Sunday, September 30, 2007

Wandering in Wonderland

Might as well continue with the "Alice" metaphor, I definitely feel like I'm in uncharted territory. So, I went to the Piedmont workout yesterday. Wow. I was humbled. Bigtime, especially after my post run cockiness on Friday. First: I was right, the sun SUCKS! I hated being in the heat and being SO exposed. Second: Dry grass is SO MUCH WORSE to lay in than wet grass. I know that probably sounds counterintuitive, and it may be a difference in the grass itself between Candler and Piedmont, but it was dry and hard and prickly and itchy where Candler's grass is cool and soft and lush. I was SO itchy by the end of the workout. In fact, even after showering my lotion apparently reacted with the grass, or something on the grass and gave me an itchy rash everywhere that had touched the ground, luckily it faded pretty quickly but I have to say I think I'll happily be a Candler Park snob from here on out!

And let me just say, I guess its a good thing that no one told us they were springing a video cameraman on this workout until we crested the hill during our moving warmup to find him all set up. UGH. And then the types of drills we were doing involved moving back and forth between two lines of cones and doing something at the forward line that invariably involved me sticking my ass in the air and "shaking it all about". Because I was, as always, the slowest I was off kilter so that I often felt like I was the ONLY person still on the front line while everyone else was behind me enjoying the view. Not to mention all the people strolling through the park who stopped to watch. Really, it pretty much encapsulated why I have always avoided working out in public.

OK, whining complete now. And let me just say that I know I was terribly self absorbed and that I am rational enough to realize that probably very few people were staring at me, if any, and certainly probably none of them were laughing at me and I know I can be edited out of the video clips so no harm there. And I am proud of myself for not being intimidated to the point of fleeing.

On a serious note, the format of the workout was different than what we do in Candler, so I missed the rythym I feel like I have there. And the instructors were strange (in that their style was different) and a little scary (though really friendly too). I REALLY appreciated the fact that Instructor Tim was kind enough to be there with me. His presence by my side through the entire workout really made a difference, despite all the whining above.

So, while I was gung ho about the Candler Park 5K after Friday, after Saturday I was nervous again thinking of the whole "Sun factor". So, for the moment I'm still officially undecided. The race is scheduled to start at 9 am. If only they'd do it at 6, or even at 7 or 8 I'd be all over it! It would be pretty awesome to get the t-shirt though. I'm such a sucker for t-shirts. That 5K I ran/walked in highschool had a glow in the dark t-shirt (it had a halloween theme) which was my entire motivation.

Speaking of t-shirts, 5 days till I earn my bootcamp shirt! I'm thinking I'll wear it under my clothes every day then I can strip like Superman whenever anyone needs someone to kick ass and take names! What I've done at bootcamp thus far is just as wild as if I had leaped over a building in a single bound, so I might as well accept my new status!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Through the Looking Glass

It’s almost two o’clock in the afternoon and I’m finally calming down a bit. Today I accomplished something I thought I would NEVER do. Something that, even as a teenager, I would never have attempted. Basically, after all my equivocation yesterday about whether I’d see measurable improvements by the end, I’m now at a place where I BELIEVE!!! MIRACLES ARE AFOOT IN CANDLER PARK!

Instructor Tim approached me as soon as I arrived this morning and asked me to promise him something. He said he’d been thinking about me and today and that he wanted me to just do the workout, and NOT to think about it. I had already resigned myself to us having a running workout today and I figured he was alluding to how much I’d hate it if I knew how much we’d be running, so I sighed and agreed to trust him. I also took a few minutes to get to know fellow camper “J” who usually joins me at the back of the pack. Turns out this is her second bootcamp and she’s already signed up for two more! And on top of that she lost 100 lbs on her own before starting bootcamp! WOW, talk about staying power. I’m really glad I finally took the time to talk to her. I forget sometimes that I’m not the only one on a journey.

So this workout was called, “A Little Jog.” Ha. Off we went. Down hill, up hill, through Freedom Park, down some streets, holy cow, there’s Moreland, wow, we’ve come far, back through Freedom Park. Early on Tim asked me what was the furthest I’d ever run, I told him, without hesitation, that I had never run more than a mile. Even when I participated in a 5 K as a teenager I did intervals, I had no confidence even then that I could run any distance. As we were coming back through Freedom Park he mentioned that I had blown my previous record. Really? I had run more than I did on September 10, less than 3 weeks ago and I was doing ok? Still slow . . . no doubt, but not only was I breathing fine I was carrying on conversations with Tim throughout? WHAT?

