Monday, July 31, 2006


I told Anne last night that I didn't expect to be that sore today. My race wasn't that long, and I had trained for it. Well, I woke up this morning all stiff and sore, especially in my back. But after being up and around for a while, it seems to be getting better.

So I jinxed myself...

I'm going swimming tonight in our local quarry. I think that the gentle movement and the cool water will take care of any leftover soreness. We're having yet another heat wave (time to do something about global warming), so the cold water of the quarry should feel really nice today.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

race day

I had a wonderful time. I managed to do what I set out to do -- enjoy myself, have a good race, and not stress out too much about going fast and beating people.

I did have some frustrations, but they were minor ones. The biggest was people assuming that this was my first triathlon and giving me unsolicited advice. Today was my eighth triathlon, not my first. I think they assumed that I was a first-timer because I don't have the lean, 12% bodyfat look that a lot of triathletes have, but the truth is, there are a lot of people that don't fit the profile who are pretty good athletes. You can't tell much about a fellow athlete's ability from her weight or her age.

That aside, though, the water was nice and clean, there was a good field and things went relatively smoothly, especially for a brand-new race. The pre-race instructions could have been a lot better and clearer, but overall, things went well.

I wasn't going to look at the results, but I peeked. My swim was my best leg, I finished 11th out of 35 people in my age group (35-39). My bike was next best and I finished 12th in my age group. I was 22nd in the run.

Today I didn't mess around with Weight Watcher points and just ate reasonably. I figure that I was burning a little extra today and I didn't have the time to seriously track. Believe it or not, I wasn't that much hungrier than on a regular day.

Even if this race throws off my weigh-in this week, it was worth it. It reminded me how much fun racing can be.

Friday, July 28, 2006

how I do Weight Watchers

Just like that silly commercial "How do you eat a Reese's," everyone who has been around people who do Weight Watchers long enough knows that there is the official plan and then there's what people really do. Hang around the Weight Watchers message boards for a while and you'll learn about all kinds of mythical plans like the Wendie Plan, the C.J. Plan, etc., that people have invented by "tweaking" the basic Points system. There are also always people looking for materials from some old Weight Watchers plan that brought them success in the past.

I'm no exception. I got to Lifetime using Winning Points, so I am now doing a modification of the Flex plan that is more similar to that plan but that still fits the rules of Flex. Every time that WW revamps their plan, they make some people happy and a whole lot of old-timers upset.

Overall, though, I try to avoid messing with the plan. I have found that it's easy to make an adjustment here, a tweak there, and end up turning it into the way that I would eat normally, on my own. If I eat the way that I would eat normally, on my own, I will weigh what I did normally, on my own.

I have been on and off WW several times in the last few years. After I made Lifetime, I started letting things slide and regained some weight. I joined and quit WW at least 5 or 6 times since then. One thing I have finally figured out is that you have to be willing to let yourself be a little bit hungry at first. One of the lies I hear die-hard Weight Watchers tell is, "I was never hungry." Sure, veggies are pretty unrestricted, so you can eat as many of them as you want, but snacking on a huge bag of baby carrots just leaves me bloated and unsatisfied.

For the first few weeks of the plan, I am hungry sometimes. Not ravenously hungry but a little bit hungry. If I am really going to have a problem, I will eat something, even if I don't really have the points for it, but mostly I try to let myself get used to that feeling of being just a little hungry and remind myself that, to paraphrase a friend, "hunger is not a terminal condition." Sometimes it is really hunger and sometimes it's just habit. I try to wait it out for a while to see if it will go away if I forget about it.

After that first few weeks, the hard part, I start to adjust to the smaller portions and the new way of eating and it's not so bad, unless something doesn't go according to plan. I almost took my husband's head off one night when he wanted to push dinner back a couple of hours, because I didn't have enough points for a snack and dinner and I was hungry. I also get into trouble if I don't plan out my meals or don't keep the pantry stocked with the foods I need. Or if I go out to dinner when I wasn't expecting it.

The funny thing is that sooner or later, as Vickie said in a recent post, my body rebels if I try to go back to the old way of eating. I found that out last night after I went to Tony Packo's (for the first time, even though I've been in the Toledo area for my whole life) and had a beer and a bunch of cheesy, greasy food. My body just can't take it anymore. I hated the feeling of my stomach being so full it felt stretched. At least it kept me from snacking later that night.

Those kind of controls can remind us of the right way to eat, if we listen to them. If not, just like those gastric bypass patients that learn how to eat through their discomfort, we stretch our stomachs back to the point where we started. This time around, I refuse to go back through the hell of the first weeks of WW. I learned my lesson.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

brick today

In triathlete terms, a brick is a workout where you combine two legs of the race -- usually biking and running. I've never done a swim-to-bike brick but some people might. This helps you practice your transition from one thing to another. In transition, you change your gear as necesary, usually going for the smallest changes possible in a short race.

