Monday, January 17, 2011

Unrealistic expectations

I was thinking over my emotional cycle from the other day and, with the help of a fellow blogger, I realized that I really had unrealistic expectations about losing weight. Or rather, an unrealistic view of how my body accesses fat from storage and the process it goes through in order use it, thereby, using it up and causing me to lose weight. Education is a great way to overcome these unrealistic expectations, so I set out to think things through and do some further research. What I found is that I really knew all the information, but I also wanted to ignore it in hopes that is wasn't entirely true. I still wanted to find an easier way to lose weight. Hey, I'm human!

The daily fluctuations in weight that I experience are entirely based on how much water is in my system at any given moment. Since we humans are "ugly giant bags of mostly water" (Star Trek TNG, season 1, episode 17, "Home Soil"), on days when I drink more, weight goes up, and days when I eat ingest foods/beverages that induce a diuretic effect, I'll weigh less. That fluctuation shows up immediately. It's why we lose weight so quickly when we switch to a very low carb diet (and visa versa when we start eating carbs again). It's very heartening when the rapid weight loss happens in the early stages of a new diet. It was difficult for me not to expect that to happen every time I recommitted to cutting calories/carbs.

What I wasn't paying attention to is the time it takes for my body to convert stored fat into burned energy, and the process that makes that happen. And I didn't want to acknowledge that because it meant that I needed to step up my exercise game. And at my weight/age, that takes time out of my busy life, extra effort, it's going to make me sweat, swear, and feel pain. And I don't like that!

To be honest, I've let my cardio lapse into nothingness. Yes, I do Pilates, three to five days a week, depending upon the needs of the many impinging on the needs of the one. But Pilates, whilst doing great things for the shape of my ass and my core strength (I used to have nearly none), it wasn't firing up my furnace enough to show a great burn of calories. I was doing Cardio Pilates a couple days a week, but then experienced knee pain, so I cut back to once a week, and now, I've dropped it altogether. That really was rough on my knees, even when I avoided the step altogether. I wish I could continue with it. Maybe later, if I can drop another 50 lbs in some other way.

I need to resume a high intensity activity that doesn't kill my knees. I'm going to give my rowing machine and treadmill another shot. 60 minutes of moderate rowing will burn over 1000 calories. 60 minutes of treadmill walking @ 3 mph will burn 469 calories. I can do both everyday, but I'll work up to that level. I've done it before and it didn't impact my knees too much. Since moving to my new house, a lot of my equipment has been collecting dust in the garage. I didn't mean to neglect it, or myself. I'll get back to it tomorrow morning, maybe even tonight. I'm about to move all my equipment from my garage to a room behind my house that will be dedicated to fitness. I need the garage for the car!

Additionally, in order to support myself and relieve a lot of the frustrations that have been fueled by the unrealistic expectations, I'm putting away the scale. I shouldn't be concentrating on what that thing says. I should pay attention to what I'm actually doing to support reaching my goals, and I should pay attention to how much better I'm feeling for the changes I've made in my life, and I should pay attention to how loose my pants and shirts are. And when someone tells me I look like I've lost weight, I should be grateful that the fruit of my efforts is visible to others too.

I'm not the sort of person who compulsively dedicates themselves to a plan of action just because it must be done. I amaze myself that I've stuck to Pilates the way I have. I think I've come to embrace and truly love the progress I've made. Cardio never rewarded me like that, but I wasn't seeing the big picture when it came to that. It's about the burn of calories. So, realigning my understanding of cardio, making the benefits of cardio real, is going to be the challenge. If I'm not weighing everyday, then there has to be some other instant reward system that shows me the pay off. I've yet to experience the dopamine effect from cardio that I experience with Pilates. Maybe it's time to get back to Cardio Coach and attack this from the idea of personal challenges. Again, not something to which I normally respond, but that Sean O'Malley is so motivating! Between resuming cardio work with added inspiration, the positive effects of Pilates, and maybe putting on the old GoWearFit device again, I'll experience measurable success again.

Scarlett Johanson wore a gorgeous gown on the Golden Globes last night. I really want one of those! And someplace to wear it to. And someone to go with. I can make the dress for myself, but in another color. I don't do pink well. As for where to wear it...and the escort...we'll see! One goal at a time.


screaming fatgirl said...

The key for me to long term success (at least so far, I've been at this for about a year and a half and lost 160 lbs, but still have further to go) has been focusing on the actions rather than the results. I sometimes call this "eyes off the prize". By looking at what I'm doing as the goal instead of the consequences of what I'm doing, the slow process of weight loss is less frustrating.

Like everyone, I also want to get to the end, and I'd prefer to reach it as fast as possible, but I realized that the body is not a machine that can run faster and faster if I push it. If I try to run it too fast, I'll damage it. So, I have to give it time to do what it needs to do and be patient. Focusing on actions as a goal means that I can see progress through behavioral changes rather than bodily ones. The bodily ones will come and have been coming, but they do take time.

I'm glad my previous comment helped you feel better!

Georgia said...

I really found a lot of benefit from your comments. I appreciate your wisdom. I aspire to your success!

Your concept of "eyes off the prize" also makes sense to me. I've seen a shift toward this sort of thinking over the last few month with every "new" muscle I find as a result of my Pilates work. Today I found my deep glutes in class. Two weeks ago, I discovered where my hamstrings meet my glutes, and that discomfort was exquisite! They reminded me where they were for two days!

So yes, when the prize becomes the effort, all sorts of rewards open up. And then I begin to start understanding why those athletic people love taxing their bodies and achieving more. They used to seem so crazy!