Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Healthy Competition May Kill Me

 Anyone who’s ever met me knows I’m not a type-A personality.  I think people who know my father and me wonder how we can be related.  The last time I got up before 5 a.m. to do something fitness-related was to cheer my best friend on at the Marine Corps Marathon.  The last time my father got up at 5 a.m. to do something fitness-related was this morning.  (It doesn’t matter what the time differential is between when I wrote this and when I published this—believe me, he was awake.)
I’m a high-functioning type-B and that’s always been fine with me.  I don’t need to be in charge of every group; I just need someone to make a decision.  People who can’t make decisions drive me crazy.  This is possibly a side effect of living in the South where people tend to polite each other to death: “Where do you want to eat?” “I don’t care.” “Well, I’m not picky; what do you like?” “Anywhere you like is good with me.”  Holy crap—someone pick somewhere or it’ll be dinnertime soon.  I have literally flipped a coin on multiple occasions to expedite this process.
To reiterate, I’m not type-A and I’m not competitive (unless it comes to trash-talking other SEC schools during football season).  And then two deadly things happened.  I started working at a law firm and then got a Fitbit.  These aren’t new occurrences, nor are they bad things on their own.  I’ve just realized that the Universe has been using these two things to conspire against me and I am helpless to stop it.
The lawyers I work with are relentlessly type-A and competitive.  It’s not a bad thing.  At this type of law firm, you have to have some serious drive and internal motivation to make a success of yourself.   I didn’t realize how much this had rubbed off on me until one of the partners and a senior associate (who are working on their own personal fitness goals) decided to create a firm-wide stair-climbing challenge. 
The rules are simple: Nine floors, 248 steps, two points for going from the lobby to the ninth floor, one point for going down the same distance.  Winners announced every two weeks. Prize: bragging rights and the picker of food and drink for an office happy hour. 
As some of you remember, the fires of competition have been smoldering since I got my Fitbit at the end of January.  Each milestone and badge thrills me more than I thought possible.   I achieved my personal best of over 15,000 steps in a single day on Valentine’s Day, as I wandered through the moors, bemoaning my imminent spinster-hood.  (Or catered a 90-person cocktail party, same difference.)  And it’s just gotten worse ever since.
I reached an all-time high/low on Monday aka Day 1 of the BCNT Stair Challenge.  At least for the day, I blew my competition out of the water with nine points.  And then, at 34 total flights of stairs, I just had to try for my 50-flight Fitbit badge.  So after 34 flights, after boot camp, I come home to my apartment and run another 15 flights of stairs.  I’d met my 10,000 step minimum for the day but I realized how close I was to my five-mile goal, and that led to running across my apartment for about seven-tenths of a mile while on the phone.
I thought I was done.  I’d showered, I was watching Dancing with the Stars, having phone time with the bestie, and managed to get to 10:30 which seemed like a good bed time for the day.  Then I made the mistake of checking the Fitbit one last time.  11,518.  Well, that’s not a round number of any kind.  Sooooo close to 12,000.  I could get there… 
I’m almost embarrassed (can you embarrass the shameless?) to admit I delayed bedtime for another 15 minutes just so I could get to 12,000 and attempt to beat anybody in my Fitbit circle.
As of press time, I’m in the lead for the stair challenge.  I’m also afraid to sit for any extended period of time as I’m just waiting for delayed onset muscle soreness to set in and lock me in place like the Tinman.  And it’s only going to get worse.  I fear for my sanity.  But I’ll have the best lower half of any resident at the asylum.
In other healthy challenges that may kill me, I am officially entered in the 2014 Peachtree Road Race.  I’ve run it in high school, but I think this is the first time I’ve actually cared about finishing it.  I entered the lottery on whim the Sunday it opened.  I was under-caffeinated and didn’t think I had any actually shot of getting a number.  Cut to this morning: “Dear Rachel Boyd, Congratulations! Your entry was selected for the 2014 AJC Peachtree Road Race on July 4, 2014.” Training hilarity will ensue.

