Monday, August 13, 2012

Trying to find my way back

I think it's worth reflecting a bit on this summer as it is ending. At the beginning of the summer, I was very optimistic about my ability to "finally get in shape" (yet another resolution) and was prepared to do whatever it took.  I had a ton of exercise classes that were due to expire, so I planned to use a lot of those and also signed up for a private session with my Pilates teacher.

She always struck me as very supportive and reasonable, so I thought she'd be a great person to help me customize a program for me. She wasn't thrilled about the exercise classes, as she thought most of them didn't count as real exercise. I should have seen that as a warning sign but I went ahead and planned an ambitious program of 2-a-day workouts, at first including exercise classes but later moving on to "approved" workouts.  I was supposed to do strength training for 45 minutes two (preferably 3) times a week, abs every day, and cardio workouts for the rest, with one day off. I modified a bit and dropped workouts here and there, but mostly tried to follow the schedule.

I trained like this into the taper for my triathlon, had a pretty good race, but immediately felt horrible after the race. I devolved into bronchitis that lasted for two weeks, and at that point, felt very unmotivated.

I have been doing at least 5 workouts a week since then but nothing like the previous level of commitment. I have been very frustrated with my lack of progress.  I am actually heavier now than at the start of the summer.

I don't blame my trainer, but I do think that she had some unrealistic ideas of what I could do and what I should do. I told her there was no way this schedule would work when school started, but like me, she thought that by then, I'd be thinner and be able to just switch to maintenance mode.

I am feeling discouraged but I also don't blame myself -- I clearly did not listen to my own intuition on this and let myself get sucked into this resolution to make a big change. I should know better. I also should have known that if I found a workout class challenging, then it counts as real exercise for me even if it doesn't for someone else.

I have been avoiding my Pilates class because I don't want to face my trainer. I know she'll be disappointed. I'm disappointed too, but for a different reason -- I let myself down, not by not following the plan, but for letting myself trust someone else's plan instead of my own needs.

I am going to develop a plan for myself and try very hard to make it one that builds up my energy and my health instead of tearing them down. I don't think I'm going to "work off" my weight. I want to get fitter and stronger, but I think that any weight change is going to come from managing my willpower and learning to follow my body's real hunger signals, not from a huge calorie burn.

I need to find my way back to self-care.


  1. 8:37 PM

    Have you heard of the Happy Eater's website?, I'm no expert on anything at all but I really think it is diet (learning to eat less) that is key to weight loss. Exercise is great for fitness, not so great for weight loss. Anyway, that website has given me some great insights and I thought I would pass it along. Feel free to ignore this :)

  2. 9:46 PM

    If you really love the Pilates class, go back. Classes would be pretty sparse if everyone who regained/didn't lose stopped going. Your instructor might not mention anything at all. Or she might just ask how you are doing. I don't think you have to go into chapter and verse, just simply say you are very glad to be well and back in class.

    1. 8:57 AM

      I am going to class this Saturday. I hadn't realized I was avoiding it but when I went to sign up, it occurred to me that I had been.

  • 9:27 AM

    That first step back is always so hard, but once you're there, it somehow becomes OK very quickly.

  • 7:35 AM

    Oh Jen... I relate so much to this kind of thinking. I was re-reading Full-Filled the other day (another Jen Reccommendation ;) and the exercise section really sang to me. I really think in the long term it needs to be The Jen Plan - what makes your heart sing, what exercise you are drawn to, and f*ck whatever burns the most calories. I reckon whatever you will feel motivation to show up for, consistently, is the way to go.

    1. 8:58 AM

      I should pull out Full-Filled again and reread that section. Thanks for reminding me!

  • I think one of the most frustrating aspects is that there is just so much trial and error! And then, when we get into a groove, something changes. I'm with Shauna...I'm lucky in that I have found something that makes my heart sing right now ( fact, I think you'd like the workout too). I stepped away from it for a while and it was hard getting back into it, but I am so glad I did!

    1. 8:55 AM

      I've done some kettlebell workouts. It's not my favorite, but I can see why you like it.

"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