Archive for the ‘exercise’ Category

Another Full Body Experiment

The one thing about learning to really love your body is that there is not a lot to talk about. It’s just like when you’re in a relationship with another person. When it’s shitty, you can’t shut up and there’s usually an audience for that. When it’s going great, you forget about it – not that any one wants to hear about it anyway.

But a few weeks (cough, months) ago, my sister sent me another email about the importance for weightlifting for women over 40. Since I’m 43 (and I read the same stuff that my sister does) this came as no surprise. Then, the very next day, just minutes after I said to my husband, ‘I really need to start doing something with weights…..” I opened my email and in my inbox was an info product ad.

It came through someone who I know (who is an online entrepreneur). And I trust this guy, so I thought, surely he wouldn’t be hocking junk. And then I clicked on the 30 minute marketing video while I was drinking my green smoothie. And within 5 minutes, I was hooked. (I know a little about marketing and let me just say that this guy did his homework). I had my credit card out before the water for my tea had boiled.

I won’t bore you with the details of the program. However, it was a 12 week weight workout (similar to, but not nearly as crazy as P90X, which I had done several times in my 30s), and an eating schedule. I say schedule, because you can eat whatever you want, but they want you to rotate your calories so that you confuse your metabolism. It goes like this: for the first two weeks, you eat “down” 5 days and then eat “up” on the sixth day and then you repeat the process.

My down days are 1,250 net calories and my up days are 1,885 calories.

The one thing I realized is that I have not been eating very much. My net calories are usually closer to 700 (or less). Because I love cardio (still!) hitting the down day numbers are hard for me. Which makes me think that I had probably crashed my metabolism without realizing it.

So, I’m on week three of this program. The exercises are getting harder (the reverse lunge with press is my current “favorite”). I haven’t really gained any weight, I’ve lost inches, and I’m eating like a PIG. It’s quite interesting. It’s also funny to be in the position of worrying about eating enough calories, as opposed to eating too much.

Additionally, I sort of went Paleo about the time that I started this program. I say sort of because I’m not doing the whole bacon as an appetizer, main course, and dessert thing that you see on line. But I have upped my egg intake and cut my carbs dramatically, though I’m still eating over 100 carbs a day in veggies and stuff. Insight: you don’t get hungry when you’re not eating carbs.

I’ve decided that the day before my next “up” day, I am going to eat a bunch of carbs before I go to bed so that I’ll be ravenous the next day. Actually, as I look at my calendar, that would be today!

The other thing that I really like about this program (which is really just counting calories and resistance training) is that the producers are really working hard at breaking the associations with “good” or “bad” foods. Here you can have anything – you just have to count (and account for) the calories.

I’ll keep you posted. So far, so good. Because in addition to the loss of inches, the pushups, planks, and the variety of lunges are getting easier. And, even though it feels totally counter intuitive, eating a lot of actually sort of fun.

Forgive my absence: I’m in love

Isn’t it funny how people always have plenty to say when things are going bad, but not a lot to say when things are going well?

It’s sort of like the news. If you just watched the news, you would assume that we’re pretty much living in hell, because all of the good things that go on in the world don’t seem “newsworthy.” It’s also like your friend who only has bad things to say about their partner/boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife.

So we live in a society where bad news is newsworthy and we’d rather bitch about our lives than celebrate. Lovely.

Having given this topic some thought recently, I’ve come up with a couple of possible explanations of why this might be the case.

1) When life, love, diet, etc. are going well, we’re simply too busy enjoying life to whip off a blog post or call up a friend.

2) We’ve all been socialized not to brag – which, ironically, may have unintentionally sucked all of the celebration out of our lives.

3) We’re socially predisposed to not notice the good and only notice the bad.

4) We’ve been taught (there’s that socialization word again, different spelling) that bad news is the only news worth reporting. (What is that old saying: no news is good news?) And while that maybe true, how would it change our lives – if not the world – if we not only focused on the good, but also shared, reported, and celebrated it?

So, in the interest of experimentation: I’m in love!

Now, I’ve been in love with my partner, soon to be husband, for a while now and that has not changed, other than ripening with each passing day. However, I have recently discovered a new love – actually, three new loves. (I started to write, “It seems almost like an embarrassment of riches, doesn’t it?”, when I realized that was just me who’s been told – repeatedly by well intentioned people who had it told to them – too much of a good thing does not a good thing make or, better yet, no one likes a braggart!)

So, who are my new loves?

Love number one, hoop dance. About a month ago, I purchased a 3.5 pound fitness hoop on amazon. It was the first hula hoop I’d ever owned. I could barely get it around my waist once and I would only hoop when Michael was downstairs. Even though I’m sure he could hear it clattering against the hardwood floor, at least he wasn’t watching. Within a few weeks, I was hooping up to an hour a day and just recently, I’ve made the jump to dance. This is literally the most fun…ever. I’m not doing a lot of the fancy tricks yet, but I am exploring space and dancing. It’s fun. It’s feminine. It’s a killer workout. And when I used to sit down and whip off a blog about food or diet, I now go and pick up the hoop. And perhaps even more importantly, instead of putting something in my mouth, I’ll go pick up the hoop. And did I mention the number of inches I’ve lost, in just a month? I’ll be posting my hoop reviews shortly (as I now have quite the collection, in a host of colors).

Love number two: Brittany. Now, this may sound a little woo-woo, but bear with me. I’ve been working with a coach who specializes in inner child work (which, until I started doing it myself, I’d always assumed was a bunch of hooey; well, turns out, it’s not). For about a year, I’ve been aware of my inner child, Kathy Jo and I’ve cultivated a very good relationship with her. Bottom line, when I take care of her, my needs to “act out” in terms of drinking, over eating, binging, procrastinating, etc, really diminish. During a recent session with my coach, I closed my eyes and there was Kathy Jo: cool. But there was another child with her, slightly older, who was skinny (which was weird, because I don’t really think of any of the iterations of my past in those terms) and dressed somewhat like an orphan. It took a while, but eventually she told me her name: Brittany. Brittany is older than Kathy Jo and she is the part of me with abandonment issues. She is also the part of me who wants to be the center of attention. It took several days to finally get into relationship with Brittany, but now that we have, my entire life seems easier and I am much more at ease in my body and in the world. Because now that I have recognized her and am in relationship with her, it’s easier for me to just be and my desire for recognition (and security) seems much less persistent.

And finally, love number three: myself. I have finally fallen in love with myself! It’s taken 41 years, but it has finally happened. I can’t explain how or why, but it’s true and it’s fun and it’s a glorious place to be. I was actually afraid to say anything publicly, because I was afraid to jinx it. However, after a four week honeymoon, I think it’s pretty set. And, notably, the hooping, Brittany, and the body are all connected and are, in many – if not all – ways, mutually reinforcing.

