Monthly Archives: July 2008

Goodbye Guido

Long time readers of my gym escapades know that I attribute a lot of my success to my relationship with my trainer, Guido.  He believed in me before I believed in myself and he was regularly astounded by success.  “The hardest working woman in the gym..” was how he’d describe me.

You may have noticed that this year I haven’t mentioned him much.  Personal problems have often kept him from the gym with the end result that he and 24 Hour have parted ways.

I was home with the flu last week when things finally ended, so I never got to say a final goodbye.  Part of me is heart broken by his leaving; part of me is worried about his ongoing well-being.  Along with all this, I know that I have the tools to continue my on my own.

Guido taught me well.

If I really have a question and need some help, I’m sure I can find it among you, beloved readers.


Open Letter to My Gym

Today I’m returning to you, gym, after I’ve missed almost two complete weeks. I am deconditioning as I write.

I had one light workout the week before BlogHer, but most of that week I was distracted and feeling stressed.  I worried that my lack of focus might inadvertently cause me to hurt myself, so I let caution be the better guide.  I stayed away from your steel weights, your medicine balls, your foam rollers, your cardio.

This past week I was working through a case of influenza.  The anxiety would pop back up, but I knew it was the exhaustion of the flu.  I rested a lot, took plenty of fluids, and tried to be good to myself.  So I stayed away.

It’s not that you are not good for me, a hard cardio workout would help me mentally deal with stress and anger but I was physically incapable of moving like I should.  I honestly knew I did not want to be inside a gym.

Now I’m getting scared.

Scared to go back to the gym.

It’s been long enough since a hard workout that I know I’m a bit deconditioned, so where do I set my limits? How far back should I go?  Start over or start where I was 6 weeks ago?  Let my muscles or my mind guide me?

I don’t know what to do, so I feel scared.  I haven’t been “unvoluntarily” out of the gym since my surgery in early ’07.  That’s almost 17 months.  Then I slowly worked my way back in: 15 minutes of cardio a day moving up to 30 as I healed.  Nothing else until I got the all clear from the surgeon.

By that time I’d spent so much time around the sweat and noise and steel that I was craving it.  It was “hold me back” before I push too far.  I wanted everything at once.  I think I could have workout to the point of total collapse that day, poured a protein drink down and started again.

Today I’m much more like the person who first walked through the doors.  Uncertain.

What should I expect from myself?

Ah.. the BIG question: what should be my realistic expectations for today?

I need someone to greet me at the door with a smile, tell me you’ve missed seeing me.  Someone to take me by the hand and simply guide me through a workout.  Pretend I’m a kindergartner. Tell me that it will be OK.  Talk softly and laugh a lot. Encourage me.

Can you remind me that I’ve been here before and that it will all come back to me like riding a bike.  (oh, I suck royally at riding bikes.  Can I show you the scars?).

Later, like maybe day three??, you can let me kick my butt.  I’m probably planning this in a secret corner of my head. A drop-weight death match that will be the talk of the free weight room for days later. (That woman was Killa!  Did you catch her super-set at the flat bench? My shoulders didn’t forgive me til today for just watching it!)

But right now?  I simply need the friendly accepting nature you sometimes show.  And maybe some apple slices and a protein shake when I’m done.

Just so you know…

I’m working on a hard post about body image.  Something I never thought I’d write about.  I want it to be good.  I want it be honest.  It’s taking time because I have so little energy at the moment and this post is an energy suck.

It’s coming.  I hope it’s worth the wait.

In the meantime, how have you reacted to the way your body looks and changes over the years?  What body image do you carry around in your head?  And have you always been able to reconcile that image with the truth of your body of the day?  When they didn’t reconcile, what did you do?

Now I hope you see why this post (combined with the energy suck of this flu) are taking all the life outta me.


Besides picking up the BlogHerbola virus this past weekend, I did manage to find one useful link that many of my readers might appreciate.

Tomima Edmark was at my table during the Health and Fitness Bird of a Feather session. She owns the women’s lingerie site: Her Room. While chatting about one thing or another, Tomima mentioned that her site hosts the video Bounce Tests for sports bras.

