Monday, June 22, 2009

Steering Clear of the Gym

I've decided that I am going to stay away from the gym for a few weeks and focus on getting my exercise done outdoors or by punching myself doing Billy Blanks' Ultimate Tae Bo Experience. There are three reasons for this, one is not a factor in the decision as much as something I just want to complain about.  

Reason 1: I have hit a weight-loss plateau.  For a few weeks now, I have been hovering at 28 pounds loss.  It's discouraging and frustrating to still be working out like a champ, eating healthy, and just doing everything right and seeing nothing as a result.  It's tempting to just accept the fact that I am doomed for a life of Fat Girl-dom, but I really want to hit 30 pounds so I can do The Worm during Dance Party.  I've been holding out on that move for a special occasion, and I am itching to do it.  So, I am hoping that by switching up my routine and putting myself through different exercises and challenges, it will kick start my body back into lose weight mode.  

Reason 2: I have an arch-nemesis at the gym.  I need space from him or I may eventually blow up at him, or start throwing sticks of deodorant at him. My arch-nemesis is an older gentleman, I would guess late 60s or early 70s.  He's fit and active, someone you would expect to see on an Ensure commercial, except he's got a real-Prick face. One look at him and you can just tell he's been a dick to most of the people he has came across in life. Note: this is why I smile as much as I can, because I've noticed you can look at old people and tell if they are happy or mean people based off their wrinkles.  Those wrinkles either tell a story of laughter and fun, or snarls and scowls.  I want my wrinkles to make me look happy.

Despite the fact that I try to be a happy person, it does not change the fact that he's my arch-nemesis.  The first reason that he is my arch-nemesis is that he stinks. Terribly.  Body odor alone is not enough to get me make you my sworn enemy, but it helps.  But it's just not body odor, I mean, this man smells truly, truly awful.  I was on the elliptical one day, the only person on them, and he got on the one two machines down and I was just hit with a smell that only pigs would love.  I started gagging, felt my mouth begin to salivate and realized I had to hightail it out of there.  I shot Stinky Old Man a dirty look on my way out.  I don't think he realizes he smells so awful, and his clothes look laundered and he appears to practice good hygiene.  However, the odor emitting from him would make flowers wilt. I wouldn't mind the odor so much if Stinky Old Man did not insist on getting on the elliptical in the very middle of the row.  There is no way to be on a machine without being subjected to his stench.  I've been skipping the elliptical and going for the bikes or treadmill because of him.  And lifting weights??? Oh hell no, I am not about to get on machines after he's been sweating and rolling all over them.

But being a Stinky Old Man is not enough to warrant being an arch-nemesis.  It was a comment he made to me one day.  Stinky Old Man and I see each other often at the gym, and exchange dirty looks to one another. One day, he approached me and made the comment, "It's good to see a chubby girl like yourself here so often.  So many kids in your generation are so lazy compared to mine. It's good to see a fat person trying to do something for herself."

I'll give you a moment to soak in that comment.

Yes, Stinky Old Man called me fat and chubby in the first, and only time, we ever spoke.  I sat there, jaw dropped, and just sort of said thank you, because how do you handle that?  Where does this guy get off thinking he has a right to say that to someone?  Your stink does not give you special rights and privileges, except maybe dibs on the shower.  I could not, and still cannot, believe he said that.  Granted, calling me fat, chubby, tubby, obese, whatever, has no effect on me.  There just adjectives, and I am entirely too overconfident in myself to get hurt by that. I have thick skin, both literally and figuratively.  However, there are a lot of women out there who are really sensitive about their size and would've had a meltdown about a comment like that.  Calling someone fat or chubby is not a motivator.  That comment sealed his fate as my arch-nemesis.  Note:  any time someone uses the phrase "fat person," I cannot help but think of Buffalo Bill and the classic line, "Oh wait, was she a great big fat person?" However, Stinky Old Man is not the a real reason I am avoiding the gym, because my parents raised me to not really give  a shit what people think of me; hence the inflated sense of self that I have.

