There's only one reason why I would put up, on the open internet, quite possibly the worst picture of me, ever. Or at least one of them. (I can think of a few others that are appalling.)
To show what a difference a year makes. Or in reality? SIX MONTHS.
Ready? *deep breath*
Wait, was it 2 or 3 months ago I was complaining that I go to the gym, but I still look the same?
"As a side note (which in my mind is a Huge Main Plot Point), after over 3 months of going to the gym... it still doesn't look like I go to the gym (and seriously push myself when I am there). This is hard for me to accept. My best friend tells me she can see a difference but that's what best friends are for."
The picture on the left is my young cousin Dana* and I, letterboxing in a cemetery last summer. Dana has always been a chubby girl. She has asthma and prefers to stay inside reading in her free time.
* I thought this was obvious but I guess not. DANA is 23 years old. She was born when I was in college. She has dark blond hair and wears glasses. I am over 40. I have very dark hair. Obviously I am the one in the red shirt. I am not 22 years old or even close to it. I might seem younger just because I can seem so immature, and of course due to my undying love for *NSYNC. Also, DANA has lost 50 lbs. I have not.
As I've mentioned here before, I've been in chronic pain for almost two years. I lost whatever fitness I had ever achieved during my short attempt at running (which I loved, and I miss it). I not only gained weight, a lot of my body just turned to flub. Last summer I could barely walk. Maybe a block or two, with me feeling the onset of pain the whole time. Getting in and out of my car -- pain. Lowering myself into my chair at work -- pain. Bending over to pick up something I dropped -- sometimes impossible.
We went letterboxing last summer once together (with friend Amelia) because these boxes were ones we could drive to, and the search involved only a little bit of walking.
I called Dana a couple of weeks ago and I invited her to go hiking with me at Volo Bog, quite possibly my favorite place ever. (I LOVE jello people -- but fear not, there are no human remains at Volo Bog.)
Dana was excited: "I've never been hiking before!"
Me: "Well it's just like walking, only without any sidewalks."
So we drove out there and took a walk on the trail through the center of the bog, where a nice man came upon us and kindly took our picture.
When I looked at that picture -- seen above... I was shocked.
In January, Dana and her mom started the South Beach diet. As Dana told me, she read the book and realized South Beach was how she ate anyway, minus any "junk". All she had to do was make a few small adjustments to her regular eating, and stop eating the junk. With her mom on the same journey, she had support at home, and she has lost close to 50 lbs, all without exercising at all. Her mom has lost a bit over 30 lbs. And they are eating far more whole grains and vegetables as well. Good job!
But then there's me. I haven't changed my eating much. Still addicted to my daily Coke. I still like pizza and I eat it once in a while. Fast food is more of a treat now, but I still hit the drive thru once a week or so. I get a little ice cream a few times a week as a treat. I do like veggies and I do like fruit. I make my own lunch and eat dinner at home more often. I switched to whole wheat pasta but I can't stand most whole wheat breads I've tried.
Today so far I have consumed:
- a (small) slice of this blueberry loaf from the grocery store bakery
- a ziplock bag full of strawberries
- a Campbells Healthy Choice chicken noodle soup
- a Chiobani pineapple Greek yogurt
- half a bottle of diet Coke
- a little over half a bottle of regular Coke
- a strawberry ice cream bar
- half a bottle of V8 peach ice tea (with vegetable juice in it) (yuck)
See? No dieting. For dinner I will probably have a PBJ sandwich. Or maybe 2 plain hot dogs on white buns. Some skim milk. Or water.
No, this is me, after going to the gym for 6 months. Weekly. Not daily. Not 3-4-5 times a week. Nope. Once a week, occasionally twice. And sometimes I skip it, if I am doing something else that weekend and I can't fit it in. But I go. I go regularly. When I am there, I work hard. I am usually there over an hour, sometimes about 90 minutes. I've listed my gym routine before.
I don't own a scale and I have not been weighed at the doctor since last summer. I know my clothes fit better. I bought some new bras and they are a smaller size. Everything else kind of seems the same. I am wearing the same clothes, mostly. A couple things don't fit as well as they used to.
But holy moly. I could finally see it. Results. The camera adds 10 lbs and I was not cringing at this photo. Yes, I am standing up straight, which looks better than sitting down. Yes, I have my abs pulled in because I have abs now and I can pull them in. I look at my arm and my shoulders, and oh how I hate the arm exercises, but oh how proud I am of that arm and shoulder.
I am done with physical therapy now too. I can walk. I can stand. I have no pain. Dana and I walked about 2 miles total. We were in the car a good 90 minutes there and the same back. I was not stiff or in pain when I got out of the car. I felt good.
Last month, I signed up for and tried a Bar Method class. It did not go well. I lasted maybe 25 minutes. I could do the arm workout, and the plank position, and I even did a regular push up. Just one, but I was excited! However, my old nemesis, the shin splints, came back when we moved to the bar. I tried to push through the pain but shortly, I could not even stand. I hobbled out feeling humiliated.
After I recovered from that embarrassment, I thought about it. And guess what. I consider that 25 minutes to be a triumph. Internetz, a few months ago I could not have stood for 25 minutes of a fitness class. I could not have done the plank position. I could not have done even ONE push up. I did all the arm exercises (done with weights, and they are hard). I did the warm up. I stood a good chunk of time. This is amazing progress.
These day I am lifting a lot of weight on the calf machines at the gym. I'm up over 110lbs. I am determined to strengthen that part of my body. I have also changed my chest and shoulder routines, bc I want to do more than one push up. So I have increased my weight amount significantly. Less reps, but a lot more weight.
So this is where I am at. Physically. After I started going to the gym, just to relieve my physical stress. Now I enjoy my body. I don't love every part of it, and I still cringe sometimes, but I have stopped hating. I have stopped loathing. Now I appreciate. Now I am amazed. Now I am thankful.
Once a week. That's all it took. Once a week, consistently, at least 2 times a month, sometimes 3, sometimes 4 or 5. That's it. And this is a habit I can continue. I went to the gym on Sunday, and I worked, and I was sweaty and it was good.
I still have that !@#$#! double chin. But even that I see is getting smaller over time. This makes me happy. So I am not thin. Nope. Probably never will be. But I am strong. And I love it. Happy.