Tag Archives: what it takes

Game On! Back to Success

Ed. Note: I often forget many of you are new here — so, a nutshell: From Jan ’08 till May of ’09, I lost 70 pounds. The hard way. Myself — no trainers, diet organizations, nothing. Hard work, honesty, and self-awareness.

I burned out after 8 months with a killer back injury. So, I took the year off and gained 8 pounds back. But, I’m back, and knowing what it takes to be successful, here’s my reflection on beginning that experience for the second time. Hopefully some of my methods can sustain others, too.

RAWR, BITCHES.

After a disappointing first weigh-in because I’d gained two pounds — there’s only so much of that you can call “muscle tone”, methinks — I’m now down 2 pounds off my “starting” weight. So, 4 pounds, but I’m calling it 2.

But I’m down 6 inches off my waist! 2.5 inches off my hips! Yeah!

I know a lot of people have the “ohmigod, I’ve gained weight” experience at the beginning, so I want to share a few observations I can make after having been down this road successfully three times in the past.

First is, obviously I gained weight. For me, if I start exercising more, I start eating more. It’s simple math.

You get complacent and used to inhaling X amount of food when resting, so you psychologically think you need more when you start working out. It happens. Get over it.

That, for me, is where it starts. Let’s face it, becoming an active person is probably the most important goal any of us can set — the second should be eating truly healthily, and the third should involve weight/size.

People get the priorities wrong and think it’s about the weight.

It’s not. It’s about changing your life. Remember that, and it’s easier to deal with the weight hiccups that WILL come your way.

For whatever reason, I naturally gravitate to eating more when I begin hardcore workout phases. There comes a point where I realize my methods are broken, and I’m gaining weight from the muscle tone and eating all that I’ve been burning.

I buckle down and get serious, then I get true results.

“Buckle down” means that I get this epiphany of “HOLY SHIT, I’m working WAY too hard for THAT result.”

When you’re doing two hours and 15 minutes of cardio in a day like I have done a number of times of late, and you have a burger, fries, and two beers, well, on the one hand, yes, if you’re gonna have a burger, that’s the day to do it, man.

But think of the PAYOFF for not having that burger and beers!

Me, I’m NOT cutting out burgers or anything. I’d rather work harder, make smarter choices, and monitor what I’m eating so I know EXACTLY how bad I can be (and be bad much less frequently), and instead of downing Bad Food X with guilt and worry, I can enjoy it with the knowledge that it Fits into my day. It just fits. Therefore, it’s all good.

Weight loss is almost ALL head game.

It’s a head game when you think you’re too tired to cycle further.

It’s a head game when you think the wonky thing in your lower back means you shouldn’t exercise.*

It’s a head game when the numbers go in the wrong direction.

It’s even a head game when you’re trying to understand how you got to X-weight in the first place.

It’s ALL a game.

“Calories-in, calories-out” is an oversimplification of what I’m doing, but it’s about right. I monitor my intake, and I work like shit on the rest.

The difference, I think, between athletes, serious weight loss types like myself, and the average person who sort of works out and they don’t know why they don’t “see more results” for their “five hours” of cardio in a week, is just sheer effort.

I’m bone-tired when I’m done working out. When I get finished, I tend to know I’ve had myself in “moderate to intense” mode since the gate opened. THAT’S what it takes. It takes gasping, wheezing, and pushing forward ANYHOW.

Think you can’t go further and you won’t. It’s all attitude.

Exercise is supposed to hurt. It’s supposed to have you gasping and crying for Mommy. It’s supposed to make you think twice about having any plans for the rest of the week.

There’s a big difference between folks who have a weight to maintain versus if you want to lose it. You want to lose weight just through food? All right, well, that’s about 80% of the deal, if you listen to some folks.

You want a hot body? You’ll likely need to work for it. And I mean work.

I double what people do to “maintain” weight, when I’m losing it. It takes me 5-8 hours a week of working out, but that’s usually just the cardio of what I’ve done — then there’s stretching and here-and-there freeweights in front of the telly.

I hit plateaus, sure, but my body keeps improving, and my fitness does too. That’s my goal, not some number on a scale. Work through the plateaus. Change your food intake or your water, but try to work through it.

Not everyone’s gonna be a size four, so get over it here and now, and the journey will be a whole lot more rewarding for you.

It can’t just be “Did I lose weight this week?” It has to also be “How much better did I perform on that bike ride? How do I feel at the end of my day? Was climbing those stairs easier? Holy, look how much better my breathing is. And, damn, that bag of potatoes feels like air!”

