struggle

Same, same, but different

Yeah, so…. the world and stuff. Am I right?

Still working from home and really enjoying it. I find I’m so much more productive this way. Well, aside from the daily Zoom meetings which I feel are largely unnecessary. Many of my coworkers seem to socially benefit from them, so I suppose there is a benefit. It’s just not one I’m seeing.

I take some joy in being a touch subversive with my Zoom backgrounds.

Monday begins furlough time. I have to take at least one unpaid day off each pay period for the next year, or until I’ve taken all 26 furlough days – whichever happens first. So while not great, it could be so very much worse. (And I’ve no illusions that it could still get worse.)

The garden’s footprint has tripled in size, and I think that’s as far as I’m going to take it. It has expanded to include zucchini, yellow squash, Mexican grey squash, pumpkins, three varieties of tomato, three varieties of peppers, garlic, carrots, cantaloupe, watermelon, bunching onions, basil, and chick peas. Yeah…. I think that’s everything.

Still managing to work out six days a week. Running three days, and doing my old Power Half Hour DVDs from Beach Body three days. I’d been training for the Yellowstone Double Bison (back-to-back 5k and half marathon in early June) but that was cancelled earlier this week. I opted to defer to the virtual race version, so I’ll still get some swag plus a $75 credit toward a future race.

While I do miss many of the exercises that I was able to do at the gym, I don’t really miss being at the gym. I’ve got the space in my laundry room. I think I’d like to invest in an adjustable bench (incline/flat/decline) and some weights. I’m hoping that a bit further down the road I’ll be able to score a gonga deal at a yard sale or something as people start trying to clear out the workout gear they panic-bought at the start of all this. But now is not the time for that. Not yet.

My annual physical which had been rescheduled to a phone call was eventually cancelled. (Makes sense, how do you do a physical exam over the phone anyway?) I checked in with my doctor about my blood lab results from March and his response was “Nothing of concern.” So that’s that until in-person appointments can happen safely again.

My weight progress is still maddeningly slow. I credit this largely to getting lazy at times about my calorie logging. Being in the house – where all my food also happens to live – has also made me a bit more likely to snack than when I’m at work and the only food I have is what I brought with me for the day. And there’s the part where I’m not burning quite as many calories as I was before the world stopped. I’m floating between two and five pounds away from Ultimate Goal Weight, depending on the day.

It’s frustrating to be so close and not see marked movement in that direction. Some days I just want to call it “good enough” but I’ve come so far, it would be a shame to give up when I’m so close. I’ll get there. “The body will do what the body will do.” “The less you have to lose, the harder it is to lose.” “Trust the system.” These are all the things I say to friends in my r/loseit challenge team when they’re struggling. I need to take my own advice.

The thing that has ultimately been the most difficult for me in all this is being unable to play music with my friends. Oh, I’ve got a couple of different remote projects going on with different folks, and I’ve been making music on my own to help myself stay grounded. But it’s not the same as that energy that happens when you’re in the same room as other people, playing live. Or even better, at a venue playing music with friends for a bunch of people, everyone’s energy feeding off each other… It’s something special. And I miss it so very much.

This is the playlist I’m keeping of my “Quarantine” music.

My brain is stupid

That’s it, really. My brain makes me see things as they aren’t, and I tend to believe it no matter what others tell me.

I log my weight in MyFitnessPal every morning without fail, and the resulting graph is pretty zig-zaggy. That’s okay. I know weight loss is not linear and as long as things generally trend downwards, it’s all good. But I do start to get down on myself for the graph not trending downward as quickly as I think it should be. Default view each morning is the last month’s worth of weigh-ins. So I zoom out to 2 months, then 3 months, then 6, then since my starting weight in March 2018.

That last graph is pretty damn impressive, if I may say so. But that doesn’t keep my asshole of a brain from deciding it’s not “good enough”. Then I scale the view to “All time”. That goes back to when I first started logging in MFP the last time I lost a significant amount of weight. That is the graph that puts things in perspective for me.

The above graph starts about 25 pounds into my last major loss streak. The lowest point was about when I ran my first half marathon, which is when I pretty much fell off the wagon health-wise. I find it fascinating how you can see how about once a year I’d have an “Oh crap, I need to get my shit together” moment, drop a few pounds, then just…. stop caring again. But seeing that huge drop at the end is super encouraging.

Also, this time around I’ve managed to keep up strength work in concert with my running. This is paying off in that I can wear the same clothes that I wore at my previous all-time low weight and they fit even better.