I’m having a moment.  I know I’m covered in sarcasm and self-deprecating humor, but I’m borderline giddy.  I’m nervous, but more excited than I’ve been in a while.  I think I’m just fully recognizing the amount of potential my life holds in the few months.  I don’t mind the uncertainty and I feel like a kid on a high dive, working up the nerve to take the leap, getting ready to enjoy the feeling of flying, huge splash as I land, huge grin. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Rachel 2.0

Finally!  After last week’s "not much happening scale-wise", I officially hit the 10-pounds-lost mark on the scale.  I’d been close right before the Catholic job fair, but today makes it real.  The actual number I’m at isn’t important b/c at this point in my life, it’s higher than I’d like to toss out into Internet-land, but hey, I lost 10 pounds, so happy dances all around (2 Weight Watchers Activity Points).
I’m think I may have to hit up South Beach Phase 1 again before spring really gets here.   The thought doesn’t thrill me, but I could use the kickstart to make my 10 percent goal that Weight Watchers has set for me.  I have a lot of upcoming events I want to look svelte for including a wedding this spring and swimsuit season.  Not that I should want to lounge in the sun, having had The Cancer once, but I’d like to know I’d look damn good if I did…
Speaking of The Cancer, I went back to Athens last week for a day visit.  (I’ll make a much less insulting connection in a minute.)  There was an education-focused job fair for current UGA students and alumni, so it made sense for me to venture on over.  Plus I could squeeze in a visit with one of my favorite people, so the trip seemed like an excellent idea on all fronts.
All in all, the day was a strange success.  For those who’ve never lived in the Classic City, Athens can be like Neverland for some people, and it’s easy to stay 22 if you live there long enough.  However, being 22 is not every person’s best self.  It certainly wasn’t mine.  Don’t get me wrong—I was fun and nice (I hope) and I was actually pretty responsible, going to school full time and working two jobs when I was that age.  Athens just makes it really easy to live wildly and cheaply.
But back to my awkward cancer story (as if I have other kinds): While waiting to meet my friend at Allgood, I ran into some former drinking buddies, including one guy I always found super-cute.  As they hadn’t seen me since 2010 when I moved away, the question came up of what I’d been doing the last 3.5 years.  I honestly don’t like making people feel uncomfortable or being a downer in conversation, so I hesitated.  The bartender jokingly covered the moment telling me if I’d been in prison, I didn’t have to confirm anything.  I laughed, and said it wasn’t that bad, but I had had cancer.  Un! Comfortable!
The mood recovered and the rest of the day went well.  I even surprised myself by being able to flirt.  It’s not like I had a lobotomy/loss-of-flirtation amnesia or anything.  I just haven’t had much of a reason to flirt since ending cancer treatment, through my self-imposed hermit lifestyle and lack of confidence.  But it was a little fun to realize I still had (minor) game.  In fact, said Cute Guy told me I looked like hadn’t changed since the last time he saw me.  Since I feel I looked way better four years ago, I’m chalking that one up in the “win” column.
Maybe it all boils down to what my shrink said to me earlier this week: It could just be that I’m more confident.  Four years ago, I’d gotten into grad school but I’d really only applied b/c I didn’t know what else to do in Athens.  I wasn’t happy there anymore and I wasn’t happy with who I was.  Being more active in my life through my job search and weight loss has given me more confidence that’s spilling over to other areas of my life. 

Was I thinner when I was 26?  Absolutely.  Was I more of a party girl?  Sure.  But a life-changing disease and a subsequent 14 months of therapy have taught me my time and feelings are valuable, so I don’t waste them on situations I’m not interested in.  I used to have situational confidence when my hair and make-up looked a certain way or I wore a certain outfit, but these days, I don’t feel like I need those crutches to find my value.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Becoming a Lesser Person (The Good Kind)

Breathe y'all.  I have not wasted away in the throes of South Beach, Phase 1.  In fact, I actually did better than I was expecting and lost seven (7!) pounds in two weeks!  I was thrilled.  I've also continued working on my couch to 5K training program.  I'm halfway through the week 2 workouts, but the snow days and my office (and thereby my gym) being closed and my boot camps being canceled have derailed me a bit.  In anticipation of the ice terrors, I did make sure to run Monday and Tuesday, so now I just need to fit in one more workout.

