Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Bare Bones

I was looking for a cool image of a running skeleton but I really liked this one because it looks so joyous and free. And light. Not that I want to be all bones, by a long shot. Just that I’d love to be free of all the extra crap I carry around. If there is something on my body that will weigh me down, I want it to be providing something useful in return. So I’ll keep my bones, and my muscles, as heavy as they are per volume (in fact I’ll take a few more of those please, makes it easier to move the bones). My brain is a bit heavy, but important, as are the rest of my organs. My appendix is useless but it’s probably not weighing me down a WHOLE lot.

And I don’t indiscriminately hate all of my fat. I’m a curvy chick. Being a curvy chick unfortunately contributed to my fear of exercise. There is nothing like being ogled by the entire 6th grade as you attempt to run in your new C cup bra. Ergo – running = humiliation and shame. But being a curvy chick is also who I am. And I must admit, I know how to work it. Although I’d appreciate a more manageable cup size I’d never wish the girls away completely. And the same goes with the whole hourglass thing I’ve got going on. Even when I’m strong and fast and kicking butt I’d like to be cuddly and soft when the mood strikes.

But believe me, that leaves plenty that I’d love to drop away. Wouldn’t it be lovely to collect it all in grocery sacks and then just set it down and walk away from it? To experience that relief when you drop all 27 grocery bags that you struggled into the house because somehow cutting off the circulation to your fore arms was a small price to pay to save you from having to make . . God forbid . . . more than one trip back to the car? What if we could do that with our bodies?

I started this process because I wanted to look better. I also wanted to feel better and the chronic pain issues were and are very real and immediate. But at the end of the day I must acknowledge the fact that every diet and fitness attempt I’ve made in my life has been primarily motivated by my desire to conform myself to an ideal image.

If I had the ability to just drop all the extra fat and walk away from it, I never would have discovered that, even after decades of stifling it, I could rediscover the joy of movement. I would have wasted the “accomplishment” on parading around in skinny jeans lapping up compliments. What I’m gaining now is so much more valuable. It doesn’t matter if no one watches me run. Just the fact that I’m doing it impresses the hell out of me. And the feeling I get when I find that little extra bit of power when I thought I was done can’t come from outside me. I’m thankful I didn’t find an easy way to get into skinny jeans. I would have missed so much along the way.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Catching Up

Time for confessions. I skipped bootcamp on Friday. In my defense, my shins were hurting worse than they ever have after Thursday's work out (12 Pack - we were running laps which included a steep downhill on pavement, that is where I feel it the most) and I was coming down with my son's cold and I had a very sore and swollen throat. And I don't know that it was a bad decision, but I still felt bad about it.

To assuage my guilt, and to capitalize on my son's new found interest in fitness (I got him a Health Journal where he can write down his activities for each day and get smiley face stickers for each fruit or vegetable he eats) I ran a mile with him in our neighborhood on Saturday. He did really well, running intervals most of the first half mile and walking the rest. I did long ovals back and forth trying to keep him in the middle so I actually ran something more than a mile. It took us about 20 minutes which was all we had on a very over scheduled saturday and I'm glad we fit it in. I really feel like if I'm ever going to do something longer than a 5K I'll need to do extra running beyond what I get in bootcamp so I'll have to figure out how to fit that in eventually. But for now I'll just focus on November 10, and on getting some better shoes!

Woke up Monday with angry golf balls stuck in my throat, felt sicker than I had Friday but I told my body to get over it and I went. I was really glad I did because we did 2 Minute Drills which has become one of my favorite workouts. I even passed some people on the sprinting portions. Tim was right, now that I know what I'm doing I don't have to spend much of my mental energy on figuring things out or anticipating what's next so I can use it to push myself and really focus on getting lower in my squats, on improving my sprints, on getting past my comfort zone.

Today we did Guts & Guns again, another one of my favorites although I found the running challenging today. It was in the upper 30's this morning so it was the first workout where I kept my jacket zipped the entire time (my new C9 Duo Dry "breathable" jacket from Target). I even wore gloves and one of those ear wrap things. I know you should wear a hat but once we got warmed up it wasn't THAT cold and I CANNOT stand a sweaty head. It's official. I'm a high maintenance exerciser.

PROGRESS ALERT! Remember those great work out pants my husband bought for me during my first bootcamp? I was wearing them today and when running any distance I had to keep grabbing them by the waist and hitching them up! Yes, they were literally sliding off my body as I ran. I was getting so annoyed until the implications SLOWLY dawned on me. I may be up and in the park every morning but I can not vouch for my mental acuity at that hour!

The demise of novelty

Well, that point has come. I knew it would. Boot Camp and working out in general is no longer a novelty in my life. It's no longer my "latest project". My friends and family all know I'm doing it, they know what I've accomplished and they're not checking in with me anymore. They would always ask, with that particular expression that I'm sure was designed to reassure me that they totally understood and that they weren't judging me for quitting, "you're not still doing that bootcamp thing are you?" I REALLY enjoyed the looks of genuine shock and suprise that soon followed. Yes, those moments are few and far between now. For some acquaintances I almost get the sense that they are avoiding me, or at least avoiding bringing up boot camp. Because after all, if I am doing it, then truly just about anyone is capable. My successes can be challenging to people who thought they were like me. Either they were wrong and I'm actually a bit of a freak who must be relegated to "outlier" status or we are still a lot alike and they must question why they CHOOSE not to work out. I've been there, and avoidance was definitely one of MY favorite coping strategies! I must counter that with a big SHOUT OUT to my buddy Shane who HAS started working out again, she says that watching me has inspired her. Now I REALLY better keep it up! ;)

With the demise of novelty comes some waning motivation though. I LOVE new things just for the sake of their newness. I'm always taking on new projects and researching new topics just because. I got really into cross stitching for while. There are no less than 3 very ambitious unfinished cross stitching projects lying on the top shelf in my closet. One of them was supposed to have commemorated my son's birth. You know, the one who is SIX now? I would provide more examples but it kind of depresses me to think of all the unfinishedness in my life.

