No Pain, No Gain

So this isn’t actually a post about how I ran a half-marathon on a broken leg for orphans or something. It’s actually the opposite. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve rediscovered a simple(simplistic?) truth: The less pain I experience exercising, the more likely I am to keep doing it.

(See; see what I did there with the title?)

Accordingly, considering the massive amount of fitness ground I have to re-cover, I’ve decided to take things slowly. Really…really…sl…ow…ly.

Which is more than a little humbling, etc. But, I’ve fallen off of enough exercise program bandwagons to know that pushing myself too hard results in failure.

So today I finished a crawl light jog on the treadmill in between cycling days and felt…well, great 🙂 I was barely sweating, but still had that amazing, post-workout glow. Sure, I won’t burn a gazillion calories a week at this rate, but at least I’ll be able to keep it up.

As a side note, it also helped me appreciate why joggers like jogging. I mean, I guess if I were Super Fit, jogging would just be the this amazing, happy-go-lucky enterprise.

As I currently stand, I still have this view of jogging:

 

But, ya know, I’m trying to appreciate it!)

 

Confessions Part II: In which I Destroy a Ten Year Old Boy on the Basketball Court

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So a couple of weeks back, I had quite the encounter on the basketball court. I was heading back to the camp I ran this summer to finish cleaning up, when I ran into a little kid. Let’s just call him, Billy Bob.

After I removed the few remaining boxes from our main room, I saw Billy Bob playing ping pong with a friend. Billy Bob waved at me again and then said to his friend, “Timmy Tom”, “Hey, let’s play some ball.” I, being dressed in workout clothes–for that morning workout I never got to–and feeling pretty energetic said, “Hey, mind if I play?”

I’ll just pause for a moment here.

Thirty pounds ago, I would never have had the energy to have done this. But, now that I’m a bit lighter (and apparently crazier), I’m more willing to have fun like this. Plus, not to brag, but I was benched on my high school’s varsity basketball team years back. So, yeah.

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Billy Bob was cool about it, because we hung out a lot over the summer. Yet, when I reached the gym door, he stopped me and said, “I’m not losing to a girl.”

I immediately laughed it off. One, because, well, it was funny. Two, because Billy Bob is the sweetest kid ever, but he’s always trash talking, so I never really took what he said seriously.

Smiling, I said, “Haha, funny.”

But he didn’t budge. “No, I’m serious. I ain’t losing to a girl.”

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Now, I was a little less amused. Not annoyed yet, just unamused.

“You know it’s okay to lose a girl, right?”

“No, it’s not!”

I set my hand on my hips. “Why not?”

“Because….” He paused then, as if some deep, existential question was swirling in his mind, “Because, I ain’t losing to a girl.”

Being the child educator / quasi-feminist that I am, I tried to reason with Billy Bob for the next few minutes. I mentioned that it was 2013, not 1913. I mentioned that some girls were actually pretty athletic and that I actually had played some (really bad) basketball in the past.  I also mentioned that I happened to be 27 years old, while he was 10. None of these arguments seemed to get through to him.

All he kept saying was, “I ain’t losing to no girl.”

So, yeah, I wouldn’t say I’m exactly PROUD of what I did next, but:

In my defense, let me go on record by saying that in every other situation, I would have let a little kid and his twelve year old friend beat me at a game of 21. Honestly, I work with children for a living, and have thrown many a game of tic-tac-toe, arm wrestling, etc. BUT, at this point it was a matter of pride for my entire sex. Plus, I was hoping I might be able to teach the kid a life lesson: On the off chance that this kid would never otherwise get beaten by a girl, I wanted him to experience it first hand.

It was actually kind of hilarious. 1) I hate to admit this, but it was a little fun to completely dominate someone on the basketball court like that, because as an adult, you know, it’s usually mean to do that to children. I must have blocked about twenty of his shots, for instance.

2) I was playing out of my mind. Let me remind you, I was never great at basketball, so I’m pretty sure I played the best mediocre game of ball in my life.

To top it all off, I won the game on a three pointer!

I probably could count on my hand the number of three pointers I’ve made in my life; and I’m fairly certain the last one was before the turn of the century.

The moral(s) of the story?