So that’s me. I love my hoop, I love all of the previously cordoned off parts of me that appear to be making an appearance one by one, and I love myself. It really doesn’t get much better than this, which is – in and of itself – worth reporting.

Lots to say: cleansing, reframing, and hooping

I have a lot to say and am not totally sure how to say it.

First things first, the cleanse continues. I’m actually in the most stringent part. Green smoothie for breakfast, one for lunch, and another for dinner. Then I have a big salad post dinner with red leaf lettuce, shredded zucchini, beet and carrot slaw, olive oil, lemon, green beans, and cultured veggies. Last night I threw in a cup of roasted delicata squash. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? It’s delicious. And more importantly, it’s gorgeous – the plate a veritable explosion of colors, especially give that the cultured veggies is a beautiful bright pink thanks to the red cabbage that turns into flamingo pink after sitting for a week in brine at room temperature.

A few days ago, I had hit an interesting place with the cleanse. I was forgetting my supplements, I was forgetting my cultured veggies (to be eaten at every meal). At the time, I attributed it to ambivalence, but now I’m thinking that it was more like simple forgetfulness. It was almost like I forgot I was on a cleanse.

I haven’t been hungry. I’ve a ton of energy. But more importantly, I’ve had my mind on other things.

Michael was away for several days and I had plenty of time to dig old information products off of my hard drive for recycling. A couple of them talked about making space in your life – by literally throwing shit away. One woman recommended throwing five things away every day. You know, like a game. I decided to give it a shot.

The next morning, I got up, totally psyched. I pulled out every thing that didn’t fit (that was either too big or too small). I also tried everything on and got rid of anything that “didn’t serve me.” Notice I didn’t say that was worn out or frayed, but things that didn’t serve me. The idea of only keeping things that serve you is an interesting one. I ended up getting rid of things that I had worn once, or not at all. Most often things that I had bought on sale in response to an unintended weight gain (as if there is any other type). After pulling two trash bags worth of clothes out of my closet, my next stop was the chests of drawers, which were, I am embarrassed to say, teeming with things that 1) I didn’t remember, 2) I hadn’t been able to find in years, and 3) didn’t serve me. And in that moment, I learned the importance of location based living (I hope Michael’s not reading this, or he might try to hold me to this), because if I can’t find it, it’s not serving me.

I found shirts, skirts, jewelry, slips, socks, hair clips, pony tail ties, jackets, jeans…. It was crazy. Another extra large trash bag got packed for Listen.

I also got rid of shoes, empty shoe boxes, belts, pajama tops, and coats.

And then I organized. For the first time in months, if not years, I can actually see what I have when I look in the closet, in the drawers. It’s glorious.

Then onto stuff: framed posters that have lived in the closet for two years, hangers, shoe racks, concert tickets, show strings, drafts of papers, cook books, a day timer from 2009, the list goes on.

And you know what’s scary? I don’t think Michael even noticed. But every day I get rid of five more things. Sometimes they’re small, sometimes they’re large.

And you know what’s amazing? I can feel the space in the house. As I shed the pounds of inorganic matter of the house, I am less concerned about the organic matter associated with my body…even though I know without a doubt that it’s all related.

And it’s not just the physical junk, but also the emotional and mental crap that I’ve been carrying around for years.

I stepped on a scale this morning: 152 pounds.

And instead of thinking automatically, “I can’t believe that I gained 20 pounds since last August,” I honestly thought, “Wow, I only weigh ten more pounds than I did when I was 16. How frickin’ cool is that?”

Something has shifted and I am so thrilled. It’s fun and easy and for the first time ever, I am in love with my body. I’m also enjoying it in a way I never have before….

Because when I’m not cleansing, or cleaning, or reframing the cleansing or the cleaning, I am hooping!

At the ripe old age of 41, I bought myself a huge multi-colored hula and we (my body and I) are having a blast! I have plenty to say about the hula (especially how it ties into my femininity), but suffice it to say that I’m having too much fun looking for the next five things and swinging my hips to whatever music strikes my fancy to worry too much about arbitrary numbers. In other words, I’m more interested in how many times I can get the hoop around my hips, how many songs I can last through (whether it’s Led Zeppelin, Sade, Linkin Park, or Melissa Etheridge) than I am the numbers on the scale.

Happy Hooping!

Back to Basics: A little is better than nothing

Last year I got into this rut: if I didn’t have an hour (or more) to exercise, then I just wouldn’t do it. In my mind I had created this belief that if I didn’t burn at least 500 calories per exercise session than it just wasn’t worth doing.

I realize that that’s crap (for a couple of reasons).

1) there are a lot of exercises that are great for you that don’t take an hour and have nothing to do with actual calories burned – such as High Intensity Interval Training exercises, which are currently all the rage but that I hate with a purple passion and therefore will not do so it doesn’t matter how effective they are) or even just Kettle Bell Swings (ala Tim Ferris, author of the Four Hour Body). Both of these forms of exercise – and I am sure there are others – elevate heart rate (that’s why they’re called High Intensity) and build muscle, which causes you to burn more calories all day long – even while you’re sleeping. Can’t beat that.

2) and even more simple than that, 30 minutes of exercise (even if it’s just 200 calories burned the old fashion way) is better than no minutes of exercise (and 0 calories burned). That’s just simple math. And it doesn’t take into consideration the psychological benefits of exercise – the increased mood (studies show that mood is elevated for up to 12 hours after exercise!), the sense of accomplishment that keeps many people, myself included, from eating unhealthily after exercising, and the joy that comes from living up to your self-promises. It also can provide an important degree of structure to one’s day – especially if it’s done at a regularly scheduled time. And it helps you sleep better, which also helps you to stop storing fat. Again, can’t beat that.

So, this year, I’ve ditched my self-defeating belief that I have to workout for a certain length of time or burn a certain number of categories. And I’m just moving my body. Six days a week – with one day off.

So far, this is the workout, but it’s subject to change:

M. W. F.:
30 minutes cardio (the old fashion Nordic Track ski machine is my current activity of choice)
30 Kettle Bell Swings (20lb bell)
20 Butt lifts
30 Kettle Bell Swings (20lb bell)
30 Pointers (or whatever it is that you call that yoga pose where you start on your hands and knees and extend opposite arms and legs).

T. Th. Sa.:
30 minutes cardio
60 air squats
60 wall pushups
60 chest pulls
front plank 2×30 sec
left side plant 2×30 sec
right side plank 2×30 sec

Su.
Day off or yoga

I’m not burning many calories, but I am seeing some definition in my stomach again.

