Thursday, December 31, 2009

My Road Map Blessings

Like many people in the world with weight problems for far to long I have been kidding myself. What am I kidding myself about exactly? Just how big I actually am! I think there are two categories that people have about themselves and mostly neither is what is really there. I believe we either see ourselves way bigger than we actually are or we see ourselves as smaller then what we really are. I'm in the latter category. Ya see, I hold my weight very well & more times then not when my weight is revealed people think I'm lying ... I can't possibly weigh as much as I state I do. Well, I do!

Some of this "not seeing how much I weigh" thinking is probably due to my wonderful husband who only sees the beauty in me, never the baggage that clings on for dear life. I AM as big as the scale says I am and the realization came at Thanksgiving this year. I went to spend it with out of state family. My mother has always been on the small side (5'2, and about 120 pounds) frustrating to no end for me cause I've always been on the big side (5'6, and averaging 180). When my mother opened the door I was shocked by her larger, unkept body. My first thought was "who is this person standing before me?" & then ... I'm not proud of this next thought ... "ha, I'm finally smaller than you are!" Ya see, with my mom's always smaller size she has always made me feel inferior to her, not possibly as good as she was cause size was what really mattered & I never measured up cause compared with her I was fat! After seeing my mother I must say I felt like a million bucks, I paraded around like a glamorous movie star. Ha, reality smacked me in the face when pictures were developed. What I saw was horrifying. Why was I pretending to look differently then I actually did? I have no earthly idea.

So today, I head to my bathroom where the pretending will come to an end. I remove all the clothing that hang in front of my full length mirror and peel away the clothing from my body. It's time I take a good long hard look at who is staring back at me. I'm not immediately repulsed by my body like I thought I would be. I think this comes from the positive force of my husband who refuses to let me speak about myself in a negative light. Instead of any negative thoughts in the privacy of my room I look for all the positives I have to offer. Starting from the top I notice my hair that radiantly shines in the light, my eyes that sparkle like the happiest child on Christmas morning, my broad shoulders ... well, they could be less bulky I think to myself but then I say, why should they be? Genetics can be a good or bad thing & all in all my genetics aren't bad. I come from strong German stock so having a strong muscular body is part of it & the shoulders are part of who I am. I continue to travel down my body with self-acceptance on the brain. My full chest is bigger then I would like but what most women pray God to have. Sure I have a few stretch marks here & there but in the end I am a mother of two ... shouldn't the marks be there? I glance further down to see my protruding abdomen ... good gravy, this sight with all it's lines & hills could easily be mistaken as a road map to no wheresville. I force myself to find self-acceptance, to accept & own every inch of me - my history, my body, and yes ... my genetics!

Yes, my body has a road map but if I follow them, they tell the story of my life. A life that I would not change even if having a fit celebrity body for life was promised. Some of the lines are from growing as a child. Most of us have them, it's natural! Many are from my 2 children are my whole life & they put those road maps there while I carried them, gave birth to them. I have a c-section scar from each. Now I'm beginning to see that those many roads are nothing more than lines of blessing. I couldn't have the lines without the blessing or the blessing without the lines. As I pass my road map of blessings I see my legs that are larger then I would like them to be but then I think of my genetics. My athletic build will never leave me with skinny arms or legs ... their strong and muscular as my ancestors left for me. For the moment my body isn't at it's peak but with every punch I throw and leg I kick I become a stronger woman on the outside and by accepting who I am, road maps and all ... I'm becoming a stronger woman on the inside. I love the sound of that!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Weights or Cardio

Question: I read that weight training is a lot more effective at burning fat than cardio, and if you could only do one of the two, you should weight train. Is this true?

Answer: Weight training is important for a couple of reasons. First, the more muscle you have, the higher your base metabolism will be and the more calories you will burn even at rest. But the actual numbers involved in a whole day of "extra" calorie burning due to extra muscle are relatively small compared to the number of calories you can burn during an hour of cardio exercise. The second reason is more important. Whenever you lose weight, you will lose some muscle along with the fat. If you don't exercise and do some strength training, up to 30% of the weight you lose can come from muscle loss, and that isn't likely to be healthy over the long haul. Good strength and muscle tone are essential for functional living and health. You can hold your muscle loss down to 3-5% of total weight loss with moderate strength training. Likewise, strength training helps to preserve bone density, balance, and many other important things. So, strength train each muscle group at least twice a week--this really only takes about 30-45 minutes per workout. Better yet, try circuit training, where you lift weights without resting between sets. This method meets both cardio and strength requirements because you keep your heart rate elevated throughout your workout, increasing the amount of calories you burn per workout. After you've met your 2 strength sessions per week, focus on cardio if your goal is weight loss. You need the cardio for the calorie burning, and also to build and maintain your cardiovascular fitness.

Stay the Course

So you're well on your way to achieving your weight-loss goals. Feels good, right? Those changes you're implementing in your life? They've got to be PERMANENT, baby. You might get into a size 8, or have a six-pack to show off, but that doesn't mean you can cheat, get lazy, or stop counting your calories.
Keep in mind, all this work — mental and physical — is helping you look at your life in new ways, with deeper insight and understanding. The bottom line is this: You can never go back to your old way of life if you want to maintain your new physique. You're on the wagon, my friend. As with any kind of recovery, just because you're rehabilitated doesn't mean you don't have to be vigilant to guard against a relapse.
All that soul-searching and honest examination has to continue. All those behavior modifications and healthy, life-affirming habits you learned have to stay in place every day for the rest of your life.
I know, it sucks and it's hard. Whatever. It's the truth. The good news is that it will get easier. You'll get accustomed to how awesome it feels to treat yourself well, not to mention how awesome you'll feel every time you look in the mirror or catch your reflection in a store window! Eventually, behaviors and choices you've had to think through will become gut instinct.
You can do this. Remember, you're doing it right now.