Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Go Ahead, Stroke My Ego

Last night I watched Missy Franklin win the gold medal in the 100 backstroke.  This morning we swam a very backstroke-heavy Masters workout.  I asked the coach if she was inspired by Missy Franklin and she said that it was purely by chance.

Today was totally my day to shine.  Not only did we do backstroke (which I used to race back in the day, almost as fast as my freestyle), but we did kicking-intensive backstroke drills.  Which meant I got to go first in my lane for most of the workout and feel all cool and fast.  I think I can safely say I'm the strongest kicker in my Masters group.  Sometimes it's a bad thing, and I overkick my stroke and mess up my form, but I think I'm getting better at not doing that.

At least these giant thighs and calves are good for something. 
In the middle of practice, the coach called me over to the lane full of people who are really still learning how to do all of the strokes.  She had them all get out of the pool and watch me do a 50 of backstroke to demonstrate the stroke.  Most non-swimmers think you just rotate your arms around like a propeller.  But actually, you're supposed to enter the water pinky-first, then curve your arm underwater, kind of like a S, and push toward your legs and down to propel yourself.  It's really hard to explain, which is why she wanted to show them.

Here, let my boyfriend Ryan show you how it's done:
It's moments like today that make me want to get rid of all of this excess weight already so that I can really see what I'm capable of in the pool. I'm working on it. Strength training yesterday, swimming today, eating clean.

I'm working on it.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Waking Up and Getting Up Has Never Been Easy*

So hard to wake up in the mornings.  I'm in this vicious cycle of not being able to sleep really well (woke up at 1:30 this morning; finally went back to sleep at 2:30), and thus not being able to wake up to get to the gym when I need to.  That extra hour and a half of sleep is too sweet.

I know that I would sleep like a rock if I worked out.  I know overall during the day I would have more energy if I worked out.  But I'm having a hard time despite all of the things I logically know.  At least several days this week I've managed to fit in long walks, including walking the 3 1/2 miles home from work yesterday.

Tomorrow I WILL swim.  I can wake up at 6:45 instead of 5:45 and swim.  Hopefully that hour more of sleep before working out will be enough to get me out of bed.  Even so, how much do I wish the Y would extend their lap swimming hours?  Lap swimmers always get the shaft in lieu of paid swimming lessons, water aerobics classes and family free swim.

In other news, I've discovered that I can eat meat and protein and still have a little treat at the end of a day (say, Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips) and manage to keep my carbs well under 100 g.   I know that's not really the point, but it helps me stay on task during the rest of the day.  Nice!

*Elastica!  Anyone else remember 1995?  I used to exercycle early in the morning to the Elastica album.  ...And now I'm kind of depressed that I've been working out for at least 17 years.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


I woke up at 7:15 this morning and realized that I was 45 minutes late to Masters swimming.  Darn it!  Yesterday afternoon I drank something caffeinated to get me through a boring work meeting last night, and then was up until 2 AM.  Still, I told myself, I'm not going to miss Masters.  I will get up when my alarm goes off. 

My tricky brain had other ideas and decided to turn off my alarm in my sleep.

It's slow at work and I kind of wish I could just take off and go to the gym.  That would be awesome.  Alas, facetime, while not quite as valuable as billable hours, is still pretty important.

It is beautiful outside, so I will be going for a lunch walk.

I have to say a few words about metabolism.  It's amazing to me how different they are.  First, we have mine.  Jason the Scientist has moments of wondering what the heck is wrong with me and trying to suss it out in his mind.  I have a low normal body temperature (around 96-97 degrees), but when I sleep I heat up to (he guesses) over 100 degrees and burn hot all night long.   I am constantly fidgety to the point of driving him nuts when we sit next to each other for long periods of time.  One of these days it would be interesting to get my metabolism tested and find out what my real BMR is.  I have a feeling I should only be eating 800 calories per day or something.  I am a miracle of evolution.

Then we have Doctor Teeny.  Every month I have a dinner meeting with a group of doctors.  One of the doctors is this little tiny woman who eats like a lumberjack.  At every meeting we get a salad, an entree, and a dessert, and she cleans her plate every time.  Last night she asked for an extra bowl of ice cream to eat with her pie.  One time we had a meeting at a nice restaurant where we got to order off the menu instead of just getting the standard group dinner.  She ordered 2 entrees, plus an appetizer and dessert, and ate it all.  My boss even noticed that time.  I am just amazed at how she can pack it away and she's so tiny.  You can't tell me that's all about calories in/calories out.

I'm trying to be more observant of these types of things, to be more understanding of myself and others who struggle with weight.  I've talked with several other women who work out a lot more than I do, but who also struggle like I do to lose ANY weight, or to even just maintain.  It's hard to understand until you've been there.  I know some people honestly have issues with overeating, but I also know that there are a lot of people who do the best they can to take care of themselves and be healthy, but constantly struggle against weight gain. 

That's why I try to be such a cheerleader for people who are trying.  Sometimes on the path near my house I see a very large woman slowly making her way down the path.  I can tell it's a struggle for her and her joints are aching.  I just want to give her a hug and tell her she's awesome.

Monday, July 09, 2012

A Little Run

I jogged a little on Saturday morning.  Not exactly sure why.  I woke up too late for lap swimming, so I decided to go for a walk on the path near my house.  About 20 minutes in, I thought, "Maybe I should run a little."  These crazy thoughts seize me occasionally.