And on the days that I over sleep, I’ll reduce the cardio, because – as noted – 10 minutes is better than no minutes.

Back to Basics: Carving out the time to exercise

I’m thinking of starting a blog within a blog. Make sense or just plain silly? Maybe that’s what tags are for.

Regardless, these series of posts are going to detail me getting back to basics. These are the things that everyone knows about losing weight and exercise, but are the very ones that I somehow forgot to do.

Carve Out Time to Exercise.

Somehow I forgot this. Maybe it was when my thyroid was so crashed and I was in such a funk that I could barely get up or maybe it was when all of the work that I’d been putting off came due…seemingly in the same week. Regardless, I stopped exercising at the same time (that is, as soon as I got up) and then it just didn’t get done.

So perhaps I should be more specific: Carve out Time to Exercise First Thing in the Morning.

Exercising in the morning is good for a number of reasons:

1) it elevates your mood first thing
2) your body’s natural rhythms are primed to burn calories in the morning
3) it’s easier to actually get it done before the rest of your life (aka “real life”) starts rearing it’s ugly head.
4) it also encourages you to drink plenty of water straight out of the gate.

In order for me to carve out time for daily exercise, a couple of things had to change.

1) I had to start setting an alarm again (heck, I had to start setting two);
2) I had to get more efficient about the exercise I was going to do (especially now that classes are in); and
3) I had to get serious the night before and get all of my crap together (including my low fat, virtually no sugar, high protein, healthy carb lunch)!

See, I wasn’t kidding when I said basic.

Stay tuned….

I’ll Take Making Out for 100

And it’s skipping for the win – which makes my inner child very happy!

Forty-one easy ways to burn 100 calories without going to the gym!

Burn More Calories…As Inefficiently as Possible

I think I mentioned a few posts back that I was working with a weight loss/fitness coach by the name of Susan.

Well, the last time Susan and I talked she told me that one of the easiest ways to burn more calories without having to spend a lot of extra time at the gym was to become as inefficient as possible.

At first, I laughed, but then I stopped to think about it.

As a society, we are one of the most efficient on the planet. We are also the fattest.

Everything is optimized towards saving time. Unfortunately, this means that everything is also optimized to conserving energy – that is, calories.

For instance, I typically carry in five bags of groceries at once to save myself a couple of trips up and down the stairs. Why not make five trips?

I balance multiple dehydrator trays precariously as I head down into the basement. Why not make three trips?

I cut corners as I cross the green to get from one place to another on campus. Why not mark out a pathway based entirely on squares?

I drive five blocks to the Coop…or three to my belly dance class. Why not leave a little early and enjoy the walk?

I carry my grocery bags out to the car so that I don’t have to return the cart to the storefront. Why not use the cart and make three trips instead of one?

I tend to enter buildings though the closest door. Why not walk to the next closest (or even the furthest) door?

I tend to use the bathroom closest to my office. Why not use the one down the hall or even the one up the stairs?

My homework this week was not to make any of these changes, but just to find the places where I could be less efficient – because when it comes to all of these so-called strategies to save time, you are also, unfortunately, saving energy – which again, equals calories.

And even if it may take you a couple of minutes more…it’s really not that much time in the grand scheme of things.

So think about all of the places where you could be a little less efficient and, even if you don’t think you have the time, take it. Just try it. I’m sure that if you really put your mind to it, you could think of some other way to shave 15 minutes off your day.

And if you do find places where you can be less efficient I’d love to hear them, because I bet my list – as long as it is – is probably not going to be long enough.

Keep me posted. I’d love to hear from you!

(And, if you’d like to see my full list, let me know; because, as I am sure you’ve guessed, I’m happy to share.)

The Missing Link: Introducing the CalTrac

I must admit, I have been completely flummoxed over my recent (over the last 3 months) 16 pound weight gain. I’m not obsessing over it (no, really!) but I was curious.

I was still exercising and I do think some of it’s muscle (as I’m still in my 4s – for the most part and my 6s, comfortably), but it’s clear that the belly (aka Bella) has taken on a life of her own.

Granted, I’ve been really sad over the last three weeks or so. Not miserable, but definitely feeling a loss.

I also have had less control over my eating – more peanut butter, more binges, but – in all fairness – my binge eating is pretty tame by most people’s standards. And even though I haven’t been counting calories, even on the days that I was over eating, I wasn’t over eating that much. I certainly wasn’t eating even lose to 2,000 a day, so things just really didn’t seem to add up.

Yesterday, however, it all slid into place.

It wasn’t that I ate all that much more this summer.

It wasn’t that I stopped exercising.

It’s that I stopped moving this summer, aside from exercise.

In the interest of saving time and gasoline (and spending more time with Cat) I worked at home this summer. And I worked a lot. Meaning that on most days, as soon as I finished working out, I took a shower and walked 15 steps to the dining room table (or 8 steps into the living room) and worked – i.e., sat on my ass, which got progressively bigger as the weeks passed.

It didn’t occur to me that this was a problem, because I had stayed tuned into food and exercise – that is, formal exercise – like High Intensity Interval Training, Nordic Track, K-Bells, Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred, etc. You know, the kind of stuff that you actually get dressed for and makes you sweat.

Well, because I am determined to get rid of my extra padding that I put on this summer, I started working with a fitness coach.

This woman, whose name is Susan, has given me a device known as a CalTrac. A CalTrac is beeper-like object that you wear on your waist band and it calculates the amount of calories you burn through movement, separate from the calories that you burn just by being alive.

The first couple of days that I had it, I was actually at a conference, which pretty much mimicked what I had been doing at home all summer.

Guess how many calories you burn through movement when you sit on your butt all day?

Less than 200.

Way less.

Yesterday, I headed back to the office.

Instead of shuffling from the bathroom to the kitchen – like I’d done everyday for the last three months – I parked my car at the gym and walked to my office. I walked back across campus to go to convocation (which, ironically, was pretty darned close to where I’d parked my car). Then I walked back to my office. Then, later in the afternoon, I took a turn around the pond, because I realize that the leaves are turning and I won’t have too many more gorgeous days left. At the end of the day I walked back to my car and then to my belly dancing class, because I figured that it would be hard to find parking (which, as it turns out, would have been had I drove).

At the end of the day, I had burned 809 calories through movement – and that’s not counting the 440 calories that I had burned that morning on the stair mill!

200?

800?

That’s a 600 calorie difference just by moving (or not moving) without any consideration of exercise whatsoever.

That’s 3,000 calories a week, assuming a 5 day work week.

That’s practically a pound a week.

No wonder I gained weight!

And no wonder I just didn’t get it.