That brings us to last Friday morning. I was getting ready for work and every single shirt I put on felt like it fit like a circus tent. EVERYTHING was too big. So after work that day, I hit up the thrift shop for some new-to-me and better-fitting shirts. I tried on a full dozen shirts from the Large section. Three were too small and the rest were too big, so I decided to try on some stuff from the Medium section and you know what? THEY FIT.

I actually went home with four mediums and one small. (The small is still just a touch too small, but I liked it and could tell it should be comfortable soon so I went ahead and got it.) The problem was, I still didn’t feel like I looked any different in the mirror. So when I got home, I put together a side-by-side comparison of three photos. One from early March last year, and two from Friday – one in a medium shirt and one in the small.

Seeing those photos together, the difference is undeniable. But I still could not see the change without the “before” side-by-side.

Tonight I stopped by Target on my way home to pick up a new water bottle for running. On a whim, I decided to check out the clearance rack in menswear. There were a couple of shirts I really liked in the Medium section, so I tried them on. They fit so well that I couldn’t not buy them. And even better, I could see the change in myself without having to compare new photos to old photos! Here are my new new shirts:

So, yeah. My brain is a jerk but I’m starting to reign it in. Body dysmorphia is real, and it’s important to remember that.

C25K Report: Week 9

  • W9D1 (Mon)
    • Felt fine.  Was a little bummed that I only added a tenth of a mile to my W8 distances but then remembered that W9 runs are only two minutes longer than W8, so that’s about right.
    • Treated myself to the movies.  Decided to see the new Nutcracker flick.  Cute.  Enjoyed it, though the Mouse King was rather unnerving.  And the Mirlitons were terrifying.
      • Was planning on having a “movie lunch” of popcorn and soda.  Then I saw the calorie counts on the menu board, decided I didn’t want them that badly, and that I could wait until after the movie to get one of my favorite burgers on the way home.  Which is what I did.
    • I’m also going to take this film as an opportunity to plug my Switched-On Nutcracker album.  For those of you familiar with the old Switched-On Bach records, this is the same idea, just with selected pieces from the Nutcracker Suite.  All analog synth goodness, all played by me one track at a time, over and over and over and over and over.  No MIDI involved.  I’m pretty proud of it, even in the spots that are a little rough around the edges.  Please check it out.  And if you’re so inclined, you can even throw a few bucks my way.

  • REST DAY (Tues)
    • P90 Sculpt! Level 3-4
      • My Garmin crapped out about 80% of the way through.  Apparently 7% battery is not enough to get through this workout.
  • W9D2 (Wed)
    • COLD.  Not quite Minneapolis cold, but cold.  Wore two layers of long sleeves, wouldn’t have been a horrible idea to also wear two layers of long pants.  Note taken for Friday morning when temperatures should be similar to today.
  • REST DAY (Thurs)
    • No exercise today.
  • W9D3 (Fri)
    • FINISHED!  Mostly felt good, except for the little bit toward the end where I felt like I might puke.  Which was odd since I wasn’t pushing any harder than usual.  I suspect I was underhydrated.
    • Also, apparently the grumpy old men of my neighborhood come out to walk about a half hour after I usually finish my run.  At least, I’m assuming so given the number of them I passed on my way back home.  (Started my run about a half hour later than usual.)

This week’s rediscovered running music is…  well, there isn’t any.  Didn’t have anything come up this week that made me go, “YEAH!”

Since this marks my completion of C25K, I’ve registered for a 5K on December 1st to benefit arthritis research.  If you’d like to make a donation, you can do so here.  If not, no worries.  Everyone is asking for money this time of year.

C25K Report: Week 8

  • W8D1 (Tues)
    • Walk 5, run 28, walk 5 (all three days are the same)
    • Felt WAY better than the last two runs of Week 7.
    • Environment felt… strange.  Like, quasi-unsafe strange.  Kept my pepper spray ready in my hand for most of the run.
    • Think I’ve almost got my stride length figured out in my Garmin app.  C25K app logged 2.87 miles, and my Garmin watch tracked 2.82.  That’s only about a 105 foot difference.  It’s definitely better than the Garmin adding nearly half a mile to my actual distances.
  • REST DAY (Wed)
    • No exercise today.  Woke up too late and there wasn’t enough time after work.
    • Learned that I like Eritrean food.  Very much a lot.
  • W8D2 (Thurs)
    • Time was operating very strangely this morning.  I’m not convinced I was really out there for the full 38 minutes, despite what the C25K app and my activity band say.
    • Garmin step-counter recorded about a tenth of a mile shorter than the C25K app’s GPS tracking.  Still close enough for government work, I think.  For now, at least.
  • REST DAY (Fri)
    • No “proper” exercise, but I did move a bunch of printers around at work.
    • Also relocated all of my drums from the guest room closet at one end of the house to the laundry room shelves at the other end of the house.  Oh… and then had to figure out what to do with all the junk from the laundry room shelves.  Definitely worked up a good sweat with all that.
  • W8D3 (Sat)
    • Edited down my running playlist to remove the tunes it kept insisting on playing every week.
      • Seriously, what’s up with that?  My playlist was like 8 hours long!  How was it playing the same tracks so often on shuffle?  Anyway.  It’s about 5 hours long now.
    • 2.94 miles.  Felt good.  Just one more week to go!
  • REST DAY (Sun)
    • P90 Sculpt Level 3-4