So I wound up doing Day 1 of Couch to 5K for the millionth time. I was breathing hard and sweating like crazy (Saturday was hot and muggy!), but I did it.
When I got home, I sat in our bedroom for awhile, praising the former owner who installed the central air. For the last couple of days my ankles have been killing me. We went to a folk music festival this weekend, so I thought it might be from balancing in the cobblestoned streets of New Bedford, Mass, but then I remembered that I ran on Saturday. Running + me = pain.

I don't want to try Couch to 5K again since I injure myself every time. I'm not a runner, but every so often I like to run.

Friday, July 06, 2012


I was just writing an email to a friend on SparkPeople about carb ranges and calorie ranges, and I had an epiphany.  It's been so hard lately for me to set a challenge for myself and to stick to it.  I used to be the queen of sticking to it. 

I used to do things like not eat sugar except for a once-a-month splurge day.  I did this for months on end and was really successful with sticking to it.  Something about knowing that even though I couldn't have something now, I could have it on X day worked really well for me.

Last year I challenged myself to swim 4 times per week for 12 weeks to train for my open-water swim, and I was almost perfect in meeting that challenge.

I've done Phase 1 of South Beach a few times and abstained from grains, sugar and fruit for 2 weeks to get my body primed for losing weight.

But lately, I just can't make the motivation stick.  I eat generally well, I work out a couple of times a week, but I can't seem to stick to a real plan that I set for myself.

Today I think I figured out why.  How do I stay motivated when it's Just.  Not.  Working?

This last year I've gained a bunch of weight and it's so depressing.  Before that I was in a multi-year plateau.  I would try to mix it up with the food and the exercise.  I swam 4 times per week and went on lunch walks.  And I was stuck.

(Of course, now I would be thrilled to weigh what I did a couple of years ago, but at that point I was still trying to losing another 15-20 pounds.)

One time, 10 or so years ago, I went to the doctor and I weighed 235, which horrified me.  I lost 50 pounds over the next few years by exercising (mainly swimming, but also some elliptical and weights) and by cutting out sugar.  Eventually my weight loss stalled, so I started doing some research and discovered low carb.  I started losing weight again.  Then that stopped working too. 

Now I feel stuck and I can't stay focused on a plan to be healthy.  I think the moral of the story is, I need to shift my focus from losing weight to just feeling the best I can.  I've been self-reflexive enough in this whole process to know what makes me feel good and what makes me feel bad.  Sugar and grains (especially wheat, less so rice and corn) make me feel bad.  Exercising 3-5 times per week and eating protein, fat and vegetables makes me feel good.  Swimming makes me happy and strength training makes me feel strong.

These are the motivators I need to focus on.  The weight isn't enough anymore.

Right now I feel pretty good.  But I know I can feel better.  A good shot of endorphins in the morning will make me happier.

I don't know if this is enough to keep me focused, but the endless frustration of not losing weight (plus gaining weight) makes doing the things that make me feel good seem like an exercise in futility.  I have to focus on things other than the scale.  Hopefully making myself happier and healthier will be enough.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012


I am a big fan of workout gadgets.  I love having data and numbers with which to rank myself.  This is also why I like repeating sets of 100s or 50s in my workouts every time so I can have definitive proof that I'm getting faster in the form of improved times.

I had a Garmin heart rate monitor, which I really liked using until the battery went dead in the watch part.  I could replace the battery, I know, but have been lazy about it since the watch didn't really fit me that well.  It's a unisex watch, which means the watch face is huge on my wrist and I have to use the very last hole on the strap.  Maybe I should get a girly one at some point, but I haven't gotten around to it.  Also, since I swim more than anything, and the heart rate monitor isn't waterproof, it has limited utility. 

I also have a Fitbit, which I love.  I wear it every day, and totally berate myself when I forget to clip it on.  Jason has one too and at the end of every day, we compare steps.  He always beats me.  The advantages of working in a lab versus a desk job.  It also has an interactive website where you can review your stats (that automatically upload every time you walk by the little USB base), and also enter in other things you do that aren't picked up by the Fitbit (like swimming).

It's a really fun little gadget.  Not only is it tiny and convenient and accurate, but the customer service is great.  I clip mine to the center of my bra, which is one of the recommended positions for women since we don't always have pockets to slide the Fitbit into.  The only problem is, the repeated stress on the plastic hinge causes the plastic to weaken and eventually fall apart.  No worries, says Fitbit customer service.  I got my original Fitbit in November 2010, and since then have gotten 2 replacements by simply emailing customer service with a picture of my broken Fitbit, and they've shipped me a new one.  I'm not sure if they'll send me a 3rd replacement when my current one wears out, but at this point I will willingly shell out $99 for a new one. 

My latest gadget is a swimp3, which I lusted over for a few years until Jason got me one this past Christmas.  The only problem is, it's 6 months later and I still haven't used it yet.  I've charged it and loaded it with what I think might be good swimming songs.  (I have no idea what type of bpm is good for swimming, so I have a range of options.)  But my swims lately have been either Masters swims, or swims with friends from Masters, both of which involve talking and interaction and aren't so conducive to being in my own little music world.

I know Jason feels bad that I haven't used it yet and I try to assure him that I love it.  I do.  I was so amazed that he got it for me.  I just need to find the right time to use it.  It will get used!  Eventually!