fitness

Bodies

No, this isn’t a post about the giant exhibition that’s currently in town. I was seriously intrigued by Bodies when I saw the posters all over everything, and after reading about how incredible it was, I really wanted to check it out – and then I read somewhere that the bodies were actually Chinese torture victims, my moral compass started spinning wildly, and my brain reigned out over my wallet faster than I could make it to the closest Ticketmaster outlet. So no, this is not a post about Bodies. It’s about mine, and all the different stuff that seems to be going on with it lately.

Firstly – let’s talk fitness. I’ve never been a Gym Girl – I think my longest relationship with a gym was when I first started my current job, which happens to be about 5 blocks away from one. I signed up, and probably went a grand total of three times before cancelling the membership (5 months later). The girls there were more made up than I am on New Year’s Eve, everyone seemed to be an expert on every piece of machinery, and, not one to wear my glasses in public at the best of times, I felt like a prize n00b hovering in and squinting over people’s shoulders trying to read the instructions. But on my birthday, I added a whole bunch of “get fit” resolutions to my list, and I must say I think I’m doing okay! In the last few weeks, in full last-minute-wedding-crunch attempts to fit into my (very tightly fitted) dress, I’ve been on the treadmill pretty much every other day. It’s been a great way to spend the evening post-work and pre-dinner – Sweet gets home at about 7:30, which leaves me a couple of hours to get very sweaty, very ugly, and very exhausted, all the while watching shameless guilty-indulgence wedding porn. (Current addiction: Don’t Tell The Bride) Now, in my running endeavours, I have noticed a few things:

1. I don’t think I’ll ever be A Runner. In much the same way in which I get frightfully bored within the first two minutes of sitting in a bubble bath, I get equally as bored stuck on a treadmill. I think I’ve figured out that the more often you glance at the display, the slower time seems to go, but I still can’t keep my eyes off it. I know it’s only been thirty seconds since I last looked, and I’ve probably burned less than half a calorie, but for some reason I keep checking. Which makes it even more long and even more boring.

2. My motivation may have increased tremendously in recent weeks, but it doesn’t mean the same turnaround has affected my endurance. I have the same pattern now as I did six weeks ago: power walk half a lap, run half a lap, power walk half a lap, run half a lap, jump off the belt for a few seconds to gulp down some water, power walk some more, and then sprint really hard to try and shave a few more seconds off the last time it took me to run a mile. ONE MILE. I think I did 1.25 once, and my knees hurt for days afterwards, and I promptly went back to my senior citizen ways and continued running my single mile.  I want to be able to at least do two, or at least RUN the whole mile instead of taking breaks to power walk, but my endurance hasn’t improved at all. I still get exhausted within minutes and the thought of doing it all over again once I hit 4 laps just smacks my hopes and dreams in the face, off the treadmill and onto the floor where I proceed to collapse for a couple of minutes, and then do a few crunches.

3. I’ve decided to sod the back pain, suck it up and just DO abdominal exercises lately. It’s an absolute killer, but I refuse to let it be the reason I gain weight around my middle. Because I’m so small-framed naturally, any weight goes directly to my stomach area and looks horribly bulgey, so I really need to get on this. I’ve been doing 30-40 side crunch things (can you tell I’m not an exercise person?) where you twist into your leg when you sit up after each mile ran. And this is pretty much my exercise routine.

Now, I’m proud I’ve been able to actually stick to this, however beginner, for the first time in my life. But I’ve also noticed absolutely zero change in terms of weight. I fluctuate between 102 and 106 pounds on a daily basis and this has not been affected in the slightest by my exercising. I think maybe that means this is the weight I’m supposed to be at – going any lower would be unhealthy. But I have twelve days (!!) in which I need to stay this exact size to fit into my wedding dress. I’m thrilled it’s finally finished, and hanging from the rafters – but it is very tight on. So much so I couldn’t bend down to put my shoes on at the fitting. I’m still wondering how I’m going to sit for dinner.

Now, I just realised I’d said “First, let’s talk fitness”. I also realise I’ve just taken up a good chunk of your time talking about what a running n00b I am. So, very briefly, I’ve noticed several other things regarding my body lately. Secondly: my skin. It’s so bad that when Sweet asked me for “peanut oil” for a recipe last week, I asked him if he wanted me to blot a sponge all over my face and squeeze it into the pan. I am SHINY AND GROSS, and nothing seems to work at curbing it short of covering my face in clay and drying out every pore (along with the ability to create facial expressions).  I can’t have a decent hairstyle, because any part of hair that falls on my face gets covered in grease which makes me look like Kevin the Teenager. I cleanse, tone and moisturise daily (because apparently NOT moisturising results in even MORE oil being produced), but I’d love to hear from anyone else having this problem well into their twenties what actually works!

