As some of you may know, I have taken a teaching position in the UK last fall. I am very fortunate to have found work in my exact area of research even if it is 7,000km away from home. I moved last September, but my husband stayed in Montreal (good job, home ownership, daughters in university kind of responbilities) and so I am now living between Montreal and London following the academic calendar (happy to only be teaching fall and winter sessions!).
The first few months were crazy, as I landed in the UK without a rented apartment. Spent the first few weeks in an AirBnB and a few hotels as I tried to find a place to live and grapple with the differences between UK and Canada all while trying to settle into a new university, teach for the first time at both the Undergraduate and Master's level (3 classes that I had to put together from scratch) and meet new people. Needless to say, diet and exercise were the last thing on my mind. The loneliness, stress, and the weather did not help - comfort food and beer abound.
Today, I am getting ready to go back to the UK after 25 days home for the holidays rejuvenated and ready to get things back on track. I have a nice little flat next to a park with an outdoor gym (its a thing!) and a short path that would be good to run a few laps and I have already made it a habit to walk to work (it's 3.4km each direction) 4 days a week.
Although I have gained most of the weight back that I lost 2 years ago, I am ready to push forward now that my professional life is on track and get my health back on track.
Here is to 2015. Be true to yourself, be honest with yourself, admit when change needs to happen, embrace it, use it and power onward.
Posted on 1/06/2015 by velix
Just an update for anyone around who has been wondering where the heck I went and what the heck happened.
The bad bits is that I gained back a large portion of the weight I had lost (back up to 226). It is no surprise as I had let my gym membership go, returned to eating what I wanted when I wanted with no thought besides simply feeling gross.... I have spent the last 2 years applying for jobs in my field (Academia) and the constant train of rejection letters really played a toll in the way that I saw myself and in turn, it was reflected in how (poorly) I took care of myself.
The good news. After two years of applying on every teaching job remotely related to my field, I got shortlisted, interviewed and hired for my dream job!! I am the new Lecturer in Game Studies Theory at Brunel University, West London ... that would be the London in the UK!
This means HUGE life changes as I come up on my 41st birthday ... It is a permanent full time forever job, so -- I am moving to the UK come this fall (my first university duties start on Sept. 14th!!). My partner (of 19 yrs) and I are both excited and extremely sad - as I have a 3 yr probation period before falling permanent - so we will commute (!!!) for the next three years between Canada and the UK. My girls are excited though - now they can come visit me somewhere fun!
With the teaching position firmly in place, my body image issues are all creeping back up (accelerated by the fact that they also hired a hot young thing at the same time - she is so cute and vampy (in a good way) that I feel all old and lumpy....) SO - I NEED to get back to being healthy, feeling good about myself, good in my skin again - not because of my colleague but more because I will be in front of students every day and heck knows I will be nervous enough - the last thing I want is to struggle with how I look.
All that being said, the next month and a half will be tough emotionally as I prepare to move across the ocean w/o the love of my life, my friends, family and support system -- AND there is pretty much a going away party every weekend starting Aug. 8 until I leave. I will start tracking again best I can - it won't be pretty, but I need to see the numbers again so that I can get this train out of the station....
So with that - I am happy to be back and look forward to cheering you all on as I go =)
Posted on 7/22/2014 by velix
As a money (and time) saving measure, I have to start working out from home. I have always found that a challenge when it is not coupled with working out at the gym, but the money needs to be reigned in a bit for the next while, so I have two choices. Get over it and work out from home proper, or stay/get fatter/more out of shape. SO - combing through all my programs from the last 4 years, I made a nice little 2 day workout program. Did my first one today - took 67 minutes. Was hard not to quit, but the advantage to working out at home (not having to "look good", and being able to talk to myself out loud) really helped. Here is what my workouts for the next 2 weeks look like:
10 minute Jump Rope
Squats with Ammo Box
10 minute Jump Rope
8 x 2
10 x 2
Ammo Box Chin Up
10 minute Jump Rope
10 minute high step up (18")
DB Pec Flies (grey ball)
10 x 2
Push ups (grey ball)
10 minute high step up (18")
Full Sit Up w/weight
10 minute high step up (18")
Bent Back Flies
10 x 2
Plank Push Up (one arm at a time)
Posted on 1/09/2014 by velix
Back up to 220 ... I won't even bother with "how did this happen", because I can chronicle it from memory. If you stop working, you don't get paid. That's pretty much all there is to it. Stop working out, stop eating right will catch up with you no matter what. So - today - horrible morning - instead of sticking my head in the sand and pretending that nothing's wrong (or that I am gaining all my weight back...) I decided to face it head on like I did when I started this journey two years ago. Logged the horridness that was my morning intake, put my post it notes to myself back on the cupboards and will do at least a 30 min. workout today if it kills me. Life journey indeed!