Now that I have met the challenge of bootcamp, and I haven't died, and I've made amazing improvements, I'm realizing that this isn't a project so much as a lifestyle. There isn't a finish line I can get to and declare myself officially "FIT" before I return to my late night couch potato ways. I must keep going, and going, and going . . .

I'm lost without finish lines. I like closure, its part of the reason I made my last career change from psychology to law. In law a court can at least give an illusion of closure in the form of a final order. So I must create my own finish lines. My next one is the Kids' Chance 5K on November 10. Kids' Chance is an organization founded by the Workers' Compensation Section of the Atlanta Bar Association. They raise money for college scholarships for the children of killed and catastrophically injured workers. My employer is a sponser. So, I know I can't slack on boot camp because November 10th is just around the corner. It totally feels like my last 5K was some sort of surreal dream, I still have a hard time believing that I did it so this next one still feels like a pipe dream, despite the hard evidence in my pocket. My extra challenge with this one will be running in front of my co-workers and not freaking out about it.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Devious Dastardly Donuts

Just a quick note about the evil of donuts. On Thursday morning last week I had to attend a meeting in which our health insurance representative presented all of the plan options for the upcoming year. I came in, noted that there was no food, and took a seat at the conference table. Then he came in, with two giant boxes of HOT Krispy Kremes, all varieties, and set one of them, open, directly in front of my seat. I think my health insurance company should fire him. He clearly does not have their best interests at heart.

I smelled them. My titillated nostrils quivered like my dogs’ noses when there is meat on the grill. I admired them. The thick, gooey, not quite yet hardened glaze. The stiff and smooth chocolate frosting. The sprinkles, all haphazard and gay. The powdered sugar, gleaming like fresh inviting snow. I glared at them. No attending to my dental plan options . . . no, I was too busy having a showdown. Sitting on my hands I gave them a steady and (I hoped) withering look. “You don’t own me” I said.

My heart was racing because I knew that part of me WANTED the donuts to own me. I wanted to sink my teeth into the brief resistance, the shock of sweetness and then fall into the warm airiness of the interior. I wanted to lick the glaze off my lips, off my fingers. I wanted to MAKE OUT with those donuts. Donuts are my bad ex. I took back my key. I changed my phone number. But when they find me . . . I am momentarily blinded by my memories of our sweet forbidden love.

But I know . . . I know that the passion is fleeting. And the emotional turmoil that follows is painful. There is no lasting comfort to be had in my lusty donut love. Alas, a donut’s heart is an empty cold place.

I wrenched my focus from the donuts back to the exhortations of pre-tax flex spending and regained control of my faculties. I know, I should be able to enjoy one in moderation now and again. There aren’t bad foods, just bad behaviors. Well I get that. And it typically is true. But I just can’t mess with Mr. Kreme.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Today is a homework day for Bootcamp. Knowing I didn't HAVE to get up at 5 this morning (although it still would have been smart to have gone ahead and gotten up and gotten my homework workout done) I wallowed in TV last night. This whole healthy lifestyle thing has seriously encroached on my TV addiction. If it weren't for the wonders of a dual drive DVR I'm not sure I could handle programming a VCR and keeping up with all the tapes! I have cut back, it made sense to streamline out anything that wasn't really beneficial (like Gray's Anatomy . . . crying once a week over my TV friends is cathartic and makes me feel better . . . so there!) and there was no way I could rationalize Desperate Housewives anymore. Or any but the original CSI.

I have picked up the Biggest Loser though. I've never seen any previous seasons and I find myself shouting at the show a lot. One of the trainers really really annoys me because she's more focused on looking tough and hot and screaming curse words at her charges than she is in caring for them and actually encouraging them. She's like most of the PE teachers I've ever known (minus the curse words . . . well mostly). Also the Biggest Loser is possibly very damaging in its portrayal of weightloss because they make it seem like you SHOULD be losing 10 lbs a week or there is something wrong with you! That is SO not helpful. When you're talking about a man over 400 lbs that's maybe not so unreasonable but when you're talking about a woman in her 200's it's really a skewed point of view. They never address the obvious differences in rates of loss between the men and the women. They never talk about plateaus. They never address bloating or water weight or menstrual cycles or muscle weight or stress or the impact of all of those factors. So you end up with women who have worked really hard who are really really upset that they only lost 1 or 2 or 3 lbs in ONE WEEK and it makes me CRAZY. The show totally implies that they FAILED that week and no one rebuts it, at least on camera. The other two trainers are so awesome and caring and rock so much that I'm just trusting that off camera they get that information but that for some reason its got to be a big secret from America? WTF? But I keep watching, because it is fun to see them succeed. I just simultaneously want to sue the producers. Is that wrong?

Anyway, I got off on a tangent there. I titled this post integration because I feel like I'm experiencing something like that. For a very long time I've had a very distant relationship with my body. After all, in my mind I've always looked very different than I do in the mirror. In my mind I've always been able to do all sorts of fun things like cart wheels and roundhouses and back flips. Seriously, in reality my body has never done any of those things, even once. I took gymnastics when I was 5 because my best friend was taking it. I faked so many stomach aches that I'm sure the teacher thought I was the only ulcerous kindergartner she'd ever met. I did succeed at dance through most of my childhood. It didn't involve hanging upside or launching myself intemperately through the air. But despite that, my whole life I've been continually shocked by the fact that I can't do a cart wheel. I get happy and joyous about something and I have an urge to do a cart wheel. And then it hits me that there is no way my body is going to ever cart wheel, and it would look ridiculous trying. And I feel like such a failure. And its like when my 6 year old hits a barrier. He'll throw up his arms and announce that he officially can't do ANYTHING because he can't do this ONE THING in this ONE MOMENT.

So I exist with this duality. This imaginary body which is slender and toned and athletic and agile and graceful v. this real body which is overweight, flabby, dumpy and much too heavy and floppy to be flung through the air in any sort of acrobatic attempt. Every confrontation with a mirror has the potential for shock. Likewise, every time I encounter other evidence I find myself suprised. Sitting at my desk if my hand rests in my lap such that I can feel the layers of flab on my belly it feels wierd. Like it is someone else's body. Or like I'm wearing some sort of fat suit.

