Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Answer in a Deflating Intertube

A very wise philosophy professor once told me, "Things are always most confusing right before you find the answer."  I think I have shared that before, but it is so often at the forefront of my mind, that I feel it is worth repeating.  I spent a good portion of yesterday sulking; whining inside my head.  It is so counter-productive, but it is a kneejerk reaction to not seeing results of my efforts on the scale or measuring tape.
I have hit a huge plateau, and I have been on it for so many months.  Granted, there has been a lot of yo-yoing during that time, and a rollercoaster of waxing and waning commitment to it, but I have stayed within the same set of numbers for longer than I ever expected.  I got so frustrated yesterday when I thought about how much effort I feel like I am exerting, and my recent level of committment.  I do cardio 5-7 days a week, at varying levels of intensity, including running.  Running in itself is a confusing concept to me.  I have always thought of it as one of the most intense forms of exercise one can do.  Mainly because it always felt so challenging to me.  Hell, when you're obese, even walking feels challenging.  When I was reading the manual for the treadmill I use, it had a section on deciding whether to walk or run, and it was actually discouraging running, saying that you get almost the same caloric burn with walking as running, but in order to get any real increase you had to run at such an extreme pace that it isn't worth what you do to your body in return.  Pssh!  I thought.  Ridiculous manual trying to tell people not to run.  I know how much more challenging it is, I must be getting something way more beneficial than just the runner's high.  Right?  Then, when I saw the same numbers on the scale and measuring tape I conceded that it must have been the truth.  That is when I began pouting and sulking, the confusion sitting heavy on my thoughts. 
I know that cardio is tremendously less effective at keeping metabolism elevated than weight lifting.  I know that burning a few extra calories every morning isn't going to make much difference in my physique.  But I know it is keeping my heart healthy, and that is way more important than outter appearances.  Granted, I want to look good.  I feel like I have earned that; I feel like I have put so much work into it and right now, the changes are just so slow in coming.  Despite all my frustration, I signed up for my 5K yesterday, so there is no backing out of it now. 
By the time I got home last night, I felt completely burnt out, to the point of achey joints and stuffy ear.  Everyone around me is sick with stomach flu or head cold, and I just can't fathom the thought of dealing with either right now, so I have been upping my vitamin intake (which is usually non-existent) and trying to be more restful.  My kids have been exposed to stomach flu at the babysitter's house, so I have been encouraging the same for them.  Last night, instead of free-play and running around before bedtime, we watched movies and nibbled on popcorn.  I let my guard down and had some popcorn and even a handful of sugary cereal (dry).  I felt completely drained and fell asleep before my kids.  Fortunately, I think we are going to stave off the flu, but one of my sons is getting the stuffy nose.  Fingers crossed we can keep it to just that.  There is an outbreak of Whooping Cough in a nearby school system, it has everyone on edge. 
Last night before bed, when I was changing into my sleepwear, I was caught off guard by how muscular and lean my quads and hamstrings look.  My upper legs in general look good, I haven't been paying attention to it, but the running is shaping my upper legs nicely.  It's embarassing to admit that I couldn't look away for a while.  It is almost the same feeling I had when I first started losing weight around my belly, to see it smaller was so strange to me that I would examine my new body over and over.
This morning, I rested because I have become very good at realizing when it is time.  Achey joints usually means I am in need of a day off.  The down side to that is I felt more sluggish and stiff, because I didn't get my blood flowing like normal.  In hindsight, I should have began the morning with a nice session of yoga or simple stretching.  Next time, perhaps.  When I was getting ready, taking off my fitted fleece that I wear to warm me up in the chilly mornings, I had a really powerful and uplifting feeling wash over me, that a year ago, I wouldn't have been able to wear that fleece, if I could have even got in on me and zipped, which is doubtful,  it would have looked horrible on me (it has a runner's cut, which is very flattering for my current figure).  The best thing to happen in a long time, happened next.  When I took off the fleece and my shirt, I noticed that my sweatpants were looking suspiciously baggy in an area that I thought would be fat forever.  The dreaded fat roll that hangs over my hips and all around my back, which makes an intertube-looking layer just above my butt, has shrunk!  Again, I had to look at it over and over, making sure it wasn't just my clothing constricting it.  Nope, some fat has left the building.  If time had allowed, I would have taken my hip measurement, but I was already running late, so I will just have to rely on my eyes.  And now that I think of it, I will not take that measurement until next month, because I want to see just how much those numbers will fall in the course of a month.  I immediately thought, it must be the running!
So maybe in the end, I should remember the lesson that the race is not for the swift but for the steady, and for the strong-at-heart.  And for the patient.  Hard work does equal results, but predicting when and where they will appear is not for mere mortals to decide.  And I am OK with that.  I am going to just keep putting in the work and let the chips fall where they may.  Today's lesson proved to me that if I can lose weight in such a hard area, that it is all going to come off eventually.  I just have to keep believing.  And next time I feel this confused, I will try not to look at is as a frustration, but a time of celebration, because I know that the answer will be just around the corner.
Hope you find your high today and keep on running.

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