The race I'm doing this weekend is a women's only sprint triathlon. The distances, according to the race information site, are 400 yards swimming, 12 miles biking, 3 miles running. This isn't the Ironman -- that is just way beyond my ability or interest level. I wanted to do at least one triathlon this summer and the swim for this one is in a nice, clean quarry instead of a stinky, goose-poop filled pond like the other race in my area.

I am not as well-trained for this race as I have been for others in the past. My brick workout today was tough, and I didn't go that far -- I biked about 5 miles hard, ran a mile, and then biked home at an easy pace. That makes me a little worried about the race. I told my husband that I don't want him to look at my results, because I want doing the race to be the achievement, and not how fast I finish or how many people I beat.

Competition is a funny thing. I really want to race, because I enjoy it. The crowds and the other competitors are part of the fun. Most people, though, get caught up in the idea of who is fastest and best -- I guess that's what racing would seem to be all about. But for me, when I'm at my sanest, it's about pushing my own limits and seeing what I can do. I really don't want to race against the other people as much as I want to race with them.

That was what made the Danskin Triathlon so much fun -- they created that kind of environment. They don't even have an awards ceremony -- everyone gets a medal when they cross the finish line. But all the Danskin races have gotten too crowded and even the closest one is a day's drive away. I'm going to have to create My Own Private Danskin this year.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

beautiful workout today

I love summer, and I am especially loving THIS summer, because it's my first summer off in eight years. I am doing work on the dissertation but also getting plenty of goof-off time in, and I have time to do my workouts whenever I want.

This morning I woke up at 5:30 a.m. and just wasn't tired anymore. My husband was awake too, so we decided to get up, have coffee and breakfast, and take a walk. I put on my running clothes and ended up letting him head back home on his own while I did a short (2 mile) run on this rail trail that we have.

It was still cool and the sun was just coming up, making everything pink and hazy. The trail passes through corn fields, a mobile home park, and then goes under a highway bridge into a scrap of leftover prairie land full of chicory, Queen Anne's Lace, thistles, milkweed, grasses, and other wild plants I wish I could name. The birds and butterflies love this part of the trail and I also saw a few baby rabbits.

Even this early there were lots of other bikers and walkers out, plus a couple of runners, so I felt safe running alone. I am really going to miss mornings like this in the middle of December.

I figured I did about 22-25 minutes of running and maybe an hour of walking to and from the trail. Plus there was still some leftover coffee when I got back.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


I guess my good week did not go unrewarded. For some reason, 167.8 sounds so much better than 169.4 -- so much closer to 165, which is just 10 pounds from goal. I am weird about numbers.

I had been grouchy about going to meetings because I was getting frustrated with my progress. Here's the history so far:

My "official" starting weight was 172.4 on May 30. I go to an meeting and the first weigh-in is a freebie just to see if you have enough weight to lose to be eligible to join, so my first 2.4 from my starting point here don't count toward my WW awards. So even though it says here that I have lost 7, according to WW I haven't yet earned a 5-pound star. It is sad how much I want that little sticker.


  • June 6: 170.0 -- good first week
  • June 13: 168.4 -- finally broke the 170 barrier
  • June 20: 169.2 -- oops
  • June 27: 169.6 -- double oops
  • July 11: 169.4 -- tiny loss is better than nothing
  • July 18: 169.4 -- thought I had a pretty good week
  • July 25: 167.8 -- finally edged away from that 170 ledge

It's amazing how my leader suddenly seemed inspiring and I felt love for all the people in my meeting today. Even the meeting topic was a good one this week. One of the women in my group said some nice things about "well, it's harder when you don't have as much to lose."

Four weeks left in this session, then we take a week off and start up again for fall. I doubt I could make goal by the time we're done, but I should be able to do it in the next session.

Monday, July 24, 2006

nice workout

I did an open-water swim tonight -- went to the quarry with some people from my Masters' Swim Group (master in this case = post-college age) and swam about 600 yards -- laps back and forth from the diving board to the raft, treading water in between laps. It was nice, the water is a deep blue and very clean and cool. The weather was sunny and hot so it was a relief to jump in.

Earlier today I lifted weights so now I'm in a nice, mellow, tired place. My mind really unkinks itself when I get a good workout in, and I feel what it must be like to be really spiritually evolved, like a Buddha.

Shoulders are a little achy so I might take some ibuprofen.

I'm listening to by Caroline Myss (pronounced "mace") on CD when I'm in the car and also reading when I'm not. Both cover similar material -- there are some really interesting ideas about the way we use our spiritual power and how it affects our physical health. I'm really learning a lot from them, though at times I get a little skittish thinking that she's blaming people for getting sick... still trying to figure out how to resolve that.

