Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Boring Bookkeeping Post

The biggest part of this blog is about my thoughts about losing weight and weight loss. However, it is at least supposed to be a record for me of how and what I'm doing. This record is not to "teach" others what to do or how to lose weight by following my supreme example (because, honestly, there are better blogs and more effective methods than mine out there for such things); it is to function as a sort of "diary" of my processes and how they are progressing.

I don't make these posts often because, frankly, they're a chore and not very interesting. However, I do believe it is important to occasionally make a note for my own reference of what I'm doing, and records of my exercise are sadly underrepresented in any sort of record of my processes.

Unlike most people who are trying to lose weight, exercise does not feature heavily into what I do. I don't get excited about it, nor do I hate it. I enjoy the movement, when I'm not in pain as a result of it. However, I'm not "Super Gym Girl" working out and building those muscles so that she can go around with hard, lumpy abs that one could use for beating a carpet on, or whatever they're supposed to be useful for. Frankly, I think well-defined stomach muscles are rather gross, even on men, but I realize I'm in a tiny minority. If you want a stomach like that, please don't be offended by my subjective observations. I'm just a crazy lady who used to weigh 380 lbs. (now 251) who writes a lot of navel-gazing posts and talks a lot about psychology. What do I know?

Here's the boring exercise record at present:

  • At any rate, when I started, I couldn't walk 5 minutes without pain or 10 minutes without starting to feel out of breath. Now, I can walk without appreciable pain for up to 90 minutes and walk about 40-60 minutes most days. Sometimes I do that as a full circuit walking around my neighborhood and sometimes I take about 30 minutes and then walk in place while watching documentaries on my computer screen for as long as I want. The walking in place was something I started recently as the weather has gotten hotter and made longer walks outside unpleasant. Frankly, I think real walking is better and burns more calories. I have no evidence to support this (so don't believe me if you are skeptical... I'm not sure I believe me), but I think it has to do with balance and how you have to adjust and carry your body when walking around in the real world. 
  • I started off with no weight lifting, but about 6 months ago (maybe, can't recall exactly), I started lifting two 1-kg. weights for 20 reps and upped it over 3 weeks to 50 reps. This caused my arms muscles to burn for days and was clearly too much too soon. I rested until all of the pain was gone and started again with only 5 reps, adding 1 per day each time I had no pain. I'm now up to 30 reps for one type of weight-lifting movement, 25 for another, and 15 for another. I continue to add in or hold at a certain number based on the pain or burning I experience.
  • About two weeks ago, I started doing some "in front of the computer screen" exercises to try and work some other muscles. I used to do sit-ups when I lost weight in college, but my back pain will not allow for that. To do something for my stomach, I've been working on a "breath and hold" exercise. I sit in front of the computer with a timer set for a looping 12 second countdown on screen. I start the timer and take a deep breath and let it out. When the timer hits "6", I pull in my stomach muscle as far as possible, trying to suck it back toward the back of the chair. I hold it for 6 seconds and do an exhalation/inhalation as the next 6 seconds pass. I repeat this through 20 reps (I started at 5). Because I concentrate on the timer (and whatever video I'm watching), I keep count on my hands. I start with both hands in a fist on my knees and open each finger until all 10 are out then close them again for the next round of 10. This makes it easier to focus on the timer since tracking two sets of numbers and a documentary on the history of Rome is a little too much to manage mentally.
  • I started to do leg lifts from in front of my computer. I sit with my hands on either side of the chair and lift my knees up as high as I can 15 times (I started at 5). This seems to work my back as well as my thighs. 
I will continue to add reps to all of these exercises as time goes by based on how much pain they cause, though I expect that I will have a maximum number (probably 50) based on the time the exercises take. I always start very low when I try these things because I've had enough experience to know that I'll suffer badly if I overdo it.

I walk nearly everyday (perhaps I do not do it 1 day out of every 20), because I don't have a car anyway and my bike is broken. I do the lifting and muscle exercises about 6 days a week, depending on pain or stiffness. I'll always take a day off if I feel my muscles need it.

I don't know if the exercises I'm doing really matter for weight loss. I do know that doing them makes me feel good and that it can't hurt to stretch and use muscles that may not see much use. I'm sure there are better and more productive things I could be doing, but I'm not yet ready to do them. It's not a mental thing, it's a physical one. I know my limits, and I am not going to push myself too far too fast. I've made that mistake before and seriously regretted it.

Phew. Boring bookkeeping post over. I will now return to normal programming. 


Fat Grump said...

Not boring at all. I think it's fascinating knowing how others spend their days and fit in their exercise. (That's where I fall down. I know I have to exercise but I fit it in reluctantly and some days I'll skip it, thinking a fast walk round the shops will suffice.)Considering you've been in pain before when you've exercised, I think the things you are doing now, on a regular basis will give you results. Your dedication is impressive. (Something I lack!) We all have to do this in our own way, finding an exercise programme that work for us, that we can do regularly. Some people like the gym - it's no secret that I find them uninspiring and boring. I just can't get to them because I am not fired up to attend. Even when I did attend, exercising like that, on machines in a room full of people didn't make me feel good, even when I made progress. Horses for courses I think. I am trying to find ways to move/exercise my body that suit me. Sounds like you have a plan which suits you. It's being conscious of having to do it and then just getting on with it - which ever form of exercise we choose - that is important. I have yet to reach this "Just do it stage." Lots of mind battles going on. I hope it becomes second nature to me soon. I am breathing in and holding in my stomach muscles as I type :)

screaming fatgirl said...

Fat Grump: Thanks for commenting, and I'm glad someone found it interesting. ;-)

I once read that holding in your stomach muscles is supposed to strengthen them, but I haven't actually given it a second thought since I initially read it. I'm hoping that working the stomach muscles in this way will improve my back eventually.

Today, I walked for about an hour with my husband as well as alone, and something went askew in my right knee. That sort of thing is always disappointing, but it does make me glad that exercise is the less important part of this (it's the food first, exercise second).

Good luck working out what will work for you!

spunkysuzi said...

Those are some great ideas to squeeze in exercise!

Debbie said...

I came across your blog on one that I follow and thought I would check it out. I am glad it did. I really enjoyed it and now I am a follower.

Florida Food Snob said...

You are a freaking Rock Star. Kudos!

Anonymous said...


Just kidding! Actually it's fun to hear what you are doing for movement and activity. I too must be very careful to avoid doing too much. I was lifting weights for awhile but I'm not really feeling it these days...However, I do get some exercise from mowing the lawn and trying to keep up with my HUGE yard.

Mostly, I don't know what I would do without my morning neighborhood walk with my girlfriend. We've been walking daily together since December, and it is such a wonderful part of my life's routine now. But I wouldn't be motivated to walk alone. I just know myself. I'm extremely grateful to have a dedicated walking buddy. She makes it fun.

Happy exercising!


AngryFatWoman said...

I agree with Fat Grump, this isn't boring reading. This is you taking things one step at a time and keeping promises to yourself. That's wonderful and I thank you for sharing.

Rhi B.

screaming fatgirl said...

Thanks to everyone for the kind and supportive comments, and for taking the time to read even a post that I self-labeled as "boring". I appreciate it. :-)