Tuesday, September 21, 2010

One Step at a Time

Where to begin?

I’ve been back at Weight Watchers for about a month now. Going back was easier than I thought it would be. Maybe too easy. I made the decision early on to give myself a day “off” on Sunday, the day of my meeting. I decided I would track the food I ate that day, but not the points. It was also my “cheat” day, where I would have a little something that I wouldn’t normally have during the week…bacon, ice cream, a soft pretzel…something like that.

So guess what happened? Sunday turned into Sunday and Monday. And then Tuesday. And by Wednesday or Thursday, I’d wasted half the week and I was terrified to step on the scale. Why? I don’t know. I don’t have any answers. No excuses.

Last week was a tough one. My sweet tooth was acting up and I’ve no experience being home alone with food. When I’m at work, I bring the food I can eat. I eat the food I bring, and I’m okay. When I’m at home, though…all the food is here. I can have anything I want. And when the baby’s crying, it’s easier to grab a pop-tart than make something healthy for breakfast. It’s easier to run to a drive-thru when I’m out than to worry about getting home and being able to make something for lunch before he wakes up. It’s easier. Not better.

I haven’t been working out, yet, either. I’ve taken a few walks and attempted a post-natal yoga video I found on instant Netflix, but nothing like the workouts I did before or even during my pregnancy. At my post partum visit last week, my doctor made it a point to tell me I was healing, not healed, and I should continue to take it easy. He said I could try maybe 2 or 3 classes a week when I’m ready, but warned me not to dive back into the schedule I had before.

But I’m not ready. Some of it is physical—the aches and pains of childbirth that I’m still dealing with, but a lot of it is mental. It’s been 5 months since I did Turbo. (I hadn’t realized it had been that long until just now. 5 months?!) I’m afraid to go back. I’m the Fat Lady again, staring into a studio full of strangers. Worried I won’t be able to keep up. Worried I’ll make a fool of myself. Worried I can’t do it.

I can, though. I know I can. I know I can get back to the place where I was. I know I can succeed.

So I’m going to take it one step at a time. I bought some little jawbreakers at the store the other day. I can have 3 of them for 1 point, and they will last a long time, so I won’t be snacking all day on sweets. That’s my food step this week. I’m also going to meet my fruit and vegetable recommendation every day. As a nursing mom, I should be getting 8 servings a day. Yesterday, I had 10 and today, I had 9. It sounds like two steps, doesn’t it? They’re important ones.

For my exercise step, I’m going to shoot first for some activity 4 times a week. Yesterday, I walked with Leader Pam. (Love her!) Today was harder. I planned a walk with Little Brother, but he fell asleep while I was changing clothes. I decided to do the yoga video, but put a load of laundry in first and he woke up before I got my yoga mat rolled out. He's been into cat naps, lately, although he did finally sleep for 3 hours. He was a little fussy for a while, though…walking around, carrying 13 pounds of baby counts as some activity, right? Because I do that all the time. Next week, I will think about returning to the gym. But for now…one step at a time.

We’ve been talking weight loss mantras in our meetings the last couple of weeks. I didn’t really have one in mind…the old stand-bys: ELMO—eat less more often, or “Nothing tastes as good as being thin feels.” But they weren’t really mine. A friend of a friend posted on Facebook: “Eat clean and workout dirty.” I kind of fell in love with that one and I’m going to use it, but I kind of just realized I’ve got one of my own.

One step at a time. It’s the way to go. Changing everything all at once is a recipe for disaster and failure. But I can change one thing. Can you?

Good luck to my friend, M, who starts her Weight Watchers journey as a path to get back in shape before adding to her family again. And good luck to Leader Pam, who is walking 50 miles this weekend (starting on Friday, the day she turns 50!) to raise money in support of The National MS Society. Remember, ladies…One step at a time.You both can do it. We all can.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Us Versus Them

At my Weight Watchers meeting this week, we discussed ways to incorporate activity into our daily lives. A topic that always comes up is gym alternatives.

Whether it’s an excuse people use to shy away or an honest fear, the gym can be an intimidating place. There are daunting machines, unclear etiquette, and the scariest pressure of all: Hot Bods. The Skinnies in Spandex stretching in front of the mirror and the Muscle Heads working it on the weight floor. THEY can be menacing and unapproachable to US, the average people, just looking to burn more calories than we take in.

A woman in my Sunday meeting told us how she stayed away from the gym because she was concerned about how she looked compared to THEM. The sub-Leader (Leader Pam was out pounding 5k of pavement!) asked her how she thought THEY got to look that way. The woman muttered, almost under her breath, “They were probably BORN that way.”

“But maybe they weren’t.” I hadn’t planned on saying anything. I didn’t know the woman and I was nursing Little Brother and I didn’t really want to draw attention to myself, but suddenly, everyone was looking at me. The sub-Leader asked me what I meant. I pointed out that you can’t know what someone has always looked like based on what they look like now. It’s not fair to assume that THEY don’t have to work just as hard as everyone else to look the way THEY do.

It’s an assumption many people make though. We see someone who’s slim and fit and we assume it’s always been easy for them. We figure they can eat whatever they want. We think they don’t need to exercise because…they were probably born that way.

Deep down, I know it’s not true. Last year, Turbo Jennie launched a “Before and After” campaign and challenged her followers (yes, it really is like a cult) to share pictures of the changes they’ve made with exercising and healthy living. She asked me to combine the photos for quick comparison, so I got first look at lots of them. She handed me photos at class one night and asked me to work my magic on them. I looked at them for a few minutes and then asked her who they were. When she told me, I was shocked. I had only known the girls in the picture for a few months, and to me, they were thin and strong and beautiful—and as far as I knew, they always had been. There was no way the round faces starting back from the photograph belonged to the women I knew. But they did.

Prior to my pregnancy, I was exercising 8 or more hours a week. It happened unexpectedly…I never considered myself a gym rat, but one class a week turned into three, and then six. I looked forward to each and every class, excited to see my friends, excited to sweat, excited to work out. I cried the day Turbo Jennie called me an athlete. That wasn’t me—I was the quiet one. The bookworm. The fat girl.

I am still one of US, but one day, I’ll be one of THEM. One day, someone I just met won’t believe how heavy I used to be and when I pull out a picture, they’ll be shocked and tell me they always just assumed I had it easy.

But I’ll know the truth.