Now imagine shopping online for bras, and getting to see a video of not only how they fit some ideal model, but also how a sports bra stands up to the rigors of actual running!  How bouncy are the boobs??

Now I’ve worn a Champion Double-Dry Seamless Sports Bra for all my cardio and weight training, and it won the Best Sports Bra in average figure. (though I think I used the 6242), but holy-schmoly look at the BOUNCE while running in this thing! I wouldn’t want my girls bouncing around like that if I ever actually did some running.

The Natori looked like over-kill but again.. bouncy bouncy in my view.

If these are the winners, do the women really care about bounce while wearing them? Or am I missing something?

Hey, take a minute to visit the site.  You might find a sports bra you really like!

Healthy Eating at a Conference. Possible?

I have returned my annual 4 day love-fest that was BlogHer 08 with the same souvenir I brought home last year. A cold. I’m proclaiming an allergy to too much conditioned air; good think I don’t like in a region where even in my own home I’d have to have conditioned air most of the time. (why I will never move to Texas).

Most of my thoughts and reactions about the weekend will be posted on my personal blog. But there is one important point that fits better here.

As I have been teaching myself to eat healthier, I have changed the way I eat in ways that make “conference catered” food completely unsatisfying to me. I thought I was prepared for some of the challenge. I wasn’t.

I eat a diet made up about 40% protein, 40% carbs, and 20% fat. The carbs can be broked down even more into about 20% veggies, 10% fruit and 10% whole grains. Rarely do I eat processed grains. My fats are olive oil, nuts and fish. BTW, a dairy allergy precludes eating the cream cheese that represented both the source of fat and calcium at the conference.

So my body was not prepared for a breakfast of pastries and fruit. A literal smorgasbord of white flour products and quickly absorbed sugars with little fiber. I dashed up to my room and kept a bag of almonds with me, nibbling on 7 or 8 every few hours to try and keep the blood sugar even.

Lunches were similar. Salads had small portions of protein (thank goodness), bits of salad and then pasta with some kind of sauce. And of course desserts. Snack times were cookies and milk. Cocktail parties offered hors dvours with protein but aside from salads, veggies were in short supply.

Yet, because the event is socializing, the temptation is to stay with the venue and talk and nibble and pay for it all later.

Oddly, I didn’t gain weight on the 4 day carbo-palooza. By Sunday, however, I was melting down from exhaustion and dehydration. I couldn’t focus, I couldn’t speak, there were times that I simple broke into tears.

Yes, there was a lot of stimulation at the conference. Yes, Saturday night I got less than 7 hours sleep. But logical or not, I’m going to blame my poor choice of sticking with the conference food instead of seeking out better food on my own as the major culprit.

I know when I was 35 and first tried to eat healthier, I cut back on proteins and added more grains to our diet. My weight, instead of going down went up. I became addicted to TUMS to deal with a constant heart burn. I was easily dehydrated and could pour gallons of water down with little effect.

I’ve been doing the same these last few days.

OK. So my gut doesn’t like wheat or wheat flour. I can take it smallish doses once in a while. I cannot take it every day, every meal.

Next year, I will have to plan ahead. Bring some Bob’s RedMill Muesli and pick up some soymilk. Soak them overnight for my breakfast in the morning. Carry more nuts and protein powder. Accept that 2 meals a day will have to be acquired somewhere outside the venue.

Act like an adult and do what I must do to keep myself healthy.

But boy, does this play into the discussions we’ve had recently about how eating healthy can feel like “disordered eating.” More on that later this week.

Me? Yeah, I’m physical…

If you had asked me two years ago, I would have told you that I’ve never been a very active person.  I’ve enjoyed walking for years and that’s about it. But as I started exercising, I started telling stories:

  • how I used to go white-water rafting every year.  At least once a year.
  • how I played tennis.  And how I played 3 hours of tennis the day after I broke a knuckle that dislocated every time I served.
  • how I always wanted to hike the Grand Canyon.
  • how I played ball with my brothers, father and grandfather when I was five, and hit more pitched balls than my brother did.
  • how I was the best tree-climber on my block.
  • how I used to play co-ed touch football on fall Sunday afternoons.
  • how I loved pushing weights at community fitness centers.