Reason 3:  This is the main reason I am avoiding the gym for a while. I require loud music blasting from my iPod to keep motivated.  The gym has 90s on 9 piped through the speakers, but for me to stay moving, Classic Rock is required. Often I get really into the songs and work out to the beat.  This behavior caused me to once pull a muscle in my shoulder and lose function of my left arm for a few days due to trying to use the elliptical to "My Sharona." The other day when I was at the gym I was feeling  some Aerosmith. Twenty minutes into my workout I had enjoyed the classics from the Get a Grip album and I still had 10 minutes to go.  So I maxed out the volume and blasted "Janie's Got a Gun."  My energy rocketed and I was pumping away like a champ on that elliptical, I was sweating it out in support of Janie and her anger.  However, I got a little to into the song, because when it got to the "Runaway, Run away, Ruuuuunn Away from the Pa-e-a-e-ain, Runaway, Ruuuuun awa-e-a-e-a-ay Yeah!" I got completely caught up in the moment and started belting that verse out at the top of my lungs. I did not realize how carried away I was until the lady on the machine next to me tapped my arm and motioned that I was indeed singing at the top of my lungs to my iPod to Aerosmith in the middle of the gym.

Oh, did I mention that there was a division of Sailors there doing their physical fitness test and all got to bare witness to my Fitness Karaoke Debut?   I tried to play it cool, help up my iPod to signify I was not a psycho, but the damage was done.  Everyone was commenting to me once I got off the machine.  I don't embarrass easily, and I am not actually embarrassed by this, but it's more of a pain the ass to have everyone looking at you as the "Janie's Got a Gun" Girl and asking for an encore when you're on the machines.   So wish me luck in my gym-free adventures.  I will venture back there once I am confident that someone else has pulled a boneheaded move and forgot about me singing on the elliptical.

In the meantime, I will try to keep my karaoke moments limited to bars, cars and showers.  

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Gunny-Part Deux

Life lesson learned the hard way: Never make commitments to The Gunny under the influence of multiple bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon, because he will hold you accountable, and you will regret it.

This past Friday finally brought evidence of June weather here on the Chicago North Shore.  As we frequently do, our quad of neighbors got together for an impromptu barbecue followed by an evening around the fire pit with lots of bullshitting, story telling and drinking.  I've come to really enjoy these low-key evenings, but have discovered that I need to watch what I say to The Gunny.  While we were chatting, The Gunny mentioned how he is planning on starting a work-out regime with one of the other ladies, and I chime in that I want to participate.  He then offers to start it in the morning with me.  He knew that I was heading downtown on Saturday to participate in RibFest and would be gorging on overpriced beer and sweet, sweet ribs smothered in delicious, tangy sauce. The Gunny figured we could do some preventative work before I overdid it.  However, he warned me that it would not be easy, and that we were doing it rain or shine.

Now, if the logical portion of my brain had been operating, I quickly would've realized that I had polished off two bottles of said wine on my own, it was almost midnight, and we were planning to leave by Noon the following day; therefore, I would either have to wake up still drunk to participate, or be late for Ribfest, a thought I would not even entertain.  Logic would have told me to just say no and enjoy sleeping in.  But, as we all know, logic rarely prevails in my world, nor does my Polish Pride ever allow me to step back from a challenge, so I told him I would be ready for whatever he could throw at me bright and early.

Fast-forward 6 hours later, around 0630, and I am nestled cozily in my bed, head spinning with thoughts of California reds, and my phone starts ringing.  Clumsily, I managed to stop the noise which was clearly being amplified by a megaphone.  Then I get a text, The Gunny is telling me at 0900 we are going and to be ready.  I had no clue what he was talking about and quickly turned it off, back into my wine-induced slumber.  At 0900, the text alert chirps, telling me at 1000 we are going regardless and there are no excuses.  Crap. It is coming back to me, I told The Gunny I would do this, and there is no telling The Gunny you don't want to do something that you committed to. It's a rule of life, never lie to The Gunny. I stumble out of bed, get my gear on, and walk over to his house in the pouring down rain, quietly swearing my neighbors for having a bbq when I planned on spending the previous night parked on my couch with my smelly hound dog watching reruns of Deadliest Catch.  Captain Phil would have never enticed me to drink so much.  My anger was only enhanced when I looked up to see The Gunny, who wisely only sipped whiskey the night prior, with his arms outstretched and wearing a shit-eating grin saying, "Don't you love this stuff!"  

