Archive for January, 2009

Hey everyone…I’m thinking now that I’ve gotten back into music, I’m not going to have a lot of spare time to post to this blog. Between making myself practice for an hour a day and making time to hit the gym, along with work and a social life that seems to be developing more for me recently, I’m not going to be focusing as much of my thought on weight loss. Also, I have to admit that weight loss had become somewhat of an obsession to me as of late, and while it’s always good to be focused on your goals, there is a line you can cross where it becomes unhealthy. While I still want to lose those last 30-odd pounds and become very physically fit and stick to a healthy diet, I feel like I’ve said all I need to say for now. Weekends will be easier for me to post, so from time to time I will still probably have something I want to say. I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth or anything, just busy with life is all.

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So I’ve been getting out more lately. I don’t usually touch on my social life in this blog, but to make a long story short, for a few years, especially during my most obese of times, my social life was scant. I would hang out with whoever I was living with at the time, and workmates. That was about it. I had a core group of friends who kind of scattered to the four corners of the globe as what often happens in the years following high school graduation, and thus my little social enclave was disbanded. This was before Facebook became an everyday thing for most people, mind you. I would also argue that Facebook actually can be used to decrease your face to face social interaction because it’s easy to pretend to have a social life on there and not make any effort to see people in person. Anyway, because of a wedding in the summer of ’08, I was reunited with an old friend who is rather active in the local music scene in my town. I am an intense lover of music, and have an affinity for independent musicians. I myself am a musically-inclined person. I played viola through childhood and have always liked singing. When most little kids were picking tunes off the top 40 radio that they liked only because everyone else did and the radio dj’s told them to, I was listening to my parents’ records from their teens and early 20’s. I grew up on the Dead, Neil Young, the Beatles, Janis Joplin, and a never ending assortment of the blues, Motown, and obscure folk artists that my uncle had the privilege to know during an era where the counterculture was referred to as “Beatniks” (very condescendingly by the mainstream media I might add). As I’ve gotten older, my musical tastes have developed to include an eclectic and diverse assortment. I tend to thrive more on the obscure. I will always love my classics, my very early influences. And I love classical music, as my instrument of choice as a kid is a stringed, classical instrument. I’ve always been able to sing well without much practice, but as I get older I find I have to warm up more to keep the voice going strong. Outside of school structured things, I never really performed, and I’m sort of afraid to. Meeting up with this old friend at that wedding was a catalyst for me in regaining my interest in performing music again. I’ve always wanted to play guitar, but I never really committed myself to sticking to it. I realized yesterday as I had an impromptu jam session with 2 people I’d just met on the street at a local coffee shop that I am fully capable, and I’m surrounded to the brim by musically-minded people in this town. My city has a great underground of local musicians, and something clicked in my mind, “I have so many people to ask for pointers surrounding me everywhere I go here. I have no excuse not to pick up a guitar and start practicing.” So it goes, I picked up one of the many guitars we have lying around this apartment (musicians flock together and usually live together) and started playing some chords and strumming. It was nice. I plan to structure some lessons for myself and get my technique to where I’m comfortable singing and playing in public again. I’m an absolute beginner on the guitar, but it’s such a universal instrument, I think everyone can learn to play, and should.

Not only did me and the people I met randomly yesterday have an awesome, Neil Young covering jam session, we also bonded over a lot of other stuff and became new friends. I’ve been trying to push my comfort zone of being somewhat of a hermit and get out more. My friend I mentioned above at said wedding is in several musical collaborations around town, one band in particular is of pretty promising talent as far as songwriting and sound, and I’ve been to a few of their shows. It’s a standard practice for Bohemian kids around my town to have shows at people’s houses so that money is not really an object as far as hearing some good music (although small donations for touring bands are often asked so that things like gas and food along the way are less of a burden, and often the touring bands will be hosted by a local musician so they don’t have to pay for a hotel). It’s been fun for me going to these shows and meeting some like-minded friends. Not only do a lot of them share my healthy food and exercise interests (I’ve already got a confirmed lap-swimming buddy and others who want to taste my healthy cooking sometime!), they also share my love for music, and books, and boardgames, and, well you get it. Social interaction and bonding with others outside of my comfort zone is something I needed in order to grow as a person. It’s part of my “life makeover” so to speak, just as losing weight and getting fit is.