This week’s rediscovered running music is “Would You Like To Go To The Rock And Roll Show?” by The Bittersweet Way.  You wouldn’t expect this version of this tune to be particularly conducive to running, but it just seemed to fit a dark, cool morning.  It also helped me keep a maintainable pace.

C25K Report: Week 7

  • W7D1 (Wed)
    • Walk 5, run 25, walk 5 (days 2 & 3 are the same)
    • It’s that awkward time of year when it’s just a touch too chilly for shorts and short sleeves when I head out, but not cold enough for long pants and long sleeves once I get going.  Have compromised with running shorts and a hoodie these last couple of runs.  Seems to be working fine so far.
  • REST DAY (Thurs)
    • P90 Sculpt 1-2
  • W7D2 (Fri)
    • Legs felt a little tired.  Willing to chalk that up to poor sleep thanks to the take-home sleep test I did the night before.
    • Wanted to stop for a walk break at the half-way turnaround point, but pushed through.
  • REST DAY (Sat)
    • P90 Sculpt 3-4
      • Felt like I was having trouble sticking with P90, maybe because I was getting bored with it, so decided to try the Level 3-4 DVD.
      • First three rounds are the same as the three rounds of Level 1-2, except at a quicker pace and with a major increase in push-up and squat reps.  Fourth round is new exercises.
      • Kicked.  My.  Ass.
  • W7D3 (Sun)
    • SUCKED.  Serious DOMS in my legs – particularly my thighs – from the new P90 routine.  Felt like I was fighting for every step.  Made it through, though.
    • Also, if you find yourself wondering the night before a run if you’ve charged your running headphones?  Just charge them anyway.  Made it *almost* all the way out and back before they died.
  • REST DAY (Mon)
    • Actual rest day.  Okay, maybe a walk before dinner.  But that’s it.

This week’s rediscovered running music is Venjan by Hurdy-Gurdy.  Helped me find my zen place at the end of W7D1.  I can’t find it streaming anywhere, but you can check out a snippet here.

C25K Report: Week 5

  • W5D1 (Fri)
    • walk 5, run 5, walk 3, run 5, walk 3, run 5, walk 5
    • Not awful, but I wasn’t too worried about it.  Days 2 and 3 (especially 3) however…  Yikes.  This is where it ramps up fast.  Which I guess makes sense.  Next run is the half-way point for Active’s version of C25K.
    • P90 Sweat 1-2 and Ab Ripper 100
      • Decided after work to see if running helped my endurance with this at all.  It did, but I still can’t quite make it all the way through yet.  Damn run-lunges and cross-hops are hard.
  • REST DAY (Sat)
    • P90 Sculpt 1-2
    • My abs hurt from yesterday.
    • Orchestra rehearsal.
  • W5D2 (Sun)
    • walk 5, run 8, walk 5, run 8, walk 5
    • Wasn’t entirely sure about those 8 minute run segments, but a chill tune came up in my playlist when the first run started and reminded me to slow down.  Got through it just fine.  Didn’t burn out but didn’t have a whole lot left in the tank at the end, either.
    • Abs are still a little sore.
  • REST DAY (Mon)
    • Travel Day (attending JNUC 2018)
  • W5D3 (Tues)
    • walk 5, run 20, walk 5
    • IT’S FARKING COLD HERE!!!
    • Made it through the 20 minute run just fine, actually.  Only real issue was that I got turned around in the park by my hotel, so I didn’t make it back to my starting point by the time the app said the workout was finished.  Well, that and it was 34°F outside.
    • JNUC Day 1
  • REST DAY (Wed)
    • P90 Sculpt 1-2
    • Feeling frustrated because of my weigh-ins while traveling.  I know part of it is the increased sodium intake and decreased of rest. I also didn’t weigh my clothes before leaving home and I usually weigh nekkid, so there are a couple of pounds accounted for.  Plus, different scale, so there’s no telling its calibration.  I purposely moved to maintenance calories for this trip because I didn’t want to feel like I was failing by not meeting my deficit goal and I know things’ll even out once I’m home and back in my normal routines.  It’s just hard to focus on the big picture when I’m this tired.
    • JNUC Day 2

This week’s rediscovered running music is this instrumental version of Namaste by the Beastie Boys.  The chill vibe and laid-back groove helped me remember to slow down for the increasingly lengthening run segments.