A) I’m not above handing a pre-teen a smack down in the name of feminism.

B) Thank god I was actually in relative shape, because I would have felt pretty horrible if I let those boys–children or not–beat me after all that “Girl’s suck” nonsense.

C) I have questionable ethics 😉

Well, I’m off to destroy more children’s dreams.

Much love,

Big Girl

“We’ve Come to the ENNND of the Road (Ride)”

(*Actual depiction of me crying to my bike after my first flat on Friday).

(**For those of you wondering if the endless onslaught of racing puns will ever end, I’ll answer with this:

“Why didn’t the bike cross the road? It was two-tired”

So, yeah, NO.)

The shop finally finished my bike the other day and, needless to say, I was thrilled!

I can’t remember the last time I was this excited to get something. And, I would have felt a little embarrassed about my raging, uncontainable euphoria enthusiasm if weren’t for the fact that I was out of my mind with happiness. To give myself some credit, I did calm down long enough to pretend to play hardball with shop. I was adamant that I would not pay for the bike until I test-rode it (I’d already ridden an older version previously). ‘Cause, you know, I’m so knowledgeable about bikes I would really be able to know if something were wrong.

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So after acting like I had any real bike sense, I took it for a ride, wet myself a little with joy felt satisfied with the final product and took that baby home.

This is where things began to go downhill. But I’ll postpone the bike drama in favor of basking in the glory of my purchase.

First, as promised in my last post, I wanted to take some time to compare the “tiny” differences between my new bike (Trek Lexa SL) and my old bike (won’t embarrass the company by sharing the name).

Here’s a simple chart to sum up the main differences:

But, in case, that’s still not straightforward enough, I’ll explain them in more detail 😉

Frameset

Frame

  • Trek (Yet to be Named): 100 Series Alpaha Aluminum
  • Buffy: Amalgamation of old Pepsi cans and concrete.

Fork

  • Trek: Trek carbon road
  • Buffy: Spork molded out of solid lead

Drivetrain

Shifters

  • Trek: Shimano Tiagra STI, 10 speed
  • Buffy: -15 speed, with stem shifters.

Misc. Components

Saddle

  • Trek: Bontrager Affinity 1 WSD, steel rails
  • Buffy: Wooden seat covered with glass shards

Appearance

This section deserves it’s own mini-paragraph. Any woman who’s ever taken an interest in cycling can bemoan the dreadful–and, indeed, often, insulting–styles of women-specific bikes. I’m talking pink flowers and rainbows and unicorns. Or, perhaps even worse, if the company’s especially lazy, they’ll just take the super-cool looking male version of the bike and then strip it of all color/creativity and make a grey version. It drives me INSANE.

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For instance, here was the standard version of the bike I got (no offense to those who like these types of bikes):

Observe all the pretty, pretty flowers! Oh, yeah, and the wonderful white seat and handlebars, because, OF COURSE, those are the perfect parts of a bike to be white.

So, needless to say, I was jazzed to move up from Buffy, which basically looked like a pink and white toddler’s bicycle with drop-style handlebars, to my new bike. (The darn handlebar tape is still white though!)

Now on to the not-so-great news: Literally within five blocks of gliding blissfully on my new bike, I got a flat!

It actually took me about ten seconds to register this–I think I was in denial.

Surely, surely, I’m just cycling over a rough patch. Because, god knows this brand new bike I just spent all my money on doesn’t ALREADY have a flat!

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So, yes, after having ridden my old, crappy bike countless times with no flats or any problems, I only made it about two seconds into my new bike before the tire blew out. This totally makes sense. Totally.

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Sigh. Anyway, after overcoming my frustrations, I went back to the shop to get it repaired. On the plus side, everyone was super friendly and the mechanic even let me watch over him so I could get a tutorial on fixing a flat (something I should have probably known to do before anyway!)

This is post is already gigantic, so I’ll end here and give you all an update my more successful rides later 🙂

Much love,

Big Girl

Next Up:

More Biking Misadventures

How Fitness Has Changed My Life AKA Beating Tween Boys on the Basketball Court and other Victories

Heeeeeeereeeeee’s Big Girl

(Gif may or may not accurately represent me after being rudely awakened in the morning!)

