Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Fighter!

I think I have to call this one a draw.

Initially, it was definitely a victory! Yesterday morning, my alarm went off, and as usual I was tempted to ignore it. I thought of the stress in my life, and felt how comfortable my bed was. Then I remembered all the soul-searching I'd done the night before about my past habits and patterns, and how badly I wanted to make a real change.

And I got up. And I ran.

It was a very slow run but I finished a mile (in quarter-mile increments, as usual). I felt proud of myself for fighting my inner demons and winning!!! But the victory was short-lived.

What unfolded the rest of the day was unexpected and amazing. The two biggest sources of stress in my life were resolved!! I am insanely grateful for the way things played out, and for the relief I now feel. My life isn't suddenly all roses, but the two things giving me the most grief are no longer doing so, and therefore I no longer have to choose between "fight" and "flight."

The reason I'm calling this a draw is that I don't know how long I'd have been able to keep up the fight if times had remained tough. Yesterday's run could have been an isolated incident, and I still could have reverted back to my old ways as stress continued. I am more optimistic about the possibilities for the future, though. Something stirred in me immense satisfaction from recognizing a problem and overcoming it, even if I only had a brief opportunity to do so. I definitely WANT to be able to do that again in the future...and right now I believe I can.

Life can throw whatever it wants at me now. I'm ready -- ready to FIGHT!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fight or Flight?

This is the true test. None of the progress I've made over the past year will matter unless I can pass this test.

When my alarm went off this morning was when I realized exactly what was going on. I'd planned on going to the pool. My bag was packed and ready, and I woke up rather easily. But I didn't go anywhere.

For once, this isn't about the aches, pains, or fatigue of pregnancy. It's about my old habits...unfortunate instincts that I can't seem to shake. I'm dealing with a couple of really stressful situations in my life right now. Everything has sort of been piling up on top of me, and this last source of stress has pushed me to the brink.

When it comes to the age-old "fight or flight" instincts, for years now I've been falling solidly on the side of "flight." I have no skills for coping with stress (especially when I'm pregnant, but not only then), and so I run away. I run away from conflict, from people who upset me, from situations I can't control. When the going gets tough, I shut down, and check out, and give up on myself.

Some people have wondered why I take my fitness ups and downs so seriously -- it's because for me they have been intertwined with successes and failures in the rest of my life for a long time now. In the past 10 years, every time I've faced a difficult time in my life, I've resorted to poor health habits as my pitiful coping mechanism. In contrast, the times when I have been able to improve my health habits, even if only temporarily, I have likewise been better able to deal with the rest of my life! Well, that was true at least until I faced another major challenge, and then I'd flee from it all again.

So here I am, dealing with pregnancy hormones that make me insane and as poorly equipped to handle stress as I ever am. I have to make some tough decisions and I don't want to run away. I want to dig my heels in and fight. I want to face the things that upset me, or scare me, and actually DEAL with them for once! I don't want to be called out on strikes this time...I want to go down swinging!!!!! And being the extreme personality that I've already admitted to you I am, I know it's going to be an all or nothing sort of thing.

This morning I chose flight. What will I choose when the alarm goes off tomorrow?

26 Weeks - Back to Running

Workouts this week: 1
Total swim time: None
Total run/walk time: about 35 min. (12 min., roughly 1 mile, was running)
Other workouts: None
Weight: 207 lbs
Total weight gained: 23 lbs

I totally forgot to write this update over the weekend! Oops! I'll keep it short because there are some other ideas I want to explore today, and they're major enough to deserve their own entry!

So I had another mostly lazy week, and it would appear that I gained 4 lbs in one week!! I think that is mostly bloating though....ahh, the joys of pregnancy! But I did manage to go for a run on Saturday, and I went outside and took my 5 year-old with me on his bike. It was actually a lot of fun, and not as painful as I expected! I think I keep avoiding or postponing my next run because I'm always afraid it's going to hurt. It was nice to see that this run definitely didn't hurt much at all. I do think I was running a little slower outside, so it might be time to drop my speed on the treadmill as well.