Because I hadn’t changed what I ate – not that much anyway.

And I hadn’t changed the number of calories that I burned through formal/scheduled exercise.

But I had changed the informal/unscheduled calories that you burn just by walking, just by moving.

It’s a little annoying to wear a little blue device on your belt, but it sure is motivating.

In fact, instead of checking my email when I’m done here, chances are I’m going to take a turn around the pond. It is another gorgeous day after all. But, perhaps even more importantly, it’s another 200+/- calories!

It really never occurred to me that the non-sweat inducing activity of walking (back and forth from cars, between buildings, etc.) could make the difference of a pound a week!

Who knows? I may start parking even further away than I do now (not to mention using the women’s bathroom on the fifth floor instead of the one outside of my office)!

If you’ve changed your routine and you’ve noticed that you’re feeling a little thicker around the middle, perhaps you should get up and move a little bit more than you do – and maybe even a little more than that tomorrow.

I know that’s my plan!

Lethargy – 1 (or maybe not)

It’s 11:52.

Can I get in eight minutes before midnight?

Sigh.

Post script: It’s now 12:28 a.m. and I am a hot, sweaty mess.

I was wrong in my last post – midnight is the worst possible time of day – or night – to exercise! But since I started at 11:52 p.m. (that is, yesterday) public accountability still has it – if only by a hair.

Public Accountability – 1

In my last post, I said that I was committing to morning workouts, because I just can’t seem to get it together if I wait until the afternoon.

Well, yesterday, I didn’t get my act together and I found myself – at 10:00 p.m., which is probably the worst time of day to exercise – clamping on the heart rate monitor and going for it.

And I mean I really went for it, as if there was literally no tomorrow.

In fact, I worked out so hard that I couldn’t even finish the workout! (Though, in all fairness, I was pretty beat when I started, which is just one of the reasons why working out at night sucks to begin with.)

Anyway, I have you to thank for the fact that I did anything at all – well, you and the fact that I told you that I was committing to move my body every single day (come hell or high water). Public accountability. Who knew?

Today, I missed my morning workout as well – this time because when I woke up I was fatigued from lat night – and Michael J and I jumped into a joint editing project shortly after I made my morning smoothie.

What to do? What to do?

Is it really worth it exercising again in the late hours and my heart rate up just before crawling into bed?

Or would it be better to do yoga and really try to turn my schedule around (that is, get up first thing and HIIT the ground running)?

Even though I didn’t do what I said I was going to do – get my exercise in early – it’s amazing how strong the pull to exercise was just because I told you that I was going to do it.

Now I guess I understand all of those women (and some men) who blast out their every food related indiscretion (or success) on twitter. If nothing else, I suppose, it keeps you honest.

So yoga tonight. Or maybe another couple, three rounds of HIIT.

One or the other.

It’s not quite six of one or half dozen of the other, but it’s close.

Thanks for being there. And for making me kick my own butt.

Nowadays it seems like my options are morning…or never

This whole summer it seems like exercise has been the bane of my existence.

I really never quite got there with any of my exercise programs – well, at least not until a couple of weeks ago, when I mashed together one of my favorites (high intensity cardio intervals on the nordic track) and HIIT (or high intensity interval training) on the ground.

That combination – while a total bitch – is killer.

And at the end of two rounds of HIIT, sandwiched between the cardio, I am almost always working out until failure. It’s great. And what’s even better is that I am seeing improvement! I can do more of each of the exercises than I could when I started and my form, for the most part, is improving by the day.

Just as I was hitting my groove on this new and improved exercise routine, however, my subconscious tossed up yet another block: If I don’t exercise in the morning, I don’t. And this from a woman who used to teach exercise classes at 5:15 – P.M.

What is going on?

Instead of beating myself up about it, as I am wont to do, I’ve decided to just accept it.

A.M. workouts it is. Now that school is starting again, it’s going to be a little tougher, but I am committing (hence putting it here, in writing).

The reason for the pubic declaration is thus:

Today, instead of working out immediately, I went straight to work and didn’t actually get around to exercising until 5:00. And trust me, by the time I got started, I had I spent more time – and almost as much energy – trying to convince myself to do it than I did on the exercise itself!

My body didn’t feel right.
I’m too full from lunch.
I have a headache.
I’m hungry.
I’m tired.
I feel sluggish.
I don’t want to.
It’s too late.
I didn’t get enough sleep last night.
I don’t have any umph….

You name it, I tried to sell myself on it.

Ironically when I finally got started it turned out to be one of my best workouts ever: 400 calories in just over 30 minutes – heart rate through the roof when it needed to be, coming right back down where I wanted it to be in the short (30 second) time allotted. When I was done, I was a stinky, soppy mess. And I felt great.

But was it worth the hassle of having to fight with myself every step of the way to go get my workout clothes, put them on, find the heart rate monitor, set the timer up, etc?

The jury’s still out.

So, tomorrow, morning it is. And the day after, same thing.

Ever since I was a kid, the Fall has brought with it new rhythms and routines that within just a few weeks became seamless and easy. Let’s hope that this autumn is no different. Until then, morning it is, as never really doesn’t seem like much of an option.

Reboot Camp Continues – This Time, Exercise

As mentioned in a few earlier posts, I have really been struggling with my exercise routine.

This summer I decided to follow a couple of different HIIT exercise programs and while they were okay, for a while, I eventually felt like I was losing ground cardio-vascularly. Maybe it the fact that I was panting on the Nordic Track after just five minutes that gave it away – can anyone say, “Former Spinning Instructor”?

Since HIIT is all the rage, I decided that I simply must not be doing it right. Right?

Well, I logged into the members area for the program that I was doing on-line and all of the women that it was working for were using it as a supplement to their other cardio workouts! One woman in particular, was bragging about how it had really improved her training.

What training, you ask?

The training she was doing for her upcoming marathon!

No wonder it was working for her! Jeez!

I expressed my dismay about my less than optimal hit rate with my then current HIIT program to my personal coach (who is not, btw, my fitness coach) and she said, oh yeah, I do HIIT – it’s great. I’ll send you a workout and a mix tape. Make sure you do a 15 minute power walking a couple times a day in addition to these more bursty-type exercises.

Okay. Why not? I’ve tried everything else this summer….

So, I start with 15 minutes on the Nordic Track (HIIT style; 30:30 sec interval ratio) as a warm up.

The new HIIT workout (6 different exercises on a 60:60 second interval ratio)

Then 10 minutes cool down, back on the Nordic Track

I just about died.

Did I mention that twice a week, I’m supposed to do this not once a day, but twice?!

I feel bad about switching horses in midstream, so to speak, but that’s life!