My shins were hurting, my left hip was aching, but none of it was debilitating and it wasn’t stopping me. The most amazing thing was that I was breathing and getting air and I wasn’t gasping and panting. Tim said I had hit my “stride.” WHAT? I have a stride? Who knew?

So, back through Freedom Park, back through the bottom part of Candler Park, past the church. WHAT? But that’s Ponce! We’re running down Ponce? But that’s really far from where we were on Moreland! But hey, I still had this whole “stride” thing going for me, and despite my turtle status Tim said I had an amazingly consistent pace. I was the energizer bunny. WHAT? Me? I’ve never been one of those slow and steady types. I’m a flash in the pan, I start stuff and then drop stuff. Consistency IS NOT a character trait most of my friends would attribute to me.

As we finally returned to Candler Park I realized that we were running the same stretch that had been at the end of the 1 mile run less than 3 weeks ago. I could vividly remember how agonizing that stretch was with Jeff and Heidi and here I was carrying on a cheerful conversation with Tim (and getting to hear about his journey which is also amazing!). When I arrived at the end, where everyone was stretching, I felt like I could keep going. My legs felt lightweight, and it almost felt wrong to stop. WHAT? Apparently Jojo and Tim had given a wristband GPS to one of the campers. As we began stretching Jojo asked her to check and see how far we ran. I’m thinking MAYBE 2 miles and I was feeling pretty darn happy with that.

But lo and behold, we ran OVER 4 MILES!!!!!! We ran MORE than a 5 K!!!!!! WHAT? Actually, that warrants a WTF???? I almost burst into tears, it was literally the most shocking thing I think anyone has ever told me. All of a sudden my entire concept of myself was unleashed from the self imposed weights to which I had chained it.

Had I been doing this on my own, I never would have released those self imposed barriers. By trusting the bootcamp instructors, by blindly following the little red light anchored to the back of Jojo’s shorts and not questioning how far we had come or how far we had left or how much time had passed I had no grounding for those barriers. And Jojo and Tim led me right through that looking glass of self doubt that has harried me for so long.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Frozen peas feel good ...

Well since I keep dosing off in the middle of my work, I might as well take a break and re-energize my mind with a blog post. I can’t believe I’m more than halfway through the third week of bootcamp! The instructors are asking and encouraging us to sign up for another round which would begin 2 weeks after this one ends. I must continue with SOMETHING but I just haven’t figured out what yet, especially with our current cash flow crunch (yeah, we’re officially “house poor” now, luckily it’s a stunning house and I never want to leave it to hang out anywhere else so that’s good). I think Operation Bootcamp provides a fantastic value but I just don’t know that we’ll have the cash available. I’m also a little scared of working out in the park into November. We’ve had PERFECT weather so far and it’s so nice to be out there in short sleeves before the son comes up with a nice cool breeze and the cool wet grass. I just can’t imagine lying in that same grass when its covered in frost! BRRRR.

We do have this great house with lots of space, I SHOULD be able to just work out at home….right? But that has NEVER worked for me before, I really need a group commitment, and the time limited nature of bootcamp has helped me too. Knowing that we only have 4 weeks has been a huge motivator to not miss camp, I want to go to the graduation party knowing that I’ve done everything I possibly could. So that remains up in the air . . .

In other news, I believe I officially have shin splints, I started feeling pain in my shins while running 2-3 days ago. I pushed through it the first day but the second day it was bothering me all day at work. I talked to Jojo about it yesterday and she emailed me some suggestions but also told me that, to a certain extent, shin splints are a right of passage as you move from a non-active lifestyle to an active one. That makes sense to me. I iced them last night with two bags of frozen peas which was lovely. They were hurting a bit this morning but I still did all the high impact stuff (except for a couple of exercises that I modified . . . like the jump-squats) and I still ran around the field because we weren’t going long distances at a time and it was on soft grass. I don’t want to slow down, the cardio and the running are my two biggest bugaboos on this journey and I feel like if I cave to the shin splints then I’m making excuses to avoid those things I enjoy the least. Of course the fact that my husband came today (for Bring a Friend day) also motivated me, I didn’t want him to see me slacking. It really wasn’t too bad, pain doesn’t really stop me much, as I’ve stated before I’m accustomed to some sort of chronic pain pretty much all the time and I’ve learned to just block it and get on with things.