So, yeah….its been a while. I probably should have called. Or you know, at least texted.

The truth is, the last two months of my life have been hellacious. I took on this summer job which I thought would be the best thing ever. Yet, instead, I found myself saying…

The only bright spots I can take away from this stress-inducing summer are:

1) I survived:

In the words of Antwone Fisher in that Denzel movie, “I’m still here; I’m still standing!” ::cries emotionally whilst huddled in a corner::

2) I maintained my weight loss (-30 pounds). Of course, by now I was hoping to look like this:

But, I’m actually proud of myself for not letting this deeply draining and stressful period send me into a food spiral. (That’s been the pattern in the past). While, of course, I wish I’d spent more time on the bike–and blogging–it’s still progress.

3) And, most freakin’ importantly. I’m getting a new bike! So apparently WORKING does have it’s benefits, even if your job is a moderately decorated hell-hole! I saved up enough pennies money to buy an actual, legitimate road bike. (Well, legitimate for ME, not for those who are used to riding gold-encrusted, carbon helicopters 😉 )). Those who read my blog back when, you know, I was actually still updating, are familiar with my not-so-subtle jabs at my bike’s suckiness. But, hey “Buffy” did the trick. It introduced me to cycling and got me into relative shape. Now, I’m excited to waste my hard-earned cash buy this pretty thing:

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(Trek Lexa SL)

Sure, I may starve from poverty, but at least that should increase my race time!

I’ll post more later about the bike specs compared to Buffy (prepare the lols) as well as my first official ride on this beaut once it’s finished being built.

Much love to you all and sorry for the long hiatus!

Big Girl

P.S. Any name suggestions for the bike? I’m trying to avoid Buffy 2.0, but will go there if necessary!

Don’t Call it a Comeback (No, Seriously, Don’t)

This was a bizarre week. It was awful on most discernible levels and, yet, at the end of it, I’ve lost a couple of pounds.

THE BAD (AND–WHY THE HECK NOT?–THE UGLY)

(See how I like to start things out positively?)

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“Allergies”

I am one of those people with chronic allergies. You know, the ones who never know (read: accept) when they are actually sick and not just suffering from seasonal allergies? Hence, I’d been strolling about (coughing, sneezing, fatigued), late last week, claiming, “Oh, no, I’m fine. Don’t move away. Just allergies, you know.”

This continued up until Monday afternoon, when my coworkers and boss basically told me in the kindest way possible to “GTFO” before I infected them with whatever plague I was carrying.

It was an awful, weird feeling. (And I’m still not completely sure what I had, since, due to it ‘only be allergies’ and believing I ‘just needed to sleep it off’, I never went to the doctor). I felt like I was simultaneous high and sick at the same time. Just yucky and darn, darn tired. I’m pretty sure I slept for 28 hours on Tuesday. Yes, you read correctly: my fatigue defied the laws of time and physics.

Honestly, even though I’ve been back at work part time since yesterday, I’m still a bit weak. So, needless to say, I haven’t exactly been ‘killing it’ at the gym/bike path this week. It’s left me with an odd sense of loss. I actually miss working out.

Yeah, I know, don’t look at me like that.

I did not intend on becoming one of those obnoxious Work Out people, but I feel it slowly coming on. I’ve been trying to walk every other day, just to keep my body from atrophying under tissues and bed sheets. And, on Wednesday night, in probably an ill advised move, I got on my bike for a leisurely (is there another way to emphasize the word ‘leisurely’) ride around the neighborhood. It was exhilarating, to be honest. I missed my bike, whom I’ve affectionately named “Buffy”, after my favorite childhood character. I missed the feel of wind blowing across me.I missed breaking a sweat–that wasn’t due to odd body temperature shifts.

Of course, while I felt excited after returning, I did feel week the next day. So, I’ve been forcing myself to keep it easy. (Weight lifting? What is weight lifting?!)

“Health Screening”

They say that you’re only as old as you feel. That’s actually false. According to the health specialists I saw yesterday, you’re actually only as young as your crippling health conditions dictate. Yay!

