Little Engine Does

Aight. It’s time for a check in after Week 1 of Operation Yoga Pants.

Weight- 156, consistently. This means that I’m seeing that number every morning, not just after working my rear-end off. While I’m excited about that, I also know that the first 3-5lbs are generally water- easy come, easy go. We’ve essentially just found ground zero for this weight loss excursion.

Chest- 35″, no change.

Biceps- 12.5″- Hey-oh! This must have been the last place I put weight on, as that inch on either side came right off. Even in baseline HIIT right now, I can see that I’ve lost a lot of hard-won strength. I could have cried when I found that I’d lost my consecutive pull-ups. But then, this phase is about cutting weight and establishing a foundation.

Waist- 28.25″- Holla atcha girl! This makes me very, very happy. To have the solid frame I have, I need a waist that takes a concrete slab and makes it into an hour-glass shaped, concrete slab.

Hips- 36″. Hold the phone. I realize in my last post that I did not specify my usual hip measurement because it does not typically change. I’ve always had full hips, and after three kids, I was good with that. They’re usually at 38″. Where two inches went, I have no idea- especially as I measure in the same place, every time. I’ll be curious to see if that number goes up with heavier training.

Thighs- 22.25″, very little change. This number will start moving once running and plyometrics are safely reincorporated into my daily movements. I know I carry weight here, so I imagine this may be the hardest area to slim down. I’ll take a half inch on both legs for the week, though.

–>So this puts us consistently down 4lbs from the top of my starting weight range, landing me at the top of the military standard for my height, and a total loss of 5-ish inches for Week 1. 

 

I’m pretty satisfied with that change, of course. Any positive change is encouraging when it’s moving you toward a goal. As I point out above, however, it’s fairly standard for a dietary change and increased physical workload to cause a body to drop its fluid weight. When I view the weight change, I’m really only cautiously optimistic. Between normal weight fluctuations and a few medical situations I have that cause my weight to swing at certain times, I could really discourage myself by getting too attached to any number until I can see that it’s consistent. Thus, I view this as a real ground zero now because I know weight gained from here (while doing the same things I’ve been doing) is fluid, and weight lost from here is actual change. I’m shooting for a net loss each week of about 1-2lbs, which is considered medically optimal and sustainable change. We’ll see what number we’ve got this time next week.

As per inches lost, in some areas, I expect to see continued loss up to a point (think thighs, waist, and biceps), at which point a plateau is pretty healthy. I’m not trying to become a wisp- with my frame, I’d end up looking damned scary. I once had a doctor tell me, based on imaging, that I had a very “sound frame” with “very thick bones.”

In other words, there IS such a thing as big-boned-ed, and something has got to protect them bones.

Thanks, body.

So I’m okay with the fact that I will probably always hang out at a size fuller than others- even among women of my own height. I’d say consistently wearing a medium in everything I own is a safe indicator that I’m pretty average, generally speaking, and the inches I lose indicate muscle tone more than anything else. Little, outward changes yield big, inward results.

 

I’ll be honest, I have a good laugh about these programs I see advertised through various media that sell you big change in a short time. While studying psychology in the university- and also my own stubborn personality- I learned that drastic changes rarely hold. If you take a person way outside of their comfort zone, push them hard, high five when their goal is met, then walk, who was really making the change? I can look at my diet right now, as well as my fitness regimen, and push certain areas to drop this weight in a month or less. The process is actually fairly simple in concept if what you’re looking at it is a short term goal. But, I could not realistically live that way on that level and feel like I was leading an authentic life. Why?

Because life is fluid, and it will flow right around and over the top of any rigid object.

It’s my personal opinion that change- lasting change- starts with small, better decisions. They say fitness is a lifestyle. I hate cliches like that one, but there’s a little truth to it in that your “fitness” has to be your lifestyle. All of that is going to look different between people, which is a general reason why so many people quit big box programs and diets that aren’t medically prescribed. If that program wasn’t something you truly loved in your soul and something that organically melded with your lifestyle, you’ll probably walk at some point, or otherwise only retain the bits that you did actually like.

