Category Archives: I’ll be up in the gym

lost weight loss

i am really, really good at losing 30 pounds. but only in between bouts of my true talent: gaining 30 pounds.

once again, i’ve hit that critical mass that spurs me to horror and a rueful determination to change my ways.

but, a lot has changed since the last time i was in weight loss mode and i have some things to figure out. the most impactful:  we moved. i used to live a five minute walk away from a gold’s gym, where i logged most of my running hours on the treadmill. on the weekends, i ran the 3.2 mile path around lake merritt.

but we moved to a new house and got married, all in the same month, so my workout habit fell apart in july of last year, as wedding plans ramped up. we did a friends+family 5k run around the lake the morning of our wedding, and that was the first time i had done any running in a long time. and the last.

photo by Ali Carras

after the hannavance 5k wedding day run, photo by Ali Carras

after the wedding, i spent some time just generally slacking off and being relieved to be human again. some time turned into a few months and then i sprained my ankle pretty badly at the end of october. any working out that i had been doing came to a complete stand still.

my weight watchers membership fee mocked me every month.

as is my way, the lack of exercise led to terrible/wonderful gluttony in my eating habits and the fatness just kept coming.

my tolerance for out-fatting 98% of my wardrobe stretched a bit too thin, and here we are. but no gold’s gym and no lake.

so i’ve been taking classes at a spinning studio (that is close by, but i have to drive to). it’s too pricey to do all the time, but is probably a good twice a week option. there’s a boot camp kind of thing super close by, and i’m signed up to try that out for a month, with a groupon.

i should try to get back into some running, but i’m scared. scared of all the progress lost and how hard it will be. and just dragging my feet on the idea of running without the convenience of a park and foot path.

but the bits that i am doing are helping me feel motivated to do more and are inspiring my eating habits.

which all means that i’m back to thinking and doing a lot about food and exercise and that means that it’s bubbling up here, too.

again. shrug!



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a workout partner partner

So, ya’ll know The David is fit.  Like really fit.

And lately, he’s gotten into personal training.  Not that he’s out to get certified or anything, but he’s read a bunch of really boring books and manuals.  He started doing assessments of his friends’ fitness levels and creating plans for them to follow.

Once upon a time, he’d said that he thought it was a bad idea for couples to ever train one another.  Too much potential for resentment and frustration.  But now that he’s really excited about his new personal training mission, he’s slacked on his standards about what couples should do and wants to try it out on me.

An out of town lady friend is here visiting and she wanted to do a workout with me, so The David took the opportunity to this morning to lay a workout on us.

It sucked.

I told The David, in a way that I would never have told a trainer at the gym, “No, I can not do a kettle bell swing with this 30 pound bag of sand. It’s too heavy.”
I scoffed at him when he asked if we ready for the next set.
Virginia and I shared a look of terror when we watched David start his set of 40 weighted lunges dropping each knee down so far that it touched ground.

I wasn’t wretched or anything.  I largely did what he asked and I didn’t bitch or talk back.  I did my best.  But he planned a very hard workout and I wasn’t terribly happy about it.  It was not like those couples in Shape magazine who are all grinny and sparkly at each other as they pass the medicine ball back and forth.

I guess it’s always easier to workout with someone who’s a bit closer to you in ability.  Ideally, maybe someone just a little bit better enough to push you.  And even though The David isn’t a person like that for me, I do think that it’s also good to workout with someone who supports you and wants you to do well.

So maybe he’ll catch on to what’s too hard for me and what’s just challenging enough.  And maybe I can just tell him ahead of time what I can and can’t do.  But I think we can do it again.  And I actually think it’s good for us.


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you feel like somebody’s watching you?

I was reading a blog last week that brought up an issue that i’ve seen a cart load of times on various healthy living and weight loss blogs:  “I worry about working out because I’m afraid of other people seeing me.”

This particular blog was addressing an US Weekly article that Runner’s World Magazine posted on Facebook about a chubby KFed going for a run.  The article touched a sore point for a lot of people, who are afraid of being judged and ridiculed if they step foot outside to exercise.  If US Weekly can make fun of Kevin Federline, then probably everyone else is making fun of you, too, right?

In response to the article and the resulting flack that RW got for posting it, Ben basically says that the fear that other people are judging you is “nearly 100% in your head.”

I just had to say that I really disagree.

Maybe I am on the supreme court of judgmentalism, but I always notice people, including those people working out.  My eyeballs are open.  And I know what overweight looks like.  Or what morbidly obese looks like.  Which is not to say that I can calculate your BMI just by looking.  I’m not the Rainman of fatness here.  But given the miracle of sight, I do see people working out and I notice if they’re overweight.

I notice people’s clothing.  Their hair.  Their makeup.  If they can walk in their high heel shoes.  And to some degree, these things say something.  Like you have a corporate job.  You like wearing all black.  You spend time getting your hair done.  Maybe I will guess that you are a tourist from Belarus.