Posted on 1/05/2014 by velix
That 217 weigh in was 8 lbs of pizza, popcorn, beer and surely bloat. I weighed in at 209 again this morning.
The better news is that I volunteered at the Spartan Beast in Ottawa Canada yesterday. The beast is the biggest of the three distances (excluding the invitational Ultra). It was just under 25km (15.5 miles), and had at least 30-40 obstacles. It was run on Mont Ste Marie ski hill. A friend tracked the elevation and it was a doozy! (up and down 6 times!). After helping out with the obstacles, water stations and cheering on the racers, I've realized that I think it is best that I got injured this year. I know in my heart I could of finished it. And my race time is not important (the winner was 3:01 and the longest was 11:31) - but I want to be able to do the course and enjoy the suffering (as Spartan races are always grueling) instead of feeling like I'm done like I felt at the last obstacle at this year's Sprint (a mere 5.1 km, 20+ obstacles!!).
The best news is that I traveled to Ottawa on Saturday night with 2 women who I met online (via a race related FB page) - one was racing, the other was volunteering due to an injury as well. We stayed at a woman's house whom I've never met in person, who opened her door to us (She had just completed the beast in Toronto the weekend before and was volunteering in Ottawa as well). We had a bbq and two other women from the same group came over and we chatted all things fitness, getting back in shape from illness, obesity, or just a sedantry lifestyle.
It was an amazing 24 hours where I met new friends to support me in my journey to the Trifecta next year. Women who have faced their own forms of adversity and share the love for obstacle course racing.
And as a motivator (one of many!), I bought a pair of Spartan Race running capris - size large - the biggest size they had, and I cannot get them higher than mid thigh. Challenge accepted Reebok. Challenge accepted!
P.S. THANK YOU to all of you who have been incredibly supportive over the last year - I think the combination of MFP and the OCR group on Facebook, I could not ask for a better group of people behind me.
Posted on 7/22/2013 by velix
I got on the scale this morning after a bad night of pizza, beer and popcorn (and realistically, a year of eating like crap, and hardly moving my ass for more than a few days in a row). It said 217.8. I almost cried. I have not felt this horrible and gross in over 2 years.
I am trying to harness this shitty feeling - remember it (again) and use it to force my ass back on track.
This is simply ridiculous and I am ashamed of the support you have all given me - hardly feels deserved this last year. Thank you for not giving up hope on me even if I blatantly did. NO MORE EXCUSES (or rationalizations!).
Off to Ottawa volunteer at the Spartan Beast. A race I SHOULD be running had I stuck to my plan last year. Looking forward to meeting a great group of women who I admire and inspire me - no one can make change but me. It's time for me to be accountable again, and stop lying to myself about the damage I've done.
Posted on 7/20/2013 by velix
As anyone who has read this blog (or heard me rant on my profile page), I have been in a steady state of decline in terms of regaining weight and not being faithful to my exercise regime over the last year. This is in complete contrast to the big dreams I had for this year.
Last year I ran my first Spartan spring, loved it. Ran the Run for your Lives 5k OCR for my birthday in the fall. I have a strange love/hate relationship with the sport of obstacle course racing. In essence, I love the idea of them, I love parts of them while running the races, and I LOVE the feeling of ass kicking accomplishment that comes with finishing them.
For my birthday, my sister bought me a Spartan season pass for 2013 so that I could work towards my goal of obtaining my trifecta before my 40th birthday this fall. I ran the Sprint in May, did a Mud Hero race for fun with my daughter, and was getting into the mental groove to tackle the Super (12k, 20+ obstacles) and the Beast (22k 25+ obstacles). I had resigned myself that I was not in the shape I was planning on being by this time, and started looking at how to simply endure the course, make it through my sure to be many burpees, and simply accomplish my goal no matter how long it took me. I have a great community of women in a facebook group dedicated to OCR's that really made me want to push myself.
And push myself I did.
There was a group challenge a few weeks back - complete 150 or 300 full burpees (w/push ups) - as per your physical ability - in one day. I have a hard head. I wanted to go for the 300 even though I had never done chest to the ground burpees before. I managed to do 210 in 4 hours (sets of 20). I could not do any more. The next day, I was in a lot of muscular pain. Typical, I believed since I was not really half in shape as I dreamed of being....
A couple of days later, I went to show a friend the full burpee and as I was pulling out into plank position felt the most disgusting rip along my lower abdomen. I grabbed at my stomach, stood up embarrassed and continued on with my night. When I went to bed, I could no longer roll over, sit up or lift my legs without assistance (and a horrid ripping sensation across my lower stomach). To cough or sneeze, I had to bend over and push firmly on my lower stomach to minimize the pain.
Then I did the Mud Hero race with my daughter. After a few obstacles that I had to modify due to pain, I approached a fireman's pole and sat there thinking I should just climb down the structure... Against my own judgement, I went down a fireman's pole and fell into a heap on the ground as I felt the sharp ripping feeling tear across my stomach - like a hot knife slicing every fiber. Refusing the medics, I continued and finished the race.