I'm definitely disappointed in my overall performance lately. I had those great dreams of making the most of my last month of the second trimester, but ended up wasting most of it instead. I'll be entering my third tri by the end of this week, and the discomforts are just going to keep increasing more rapidly from now on! I won't speculate any further on how I'm going to proceed from here, because that will be part of my other reflections, later today.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

25 Weeks - Short Break from Running?

Workouts this week: None
Total swim time: Zip
Total run/walk mileage: Zilch
Other workouts: Nada
Weight: 203 lbs
Total weight gained: 19 lbs

Despite setting no goals for the week and having really low expectations, I still managed to disappoint myself. I didn't even attempt to do any sort of exercise at all. What's worse, I entertained a lot of thoughts of just giving up on it completely.

I've been having a really rough time mentally and emotionally. The pregnancy hormones are wrecking havoc on me this time around. I get in these terrible moods for no good reason and none of my usual tricks can successfully lift my spirits. I'm equal parts irritable and weepy, and spend a lot of time hating the world just because.

The irony is that exercise is one thing that usually does work to improve my mood, but when my mood is at its worst, the last thing I want to do is exercise. If I could overcome the mood long enough to get a workout in, then the lasting effects could have me feeling better for a while. But I don't know a way to overcome the mood in the first place, to get to where I can make myself work out.

All week long I've thought about giving up on exercise for the remainder of my pregnancy. I don't really want to do that, but if I can't get a handle on my moods, that might just be what happens. I really wish I were better at all this pregnancy stuff (and with 3 kids already, you'd think I'd be a pro by now!), but the truth is I just suck at it. Some women ROCK at being pregnant. It suits them, physically, emotionally, etc. It does not suit me. Never has, and clearly never will.

Most days I just think about the future and hope that everything I learned last year will help me get in shape again when I have to start all over from scratch. The way things are going now, that's about the best for which I can hope. Sorry for all the negativity. That's just where I am right now.

I do still hope to try to exercise this week, but I honestly don't know what I'll be able to force myself to do. Next week's update might be as surprising to me as it is to you!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

24 Weeks - Still Running

Workouts this week: 1
Total swim time: None
Total run/walk mileage: 2.75 (1 mile of that was running)
Other workouts: None
Weight: 202 lbs
Total weight gained: 18 lbs

Um. Oops?

Okay, let's focus on the positive things here, few though they may be. First, I recognized that I was having a crappy week, and managed to finish relatively strong with a good run yesterday. I easily could have thrown in the towel for the whole week and gotten one more lazy morning in there, but I didn't. So the week was not a complete fail!!

Second, I did achieve my stated goal of writing more blog posts! They must not have been very interesting, because they sparked few responses, but writing can be therapeutic for me whether anyone reads it or not. I have a short list of topics I want to cover soon, so expect the increased posts to continue, and feel free to suggest topics or ask questions if there is anything you'd like me to address!

I do have some concerns after yesterday's run. With each pregnancy, I get a whole host of aches and pains (lower back, hips, groin, sciatic nerve, etc.) that are all considered normal. Some women get none of them, and some get a few mild ones. I win the aches and pains jackpot and get a whole bunch, and they can be severe at times! Lucky me! So far I have not experienced the pains while running, but they're definitely worse after a run. Yesterday, I was in quite a bit of pain and had trouble walking for the rest of the day. I know I'm going to get these pains whether I run or not, but I certainly don't want to keep making them worse. Yesterday was NOT my last run, but it did make me wonder how much longer I'll be able to keep it up. No matter how good it feels to run, at some point it will no longer be worth it if I'm miserable with pain for an entire day afterwards. I'll see how things go with my next couple of runs, and then I'll experiment with cutting back on speed or distance to see if that helps. All I can do is hope for the best!