Thirdly, I should probably mention my back. Yes, it still hurts. Yes, I still plan on getting a 30-hour cover up tattoo on it. And yes, I am now the proud owner of my very own TENS machine, which has resulted in me being hooked up to a series of electrodes having my muscles zapped into spasm while watching EastEnders after tea. I’d had something similar when I had coverage for was seeing a physiotherapist last year, and I hated every second of it, being left sitting under a chunk of hot clay while my muscles jerked around involuntarily all down my back, but apparently it was therapeutic. And, as much of a wuss as I am, I’m going to keep trying this one. Even if I can only manage it once every other week.

So, in summary, my body seems to be somewhat of a hodge-podge of progress and defiancy these days. But I’m working on it. Any tips on any of the above would be hugely appreciated! 🙂

Skin and Bones

One thing I love about bloggers is their sheer determination to not only get out there and achieve their goals, but also encourage each other along the way to do the same.  Not going to lie: health and fitness don’t play a major part in my life. I’m not saying I’m queen of the couch potatoes, and I do tend to eat healthily and for the most part, and avoid junk food, but I wouldn’t consider myself fit in the slightest. Being part of the blogging community however has inspired me – seeing people run marathons, doing Couch to 30K challenges, shreds and daily yoga has really motivated me to take more of an active role in my own wellbeing. (If you don’t like something, change it, right?)

On top of the good I’m told it will do for my back, being in good shape was also something I wanted to tackle before the wedding (which is only three and a half months away (!!)). In the spring, I bought a used treadmill off the Internet, which, in an effort to prove I was going to suck at exercise, promptly broke within the first few months. In came the pedometer. Which still remains in its packaging. But like a fairy godmother telling me I shall go to the health and fitness ball, I received a magical text a couple of days before I left for England.

I’m moving. You want a free $2,500 treadmill?

Why yes, as a matter of fact, I did! My friend showed up with entourage of Big Strong Men, and delivered a state-of-the-art, gym-quality treadmill to my house complete with spare parts and instruction manual. I gave them $100 out of guilt and gratitude, and we said our goodbyes. Now I had no reason not to start running. Fast-forward to getting back from the trip, when my nose decided it was going to run longer and faster than I ever would, and I ended up being laid up with a fever, chills, dizziness, headache, and a cough worse than a chain smoker’s. Not great for my plans to be the next Kenenisa Bekele. I had, however, been doing a fair bit in terms of being healthier: going to hot yoga for a month (before the Intro Rate turned into the Regular Insanely Expensive Rate), making Green Monsters every morning for breakfast, taking multivitamins, picking up a copy of the 30 Day Shred on DVD, and buying a weighing scale so I could make sure I stayed at a healthy weight.

Which led to my discovery: I wasn’t at a healthy weight. At all. I recently learned that I was medically underweight. A BMI of 20 or lower, I was told, equalled underweight, and a BMI of under 18.5 was considered extremely underweight and possibly malnourished, with several risks including osteoporosis, respiratory/digestive diseases, increased risk of falls or fractures, depression, lethargy, and, at the very top of the list: compromised immune function. My BMI? 18.3.

I didn’t know what to do when I got sick again last week. When I’d got my new position, my boss had told me I had half a sick day left for the rest of the year. Had I really been ill that often? I did some research, and it clicked – maybe my immune system IS compromised by my weight. I couldn’t go in, but I felt terrible – I didn’t have any more sick time, and I was needed with the startup of this new project. Meaning I’d used up all my sick time for the entire year. They were kind enough to keep me on and give me this position, and I felt like I was screwing them over by being off for another two days. I told my boss I’d take it unpaid, or work late for a few weeks, whatever was necessary, but I can’t shake the feeling that I might be seen as one of those people who call in all the time just to get time off, when in reality I was stuck at home feeling worse than I had in years. I’m worried I may lose my job over this.

Sweet got the same bug I did, but it barely affected him at all. A little sniffly and a bit of a cough, and his work and social obligations (on top of his role as Best Caregiver Ever) remained unaffected. I got hit hard, couldn’t swallow even water, alternated between sweating hot and shivering cold, and could barely drag myself out of bed. I can’t afford to keep getting sick, but on the flipside, I don’t want to gain any weight. I’ve always been complimented on being slim, and when you don’t like the way you look physically, it’s something that does make a bit of a difference in feeling better about yourself. Being a smaller framed girl, the slightest bit of weight gain is instantly noticeable, straight to my stomach after a couple of days’ eating bigger meals, and you’d swear I was 4 months pregnant. I don’t want to get bigger, but I do want to get healthier. I can’t afford to keep getting ill and I know these risks are the sorts of thing that only get worse with time. Who knows, maybe it’s contributing to the back pain, too – if I am malnourished, surely it must be more difficult for the muscles to work and regenerate properly?

I don’t know. I’m not sure what to do. So this is where I appeal to all those healthy people out there I read and am inspired by so often: what can I do to get back on track to being a healthy weight without bloating up? Your suggestions would be so very appreciated ❤