Thursday, August 18, 2011

Getting back into shape: Embarassing and True tales

Sooooooo I just got back from a run.

I haven't run in like 10 years. Seriously. It's been since high school, unless you count pool runs in college. Which i suppose are pretty hard, and demanding. OK, then it's only been 8 years.

I just discovered that I walk a mile almost as quickly as I jog one. Specifically I walk a mile in about 15 minutes, and I run one in about 12. High school me would be ashamed.

High school me would also kick current me's butt at crunches, leg presses, swimming, and volleyball. Current me's only consolation is that current me would kick high school me's butt at tricep extension, bicep curls, toe presses, and walking in heels. Also bicycling, but that's kind of skewed, since high school me couldn't ride a bike.

If the title and content hadn't yet tipped you off, this entry is about working out postpartum, and what I'm trying to get back in shape. I haven't been "in shape" in a very long time. In high school I might have been slimmer, and may have had better aerobic stamina, but I was by no means "in shape." I was more interested in how I looked than how I felt, and while I wasn't starving myself, per se, I was restricting calories more than I needed to, because I didn't want to let people see me sweat in P.E. but was unwilling to give up my dress code of ridiculously short dresses and purple fishnet stockings. My average breakfast was a piece of toast, my average lunch either a piece of fruit or a bagel, occasionally half a cafeteria-portioned salad. Dinner was the only meal I would actually eat a decent amount of, but that was counteractive because you shouldn't eat large meals at night, you should eat them early to give you fuel for the day, or else you should graze constantly.

So I've pussy-footed around my current shape enough, and in the spirit of being brutally honest, I'm about to admit a few embarrassing details, so I can get them out there and start to love who I am a little better.

According to my doctors, I am obese. They have their numbers and their BMI and all sorts of things that tell them that I am obese. I am six feet two inches tall, and they say I should weigh between 140 and 190 pounds. Let me state for the record that the last time I weighed 140 pounds, I was five feet eight inches, and thirteen years old. Now I am not delusional, I know I'm not in my ideal weight category, but if you know me, you know I'm not really that bad off. What you wouldn't know to look at me is that before I got pregnant I weighed 265 pounds. I then lost 15 pounds, which I gained back before I put on another 15 pounds. As such I can actually say "I gained 15 pounds during my pregnancy" and it's not a lie. However, I am considered obese, so that's supposed to be normal.

To be clear, again, I am six feet two inches tall. I have a classic hourglass figure to go with that, and broad shoulders. I also wore a size triple D bra before I got pregnant. If you were wondering, I now wear a size H. I did not even know that existed last year. So yeah, I have some fat on me, but to be honest, it was never troubling, except when I was clothes shopping. No one makes clothes for women as tall as I am, so if you don't have thin little pixie legs you can't find a dress, since they're ALL short, and if you manage to find a good pair of pants you should buy four or five pairs, just to be sure you'll make it to the next time you find well-fitting pants. Wearing I size 20 on the hips, a size 14 top and having a size 16 waist does not make life easy. Unless you have that perfect knee-length flare-skirt dress with the halter top and the waist you can cinch in with the ties. PS, they stopped making those.

Anyway, back to working out.

I have decided that this year I need to really try to get into shape. Breastfeeding has helped me drop some weight (I'm down to 245; if you're good at math you know this is less than I've weighed in a long time) and I'd like to not only keep it off, but send it to its new home with maybe another 45-55 of its closest friends. I swear, this has nothing to do with my ten year high school reunion. Which is this November. I swear, nothing at all.

So the husband has been talking about this "Couch to 5k" running program which conveniently takes 9 weeks. I get the go-ahead to actually EXERCISE next Thursday (hopefully) so I thought I'd be pro-active and start with some simple short jogs, just get in a few before I really start this "program" they have set out. Today was the first of those, and I am sad to say I cannot jog a mile without stopping. However, it appears I can jog for about a minute, then walk a minute, then jog a minute, etc. ad nauseum (not literally, thank goodness) and then get home, sweaty and hot, drink a liter of water, and sweat some more. Then, being the masochist I am, on my "off days" I can go for 4 mile walks and do crunches with the hubby.

After two days of this I can tell you, my legs feel like jell-o, my abs burn, and I'm freaking FAMISHED. It doesn't hurt that breastfeeding, in and of itself, burns 200-500 calories a day (source)  which is supposedly comparable to running a few miles. I'm burning more calories than I'm consuming, and the weight is starting to come off. I'm already fitting into jeans a whole size smaller than I used to, which is nice, but more importantly, I have a ton of energy when I'm not totally wasted from exercise. Which I use to carry the baby, stay up late rocking the baby, feed the baby, and learn to do new things one-handed. Which is why current me's arms are SO much stronger than high school me's arms. That and carrying Costco sized bags of cat food and litter.

My goal in the next few weeks is to start the C25k program in earnest, and then to add in a bike ride once a week, amping it up to two or more a week by October. Combined with the Gillian Michaels work out that Angela has started and wants me to join in with, this regimen should get me in the best shape of my life by next year.

Assuming I don't die of exhaustion before then.


  1. I know your pain. I was actually quite slim when I got pregnant, gained 80 pounds, and have never fully recovered (lost about half, and then in the last 6-8 months gained it all back). I like going to the gym, but don't always have money to sign up...and I'm not very disciplined without some form of outside structure (like the fact that I just spent money on a membership to a gym, so I'm damn well going every day). It's coming up again soon, the ability to pay for a gym membership....and it really can't come soon enough (that and my son will be back in school, which will give me the time I need to actually exercise properly).

  2. I second the "Couch to 5k" regime. It got me to a 5k. I didn't post a great time but I had NEVER covered 5k at anything less than walking pace (25-ish minute mile, so 5k in an hour fifteen) before that, and now I can do it at 12.5-minute miles. I've found that pace, at least, the distance is more mental than anything.