No, I don't. No one loves exercising in the pouring down rain when they can barely control their limbs due to excessive wine consumption.

The next hour and a half may have been the most physically demanding and grueling of my entire life.  We walked briskly, as we all know I cannot run safely, then stopped every hundred yards or so to do exercises.  We squatted, we did lunges, push-ups, scissor kicks, ran stairs, hello Dollies, jumping jacks, and other things so terrible that I will not speak their name.  At one point The Gunny actually had me jogging, in this pouring rain, through a wet, rainy field just after doing 40 lunges, and I literally thought my heart was going to explode.  I make it policy to never tell The Gunny, "I can't," but I did feel it was necessary to tell him he was about to have a fatality on his hand.  He took it in stride, The Gunny is actually very supportive and understanding of my limitations and modifies exercises for my inabilities.  For example, he had me doing an exercise where I had my back to the seat of a bench, and I had to raise myself up and down with my triceps.  It was a complete failure.  1. I cannot support my weight on triceps alone, 2. That bench was slippery, and 3. Even if it wasn't wet, my hands are about the size of a toddlers (I wear children's small or medium gloves and mittens, which is a score as they are much cuter and cheaper!) My tiny little paws could not even grasp the thickness of the wood.  I fell on my derriere a few times  before he switched me to something new that did not involved bruising my tailbone.

But alas, just as all good things must come to and end, all horrible, painful hellish things do too.  We finally started the trek back home.  With about three minutes left in the walk, the rain showers stopped and the sun came up.  The optimist in me tried to smile over the fact that this meant my coveted RibFest would not be cancelled, but the searing pain in my legs, burning in my lungs, and squishy steps of my Nikes did not allow me to celebrate.  I still had three minutes to walk and it was questionable whether I would make it.  In the end, I made it, and I made it to the RibFest, and the beer gardens and smoky ribs made The Gunny's workout entirely worth it.

For that day.  Now, I am not so sure.  Three days have elapsed since I endured that workout, and I am still in extreme pain.  Sunday I could not bend at the knees due to insane quad pain. To get things that were on the ground or down low required me slowly lowering myself into a pushup position with minimal bending- and due to those weak triceps, I kept falling over once I got to the required height.  The most interesting part was finding out that I do indeed have abdominal muscles, and that they are used quite a bit in the most basic movements.  I honestly thought I no longer had them as they had to leave to make room for the ever-expanding Bud Light Belly, but with every breathe, cough, twist and turn over the past few days, they have alerted me of their presence with throbbing pain. But it was worth it as I learned a lot of great new exercises I can incorporate at the gym, at home or on walks.  And as this soreness fades, I am actually looking forward to the next workout that The Gunny puts me through.

I am just going to make sure that my Last Will and Testament are updated before participating. And that I made the decision to do it under sober mind, if that ever happens.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Running Pains

Fat girls are not designed to run.

Take it from me. I learned the hard way. The hard, painful way. My running career started, and subsequently ended, on Monday. I did not feel like going to the gym at all that day, for reasons I will share in the near future. I was not digging a bike ride or rollerblading, and I did not feel a walk would really get me up to a level that would compare to a good workout at the gym. So my genius brain says, "Hey, why don't you go for a run!" Wow, excellent idea. Except I have not ran in years. And my doc told me I need to lose about 40 more pounds before running to avoid blowing out my kneecaps once I reach my parents' age. Oh, and I hate running. My brother proposed an interesting theory to me about individuals who played team sports hating running as it was used for punishment, and those who enjoy running often were not on team sports. His theory is spot on in regards to my outlook on running.

