Monthly Archives: March 2012


I’m a bit behind on my posting so I’m playing catch-up.

Week of March 4 progress:  -1.4 pounds

Total loss:  -89 pounds

That was a good week.   Now the next week…not so much.

Week of March 11 progress:  +6.6 pounds

Total loss:  -82.4 pounds

There are no good excuses for why such a big gain occurred.  I know exactly what happened, and why.  About 2 pounds of that is water retention that normally happens around that time of the month–that’s biology.  The other 4.6 pounds?  Reckless eating and lack of exercise caused that.   You see, my birthday was last Saturday, and traditionally, I have celebrated for a week prior to my actual birthday–I call it BirthWeek.  I could hem and haw and make excuses for the gluttony and the sloth, but why?  There aren’t any good ones, and whatever excuses exist are lame ones anyway.

Needless to say, the gain was a much-needed wake up call, and one that really got me thinking about new goals and new ways to tackle this plateau I seem to be on.  You see, I’ve been at or close to the same weight for the last 5 months.  My weight has not changed too much since October, which is really discouraging.  I know that anyone who has attempted to lose weight has hit the dreaded plateau, but I seem to have been stuck on a damned mesa with no end in sight.  It’s kind of depressing to know that I’ve worked this hard only to get between a rock and a hard place with no way out.

I read Chris Powell’s book Choose to Lose to see if he could provide me with any insight as to how to bust through this plateau.  His book outlines a type of eating plan that utilizes carb cycling–the alternation of high-carb days with low-carb days, plus a strength training and cardio plan.  I like his ideas about strength training, since they incorporate natural movements that we all do on a daily basis, like getting out of a chair (squat).  His ideas about cardio are good as well:  do what you like, as long as your heart rate is elevated for at least 30 minutes.  I have no problem with that, as I dig riding the recumbent bike at the gym for a minimum of 30 minutes at a time, on an incline.  If I could ride a regular bike, I’d be on it every single day, but alas, I never learned to ride a regular bike as a kid.  And quite frankly, I’m not willing to learn now.  The falling down part isn’t as easy to recover from when you’re an adult. 🙂

So what have I done to get back on track?  For starters, this week I’ve cleaned up my eating considerably.  I’ve also gotten my chunky butt to the gym twice this week–I plan to go for the next four days to lift weights, and ride the bike for 30-40 minutes.  I started doing Tabatas on the bike to build endurance, and will be working up to a point where I can do at least 4 sets of Tabatas during a 30 minute bike ride.  If you’re not familiar with Tabata training, it is a type of intense interval training that builds strength and cardiovascular endurance.  I did my first set yesterday, and holy crap, 4 minutes never lasted so long!  But I felt incredible afterward, and my legs were like jelly.  The current plan is to do at least one set of Tabatas during my ride for the next two weeks, and then after that, work up to two sets.  My bike ride yesterday went like this:

2 minutes of warm up at 60-65 rpms

Tabatas:  20 seconds of cycling at 90-100 rpms followed by 10 seconds of 50 rpms x 8 sets

9 minutes of cycling at 70-80 rpms, followed by another 15 minutes of interval riding (preset program on the bike itself)

Then I hopped off and did a 10 minute walk on the treadmill to cool down before I came home for the night.

Something else I did to refocus was to set a new goal for myself.  A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how I wasn’t sure what thin felt like.  On my Facebook wall last week, I posted a question about how would I know what size I should be.  After getting feedback from friends, I determined that my next goal should not be my final desired size, but somewhere in between.  Couple that with an idea gleaned from a story on the Weight Watchers site about a woman who’d lost over 100 pounds who used a pair of pants she’d purchased in the size she wanted to wear as motivation, I decided I’d do the same thing.  Instead of pants, I chose this dress in a 20, 8 sizes smaller than I am now.  It’s not my final desired size, but it’s close to where I think my body may eventually settle.  At minimum, it gives me something tangible to aim at, which is something I’ve been lacking and that I sorely need.

I am going to give the carb cycling a try to see if it kickstarts my body into shedding weight again.  Maybe my problem is that I’m not eating often enough?  There have been two things during this whole process that have been extraordinarily tough for me to do:  control portions, and eat more than 3 times a day.  Portion control is easier to learn, because I can measure things and use my hand as a guide for how much of something I should eat.  Forcing myself to eat more than 3 times a day has been tougher to do, since it’s not a behavior I was ever taught.  We were always told never to eat in between meals, and I guess that’s stuck with me even after all these years.

Something else from Powell’s book that stuck with me was this line:  “Who you think you are dictates how you react to situations you encounter daily.”  I thought about that, and let it ruminate for a bit:  am I going to continue to be overweight, or am I going to uncover the curvy athlete I know is under all this fat?

There is an athlete in here somewhere.  She’s buried under my fat, and I’m determined to let her out, bit by bit.

