Week One at the Gym

I shared in this post that I wanted to challenge myself to go to the gym 30 times between February 26 and April 8. I met with a personal trainer in mid-February who drew up a plan for me – 5 workouts a week: 2 upper body, 2 lower body, and 1 full body. The upper and lower body workouts are a little over an hour; the full body is a 2-mile run and time will vary.

I had originally planned to do a big post after 30 days, but by the third day, I needed something more than a lengthy goal, so I thought it would be good to check in after the first week and sum up what the first five days (does anyone remember that song The First Five Times?) were like.

February 26 – Day 1

Day 1

Day 1 was upper body. It started with a 20-minute run/walk and then moved on to mostly free weights. I felt energized and excited when I was done, but by 2pm I was basically toast. It was really hard to fight the urge for an additional cup of coffee.

I did not allow enough time for everything that was included, so there was a circuit of three things that I was supposed to do three times that I only did one time.

Summary: I need more time than I think because not feeling rushed is important to me when I’m learning something. 

February 27 – Day 2

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Day 2 was lower body, which still involved a lot of free weights. I’m really grateful that this plan doesn’t have me tied to a million machines. That morning, I noticed that I was, again, the only woman in the gym that early. Maybe because where I go is small? I was feeling a little achy from the day before, and I need to get better about allowing time to stretch both before and after.

The last exercise was dumbbell lunges and y’all… I barely made it through the first 10. I did a second rep of 10 and stopped, and didn’t do the third rep. I felt terrible for not completing it – when it was about not having enough time that made sense to me, but when it’s because my body can’t? That’s not something I’m used to. I felt kind of crumby for most of day two.

Summary: New disappointments are harder to navigate than ones I’m accustomed to.

February 28 – Day 3

Day 3

By day 3, I wasn’t entirely sure why I was still going. It’s been freezing cold here (in Michigan) and my car doesn’t heat up quickly so I leave for the gym freezing cold. I had class the night before so I didn’t get home until 9pm, which means I wasn’t even relaxed (let alone asleep) until around 10:30pm. That 5am wake up was basically impossible. I was grumpy and decided I was just going to do the full-body workout – the run.

Over the summer, I was running a little over a 5K (3.8 miles – the distance to my parents house) in 43 minutes. When I was at 15 minutes for 1 mile, I was ready to just throw the towel in.

Y’all this is the real – I’m giving it to you straight. Wouldn’t it be boring to hear another “exercising is the greatest thing ever! I love every minute of it!” I’m not going to lie. Working out does make me feel better but the process this day was crap.

Until I hit 1.5 miles. I told myself, “1.5 miles is 75%. If you got a 75% in your class, you would be doing all the extra credit in the world.” So, I kept going because I don’t actually like to do things half-assed. And it was a shitty half a mile, but the music was great and I felt better all day knowing that I had kept going.

Summary: When everything sucks, make sure you have good music because then it will suck less. Also, sleep is really important.

February 29 – Rest Day 1

Rest Day 1

Y’all, I couldn’t do Day 4 after what Day 3 was like. And I don’t mean that to be that I was giving up. I knew I wanted to keep going, but also that my mind wasn’t in the right spot for it. So, I decided on Day 3 to commit to at least one day of rest.

It was less rest-y than probably most days: my parents hired me to put in new flooring in their office. So, I pulled up carpet. And tack strip. And 10,000 staples. It was a workout all its’ own. I got home late (around 7pm) and tried to take some quiet moments for myself. My body was grateful for a long shower and some time in a big, comfy chair.

Summary: Rest is far more important than I usually allow it to be in my life. 

March 1 – Rest Day 2

Rest Day 2

On Day 3, I had committed to going back on Sunday (March 1), but the floors took longer than expected. It was cool to think about my body a little differently on that day. I could lift boxes and get up and down. I tried really hard on this rest day to think about my body as capable, rather than limited.

It was nice to do that on a day not in the gym because I think it set me up well for Day 4 – I highly recommend giving that a shot!

Summary: If I make it less about this idea of going to the gym and more about the idea of learning about my body, I have a better attitude.

March 2 – Day 4

Day 4 (1)

Day 4 felt like Day 1 in terms of my attitude. How crazy that I so seriously needed those rest days?? It was more mental than anything. I was doubting my abilities and feeling overwhelmed without realizing that was what I was feeling. Does that ever happen to you with things like this?