Instructor Tim said something that really resonated for me today though, at one point when I was winded he commented that he could tell I was more accustomed to being winded after a couple of weeks of bootcamp. He said that when I first started I had sort of a panicked expression when I got out of breath. He’s right. Not feeling like I’m getting enough air does make me panic, and its something I struggle with at every workout. Maybe it has always been that more than muscle pain that has scared me away from exercising. I developed asthma in adolescence, I didn’t grow up with it. Those first few attacks were earth shattering for me. When I was in my late teens there was a teen model I believe (can’t remember her name) who died after overusing a rescue inhaler. I was accustomed to sucking on mine all the time by that point, especially after any kind of exercise, and it totally freaked me out. Even though I haven’t really had to use my rescue inhaler at bootcamp thanks to my preventative meds, I do feel like my lungs are just never big enough for what I need them to do. I know enough to know that I can rebuild lung capacity through regular cardiovascular work outs but it is a long and scary road for me and I really appreciated Tim being more tuned into that detail than I was!

So, I’m sure you’re dying to know what we DID at bootcamp for the last two days! Yesterday was Jump School. Again, as with the Airborne Ranger workout I’d have preferred an actual parachute! It was fun though, we were divided into teams and each team had a course of zig zagging cones and then closely placed straight line cones and we did relays with different combinations of movements…. i.e sprinting through the zig zags and jumping over the straight line cones, or skipping through the zig zags and “ice skating” through the straight line. After several sets there we moved to squares where we had to traverse the perimeter doing different movements and gaits between each cone, with the last side of the square always involving running down and back up that 45% angle hill I’ve mentioned before and then doing sit ups or push ups or planks or something strength building in the middle of the square. Other than my shins bugging me I did a pretty decent job of keeping up and I felt pretty good at the end.

Today was Bring a Friend day and thanks to my sweet and always saving my ass friend Shane agreeing to spend the night so that we wouldn’t be leaving our 6 year old home alone in the wee hours my husband was able to come with me! Yay! Poor guy, this has been hell week for him in his career as a photographer, he’s been booked solid on long shoots since Sunday and he was already exhausted and sore and nursing an injured knee and had a sore throat. . . . but he came anyway! What a warrior! It meant so much for him to SEE what I was doing and to appreciate it on a visceral level, which I think he definitely does now, even though the workout didn’t seem too bad to me (look at me…..I’m getting cocky….Jojo’s going to kick my ass tomorrow!). Of course I was dreading a distance running workout which we seem to be overdue for (unless Jojo in her infinite wisdom has decided that I should never have to run further than around the field again which would be FINE with me!) so another circuit workout seemed very doable.

This one was called HOUSE OF PAIN (sorry, a name like that requires caps). After the warmup we were divided into groups and we ran and skipped and backpedaled and sprinted and side shuffled and kareoked (sp?) between circuit stations (jazz hands optional) where we did calisthenics and strength building exercises. The PAIN part came in with the number of circuits we did……it seemed like there were a LOT of them. My husband was convinced they had run over by like 15 minutes by the end, he was shocked to see it had been less than an hour when we got back in the car.

So here we are. I have to make up Monday’s missed workout on Saturday. I’m dreading that a bit for two reasons, first, it isn’t until 9 or 9:30 which means the sun will be up and second, that means I only get one day of rest before Monday. The sunshine thing is a big deal to me…..I HATE getting overheated. I know . . . why do I live in Atlanta then? Well, see the top of this blog post, I also hate being really cold! Also, working out in the dark has been very freeing for me, especially with so many of the other campers being so fit. Knowing that at many times we can’t see each other that clearly means I don’t have to be self conscious about my jiggly bits . . . in the full on daylight those jiggly bits can’t hide! But I absolutely DON’T want to receive my t-shirt at graduation with anything less than the maximum number of group work outs under my belt.