Now you’re probably wondering after all this why the title of the post is “39.”  I turned 39 last Saturday.  Going into the last year of my 30s has really forced me to think about how I want to begin my 40s.  I’ve decided I want my 40s to be healthier than my 30s have been, and I will get there, come hell or high water.   I will be smaller and healthier at 40 than I am now at 39.

I’m not backing down.


2 mph

is my top speed, when I’m hoofing it.

I discovered this last weekend, when I participated in my first walk/run.

As a part of my 5 5k races before 40 goal, I decided to participate in a 1-mile Fun Run/Walk that was being held in conjunction with the 5k race.  My knees are torn up from years of being overweight, plus two knee dislocations and some torn cartilage, so running was out of the question.  I also thought it’d be a good warmup for the 5k I’d planned on participating in later this spring.

I arrived around 7 am to pick up my registration packet and to warm up.  I felt incredibly out of place among all the runners in their fancy tights and energy gels and Camelbaks, and thought holy shit, I am the fattest person here.  But I wasn’t going to let that negative self-talk deter me from doing what I told myself I would do:  finish the course in less than 30 minutes.

At around 7:55, all of us that were participating in the 1-miler gathered at the starting line, and at 8:00, they signaled the start of the race.  I was reminded of how much I hate being in a crowd at that moment–people all around me, too close for my comfort, all of them trying to push past and get ahead while I’m just trying to keep my footing.  Still, I started my heart rate monitor and chugged forward, determined to give this thing a go.

The path was a familiar one–it left from the athletic facility (aka “The Facility”) across from the campus I work on, around the back of the school and then back again.  I’d driven the path several times before, but had never actually walked it.  I tried to pace myself, and tried not to concern myself with how fast everyone else around me was walking/running–even the people pushing strollers were moving faster than I was!  Thankfully, I had music in my ears to drown out any ambient noise around me and to help me focus on my goal of finishing in under 30 minutes.

The further along the path I got, the more my knees began to ache and grind.  I could feel loose cartilage in my left knee, which has given me trouble for the past 17 years.  At one point, I nearly stopped the walk altogether because the pain was that great, but I pressed on.  I knew before I left the house that morning I would need to institute a pre-emptive strike on the pain front, so I gulped down 3 Aleve with my Powerade Zero.

Rounding the back of the school, I came around the front of the Performing Arts Center (PAC), and I could see the Facility from there.  I kept thinking, please don’t let me be the last one, please don’t let me be the last one as I got my second wind and began the walk across the street to the finish line.

As I passed the observers on the sidewalk, I saw an old friend from high school who’d told me earlier in the week she and her family would be there since her husband and kids would be doing the 5k.  I nearly cried, because at that moment I knew that there was someone else besides my husband who wanted to see me finish this thing.

29 minutes, 4 seconds later...

I got to the finish, and saw the throng of runners who were there to actually run the 5k.  I crossed the finish line, and my husband was there waiting for me with a hug and a proud smile.  I got my phone out of my pocket, saw the clock as I crossed, and snapped the picture of the finish as I walked across.  I wasn’t able to get the time, but the clock’s reading is permanently emblazoned on my memory:  29:04.

I’d done it.  I’d finished in under 30 minutes.  Something I didn’t think I could or WOULD ever do, I did.  And at that moment, I felt 10 feet tall and bulletproof.

A year ago, I would not have been able to make it across the street from the Facility, much less round the campus.

Two years ago, I could not make it from my car in the parking lot to my classroom without stopping halfway to rest, and getting extremely winded at the door to the building I teach in.

And now?  I can do a mile in under 30 minutes.  This may not seem like much of an accomplishment to the vast majority of people, but when you have lived nearly your entire life as an overweight couch potato, it is indeed something to celebrate.

I learned a few things that cold Saturday morning:

  • I have a much greater support system than I imagined.
  • My knees really hate moving so fast in the cold.  Hell, they hate moving that fast at all.
  • Somewhere under all this fat, there is an athlete trying to get out.  Eventually, she’ll sweat her way out.
  • I’m going to have to revise my 5 5k’s by 40 goal.

I was going to participate in a 5k down in San Antonio in May, but after this experience and the pain I was in for the 3 days afterward, I am going to give the 5k thing another go in September, when I’ve had a chance to lose some more weight.  I know dropping another 50 pounds will really ease the pressure on my joints and make the likelihood of me finishing a race without crippling pain much greater.  It may seem like the chicken’s way out, but I assure you, the pain tells me that it wouldn’t be a smart idea to attempt 3.1 miles when I can barely make it through a 1 miler.

In the meantime, I’ve decided that the only limitation to my participating in physical activity is my psyche, and whatever self-talk I engage in.  I’m trying to listen to my body and to the positive things my brain says about what I can do, rather than the things I cannot.

I will not talk myself out of those things that are physically possible for me to do.