eat, move, think, feel


April 29, 2009

Hooray for Non-Scale Victories!

For anybody who was wondering, it took me exactly 9 days to get back to the weight I was before that weekend trip with the wine, the dessert and the fried calamari. Which I think is actually not so bad. At any rate, I’m fine with it.

Many of my Twitter fitness and weight loss friends like to talk about NSV, or “non-scale victories.” In other words, how do you measure success other than the numbers on the scale?

I really really hate body measurements so I have avoided those like the plague. Now of course I wish I HAD measured myself in January because I’d certainly have some nice inches lost there, but I didn’t. Even now – I just measured my waist just for the fun of it, and it puts me at a SIZE 16 in ALL of the clothing catalogs I love – Athleta, J. Crew, J. Jill, Garnet Hill… bleah. Now I know there is no way I wear a size 16. Yet my measurement says that is what I should order. Which is why I am so loathe to buy clothes via catalog!!

But I had a great non-scale victory this week.

I have been going to the same trainer for about four years. He has mixed up my workouts for all this time, so my body (and mind) never know what to expect. But I have certain things I love to do and others that I dread and hate. One of my most dreaded exercise EVER has been the crab walk. We used to have to do these back and forth across the large gym floor. They made me cry. I could really not go more than 3 “steps” and my butt would collapse on the floor.  It was freaking imPOSSIBLE for me to do and they made me feel hopeless. For YEARS.

So this week I was merrily feeling quite confident and fit and everything I did, he’d say, “Piece of cake?” and I’d go, “Yeah!!” Then he said “Sit down.” I got a sick feeling in my stomach. “Give me a crab walk across the floor.” I really felt like I was going to cry. “DO IT!” So I set off. And… holy guacamole. I could do it! I wasn’t dragging my butt! I wasn’t collapsing!! I was doing it, almost like this guy!! And I realized – before, I was trying to crab walk with an extra 23 pounds on my body. If you stuck a 25 lb sandbag on top of my stomach, I can tell you I would collapse. So it’s a combination of getting stronger and having 23 lbs less to haul around!

In other NSV news, I have been working diligently on the Couch-to-5k program and I am amazed and thrilled to report that last night I completed week 5. Week five is crazier than any week so far – it took me from running 8 minutes nonstop to running 20 minutes nonstop! (um, what happened to 10, 12 or 15 minutes? Huh?) I’m basically skipping weeks 6-9 and going straight to my 5k run this Sunday. I wish I had those 3 extra weeks to train, but I think I can do it anyway. (cue Rocky music!)

And those are my non-scale victories for this week. What are yours?

Over the River and Up the Mountain

I have always had this very vivid image of my weight-loss efforts over the years. I recently tried to draw it but the drawing looked so bad I will have to stick with a verbal description. (can’t draw with a trackpad to save my life!!)

I call it the River. For as long as I can remember (at least in my adult life) I have been on one side of the river, or the other. One side (I’ll call it The Banks of Unconscious Eating!) is where I defiantly stayed for long periods of my life. When I was on that side, I’d eat whatever, whenever and how much I felt like. Often very high caloric, fat and carb-y foods. (think: macaroni and cheese in huge quantities) I’d exercise fairly minimally. I’d thumb my nose at “dieters” and think they were super anal control freaks. I’d feel disdain for people who were “obsessed with exercise.” And, I’d be (surprise?) overweight and fairly unhappy. But really believing that I was “free” because I was not being oppressed by counting calories, depriving myself or flogging myself to exercise. You get the picture. During the periods when I was on that side of the river, I’d look at the Other side and feel anxiety, anger, fear, disgust, whatever.  I was firmly entrenched.

At other times in my life, I’d be on the Dieting side of the river. On that side, I felt fairly rigid, usually counted calories or points, was fairly tense. I exercised whether I liked it or not. I steeled myself with “willpower.” I lost weight, but it was exhausting and I could never ever get to my actual goal weight and never maintain it for very long. I was (maybe) happier but also very tense. And when I was on THIS side of the river, I felt disgust and fear and shame about the OTHER side. (ie, “you fat slob,” I never want to be like you again!!)

Sometimes I’d thrash back and forth from one side to the other, in the space of days.  Often I’d be on the dieting side for 4-5 days of a week, then after my Weight Watchers weigh-in day, I’d fling myself to the “unconscious” side by giving myself a “treat” day.

The truly remarkable thing about this time around is that I feel like I’m not even near the river anymore. I feel like I’ve gone from a short period on the Dieting Side, where I was very anxious (see January posts) but somehow I kept going, away from the river. I crossed a field. I got to the foot of a mountain. I feel like I am miles away and above where I’ve ever been before.

Even though I feel like that Unconscious side is so far away, when I look down it from here, I don’t feel disgusted or afraid of going there anymore. I feel a lot of compassion and love for all the suffering that happened when I was over there. It makes me sad. And I don’t feel tense OR self-righteous or anything about where I am now. It’s easy to be here. I have these small moments (like longing for carrot cake when I was in Trader Joe’s) but they sort of pass, like clouds. (do you see the influence of my meditation class kicking in?) As my meditation teacher says, “You can notice the train going by. You don’t have to hop on that train and let it take you for a ride.”  (okay, HOW many metaphors am I going to use in this post??)

I truly feel like I am geographically, physically, emotionally, in a place where I have never, ever been before. It’s not without its challenges at ALL, but I feel like I’ve moved far away from the banks of that river where I was always feeling battered, conflicted, cold, wet.

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