I make observations in the gym and out running, as well.
If you’re in my line of vision and you’re chubby, I will notice.
But the same goes if you’ve got an incredible body.
And if you’re exceptionally, boringly normal, I will probably see you, too.  But you might not spark enough cogitation in my brain mechanism to warrant a fully formed thought.
Instead, I will have a fleeting notice of the guy with the really big arms and I will make the assumption that he probably works out a lot.
The really thin girl who is frantically pedaling away on the elliptical?  I will notice her and I’ll wonder about her.
The chick on the treadmill next to me in the terry track suit walking at 1.5 mph (for reals) pace while she farts around on her phone at 6 am…  I am definitely wondering about her, too.
If I saw a guy like Kevin Federline running around my lake, I would think in my head that he was fat and I’d wonder why he chose to run without a shirt.  But I tend to wonder the same thing about fitter guys, too.  Are they just really warm?  Do they think they look awesome?  Are they actually trying to show off their bodies in a kinda douchey way?  Or do they just like the way it feels?

I don’t think I’m special.  I think I’m pretty normal really.  And that means that most likely, people other than me are looking at you when you exercise.  You’re not invisible.  Surprise!

And people are going to notice if you’re overweight.  Which doesn’t mean that they’re thinking that you’re gross or that you don’t belong or that you suck.  But for most of us, our overweightness is not a secret.  It’s not like I’ve squirreled away an extra 50 pounds that I’ve discreetly hidden away in one foot.  You can see it, no matter what I’m wearing or what I’m doing.  It’s not a judgement.  It’s an observation.

If you are new to working out and you’re feeling nervous about all the *other people,* I do have some actual recommendations other than the above pontificated “get over it.”

Wear clothes.  KFed chose to go out without a shirt.  He knows he’s chubby.  He’ knows that there are paparazzi.  Obviously, he’s not worried about people seeing the fatness.  If you are, put a shirt on.

Get a good sports bra.  If your gazongas are bouncing around with wild abandon, people ARE going to notice.  I love the Moving Comfort Fiona bra.  Skinnie Emmie loves Enell.  There are tons of options.  Just get one that says it’s appropriate for the type of activity for your cup size.

Similarly, wear clothes that fit.  I don’t think it really matters if you were loose things or clingy things, although I’d recommend experimenting to see what you like if you are new to this.  But it’s really important for your workout clothes to fit well.  I know from personal, unfortunate experience that a too small top is going to ride up, exposing your tummy – be it perfectly flat and rippled or blobby and bulgy.  If you’re oozing out of your clothes in ways that the clothing was not designed for, other people are probably going to notice this, and not in a nice way.  If your clothes are specifically designed to expose oozing flesh, then by all means.

I was always worried that people were going to see me stop running and slowing to a walk and that they’d *know* that I was out of shape and couldn’t keep running.  Which was true, I was out of shape and I had to stop.  Looking back, I’d say that there are two things that would have helped here:  1)  using the couch to 5k program (which I did use and complete at a later time).  Having something else that is specifically telling you “it’s time to stop” is helpful.  You’re not wussing out.  You’re following instructions.  Don’t feel bad.  2)  slow down and pace yourself.  There’s a difference between having to walk because you’re completely out of breath after going too fast and walking in between intervals of running as you build up endurance.

Do it with a friend.  Having a pal makes everyone feel less self conscious.

Take off the Five Fingers.  Seriously.  They look weird.  They’re all gonna laugh at you and maybe throw tampons in the shower.

Ask for help.  If your gym doesn’t automatically give you a proper tour when you sign up, ask for one.  It helps to know where stuff is and how to use it.  And if you want to do the workout that you saw in last month’s Shape magazine, but you don’t where the stuff is that you need, just ask.  Those beautiful people at the front desk who joke around with all the regulars?  They can be totally helpful and in my experience, I’ve never sniffed an iota of judgement from one of them ever.

And finally, even if you are out there, jogging way too fast, with your boobs flying, your tummy flopping, all by yourself… what’s more important?  That you’re out there getting one step closer to being better, fitter faster?  Or that people are looking at you?



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Exercise exorcisim

I went a little overboard on the exercise this week and maybe now I need a life preserver thrown to me.

I ate a lot on Thanksgiving. A painfully lot.

There were a couple of social outings with friends and there was more eating.  And drinking.

And even though I did run a 10K (for the first time ever) on Thanksgiving morning, I only worked out one other time over the 4 day weekend.

So my weight was only down 0.2 pounds as my last weigh-in.  Which is fine.  I was glad not to have gone up a little bit, really.

But I got all motivated to make sure that the next week would be better, and ended up doing 8 workouts in the past 5 days.  Boot camp at 6 am every morning before work, two running workouts and 1 Body Pump class after work.

The plan also included a spinning class today and a long run, probably 5 or 6 miles, tomorrow.

I am exhausted.  My knee feels like a balloon full of jell-o.  I’ve been getting home in the evenings in a state of collapse.  Being a horrible crank pot because I’m just so tired.

And now I am fighting with myself.  I really should not work out today.  I could use a rest.  But I could just go to spin class.  It wouldn’t kill me.  I could just do it and it’d be done.