I'll be curious to see what she has to say about overweight/obesity, though I'm guessing it will turn out to be a 3rd chakra issue -- that's where the belly is, and that chakra also has to do with self-esteem, personal power, and how we relate to people.

P.S. Weigh-in is tomorrow at noon. I feel like I've had a pretty good week:

Points over allowed -- 12 (not great but better than the 28 I had last week)
Set a new goal of eating 3 fruit servings and 4 veggie servings each day and made it most days


  • Tuesday: biked 93 minutes, walked 20
  • Wednesday: ran 20 minutes, lifted weights, walked 25 minutes
  • Thursday: biked 60 minuts, walked 40 minutes
  • Friday: lifted weights
  • Saturday: ran 46 minutes, did 45 minutes of gardening
  • Sunday: biked 60 minutes
  • Monday: lifted weights, swam 60 minutes

We'll have to see what the scale says, but I think I did well.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

got through my toughest day of the week

Sundays are always hard for me because I go to my parents' house and hang out by the pool -- lots of temptation to snack and eat stuff I shouldn't. I did pretty good, had more starchy carbs than I know are good for me but still have a few points for tonight if I get hungry again.

I started off the day with an intense, hour-long bike ride because I knew the pitfalls I'd be facing. One unpleasant moment, some drunk college kids still up from the night before had to make noises at me when I rode by. It upset me of course, but who is still not finished drinking on Saturday night at 7:30 a.m. Sunday? Losers, that's who.

When I got to their house, my mom wanted to go shopping, so I got to hang out with her at the mall instead of hanging around waiting for lunch and picking at everything. I had a little too much bread at lunch but otherwise kept things under control.

On the way home, I stopped at the store and picked up groceries for the week and my favorite quick-food standby -- sushi from the deli counter.

I might go for a walk tonight if it cools off. I feel sluggish from the heat and bread.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

journaling stuff

I finally got to the gym last night around 5, did my lifting routine. I didn't do any cardio yesterday. This morning I went running with friends, 46 minutes in the park. It is cooler today and it felt good, but I'm tired now.

I've been reading Dry and it's heartbreaking and very good. I am less interested in going back and reading Running With Scissors because it sounds like it would be a chamber of horrors. I'm more interested in the story of the recovery than the backstory of how he started.

At least with this book to read, I don't feel as drawn to spend all day on the computer.

Friday, July 21, 2006

where I am right now

I've been in Weight Watchers (this latest time) for 7 weeks. Not exactly lightning-fast progress, but I know what I need to do. It's just a matter of doing it. And getting the head stuff right so I can do it.

P.S. So I can throw this piece of paper away...

Around the time that I rejoined WW, I got measured for a dress and I thought it would be interesting to recheck my measurements when I get to goal.

Measurements were:
Bust 40
Waist 33
Hips 44.5

where I've come from,where I'm going

Weight has been a big concern for me all my life, though looking back at pictures of myself, I was a pretty skinny kid. I wasn't even overweight at all until my senior year of high school, when I started trying to diet and would come home from school starving and eat whatever I could find around the house.

I lost weight when I got to college -- I didn't like the food and I had to walk everywhere. My first boyfriend was verbally abusive, and even though he was overweight himself, told me I was so fat (at 135 pounds) that he was embarassed to be seen with me. I wasn't as skinny as some of the college girls, so it was easy to believe him. I had a butt and these were the days before J-Lo and Sir Mix-A-Lot. After I dumped him, I met my current husband, who was a runner. I tried running myself, but both of us were a unrealistic about what I could do and what my body type should really be. I worked harder and harder trying to get really skinny and really fast like the girls on the cross-country team.

I don't think I ever really had a serious weight problem until I graduated from college, started graduate school, and got married. We got our first "real" apartment. Big life events, lots of feelings associated with them and new stresses and pressures that I hadn't expected. I finally got to the point where all the overtraining I was doing made me very, very sick from anemia and exhaustion and just quit exercising. Rather than work on real solutions to my problems, I tended to snack away my anxiety, mostly on big bowls of chips. I also got in on the lowfat craze of the 1990s, and like most Americans, I grabbed onto my own version of it: I ate huge volumes of food as long as I kept the percentage of fat low. So I would think it was OK to eat two bagels with a tiny dab of cream cheese, or all kinds of cereal with no milk. Yes, I know now how dumb that was, thanks.

In 1995, I was probably at my highest weight ever, somewhere around 215 pounds. I didn't have a scale and stayed away from the doctor's office or anywhere I might get weighed, so I never saw exactly what the number on the scale was. I had some pictures of me from a trip to the Mall of America with my family around that time -- I looked about twice as wide as my sisters. I never have had broad shoulders, but I looked like I did because of the fat on my upper arms. My thighs looked very, very big too. These are my body's preferred fat storage tanks, along with the usual spare tire area. Now I can think back on that time with some compassion for the person I was, but at the time, I absolutely hated myself. I tore up those pictures as soon as they came back from the developer -- in fact, I didn't want any pictures to be taken of me at all. I really just wanted not to exist at all -- I wasn't suicidal, I just wanted to disappear.