Focus on what IS changing, rather than what you hoped you’d see.

Measure yourself. Monitor your fitness levels. Remember how hard that jogging was the first week you started. Think about the strength you feel in your back now, how much more symmetrical your body feels. Think about how much more lung capacity you have when you’re just sitting at your desk and working on the computer. Appreciate how those jeans feel, focus on that sensation you get with cool crisp clean jeans over just-worked-out-for-90-minutes legs. Damn, it’s nice.

Get over the fucking shit the media wants you to think about.

IT’S NOT ABOUT THE NUMBER.

It’s about your body’s changing state, the acquisition of health and strength.

Know why Jenny Craig wants you on their diet? Because you WILL gain the weight back, but you’ll have “lost it before” so you’ll be a repeat customer.

All they’re doing is counting your calories. Take the power. Learn it yourself. Live with it for the rest of your life.

You wouldn’t take a road trip without knowing how far you had to go, how much fuel you need to arrive safely, and how long it takes, right? Then you know you have to drive, and there are no shortcuts between There and Here. Why is losing weight any different?

Work out as hard as you can a few times a week, and take lazy easy activity in between, with as many hours of sleep a night as you can get, at least one day a week off where you relax, and a balanced diet that’s respectful of the calories someone of your height/weight/age should be consuming on a daily/weekly basis. Enjoy a blow-out meal of things you love on your day off, and KILL IT the next day.

That’s MY secret. And, hey, it’s no secret. Every other system leads to a likelihood of repeating your past ills.

Learn. Act. Believe. Achieve. Simple.

Party on, Garth.

* I’ve learned a really hard workout resets all my back muscles and alleviates backpain, personally. Days when I thought I should rest, rest didn’t help — but cycling for 50 minutes did. Not walking and namby-pamby shit, but stuff where I’ve got to activate my core muscles and push hard. But that’s just me. Learn about your body, but don’t presume you KNOW.

**Disclaimer? Uh. I’m a blogger. Talk to your doctor about this shit. There are risks. I’ve had medical guidance (though not trainers, etc) through all of this and I’ve educated myself along the way. Proceed at your own risk.

The Challenge of Transitioning

I’m in zombieland.

Mono-focused. I know what I want. I’m after it. Period.

Brains. Nommy brains.

Mmkay, no.

I want life to be my bitch. That requires me being strong, fit, and healthy.

It requires me undoing bullshit that caused me to gain back 8 pounds — and probably several inches — of the 70 pounds I’d lost.

That shit’s done, yo.*

A small part of me was enjoying the summer before I destroyed my back, 2008. I was becoming a jock:  strong, powerful, and often making my “fit” friends feel like chumps because Fat Girl could work circles around ’em.

They loved it, I loved it. Good times and great laughs. What a change from them always having to slow up and check on me.

There’s nothing more important in my life to me right now than taking that back.

I fucking love the pride I feel when I know what I’m really getting done.

Nothing says empowered like being able to change a day that’s had me bent over and taking it by having a set of fitness goals and blowing that out of the water. Whatever else life did that day, it couldn’t stop me from killing that workout.

There’s something that comes from that place of knowing you scaled a mountain, rode 30 km, or did a crazy set of highrise stairs.

I love that place. I’ve owned that place.

Since May 11th, I have worked out on more days than I haven’t, usually five days a week. And, on most days, I’ve tried to really leave it all on the floor. I’m getting better at that, and intend to keep pushing boundaries.

Today, my whole body cries for release. This is the consequence of those actions.

All of me is so tight and sore. From my ankles to my jaw, I hurt.

There’s only one thing I know I can do to help it: Work out more, but differently. Like my chiro doc tells me, “Motion is lotion.”

Move it, or lose it. Two days slack is asking for a world of pain. Days off are harder than days on, when you get used to the workload, but there’s a point in between where everything you do’s an effort, and I’m there. So fucking spent.

It’s with weary resignation I know I can’t rest. I know I don’t want to go cycling later, and most of me would rather crawl in bed and die today, but… I know: I can’t.

My “rest day” will be tomorrow or Saturday. Maybe both, since much walking will be required tomorrow and anything else might overdo it.

I cancelled plans last night. Didn’t have it in me, and saw that coming from morning light. I’m sure feelings were hurt. They’ll understand someday.

I know what’s important to me right now, and it’s not parties and big crowds of people. It’s not about finding my contentment through others, or getting their validation, or needing their company.

It’s about rediscovering that place inside that gave me the power to change my world in such a dramatic fashion once already.

And I know what it takes.

It takes cancelling out on parties.

