Thursday, January 28, 2010

Here to There

This lovely post is inspired by the inspiring Heather. Talking about being fat is hard. No matter what kind of person you are, your life and your values are judged by the size of your waist. No matter how open minded you are, I would bet that just about everyone has judged someone else for what they perceive is their relationship with food. There are people that think we shouldn't get health insurance because it is our fault we are fat. There are people who don't understand who fortunate genetics have been to them. There are also people like Heather who are willing to talk about something that too often isn't talked about. So this is for Heather.

Doing the Shred, or any exercise, when you're obese is hard. If you work out, consider doing it while carrying around your 32 pound toddler. Wouldn't be easy would it? Now consider trying to do it with three of them. That is what it is like to exercise when you're obese. (for this example, we're going with what I was overweight by when I started, around 100 pounds)

Your knees, while admirably (maybe) supporting the weight you carry, do not like extra impact. Your lungs, while hopefully successfully supplying your body with oxygen, likely don't have much extra capacity for things like jumping jacks or butt kicks. It feels incredibly defeating to realize that you can't do the things that seem to come so easily to other people. It can make you want to give up.

I was really lucky when I started doing the Shred. While I have never been awesome when it comes to cardio, I knew that my body was capable of doing a lot. Granted, I was twenty-three the last time I really made it do anything, but I knew I had it in me. The thing I learned very quickly is that you have to start somewhere when going from here to there. It is a path of small steps, especially to start with.

For my knees, I started taking glucosomine. I'm not sure if it did anything to help, but even if it was all in my head, it was worth it. I also took every low impact modification on the Shred that I could. I replaced higher impact cardio exercises with the low impact ones when I just could do it. (god I love punches) I almost immediately went out and got new shoes. I realized I couldn't do some of the abs stuff because of my flabby stomach, so I repeated the exercises I could do when it came to the ones I couldn't (I still do that some). I stuck with it long enough to see that the third time was easier than the second time that was easier than the first time.

I got a good sports bra (well, I had one, but had never used it). I got mine from Title 9. They have great options for the big boobed, or just floppy boobed. If you aren't getting hit in the face by your boobs, exercise is a lot more fun. I also got good wicking pants. For me, I could do XXL from Target. If larger than that, I found a great site in JMS.

When it came to walking and eventually running, it wasn't any different. I started walking half a mile at a time. That is like five blocks. That is nothing to people who are remotely in shape. However, it was huge for me. Every few days I pushed myself farther. I pushed myself faster.

The most important thing I did was get myself a cheering squad. I participated in the Shredheads. Real life, online, it doesn't matter. I have nearly completely given up, but I didn't because I had the support of a community. Last fall was hard, and I quit for awhile, but I am back here, getting up at 5:30 in the morning (two days and counting) because I know that when it gets hard, there will be people here to help me.


Heather said...

Thank you for writing this. You are an inspiration to me and I hope I can gradually work my way up to some serious exercise. Like you, I know I have it in me to really work hard, but now that I have the bad knees I have to take it very slow. Right now I'm working out about a half hour a day to a fitness game on the Wii, but even that little bit seems to be helping a lot.

Some days I wish I could get back on the elliptical again, but my orthopedist has made it clear that's no longer the machine for me. I really admire you for doing the Shred. Anything with Jillian Michaels in it seems absolutely terrifying to me!

rew said...

Ok, two parts, since my first was too long.

I'm a huge fan of Amelia's and I just read your story, Heather, so I thought I'd share mine.

I'd always been overweight, minus a brief period of teen angsty induced eating disorder. But I didn't notice how bad it had gotten until January of 2007. I had gone into the dr because I hadn't had a period in almost 2 months, and my husband and I had been trying for nearly a year to have a child. I stepped on the scale and realize I was a pound shy of 200.

I was 5 foot 3.