One last thing, I’m starting to get really scared about the PT test on the last day. First, I’m worried about whether I really will be able to run a mile any faster or better than I did the first day, especially if I’m still experiencing shin pain. And I’m just worried in general. At one of the sit up stations Instructor Michelle asked me as I was struggling through sit up 15 or so how many I had been able to do on the first day. Well I actually did 24 in a minute on the first day. Into my third week I’m tired and sore and I seem to struggle more with push ups and situps and tricep dips now than I did on the first day when my body hadn’t yet figured out what I was doing and hadn’t yet mustered a rebellion. It’s not the pain though, I can push past soreness, I just get to a point sometimes where my muscles fail to respond no matter how hard I’m trying to get them to move in a certain way. So I have this big fear that on the last day I’ll do WORSE in my PT test. As I’ve only noticed slight differences in the way my clothes are fitting and as I haven’t lost any weight (well I don’t THINK I have because of course I haven’t been on the scale) I NEED to see some progress in a measurable fitness goal or I’m going to be really really bummed.

No matter what happens, achieving mind over mattress (yeah, I borrowed that) is a huge accomplishment in and of itself. Now that I know I’m not completely incapable . . . I want to BE one of those fit campers, and I have a tendency to get impatient.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

An Intermission

Two things happened this past weekend, first we hosted a massive housewarming party / open house to celebrate the completion of a major renovation / rebuild of our home and second we had no internet access (except email through my blackberry). Comcast likes to dream up new ways to screw us over every single time we call them. They truly excel in pushing my normally mild mannered husband into screaming fits. Unfortunately they do not excel at anything vaugely related to providing consistent service.

The party was a lot of stress, and a fair amount of fun, and we did have a good turn out which was nice. I had a major adreneline fallout crash from it on Sunday because it was definitely the end of the renovation road and now we're just facing endless years of trying to pay for it. It's all so exciting until that first bill comes due.

Then my husband had a very early shoot booked on Monday morning which meant he had to leave the house before I get back from bootcamp so I had to get an excused absence. So I had 3 days sort of disconnected from bootcamp.

I actually felt panicked and SO anxious about missing yesterday morning. I had emailed my instructors and I plan to make up the workout on Saturday but it just felt so WRONG to be staring at the clock by my bed while I knew everyone else was busting their asses. All my fears of not finishing things and of failing really got pushed to the forefront. I was so relieved to return this morning which made me kind of laugh. It felt BETTER to get up at 5 am and go work out than it did NOT to. You'd have to know me to understand what a complete mind%$@^& that is! Jeff was right, the first two weeks were the worst.

On Friday I began to suspect that he was right when I experienced a bizarre phenomenon during our "Pick Your Poison" workout (of course JoJo the instructor pointed out that by "pick your poison" they really meant that the instructors would do all the picking). There were three different stations set up with the three different instructors and we cycled through them. One of the stations involved more suicides. Yay. I must admit I was less than enthusiastic about that. One of them involved squat shuffles back and forth across the parking log. Instructor Michelle encouraged us to work toward skinny thighs but neither me nor my husband find skinny thighs to be the bomb. I pointed this out but was not excused from the activity, rather I was encouraged to work towards strong thighs so I could crack my husband like a walnut. Now that is something to work towards!

Finally, JoJo's station involved, in large part, doing running laps up and down a hill. On the first set of three I thought I would die. I even briefly considered the break I'd earn if I stumbled off the path and fell down. Wow, not one of my more mature moments. Between sets of running up and down the hill we did some Rocky Balboa moves on a set of park benches. I felt like I was in my own "triumphing over adversity" montage in a movie, except without the music. Well JoJo does regularly burst into song but it doesn't quite match the movie soundtrack I think I deserve! was time for ANOTHER set of running up and down the hill three times. As I neared the top of the hill on the first run in the second set I realized something. It was EASIER than the first set! WHAT? I'd been all set to just doggedly do it no matter how much it sucked when I felt myself energized to push myself a little faster as I crested the hill each time. I think I might have even cracked a smile. . . . while running . . . . WOW.

Now, let me not get ahead of myself, I was still in solid last place, Chariots of Fire in my head or not. But I was no longer feeling like I was about the keel over and die, which is how I'd felt at every work out for the prior two weeks.