So, as you may have guessed by ‘cleverly though-out-‘ subheading, there was a free health screening at my job yesterday. After putting it off for as long as possible (literally, I was the last person to enter the bus before my office closed down), I entered. I don’t hate doctors or anything, I just hate that shame feeling of going to doctor. You know, when they give you that utterly patronizing look, sigh, and explain to you how you need to lose weight and lower, well, everything?

I was, however, feeling somewhat confident in the fact that I’ve lost considerable weight since my last physical. So, I figured, how bad could it be? Well, bad, apparently!

At the ‘ripe, old age’ of 27, I have a body age of 55.

Yeah, take a moment to let that sink it.

The health aid, whom I had been chatting amicably with before getting my results, seemed to backtrack at my (understandably) startled reaction. “Oh, well, it’s not scientific, exactly, it’s just, you know, to kind of, you know, scare people into being healthier.”

Riiight.

In all seriousness, I kind of laughed it off. Honestly, when you’ve lost 25 plus pounds (to be discussed later!) and changed your life around, you can’t really sweat those things. I mean, I guess my body age would have been about 101 a few months ago! On the somewhat brighter side, my cholesterol, glucose, and blood pressure were all significantly down. Which really encouraged my elderly self me.

THE GOOD

See, I’m not a complete pessimist. Probably in large part to being sick as a dog–and probably about as attractive as one!–this week, I still managed to lose weight despite not exercising. That in of itself is not that exciting–most people lose a little weight when they are sick. But, I realized in getting those freebie pounds, that I’d reached a significant milestone! I’ve crossed past the 200 pound threshold into the glorious 100s and am less than three pounds away from my birthday goal weight!

In case you suffer from temporary blindness upon entering my blog hadn’t noticed the glaring Countdown bar on my sidebar, I’ve been hoping to have lost 28 pounds total by my 28th / 56th (depending on the health specialist!) birthday on June 13th. I was also hoping to be in a size 14 by then. But, as you may have read in a previous post (::crickets::), I’m already wearing a size 14 and now am extremely close to my goal weight! I would say I’m sorry for all the exclamations points….! Or the ungodly length of this post….! But that would be a lie! I’m excited! ::insert more exclamation points!::

…And, yet still exhausted. But, hey, don’t worry, the fatigue’s probably just from my “allergies” 😉

Big Girl’s Guide to Useful (and Useless) Workout Gear

Part of the fun (or futility) of a more active lifestyle is the gear. Even before I began working out, I remember looking longingly at those Super Fit people strolling about. You know, the ones that are so fit and important that they don’t even have time to change from their exercise clothes before going to the grocery store, bank, etc. (You can usually find the biggest culprits in the sports nutrition aisle of the grocery store, staring scientifically at exercise bars). I promised myself a while back while looking at one such Super Fit person at Whole Foods, that I, too, would be super obvious about my fitness one day. Maybe even on days I wasn’t working out, I’d still just strut around in spandex and stare at PowerBars in the grocery store.

All this goes to say that I really like fitness gear of all types (e.g. clothing, gadgets, stretchy band-like concoctions with no discernible purposes). Accordingly, this quasi-useful post will center around my misadventures with exercise gear.

CLOTHING

All Big People know the frustration of trying to find workout apparel that fits you. Especially, when I first began working out, I often felt like this when I tried to squeeze slip into trendy outfits I saw other exercisers wearing:

And don’t even get me started on the perils of finding cycling apparel for Big People! (Seriously, don’t, I hadn’t planned on going into detail about that in this particular post).

Here are some useful and useless tips I’ve picked up:

Oversized Larger Clothing

Perhaps one of most important things about working out when you’re a Big Person is finding clothing that makes you comfortable. This is huge, because if you feel overly self-conscious, you are not likely to leave your front door, let alone jog or bike in front of others. You will probably have to get a little creative with your options if you–like I did–have a lot of weight to shed at first.

For instance, I remember strutting into the women’s fitness section in Target and staring glassily into the sea of booty shorts workout shorts and tanks. It doesn’t matter how many “XXs” are in front of the label when the shorts only come down to your hip bone–you won’t be comfortable! I finally sucked up my pride and ventured into the men’s fitness section. (You can pretend you’re shopping for your fabulous, Shemar-Moore-shaped hubby, if that makes you feel better  ;)). They may not have been the most fashionable, but they were functional.