One of the boys I jammed with yesterday is in one of my other, long-established favorite local bands, which I had never seen live before but they’ve been around for nearly a decade. He hasn’t been with them for the whole duration, but is part of the current lineup. It was fun and happy to sing with someone in one of my favorite bands. I’m going to keep being more social. I of course can’t stay out late at too many parties since I work and also need to make time to devote to health-practices for myself (exercise), and I still want to have a positive balance of time to myself to read and do my thing. But I can see my weekends from now on becoming a lot more interesting and fulfilling. 🙂

One thing I wanted to say about my weight loss in relation to this is that I do feel like my weight limited my social life. Many people would say that this doesn’t have to be true, and no, it doesn’t. I know plenty of obese individuals who are outright social butterflies. But I was not one of them. I withdrew more and I think psychologically the fat was there to put up a wall in a way. I never lost touch with my dearest friends, but as far as meeting new people I didn’t initiate it, and I used my weight as an excuse to stay home and hide from that. Also, being that fat made me get tired faster, made me more sluggish, made my body ache and hurt to where I just didn’t feel like exuberant and social. I just wanted to go home and lie down. Being more physically well in general makes it easier to be more comfortable socializing for me. Also, to put a bit of a vanity spin on it, I feel prettier. Not everyone who hangs out in this group of friends is stereotypically hot, but I think the majority of these kids are comfortable in their own skin, and it shows. Since I feel more comfortable in my skin, I think it makes me more attractive to others for friendship and other things (hehe). I’m not really looking for a dating experience at present, but at the same time I’m not entirely closed off to the idea.

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Well, it feels like my house is falling apart! I’ve had nothing but problems since I moved into this place…ugh. Anyway, this week I’ve been sickly. But luckily the sick hasn’t turned into anything bad. I’m certainly uncomfortable, with a stuffy nose, swollen lymph nodes, minor sore throat, and occasional coughing, but I’m not down enough to not be able to function. I feel run-down by the end of the workday, but I feel energetic enough to do what I’ve got to do until then. I haven’t had a fever, either, and I’ve still been enjoying some exercise. Monday I did some light aerobics, Tuesday (Inauguration day!) I went for a long walk, Wednesday I made it to the gym and did the stationary bike, a rowing machine, pushups, situps, and walked on the track. Yesterday I had to stay home and wait for someone to come fix my furnace (brrr) so I didn’t get to go to the gym, but I did some light aerobics again. I’ve been cautious enough with the exercise to make sure I’m not taxing the energy my body needs to fight this, but doing enough to make sure I’m keeping the conditioning I did last week and that I don’t lose any strength while I’m fighting this bug. I’m also trying to get plenty of sleep every night and using a clean diet and my natural healing stuff I mentioned earlier to help me along. I’m way less sick than those around me and I know it’s because of how well I’ve been taking care of myself. But it still sucks to be sick, even if it’s minor. I hope it goes away soon. I also haven’t missed work, fortunately.

I had been hovering at 155 since before Christmas, and this week I finally lost another pound, and I’m down to 154! It’s exciting, in another 5 lbs. (which I’m hoping will take 5 weeks) I’ll be down in the 140’s, a weight range I haven’t seen since early high school! My willpower as of late has been amazing lately. I think the holidays make me forget how to be unemotional about food, and now that they’ve been over for nearly a month it’s like a switch flipped in my head.

My mom is a bit overweight right now. She’s going through menopause. She’s probably about 20 or 30 lbs. overweight and would probably feel better if she dropped a few pounds. Her primary doctor is telling her to drop some weight, but the nurse practitioner she saw in his place (doc was absent that day) recently said her weight is fine. I think certain medical professionals have different standards for what they consider dangerous weight, and I think this makes it confusing for some patients when they don’t always get to see the same doctor and they get conflicting information like this. My mom has not spent a lot of her life being overweight. She was pretty thin until she had me. She gained some weight with her pregnancies (me and my sis), basically, but managed to get most of it off fairly quickly each time. I think she considers her current weight a natural part of aging, which is a common misconception. While the metabolism may slow down a bit and a person may become less active as a senior, that doesn’t mean that it’s “normal” to pack on the pounds. I’m all for people being active well into their old age, just slowing it down a bit obviously. I do know this guy in his 70’s who bikes 80 miles a day (he comes into my store to buy Clif bars to keep from bonking out). He could be full of shit and really only biking 30 miles, but even so, that’s a great fitness level for someone that age regardless. He’s retired and he likes cycling, so he’s spending his retirement doing what he likes. Can’t say I blame him.

