Weight Loss

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Friday, January 3, 2014

Run because you have to...

Here's a quote I stumbled upon that I wanted to preserve:

There are no tricks. Run because you have to. Run because you love it. Run because you want to be fast. Run because you want to be skinny. Run to find some quiet time. Run to sweat. Run to eat. Run to hear your heart pound in your ears. Run because you're a runner. Run because you gotta keep the streak. Run because you don't know why the hell you're running. Run because you fought with your partner. Run because your job is shitty. Run because you got no money. Run for the sunrise. Run for a race. Run because it's impossible. Run because it's easy. Run instead of doing the laundry. Run instead of watching TV. Run because no one else understands. Run because the cool kids do it. Run because you're tired of talking. Run for numbers. Run for feel. Run to prove something. Run because it f***ing hurts. Or don't run. If you got something better to do. JEFF EDMONDS The Logic of Long Distance

Thursday, January 2, 2014

In the Long Run

A funny thing happened this December.  I started running every day.  There was this challenge on Facebook.  Run every day between Dec 1 and Jan 1, at least 1 mile.  I've been running again since the summer, but in a very half-assed way.  I'd run a day or two a week, feel lousy because I was slow and felt heavy and unmotivated.  I'd go back out a week later because I finally felt guilty enough to get back outside.  Rinse and repeat.  Not much happened except I cultivated a feeling of guilt and dread about working out.  My weight stayed stubbornly the same for months.

But this challenge came along.  I don't know why this was the silly little thing to kick me out of my rut.  I think it was because a work friend of mine was doing it, and she was so chipper and peppy about it, it made me want to do it too.  I started a couple days into the month because I saw a couple of her posts about it and decided to give it a go.  I figured, as slow as I feel, I can at least do a mile, right?

I gave myself 4 outs: days I could just say, nope, it's not happening today.  I took one within the first week.  Daily running felt hard at first.  I couldn't figure out which seemed worse: getting up early (earlier than 0530, my normal wakeup time) to run, or running after work.  I knew I could run on my days off, but days that I work? Sounded exhausting.  But I figured, a mile will take me 12 minutes at most.  What do I have to lose?

After the first week, I started to remember that running at night is fine: just use my dorky headlamp, and be safe and aware of my surroundings.  My neighborhood is pretty safe, so I stuck around there.  I noticed that while at first I had to start walking before I reached the end of my block, after a week I could go about twice as far.  I used my HR monitor chest strap and found that my heart rate was already improving.  And then I lost a couple pounds.

It was only a couple, but people noticed the difference immediately.  My face was different, and my posture.  My body composition was obviously changing.  My appetite decreased too: instead of stress eating, I was running my stress off.  I started to feel a sense of power in my body.

After a couple weeks, I had another out day, when I was unexpectedly on call and had to stay late at work.  I hated taking that night off.  It became much easier to fit my runs into my schedule.  If I was going to head out and my 3 year old fussed that she didn't want me to leave, I just stayed and went out after she went to bed.  It wasn't a big deal any longer.  I came to relish the time to myself to think and reflect.  Around this time I stopped listening to music during the run: now I mostly just run in silence, listening to my own thoughts or meditating.

My time improved as well as my mileage.  My ultimate guide of a successful run became how I felt during and after: strong, capable, confident, versus slow, heavy, lethargic.  I dropped a full 2 minutes off my mile, and my occasional sub-10 minute mile runs (I still walk a little, but not much anymore) feel like a real victory, even though I try not to fixate on time.

Most shockingly, I lost about 10 pounds over that time.  Maybe that isn't shocking to people I consider "normal" at weight loss, but for me I've never lost weight like that--not even when I was losing weight with the band and running regularly.  Not only did I lose the weight but my body composition clearly changed.  I've lost one size in jeans, and am wearing smaller scrubs (in fact, small scrubs).  Now, I am within reach of my first goal weight, after spending most of the last year wondering if I was going to lose any more at all.

What next? The challenge ended.  I've continued running every day.  I'm just looking to see how long I can keep the streak alive right now.  It's been 15 days since my last day off (Dec 18, the day I had to work late). I'll sign up for some races this year, but racing isn't really an important goal for me.  The biggest things I get out of running are the feeling of being strong, and the time and space to myself.  I like to feel a slight soreness in my legs, just enough to remind me that I'm alive.  I'm taking yoga classes when I can, too, mostly on Saturdays.  Moving your body feels good and natural when you make a habit of it.  Whatever my next goal is, I want to reach it with joy, not exhaustion.  In fact, maybe that joy is my next goal.