It takes that inevitable night at the end of the week where you’re just fucking DONE and all you can do is crash at 9:00 at night and sleep for 10 hours, waking with already-weary bones that know they’re in for more, and soon.

It takes vitamins, big healthy meals, water all day, planning food in advance, total time-management, prioritizing yourself before anyone else, and avoiding engagements that are too heavily centred around dining and drinking.

I know what it takes.

It takes a total life change.

And you know what else it takes?

It takes pissing off other people who don’t understand what it really takes, when you just can’t find it in you to go and be happy and fun with other people. You’d rather just die on the sofa with only one thing on your mind: You met the goal this week.

People don’t get how hard it is. You can’t POSSIBLY get it. If you think losing 10 pounds is hard, or 20, try 70.

Just fucking try it. I did it. I know. I did that. And it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And I’ve kept 62 off for 18 months!

I know Biggest Loser’s the biggest cheese going on TV sometimes, with the sound editing and the seemingly simplified weight battles edited to fit a TV format, but the emotions those people feel — the breakdowns at the end of the season, of trying to juggle real life with friends and families and weightloss — and how it’s the people around them who always lose out, that’s all real.

Wanting to cry because you’re so fucking tired, but LOVING the joy you feel inside about what you’ve accomplished? That dichotomy is a weird place to live, and the tightrope one walks to sustain each is the toughest balance ever.

To be successful with a “180” health-wise, to take on a radically active life after years of sloth — the focus and drive they take are impossible to explain.

The pain with which your body screams at you after years of giving into gravity and laziness, after decades of shovelling processed food into it, after years of losing lung capacity… that isn’t a one-week adjustment.

And I’ve had a decade of injuries to overcome on top of all that pain.  For me, it means I have to spend hours stretching out the hours of working out, every single week.

That whole-body-fatigue keeps hurting — week after week, month after month — because every pound you lose means you need to work harder to remove the remainder.

It’s why 80% or more of people can’t lose weight and sustain it.

This is the HARDEST mental battle of your life. Win the weightloss headgame and no other game will out-think you in life. I guarantee it.

The resilience you need to get past 50 pounds of weightloss, and to sustain it, is something you can’t learn from a book or buy from a specialist. You create it and nurture it.

I may have gained 8 pounds back out of 70, but I don’t feel like that’s a failure at all. I think 10% gain back after 21 months spent with a life-altering injury, then caught in a year of burn-out, is fucking awesome.

I’m proud as hell of that. GO, ME.

And what a gift for getting back on path, being still so close to the goal I’ve wanted to achieve since I was 17: Being under 200 pounds.

I hope to reach that goal by Canada Day. Scared I won’t. But I’m gonna try real fuckin’ hard.

I won’t feel guilty for focusing on myself right now — be it meaning that I cancel plans, or whatever else it takes.

I’m not likely to cancel on one-on-one time with friends or small groups, but, parties? Yep. The full-body fatigue that comes from this doesn’t tend to always make one a real cheery camper to hang with when it comes to maintaining a “vibe” a host/hostess is trying to create. Can’t do it.

I’m tired. I’m sore.

I’m dreading how much further, harder, and heavier all this shit’s gonna get before I’m at where I want to be.

I’m not some 140-pound chick climbing those highrise stairs or cycling 35km, man, I’m 210-plus. I literally haul every pound of that on this frame — it’s actually there, it’s actually heavy. It’s real fuckin’ heavy.

Gravity finds every ounce of that weight when I’m fighting it, and, believe me, I feel like it after a week like I’ve had.

But I’m elated.

It has begun. I’m at the climax of where it gets real, real hard at the beginning, where every day is filled with hurt and fatigue, but, soon, I’ll hit my pace where it’s just about keeping the wheels spinning ‘cos momentum’s been found.

I’ll be one seriously weary girl for a while. My BEST friends understand it and WELCOME it.

Soon, it’ll just be a new normal, and the determination that emerges from meeting small success after small success is its own feeding frenzy.

And I’ll be Mojo Girl again.

I’ll get that cocky grin that makes people wonder what the fuck I’m on. I’ll get my twinkle in my eye, the smirk that says “Look out.”

Then it all gets very, very fun. Very.

Just you wait.

.

*I think I’ve lost the weight already, or close to it. But I’m waiting until one month in for weigh-day and that’s next Wednesday. It’s really about the feeling. I know the weight will come off gradually — it did before. It’s nice to see the numbers change, though. Rewarding. But not really what it’s about. It’s important to know that before you step on the scale. It’s important to believe it.