The fact that I’m having this fight in my head is proof that I have gotten crazy.  Or is it just proof that I’m making excuses to not go to spin class?


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quicker faster betterer

Except for the very first day, when I was flying back from England, I went to every single day of this past round of boot camp. That’s 19 days of burpees and other business, folks. Every single day was hard as hell. My knees were achy and sore from all the squatting and lunging. I felt like such a sucky loser watching the other, fitter girls lap me in every activity.

But I had to believe it was good for me and I could feel little muscle tendrils sprouting and being stronger.

I thought I would try to keep up with my running plans while doing boot camp, but after two attempts decided that it was a lost cause. My knees couldn’t handle it and ultimately, I was just dog tired. So I stopped. And went 3 and 1/2 weeks with no running, worried that I was risking some very hard won gains.

Today, my first day off of boot camp, I went out and ran the 5K loop around my neighborhood lake, in the dark.

I did it in exactly 35 minutes. 2 and 1/2 minutes faster than the best time I had been able to muster before. I spent 3 months after running my first 5K trying to improve on my time to no avail. Turns out, not running was the secret!
For the first time in ages and ages and ages I feel like I actually did something good. It was still hard and I had some low points, but still. Faster. Improved. I am pleased.

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Boot camp, Day #15

I have this grand master plan that I must fit in to my snow pants again in time to go up to Tahoe a time or two this winter.  Which means that I’ve got until New Year’s, roughly, to lose some uncertain amount of weight.  Because I’ve got no idea how much I weighed when I fit into those pants.  It was just less.

So “grand master plan” meant that I was going to try to lose about 5 pounds per month for a total of 20 by the end of 2010.  Totally reasonable, right?

The first few months of September were not being entirely amenable to the plan, so I decided to up my game and joined up with a local boot camp.

I had been pondering joining up for ages.  I walk by these women every day on the way to work.  Back when I did Couch to 5k, some of that motivation was to try and get myself boot camp ready.  And then I started doing some Jillian Michaels DVDs in the mornings.  And then I filled out the paperwork and I went.

And lo.

That first day was heinous.  It was non stop do this do that, get up, get down, push up, jump, run, skip rope, bicycles, burpies, mountain climbers, lunges, gasping for breath and wiping the sweat out of my eyes.

Almost all of the other girls are very, very fit.  I expect that I probably do about 2/3 of the workout that many of them do, because I’m so much slower.  I gnash my teeth at them and envision catching up to them.  And then I can’t even really see them any more ’cause they’ve run around the next corner already and then I think about maybe just walking a little bit for the rest of the way.

There are usually one or two other “fatties” there.  Without them, I think I may have bailed on boot  camp for all the shame.  It is so secretly good to have someone with whom you can meet eyes and you know that you’re both just thinking “shit god damn mother fucker.”

This morning was my 15th consecutive day, excluding the weekend times when I just concentrate on asking my knees to please hold it together.
Only 4 more days to go, and then a whole month will be behind me.  There’s a week off, and then it starts up again for another month, which I’m thinking I will go for.

It’s still heinous.  Each and every day.  I do feel pretty good when it’s all over, but Maggie being Maggie, I think the dread beforehand is a lower low than the post workout high is high.

It also gives me hope that maybe, just maybe, those snow pants can be squeezed into.  I will not be trying them on any time soon.  But I am hopeful.

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a whole 5 kilometers

I ran in a 5k race today, which wasn’t the first time I’d run that distance, but sure is the first time I actually put myself in a race.

It’s 8 weeks since I started doing the Couch to 5K training, which I’d kept at pretty darned tootin religiously.  It was all going great until about half way through, when the running intervals started getting a longer.  The day that the training called for 2 x 8 minutes running, I really fell off my pace during the second 8 minutes.  It happened again in the next workout and the one after that, and I finally decided that I just had to slow it down.

So technically, I was following the training plan, but going at a pace so slow, I’m hard pressed to call it jogging, let alone running.  Things haven’t gotten much better in the last few weeks, so I knew going into today’s race that it was going to be a long journey.

I got myself there this morning, signed in, and lingered around waiting for the start.  When that finally happened, I swear, all the people in the crowd just took off and I never saw them again.  The back of the pack was pretty darn thin; I mostly ran alone the whole way.

The race took place on the Fourth of July parade route through Alameda, so there were loads of people camped out on either side of the road.  I imagined that would be the case, but it was so much more embarrassing than I’d anticipated.  Lots of people would cheer and since I was all on my own… well, they were cheering for just me.  As I trudged by, very, very slowly.  I don’t really like to think of anyone seeing me running, let alone properly watching me and oh my god, let alone cheer for me?  I wasn’t terribly fond of that whole aspect of the experience.

It was pretty sucky the whole way, and I had some very good, long thoughts about taking a walking break.  But I didn’t.  After like a million years, it was finally over.  I don’t feel so super about it and really wish I had been able to go more quickly, but I finished it.  And that’s a start.

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