I'm feeling pretty good though.  I don't know if you can actually see the missing seven pounds, but I feel more confident, so hopefully that's coming through.  Believe it or not, I did not rush out and eat a loaf of bread Wednesday morning, though I did have some steel-cut oatmeal which was pretty glorious.

I'm currently living my life ruled by Weight Watchers Points Plus, heavily influenced by the South Beach rules.  I think that'll work best for me, as I enjoy cooking and can used both programs to create some pretty awesome stuff.  South Beach did make me think a lot more creatively about cauliflower as I've learned to make fried "rice" and pizza crust with the vegetable.  My recipes for both need tweaking, but that's half the fun of cooking.  (The need to justify my junk food/low-brow cravings is also what led me to figure out a recipe for organic, from-scratch Hamburger Helper.)  I also have seen some ideas for a cauliflower risotto, so that's going on my cooking bucket list.

In any case, with either weight loss program, they suggest a 1-2 pound per week weight loss, so I'm not expecting miracles like the one I just had, but with my running and healthier eating, I'll settle for progress.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Beaching and Moaning: The Couch to 5K Edition

I'm halfway through Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet.  I have to be honest: at the moment, I'd consider beating the crap out of someone for a piece of bread and a glass of cab.  Like "Fight Club" crazy.  But I never thought my willpower would last the first week, and since it has, I'm just going to see the rest of the time through since I'm so close.

I'm not miraculously skinnier yet, but my pants do feel a bit better and my face doesn't look quite so puffy.  But that's to be expected when there aren't any processed carbs or alcohol coming my way.  And I want fruit (lustful sigh).....

I also never thought I'd say this, but I am SICK of scrambled eggs. It's been my go-to breakfast during the snowdays and the weekend and I just had them for dinner.  I need a break.  I'm also becoming less fond of cauliflower.  When I can have flour again, I'm looking forward to trying this.

In fitness news, I started doing the Couch to 5K: Treadmill Edition today.  I love my twice-weekly bootcamp, but I miss running.  I used to look like such a badass when I ran, and I loved the feeling of getting out of my own head (a rare thing to be sure).  I also miss running with my bestie.  Anyway, I haven't done much to celebrate quitting smoking or beating cancer, so a 5K it is.  If all goes well, I'm thinking this is the one I want to do: The Luckie 5K, part of the Publix Georgia Marathon/Half-Marathon.  I might as well go for a fancy 5K.

Anyway, I was a bit nervous about running.  I've always been self-conscious when exercising no matter what my weight was, and I was just afraid of sucking and being horribly slow.  But since no one was in the gym, I turned on the Pandora 80s cardio station (first two songs were "Don't Stop Believin'" and "Eye of the Tiger") and... absolutely KILLED IT on the treadmill.  I didn't come close to a PR or look graceful (and it was a run/walk program), but I felt great during and after, and probably could have gone another five or seven minutes.  I'm not Olympic-ready, but I'm feeling more like myself.

P.S. Today is World Cancer Day.  If you are able, consider donating to a cancer charity of your choice.  If it's not blood cancer, it's lung cancer or breast cancer or prostate or thyroid....  It's all too much, so let's keep fighting against this disease.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Snowpocalypse and South Beach

Maybe you heard: Atlanta had some snow.  So I've been stuck in my apartment for the last couple of days.  I may also hold the distinction of being the only person in the city to make it home in 20 minutes on Tuesday (aka the day the snow and ice came).  I knew my low-rent apartment located 1.5 miles away from the office would pay off in spades one day.  Most people were not as lucky, including my mom who took 23 hours to get home, and slept in her car (this is why we both carry emergency supplies in our respective vehicles).

Anyway, it hasn't been so terrible. Buca and I had been Netflix-binging, reading, and sleeping 9-10 hours a day.  You may have also noticed the "I'm single/childless" subtext of that sentence. *Shrug*  The only thing I've run out of was dog food, so my critter has been eating cornflakes and snacks of peanut butter in his birthday Kong.