But that feeling is lessening. Still not losing lbs, but the pants are getting bigger. Today I was wearing a pair of pants that I used to not wear without a long top (this despite the fact that the oversized shirts and big leather belts of the 80's have still not come back, sadly). And I was wearing them without a long top. And I almost felt like I could have even tucked my shirt in! CRAZY.

As I was walking past the mirror in the bathroom I noticed that you can still see a bit of a roll under the pants, the pants aren't stretched tight but you can still see. But I wasn't suprised, and I didn't feel disembodied. I ran my hand over it and realized that it's smaller. And I could feel the tightness of my aching abs underneath. And I felt like my body, even with its imperfections, belongs to me. It didn't feel foreign. So what if I'm not a cartwheeler? I can run. And running is a perfectly acceptable manifestation of joy.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The weight of water

Or more specifically, the weight of water suspended in air. This morning it was supposed to be raining. But instead of coalescing into nice storm clouds and releasing themselves to fall to the parched and hungry ground a lot of really stubborn water molecules were hanging out suspended in mid air and really f*&*ing with my lungs. Wet air is heavy. I'm sure really drowning is horrible but that feeling of drowning while running that I get in this kind of humidity also really sucks.

So even though we did a workout that I really enjoyed in Boot Camp Round I (Ab-a-Rama) I struggled to breath my way through it this morning. I don't know, maybe I'm just not wired to have TWO empowering workouts in a row?

I haven't talked much about food in this blog, but it is becoming more of a struggle. I'm at the point where I'm getting bored with what I'm eating and I'm rationalizing a lot of extra calories because I'm bored. I don't want to turn this blog into a food diary but I may talk about it more than I have because it helps to be accountable.

I recently explored some other blogs on Spark People and came across a reference to . Over the past few days I've spent an inordinate amount of time reading her archives from the past two and a half years as she has lost 196 lbs. I highly recommend her. She was discovered online and has a book coming out in May - Half Assed: A Weight Loss Memoir. It's amazing how much of her experience has resonated with me despite some of the obvious differences. I especially am digging her shift from focusing on weight loss goals to focusing on fitness goals. She ran a mile in 9:30 and recently ran her first 5K in 32 minutes and change. I'm totally inspired and ready to challenge her numbers! Anyway she has motivated me to really examine a lot of things for myself and has given me some new ideas for this blog. But that will come another day because right now I have to go home and figure out dinner.

I really really wish there was a personal chef in our budget! Clint cooked last night which I did REALLY REALLY appreciate because I walked in the house with that panicked feeling that I was hungry and unprepared and that the processed foods were going to sense my weakness and rise up and attack. So he saved me from that with a chicken breast and some small potatos and baked beans. Bless his heart, he's not real conversant with the vegetables! And although I really appreciate the ease of microwave steaming broccoli in just 4 minutes I'm sure there must be other options. Preferably that don't involve actual prep time. Or I may be forced to dip broccoli in ketchup like I did as a child.

Isn't genetic science and bioengineering sophisticated enough to make a chocolate cupcake flavored zucchini???? Really???? Why don't we put cloning on the back burner for a minute and focus on what's REALLY helpful people?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Boot Camp Round II

After an incredibly self-indulgent weekend (including a party Saturday where I got so drunk that I ended up puking my guts up half the night . . . yeah, I'm such the grown-up) I got up with some reluctance this morning for Boot Camp Round II. Part of the reluctance was insomnia, I had a really hard time getting to sleep in the first place and I kept waking up. At about 4:40 I woke up and stared at the clock until my alarm went off at 5:00, hit snooze and then fell into a nice sleep for 7 whole minutes before it started beeping again . . SO ANNOYING!

But I was curious as to how I'd do in another PT test. And Tim has stressed that the second bootcamp was where he really started to see big differences. During the first one you are really focused on whether or not you will survive. It is true that I had no nervousness this morning, confidence that I could do it made all the difference.

There was a much bigger group starting this time, and they are ALL women (except for fell0w veteran Doug) and for the most part they all already look fit and trim. However, I've learned that looks can be deceiving when it comes to bootcamp. The group as a whole did great but listening to some of them talking I heard a fair amount of fear and self-doubt and folks who felt like puking at the end. I did what I could to bolster the confidence of my PT test partner, it was nice to be able to offer that as Helen had helped me on my first day.

So, after a brief warmup which included a short jog, we were off for our timed mile. They've changed the course and its a faster route with a nice little downhill sprint right at the end. It's also actually a mile instead of 1.08 miles like the first course, so that accounts at least somewhat for my new improvement but I give myself credit as well.

I found my stride quickly this time because I wasn't nervous at all, that makes such a difference! And I found myself if not at the back of the middle of the pack, then at the front of the back of the pack which was huge compared to my straggling in last place way behind everyone else on my first day. It was actually a pleasant little run! My mind always tries to slip into the old psych out mode . . . "this is so hard. . . you really don't want to be doing this. . . this is going to be the time that you give up and walk . . . " but today more than any other day I was able to dismiss that voice quickly and authoritatively because it wasn't speaking the truth, it wasn't THAT hard to run this time. I wasn't fighting for every step.

So, my mile time has gone from 17:45 to 12:14 to . . . brace yourself . . . 9:43!!!!! I know that shortening the course by .08 miles did not make a 2:31 minute improvement! So YAY ME! That's a 8:02 minute improvement in 52 days.

Wow! Now I'm really not expecting to improve that much for the PT test on this bootcamp because I'm getting into the range of respectable times!