I realized that I used to be a physically active person.  I am a kinesthic person who processed stresses and emotions through motion.

However, I wasn’t a person who liked PE in school.  I wasn’t a person who liked most team sports (though I loved doubles tennis).  I never could run or swim or bike well and I still don’t particularly like cardio exercise, though I do it 3-4 times a week.

I guess, in short, I didn’t like the activities that many think of as “girl” activities when I was a kid.  We were still always sent out the house after breakfast, due home for lunch then sent out again.  The kids on our block just lived outside when we weren’t in school.  It never struck me that that meant I was active.

During my college years and through my twenties, when I was living on my own, is when I did many of the above activities.  I was young, healthy and didn’t think about any of it as “exercise.”  Heck, it was just having fun with my friends.

After I married, life slowed down a bit and aches and pains cut short first my spouse’s activity level and later mine.

I’m finding, though, that the always-in-motion self is returning.  At the end of a two-day rest period, the evening before I head back to the gym, I’m antsy and prowling the house looking for little ways to get some work in. I occasionally eye a tree for it’s climbing potential (though I suspect I would never climb a tree without some kind of back up nearby now).

Originally, I’d planned on a short white-water trip this summer.  For a number of reasons, that’s been pushed back to probably next year.  And I wasn’t near a phone to try to make reservations for my “dream-vacation” hike of the Grand Canyon (combining the hike with spring training), so that, too, will have to be postponed.  Still, I’m just postponing, not cancelling.

Because active is what I’m all about…

When it comes to dieting, don’t go it alone.

Science Daily reported on a University of Missouri study comparing Weight Watchers to gym membership weight loss programs. While the WW participants lost about 5% body weight, this was mostly comprised of lean muscle mass. The gym participants, in contrast, did not lose much weight, but did lose significant amounts of intra-abdominal fat. While this makes the gym program sound more successful, they researchers also found that without support, the gym participants quit, while the support of meetings from WW kept it’s participants in the program.

“These results imply that overweight, sedentary women joining a fitness center with the intent of weight loss or body fat change will likely fail without support and without altering their diets,” Ball said. “Nearly 50 percent of people who start an exercise program will quit within six months.”

“This study attempted to discover what takes place in the real world when overweight women attempt to lose weight.” Ball said. “I think the outcome of the study speaks volumes about the necessity for a multi-pronged approach in order to lose weight, body fat and gain health benefits. I hope that this will be the first in a series of studies investigating commercial weight-loss programs.”

I undertook my weight loss and fitness program on my own. Quickly, however, I accepted the partnership of working with my trainer as a key component in my success. If a multi-pronged approach is necessary, I’m wondering if the gym’s offering “weight loss” programs (hello 24-Hours Fitness’s Biggest Loser program!!) should try to build a social/team-building component into their gym offerings? It seemed to work for the tv show (where they have teams competing). Or suggest that people combine gym memberships with a social program like WW?

I’ll admit I found the food part of the weight-loss program at 24-Hour totally worthless; though I know other people benefitted by it.  They made me do a whole “I will eat these foods/ I will not eat these food” inventory, and asked a whole lot questions.  I told them I am allergic to cow’s milk. Their “food plans”?  Had milk at each of the 6 meals/day.  And a note: “You mentioned you had a food allergy.  Please make adjustments to this to accomodate your allergy.”

So after saying: I will not eat milk, cheese, cottage cheese.  I am allergic to milk, cheese, cottage cheese.  What did they do?  Told me to eat them and “make changes as I see fit.”  Great plan, guys!

It was also a plan that relied heavily on their own products (not that that’s a surprise) and convenience foods that I was eliminating (instant white rice?).  It did not emphasize clean, simple foods.  While this was probably because they were aiming their service at people for whom these were still going to be big changes, it was the most frustrating part of the program for me.

However, when I belonged to WW several years ago, I did not find that program any more helpful.

I’m just saying, that eating healthy has been a long, slow, painful journey for me.  I’m still not “perfect”, but I’m getting better.  And perfection is really a road to self-destruction, so I’m not taking that detour either.

So I appear to be among the lucky rarity: that person who joined a gym to lose weight and get fit, who kept it up and became a success.

Guess I can say it: Yay for me!