Maybe I’ll mix in the other routines on the days that I’m supposed to do two sets.

Regardless, in just three days, I can already feel a big difference – and this time, in the right direction – in my body!

Go me!

I’ll keep you posted!

Shining the Light On the Ghost of Gym Teachers Past

A few weeks ago (or maybe months at this point), I told you that I had started doing High Intensity Interval Training, otherwise known as H.I.I.T.

I was pretty excited about it and I told you that I would keep you posted. Part of the reason I was excited about it is that it gives you little bursts of energy – bursts of energy that may very well have saved the life of Michael J’s super-friendly, but not overly bright feline, Harlequin. But that’s another story and one that I’ve shared before.

Since that fortuitous day, my love of H.I.I.T. has dwindled.

1) It’s hard.
2) It’s not nearly as fun as spinning.
3) Did I mention that it’s hard?

Or at least that’s the story I kept telling myself – all the while ignoring the fact that I loved how I felt once I was done (partly because it is hard and I really felt like I accomplished something) and how I could literally see and feel myself getting stronger by the day.

So, I sat down and really thought about it. Why do I dislike this so much? Why do I have such strong internal resistance to this particular form of exercise? I mean, seriously. I am a woman who did P90X (three times) with more enthusiasm. So what’s the deal?

The clues to the answer to my question came from two places.

One, I was bemoaning my fate to my Aunt Linda and she said, “I think I might actually like this. It sounds like the stuff we used to do in school. And it doesn’t sound like you need a lot of fancy equipment.”

Ding.

Something resonated deep down in the depths of my psyche.

Two, I’ve been working with a personal coach who is awesome. She’s been having me do written exercises that will help me bust through the resistance I have to doing certain things in my real life – things like reviewing articles, starting my book, cleaning the house, doing H.I.I.T. exercises.

During the one of the exercises, one of the steps is to write down all of the negative emotions and thoughts associated with doing H.I.I.T. When I got to that part, I heard that same low tone. And all of a sudden, I was back at the gym at Carver Middle School, during the week of the the Presidential Fitness Test – thank you Ronald Reagan. May you be best remembered for terrorizing poor, clumsy, fat kids across America.

I realized that not only did H.I.I.T. remind me of middle school gym class in general (just like they had reminded my Aunt of hers), but it also reminded me of one particular instance of middle school gym class that was so personally horrifying that I didn’t even tell my sister about it until a few months ago (some 27 years after the fact). And when I told Michael J., sometime after that, I cried.

Methinks herein lies the problem.

I’m putting this out there – shining the light on my demons, if you will – to see if I can exorcise them once and for all and hopefully, get on with the act of exercising!

At my middle school, we had a female coach (Coach Holmes) and a male coach (Coach Rogers). Technically, I was in Coach Rogers’ class, who was a very sensitive and perceptive soul. However, during the week of the Presidential FItness Tests, all of the girls went to Coach Holmes’ office to get weighed and measured and all the boys reported to Coach Rogers’. Unfortunately, Coach Holmes, though nice enough, was not nearly as sensitive or perceptive as her male counterpart.

Imagine, if you will, a group of middle-school aged girls standing in line as the teacher for all intents and purposes shouts out your weight to her student aid, who just happened to be her very attractive, athletic, and if memory serves reigning kick-pin champion/cheerleader daughter, Kendra.

I step onto the scale.

Dead silence.

I look at Coach Holmes.

She looks at me.

We look at the scale: 180.

“It must be broken,” she says.

“It’s not broken,” I say. “Why would it be broken now when it wasn’t broken when anyone else stepped on it?”

“That can’t be right,” she says.

“It’s right,” I assure.

Kendra, bless her heart, looks embarrassed.

“Go down to Coach Roger’s office and use his scale. That can’t be right.”

“It’s right.”

“Just do down to Coach’s office and try it again.”

I remember stepping off the scale and marching, face beet red, down to the other end of the cavernous gym, thinking I had never been so mortified in my life.

I was wrong.

Halfway down the length of the basketball quart, I hear Coach Holmes yell, “Coach Rogers, I’m sending Lively down there to weigh, because I think this scale is broken.”

The entire gym fell silent and 60 pairs of eyes landed on my chubby body simultaneously.

Someone laughed.

(Do you blame them?)

I kept my head up and walked steadily into Coach Roger’s office.

“Lively?”

“It’s not broken,” I said.

And he nodded silently and laid a sympathetic hand on my arm. “I’ll tell her.”

Maybe there is something valuable about airing your dirty laundry, because as I tell it, it doesn’t seem that bad. But as I carried it around with me for years, it was one of my most tightly guarded miseries. I’m hopeful that tomorrow, when it’s time to exercise, I will not feel that lingering sense of dread, reluctance, or resistance.

By putting it out there for the world to see, to share, and perhaps even to think, “What’s she complaining about? That’s nothing,” maybe it will, indeed, become nothing.

As always, I’ll let you know.

And if any of my old middle school friends read this and you ever happen to see Coach Holmes, give her my best. Because I realize, in retrospect, that that’s what she was only trying to do.

Searching for a new love

It’s important to love what you do – else you won’t do it.

When you find something you love, it’s not a chore. You feel awesome afterwards. You enjoy it in process. You look forward to doing it. And you miss it when you’re not doing it.

When you haven’t found something you love (but you’re making yourself do it anyway) it’s always a chore. You don’t feel awesome afterwards (if you’re lucky, you just feel relieved). You don’t enjoy it in process. You dread doing it and are therefore susceptible to any reason to not do it. And you certainly don’t miss it when you’ve skipped it. You might feel guilty, because all too often it’s something that you should have done, but you don’t actually regret not having done the thing itself.

This is true of almost everything that you know you should be doing.

In this case, it’s exercise.

For those of you who know me, you might be surprised that I am bemoaning exercise. I mean, I am addicted to exercise, right?

Wrong.

I was addicted to the long drawn out intensive cardio workouts that the new weight loss experts actually tell you causes fat storage!

I liked being on the stair mill for an hour.

I loved spinning!

I loved the feeling of working out anaerobically and being drenched in sweat!

Since I gave up spinning (almost two years ago) I have been struggling to find a new love.

I tried straight cardio, which, as noted, has been suggested actually causes fat storage (and based on my own experience and the credentials of the weight loss coaches I have encountered, I believe it). I tried kettle bells, and I have tried High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).

HIIT works, no doubt about it. Problem is that I don’t love it, so it’s hard for me to be consistent with it. It’s hard and even though it’s only 20 or 30 (or sometimes 40 minutes depending on the workout) there is a big psychological resistance to be overcome every time I think about dusting off the exercise shoes.

