The one thing I can say for myself was that this Memorial Day weekend was more health conscious than any other I can remember. I even worked out yesterday! That said… It was a mindless weekend in many ways.
I feel extremely motivated by those of you who have put up your goals for June. Time to come up with my own!
Last weekend I was at a party with a bunch of people who knew each other from the college they all went to (but I did not). As sometimes happens, they started talking about mutual friends of theirs as I followed along politely:
She gained a ton of weight while she was in that relationship, but they they broke up.
She’s doing a lot better! She’s lost like 30 pounds.
I was going to go for a run with her but she just wanted to sleep in when she visited. It was weird ‘cause she’s usually so hard core, you know?
They didn’t say these things in a hurtful way; it was just matter of fact, like the other news swapped around the circle. Did you get a haircut? That jacket is so cool! I like your shoes.
One of the nice things about taking up running, or any kind of physical activity I’m sure, is that it’s a way for people to acknowledge your appearance is changing without (necessarily) saying something specific about it. One of the women had recently taken up marathoning and was training for her third race. You’ve lost SO much weight! one of her friends said to her, and she gave a little embarrassed shrug.
I wanted to ask her about why she started running, and what kept her getting up at 5AM to train, and how it made her feel… but I didn’t. I could have asked her: How have you changed on the inside? People who know me can see I’m different from where I was a year ago, but I feel like that change is so small compared to what they can’t see. And I wondered if it was like that for her, too.
It can be convincingly argued that there is no good season in which to make healthy habits. Think about it: Fall brings school (whether you’re still in it or have a loved one/family member/kid in it) and the days get shorter, making people feel tired earlier as it gets darker. The same hibernation effect carries over into winter, which also holds the major “eating holidays” (at least for us Americans) of Thanksgiving and Christmas. A lot of people resolve on January 1st to lose weight, but those are hard to keep, particularly when the gyms are so crowded. And it’s still so cold out, you need to eat junk food in order to keep your energy up! Spring brings the potential motivator of swimsuit season, but also the end of school-year-related things and the weather isn’t always conducive — particularly in high pollen season.
Given all these options, summer may be the least bad time to decide to eat better and exercise. Okay, so you have to contend with vacations, barbecues and the onset of day-drinking season (swoon) but the weather is usually nice — let’s forget about last June’s epic rain here in New York — and if you spend your time in a fluorescent-lit office, you crave being out in it. Drinking extra water keeps you cool! When it gets hot, cooked caloriffic foods like soups and pasta lose (some of) their appeal, as does the prospect of eating until you feel heavy or sick. And in shorts-and-sundresses weather, you’re all too aware of the progress you’ve made or haven’t made.
It’s still going to be inconvenient, but if you let the season work for you, you will be successful.
Before plane trips I used to buy a bag of Wint-O-Green mints to eat in the airport. Do you know how many calories there are in an entire bag? 660. For NOT EVEN REAL FOOD. Horrified at self.
EDIT: Horrified at self for mindlessly eating an entire bag of LifeSavers, not for the mints themselves. Which are delicious! And I obviously eat more than 660 calories a day, but had I known I was eating 660 calories of candy on top of meals and so on, I would not have done so.
Seriously, is there any worse place to eat in America? Even at a small-town county fair you can get corn. Ironically the best preflight option for me is at a beer-themed restaurant, because they have a posted menu with salads on it. I don’t think I’ve ever had a salad in an airport before. So long as I don’t have a drink… well, not more than one anyway.
So last night I had an episode of emotional eating. Call it a binge, call it “conditioned hypereating” (tm David Kessler) — the point is, I was upset, and that triggered some unhealthy behavior.
What it lacked in volume it made up for in shame. I knew I was upset and I should distract myself… but I didn’t. And even as it was going on I could hear myself thinking “do you really want to eat like this? Do you really want to live like this?” And the answer was no, but I still didn’t stop.
Unfortunately, the situation that triggered this behavior isn’t going away. But I can moderate my own response to it. Today and this weekend I’m going to make mostly healthy choices, while probing that feeling a little more. It’s scary to confront these feelings I might have tried to placate in the past, but if I’m going to be healthy it’s what I have to do.