Part of me wants to come out fighting after such a disappointing week, but I have to be honest -- I am not setting any goals this week at all. Ideally I'd like to do yoga tomorrow, run Monday, and swim Tuesday, but after that all bets are off. This week I will be entertaining house guests, running a March Madness pool, celebrating St. Patrick's Day, and possibly buying a car. If I don't have the time or energy to keep up with my workouts, so be it. I'll be right back at it the week after that. :)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

I Go to Extremes

And if I stand or I fall
It's all or nothing at all
Darlin' I don't know why I go to extremes

--Billy Joel

This song came out when I was in middle school, and I felt like the lyrics really spoke to me and my adolescent mood swings. As it turns out, though, I don't think I ever really outgrew the "extremes" sort of personality. And my pregnant mood swings make my adolescent ones look like, well, child's play.

Since I identify so strongly with this song, naturally the lyrics popped into my head this morning as I was contemplating my week in contrast with the last one. Perhaps my cockiness got the best of me and ultimately I jinxed myself with over-confidence! All I know is not only have I not managed to pull off another 5-workout week, but I have not even exercised ONE time so far. Not once.

I wish I had a good excuse, but truly it has just been pure laziness. My bed is really comfy, and in the morning I just don't want to get out. It's as simple as that. Once upon a time, I'd made a lot of progress in overcoming that laziness, but lately the hormones have been helping it sneak back in and take over. I tend to let myself get away with murder when I'm pregnant, all in the name of trying to keep myself happy.

In the past, sitting on my butt until the baby was born has made me happy, but this time it's not having the same effect. I enjoyed all my workouts last week and I wish I'd had similar pleasant experiences this week!!!! So I'm not giving up just yet...tomorrow morning I WILL get up and run!! And Saturday I will do yoga! I hope you will harass the hell out of me if I don't!!!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tuesday Tips: Good Fitness TV?

For the second time in a row, I'm bailing on The Biggest Loser halfway through the season. I used to find it very inspirational, but the producers just keep pushing the focus more and more onto drama and surprise twists, and away from healthy habits, hard work, and true fitness. It never portrayed ideal or even realistic methods of weight loss, but it used to have some real heart to it, and I feel it has lost that.

So now I am in the market for TV shows that might provide the inspiration that TBL once did. I don't think there is anything else like it on network TV, and I'm not familiar with much cable TV unless it is on ESPN or Disney/Sprout/Nick/Noggin. :)

Are there any good shows about getting/staying in shape? They don't have to be specifically about weight loss, though I do love to see that sort of transformation. I'm interested in anything that follows people's journeys, shows their progress towards their goals, and involves lots of working out and sweating!

Please share your knowledge...which shows to check out, and which to avoid! Thanks!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Number for Rent

You may recall how proudly I "owned my number" when my weight finally dropped below 200 lbs last year. Well, as of my most recent weekly weigh-in, I've hit 200 once again.

I know it's not a big deal. I've said it before, and I'll say it again -- I'm not obsessing over exactly how much weight I gain with this pregnancy. My focus is on staying fit and active, with the primary goal being getting back into shape as quickly as possible after the baby is born.

So the number on the scale doesn't really matter much. I've watched it climb slowly and haven't been bothered by it, until now. There is just something difficult to swallow about seeing my weight start with a "2" instead of a "1." After being over 200 for so long, and then working so hard to get under 200, it's not easy to go back over it, even knowing that it's temporary.

Hopefully this state of mind won't last. In a few weeks I should be used to seeing my weight keep climbing into the 200's, and it won't bother me anymore. I know I have a good bit more weight to gain, as the baby starts to grow more rapidly. This is normal, healthy, and GOOD, and I need to keep reminding myself that until it's not an issue messing with my head anymore!

What I want to be more cognizant of this time around is what happens to my weight after the baby arrives. Thanks to eating my way through the grief of losing my Dad, I actually gained weight after my last baby was born. My pre-pregnancy weight was just under 200 lbs, at 196, but when I finally decided to get back in shape, I was up to about 220, give or take. I don't want to go down that road again. Even if I don't start losing weight immediately postpartum, I at least want to keep it stable and not gain anything further at that point. I don't want to keep re-losing the same pounds over and over again!!