However, as I tend to do when the logical portion of my brain is operating, I tuned it out and decided I was going to become a runner. I envy runners, I frequently see them out...running. They make it look so easy. I especially admire their legs, as they always seem to be so long and lean with tight, toned muscles. My legs resemble something you would see rotating on a spit at your neighborhood gyro shop. Definitely not vessels of exercise or transportation. But my mind was made up, I was going for a run. I did not want to run by myself; however, the only runner in the neighborhood who was home was The Gunny, and I did not feel like submitting myself to a Marine Corps-style run. I decided that it was paramount that my running partner was in worse shape than I am, therefore making me look like a star cross-country athlete by default.

So I took Boris, my smelly, grossly overweight and out-of-shape hound dog. This dog makes vegetation look active. If he isn't sleeping, rummaging or eating, he is not interested in participating in anything. Clearly I would come off to passer-byers as a fitness queen trying to whip this tubby puppy into shape.

Boris and I set off. The iPod was blaring, "Running on Empty" by Jackson Browne to get me going, convincing myself that I too could run across America like Forrest Gump. It was hard, chugging my hefty little ham hocks at an accelerated pace, but I kept up at a solid pace for a few minutes. However, that bastard Boris must have had a revelation that he needed to get into shape because he started pulling and running like the there was an Ice Cream truck down the street. I started to falter, struggling to keep pace with this hound. Then it happened, what every runner fears...I hit the wall. Sort of.

Actually, it was a stop sign. And I did not hit it as much as I completely checked it with my left shoulder. It was completely not my fault. I was running into traffic, as pedestrians on feet are advised to do per 2nd grade Safety Patrol training, and a Stop Sign happened to be sticking out into the road from the ground at about a 60 degree angle. The back of that stop sign is gray and blended in perfectly with the gray road that was inclining up, making it impossible to notice, until you go barreling into the damn thing! Note: I am now a vocal advocate for making the back of stop signs bright red.

I halted immediately. Boris yanked a little, then stopped as he noticed me grabbing at my shoulder and howling in pain. He was briefly interested, but once he realized food was not involved, he laid down in the road until I got over the immense pain shooting through my left arm and shoulder. However, I have hit a weight loss plateau and was determined to finish our 4-miles if it killed me. And at the rate I was going, death was almost a certainty. Rather than running, we walked briskly. Once the stabbing pain turned to a throbbing ache, I decided it was time to start running again. A few minutes into it, I could not go on with running. My joints hurt, my shoulder started stabbing again, my lungs wanted to burst open. I reiterate, Fat Girls are not designed to run. However, I did not want to settle into walking the rest of the way, so I made a deal with myself. I frequently do this when it comes to my weight loss, IE if I want to eat dessert, I go a little longer on the elliptical; if I am feeling like a lazy bag of bones, I watch my caloric intake. So I compromised that I would run for one song, then walk for another song, regardless of the length of the song, happily alternating and giving my body time to come down from the impending heart attack I was running towards. It is completely irrelevant that my walking songs included "November Rain" and "Free Bird." Honestly, it just worked out that really long songs were the walking tunes. Regardless, I persevered. I completed my 4-miles, and by the end, Boris came through with flying colors on my objective for him, dragging his tongue while my fit self tugged him along. I am quite pleased about the fact that I am in better shape than my hound dog. I am equally as happy that almost all visible bruising is gone from my shoulder and arm.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to write a strongly worded letter to the people of Highland Park about their stop sign placement.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Progress Report 2

Despite the fact that I gripe about her, I must admit that I truly love my dietitian, Judy. She is so happy and supportive.  She is one of the first medical professionals that I can visit without fear of getting reprimanded or scolded. So often I go to the doctor and hear, "You need to eat less and lose weight," or "Smoking is not only expensive and stupid, but it will kill you," and the most frequent, "Cari, 15 drinks in one night on a regular basis does constitute a drinking problem, not a leisure hobby."

But I never get criticisms like that from Judy. During my most recent visit, I told her how I ate a whole lot of cookies the day before and she applauded my honesty.  I confessed that I ate cake and ice cream before noon one day and Judy shared that we all falter.  I love that I can be honest with her.  I imagine that is how Catholics feel after confessional, not that I would know as the only reason I'd ever attend Mass is for the free wafers and red wine.  Pretty sure they would kick me out as I would surely say, "Hey Padre, is this a Cabernet or a Merlot?"  I'm much too lazy to be Catholic, with all that kneeling and standing and Hail Marys. 

