Okay, it's story time. In 1998 I weighed 225 lbs and had pretty much reached the end of my rope. For years I had been the aerobics queen and that kept my weight kind of under control, but in 1995 I went back to college and aerobics fell by the wayside. By 1998 I had gained a ton of weight and decided I needed to do something about it. I have a picture from that time of me holding our new puppy, Nala the pit bull. She has this look on her face that's like, "Please don't let the fat lady eat me!!" I keep this picture in a frame in my room because I'm never going back there. But I digress.
So, it's 1998, I'm huge and need to get into shape. I start with walking. I live .2 miles from the entrance to one of the nicest parks on Oahu. The road into the park is .3 miles. So if I walked to the park in and out and back to my house it's 1 mile. I thought that is a great place to start. Do you know that first walk took me over 30 minutes!!!! 30 minutes to go 1 mile, dear God I was out of shape. Anyway, I kept it up everyday. Eventually I added more loops through the park gradually increasing my mileage. In just under 1 year I had lost over 50 lbs and was feeling pretty darn great.
One of my secret dreams for years had been to do a marathon. Completing a marathon, in my mind, was the epitome of fitness (realize I had never heard of triathlon at this point). However, due to a high school injury, I have no cartlidge in my right knee (surgery was done before arthroscopy was used) and thought I could never run. I started a walking program secretly planning on doing the Honolulu marathon in 1999 until I realized, I can't walk. Walking causes all kinds of pain in my legs and feet and it's just not worth it. I thought my dreams of a marathon were over.
One day I'm sitting watching TV and they were interviewing a football player who had to have knee surgery. He was explaining how his cartlidge had been severely damaged and they had to remove most of it but he would be back on the field within 8 weeks. Something in my head clicked. If this guy could play football after losing most of his cartlidge I should be able to run 26.2 miles. That day I started running.
I started slowly at first, I could not even complete the mile through the park and home, but I kept it up and eventually I was running 3 miles at a stretch. I joined a training program and trained for the 2001 Honolulu marathon. 3 weeks before the marathon I suffered a hamstring injury but I had come so far I decided I was going to do it even if I walked. And I did it. It was the most amazing thing and one of my proudest accomplishments even now.
I still wasn't "sold" on the whole athletic thing yet. I did not believe for one second that I could in any way be considered an athlete. My running slacked off after that, in fact I took up karate and pretty much stopped running all together. Needless to say the weight began to creep up. Then, in November of 2002 I spent 3 weeks in Kenya and had no control over my food and, trust me, they do not serve anything diet in Kenya. By December 2002 I was back up to almost 185 lbs. I knew it had to stop right then and there.
I tried for months to lose weight on my own. I went back to aerobics and tried to watch my diet but nothing was really working. In October 2003 I returned to the tried and true, Weight Watchers. I quickly lost 25 lbs and was down to my lowest weight ever (well, at least in my adult life) and feeling just amazing. It was around this time triathlons started to make an appearance in my life. My boss has done 23 Ironman's and is truly an amazing athlete. But she is so far out of my league I never even considered triathlons. Then I heard about this cool thing called a sprint tri. Wow, that was exciting. That sounded like something I could do.
So I began my training and in October 2004 I completed my first sprint tri. Wow!!! What a rush!! I absolutely loved it and was hooked. I was an athlete. I wasn't the fastest but I wasn't the slowest. I had completed something most people will never try. I was on a high I'd never had before and I loved it. I wanted to do it again. Since that was pretty much the end of the season I decided to really train and do some the following year.
During that year something happened to me. Somehow I lost my ability to view myself as an athlete. I gained a couple of pounds but that wasn't it. All those doubts I'd ever had about myself seemed to plague me all the time. I ended up only entering 1 tri in 2005 and then totally freaking out during the swim. Boy was I discouraged. I felt like my time as an athlete, however short lived, was over. I was destined to be just average and not complete another tri. I started to fall into a depression.
Somehow I started to get it back. On January 18th I did a post and had a perfect mental picture of my inner athlete. Since that times workouts have been easier. It's easier to get up in the morning and dragging my sleepy butt to the pool. It's been easier to come home at night and ride the trainer while I watch TV. I've been trying to train with No Limits and it has been easier to do that. Yet still I insist on undermining myself.
I got a new heartrate monitor and decided I was really going to work on building my aerobic capacity. They have a little test you do to help you determine what your max heartrate is. I did it and calculated it and found out that the 220-your age, was pretty close in my case. Okay, cool. For the past 2 weeks I've been training in my aerobic zone and have kept thinking, this is too easy. Either, a) I'm in much worse aerobic condition than I thought, or b) my max HR is totally wrong.
This morning I was doing the elliptical when I decided to do something a little different. Instead of setting the HR monitor to beep when I go over my zone, I'm going to used the perceived exertion scale. If I can talk reasonably well I'm okay. So off I go. I was really flying yet still able to talk decently (the dogs kept running over thinking I was talking the them :). My HR average 150 and yet I felt great; in fact, I felt better than I have during a workout in 2 weeks. I felt like I worked yet wasn't exhausted. I could have gone on at that rate for days. So I try to figure out how to solve this problem. Since I can't really test my max HR without dying and there is no where around here that can do the medical tests necessary (that's not totally true, there is a place but the cost is prohibitive) I need to try and figure a way out of this. I decided that the tests I did weren't accurate and decided I would take them again. I whip out the little HR book and look over the tests. Then I notice a little chart. You are supposed to take your HR from the tests, look up your category in the little chart and add those numbers together, that gives your max HR. I'm looking at the little chart and realized, at least part, of the problem. The chart has 3 categories of fitness; below average, average, above average. 1 guess what category I initially chose!! Average. The above average category gives me a slightly higher max HR (though I still think it's not high enough). What the hell was I thinking???? I am not of average fitness!!! Average fitness is someone who walks 30 minutes 5 days a week!!! I swim over a mile 3 times a week - hello!!! I run 6-8 miles a couple of times a week, no problem. I can bike till my legs fall off!!! I AM NOT AVERAGE!!!! I AM AN ATHLETE!!!!!!
How do I get that fat, out of shape, 225 lb person out of my head. When I think of myself my first thoughts are overweight, not in as good a shape as I want to be, may never do an Ironman. Why do I go to these things. I am amazing!! I do things most people will never dream of doing. Why can't I focus on the positive and not the negative? The worst part is that just when I think I finally have it conquered, it sneaks back in before I even realize it. I can lose 2 days of workouts before I realize that it's this negative talk in my head. Oh god, how do I stop it???? Once I'm aware of what's going on I can beat her into submission (I've actually gotten good at that) but she's gotten sneaker and sneaker. Invading my head and getting a hold before I even realize it. I'm not sure how to fight this.
I think what I need to do is set myself a training schedule and not deviate from it no matter what. Every training session I get in keeps her at bay longer and longer. It's the sessions I miss that allow her to sneak in. I guess that's what I'll have to do. Even if I'm injured and/or sick there are still things I can do. Wait, that's it!!! I'll schedule an alternative!! So if there is a run on the schedule I'll also plan yoga that way if for some reason I can't run I'll do yoga. That's it!!! Instead of trying to wing an alternate plan, I'll have an alternate plan. That's where I get thrown off track. When I can't do what I planned I have trouble improvising, especially at night after coming home from work - I can't think!!! Oh my god, that's so perfect!!! So I'll schedule a run, or the elliptical ( I can do this anytime).
Sometimes talking it out is all it takes. I've never laid it out from beginning to end before and once I did I could see the problem clearly and can see the cure!! Wow, do I feel better.
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