Then of course there is my own ongoing love affair (NOT!) with yoga. Oh, if I could just learn to love yoga! I love yoga clothes. I love how good it is for you on any number of fronts. Hell, I love the bodies of the women I know that do it. But there’s just something missing.

Then there’s the newest weapon in my arsenal: Belly Dancing.

I actually tried Belly Dancing today. It was fun. It was harder than it looked. It is definitely going into the rotation – even if only because I want to wear the nifty belt!

Spinning was my one true love – followed quickly by the TreadClimber, then the StairMill.

Everything else has been a far fourth, fifth, and sixth.

I’m not sure how to remedy that. Though maybe I’ll just mix it up. Maybe if I have five or six things I sort of like, I’ll be able to convince myself to do at least one of them (if not more).

Yeah, as my father is so fond of saying, that’s the ticket. I’ll mix things up and see how that goes. And maybe, just maybe, if I try hard enough and squint long enough, I’ll fall in love again when I least expect it!

Wish me luck.

Revisiting Exercises from Days Long Past

Everyone always tells you that exercise should be fun – because, let’s face it, if it’s not fun you’re less likely to want to do it. And despite the fact that recent research has now pretty much shown that exercise is not going to make you thin, there are a lot of positive benefits of getting your heart rate up – the least of which include helping your body absorb calcium from the blood, detoxifying your skin, and strengthening your heart.

So what does it mean to find an exercise that you love?

As adults, particularly women, we tend to think about exercise as going to a gym or taking a class. Admittedly, men are more likely to have stayed active with sporting activities or games throughout their lives, for example, playing pick up basketball at community gyms or going rock climbing, skiing, or cycling on the weekends with their friends.

But if you watch young kids play, they are constantly in a state of motion. They don’t need any excuse to exercise. They don’t need any additional motivation. You don’t need to convince them to move. In fact, if anything, you usually have to convince them to stop running, to sit down, to take a nap, and to settle down. Unfortunately these messages are usually pretty well internalized by the time they’re teens – which is the time when they need to start running, to get up, to stop sleeping, and pick it up. This is especially true for young women whose bodies (especially if they’ve grown up drinking dairy products enriched with fat storing growth hormones) are naturally designed to start storing fat upon adolescence.

Kids move their bodies.

Adults look for excuses not to.

Well, yesterday, I was doing a round of High Intensity Interval Training and one of the sets was to skip in place.

Remember skipping?

It took me a minute as I really had to think about what I was requiring my body to do. You throw one arm up as the opposite knee also goes up? What?!

After a couple of false starts, I figured it out. And once I did, my body memory kicked in and I remembered: I love skipping! Or, more accurately, when I was a kid, I loved skipping! I didn’t just like it. I seriously loved it! In fact, I remember my mother telling me repeatedly to slow down, to stop skipping, to not skip in the house, etc. Now, granted, I was a bit of a klutz, so I’m sure that I spent more time on the ground face first than I did moving gracefully above ground and we also lived in a pretty small house, so she was probably just looking out for my best interest – so I don’t mean to be bashing my mom. But the bottom line is that eventually I stopped skipping. I stopped skipping so resolutely that I had completely forgotten about it. I had completely forgotten about how much I loved it.

So, during my H.I.I.T. I was supposed to skip in place 75 times.

Without going into too much detail, let me just say that that’s harder than it sounds! I was gasping by the end of it. I was particularly out of breath given that you did this 12 times, plus a lot of other stuff (the entire routine was based off the of the song The Twelve Days of Christmas with the skipping on day one! Just in case math isn’t your strong suit: 75 times 12 is a 900 skips. That’s a lot of skips. If you don’t believe me, just give it a shot!

Well, after that I started thinking. What would my life had been like if I had never stopped skipping? How many calories a day would I have burned just doing something that I loved instead of doing something that I felt like I had to do? How much better shape would I be in if I skipped from my car to the office and back again? Or if I skipped from one end of the house to the other ten times a day as I went about my daily routine? More importantly, how much more fun would I have?

So, after my 20 minute exercise routine, I drank some water and decided to skip to the end of the driveway and back. Michael J and I live in a house that’s pretty set back from the road; I would guess that it’s less than a quarter mile, but I couldn’t tell you for certain. It is pretty steep though, at least in places. Regardless, I took a deep breath and without so much as even taking a glance around to see if anyone was watching, I took off.

Skipping in the real world is fun. Skipping in motion (that is, not in place in your living room) is fun and exhilarating. There’s enough movement that it creates a nice breeze. I felt ten years younger. I laughed. I had fun!

Heading down hill (away from the house) my heart rate pretty quickly went from 85 (post workout) to 115 and by the time I had made it to the street it was 145. After taking a few seconds rest, I turned around and headed back up the hill, which, granted, was much harder. By the time I crested the last hill, I was totally winded and my heart rate was 162!

But it was fun! In less than 6 minutes, I burned about 70 calories and had a complete physiological and emotional state change. Not only because I was moving my body, but because I was moving it in a way that brought back memories of being happy, easy, free, and comfortable in my body. I was literally transported back to a time where I accepted myself whole heartedly and could enjoy being in my body without any feelings of inadequacy, embarrassment or shame. And trust me, that’s worth something.

If you need to mix up your routine or you just need a quick way to shift your state, try skipping. Or, better yet, reach into your old childhood toy box and find find the thing that you used to love the most. Even if you don’t think you remember how to do it, I bet your body can remind you. And even if you think you’re body can’t do it because you’re too old or you’re too out of shape or that you couldn’t possibly still like X, Y, or Z, I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

Personality and Stress Eating

I have battled with stress eating my whole life. I always assumed that it was a lack of will power.

I am currently at a five day seminar on personality types. (Michael J and I are all about the learning vacations!)

Yesterday we covered the Myers-Brigg in more detail than I have even seen it covered in any psychology class in college.

Much to my chagrin, I am still a hard core INTJ (Introvert, Intuitive, Thinker, Judger). I would like to think that I have have practiced my Feeling muscle over the years, but it’s not totally clear after sitting at a table with a bunch of self-identified hard core feelers.

The interesting thing (one of many) about yesterday’s presentation, is they helped us to identify our strengths and our weaknesses. The thing that you are most weak in is your achilles heel, so to speak, and under times of stress, you revert back to it. It’s sort of like letting a 3 year old drive your brand new Mercedes! Because my weakness is Extroverted Sensing, under times of stress, I often seek out whole body sensory activities, which, if left unchecked, can manifest itself in addictions – to food, to alcohol, to drugs! (Notably, my struggle with stress eating has tripled since I stopped drinking red wine on a regular basis).