And that’s okay. There’s no shame in that- in fact, it makes sense.

I don’t believe any single approach is going to fit the life of every human that tries it, regardless of how quickly or impressively it yields results. Going back to my previous statement, I could hop on a couple of these popular approaches and be right where I want to be, eight weeks ahead of my completion date. I’d just hate it the whole time and would be unlikely to stick with it because it would be so outside of the norm, even for me. While I can freely admit and respect the fact that some of those approaches do bring happiness to a percentage of the population that adopts them, becoming integral to their lives, I can also say that those approaches don’t usually match up with my personality for long, if at all.

 

So, what’s the approach?

Flexibility.

I know that I am, at times, a silly woman. I don’t like being told what to do. I’m stubborn. I’m feisty. I can be very restless at times. With that being said, on top of the wildness of having a house full of children and various other living things that I run with a man whose eyes are always on the next horizon, I have got to be able to move around within confines I have accepted for myself. What I’m doing has to feel like it has a place in the makeup of my life, and it has to feed my soul.

When I’m addressing nutrition, for example, I work within my personal dietary truths, making small, purposeful changes. I have never been blessed with a fast metabolism, not even throughout my club soccer days. With that, I know I don’t need as many calories unless I’m in the middle of something unbelievably taxing- so less than 2,000 on a normal day at a weight I care to maintain on reasonable exercise. One pound requires a weekly deficit of 3.500 calories to lose, so as I can accept freakin’ science, working backwards helps me accept a calorie cap for both active and inactive days.

If you’re thinking, at this point, that it’s ludicrous that I need to break even that down for myself, you’re probably not wrong. But, again, knowing me, I have to understand why everything has to be how it is in order to fold that in to life. So deal with it.

Nutrition break down (dealing with “macros,” etc) is also subjective, I’ve found. There is so much conflicting information out there about cutting carbs or cutting sugar (both of which completely crashed my system for the months I did it, destabilizing my blood sugar, and never saw that magical adjustment where my body decided to burn something else for fuel) or cutting dairy and eating like cavemen…blah, blah, blah, don’t tell me how to live my life. Joking. A little. On the real, I have tried gluten-free, Paleo, and Keto as a way to address not only my general fitness, but also the inflammation that comes from fibro. Certain diets love to tell us that they’ll cure ailments because it’s getting back to some basic physical design of the human body, and it pisses me off SO MUCH. News flash- following those diets made zero change in the way I felt or performed (as compared with generally eating real food), especially where my fibro was concerned.

You know what does work? Using common sense. If the food is already prepared and/or frozen, salt and preservatives are in it to, you know, preserve it until you eat it. You probably aren’t going to feel as great as if you just made it fresh for yourself, so maybe we don’t do that. We can accept that, right? I have a dairy and gluten sensitivity that makes me all bloaty and uncomfortable if I eat too much milky-based stuff or bread products. So maybe I don’t do that. Muscles require protein to repair and rebuild while keeping you feeling less ravenous, so we should eat that. Plants have vitamins and sugars that don’t require chemical refinement, so we should do that, too. Grains have fiber, which offsets the iron supplement I have to take off and on for being a tad anemic, so also those things in addition to their usefulness as complex carbs for easy energy. Fats make your brain happy, so also also those.

When do I eat? More common sense. If I’ve been asleep for eight hours, I have not fueled my body in eight hours. So I should maybe eat breakfast that fills holes when I wake up with the kids. Get my herd to school, straighten up the house, knock out a few things, and it’s about time to work out (or run errands, depending on the day). I should probably split the five to six hour difference between breakfast and lunch, keeping my blood sugar levels stable to do the things. So I should snack something that makes sense for what I’m doing. If I worked out, I just depleted energy stores, so I should replace them, but if I’ve run errands and know that I pick up the kids around 3, which launches me into homework and hooliganry, I should also probably put something in my body to get me through that as lunch. Afternoon snack happens as often as it doesn’t, depending on how labor-intensive supper is about to be. After supper, I know we’ll be winding down for the day, so I don’t need food groups for energy in as much as I need food groups to restore whatever was lost in the day and will carry me through to breakfast. The only caveat to this is if I’m working out at night, in which case I get a little more carby with supper.