For the rest of the test my results were as follows:
1 minute of Pushups: 29 regular and 17 facilitated. (15/13 on Sept. 10 - 20/20 on Oct. 5)
1 minute of situps: 39 (24 on Sept. 10 - 36 on Oct. 5)
1 minute of tricep dips: 25 regular and 15 facilitated. (0/23 on Sept. 10 - 22/16 on Oct. 5)

So, the mood forecast is much improved for today!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Ascending and descending scales

Weight, energy, motivation, happiness, stress, fitness, bodyfat, tolerance . . . all can be measured on a scale. Weight goes down, motivation goes up. Happiness goes down, energy follows quickly. Fitness goes up, energy follows. . . and sometimes, pulls happiness with it.

Tuesday rocked, I felt strong and energetic and happy and fit. I also noticed some downward movement on the scale which boosted my morale.

Yesterday was completely different. It was hot and humid, I had to use my rescue inhaler for the first time DURING a workout, every step I took felt like I was running through molasses and I felt defeated. To their credit Jojo and Tim and Brock kept encouraging me and reminding me how far I've come but everything was just more difficult than I wanted it to be yesterday.

I hate that I'm so volatile in my scales. My energy and motivation and happiness and stress can race in either direction at a moments' notice. At times they are triggered externally but at other times it feels like a mysterious process over which I have little control. I know that I can trick my body sometimes, as I noted above the scales are connected, so if I work out anyway, then it should give me some sense of satisfaction which should positively impact other facets. Yesterday though I just felt stuck for most of the day.

And I didn't go this morning. It was supposed to be thunderstorming this morning. I found myself annoyed when my alarm went off and it wasn't. This is still just "downtime" between the bootcamps and I did go twice this week and I did run a 5K less than a week ago so I DESERVE a break. This is what I told myself. I'm sore all over, I counseled myself, I should take more time for recovery this weekend so I can start strong on Monday.

It is true that I'm sore all over. Some of it is exercise related but a lot of it is still the same achiness that I was experiencing all the time prior to starting bootcamp. Although I really hoped that bootcamp would miraculously release me from that I don't think it has made it any worse. So my original revelation that if I'm gonna be in pain regardless I might as well be healthy and in pain still holds true.

And now I regret it. I feel worse for staying home. I feel like I tricked myself into keeping the good scales depressed and the bad scales elevated. I was afraid of feeling defeated again. So, since I'm so clever, I sidestepped. I avoided. And in so doing I defeated myself. Which is worse.

Objectively, I know that my feelings are over the top. I know that no matter what I deserve big props for what I've done over the past 6 weeks. But I can't always convince my heart that I'm not a huge failure and that it was ridiculous to think that I'd ever be slim and trim and fit and energetic and live happily ever after. I know that I can't expect to have reached all my goals in such a short time and I know that I have reached and beat goals that I would never have previously conceived for myself. I KNOW THAT. But I'm just not feeling it at the moment.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Guts, Guns & Glory

This morning was the free preview workout for folks who just want to try it before they commit to an entire camp. There were four brave souls who joined myself, Doug, Stephanie, Jojo and Brock for Guts & Guns. We had done that workout during my first bootcamp but this time we tried some new things and took a different route (which felt longer and may just be due to the instructors becoming more familiar with the park).

I worked hard today, and felt it by the end, but I'm recovering so much faster. As I witnessed the new folks struggle somewhat, especially with the running, it was very very odd to not be struggling so much with them. I did still lag behind during some of the longer legs of running but I was closer to the front during most of it, so much so that I had to do some runbacks and extra laps up a hill while we were waiting for the new folks to catch up.

I feel strong. And free. Like I've been freed from some invisible weights that I've been carrying around my whole life. I love that feeling of starting running, and I can enjoy that feeling for so much longer now before I begin to feel winded. Those first strides I feel like nothing can stop me and the road or path or field ahead of me is so full of promise.

On Sunday Clint and I helped to cart stuff from the booth up to Tim's Car at the end of the day. Chase was following along and as we headed back down to the field he was lagging and distracted but we needed to get a move on. So I challenged him to a race, its an old parenting trick . . . need to get him into the house? into the car? up the stairs to his room? Make it a race, works like a charm every time. Except that I don't usually win. We raced all the way across the field and I totally smoked him. 2/3 of the way across I stopped and let him catch up and gave him a head start and STILL caught up with him. And it was almost effortless and FUN. My friend Shane gave me a long hard look and said, "do you realize you were smiling and running at the same time?"

Last year I vowed to use the stairs instead of the elevator at work. I work on the third floor. I gave it up within the first week because it was too taxing. I am descended from a long line of geeky bookworms, I was raised on fairy tales and science fiction. I have moments where I wonder why I can't remember when I drank the magic potion or when the aliens invaded my body because this seriously can't be JUST ME.

But it is me, tapping into something that was lying dormant for so long. Something intoxicating and addicting. Something like life. Something like health. Something like freedom.

Monday, October 15, 2007


I DID IT! I RAN my first 5K at the Candler Park Fallfest on Saturday morning. It was probably the hardest thing I've ever done next to giving birth, and at least with giving birth I didn't have to wrestle with the choice of whether or not to give up. Getting up and walking out wasn't exactly an option then!

First of all, I was ridiculously nervous. I've been trying to figure out why, I really seem to be making strides in my fear of people watching me run so that wasn't it. I think I was just so afraid I was going to fail myself that my heart was pretty much racing from the moment I arrived (almost an hour before the race started) until I finished. The constant nerves and adrenalin made it really challenging to regulate my breathing and heart rate so I don't think I ever hit my stride exactly as I hoped to.

I really tried to start off very very slowly, and the beginning of the course was the flattest section (and whose idea was THAT?) but even so I spent the entire 40 minutes mentally wrestling with myself and trying to trick myself into continuing. The weather was gorgeous, it was nice and cool (50's?) and sunny. Even though it wasn't hot though I still wasn't crazy about running in the sun, and there were lots of hills throughout the last two thirds of the course so between urging myself "just to top of this hill" and "just to that next spot of shade" I kept going. I gave myself permission to reevaluate and decide whether to start walking as I reached each of those mini goals and of course everytime I crested a hill or got out of the sun I automatically felt better so I'd go on to the next hill or the next shadeless stretch.

