Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Five Months

Remember that time I lost so much weight that my unbelted shorts fell off in public, and how I thought it was hilarious and triumphant at the same time? I still think that, but five months into my weight loss journey I've learned a valuable lesson:

It is not funny when you have to take your belt off to go through airport security and your pants start falling down when you raise your arms above your head for the x-ray machine.

Those are the pants I just bought in September, by the way. I wore them for the flight to New York for Thanksgiving, because they are getting to be a little looser but still basically ok (I'm not swimming in them), but when I put my arms up in the scanner machine my torso must have stretched out a little more than usual and for a second I really, seriously thought pants were going down. If there had been anything in my pockets at that moment, it probably would have happened. As it was, I had to grab them as soon as I could put my arms down, because I was afraid to take a single step otherwise.

And that was after I had to show the lady at the starting checkpoint a second form of photo ID, and then explain that I don't wear contacts any more and that I've lost over 50 pounds since my driver's license photo was taken. Since two different people at stores have said the same thing when they've checked my license against my name on my debit card, I'm starting to wonder if I should go have a new photo taken. I'm going to wait until it actually expires, though, as I hope to lose more weight between now and then.

Also, I hope to lose more weight in the next month than I did last month.

I only lost six pounds this month.

I know I shouldn't complain, and that lots of people would be really excited to lose six pounds in a month. Those six pounds are part of a much larger total that I should be really proud of. I started at 295, and this morning I weighed in at 234.

I have lost 61 pounds.

I'm just a little disappointed in myself because I know I could have done better this month. I feel like I've hit a plateau, but to be more honest the real problem is that I've been coasting. Now that it's not a struggle to hit 10,000 steps every day, I really should have increased the daily step goal to 12,000, but I didn't. I also needed to start increasing the speed on the treadmill. If I can walk on the treadmill for over a mile without breaking a sweat, then I need to increase the speed and push myself harder, but I haven't been doing that for most of the month, and because of that I only lost six pounds when I could have lost more. The first few months were filled with dramatic weight loss, and part of that was because in the first few months I was really pushing myself. I was struggling, and I was fighting, but like I said, I've been coasting this month, and it needs to stop.

I have a plan for this. I even made myself a slogan:

Every Day is a 5K

What this means is that every day, either in the morning or after work, I need to put in 3 miles at one time on the treadmill. Even if I'm already at 10,000 steps for the day, I need to put in 6000 more, because part of pushing myself is working on my endurance. I already know that I'm not built for speed, but I realized during the Race for the Cure 5K in October and the Buddy's Race Against Cancer in November (46:40, which is 30 seconds faster than I was at the Race for the Cure) that I am excellent at maintaining a constant pace. I pass other racers and never see them again. I pass people going uphill. People run, then walk, then run, then walk, and eventually I pass those people, too. In both races, I've been right at the line that divides runners from walkers, and once I reached that line I've stayed at it all the way through the race.

I can do this.

I know, because I did it every day last week at my parents' house.

I treadmilled, I sweated, and I know that I burned fat, because I didn't lose any weight at all for the first two weeks of this month and now, at the end of the month I'm down six pounds. I did that by refocusing, buckling down, being deliberate, and pushing myself. And I'm going to do that every day, because I'm not just walking anymore.

I'm training.

When I facilitate a Safe Zone training, there's a part of it where we talk about how important it is for allies to practice their skills, to keep themselves ready to intervene and assist and support and educate if needed, and I have a little prepared illustration that I always use for that part:

"Who here played, or still plays, a musical instrument?" There's almost always at least one hand, as schools in Tennessee fortunately still seem to have strong music programs. "How did you learn how to play it? Did someone show you everything one time, and then you were good to go? Or did you have to practice, over and over, so that you got better and then stayed good?"

I can't believe that it's taken me this long to realize that I needed to turn that back on myself, but there it is. I want to get faster at 5K's. I don't know if I ever want to run one (I do, actually; I just don't know if I ever will), but I want to be faster than I am, and the only way to do that is to train. Doing one 5K a month isn't building muscle, it isn't building endurance, and it isn't causing improvement. All I'm doing is walking, when what I need to be doing is training, and I can do that. All of the tools I need are already inside me. I am determined, driven, and stubborn. All I need to do is focus that, and for the past week I've done so. My next 5K is ten days away, and we'll see how it goes.

And then we'll start looking at 10K's, because I was told you get a medal for those.

I need medals, because my friend Bernadette sent me a progress board, and it has hooks for medals:

inspiration wall

I've added it to the Inspiration Wall across from the treadmill, but I'm not calling it an Inspiration Wall anymore. It's a Progress Wall, and I'm progressing. My eyes are on the prize.

Next month I will turn the first page on my Venice calendar, and when I do it, I will weigh less than I do right now.


Justin Bower said...

Keep in mind as you continue to make such awesome progress, that weight is more than fat. Now that you've been pushing yourself and getting even more active you're likely gaining muscle at the same time you lose fat. Muscle is denser and weighs more, so it can mask progress some may be burning fat but staying the same weight if you gain muscle. I'm sure you're well aware of this but thought it might be worth mentioning

Marcheline said...

Justin beat me to the punch. He's exactly right! Measure yourself - often you can lose inches while not losing pounds. You should have a notebook where you log your waist, hips, upper leg and upper arm measurements. Keep track of that as you keep on training, and watch what happens!

As you get fitter, you can start adding strength training to your mix. Walking is mostly lower body - at some point you might want to add pushups and/or dumbbell lifts to tone your arms.

Way to go Joel! Venice calls!