This was the second upper body workout and it also started with 20 minutes of running. I felt like I had better endurance on this day than I did on Day 1, which propelled me forward in a great way. The rest of the time was spent mostly with free weights and a handful of machines.

The only struggle I found myself having was that I wore leggings with no pockets, so I didn’t have a spot for my phone and headphones, so I carried them from spot to spot. Which was just annoying, not like, a serious problem.

I’m doing a no-spend week, but I think I might purchase one of those earbud cases that hooks to your keys when I have the chance to spend again. Or I might just actually purchase a second pair of leggings that have a pocket. I should update y’all on the status of my closet because there have been some major changes since the last time I posted about it.

Summary: I really like upper body workouts and never knew that before.

March 3 – Day 5

Day 5

Day 5 was a leg day and the day of my biggest revelation. I don’t hate leg day (I feel like that’s a thing that people talk about). I actually enjoy the sore feeling after. What I hate, and what I think probably caught up with me in that weird Day 2 & 3 space is that I need the run to get my brain moving.

I like the calculation of running for a length of time vs walking for a length of time. I like how lost in the music I get. Running is something that I know intimately and have done for most of my life. I  think I need it to boost my confidence because I’m doing so many things I don’t know. So, I’m going to add in 10-15 minutes of it on leg day because that’s what I need.

I discovered that my gym doesn’t have kettlebells so there were two exercises I couldn’t do but y’all – I killed those dumbbell lunges that I struggled with on day two. And by killed I mean I actually did all of them. I didn’t necessarily do them well, but I did them.

Summary: Add in something familiar when you’re doing something new or else your confidence will be shot.

What else?

The number one thing I took away from this week is that I can’t frame it in terms of “good” and “bad.” I went to the gym. I went. That’s actually enough. If I had gone and walked on the treadmill for 10 minutes, that’s 10 minutes more than what I was doing before.

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” – Ernest Hemingway

That’s it. There are 100 things in a day that I come across that I’m “not good” at. If I spent all my time thinking about them I would never leave my house. And if I told you each day about the 100 things I came across that I am “good” at, I would be the most annoying person ever.

So instead, I went. I went to the gym and I did these things that matter to me because they keep my heart healthy and help me manage stress.

Keeping it on those terms makes it easier to go and to keep going.

I did lose 1.6 lbs and I actually do think it’s important to talk about the number because the number connects to heart and whole-body health. But I don’t think I’ll weigh myself again until April 8 (the 30-day mark) because I have a history of caring too much about that number. You’ve got to know your limits, not just in the gym but out of it as well. 

Oh! AND! I’m making this little playlist of the songs that are resonating with me the most each day if you want to follow along. It’s definitely made it more fun to have music to lean in to.A. Rose (1)

Exercise Confession

I feel uncertain about writing about my body, and certainly have a lot of thoughts about why that is.

I’ve never been skinny.

I’m 5’2″ and tend to fall into the “full figure” category (which is the smaller end of “plus size,” apparently. *shrug*).

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I’m sure some of my reluctance is because figuring out all these terms that exist for women’s bodies is basically a full-time job. But I’ve been thinking about it a lot, because I actually love my body, my shape, how I move.

When I had my gallbladder out, I had to closely examine my relationship with my body and taking care of it. Not talking about it hasn’t helped me.

When I was younger,  I was a cheerleader, played volleyball, ran all the time. I grew up playing outside and riding bikes. I like to be active; I like to move and go. But I’ve always worked at a desk and prefer to read a book when I’m done with the work day.

That’s really what happens: by the end of my day, I think about going to the gym or going outside for a run, but instead I’m so worn out that I don’t stick with it.

But I know that I’m not a healthy weight. And that is of the utmost importance to me. I could care less what the number is: I care completely about how my heart beats and how easy it is to breathe.

So I’m going back to what I know: yoga and walking/running. I’ve been doing this yoga routine for years, off and on. And I downloaded the Couch to 5K app because I’ve liked the pacing of it in the past.

I don’t have a weight goal. I don’t care what size my skirts are. I only care that I feel like me again. I think I’d like to talk about that regularly here.

Is this a scary conversation for anyone else? What do you do to get over the fear of talking about it?

Three Months Later

It’s been a little over three months since I had my gallbladder removed.

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I keep trying to find the right words to describe the difference between now and before. I can’t find them. Or, I can’t find them well.