Interestingly (and I actually felt good about this), my positive “hack” is exercise.

This means when I get to feeling overwhelm and stress in my strength, my Introverted Intuition, instead of reaching for the almond butter or tahini (or whatever the full fat flavor of the week happens to be) I should exercise! Even if it’s just a short ten or fifteen minute burst.

I tend to do this anyway, but hopefully having this insight will encourage me to do that first, instead of after the fact.

Although the course is on personality type, I think it’s really about preference and habits. I’m hoping to get some additional tips on how to not only strengthen my strengths but also to strengthen (or at the very least shore up) my weaknesses.

Female Fat Loss Over Forty

No doubt about it, Facebook is the internet marketer’s best friend.

A few days ago, I posted a comment-status-thingie on Facebook about doing Tabata Training and or High Intensity Training (H.I.I.T.) and – literally – within 24 hours an information products ad popped up on my profile that was obviously tailor made for me. The headline was Female Fat Loss Over Forty and said something about working out less than 15 minutes a day. I knew exactly what it was when I clicked on it. And, in fact, it was almost as if Facebook had been sitting in my living room listening in (which they may have been given their egregious privacy policies), because I had just said – not five minutes before – that I really wish I could just find a bunch of H.I.I.T. workouts that were timed for you, etc.

Ask and you shall receive.

Besides it was only $29.00, so why not?

So, I hit the button and in my mailbox arrives Fat Loss Over Forty (plus bonuses – of course)!

Actually, all I’ve been doing is the bonus, which is a 21 day fat loss program, which includes three 30 minute workouts (an interesting cross between Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred and P90X) and 3 days of 20 minute H.I.I.T. workouts (to be done on your off days). Other bonuses include a pretty standard diet/nutrition program (which is worthless to me, but might be a good start for someone who hasn’t really thought about nutrition) and a two page reminder of the biochemical benefits of sleep! It also comes with a full color exercise encyclopedia.

The woman is Canadian. She’s a health and fitness coach with a string of letters behind her name. And she seems to have a penchant for bad pop music. (I’m pretty sure that was Lady Gaga she was playing in the background). And she’s shooting these workout in her living room!

Now, you may think that’s pretty cheesy and you’d never buy an exercise video of someone working out in their home. However, there is something really endearing about someone checking their notes between exercises, breathing hard right along with you, and working out in the same non-optimal conditions you are! I particularly had to laugh when she was doing skaters and the rug kept sliding out from beneath her feet. Been there!

I also like the fact that she is over 40 and she gets winded – really winded! Seriously, the woman is working. And it makes me feel less self-conscious about my own panting and groaning.

Now I’ve done videos/DVDs for years, and I must say that this is as serious a workout as I have ever gotten with Jillian Michaels (and with a heck of a lot less impact on the knees).

And let me also say that the first “off day,” where I did the H.I.I.T. training, kicked my ass.

Another benefit to this particular approach to home fitness, is that I was able to download all of this stuff immediately onto my computer, which means I will be able to take it with me – without having to cart around a bunch of DVDs – while I am traveling this summer.

According to the marketing, this is what I can expect to experience in the next 28 days:

* Firmer arms, legs, thighs, and buns
* Increased strength, energy, and stamina
* Faster Metabolism to burn more fat at rest
* Tighter, flatter abs – means smaller waist
* 4-12 pounds of weight loss
* 3-6% decrease in body fat
* Increased muscle tone and flexibility
* Greater confidence and self-esteem
* Decreased stress, tension, and anxiety
* Increased sense of overall well being
* Reduce cravings for fats, sugars, and junk foods
* Sleep better at night and increase daily productivity
* Decrease back pain and discomfort
* Lose the uncomfortable “bloated” feeling
* Look and feel better in your favorite clothes

Sounds pretty good! Even if I just accomplish a third of that, I’ll feel like I got my money’s worth!

Regardless, I’ll be sure to keep you posted!

By the way, today’s workout was awesome: 30 seconds of work, followed by 10 seconds of rest (which really was just about the time it took to change positions), for a total of 30 minutes. Super challenging, but absolutely enjoyable – probably because I knew if I didn’t like something (or, better yet, couldn’t do something) it wouldn’t last long!

My new favorite blog and (believe it or not) it’s not about food!

I’ve never been one to follow exercise blogs, but I stumbled across this one a few days ago and have found myself returning again and again: GetFitTv with Jenny DiDonato.  I originally found her when I did a google search on Tabata Training and I was immediately riveted. For more information on Tabata, you can check on Jenny’s introduction, here.

So, why do I like her so much?

  1. She covers a wide range of exercises and for people at all levels of fitness (ranging from Tabata training to Kettlebells for beginners).
  2. She’s easy to follow.
  3. She looks like a real person – albeit with a body that any woman would envy.
  4. She’s really just showing you how to do the exercises without a lot of hype.
  5. She also covers a range of health topics, including things like strengthening tired knees, the health benefits of the contents of your spice rack, etc.  And for those of you who actually cook your food, she also has a number of healthy recipes you can check out!

Although I haven’t figured out her approach entirely, apparently she posts a new video episode every weekend and if you’re truly motivated, you can watch in real time via ustream, submit questions, and all that stuff.  Me? I tend to come to things late, so I’ve just been cruising the archives.

Anyway, if you’re looking for a no nonsense way to diversify your fitness routine, check her out!  I’ve certainly added her to my bookmarks!!!

H.I.I.T. – 1 Fox – 0

A little while ago, decided to hang up my long distance cardio shoes and have been been experimenting with shorter workouts, which have eventually culminated in a method known as High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T). According to the latest gym logic, H.I.I.T., through a combination of short explosive movements and short rest periods in between cranks up your metabolism, in large part because you’re building muscle and generating heat in your core.

Because you only do it for up to 20 minutes you also trick your body into not releasing cortisol, which is a hormone that the body releases when you’re under stress (unlike what happens when you work out hard for periods longer than 20 minutes). Cortisol, for those of you who don’t know, is a stress hormone that signals to your body that it needs to store fat! And not just any old fat – but belly fat! (No wonder I couldn’t lose those last 10 pounds when I was spinning; my body thought I needed that to survive)!

Regardless, when I first started this, I began with 4 one minute sets of getting up and down out of a chair as fast as I could, with a minute of rest between sets.

(Yes, these are the basic equivalent of squats, but when you sit down each time, you get to experience that extra little gift of gravity – which, after a set or two, begins to feel like the gift that keeps on giving).

I must admit that when this was first suggested to me, I laughed. I thought, there is no way that this is going to get my heart rate up.

Wrong!

By the end of the first set I was huffing and puffing like a steam engine. (And keep in mind, I’m in pretty good shape!)