The mile markers were not my friend! Operation Bootcamp had kindly provided them but when I saw the 1 Mile Marker in the distance I really thought I'd already run a mile and a half so it was kind of crushing to know that I wasn't even a third when I thought I was halfway. That may have been the closest I came to actually walking. As always I was very slow and methodical, I know some walkers finished before me, and I kept passing and being passed by the same groups who were alternating walking and jogging.

The worst two hills were in the last half mile I think, or maybe they just seemed worse because they were in the last half mile, but either way, they sucked. My "jog" at that point was little more than a shuffling bounce but it WASN'T walking! And as I crested that last hill and knew the finish line was downhill and just around a corner I was able to put on a decent show of finishing strong. Unfortunately my husband and son had gotten turned around and were waiting for me by the main stage instead of at the finish line so I was kind of bummed they weren't there to see (or photograph) my finish. There were lots of bootcampers encouraging me though, througout the route and at the finish which was nice.

My time was 40:09. So I wasn't running 12 minute miles like in my final PT test, but I was doing better than 15 minute miles so I'm happy with that. I had really just hoped to beat 45 minutes so I did better than I thought I would.

So the picture above is at the Operation Bootcamp booth after the race with Instructor Tim (and Chase!), who, along with other instructors and bootcampers, has been instrumental in seeing me come so FAR in such a short amount of time. I am fundamentally a different person than the one who almost lost her nerve about signing up for bootcamp in the first place.

On Sunday I came back and volunteered at the booth for a few hours and got to talk to some folks who were thinking about signing up. Encouragement feeds encouragement. Operation Bootcamp has shown me that I CAN save myself from myself. I'm no longer resigning myself to something less than the best life I can envision.

HEADS UP! There is a preview workout at 5:45 am tomorrow morning (Tuesday) at Candler Park for anyone thinking about trying Bootcamp. This is a chance to test the waters and get past some of the automatic intimidation factor before committing to a full camp. I'll be there and so will some really cool and fun instructors. Let me know if you want more information!

Friday, October 12, 2007

My elusive stride . . .

Found it again today! I was really nervous that it had been a total fluke the day we did our long run in bootcamp but somehow it came back to me right at the end of the workout today as we were running back to the cars. Even Instructor Tim noticed. It is SO COOL when it happens because you just feel like you could keep going and going and going and you stop mentally calculating how much further you have to go.

Anyway, it was JUST ME and Instructors Tim and Brock today. We took Brock on a tour of the park and explored some new areas ourselves which was cool. It is really amazing to feel like I am a part of the Operation Bootcamp organization, and I feel so blessed to have these great (and big and strong) instructors to spend time with me (and keep me safe in the park before dawn).

So they really helped prepare me mentally for tomorrow, and feeling that boost of confidence as I found that elusive stride again this morning made all the difference. I'm more excited about tomorrow than I am scared . . . woo hoo!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The mechanics of layering

The Mechanics of Layering

There was a distinct chill in the air at 5:45 this morning. Enough so that I felt uncomfortable trying to walk around without a hoody. But not so much that I didn’t have to take it off before our warmup was even over. And then had to drag it around the park with me. So I must master the mechanics of layering, which apparently involve somewhat specialized materials (which can apparently be had at the likes of Target, yay! How did we get by before Target anyway?).

I REALLY REALLY hate feeling overheated. So I’m a little nervous about the idea of wearing more clothing during my workouts. However I also realize that if it’s 40 degrees outside its probably just stupid and dangerous to strip down to a t-shirt. So I will be investigating a winter workout wardrobe, something I’ve never had. It had never crossed my mind before that I’d be working out anywhere other than my climate controlled house or a climate controlled gym.

Not much else to report today. Breathing cold air was challenging and I’m a bundle of nerves about Saturday morning. Will the air be too cold? Will the sun be too bright? Will all the people make me too nervous? Will my shins hurt too much? Will I psych myself out by knowing how much further I have to run? Will I disappoint everybody? Does Operation Bootcamp REALLY want ME wearing their t-shirt at the back of the pack? Should I carbo load on Friday night? Am I just looking for an excuse to go to Figo?

Tim and Jojo are going to be starting an 8:30 am bootcamp on October 22 as well as the normal 5:45 am one. I was worried this would mean that my Tim and Jojo time would somehow be diluted but he says they’re planning to be involved in both timeslots. They are hardcore. So there are now options for those of you who seem to feel that you have something better to be doing at 5:45 in the morning (which is really just silly but I suppose not EVERYONE can scoff at the dawn the way I do).

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The integrity of my zipper

No workout this morning because the downtime workouts are only mon, tues, thurs and fri.

So, in an effort not to over focus on weight and be negative I hadn't yet reported on here that as of the end of last week I had GAINED 2.5 lbs since starting bootcamp. UGH (and that was BEFORE the cheeseburger).

But, to counter that, I put on a suit this morning that I haven't worn in a couple of months. I usually tried to avoid wearing it because it was tight in the belly and the zipper had a nasty habit of just unzipping itself when I was sitting down. For that reason, when I did wear it I typically always kept the jacket on so I could cover myself. Also, the shirt I'm wearing today is a button down, which is always a challenge for a woman of ample bosom, like myself.

But here I sit, with neither my zipper or my buttons undergoing any stress at ALL. In fact the pants are really loose, almost saggy. Very very cool.

I finally registered for the Candler Park 5K yesterday, still very nervous about it but I'll be there. We also realized that my son's soccer game was scheduled for the same time. As we were discussing the fact that they wouldn't be there, or that maybe they could leave the soccer game early and try and catch me at the finish, my son burst into tears. He was inconsolable at the thought of not being there for the 5K. I tried to explain that all he and Daddy would be missing would be seeing me start and finish, and that there would be a long boring wait in between, and that it wasn't going to be all that exciting from a kid's point of view. He was having none of it and we eventually decided that he can miss one soccer game to come and support me. I thanked him for being so sweet and then he starts asking me what I'm going to win when I come in first place.