My abdomen feels better. My circulation (maybe?) feel better. I’m not sluggish and sad like I was. But…

I still don’t really understand what’s going to make me sick.

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Cauliflower bites

It seems like it would be easy to say “stick with fruits, veggies and lean meats.” And it is. Except onions hurt. And apples. And sometimes kiwis but not always. And honestly, sometimes I just really want to eat some goldfish crackers. Or a bagel. Or some coffee.

So I eat them. And pay for it for a few days.

Some days, I bloat enough to be two sizes larger than usual.

Some days, the idea of figuring something out to eat is too complicated so I just don’t.

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Other days, I’m floored with the idea that my body has lost two organs (gallbladder and appendix) and still functions!

What modern medical marvel! What incredible feat of human evolution and engineering! How lucky am I to have a body at all!

Other days, I realize it’s been four days since I last got sick or put on jeans that didn’t fit.

Other days, I find a way to stay centered on gratitude for what I have, rather than what I lost.

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If you’re getting ready for this to be done, or if you just had it done: it’s just like everything else in life. It’s what you make it. It’s differently complicated. It will make you re-examine your relationship with your body on a regular basis and nobody will really understand what you’ve felt or are feeling except other people who did this.

It will be fine, if you can find the good in it. If you can keep yourself from getting bogged down by all the not-fine of it. And eventually, your life will level out again and you’ll get used to the four little scars on your belly.

You may even grow to like them, because they mean feeling so much better.

What the heck does low FODMAP even mean?

Note: I have absolutely no medical training of any kind. I don’t even remember whether or not I took a Science class in college. This post contains some educational elements, but please refer to the actual cited sources and your doctor for additional information.

I really like food that’s bad for me. I think a lot of people do. It’s the American Way.

I also really love fruits and veggies and lean proteins and things made of whole grains. Most days I eat plain greek yogurt, fruit and granola for breakfast, a salad for lunch and give myself a lot of wiggle room for dinner, which usually is one thing – an egg, tatertots, peanut butter toast – or I eat with a man who eats like the stereotype of an 1800’s farmer. Neither of those are great choices – one doesn’t have sufficient nutrition and the other has too much nutrition for someone who works at a desk.

I love yoga and running and bike rides through the woods. I shop the smallest size at Torrid (so I fall into the “full figure” category) and have spent a lot of time and effort on ensuring that my heart pumps well, my blood pressure is low, my physical comes back in good shape (except the weight part).

So I occupy this strange space, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that. My fridge usually looks something like this:

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There’s a lot of fruits and veggies there, and a ton of stuff that’s made with cheese, because cheese is delicious.

About two months ago, I was at a conference in the amazing city of Philadelphia.

While I was there, my tummy started to hurt very badly. I assumed it was just the combination of traveling and being slightly overworked. I held on to that assumption for two and a half weeks. Everyone kept suggesting that it was morning sickness, so I saw my OB, who thought maybe dehydration, but that I should go see my Primary (also – totes not pregnant). I made it to my PCP a few days after ending up in the ER.

ER

At the ER they told me I had gastritis, an inflammation of the stomach. They gave me some medicines and I started feeling somewhat better. My PCP ran some more detailed tests and that’s how I found out I have gallstones, which evidently 80% of women get! To treat the gastritis, the doctor recommended a low FODMAP diet.

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Homework Snack Time

So, what does that even mean?

Basically, I have to eat food. Not processed things that are made out of chemicals and sold as food; I need to get as close to the farm as possible. I also have to be really careful about which foods I do eat and keep a food log. In a couple of weeks, I’ll be able to start reintroducing other foods, to figure out which ones are making me feel so icky.

Why did this happen?

Well, the gastritis is largely due to a combination of stress and bad food choices. The gallstones are a result of a lifetime of bad food choices. So, I’m making some changes and tweaking things and trying again and changing them and keeping on. I also will be having my gallbladder taken out. I’m actually really excited for what I’m learning about my body, and for new ways to handle stress. I am so excited to start feeling better! And, this has been tremendously humbling.

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I like to take on everything all at once and make it look completely effortless while I do it. And, I can’t anymore. For now, I need to listen to my body and rest when it’s time to rest. I have to go slow and cut what I would normally do in a week in half because it’s not going to get done. I came to this blog through that: through knowing that I needed to do a better job of accepting what is; my body is literally rebelling against me not doing that. But that belief is a story for another day.