So, coming off that high I had this chaotic weekend and then missed bootcamp on Monday and felt like crap about it. I was really anxious that three days of being disconnected were going to put me back to square one. But today went well, and all the fit people were huffing and puffing a LOT too so I can't tell myself that it was just that the workout was easier today. We did 20-20-20 today, to build endurance. First we started with a warm up run, then stretching, then a bit more running. And I WAS NOT back at square one! I didn't fall as far behind and it didn't suck as bad! Yay! I was so relieved! The workout was an endurance workout, 20 seconds of sprinting and jogging, 20 squats, 20 seconds maintaing a plank. 5 times. Then 20 seconds of sprinting and jogging, 20 sit ups, 20 seconds maintaining a plank. 5 times. Then 20 seconds of sprinting and jogging, 20 push ups, 20 seconds maintaining a plank. 5 times. WHEW, very quick transitions between everything. One nice thing about this work out for me is that we sprinted out and jogged back which meant that I got to the grassy area where we were doing the calisthenics with the group (since I couldn't sprint as far in the allotted time), so I didn't lose anything which I sometimes do when we run between stations (not that I'm overly concerned about missing a few lunges or squats etc., just getting from place to place at a jog is still a big accomplishment for me).

So, I'm feeling back on track today and better able to handle all those other stressors in life. I definitely don't want to add missing another bootcamp to the other anxieties I battle every day

Thursday, September 20, 2007


As in gaining mass. Yep, I broke the rules and got on the scale this morning to see that I've gained a pound and half! I know, I'm building muscle and muscle is heavier than fat. Yada yada yada. I also know that women of my height and build who are fit and healthy weigh a heck of a lot less than I do. So when does that start happening????

Oh yeah, its only been a week and a half. 7 park workouts out of 18. REALLY? Because my big ol' jiggly butt was screaming at me this morning that I've spent YEARS in that park.

I'm being melodramatic. But I've discovered a pattern. A heavy running work out followed by one focused more on strength training. So Monday was heavy running and I felt like CRAP. Tuesday was more strength stuff and I felt good. Guessing what was coming I was so anxious about today that I kept waking up every hour so I was really nice and rested for the ass kicking I received. Today was our "Airborne Ranger" workout, and having actually skydived twice before, I would have been DELIGHTED had an actual airplane been involved. But instead we did something aptly called "suicides" and then ran....and then some more suicides, then some more running, then some more suicides, then some more running, oh, and just when you're running back to the parking lot and thinking that SURELY it is 6:50 by now its time for some MORE suicides.......up a hill that is LITERALLY at a 45 degree angle, at least. I'm serious. (If you know Candler Park in Atlanta it is that hill that divides the pool area from the soccer field). Oh, and if it wasn't clear......suicides involve sprinting . . . and squatting. And between rotations there were jumping jacks, and curb kicks, and high knees and squats and funny little dancing moves that also, shock of shocks, involved keeping your feet in the air and bouncing a lot. I definitely broke my new jog bra in today. I left the poor thing dangling on the doorknob to my closet looking utterly whipped and pathetic.

Ok, my sense of humor is returning. I didn't give up, I'm still slow as hell and that is still really really frustrating for me but I didn't give up. All I know is that I'm REALLY looking forward to seeing my husband get HIS ass kicked on bring a friend day next week! And I did wear a pair of pants yesterday that was way too tight 2 weeks ago. And the skirt I'm wearing today is still tight, but now it is "oohh, look at her being all sexy and pushing the dress code envelope" and not "oohh....someone should tell her that the whole sausage thigh look is OUT". Now if I could just lose some of my baby panis and other flappy bits I could enjoy these new muscles more!

Is it naptime yet?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

180 Degrees

Ok, maybe more like 90, but I've turned around somewhat since yesterday. This mornings workout (12 Pack) did not involve as much running and I felt stronger with the bits that it did include. I handled the rest of it pretty well (lots of abs and lots of resistance band work for the arms) and came off feeling empowered. My husband was actually really sweet to me yesterday evening, certainly not sweeping me off my feet or anything but he was concerned and somewhat affectionate which was nice. Then today he called me from Target to say he was there trying to buy me some more workout pants (because the one pair I have are getting a bit overworked!) which was so sweet because it is SO uncharacteristic for him. What is really cute is that he kept telling me he could only find one style which I was saying couldn't be right. "But I'm in the Sportswear section!!!!" Ha, he's a total metrosexual but he's also totally clueless about women's clothes. Of course once I got him reoriented to the "Activewear" section, then he was freaking over the abundance of choices, he almost lost his resolve and said I'd just have to pick something out myself but I gave him some broad paremeters and told him I'd really enjoy wearing whatever he picked out. And I will, its amazing how much that gesture has lifted my spirits.

Today I feel like we'll manage all the challenges that felt so crushing yesterday. So wierd.