“It’s just like Zumba; even if someone wanted to prevent me from doing it, they probably couldn’t.”—What I just told a coworker about why I don’t care about going bare-armed this summer. If you aren’t comfortable doing it yourself, I completely get that, but for me, life is too short and my pasty white triceps never hurt anyone. (Unlike my bad dance moves…)
According to the EWG, the best products contain zinc or titanium; they all look like organic/natural brands, so check your Whole Foods or similar. That said, a few of my favorites that got not-horrible scores (“caution,” not “avoid”):
The first time the 60something woman I see every other week complimented me on my weight loss, I blew her off. The second time, when she said I’d lost “good weight” (I love that phrase), I said thanks, I took up jogging.
"Ah, I used to do that stuff," she said. "I’d run around the [Central Park] reservoir."
"Oh, me too, I do that!"
"I used to run 10 laps around it on the weekends."
The benefits of exercise are no surprise. The fact that exercise is more beneficial for some more than others may be. A new study finds that when it comes to working out, white women are the big winners.
Besides its very surprising finding highlighted by marathonsheila, one thing that caught my eye was that how this study measured “leisure-time physical activity” among participants.
I’m too cheap to buy the study so I’m not sure what qualified (running to the shower before my roommates can get in? probably not…) but participants tracked their activity not in minutes per week but in something called “MET minutes”/week. MET minutes, a term I had never heard before, is actually a ratio to how many calories you would burn doing that, compared to the number of calories you would be burning at rest. (Source for definition and values: health.gov) METs x minutes you worked out = MET minutes. For example, if you run for 30 minutes at 6mph, then you have still worked out for 30 minutes, but you have racked up 300 MET minutes.
Back to the study: The minimum activity they were looking for in participants was 450-750 MET minutes a week. That’s something, especially if you have been completely sedentary, but that’s not a lot, whereas 450 minutes a week is over an hour a day. In the past week I racked up 765 MET minutes, but like I said that was a pretty light week for me.
Really there’s no need to do all this math, but if you want something else to measure to keep yourself on track, this might be of interest to you — particularly if you do a lot of different exercises. If you want to find out how many METs your exercise is worth, this PDF has a bunch of values, including METs burned during sex (not joking).
Good luck on the race in CP! I ran the corporate challenge last year. It was my first official race.
Don't be too nervous about it. There are TONS of people. I got separated from my co-workers before, during, and after the race. I'm sure no one even noticed my running.
And it's also a good mix of old, young people. Not all are runners so there is no pressure whatsoever.
You will do great! Just relax and enjoy the park/people!
Thank you so much for saying this. I am secretly hoping there are more walkers than runners coming out of my org. because then I’ll at least look slightly badass.
It’s three weeks from tomorrow — a 3.5 miler with coworkers in Central Park after work. "No sweat," I said in March. Now, naturally, I’m sweating.
Let me preface this by saying that last night I had a totally unrelated panic attack on the treadmill, and that was really not cool, so maybe I’m just feeling sort of shaky overall.
Corporate Challenge chat: The length doesn’t bother me, but I had pictured this as my glorious Hey Look Everybody I’m A Runner moment at work, only to realize that my time will not impress anyone and I will probably look pathetic. I hate looking pathetic, particularly in front of other people I will have to see again. I know, I should be over it! But I am not.
Because I was afraid of looking pathetic I didn’t ask anyone to run with me, so participation in my department consists of me, a woman I don’t know at all, a former college athlete and two of the office “Mean Girls.” (On Wednesdays they wear pink! Just kidding, they wear the same shade of disdain as every other day.) Corporate is throwing us an after-party… but what if I finish too late and they all leave without me? What if no one talks to me there? What if I am a sweaty mess Well, no preventing that, but so on and so on it goes until I start breathing into a paper bag, and it is really difficult running with a paper bag over your face.
I wish I could just go and run it and not have anyone notice. But… I signed up for a team, that’s sort of how that works. At least no one else from my department will show up to watch unless there are free drinks involved. Phew?
Work is so stressful right now, the kind of stressful that in the past I always medicated with food. Bad food and a lot of it. The “I’m working so hard, so I deserve to have anything I want” mentality.
I still did a little emotional eating this week and I still made some poor choices (like only taking the time to work out 3x). But nothing like before. And I never said to myself, “Ehh, I give up.”