Strange progress

I’ve had some interesting progress points recently.

First, my shorts refused to stay up today. I didn’t notice how loose they were before I left the house this morning, but the walk from the parking garage to the office was awkward at best. As was the walk from my office to the department where my work has been most heavily focused lately. It got to the point where I actually went up to the local drug store in hopes of finding a belt. (It was that, or attempt to use an ethernet cable from the surplus equipment pile.) Found one of those “As Seen on TV” click-belts for about $20 and decided it was worth the cost to avoid accidentally mooning*… well… anyone… as I walked around campus.

Given that experience, tonight I went into my bin of smaller shorts and pants and got to pull out a couple pairs of shorts which just about fit, and hopefully will be a better fit very soon. They’ve gone into the laundry bin so they’ll be freshly clean when I’m really ready to swap them in.

Now for the strangest thing. Tonight was cardio night with my P90 Sweat! Level 1-2 and Ab Ripper 100 DVD. I’ve been struggling to keep up with the pace and with having to modify some of the motions for quite some time. For whatever reason tonight I was able to keep pace with almost all of the exercises, and even was able to get through most of each of the more challenging exercises as demonstrated. (Those lunge-runs and cross-hops are tough!) I also inadvertently did the Ab Ripper 100 as Ab Ripper 110. It’s supposed to be 10 sets of 10 crunches and crunch-type exercises, but as I finished set 6 I realized I’d been counting to 11 for some reason. I figured I might as well finish the last four sets that way. Eleven. It’s ridiculous, it’s not even funny.

I have no clue where this extra energy and endurance came from so suddenly. Maybe it’s all the cross-campus walks I’ve had to take for work lately. Or maybe it’s because I’ve finally dropped enough weight to make all that jumping around easier to do. (I’m down 27 pounds as of this morning.) Or maybe it’s the new mustache wax I’m trying this week. I guess we’ll see whether this was a fluke or not next cardio day.

Oh, it’s been about two and a half weeks since I finished the Chantix. It took a week or so but I’ve started sleeping much better, which has been very nice. And I’m still smoke-free.

I injured my right shoulder a few weeks ago trying to push to heavier dumb bells too quickly on resistance days. Saw my doc about it yesterday and now have exercises along with an ice and ibuprofen regimen. If it doesn’t improve in a few weeks, then we’ll talk about PT.

*Mooning should always be intentional.

Tired. So tired.

Today is my fourth day on full-doses of the Chantix.  I have not been sleeping well since increasing the dose Sunday.  No issues with dreams until last night when I had couple of very vivid nightmares.  I won’t share details here but they were rather disturbing – to the point where I woke quite distressed.  Fortunately, I was able to wake up enough to calm down and remind myself that it was just the medication.

Anyway, I’m generally not resting well.  I’m hoping my body adjusts soon because I could really use a good, heavy sleep.  We’ll see what happens, I guess.  I struggled to avoid the cigarettes last night, but I think that’s more due to fatigue than anything else.  The important thing being that I did avoid them.

Managed to exercise 5 days last week and dropped another pound.  So that’s nice.  I’m not seeing or feeling any changes yet, but that’s just the paper towel effect.  What’s that?  Imagine a roll of paper towels.  Each sheet represents a pound.  If you take one sheet off a full roll it doesn’t look that different.  If you take one sheet off a nearly empty roll, you can visibly tell.  I’m still a full roll of paper towels.

I seem to be sticking to better eating habits, as well.  Avoiding the office snacks, ignoring drive-throughs, keeping bad food choices out of the house, more plants, less meat, eating breakfast again.

I also got a spice sampler from Penzey’s to help me easily switch things up in my very pattern-based cooking.  No, I did not pay the listed $35 for it.  They were giving it away for free a few weeks ago, so I got it for about $8 shipping.  It arrived this weekend. I’ve only tried the Galena Street spice mix so far.  Very tasty.  A little sweet, a little spicy.  I was particularly impressed with how it changed depending on what I was eating – savory on the lean bits of meat, sweet on the fattier bits, then sweet with a slow afterburn on the veggies. I’m looking forward to trying the other seven flavors.