One unforeseen benefit of being home and stranded is it's a surprisingly excellent time to start a diet.  Background: there's an attorney in the city who's opposing counsel in a large number of cases our firm takes.  She really likes and respects my dad, and her sister passed away from cancer a few years ago, so she sort of took me under her wing, sending me little gifts after every round of chemo and radiation.  I hadn't seen her in some time when we went to lunch a few weeks ago and she looked fantastic, having lost at least 20 pounds.  I was interested in her secrets and she wonderfully decided to take me on as her dieting protegee.   She's been doing some combination of The Thin Commandments and The South Beach Diet and so she gave me copies of both and told me to read the first four commandments and and Phase 1.

Blah blah blah... I'm four days into South Beach and it's not terrible....  Okay, that's totally a lie.  Diets suck.  I have semi-lustful feelings for carbs and anyone who believes "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels" is obviously eating the wrong stuff.  I like vegetables.  I like healthy food, I just get a little resentful when someone says it's all I can have.  Among other things, I miss my favorite TV snack of real popcorn with a bit of butter and salt.  Phase 1 of South Beach is only two weeks, and I can live two weeks without most carbs and red wine.   And while I don't have to like it, I will like smaller, cuter dresses.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Fitbit Stats, Report 1

Today, I learned to how to do/make a screen capture.  The only reason I wanted to do this was because I have yet to figure out how to add an app to my Blogspot that will show my statistics automatically.  Rome wasn’t built in a day. 

Looking at my chart, I think for the next report, I’d like to get to 60,000 steps and 45 flights of stairs.  I should also probably sleep more.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Fitbit and Other Follies

I’ve always been a person who’s motivated by the visual.  To that end, my late Christmas present to myself was a Fitbit One tracker.  And I’ve totally become a disciple of the Fitbit in the 10 days I’ve owned it.  There are several models one can buy; I picked the clip-on version that tracks your steps, basal (not “basil” as I keep misspelling) metabolic rate, and sleep patterns.  I don’t really know what kind of sorcery it uses to make this magic happen, but it does, and holy crap, is it cool. 
I definitely notice that I’m challenging myself more and taking extra trips and steps, even when I don’t have to.  I’m sure I’m driving people at work crazy, as I seem to get up and walk more than they do, but I can always tell them my doctor wants me to move around as I’m at risk for blood clots (which is actually true, so it makes an excellent excuse). 
The coolest thing to track is my basal metabolic rate.  I don’t exactly understand the science behind all of it, but it’s basically the number of calories you’re burning through the day naturally and can vary with your weight.  Even on my laziest days at home, I was still burning a minimum of 2,100 calories per day.  So, theoretically, I could eat 1,500-1,600 calories per day and still be on a weight-loss track.  Excellent. (Please visualize an evil genius of your choice tapping his fingers.)
In the job-hunting forum, I’m racking my brain, trying to think of every person I know in the education field that I can remind I’m job-hunting.  Per a networking meeting, I was told to get in touch with the principal of one of the best private schools in the city.  I have a cover letter ready to go and I’m just paralyzed with fear to send it.  It’s really well-written, brief-yet-informative… all the things you want a cover letter (with resume attached) to be.   But making a leap and giving someone even a small chance to reject you is just terrifying.
My therapist says I worry too much.  I hope he doesn’t charge me for that insight, as it isn’t news to anyone who’s met me ever.
I’m also making headway on my second goal of the year, which is to increase my writing output via this blog (and in life).  My writers’ group had its first meeting last week and we set goals for ourselves.  Mine include more blog posts, work on my bridesmaids play, and to start drafting a story I have in mind for a screenplay.

In the Miscellaneous Problems section of life, with the cold weather of late, my dog keeps sneaking onto my bed while I’m sleeping.  I should kick him off, and do if he wakes me up, but it’s really hard to mad at a supercute creature who just wants to snuggle with me and wags his tail even when he sees me in my early-morning glory.