That was a good segue into a topic I find interesting because for me, even when I was very unfit and very fat, I’ve always wanted to be an active senior when I get to that age. Not only do I want to be active, I want to still be able to outrun and outwalk people younger than me. Maybe that’s a bit ambitious, but hey, I like to set my sights high. I know that man who bikes every day that the weather allows, and some people would think he’s crazy, but I think he’s awesome. I also think that Marjorie Newlin, the senior body builder, was also amazing. I want both my mind and body to be sharp when I get up there in years. I watched both sets of my biological grandparents have their health completely deteriorate and become bedridden and senile. I get intense fear of that happening to me and I want to do what I can to prevent it. I know that starting with my fitness now, fostering healthy eating habits, and also taking care to stimulate my brain on a daily basis even though I’m no longer in school (some people stop reading once it’s no longer required of them, how sad!) are things I can do now. Not everything that happens in the future is within my power, but I do have some things I can do now which are. I want to be able to spend my golden years really living, not sitting on the couch watchin’ my stories. Certain parts of aging are inevitable (wrinkles, grey hair, menopause, ear-hair), but not everything that happens to aging people is inevitable (osteoporosis, muscle atrophy, weight gain). Some of us are more genetically predisposed to dementia and Alzheimer’s, but why resign yourself to getting it if you can do a few things now, in your youth, to prevent it from at least getting as BAD?

So my mom is kind of stubborn. She doesn’t feel like she’s overweight enough to worry about it. I mean, if she feels fine maintaining where she is, that’s all good. It’s her body. But at the same time, her and my stepdad also both smoke (and have a hard time quitting as they’ve tried many times and always failed) and they don’t eat the worst diet, but it’s also not the best. They regard their various ailments as a part of aging, when a lot of it can be prevented. My maternal grandmother was obsessive about her own weight to an unhealthy point (we’re pretty sure she had an eating disorder in a time before people really started getting diagnosed with them) so I think my mom is defiant about that sort of attitude. But losing a few pounds for her health isn’t going to make her be like my grandma. Honestly, though, I’d be happy with my folks if they would just stop smoking. I feel like once the smoking goes, a lot of other bad habits they have will go with it. I worry the most about health consequences related to smoking than I do about their weight.

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Well, today I’m glad I don’t have to be at work til 4 pm, because that means I can be home to watch the first Inaugural ceremony I’ve ever been actually excited to watch in my lifetime. I’m hopeful and optimistic about Barack Obama’s potential to help lead our country in a new direction.

As far as fitness goes today, I’m definitely getting the sick. I find that natural remedies help me feel more relief from the symptoms than the over-the-counter Nyquil/Dayquil crap. Coughing is a very important function of the immune system, and most modern medicines suppress coughs, which can make your illness last longer. I tend to try and heal myself with rest, good food, tea, and a few supplements. I find elderberry, zinc, oil of oregano, garlic, ginger and goldenseal to be very helpful whenever I’m sick. Those, along with a little bit of ibuprofen and and antihistamine usually help me better than nyquil or dayquil (or their other counterparts). I also really love spicy food and I like it even spicier when I have a stuffy nose and sore throat. As far as exercise goes today, I’m still feeling up for a little bit. Yesterday when I did the aerobic tape I still had to do the moves faster than they did on the tape, and it felt good to get my heartrate up. Today I’m feeling more groggy, headachy, etc. so I’m thinking a walk is more my speed. I’m going to suit up and go do that before the Inauguration starts. It’s a bit warmer out today than it’s been, and the sun is shining. And I’m happy today.

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Well, I woke up with a head full-o-snot and a sore, scratchy throat. So much for not getting sick. I have decided if I have something infectious, I’m not going to be a jerk and go to the gym and spread it around. But that doesn’t mean I get to slack off! I have a bunch of chores I should have done yesterday that I’m going to do this morning. I’ve already got the garbage and recycling out, and I have a kitchen that needs to be gotten into shape, as well as laundry going. And that aerobics tape that’s normally too easy for me? I’m going to do that today. I still want to exercise even though I’ve gotten the yuck, just take it down a notch so my body can still heal. Since I don’t feel any lung congestion, I feel like some cardio will still be safe to do today. I’m still optimistic that I won’t get as sick as others around me since I’ve been taking good care of myself lately, so I shouldn’t be absent from the gym too long. I just don’t want to spread my illness to others.