Titles… meh.

So I only got 2 days of exercise in last week.  I think I went at it too hard Monday and Tuesday since I was so sore that I could barely walk Wednesday through Friday.  By Saturday morning the soreness was gone, but I was fighting our latest wave of cubicle plague.  I decided to take the weekend to rest.

So far this week I’m 4 for 4 on exercising after work.  Today will be day 5.  I’ve dusted off my Power 90 level 1/2 DVD and have been making use of that.  It has a structure, I’m already familiar with it, and it only takes half an hour or so.  (The cardio days take closer to 40 minutes if I do the “ab-ripper” bit they tack on at the end.) Plus, I can do it without leaving the house.  I know it’s too early to see any difference on the scale or in the way my clothes are fitting, but that’ll come if I stick with it.

Since at least January I’ve also been struggling – very much a lot – with the whole “I’m angry/stressed/bored/depressed. Screw it, I’m going to hit this drive through” thing.  Not just at meal times, but pretty much any time I’m out and about.  I know that food won’t fix my feelings.  I know this.  But it’s such an easy salve – even though I’m well aware that it’ll just leave me feeling worse after the fact.

So far this week I have avoided all drive-throughs.  Today was particularly challenging, given some recent developments that I can’t talk about.  (It’s okay.  I’m… well… I’m not fine, if I’m being completely honest.  But I’ll deal.) But I did it. I drove past all 10 drive throughs – and one Sonoran hot dog cart – that are along my usual route home. So there’s that.

Thanks for reading.

Small changes

Despite my best intentions to get out of bed early enough to exercise before work, it’s just not happening.  So I’ve decided that I need to just do it as soon as I get home from work.  I’m 2 for 2 on making that happen this week.  Here’s hoping I stick with it.  I’m rather sore from yesterday’s exercise today – which made today’s exercise a challenge – but I know if I just keep going, my body will adjust and the muscle soreness will go away.

Also, I’ve changed up my grocery shopping patterns.  I was a loyal Albertsons customer for years, mostly because they didn’t require any sort of “loyalty membership” to get the best prices.  That, and they offered a 10% discount every Saturday with my university ID card.  Unfortunately, that’s all gone out the window.  Albertsons has started a so-called loyalty program where you have to make an account, download an app, put in your phone number at checkout, blahblahblah.  They also did away with their university discount at the same time.

And then there’s the part where their new pricing patterns are ridiculous.  In one instance the app showed one sale price for a particular item, the sale tag on the item in the store showed a different slightly higher price, and then there was an “e-coupon” thing below the shelf sale price with a QR code where if you scanned it with the app you got a third, lower price.  I don’t want to have to look three different places to figure out which way I’m going to get the best price.  And half the time, the discounts didn’t even come off at checkout when I did put in my phone number, requiring me to then stand in line at Customer Service to get a refund.  Also at the same time they started doing loyalty thing, they did away with the university discount.  But I kept going there for months entirely out of habit.

I’ve finally decided my privacy isn’t worth whatever few dollars I was “saving” – or selling my data to them for, really.  So I’ve started doing most of my shopping at Sprouts.  While they do have a membership thing to get their sale flyers in an email and an app and all that, you don’t have to *use* it to get their advertised sale prices.  If it’s on sale, you get that price no matter who you are or what information you give them.  (In my case, no information.)  And I’m finding that their sale prices are actually pretty darn good.

I’ve actually been spending about the same amount – if not less – each week than I was at Albertsons, even with their stupid loyalty “discount”.  And I’m generally buying better food, too.  Mostly because I’m not buying nearly as many convenience items – which were also not helping with my weight.  While Sprouts does have a fair selection of those types of things (frozen pizza, fish sticks, boxed mac & cheese, etc.), their prices are generally higher than I want to pay for those products.  So I buy more produce, fresh meats, and nuts instead.  Which I know is better for me any way.  And now that I know I don’t want to pay what they’re asking for the convenience products, I don’t even look at them.  Temptation, removed.

So, yeah.  I’m still hovering around my highest weight ever right now.  But I’m hoping these choices will help change that.

I also picked up some big plastic tubs to sort out some issues in my closet.  I have a ton of clothes in there from when I lost all the weight before, but I can’t fit into them now.  Frankly, it’s rather depressing when I see it all hanging there as I get dressed every morning.  So I’ll be sorting through the closet and packing away the smaller clothes for now.  Then, in the future, I can take the smaller clothes out of the bins and replace them with my “fat clothes” as I slim back down.  That’s the plan, at least.  Here’s hoping it helps.  We’ll see how it goes.