The dr told me the best thing I could do to try and get pregnant was to lose some weight (actually, she said it would help with PCOS, which she diagnosed simply because I was fat and irregular, but that's another story). I dedicated myself to 45 minutes a day on an elliptical in my basement I went out and purchased (working my way one episode at a time through "Buffy the Vampire Slayer") and modifying my diet. I lost 15 lbs in 2 months before I got pregnant with my daughter. I was super slow on the elliptical, but it was the only machine I could handle, since even walking put me out of breath pretty quickly. Frankly, Buffy and a desperate desire to get pregnant were the only things that kept me moving then.
But of course I gained weight pregnant. I lost most of that right after, plus a little extra, due to a really rough c-section.

But right about July 2009 I realized I was right back where I started, at 185 again, even though it had been years. I'd also realized that we had been trying for a second for 6 months, and once more, no dice. So I rededicated myself, this time to a new treadmill, since my elliptical had broken.

It was slow again. I had lost 10lbs by the beginning of September (I don't appear to lose weight like normal people - usually I stay at one weight for most of the month and then drop 5 lbs after I have a period. Never figured out why that was). I was spending way more time than before -- I told myself I wanted to make it 5 miles a day. I started out only getting about 4.5 miles in 90 minutes (now I got to watch 2 episodes of junk tv, the only time I'd let myself watch tv that wasn't news). I remember how proud I was in August when I had made it to 5 miles in that 90 minutes.


rew said...

the rest...

But, again, I got pregnant. I kept up the walking to try and keep the weight down, but this pregnancy had me starving constantly and, unlike my last, all I wanted to do was eat bread and meat. I lost 2 lbs during most of the first trimester, and that in itself was pretty surprising.

I found out at the end of October that we had lost the baby and I had surgery on Halloween. When I stood on the scale on the hospital in my gown, I was 172lbs.

I started exercising again in mid November. I was back to 5 miles a day, but I felt a little more purposeful. I knew the miscarriage was a fluke, but I thought if nothing else, I could use the healing time to get even healthier, in case that might help things if we do get pregnant again. When things got a little too easy on the treadmill, I sped it up more. Then more.

Last week I tried jogging a little, and it wasn't as hard as I thought. I managed to jog for a mile before I went back to fast walking. It was the first mile I had tried since fitness class in High school. I never did manage to do one in high school without at least walking some of it. I just couldn't run without some walking in there.

Yesterday, I walked for 5 minutes to warm up, then jogged at almost 5 miles an hour for 40 minutes straight.

I still do my 5 miles daily, but now it takes me 67 minutes. It used to be 90. And I've made it past my first goal weight, the one that made me officially NOT obese on the BMI. My next goal weight, 150, is 2 lbs away. Then I have another goal weight, 140. That's the point in which the BMI stops saying I'm overweight at all. I'm hoping eventually to land somewhere between 125-135, which I haven't seen since I got over my teen angst eating issue.

The idea that I'm almost half way to my final and most optimistic goal terrifies me, but I think I can do it now.

So that's my story. And now I will confess that I shredded for about 2 weeks every other day before I realized I was pregnant and then I stopped just in case. Monday I tried it again for the first time since that September and it nearly killed me. I don't know if I want to go back, since the jogging makes me feel so much better about myself.

I guess that's what I'm trying to say -- the exercise is about finding not just the thing that works best with your body physically, but what makes you really feel good about yourself. I think we like our virtual cheering squads because it gives us someone who understands to brag to. It's not just to keep us honest, but to keep us proud.

Ok, that's enough from me.

happygal said...

What a great, honest, inspiring, eye opening post. I am proud and impressed for sure. And I needed it. I had to admit I have kind of bagged on exercise this week and fallen back into old habits. This was just the nudge I needed. Thank you!

The Marketing Mama said...

As you already know, I've been inspired by your shredding - not to mention your transparency on the issue. Weight loss and exercise are challenging topics to address honestly, let alone blog about... thanks for continuing to do so.

Anonymous said...

Way to go, Amelia! That's awesome that you are keeping up with your goal. It's motivating to start out but the real trouble comes in keeping up with the program. Way to kick some butt! You can do it!


CaraBee said...

Gah, I just left this huge, long comment and Google ate it. Rats.

Anyway, the very best of luck! You CAN reach your goals!