Monday, September 17, 2007


Not so much with Bootcamp (although it does kick my ass every day) or even with my diet (although I did indulge in a piece of cheese and a dollop of mayo on my sandwich today) I'm just feeling exhausted and depressed in the worst way. I've been struggling with feeling this way on and off all week. I know there are a number of factors contributing to it, just wish I could get a handle on it and beat it back. I'm feeling like so many things are hopeless right now and I just feel incapable of giving myself the kind of pick me up talk that I usually do.

Anyway, on the body front, I feel as fat as ever and I'm constantly tired so that is pretty discouraging. I haven't weighed myself but my clothes are just as tight. I remain my own personal afterschool special with the instructors taking turns nursing me through the running parts of the workouts. On Thursday we did Guts & Guns, focusing again on abs and then using tricep dips, pushups and resistance band exercises to work our arms. And there was a painful amount of running interspersed with it. As usual, I coped with everything but the running. Whenever we're running from point A to point B there are a few of us who set the pace for the end of the pack. The instructor leading notes when we've fallen really far behind and will have the bulk of the pack run back and forth until we catch up and then the whole group continues. This is smart and considerate as it allows the group to roughly stay together and arrive at the different points at the same time without allowing the faster folks to be stuck waiting around a lot. Its also sometimes really really annoying when a bunch of pony-tailed size 2's lap you repeatedly while maintaining chirpy conversations about their weekends of partying. I'm really working hard at not just hating them out of hand. I know that would be wrong. And some of them have really gone out of their way to be encouraging and supportive. And they are probably perfectly lovely people who rescue abused puppies and volunteer with illiterate convicts.

Why do we devalue people so much based on appearance? And why do I despise myself so much when I look in the mirror? The layers of flab are like testaments of my failures, my laziness, my worthlessness. I feel so buried sometimes. I really thought that bootcamp would help snap me out of that, help me feel proud of myself, help me develop a sense of accomplishment and empowerment with my body. I'm not giving up on it, but I'm not feeling those things yet and I don't know why.

Anyway, just for the sake of documentation, Friday we did Relay day which wasn't too too bad except that the last relay race involved a section of crab walking and I simply could not get my butt off the ground at the point. So I did the best I could dragging it through the wet grass for the entire length of the course while everyone cheered me on. The ridiculous nature of the scene saved me somewhat from abject humiliation. One thing that I do like about bootcamp is that its a chance to sort of relive all those Elementary School PE sessions and field days which were such awful experiences the first time around with "classmates" who are actually encouraging and less likely to point and laugh and refuse to pick you for their team.

Today we did something that I think the leading instructor called "Jog-a-Rama", you can guess how much I enjoyed that. I do think I slipped into some sort of zone for the latter half, my memories of the whole morning are a bit fuzzy but there were lots of stairs, and somehow the course WAS uphill both ways. I just know that the cold wet grass I collapsed into at the end was some sort of transcendental nirvana.

Till next time . . .

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Operation Boot Camp

Before I sign off for the day, just wanted to give a quick outline of the program I'm using, Operation Boot Camp ( OBC provides a 30 day INTENSE kick your butt fitness and nutrition regimen. The camp I'm attending is in Candler Park (it just started there).

Day 1
Met the group at the park at 5:30 am. It was dark, very dark. We got about a 20 minute orientation to our logbook and the program in general. The logbook is a small (purse size) red spiral bound book in which to record all sorts of info. There is a section for goals (mine are: 1. Show up every day. 2. Feel better. 3. Lose some inches), a little pre boot camp survey which asks questions about your energy level etc., your PT test results (more on that below) and the bulk of it consists of places to log everything you eat, your workouts and how you felt about them for each day.

Every morning the instructors review the previous day's entries and provide support, encouragement, redirection and/or punishment (in the form of boot camp detention with extra drills when you've indulged too much). The nutrition guidelines are the same as the Body For Life program with which I am very familiar. Very common sense, more proteins than I'm used too, sensible carbs in moderate quantities etc. 6 small meals a day, no alcohol or junk, portion sizes dictated by the size of your palm (proteins), the size of your fist (carbs) or the cup of your hand (veggies).