I'm committed to getting back to my pre-pregnancy weight at a steady and reasonable pace, but I have to say, it will be much easier if no one I love dies this time around...

Saturday, March 5, 2011

23 Weeks - Still Running

Workouts this week: 5 (!!!)
Total swim time: 1 hr, 10 min
Total run/walk mileage: 5.50 (2 miles of that was running)
Other workouts: Yoga DVD once
Weight: 200 lbs
Total weight gained: 16 lbs

Here's to meeting goals and having a great week! I must owe my success to the boost of self-confidence that I borrowed from Charlie Sheen! Hahaha

It felt awesome to get in two runs and two swims, and all strong workouts. I'm definitely following through on my plan to make the most of this month in case it's the last one where I feel good for a while. Let's hope I can keep it up a few more weeks!

The irony of my fitness experience is that it's not having the effect I expected. I was under the impression that regular exercise during pregnancy helps prevent a lot of the aches and pains that come about with the changes in the body. Maybe my case is different because I've gone through three pregnancies before and already laid some groundwork, so to speak, for all those aches and pains. I have no idea if that's a possible cause-and-effect scenario, but what I do know is that no matter how good I feel while I'm running or swimming, I'm still gradually developing the usual pains anyway.

Fortunately, the discomfort is all still pretty bearable, and hasn't curtailed my regular activity level. I'm still hoping that in the long term, the yoga at least will help keep the aches and pains from getting as severe as they have been by the end of my previous pregnancies.

Now that's enough about pain! I want to focus on what is going right these days! I'm optimistic that I'll be able to duplicate my efforts this week. A total of five workouts is probably about the best I can do, so I'm not going to try to improve on it. I'm just going to shoot for the same number, and strive to give each workout 100% effort. I gave it my all in my last two runs, but I think I could push myself a little harder in the pool, and focus a little better during yoga.

I'm also setting a separate goal of writing more blog entries this week. I don't just want to give you weekly updates on my progress, especially because there is so little to report. So this week I'm going to try to address other fitness topics that have been on my mind. During the time that I wasn't writing here at all, I was still thinking about fitness and planning for the future and being inspired by I do have things to say. I hope you'll enjoy them!

Thursday, March 3, 2011


No, I don't have tiger blood or Adonis DNA, but I am channeling a bit of Charlie Sheen's self-confidence (misguided though his may be) today! I ran this morning for the second time this week, and it went really well! That put me in a good mood that lasted all day long. :)

My week is going well both physically and mentally. I might actually make it to a total of five workouts this week, but even more importantly, I'm already perfectly content with what I've done so far. A friend gave me a thought to ponder a couple of weeks ago, and I've started to look at things in terms of where I am now, not where I was before the pregnancy or where I hope to be in 6 months or so. Where I am right now cannot compare to those times, and dwelling on the past or the fantasy of the future will only make me feel bad about my current reality.

When I focus on just where I am now, and making the most of how I feel like I said I wanted to do this month, I can see that things are good. My running has become consistent, and now that I'm happy with the amount that I'm doing, it feels like an enormous accomplishment to achieve my goal for each run. For a while, I was not enjoying pregnant running because it was so different from non-pregnant running and I just felt weak and out of shape. Now I'm finally enjoying running again, because I'm surprised and pleased that it still feels as good as it does at this point. After each time I run, I ask myself, "Was that my last run until after the baby is born?" And each time the answer has been a resounding "NO!"

I still don't know how much longer I'll be able to continue, but every time I have a good run, I know I'm at least one more run, and probably more, away from being done. And that makes me feel makes me feel special. To quote my new idol for self-confidence: "I'm tired of pretending like I'm not special. I'm tired of pretending like I'm not a total bitchin' rock star from Mars!" :)