After a couple of days of this, I was able to keep in adding reps – not time mind you, but reps. So, whereas the first day I did 45-46-49-42, by the end of just a few days, I was well into the 50s, if not the 60s.

One of the big selling points about this form of training (besides only taking 20 minutes a day [or in my case less than 10]) is that it increases your ability to engage in short explosive bursts of intense exercise, because you are training your body to store excess energy in the muscles (as glycogen) instead of in the belly (as fat).

So, you may be asking, what does this have to do with a fox?

Earlier this week, I let Michael J’s cat, Harley, outside. We live in the country and Harley has been an indoor/outdoor cat for several years. Personally, whenever I let him out, I always tell him to have fun, to stick around the house, and not to get eaten on my watch.

(The indoor/outdoor cat policy is one of the few things about which Michael J and I truly disagree!)

As I went around puttering in the kitchen with my very cosseted indoor cat, I heard this God awful cacophony outside. The crows were literally going nuts.

My first thought was that Harley has killed a bird (another reason why Cat is an indoor cat) and is – quite possibly – getting attacked by crows.

Only slightly annoyed, I headed out onto the deck and was immediately struck by three things.

  1. Those birds are really loud!
  2. The sun is absolutely gorgeous hitting the trees!
  3. Why are the horses standing right at the edge of the stone wall (all three of them) staring at the same point like they’ve seen a ghost)?

Though it really did look like something out of a Disney film, I followed their line of their vision and lo and behold:

‘Where’s Harley?’

And like clockwork, there he was – curious little creature that he is – about 10 feet from our bushy tailed visitor.

The list of blood curdling expletives that exploded in my brain and were torn from my lungs are not fit to print, but it’s fair to say that I pretty much brought the house down! I certainly woke Michael J, who until that moment, had been enjoying a rare Tuesday morning lie-in!

The funny thing was is that I was so panicked that I literally could not figure out how to get off of the deck and down to the stone wall, which is maybe 150 feet from the house. I also was afraid that if I took my eyes off of the scene in front of me that Harley was doomed. (As if me standing on the deck screaming was really making that much of a difference!)

Eventually – it was probably only fifteen seconds, but it felt like an eternity – I figured out how to get off the deck (that is, I remembered that there were stairs!) and took off, literally, like a shot!

I have never moved so fast in my life.

Was it the H.I.I.T. or just the sheer volume of adrenaline?

It’s hard to tell, but I’ll say one thing: I learned in that moment that there are very good reasons other than what you’re going to look like in a bathing suit this summerto be able to engage in short, explosive bursts of concentrated activity!

As I got closer to them (the fox had not given up at this point), I slowed down and took a series of deep calming breaths.

The last thing I wanted to do was to scare Harley, who at this point, was getting a little jittery himself.

Let’s just say that the tension was pretty high on all fronts.

Did did I mention that the birds were still screaming? Seriously, the racket was deafening.

So, here I am, in my pjs, barefoot, standing between a scared house cat (who at least at this point had figured out that something was wrong), three spooked horses, and a predator. And all of this against a soundtrack that sounded suspiciously like something out of a Hitchcock film!

Luckily for me (and for Harley and for Michael J, who by this time was also on the scene), Harley actually came to me and allowed himself to be scooped up and carried back to the waiting arms of his father.

Interestingly enough, three things happened as soon as Harley was off the ground: the fox cut and ran, the horses cut and ran, and the birds – bless them and their ungodly warning system – fell eerily silent.

Well, four things, as my commitment to H.I.I.T. pretty much doubled.

Learning to Listen

Over the last few weeks I have been doing my best to learn to listen to and, subsequently, trust my body.

I’m doing this, in part, because I am beginning to appreciate that my longest term, most committed relationship to date is not the one I share with my 19 year old long haired white tortoise shell cat, but the one that I share with my body.

And unlike all of the men in my life, the relationship that I have with my physical self is literally, “Til death do us part.”

With a little help from some very talented weight loss coaches, I’ve come to understand that I need to love my body, because when I start loving her (notice I did not say it), she will start loving me back.

When I start trusting her, she will start trusting me.

And when that happens, we will begin to do what we want.

And what we want, ostensibly, is to feel great, have tons of energy, and live comfortably in our skin.

My journey towards self acceptance started about two years ago when I realized that there was some part of me that still linked weight loss to death. I named that part of me Kathy Jo and have since teamed up with her so that we can, in fact, reach our shared health goals.

Today, my body was hungry. Very hungry.

In fact, by 10:30 a.m., not only had I eaten breakfast, I had also had a couple of snacks and started lunch.

Was this a binge? No, not really. And I say that not because I didn’t eat 750 calories in the space of a few hours (which I did), but because I took several deep breaths between bites, drank quite a bit of water, and really thought about the question: Are you really hungry?

As it turned out, the answer was yes.

So, I ate: an Organic Raw bar, a handful of raw almonds, a serving of tomato and basil soup (also raw), and a zucchini sliced up like Ruffles Potato Chips.

Then, not surprisingly since I had just consumed all that energy, my body wanted to move.

Was this the mind, feeling guilty about all that food? Maybe. I hope not.

So my body and I packed up our work and went to the gym.

And instead of punching in a pre-selected workout, I did whatever my body felt like doing – at whatever length and at whatever level of intensity.

And the minute that she was done – the minute that it even whiffed of punishment – I stopped.

I didn’t push.

I wasn’t disappointed.

In fact, as it turned out, I actually had a better workout (body-wise, heart-rate-wise, and even calorie-wise) when I let her do it.

My weight loss coaches tell me that the body doesn’t like to be defined by a number on the scale and the body certainly doesn’t like counting calories.

While I have let her have her way on the former, I still cling stubbornly to the latter. I’d like to think that I am merely recording what I eat, without actually restricting what I eat, but – in practice – I know that’s not entirely true.

Sometimes I wonder what (and how much) I would eat if I stopped counting calories. Other times I wonder if it would be possible for me to sit down to a meal and not automatically know how many calories were adorning the plate.

My biggest fear is that I would overeat (whatever that means) and that I would do it often.

My coaches, however, would say that if I were truly listening, I would only do it once, because the body doesn’t like to be numbed out, overfull, or stuffed. That if I truly listened, I’d reach for the salad naturally instead of the tahini or the cacao or, better yet, the full-fat, full-sugar ice cream that I haven’t had in months, if not years.

Needless to say, I’m not entirely there yet.

But I am listening – or at least I am trying.

And, perhaps even more importantly, I forgive myself for my inability to trust.

I also keep reminding myself (particularly every time I fire up LoseIt) that the more I listen, the more likely it is that I will eventually hear.