Oh dear. We continued to talk about it as I tucked him in. Mommy is not a fast runner, mommy is a beginning runner and finishing the race at all IS winning, and the only prize will be a t-shirt. Hmmmm, he finally seemed to accept that I wouldn't be crossing the finish line first and that I wouldn't have a huge trophy to bring home. He did seem impressed when I explained that the distance was the same as walking from our house to his school and halfway back again.

I have noticed my husband looking at me with something like wonder on his face lately. We haven't discussed it, but I'm SURE that he thought the money I spent on my Nikes was going to be wasted. I'm sure he had a timetable in his mind for when I was going to quit and I'm sure he had predictions for what my excuses were going to be. As I've continued his support has grown more and more solid. The sarcasm that tinged some of his comments in the beginning has totally disappeared. Although his early comments really hurt my feelings, I can't deny that he had a basis for not wanting to invest too much too soon. Every fitness regimen I'd ever started I quit within the first week or two. We've been together for 12 years (this weekend actually) so he had a lot of past experience to draw on.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Defeating Paralysis and Death

So after taking yesterday off (it was COLUMBUS DAY people!) I showed up this morning for the free "downtime" workouts that are available for those who have signed up for the next bootcamp (which starts October 22... c'mon . . . you can do it!). These are opportunities for new instructors to train, for old instructors to practice and for new workouts to be tested in the field. I briefly thought I'd be alone with three instructors (Tim, Walter and Brock) but thankfully Stephanie and Doug showed up. I was nervous after my total slackness all weekend and my indulgences (lets put it this way . . . the cheeseburger I ate on Friday at the party was ONLY the beginning of a weekend of sin). But lo and behold, this was the gigglingest workout EVER! I had so much fun! The instructors were relaxed, everything was pretty informal, it was such a small group of people that I trusted, and I felt so darn relaxed with them. You'd almost think I BELONGED there or something. WIERD.

We used jump ropes today. And since they were new and we got them right out of the package we got to read the warnings. Which included the HIGH RISK OF PARALYSIS AND DEATH. I almost let fear overcome me on several occasions, but somehow, I pushed past it . . . and we all survived the workout, with all of our legs in working order. There WERE moments of doubt, I'm NOT super coordinated with the jump rope and at times I had to resort to phantom jump roping because keeping moving was more important than succeeding in jumping the rope. And apparently I am seriously challenged when it comes to leading with the left leg when we were trying to jump rope uphill. But I was lekker sweaty (South African reference . . . I'm cool like that) by the end and I'd had MORE FUN than PAIN!

Since I'm in such a good mood now, I guess its appropriate for me to confront my other great fear about bootcamp. I've hidden it from everyone, claiming that I'm too out of breath to count out loud. That was true at the beginning, but it isn't anymore (which is kinda cool in and of itself). But now I've realized that I CAN'T COUNT. Every time I try to count out loud with the group I get confused. Seriously. It completely blows my concentration. I have TWO . . . yes TWO graduate degrees. Apparently I'm one of those "special" smart people that can only process lofty abstract concepts and CAN'T COUNT FROM 1 TO 10! I get so flustered and embarrassed its ridiculous! So there you have it, my six year old is better equipped for the mental side of bootcamp than I am!

FYI - I'll be helping out at the Operation Bootcamp booth at the Candler Park FallFest this weekend, late Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Yes, me. Who was, 6 weeks ago, destroyed by a walk up the stairs, will now be a SPOKESWOMAN for fitness. Isn't life grand?

Friday, October 5, 2007


Ok, I'm tired, and happy, and oh so excited to sleep in until 8 tomorrow (my son happens to have a 9 am soccer game this week of all weeks). I'll probably blog again after the party tonight or tomorrow and I'll post a picture of me in my boot camp shirt (which looks like it will be extra sexy since I didn't realize there were male and female versions of it).

Anyway, everyone rocked it out this morning, and there were many really touching moments as we took some time at the end to talk about the experience and how it impacted us.

I was suprised at how much easier everything other than the run was. The run was still very challenging for me, I couldn't seem to find that stride that I had hit last week on the long run. I may have started off a bit gung ho though . . . Also, it was unbelievably hot and HUMID this morning, even at 6 am. Heavy wet air always makes me struggle, my lungs just don't process it well at all and I really really felt at times towards the end of the run that I just wasn't going to be able to do it. I felt so frustrated and sad that it was still so difficult.

And then it was over. And although I felt whipped, I didn't feel like throwing up, and I recovered a lot faster, and felt totally fine through the rest of the PT test so that was something.

I've stalled long enough, here are the results (first PT test was September 10, second was October 5):

Push ups (number completed in 1 minute):
First PT - 15 straight and 13 facilitated (on the knees)
Second PT - 20 straight and 20 facilitated.

Sit ups (number completed in 1 minute):
First PT - 24
Second PT - 36

Tricep Dips (number completed in 1 minute):
First PT - 0 straight leg and 23 facilitated (bent knees)
Second PT - 22 straight leg and 16 facilitated.

Time for 1 mile run (actually the course is 1.08 miles):
First PT - 17:45
Second PT - 12:14

YES, as much as I wasn't feeling it during, I improved my 1 mile run by 5 MINUTES AND 31 SECONDS!!!!

Yeah, there was certainly a LOT of room for improvement there but I really had an honest fear that I wouldn't do much better time wise. I was just hoping to beat 15 minutes (which again, I know is walking speed for many people but I apparently have a TINY stride length when I jog).

So I'm super psyched about the party tonight, very sad that Jojo and some of the campers won't be able to make it but we'll somehow manage to rock on without them.

I can't thank my instructors or fellow campers ENOUGH! This has been such a tough thing for me to do and it really wouldn't have been possible without their believing in me regardless of my doubts. They have all inspired me with their own stories and let me know, above all, that I'm not alone. For an only child who is accustomed to being self-reliant above all else, being able to really acknowledge and rely upon that camraderie is a huge step.

And big thanks also go to my husband and my buddy Shane who have REALLY stepped up to support me in so many concrete ways (not to mention the other family and friends who have emailed and called with encouragement throughout).