Yesterday I had a “cheat day” of sorts, but I still ordered one of the healthiest things on the menu where I went to eat w/ my folks. My parents like Jimmy Buffet (I don’t, haha) and recently one of his chain restaurants opened up in my city. They wanted to eat there. Most of the menu consisted of, well, cheeseburgers (“Cheeseburger in Paradise…” is one of his songs and the name of the chain). But they had some healthy stuff on the menu. I ordered the “chicken satay” skewers with terriyaki broccoli on the side. It wasn’t too bad. The chicken was the white meat marinated and grilled on skewers kabob style, and the broccoli was steamed w/ garlic and such. I couldn’t eat all the chicken, there was just too much for one meal (obviously) so I only ate 2 of the skewers and saved the other 4 for later (yep, there were SIX skewers of chicken, probably amounting to about 24 oz. of meat for one entree!). I plan on using the rest of the chicken in some sort of stir fry dish later. Anyway, I was proud that even though I was allowed to “cheat” I went for the healthier option anyway. The real “cheat” was the ice cream I had, which I couldn’t even finish because it was so sweet.

OK, I have 2 hours and 20 minutes til I have to leave for work, so I’m going to finish up the kitchen, do my exercise, prepare food, and get cleaned up for work. I hope everyone has a great, productive day!

In other news….I am a little worried. My housemate works for a small business which is suffering due to the poor state of our economy. He’s one of the upper managers, so I’m hopeful that his job isn’t in jeopardy, but it still worries me. If he’s out of a job, we won’t be able to afford our apartment – I can’t make enough money at my job to float both of us without some kind of assistance. So if everyone out there in blogland could think happy, positive thoughts for his business to stay alive, I’d really, truly appreciate it ever so much. Thanks, all! Peace and love!

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Last night I was watchin’ a little bit o idiot box before I decided to turn in for the night, and I saw this gem of an exercise product.

If you’re gullible enough to buy this, go ahead!

The commercial was absolutely hilarious, because they kept showing women using it, their boobs bouncing up and down. My first thought was, “Who is this commercial actually for? The women who want bigger boobs and think this is the answer, or the men in the room with said women?” My second thought was, “The women in this commercial did not get the bodies they have by using this.” My third thought was that the terminology they used was stupid. They kept saying how it works the “bust muscles” and the “breast muscles.” Your boobs don’t have muscles in them. Your pectorals are below your breasts. Were they afraid to use the real muscle terminology for fear that us little womenfolk just wouldn’t understand? It also promises that you’ll have a beautiful bustline in just 5 minutes a day! Anything that claims you can look like the built people in their commercial in “minutes” per day is guaranteed to be bogus.

I bet if I picked up one of these things and tried to use it, it would break after a few tries. I’m sure if it actually works, you can work the pectorals a little bit, but for most people who are serious about strength training, women included, it’s a laughable device. It’s also got PINK grips on it for GIRLS. Cause we all know how much little girls love the color PINK. *facepalm*

I’m waiting for the day that all TV commercials for these dumb devices start with the tag-line, “Hey, STUPID, buy THIS!” and people will go, “Yes, master…”

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Another day, another workout. I went with the elliptical again today instead of swimming to avoid the swimmer’s ear. I had time to relax in the sauna today, which was great. Went and got lunch and saw a friend after, home now relaxing. Mind trying to convince the body not to get the sick that everyone around me seems to have. I feel a little congestion coming on, but I feel like I won’t get as bad as my roomie or my friend I saw today (the latter is already feeling better than he did before). I feel my workouts and healthy diet and vitamin-regimen will help stave it off. I just have to keep getting lots of sleep. That’ll be no problem tonight. My muscles are sore and it feels good because I know they’re getting used to the new routine (hence not wanting to get sick, not wanting to slow down the process of getting in shape). I think I can use the power of mind over matter to keep myself from succumbing fully to the bug going around. That combined with common sense (getting sleep, good diet, taking vitamins), I shall overcome. Sorry if I’m boring people. I actually do have a point to posting.

People always freak out when they found out that you’re pushing your body physically. Not seasoned fitness folks, mind you, but just everyday people. They’re the people who tell you that you shouldn’t push yourself, and you shouldn’t feel any pain whatsoever from exercise, and that building muscle will make you “bulky,” do pilates instead because it’ll give you a “long, lean” look…the people who say that taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking far away from the building you’re entering, and playing with your cats is enough exercise for anyone. The body is made to do a lot more than that, and with the insane portion sizes people eat these days, they should be doing more. Furthermore, I want to be super fit. I want to be able to lift heavy things without asking a man to help me. I want to be able to clamber around mountains and climb up rocks with grace and ease. To me, having a very strong body is my ticket to seeing the world in a very unique way. Why shouldn’t I push myself? If I just go for a nice, little walk every day, I can keep from gaining more weight maybe, but I won’t maintain actual fitness. Fitness requires cardiovascular and muscular exercise. Fact.

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