So based on that working knowledge and what my day naturally looks like, I have just fleshed out do-able nutrition. Insert some recipe searches for things that fit those breakdowns throughout the day at staple meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) using ingredients mostly found on the outer edge of the grocery (think about it- produce and meats are always on the edges), and all I have to do is make sure I don’t blow my calorie budget in-between. Chunks of Paleo and Keto do fit this bill, and gluten-free comes in handy if I budgeted a lot of gluten somewhere else in my day, but they aren’t divine miracles, either.

Now, I’m not a nutritionist. Aside from a few sensitivities, I have no major diet requirements or concerns. This is why this approach works for me and helps me sustainably lose, then maintain, weight. Eating real food, when it makes sense. There’s so many smart resources out there that can help if you’re one to prep or one to fly by the seat of your pants. It’s just a series of choices you can choose to make, starting in small and simple areas, that work aspects of fitness in without being obnoxious. You can totally do this…if you want to.

No shocker that I approach fitness in a similar way. Based on my body type, I will gain weight without regular cardio or HIIT (and good nutrition, of course). Otherwise, it’s a matter of what I enjoy doing- or what I can tolerate if I’m fibro-ed out. We touched a little on this last week with my intro to this yoga-pants-saving adventure. I tend to retain the parts of all the fitness approaches I’ve tried that I like the best, then create intelligent mashups. This works for me because I’ve had some education and coaching, thus making programming pretty intuitive, and ensuring that I don’t dread coming to a workout. On the days I do dread it, I always start with something mindless- I can go somewhere else in my head while I’m running, ellipti-cizing, or rowing until I gradually come to a point where I either accept that fitness is about to happen, feel compelled to make the fitness happen, or realize that this is the extent of the fitness that can happen for the day. I also do the same thing after a workout to “come down” from it and reset mentally for the rest of my day.

I’m very much a creature of slightly structured habit.

I can remember, very distinctly, a conversation I had in the breakroom while still working on-site with customer relations. There was a gym in the building that I frequented every day that I worked, and I had been “blessed” with a few nicknames during my time there because of the way I worked out. Over time, small groups would ask what I was doing for the day, and I would write it on the mirrors in the gym, shoot it to them in a text/email, or just do it with them at lunch. It certainly became more popular than I had intended, given that I actually prefer to train alone. I was surprised when, as I was stirring my coffee, another staff member told me that he and his wife really wanted to lose weight and get healthy, but he just couldn’t see himself training the way that I was.

Oh, brother, no!

I remember explaining to him that I do things the way I do because I like them that way. I like things that take a long time. I like things that are hard, but don’t make me feel like I’m about to die. I like things that incorporate a lot of dynamic movement and scenery changes and types of equipment. I- me, personally- need the space to make my workouts my own in every sense of the word. At the same time, there are also days wherein I just can’t go that hard, and on those days, I like to go trail running, do some yoga, or go hiking. When I feel social, I lead group rucks or yoga. My normal weekly fitness has Plans A through D, usually, because I might feel differently about life than I intended at the head of the week. I just do what I feel like doing, unless I’m training toward something more specific.

Some months later, I ran into that same guy and almost didn’t recognize him. He told me that he and his wife found things they liked to do together, and they had lost a great deal of weight that way. They were walking or riding bikes, had found some of the trail systems I enjoy around here and tried them out. He still didn’t think they’d ever move to more formalized training, but they had stuck their toes in the water with things they really liked, and with a couple tweaks to their diets, had done incredibly well.

And they were happy.

I think that’s the moral of my story today, folks. I’m making good progress for the short time that I’ve been making a concerted effort, but my focus is modest change over time made by doing things I understand and in which I have an interest. I want to reclaim the parts of me that are healthy and fit to take on the adventures I enjoy most in life. I want to enjoy reclaiming them. Because, ultimately, if what you’re doing isn’t bringing you joy, isn’t enabling the life unique to you that makes you happy, why are you doing it?

Odds are, you won’t for long.

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