Just because I've graduated from my first bootcamp (I'm a "veteran" now . . . hee!) doesn't mean this blog is ending. It will continue as I focus on a bit of recovery, finding some new shoes that work for me, and maintaining for the next two weeks before my next bootcamp starts in mid October! And I'm still planning on the Candler Park 5K so STAY TUNED!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Now THAT'S Bootcamp!

For our last bootcamp workout before our final PT test tomorrow we got RAINED on! When I showed up back at the house this morning and my husband took one look at my soggy self he laughed and said, "Now THAT'S bootcamp!" We have had perfect weather throughout so it was about time (and I know the earth certainly appreciated it). Happily, it wasn't a raging thunder storm, just a steady light rain throughout. As Jojo put it, quoting her grandfather, "First you get wet, then you get dry." Good point. So off we went.

Today was two minute drills, which, as it turns out, was a Candler Park version of the workout I did in Piedmont last Saturday. Maybe it was the pre-dawn darkness that I've discovered I love so much, or maybe it was the cooling rain, or maybe it was just the beauty of the straight line of cones with lights on them guiding us but I just enjoyed myself much more than I did last Saturday. I suspect the real reason was that I felt safe and "at home" with this family of people who have marched by my side through this past month. I was delighted to hear the number of folks who have decided to sign up for the next Candler Park bootcamp. I love the sense of solidarity that has developed between us, even though most of us really know very little about each others' lives outside the park. We pick up bits and pieces here and there but for the most part we only know that these people know what we are doing in a way that no one at home or in the office can really understand (unless they've done it). I must admit, one reason I'm super psyched about the graduation party is the opportunity it presents to have normal conversations with these miraculous fellow "soldiers" and to try and catch a glimpse at how and why we all ended up in the middle of Candler Park at 5:30 am on September 10, 2007. I think my psychologist friend would say we have trauma bonded.

Shoe update, I wore my new shoes around the office yesterday afternoon and at home last night and they came up too high on the back of my ankle and were causing a wicked sore spot just walking around. I don't know HOW I missed that in the store. So I stuck with my trusty Nike's this morning and I'll return/exchange them when I leave work this evening. I'll keep you posted. Even if I do end up exchanging them I may stick with the Nike's tomorrow anyway just because I don't want anything unexpected to throw off my PT test run. WHICH IS TOMORROW. I can't believe I made it . . . check in tomorrow for the results, which will hopefully inspire you and me!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Phiddippidi phiddipida

First of all, I must commend my husband and son for a very sweet birthday eve picnic on the floor of our dining room last night (we don’t have a table yet). They had drawn pictures of flowers and ants and butterflies and put them all around the room. AND my husband worked hard to make sure that the entire spread was bootcamp friendly (although I did get treated to a 100 calorie piece of dark chocolate . . . my FAVE). And I got some yummy bath treats too! And then more yummy bath treats from my friend Shane today, and all the sushi I want this week what with people taking me to lunches and dinners!

I started reading THE COURAGE TO START last night and I’m really enjoying it, I highly recommend it, even if running isn’t your thing, a lot of what he says could be applicable to anyone confronting a lifetime of thinking that they could simply NOT be successful in any athletic endeavor. Ha. I just said “even if running isn’t your thing” as if it were MY thing! That’s funny. A few quotes:

“We need to spend less time planning and organizing and more time doing. We need to spend less time worrying about doing things well and more time rejoicing that we are doing them at all.”

“For all of us, the miracle isn’t that we finish, the miracle is that we have the courage to start.”

The first quote really resonates with me. I learned something about “perfectionism” in grad school. More by leeching off the more in depth study my friend did as she continued further in grad school than I went. I learned a lot from the flylady. ( . I learned that my fear of not being perfect has been paralyzing. When I used to look around a cluttered room and I would imagine how it would look if Martha Stewart ran my household then I would be convinced that I was not good enough and I would just shut the door and walk away. Same thing with any sort of athletic or creative pursuit I’d try to embrace. Once my imperfections became obvious I would quit rather than deal with anything less. For me to rejoice about doing something at all when I see other folks doing it “perfectly” is kind of a mind bending concept.

I’ve made progress with my perfectionism issues over the years. I’ve learned that neatly stacking the clutter IS better than not stacking the clutter, even if it’s somewhat less than having it organized in binders and arranged on a shelf alphabetically by color coded topic. But bootcamp has brought this concept home to me in a much more visceral way. For the first time, I’m experiencing moments of satisfaction, even exhilaration, over doing something even when I’m doing it clumsily and out of breath and in slow motion. It is so primal. I feel like I’m actively repairing wounds developed during PE in elementary school, when I first realized why no one ever picked me for their team. I’m picking ME for my team dammit!

So, in honor of my birthday, and my aching shins and knees, I went to Phidippides at lunch today, with my shoes and my work out pants. Woops, forgot the jog bra! Ah well, you don’t see so many DD marathoners so maybe it was a treat for them! ;-) I was helped by a VERY young and very sweet guy (he did mention graduating from college which I find hard to believe) and my friend Shane went for moral support. It was intimidating as hell for me to go in there. It was full of people who LOOK like runners. John Bingham says you have to accept that if you are running, then you are a runner, regardless of what you look like. But the folks I saw in there looked very heavy in the sinew and muscle and very light in the jiggly bits. But I pushed through my intimidation and changed clothes and jogged back and forth through the store while my sales guy watched my feet (and, bless his heart, he really was watching my feet despite the full on acrobatics going on under my shirt). Turns out I slightly over pronate, nothing severe but enough that some correction could help me with the shin and knee pain. I tried some implants, and then I tried some proper shoes, and the shoes won out. I feel guilty buying them after spending so much on those nikes just a month ago but these felt SO different and he said that they were correcting my over pronation, and they weigh NOTHING which felt nice too. I did try on about 8 pairs (and come to think of it, he kept bring me more and more, and for each pair I had to run back and forth . . . hmmmm). I posted a picture of them, they are pretty. And now I MUST wear them out to justify the cost.

