Thursday, March 24, 2011

How Math Cost Me 2km

My knee has been thwarting my attempts to run for many moons now, which sucks because I am one of those freaky people that is addicted to running. I heart it fiercely. I used to think that "runner's high" was a sick joke played on people who didn't run, but now I catch myself making excuses in the gym: It's just five minutes, I need to warm up for my weight workout anyway, I CAN STOP ANYTIME I WANT TO!!!
A lot of people who do enjoy running hate the treadmill for a variety of reasons I can appreciate, like the frustration of running for an hour and staying in the exact same spot. I happen to love that. I can people-watch without judgment, I can watch TV while running (amazing), or I can completely zone out until suddenly half an hour has gone by. My, my, it's like I wasn't working at all! Plus the numbers! I love knowing exactly how far I went, how fast I was going, and how many calories I burned.
However, my knee hates the treadmill as much as I love it, so I took the plunge and tried out an indoor track. It wasn't as great as my beloved treadmill, but it was a lot less painful, so I guess you win this round, knee. The lack of numbers means I have to count laps and guess about the track length. I kept time with my iPod. Numbers and I don't really get along, so after the run I was trying to figure out how far I went and how fast I was going. It took many more minutes than it should have, and a lot of Google Calculator-ing, but I came up with 3km in 45 minutes, or 15 minutes per km. I squinted at that number for a long time because it seems awfully slow, but the treadmill measures your speed in miles per hour, so that means I have to convert (hold me) miles to kms, carry over the unicorn, make it a percentage, ow my brain…
In the end, after a corrected number for the track length (I was off by, shall we say, a lot), and some laughter at my expensive from my number-inclined partner, I found out I actually ran 5km in 45 minutes. So apparently I win at running, but lose horribly at math.
UPDATE: Yesterday, I ran that same 5km in 34:57 minutes. Then I found the distance posting on the track, so I actually ran 5.56km. STOP MESSING WITH ME, MATH.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Swimming: A How-To Guide

Swimming starts with the time-honoured tradition of changing in a room full of other womenfolk, half of whom don't give a damn who sees them naked and half of whom have a constant look of terror in their eyes and seem to be hiding government secrets under their towels. Sprinkle in a few teenagers with perfect bodies complaining about their "chub" (deep breaths….must not comment). Having successfully navigated this stage, you jump under the shower to rinse off in order to keep the pool clean (HA) under nice warm water. Then you walk out of the change room and are treated to the blank stares of the people in the hot tub. Quick, to the water!
Slide in from the side and oh holy jebus, that's cold. You must get your head under water and start moving, or else you will bolt back out and into the hot tub. Ignoring your sense of self-preservation, dog-paddle across the length in the slow "lane", which is really two lanes filled with people floating in diagonal lines, making them impossible to pass, or water jogging. I can't even talk about water jogging.
These people kick me. A lot.
Ok, made it to the end! Duck under the torture rope lane divider and put on your goggles. To keep out water, they'll have to be tight enough to leave extremely attractive racoon eye rings. You will have to do this while old men who aren't even wearing swimsuits sit in plastic chairs at the edge of the pool. They will not move the entire time you are there.
Start swimming! If you're me, that means twisting your body completely to the side to compensate for that shoulder problem, and constantly forgetting to kick. Considering I have wee tyrannosaurus arms with bad shoulders, I have no idea how I manage to actually get anywhere. Stop every lap and half to cough out the gallon of pool water you've inhaled. Allow many people to pass you. Swear enthusiastically when you realize that almost everyone else is swimming with fins or some sort of hand paddle that makes them go really fast (and scrape your leg with the hand paddle if they are in the lane beside you). Swear even more when you realize the guy in his fifties who has passed you twice ISN'T wearing fins or hand paddles.
Weapons of severe scratching.
When you're finally done, drag yourself back to the change room. Catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror with ratty chlorine hair, red racoon-goggle eyes, and mascara smeared back to your ear because you forgot to take off your make up. Feel pretty. Frighten teenage twigs. Feel better.
Repeat weekly.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


I think I've lost the same six pounds at least four times now.
It's frustrating; I go all "MISSION:DIET" for a few weeks, lose those six pounds, and hit the big scary wall of 150lbs. Then, I get frustrated to see the scale not move, or worse, wildly swing up and down from 148 (yay!) to 153 (buh?!).
I recently read Portia de Rossi's book, "Unbearable Lightness". It was a chilling account of how a seemingly healthy diet led to her lowest weight of 82 pounds. But the part that has stuck with me the most is the epilogue, where the author describes her post-recovery life with her wife Ellen Degeneres, and her current relationship with food. She doesn't think about food anymore. Let me repeat that.
She doesn't think about food anymore.
If she wants some ice cream, she eats it. If she feels like celery, she eats it. And she maintains her weight at 130lbs (at 5'7", this is still slim, but more importantly, she feels healthy). Part of the reason I get frustrated about six weeks (or six pounds) into a diet is that I'm exhausted from focusing so much on what I'm eating and when. The focus is often on what I can't have, and it's mentally exhausting. I start to feel like I don't deserve to eat this or that. And I don't think that's a healthy way to think.
My body deserves food – it deserves good food that will help fuel it. That doesn't mean it deserves McDonald's, not because McDonald's is "bad" for me, but because when I eat McDonald's, I feel terrible. Start paying attention to how you feel after any given meal – it's easy to divorce that reaction from what you ate, but I've been trying lately to connect it in a meaningful way. Then, when I'm craving those tasty McNuggets, I think about how I felt after I ate them last time. Is it worth it?
In an effort to break through this plateau, I'm going to try a new approach for this week. Instead of fixating on the food (although I'm still trying to make healthier choices), I'm going to try and burn 3,500 calories this week (or the equivalent of one pound of fat). I don't know how it will affect my weight loss, but at least it might give me a week of mental rest.