Anyway, I met with my dietitian this past week for our every 4-week meeting and was somewhat pleased with the results.  It was confirmed that I did hit that blessed milestone of 25 pounds.  Of it, 3.5 pounds was pure body fat.  Which again, begs the question, what is the other weight???  I really need to ask about that.  Is it due to my haircut? The fact I wore less accessories?  If anyone knows what else I am losing, please let me know.  My BMI went down another whole point, getting me closer to that BMI of less than 30 that I am working for, and my percentage of body fat went down another percentage point.  Exciting stuff.

Perhaps the thing I was most excited for was my lipids and glucose test.  My cholesterol went down by 10 whole points!  I was so excited! At the same time, I realized how grossly pathetic my life has became that I am about to turn cartwheels over my cholesterol.  Seriously, I am 25-years-old, living in the greatest city in America, and the most exciting thing in my life is that my triglycerides look good? Oh, how the mighty have fallen.  The low that my sad life has reached was even more exaggerated by how happy I was with my blood glucose test.  In early April I registered at a 105, which put me into pre-diabetic range. Receiving that news was what started this whole lifestyle overhaul, as my gene pool is unfortunately affected with diabetes.  Plus, I already have one disease I will have forever in the form of Grave's Disease, I surely don't need another, especially one like Diabetes.  Despite the fact that diabetes is becoming more common, evident by the number of commercials for handheld devices depicting people celebrating their freedom to test wherever while a snappy jazz tune plays, I don't want to join the ranks.  Because to me, diabetes will always be a disease represented by Wilford Brimley and his inability to pronounce the word. Note: Will someone explain to me why a celebrity spokesperson insists on calling it "Diabeeeeetis?" I don't get it.

Anyway, exciting news is that I am no longer pre-diabetic.  Prior to starting to change my life, I imagine my veins resembled the chocolate river from Willy Wonka.  But now I am sitting at a cool 100, which I imagine makes my veins more like thawed popsicles.  I need to get it lower, but progress is progress.  

I am noticing this lifestyle change in other areas too.  Before, I was a girl wearing an 18 but definitely should have been in a 20, as I lost feeling in my thighs for about 6 months due to squeezing myself into my pants. Just because I had to lie down to zip em up does not mean that they did not fit.  Now, I am a girl wearing an 18 but should probably be in a 16 as it looks like I am wearing a poopy diaper because my pants sag too much but I am entirely too cheap to buy new clothes.  Also, my fat face is looking better.  Before, it seemed as if I had a Michelin tire strapped to my chin.  However, it is starting to more closely resemble a rooster wattle.  Excellent.

Here are some other interesting tidbits I took away from my dietitian:

- An 8" taco shell is only 1 starch, whereas a 10" is 3 starches!  I don't understand it at all, I tried drawing myself diagrams to understand the logic but am not grasping it.
-VEGETABLES HAVE STARCH!  Obviously potatoes, But beans, peas and Corn count as starch and not veggies!  I feel so very, very betrayed.  So very violated.
-Despite the fact that they look like radishes and their namesake is from a tree, Buckeyes do not count as a vegetable serving.
-There is something out there called sugar-free syrup.  To me, it sounds like an anomaly of the universe.  How do you make something that is basically liquid sugar into something sugar-free?
-Wine is not a fruit serving despite that it comes from grapes.  Beer is not a vegetable despite that it comes from hops and grains.  Sadly, this is becoming something she has to stress to me at every meeting.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Rant- The Price of Eating Well

It seems like barely  a day goes by in my life that I do not read or see some news story about how obese Americans are.  The evening news shows clips of random fat people's faceless bodies jiggling down the street.  Many times I wonder when watching is why do the news teams have to select the fat people who choose to go out in ill-fitting spandex pants and belly-baring crop tops.  Just once I'd like them to show a fattie wearing a sensible pair of bootcut jeans, lace-banded tank and a proper-fitting scoop neck.  However, if they started doing that, then I would have to live in fear that it is my jiggalicious ass being paraded across the news as the reporter states, "America is Ripping at the Seams Due to Growing Obesity Epidemic."   But I guess I am safe as long as they stick with their stock footage, because I won't be venture out in public in pants that the cellulite dimples are visible from anytime soon.

