Monday, June 23, 2014

Week 26: Halfway

This week marks the halfway point of my Project 52!  Honestly, I’m amazed at my perseverance--historically my track record for consistent journaling and blog posts has been less than stellar.  Then again, as I’ve already mentioned, I’m not exactly the same person I was when I started this, so maybe the fact that I’m still here after six months isn’t all that unbelievable!

That said, I don’t have anything earth-shattering to share this week.  I’m still chewing on last week’s revelation that at this point losing weight is less important than my training.  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about that and am working on redesigning my goals to accommodate the shift in focus.  I’m working on a faster mile now, and am shooting to finish my next 5K in 40 minutes.  That’s three and a half minutes faster than the last 5K I ran.  So stay tuned to see how that comes out--my next 5K is on July 4th.

My focus on food has shifted from counting calories to maintenance of my current weight.  I’m concentrating more on what I’m eating rather than how much I’m eating.  When I started this whole weight loss thing I was still eating meat with every meal.  Now I might eat meat two or three times a month.  Eventually, I believe that number will be zero and I will be a total vegetarian.  In fact, I’ll go one further and say that the thought of me being one hundred percent vegan isn’t as unfathomable as it might have been a year ago.  I didn’t think I’d ever be able to give up dairy, but I’m starting to understand that it isn’t going to be as hard as I once thought.  And after perusing several vegan cookbooks the assumption I had that vegan food would be boring has been proved to be untrue.  So, yeah, I’m pretty sure that I’ll be a complete vegan in the near future.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Week 25: Reassess

Sunday’s weigh-in was an exercise in frustration.  I didn’t gain any weight, but I didn’t lose any, either.  It marked the 6th week of my second plateau, and I will admit, I was frustrated enough that I shed a few tears.  And even though I know why I’m getting nowhere on the scales, it doesn’t make it any easier on an emotional level.  Despite a few days of consuming more calories that I should, I’ve been working hard, so the lack of progress for a sixth week in a row was heart-breaking.

Fortunately, I have good friends.

One of those friends has been on her own fitness journey for quite some time, and she has been invaluable to my own journey in both guidance, support and endless inspiration.  This particular friend knew I was upset after reading last week’s blog post, and she started up a G-chat conversation with me immediately after reading it.  Five exchanges in she sent me this question:

“If you never lost another pound . . . could you be happy?”

And everything came to a screeching halt.  Wait, what?  I read the question over two more times, just to make sure I’d read right.  See, this friend doesn’t ask me stuff like that just for the hell of it, because she knows that even the mere process of thinking about that kind of thing can really upset me.   Asking that question was her way of telling me that I was overlooking something, and that I needed to step back and see the bigger picture.  So instead of answering with what might have been a reflexive “no”, I made myself stop and seriously consider that question.  It was a few minutes later before I finally typed:

“Yeah, I think I could be.”

And after I came to that realization, I could finally see what it was I was missing.  I had reached the point in the journey where it was time to reassess my goals and priorities.   And having done that, I’ve come to the somewhat surprising conclusion that weight loss is no longer the main focus of this journey.  Being lighter would make my running goals easier to reach, but they certainly are not impossible the way I am now, either.  So, while I will still be counting calories to make sure I don’t gain any weight back, I’m not focusing on those scales quite so much anymore.  Instead I’ll be focusing more on my running and shaving minutes off my average mile times, because I still dream about running that marathon.

And I suspect that at some point in this process the weight will start to come off again whether or not I’m worrying about it.   I’m just making a conscious decision to not worry about it anymore.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Week 24: Plateau #2

I’ve hit a second plateau.  I’ve been on the weight loss yo yo for the past few weeks--lose, gain, lose, gain, lose again--and it has been a struggle to not be discouraged, because I’m pretty much at the same weight I was five weeks ago.  I have to keep reminding myself that I’m currently training for another 5K and that means I’m building quite a bit of muscle as I go.  Muscle weighs more than fat, believe it or not.  So, if I’m gaining more muscle weight than losing fat weight the scale will of course show a gain.  I know that in my head, but the truth is, on an emotional level that knowledge doesn’t matter much.

It gets excruciatingly difficult when I don’t have visible results and that negative voice in my head is urging me to just give up.  This is when I have to focus hard on the process rather than my final goals.  I have to make myself keep counting calories.  I have to get out and move every day, even on non-training days.  I have to keep logging my steps and running times.  I have to concentrate on those little things or I risk folding under the anxiety and fear of eventual failure.  It’s the only reason I’ve not given up after 5 weeks of what feels like no progress at all.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Week 23: Lessons Learned During 5K #2

Okay, this week’s post is much earlier than usual, but I ran my second 5K today and I just have so many reflections that I want to get this all down while it’s still fresh!  First of all, I beat my last 5K time by 44 seconds.  Okay, it’s not a huge difference, but it was faster!  Progress, not perfection, right??  I was pretty happy to beat that time, even if only by seconds. :)

Of course, this 5K was as much a learning experience as the first, so here are some new lessons I learned today (or in the case of the first, had to relearn!):

  1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.  I did better with that this time around, but I still needed more!  Thankfully, there were water stations at every mile marker so I managed to not get sick from dehydration, but you can bet I’ll drink even more before the race on July 4!

  1. As much as I hate going over my calorie allowance, I really need to eat more than normal the day before a race.  I kind of thought that because this was just a short 5K I wouldn’t really need to do any of the carb loading that longer distance runners do, but the nasty case of the shakes I got as I was sitting down to brunch with my family says otherwise.  My blood sugar was really, really low and I had to drink a portion of the orange juice my husband had ordered before I stopped shaking.

  1. Hills are still a humbling experience.  I dealt with them better this time around, but only marginally.  The last mile or so was mostly uphill and had it not been for an inspiring moment in that last mile I’m not sure I would have finished as quickly as I did.  I will be doing whatever I can to get out and train on hillier terrain for the remainder of the summer!

  1. And speaking of that last mile...moments of inspiration can come when you least expect them.  I was getting really, really tired as I entered the last mile of the race.  At that point I had started to chant “run till your done” in my head over and over again, but I was afraid I was about to hit the proverbial wall.  And then, suddenly, the pace car for the half marathon passed me on the left, and 30 seconds later the first place runner in the half-marathon blew by me.  He was so fast and ran like a gazelle, and  I don’t even have words for what I felt in that moment.  A year ago I might have felt intimidated to be sharing the course with such an athlete, but that’s not what I felt today.  I was just so inspired by his example, and suddenly that last mile didn’t seem quite so daunting, regardless of the uphill.  I even ran a little faster after that point. I found out a little later that the runner was 2004 New Zealand Olympiad Nick Willis, and he ran the half marathon in just over an hour today.  Awe-inspiring!  I’m really grateful for the much needed inspiration I received in that moment.  It was a moment I’ll not soon forget.

There were also little moments that just added to the brilliance of the day.  The folks at the water stations were handing out heart-felt encouragement along with refreshment. When it became obvious towards the end of the race that I was really struggling to keep up the pace, strangers on the sidelines began to assure me that I could make it.  

And finally, my mom and dad took me out to brunch after I finished, and the waitress came to our table with six glasses of water.  My mother pointed out that there were only five of us at the table, and the waitress gave her a sunny smile and replied “I figured your runner could use an extra glass.”  I thanked her profusely and did my best to not burst into emotional tears, because I realized in that moment that I’d turned another important corner in my journey.  When she’d called me a runner I hadn’t thought to disagree with her at all.  I think I might have disagreed two months ago, but today I didn’t.  Now I truly do think of myself as a runner, and for me that’s a huge step in the right direction.

I can’t wait to run another race.