And you all are at least partially responsible! I like to check in with Tumblr at work when I feel like, to be an emo tween for a second, I’m all alone in this. At the end of the day when my coworkers are eating Hot Pockets and I’m gearing up to go to the gym before I fall into bed, it’s nice to know that. Whether you’re just starting out or recuperating from your fourth marathon, your energy and enthusiasm tell me that this is just a blip — that I won’t always be this tired, that I’ll be charging confidently toward my goals again soon.
So thanks! Now let’s all make it to Friday in one piece.
"Part of losing weight is acknowledging the fact that you have issues with food. And holy shit, do I have issues with food." How Deadspin’s Drew Magary lost 60 pounds in 5 months — irreverently and with foul language yes, but some actually decent tips in there! I think I might try this one:
8. I drank a fuckload of unsweetened green tea. It’s an appetite suppressant, plus it makes me feel like I just ate a very large Chinese meal, which is fun. I needed something to demarcate the end of a meal, because otherwise I’d just keep eating until all my meals blended together. Breaklunchinner is a better meal than most people realize. Having a cup of tea at the end of the meal (usually decaf) was my way of reminding myself MEAL IS OVER, FUCKFACE.
I’m sure I’ve read it before, but presented in a new way, it sounds like a super idea.
I can’t imagine ever ever being comfortable enough to tweet my weight, but crazy kudos to Drew (whose columns I, as a straight girl, read with a mixture of curiosity and horror) for not only losing 60 pounds but being open about the fact that he had to do it. And did.
The dress I used to call my “Joan Holloway dress” is… looser, ergo less so. Which is great because now I can wear it to work less self-consciously, and less great because I think I need one of those. For emergencies. Etc.
I completely understand why people go on the Subway Diet. Eating well is definitely not second nature to me even now, complicated by the fact that I have trouble making decisions when I’m hungry. (But who doesn’t, right?) You can rightly criticize Subway for HFCS and for pushing not-so-healthy options like 44-ounce sodas, but if you know a little bit about healthy eating you can do better there than at most ubiquitous fast-food chains.
I would enjoy The End Of Overeating a lot more if I didn’t think everyone on the subway was watching me read it and thinking it’s a self-help book. Some people are judgy.
I caught up with some old “Biggest Loser” episodes over the weekend, and without spoiling anything, you guys are WRONG. As soon as he got the glasses out, Koli became the hotter Gray Team member. No question.
I hate jumping jacks. I seriously hate jumping jacks.
I’ve been messing around with some body-fat calculators online with varying answers (and I’m sure, degrees of accuracy). I have never had my body fat measured, though I seem to remember a traumatizing skinfold incident in middle-school gym. But do you have one? Is it useful?
“There is a sense that you’re missing something if you actually make an effort towards happiness: maybe I felt as though I was keeping it more real by exposing myself to my own dark side, but then why should it have felt, listening to a happy tune, as though I was releasing a breath I’d been holding for about a decade?”—Tesslynch
I’ve been following Kendyl’s new gym adventures with interest. I’ve been thinking about upgrading in gym for a bit now. It never made sense before because I was never there, but now that I’m there more… well.
My new division at work comes with some sweet benefits, including the opportunity to join a FancyGym in New York for cheaper — something like $400 cheaper per year. Ridiculous! One of my new coworkers is thinking about joining.
"I don’t know," I said. "I already belong to one. And they don’t have any FancyGyms in my neighborhood."
"Go to the one near work," he said. "You could go during lunch."*
Despite describing morning workouts as “the final frontier,” I think my real final frontier is working out at lunch. First, squeezing 30 minutes of cardio, changing and a shower into an hour might be a challenge. Second, I sweat a lot, and even after a shower the prospect of sitting at my desk looking like I am deeply embarrassed would be… deeply embarrassing.
These aren’t excuses! Really! But I’d much rather go before work and get in early (and have time for the red-facedness to subside) than go at lunch, and that is saying something.
The coworker I was talking to, interestingly, wants to join a gym mostly for yoga. He’s not on the corporate insurance plan yet, and the last time he went to a doctor he was told he might have a heart murmur. Since he can’t afford to go to a specialist, he’s been avoiding all cardio just in case. He’d consider doing free weights but wouldn’t go to a gym just to lift, and doesn’t want to buy weights to use at home.