One of my favorite options are the oversized tanks that somehow manage to swallow me whole and yet still be somewhat indecent at the same time!

oversizedtank

(More astute readers will notice my toe, another gradual clue to my super-secret identity, in the bottom corner).

DIY (Destroy it Yourself)  

Of course, you can always get even more creative and spruce up your own apparel. For example, instead of the odd-fitting tanks, I tried to just cut out the sleeves on a tee that I found generally comfortable:

destroyityourselftee

(The shredded remains of a former workout tee after I ‘fixed’ it)

Needless to say, ‘results may vary’ at first; but keep at it. With some patience and cheap tees, you can find fun ways to make yourself feel cuter in workout clothes.

GADGETS

I love gadgets. Which is a bit unfortunate since I’m not currently fit enough to justify purchasing some of those ridiculous, over-priced ones on the market (e.g. the invisible, underwater, gold-encrusted heart rate monitors). In the mean time, I entertain myself with cheap to mid-range gadgets that both amuse and/or help me out.

ipodmini

(I-pod mini shuffle–perpetually tangled headphones not included)

You can get one of these for less than 40 bucks a pop and they’re super convenient. Just clip it to your over sized tank and go for a jog.

hitechwaterbottle
(‘Super Hi-tech’ Water Bottle that may or may not Filter Water for You)
 

kidbikebell

(Child Bike Bell)

To be honest, I’ve still yet to determine how useful these are, as they seem to either shock or mystify pedestrians on bike trails. But, at least it makes my bike look ‘super kewt’.

NUTRITION

gatorade prime

(Tasty, but probably unnecessary ‘fuel’ for a leisurely 10 minute stroll and then nap)

I’ll go into this more in a later post, but to suffice to say there are TONS of delightful ways to waste money (and calories!) on super-scientific sports supplements. Maybe it’s just me, but, for some reason, when I started working out, I assumed I should suddenly start eating like an elite athlete. You know, all the trendy sports gels and bars without giving up the french fries, etc.

What I’ve learned, however, is that unless you are working out for hours or doing some serious weight training, there’s really no need for anything besides a bottle of water and a light, healthy, snack afterwards. Even now, after a really tough (for me!) workout session at the gym, I’ll just grab 8 ounces of chocolate milk and some fruit afterwards. No need to get fancy…yet.

Maybe one day, after I really am Super Fit and running marathons (psyche!) or something I’ll update this with actual hi-tech gadgets, etc. But, for the Average Jo/anna, all you really need is a smile and/or grimace, some water, and some determination to make it through.

Happy Trekking!

Big Girls Do Cry

So today I, a grown woman, cried in a clothing store changing room. But, not for the reasons you may be expecting. As many Big People can relate to, trying on clothing when you are overweight can be a painful experience. My mother has always accused me of hating shopping. Yet, really, what I truly hated was that feeling of pain and shame and embarrassment of watching my clothing size go ‘Up, Up, and Away‘.

Today, for the first time in years, I was positively jazzed to try on clothes. Instead of the haunting dread that used to follow me about the clothing aisles, I felt hope. I was praying that I might be able to perhaps squeeze into that size fourteen I’ve been aiming to wear by my birthday (June 13th). Not only could I squeeze into the jeans, some of them were even too large!

This may be dramatic, this may be crazy; but, I literally fell to my knees and cried. Yes, real, big tears…of JOY.

These past few years have been incredibly trying–and often incredibly dark. I’ve suffered through weight gain, depression, anxiety, sleepless nights, and having to make a huge, unexpected career change. There were times over the last year or so, where I’d truly given up on life.

It’ll will always be this way, I thought, You’ll always be fat and worthless and depressed.

Yeah, you can imagine what a ‘joy’ I was to be around!

In that moment, standing in a size fourteen for the first time in over three years, I just felt this huge burst of relief. And gratefulness. And joy. When you’ve gone through truly dark times, you can really appreciate the light when it returns to your life.

So to the store clerks outside (and my mother, in whose lap I was crying!), it probably did seem melodramatic–maybe even a little crazy. Yet, for me, it was a moment of pure liberation.

I still have a while to go before I reach all my goals. But, to even have made it this far, is a triumph.