On the first day we did a PT test. On the last day we will do a PT test. There should be improvement. Since my timed mile was over 17 minutes long, I think I have set my standards low enough to actually achieve that! Seriously, the last time I ran a mile was in October of 1991 when I had to do a PT test in college. I think I ran like 12 minutes that time which was a personal best then. And I haven't done it SINCE, and I'm a whole lot fatter and more out of shape now. So, after warmup (military jumping jacks, push ups, lunges etc.) I started off with a stout heart and no suprise that I quickly fell far behind the group. Jeff and Heidi, two of the instructors, became my personal support team and ran with me the whole way, even though the pace must have been excruciating for them. Their banter and encouragement really kept me going, I'm sure I would have started walking without them there. And, to be clear, I know that most people walk a mile faster than 17 minutes, I'm using the term "run" rather loosely, but I was jogging all the way, even if the last half was baby steps because my legs felt like lead balls on a chain. I can't believe I did it! I'm very proud of myself, even if the run up to the finish where everyone was waiting made me feel a bit like that Special Ed kid who makes the football team in an afterschool special.

After the run we did the rest of the PT test, which consisted of seeing how many push-ups, sit-ups and dips you could do in a minute. I managed 15 real push-ups and 13 facilitated (on my knees). 24 Sit ups and 23 facilitated tricep dips. Another instructor, Tim, and my counting partner Helen were instrumental in seeing me through the end. I spent the time everyone else was stretching fighting the urge to hurl in the bushes but I was still tickled with myself that I made it through without quitting.

Day 2
I was in pain when I woke up but it wasn't too too bad. I am pretty darned accustomed to pain in general now and I've learned to block it out for the most part so that is working in my favor. I got mildly admonished for having spaghetti with meat sauce for dinner the night before (its one of my favorite dishes and DH made it for me special cause he was proud of me.....couldn't turn that down!). Warmup was again extremely challenging for me but I looked forward to the stretching interlude at the end of warmup and made it through. Today was Ab-a-Rama day!! As instructor JoJo pointed out, any activity with the word "Rama" in it is BOUND to be fun! They had set up 4 stations in a big square (with flashing cones because it was still totally dark). We got divided into four groups, one per station. Each group had an instructor who stayed with you the whole workout. Each station had a different ab related activity. Then, when time was up there were different ways you had to travel to the next station: i.e. sprinting, squat shuffles, running backwards, or lunge walking. Once they yelled "JailBreak!" and we had to chase one of the instructors to the far side of the field and back and then pick up where we left off. All in all I think we made 4 circuits of the square, with different activities rotating at each station. It was kind of a whirlwind, but it was fun. There we were, rolling around in the very lush and very wet grass at Candler, enjoying the stars even as we groaned our way through countless ab exercises.

At the moment, after sitting in my office chair all day, it seems that the pain from Monday is catching up with me. I'm sure my abs are just waiting until tomorrow to catch me unawares. But I can handle it, suprise suprise. Maybe I can be one of those fit people after all......

My Moment of Clarity

Well, here it is, my second day of Operation Bootcamp and muscles I didn't know I had are screaming every time I shift my ample bottom in my office chair. And it makes me smile. Wierd huh? Truth is I've been experiencing a gradual increase in chronic pain over the past year. Sometimes it is related to my pitifully weak lower back just giving me hell for a few days or weeks at a time when I do anything remotely active (well the poor thing is responsible for keeping my even more ample bosom from dragging the ground) but most of the time I just wake up aching from head to toe and the pain stays with me in varying degrees throughout the day.

I'm quite the rationalizer so I've come up with all sorts of scientific (not) explanations for why I hurt all the time and I've tried drugs (legal ones anyway), alcohol, sleeping more, "relaxing" more and my tried and true, "taking it easy." And you know what? The pain is just getting worse, not better. I've had an intense allergy to exercise my whole life. Fundamentally I am physically lazy (and given my prediliction for reality tv, arguably mentally lazy as well).

Why have I feared exercise for so long? Asthma was one reason. I developed it in adolescence and it was always triggered by exercise (among other things). That fear is no longer an obstacle thanks to Advair. My asthma is now much more under control than it has ever been before. What was my other fear? Pain. Exercise tends to cause some sort of physical discomfort. But I'm in pain all the time now . . . so what am I saving myself by not exercising?


So there you have it, my moment of clarity. I can settle into a foregone conclusion of gradually worsening chronic pain over which I have little control, or I can create some productive pain, some pain that means something, in the hopes that it will reverse the path I seem to be sliding down. Hence, my pleasure at the pain I'm feeling now. Although it is inescapably more intense than my usual aches and pains, it has a purpose, and it marks my achievements over the last two days. I'm proud of this pain, and myself, and that has been a too rare emotion for far too long.