Saturday, November 7, 2015

4 Weeks Into My Comeback

It's hard to believe, but we've been back from our memorable holiday 4 weeks, meaning I am 4 weeks into my new job and therefore 4 weeks into my new lifestyle.

My new schedule is that of a normal working person - 7.5 hours of work a day - but since I usually work from home, I can often flex my schedule to accommodate my workout plans. This lends well to taking advantage of daylight hours for a midday run or hike, or to fit things in like fitness classes and lap swims that are on a set schedule. I simply schedule it in, and then schedule in when/how to make up the work time afterwards. The result has been that I get in 5 or 6 workouts a week, but also there has been a lot of variety in those workouts.

While I'm working out 5-6 times a week, I've been cautious in my comeback to not push myself too hard too fast. That's often my problem - I am way too competitive with myself and I have a hard time relaxing. It was the secret to my success losing 130lbs by myself, because I didn't need anyone to help me do it. I simply pushed myself, monitored my progress, pushed harder when needed. I trained myself to run marathons the same way - just go harder, do more, learn more, all in. But this work ethic has also been a factor in me injuring myself a few times - I often don't listen to my body's cues that it's done and needs a break. I keep pushing and then my body breaks down. I am not going to make this mistake again. Well, at least I'm going to try very hard not to. Variety has allowed my body to not suffer any overuse issues, but I also am cautious about what I plan to begin with.

The challenge this time around is that after 6 months of being in a much-too-stressful job meant that I put on weight. This was my first time gaining weight since I lost it all. That was honestly the first sign I needed a change in career - I was undoing all the hard work I had done. How do you lose 15lbs of weight without going "too hard"? My big dilemma.

I don't believe in dieting to lose weight rapidly, so my approach has been all about proper planning. What this means is that each week I plan my entire week's workouts before the week starts so I know exactly what I need to do every day. I schedule my 3 runs depending on weather forecasts, weekend free time, or when I know I am working from home and can get a daylight run in without the early wake-up call I hate, I schedule my two gym workouts and use my personal trainer brain to plan the workouts too so I have a plan before I arrive to the gym. And then each week, I schedule at least one fun workout just "because". The runs are to make me a better runner. The gym is to balance out the running to ensure I stay, well, balanced. And the "just because" workout is to keep my soul happy. I've done a few cool things for the soul workouts, including lap swims, fitness classes, boxing, and hiking. I'm loving this idea!

The other part of the planning process is nutrition, and this is key. Nutrition is often the thing that goes out the window when you're stressed. I wouldn't say I was stress-eating or binging etc., not the things I used to do when I was that fat girl I once was. But it's more the thinking through the food or meal-planning wasn't happening for those 6 months. I would get home late in the day and eat whatever I felt like it just because I was both sleepy and starving. They weren't necessarily unhealthy choices, but perhaps not the right choices based on what I'd already had that day, and often quick choices because I was anxious to get to sleep. Now I plan the week's meals in advance and buy groceries accordingly. And with each day, I make conscious choices on what to eat and when to eat rather than just grabbing what's on my mind or what is available when I'm already too hungry to see straight.

The result of all this planning and healthy living has been a loss of 6lbs so far. Most of that was right at the beginning, but I'm still dropping inches all over. I suppose some muscle I'd lost before is getting a second chance to shine too. My body is changing even if the scale isn't moving as rapidly. I still have 10lbs I want to lose, but I'm not worried about losing it too fast. I don't have a timeline I want to lose it by either. I know it will happen naturally with continued healthy choices. I've done this before and I can do it again (but this time it's just 10lbs) with an approach that will be sustainable moving forward.

The big key isn't the diet or the exercise really, but the fact I've eliminated stress from my life. I have time and energy to give to my relationships. Going on dates with my husband is a reality again. I sleep well and wake up without an alarm most days. I wake up refreshed and ready to take on each day. I have a smile on my face and I am slowly regaining my self-confidence.

Yes, I said it - I lost my self-confidence. I am regaining my self-confidence. I got to a point where I was very low and was seeing my doctor not only about my back injury but because I was feeling low. Now things are changing, slowly. I have my days where I feel awesome, athletic, strong, and confident. And there are days where I feel fat, ashamed for putting weight on and losing my athleticism, days where I hate what I see in the mirror. But the days of awesome are slowly starting to outnumber the unawesome days.

I have to step back and realize that I am human and it's OK to struggle from time to time. I was strong enough to make the changes I needed to enable a healthy life again rather than settling for my status quo. I have a plan and a fire within me, and I will be my old self in no time at all. And I also know I have a tendency to be harder on myself than I need to be. I am still awesome. That hasn't changed. As I said, I am now having more days of feeling awesome than days of not feeling awesome. I may not be as fit as I was, but I'm still damn fit, and that's only after 4 weeks of giving it my all. Imagine after a few more months! I'm going to be a force to be reckoned with.

So here's the plan....

  1. Keep being awesome! Keep smiling, keep planning, keep making smart, informed choices about my workouts and nutrition.
  2. Keep the variety! Keep scheduling soul workouts in addition to the ones that are needed to make me a better runner. Gotta keep it interesting! And if I enjoy a variety of healthy food too, I'll be excited about making each meal.
  3. My workout plan ... bear with me, I'm writing this out for me mostly, but perhaps you'll find it interesting :)
    • October the focus was on getting back 
      • stabilization at the gym for my silly hips, working on lessening the imbalances in my body, mobilizing what I need to, stabilizing what I need to.
      • slow running only, nothing timed, working on re-building my endurance and ability to run pain-free. My goal was to get to the point where I could run 10km without stopping and without pain, and I have gotten to that point with success!
    • November focus is strength / endurance
      • Gym work now more strength based, but with lower weights and lots of reps. I'll continue some stabilization work on the areas I still need it
      • Running will be about gradually building my weekend long run up to 16km and 1 weekday hill training run to build strength. Still running without timing myself. It's just about getting it done.
    • December focus is strength
      • Make the weights heavier at the gym! I love working with the heavy stuff!
      • Keep my weekend long runs up at the 16km range, allowing off-weeks where I max at 10km. I will start using GPS again so I can focus on pacing again. I will also take my hill training up a notch and introduce some track work.
    • January!
      • I should be ready to start running with my group for our Tuesday interval training again (I miss it so much) and hopefully more power-based gym workouts to complement. My goal is to have a 2016 of peak fitness and awesome racing! When my first half marathon in April comes along, I want it to be about doing well, rather than about just doing it to finish.

So there you have it! I have already registered for a few races in 2016 and have planned out the others I wish to do. I couldn't be more excited, but part of this is doing the April Fool's Run again for the 5th year in a row. And for the 3rd time, I am blog ambassador. Come join me in this awesome run! Visit for more information and to register!