*Lest tone be misunderstood on the Internets, this wasn’t in the “Wow, you need to exercise” vein… and I didn’t take it like that. Like all my coworkers, he has no idea about this little venture, but I think he was legit trying to problem-solve.
third: i believe that this will be my first 5k! i should be in much better shape by then and done with couch to 5k, so hopefully i can do it and have a respectable time.
Heck yes! I did this 5K last year and it was amazing. It’s a great cause and one close to New Yorkers’ hearts (native or adopted); the course is flat, fast and very scenic. I think shrinkinginthecity is also interested, despite being too hardcore for 5Ks.
Larger World, if you live here or happen to be in New York for Labor Day weekend, definitely check it out.
Re. my last post: @arunningfool — No, it’s a Clif C bar with fruit and nuts. I don’t think they have gone over to the dark side yet!
Specifically it is from my endless box of Clif bars that I won from Spring Shape-Up (cc: @losingweightinthecity). And it really is endless. There are blueberry, apple and cherry pomegranate bars included, and I haven’t even tried the cherry pom ones yet! Blueberry is definitely better than apple though.
I’ve been stashing them in my desk to eat as a mid-morning snack to keep me going for lunch. I was just about to offer my cube neighbor one, but since she follows Theodora on Twitter and doesn’t know about this blog, maybe not?
When I started this blog I only told one person — my sister, with whom I had a private Tumblr to hash out this sort of stuff previously. (She became a triathlete in college. She rules!) I sort of did that on purpose because I didn’t want anyone to witness me failing, or have them find out how fat I really was.
Accountability to everyone you know is recommended, but it’s also fucking frightening, you know?
I work in online media and many of my coworkers are savvy, but I am definitely the nosiest. Let’s face it, if you work with me, I am going to Google you sooner or later. It’s not personal, I’m just super curious. By dint of being the nosiest, I think I am mostly protected. For now. But I can only assume it will eventually be found.
I guess when the time comes I could delete this blog or change its format to be more, er, public-facing, but I sort of don’t want to. This has been working out pretty well for me, for motivation and support. (I hope you feel the same way!) And while I am ashamed of my former self, my current self is doing a pretty good job. I may get that stolen-7th-grade-diary feeling for a little while, but I can see that feeling wearing off. Maybe.
This is part of a larger discussion in my life about trying to be more open and knowing what to share, but I will put it away for now.
A European study using identical and fraternal twins says: somewhat, not that you can fully blame your folks for not getting off the couch.
My mom is a fit person who in the past has had periods of chronic overexercise; my dad is overweight and has been a yo-yo dieter and exerciser for as long as I can remember. I don’t need a study to tell me which one I take after; ironically, it’s that same parent who has been much more supportive this time around.
You guys. This exists. I am from NJ. I have no words.
With all due respect to people from New Jersey, who doubtless hate being mocked on behalf of an unrepresentative sample (most of whom are not even from NJ), and are totally justified in their feelings for such… I am dying to try this. I will do any stupid gimmick once, particularly when the people-watching possibilities are so promising.
Fun blog post from over at SparkPeople. Some of the reasons are important and some are… not, but I know I get that feeling after a good workout when I think, “Why don’t I remember how that felt before?!”
"Swift and resolute action leads to success; self-doubt is a prelude to disaster." -Joseph Addison
I didn’t sign up for that running class after all. I hesitated because of work stuff and other worries, and by the time I got back to it registration had closed.
However. I can beat myself up about it, or I can go forward, and I choose to go forward. To make up for the workouts I would have been getting with this class, I’m going to work out every Monday and Wednesday for the next eight weeks.
So if I want to go out after work, I’d better be in the gym in the morning.
So if I have a bad result on Wednesday, I won’t have the luxury of slumping into comfort food (anyone?)
So whatever else goes haywire that week, I will at least have those two workouts done.
There are a lot of things stressing me out right now, and most of it I can’t control. But this I can, and this will make the rest of it easier to deal with. Even if I don’t leave the gym feeling happy at what I’ve done, I do feel less stressed. This one wheel turning can change a lot.
i was told this weekend that it isn't good for runners to use sunscreen - it blocks our natural sweat ability; have you heard otherwise? (and thanks for the kind words)
I am not familiar with that argument against it. I put it on because that’s what I always do when I plan to spend time outside, but I can sort of see how people would say that about zinc oxide, the heavy-duty stuff (the kind that turns your nose white). Still, I’m curious now, so I went to the Googles for help.