My weight started to drop very, very slowly when I finally finished my master's thesis and moved back to work at my alma mater as an instructor. I started riding my bike to work, using the school's recreational facility, and rein in some of my worst eating habits. It went back up a few years later when I took a job in the computer help center answering phones. The staff of that center took a lot of abuse during the day, so we liked to go out and get hammered when we had a chance. My favorite drink at the time was the Petrifier, a mix of five different kinds of alcohol with grenadine that tasted like Kool-Aid and was guaranteed to mess you up quickly. I went out like that at least two nights a week, and those Petrifiers have a lot of calories.

Around this time, my doctor got the wheels rolling toward change when I weighed in at 197 and he suggested that I try Weight Watchers. I have a nice, nerdy doctor who really does try to do the right thing, and the poor guy had to deal with me sobbing in his office. I stayed away for a while after that, but it got me thinking. I had no interest in doing Weight Watchers, because I thought it was for old ladies in caftans and not for people like me. I read Oprah's Make the Connection and got the ball rolling in the right direction by exercising and really watching what I ate, but I had trouble really sticking to anything, so I had a lot of weight ups and downs.

Not long before my 30th birthday, I read a book called You Don't Have to be Thin to Win, about a 200-pound triathlete. I was around 180 pounds at the time and decided that if I was going to be fat for the rest of my life, I was going to be fat and fit like the author. I signed up for the Danskin Women's Triathlon and started training for it. My goal was simple: to finish. I didn't let my husband take over my training plan -- this was for me and I was going to do it my way. I also decided to make one more last-ditch effort to get thin, so that no one could say I didn't try. I seriously just wanted to get people off my back by being able to say I'd tried everything and nothing worked. I went to a nutritionist and got a food plan based on the American Diabetes Association diet. It was basically fat, carb, and protein exchanges. I started losing weight at about 1 pound a week.

In 2001, I had a great time doing my first triathlon. I liked it so much, I did a bunch more and did some running races too. I joined Weight Watchers after the racing season was over and I started to put on weight, and in Spring of 2002, I made my weight goal of 155 pounds. This seemed like a sort of heavy weight, but I was wearing a size medium in most shirts and could sometimes get into a size 8, so I felt pretty good about it, for a while.

I never got the hang of weight maintenance. I started in with my usual routine of "do more, try harder, try to get thinner." I started to try to become a "real" athlete and just ended up dreading my training. My weight slowly drifted back up as I started to get frustrated and overtrained again, to the point where I got sidelined by injuries and couldn't work out. I had some upsetting personal events and a long series of small annoyances at work and rediscovered stress snacking. By the time 2004 rolled around, I was about 20 pounds over goal. I tried to train for a marathon to get the weight off and ended up with a pretty serious case of tendonitis in my foot, requiring even more time off working out.

I've been struggling with that weight ever since, mostly unsuccessfully. I have also been trying to find the joy in my exercise again, which is difficult. There is always the tension between doing it for fun and trying to become some kind of superathlete so that other people will take me seriously. I start out doing it for fun and then that voice in my head starts in with the "if a little is good, more is better" stuff.

My biggest battle is not to get control of my weight but to bring some sanity to those voices inside my head. On my own as a normal, happy person, I really don't tend to overeat. I love food but it becomes just one thing in my life, not the thing. I don't like huge meals and never have liked greasy food that much. I enjoy exercise and have fun with it, as long as I can stay sane about the workouts and not feel like I'm not "allowed" to take a day off. The struggle for me is with those voices, who can alternately sound like family members, like my husband, or just like a crazy version of myself. I tend to worry too much about what other people think of me and not enough of what I think of myself. This promotes a cycle of "be good" and then "rebel."

I am trying to use the wisdom of the Twelve Steps to get out of that cycle. I am back in Weight Watchers again because it's a sensible plan that I know I can follow if I don't let myself get crazy about it. I am doing my workouts but being very conscious about not overdoing. I am trying to tell anyone who suggests (or even thinks too loudly) that I should be working out harder to kindly shut the hell up. I'm sticking with my original Weight Watchers goal of 155 and am committed to getting there and maintaining that weight for at least six months before I make any decisions about moving down further or staying there. I am trying to ignore that crazy voice in my head that is saying that isn't thin enough, and that people will really love and respect me only if I look like the models in Shape and win my age group in every race I do.

That was exhausting, but now I have that history stuff out of the way. Onward, hopefully upward to some sane place where I can be comfortable and happy and not swing wildly between The Queen of the World and The Biggest Loser.
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"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07