This morning we did a workout called “Altitude Adjustment”. The focus for the morning was hills, hills and more hills. We didn’t just run though, we ran, we did lunge walks up a very long hill which were slow and torturous, we did side plank walking, we did pushups with our feet UP the hill (even on that crazy hill by the pool), we did incline situps, we ran up and down a LOT of stairs and we ended with uphill sprints. I did well today, I really pushed myself. I thought I might pass out by the end and I almost grabbed my inhaler at one point but I realized I wasn’t wheezing, it was just that my lungs felt too small for all the oxygen my body was demanding. But when we did that uphill sprint I gave it my all and I actually ran with instead of behind the person next to me more than half the distance! I also kept up better on the earlier portions. Jojo complemented me on my speed at one point. I keep assuming that other people are getting slower and that’s why I’m not falling as far behind . . . but I guess that probably doesn’t make much sense. Its just that for me to think that I’m actually getting faster feels dangerously arrogant. Especially just when I’m starting to feel ok about being at the back of the pack.

PT test is Friday. I’m nervous as hell about it. I still haven’t seen the changes I want to see in my body, at least not as dramatically as I’d like to see them, and I’m so worried that I’ll be disappointed with myself. So if you happen to be conscious between 6 and 7 am on Friday morning, send me “fast” and “strong” thoughts and prayers!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Blogging it out

I'm doing better today, on the eve of the big 35. First of all, thank you to everyone who read the blog or talked to me yesterday and helped me to regain my perspective. I received a variety of emails and other forms of encouragement to remind me that even on the days when I'm not feeling it . . . I'm doing it . . . and that is worthy of appreciation. By me. Which is something I'm not always good at. So even though Wonderland is full of dark and scary places, and tempting tangents (Chocolate Pink offering me free goodies for my birthday!), there are a host of white bunnies leading me through, I just need to stay focused. And not get my head lopped off at the end. Ok, maybe I've just worn out this metaphor's welcome!

Today's workout didn't have a name (that I caught anyway, correct me if I'm wrong) but it involved a jogging warmup (interspersed with other fun stuff) and then pyramids of pain. We did alternating tricep dips and pushups on the wall around the playground, going down from 10 to 1 and back up again. Then it was up to the field for more circuits around a triangle, with one side always being a sprint. Then the culmination, and the funnest part, was the sprinting pyramids. Sprint for 10 seconds, jog it back, sprint for 10 jog it back. 4 times. Then sprint for 20, jog, sprint for 20, jog. 4 times (I think . . . getting a bit fuzzy on the reps). Then sprint for 30, jog. etc. etc. etc. and back down to 10 second sprints.

It started to be more fun than pain about 2/3 through. My shins were screaming throughout but it did feel good to have the wind in my hair. As an added bonus for me as we progressed some of the other folks were tiring and I was able to keep up with them better, so that was a nice little ego boost for me! Even though this was sprinting I felt like I hit my stride with it and could have kept going a little longer. Wierdly though, once we had done cooldown stretches that momentary lapse of reason had receded and I could barely walk to the cars and do some shin stretches with Instructor Tim.

I'm nervous about my shins getting progressively worse and affecting my performance in the PT test on Friday but I'm not sure how to handle it. I got a nice gel icepack and iced them twice today at my desk. Since I heard compression could help I wore my knee high skin tight leather boots cause they do compress nicely.

I also picked up a new book today, I discovered John "The Penguin" Bingham on the web and I read the first few pages of his book THE COURAGE TO START on Amazon and had to get it. I'm definitely a penguin and its refreshing to consider being ok with that. One of the reasons I avoided sports my whole life is because I had no apparent natural talent, I couldn't compete. And I'm competitive. So while I'm sometimes over the moon about the mere fact that I'm doing bootcamp, other times I still get overly concerned about how I recognize everyone in my group easier from behind than I do from in front!

Wish me luck with the whole birthday thing tomorrow. Maybe I'll treat myself to a trip to Phidippides!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Down, down, down (the rabbit hole?)

Ugh. That word pretty much describes how I feel right now. Sorry to not be all upbeat and inspirational but I had kind of a rotten weekend and I'm really depressed about stuff going on in pretty much every facet of my life other than bootcamp. The emotional pain totally amplifies the physical pain. Getting up this morning was the hardest it has been since I started bootcamp, I just had to tell myself that, even if I feel like a complete failure in every other arena, I can't allow myself to sabotage this one thing.

I was mean and snippy to everyone, even sweet kind Instructor Tim (Sorry Tim!). I got mad at everyone during the workout and I just felt like I had NO reserves to draw on. Aches and pains that normally don't effect me too much just felt totally crushing and overwhelming and scary.

So, I'll keep it short so as to not bum everyone else out. Today's workout was "5 Star General" and it involved more circuit type stuff but in a criss crossing pattern which made for some harrowing moments as faster folks and slower folks had to cross paths in the middle. And we had to do crab walks which for some reason my body just doesn't do. I sometimes get a twinge in my lower back trying to get my butt off the ground, but mostly my body just won't do it and won't maintain that position, its like I don't know what muscles to use, as soon as I move one arm or foot I fall down like a lopsided tripod. And for some reason today, with the cold cold wet grass, it was just hurting the heck out of my hands to put all that weight on them. And we've already established that I was battling some serious attitude issues which didn't help. But I made it through, and stayed for punishment, which totally pissed me off too.

I know, pizza is pizza is pizza. But it was thin crust with chicken and no cheese (ok, I don't know anything about the tandoori part and apparently mangos are like rock candy in the sugar department) and I was just so freaking hungry at lunch on Friday that a salad, even with meat, was just NOT going to cut it.

I want to binge right now SO BADLY. I'd like a Sex on the Beach and a cheeseburger and a whole bunch of french fries. Rinse, and Repeat. I know its that whole emotional void thing I'm feeling but knowing that just reminds me why I'm feeling an emotional void and . . . well its one of those vicious cycles. But I'm NOT binging, so that's SOMETHING I guess.