I want to incorporate into my weekly routine because it is good for my body and my soul. No, I didn’t burn any calories and no, my heart rate wasn’t elevated but that isn’t always the only point. This journey for me is about health and wellness and classes like qigong play a big role in me being able to get to that point. I am very excited to learn more about this practice and will hopefully make it a regular part of my life.

Tonight was pretty much the same routine as Tuesday; boxing and a three-mile walk, except that tonight Paul joined me for both. It was great to have him come to boxing, which of course he is really good at, and I really enjoyed the company on my walk. Of course we had to go to Red Mango afterwards for some frozen yogurt to help combat the 55 minutes we spent walking in the heat. It was 103 when we finished up. Damn it was hot! I am pretty sure I sweated off ten pounds!

Afterward I was thinking that this must be awkward for him-  to come home and have to adjust to my schedule which is more jam-packed with classes and walks and other randomness but also for him to leave the routine he adjusted to for the month he was away. For both of us, it always takes some time to get used to our ‘normal’ married life again after a long time apart. Even though it was only a month it was long enough for both of us to adapt to a new schedule and routine. Yesterday, on the way home from Ft. Hood, I was rattling through all of my plans and everything I had going on I made a comment about going to a class that night. I said that even though it was his first night home I still wanted to go to a class. It was important to me to not skip workouts. I said that I was sorry but that he wasn’t my number one priority, that I was my number one priority and he said good, that’s the way it should be. I told him he was a close second and he replied again; good, that’s the way it should be 🙂

Thanks for reading!

June 17, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Exercise, Fitness, inspiration, Life, Moving, San Antonio, Walking, Weight Watchers. 7 comments.