Jeff Galloway at Active.com: “Sun screen—a mixed review. Some runners will need to protect themselves. Some products, however, produce a coating on the skin that slows down perspiration and produces an increase in body-temperature buildup. If you are only in the sun for 30 to 50 minutes at a time, you may not need to put on sunscreen for cancer protection. Consult with a dermatologist for your specific needs—or find a product that doesn’t block the pores.”
But in another piece on Active.com he lists a potential benefit: “Sunscreen can decrease your skin and body temperatures, so you’ll stay cooler during exercise.” And those… seem like opposing arguments?
Runner’s World suggests broad-spectrum sunscreen (UVA and UVB) or, if you’re fancy, SPF-infused clothing . A lot of sites also recommend loose-fitting clothing as the ultimate sun protector… you know, in case you’re an alien who doesn’t sweat. (Also, I noticed that Runnersworld.com has a “What Should I Wear?” gizmo, for permanent indeciders. Wheeeee.)
I know there are “oil-free” sunscreens out there, and those might be worth looking into as not as aggressive pore-blockers. I couldn’t find any specific information on that but this Active.com piece on cycling mentions that “oil-based” sunscreens impede perspiration, so I think I’m on the right track there.
I also came across this anti-sunscreen argument on the primal site Mark’s Daily Apple stating that sunscreen could be blocking you from getting your daily allotment of Vitamin D. At the same time, the author of the site doesn’t say categorically not to use any sunscreen, but instead to shop carefully and use plenty.
Okay… so what’s the takeaway here? Based on all that, I’m going to keep wearing sunscreen when I run outside. I’m very fair and burn pretty quickly — last year, I forgot to apply SPF to my face before a 5K and I was toasted for a week afterwards on about 2 hours of exposure. That said, I’ll probably try a few different brands while doing so; my standard order of SPF 45 for babies (really, that pale!) may be good for the beach and not so good for the park.
Faster than the last long run, a bit cooler, much happier. I hadn’t done the reservoir in a few weeks because of Allergy Hell; lovely to be back.
Today’s run is dedicated to whoever of you suggested putting “4 Minutes” on a workout playlist. (I think there was more than one? so sorry not to call you out individually). You saved my bacon after the 6-mile mark. I mean it.
The rest of youse: buy stock in Johnson & Johnson, Merck and HanesBrands Inc, the makers of the different kinds of sunscreen I use. I’m ghostly pale so I’ll be going through a lot of it this summer. (Disclaimer: This is not a real stock tip and do not take it as such, I am not a stockbroker, ask a real person, etc.)
One of my work friends is a major foodie, who I’m sure would be horrified to see the meals I eat when we don’t eat lunch together. In truth I would like to do something fancier than sandwich/ steamed veggies/ yogurt/ cheese, but when I pack lunch I can never seem to get it together. Maybe I could make something on the weekends that will keep all week? Hmmmmm.
I haven’t been packing my lunch recently because I’ve been (a) lazy and (b) concerned about perishability in the mornings when I go to the gym. One of those is a good excuse to buy my lunch, and the other isn’t. But the truth is I stay on track much better when I bring it instead of getting takeout. I don’t know why this is so surprising.
I have been calling my doctor’s office all week to try and get an appointment for a few weeks out. I’m due, but this will also be my opportunity to ask my doc what I have to do to be cleared for a half-marathon. YES, I am going to bring it up! But they must be super-busy, because I haven’t been able to reach someone until today… at which point I realized I didn’t have my planner so I couldn’t schedule anything.
I had frozen yogurt with office folk twice this week, and twice was too often. I looked up the nutrition facts before we went, but was thrown by the self-serve set-up and definitely took more than I planned to, both times. One day I put a lot of fruit in it and pretended it was my lunch — nice try Monkey, but still not a good idea for reasons like “protein” and “being a grown-up.”
One of my coworkers has an elusive gym bag that doubles as a purse. It’s pretty cute. Another coworker was trying to compliment her on it, and said “It could go either way… like a mullet.” Yes, a mullet can indeed go either way, to bad or to worse.