Anyhow, I have discovered why America is so fat, and I believe I know how to fix it. I can see the headlines now:  

"Fat Girl Solves Obesity Problem; Has Hot Fudge Cake to Celebrate"

All joking aside, I really that Hot Fudge Cake right now.  But back to the real issue: Where can I get a Hot Fudge Cake at 10:45 at night? 

For real though, where are the Hot Fudge Cakes?  No Help? Anyone? Okay, so back to my thoughts.  Plain and simple, the reason that our country is so fat is that it is very expensive to eat well in this country.  A trip to your local Whole Foods will expose that to you.  Since I have started this healthy-living thing, my grocery bill has gone up by almost 40% due to the cost of produce!  It's appalling how expensive fruits and vegetables are and quite frankly, it really pisses me off. 

I had to go to the grocery store today to restock my produce selection in house as I finished everything up before a wonderful weekend back in Ohio.I went to the grocery store today and purchased just a few of the essential fresh products- Apples, Bananas, Oranges, Plums, Green Peppers, and a few others.  Nothing exotic- no kumquats, no mangos or starfruits, not even bok choy.  I kept it basic, just enough to keep some roughage in my diet.  When I checked out, I was floored by the fact my total was almost $50!  For NOTHING BUT PRODUCE! And this was after I may or may not have deceived the self-checkout on the number of avocados I really had. Prior to eating healthy, I could easily cook get well over a week's worth of dinners on $50 for Will and I.  Now, I had nothing but snacks and side dishes.  It's ridiculous.

Tangent- Frequently I have heard people making remarks about those in poverty and the fact that they tend to have higher obesity rates, mostly snarky comments such as, "If they are so poor then how can they afford to eat so much?" I'll tell you how, because buying a .90 cent box of Mac n Cheese goes a whole lot farther in feeding a family than .90 cents put towards two bananas.  Processed food high in calories, high in fat and high in sodium is a whole lot cheaper than apples and broccoli. 

Times are tough in this economy, people cannot afford to eat well.  Processed foods are much cheaper, and much more convenient. I am willing to bet my Hot Fudge Cake that in a few years we will see a huge swell in the Obesity rate related to this economy, provided that it is possible for our country to get any bigger. Still awaiting official word on whether there is room for us to grow without having to invade Canada.

I can only conclude that it must be expensive to grow produce, package it and ship it while still fresh.  Why else am I paying out the nose for fresh fruit and vegetables.  So my solution is that the Government either starts dolling out coupons for cheaper produce to us Tubbies to encourage us to spend the money on veggies over the heavily processed foods or increase the subsidies given to farmers so they can lower the end cost of healthy goods to the consumer.  It is not realistic to sit and tell people to eat healthier when it is going to cost good money.  I also suggest giving a tax break to people who lose weight and get healthy.  Mainly because I did not get as big as a refund as I would've liked this past year.  In order to finance this, I advocate selling Texas to the highest bidder, turning the White House into a time share, and allowing Carnival  Cruiselines to rent out aircraft carriers for Military-Themed Family Cruises when the ships are not deployed. 

I am just terribly frustrated at how much it costs to eat well. We are a one-income family until I finish (and start) graduate school, and the military is not exactly known for their generous salaries. We are fine, and making the adjustment. But what about everyone else who is struggling, is it really realistic to expect them to choose fresh produce over having a few extra bucks? I don't think so. And it is just not limited to produce.  Ground beef, and beef in general, is significantly cheaper than chicken, turkey and fish.  I feel better now that I have ranted about how much I hate the price of healthy eating and solved America's Obesity Problem. We will return shortly to my adventures in sprained muscles and concussions. 

Now to go find that Hot Fudge Cake...