Now, 6 days to the Spartan Super, my lower abs feel about 70% better. I can cough again, lift my legs again while laying on my back, but can tweak the injury pretty easily if I twist my torso too fast or sit up without using my hands for support from certain angles. I am not sure I can do a full burpee and am too afraid to try, lest I tear the muscles again.
The harsh reality of this situation for me is that this injury is 100% my fault. It is the reality between big dreams of being something that I am - in actuality - not (or at least not yet). I am not in shape anymore, and pushing 210 burpees on a weak abdomen was irresponsible of me. It was one thing to think I could take the races slow and finsh them, but it is another thing to hardly lift a finger towards getting my body into the shape it needs to be to push my body well past its limits. Knowing that my body is no where near the shape I dream it to be, the limits in my head and my physical limits are two different things.
And so, if I am to be honest with myself, this is my consequence of not training hard enough, not training long enough, not training properly for the grueling (if exhilerating) Spartan races. I will still aim to do a few less competitive races this summer, but have to be realistic and admit I am in no condition to complete my Trifecta before my 40th birthday. It's a hard pill to swallow - harder still as it is a pill of my own making.
And so, I am faced with making the decision to call it a 'season' and forfeit my last two races. I must now get to work on making that dream a reality for next year - perhaps this is the lessonI needed to make me realize that a dream cannot be materialized without the hard work necessary to make it come true. With this, it is time to make changes (for what feels like the hundreth time). Turn to the amazing group of women here and on the FB group and push hard to train for next year - I WILL get my trifecta - just in a different age group!
Posted on 6/23/2013 by velix
Remembering them when you are in a slump is hard.
One of my motivations for losing weight and getting healthy is my two daughters - 16 and 20. I want them to see me happy and healthy. I want them to know that you can do anything you set your mind to. I want them to enjoy a healthy lifestyle as the default instead of struggling to make big life changes like I've been struggling with. So far, they have made me proud. My oldest daughter enjoys the gym even if she goes alone, and my youngest played football on her high school team for the last two years.
One thing I never dreamed of is being active and healthy together. Two weeks ago, my 16 yr old and I went Stand-up Paddle Boarding together for the first time with a couple of friends. Today we went for our first run together (3.2 km) and this coming Saturday, we are running our first obstacle course race together (Mud Hero, Montreal).
For myself, I am proud that I am trying new things, getting out there and being active as I get older. But even more than that, as a mom, I am so happy that we can be active, try new things, and ultimately, build a bond that brings us closer together in a way that is healthy for the both of us =)
Posted on 6/10/2013 by velix
Losing weight is a mental challenge and a mental battle as well as physical one on so many levels. I struggle with wanting to be thin and 'look good' (yes, even at 39, I am concerned with not only how I feel, but how I look to - and how I look directly impacts how I feel, no matter how much I try to fight it on a "I know better" level) and wanting to be healthy. I know these are not mutually exclusive, but at times, it sometimes feels like it.
I struggle with body image, even when I feel fantastic. My profile photo from yesterday's race is case in point. I was sad when I saw my race pictures. I did not feel like what I looked like. At least to me, what I see when I look at the image of a plus sized woman covered in mud. I don't mean to be self-deprecating - but I felt like a lean powerhouse on some of the obstacles yesterday - I was hoping to see that reflected in the pictures. I know my friends and colleagues see something completely different, but its hard to see yourself through other people's eyes.
But along this journey that is my life and battle with weight, healthiness, and body image, I have discovered that I can do anything I set my mind to. I am goal oriented - and this is news to me. When I finished my PhD at 38 years old, I realized that I had conquered an intellectual peak I only dreamed of. Next, I wanted to conquer a physical feat - beyond just losing weight.
What obstacle course racing has taught me so far is that no matter what I think of my body (in terms of body image) if I push past my mental hurdles (see my last post about getting over myself...) I am able to do things I never thought possible. It is not about big or thin, it is about health and drive. Ambition. I know that I am strong. That I am able. These races show me that I am healthy (or healthier than I think/look...) even if I have more weight to lose.
They also show me what I need to work on. They remind me that I still have a long way to go to be as competitive (with myself) in real life as I am in my head. They show me that it's not about losing 10 or 20 more pounds, but that I need to work on my cardio, lung capacity, upper body strength, stamina, endurance, to push myself past my own limits, and keep moving forward even when I want to quit.
These are things that counting my calories, working out at the gym 5 days a week and weighing and measuring my body does not do for me and my mental well-being. Obstacle course racing helps me get over my body as an outter image, and focus on it as a machine that can be tweaked, tuned and made to perform better in activities. While I still feel insecure at the start line, and moan over my finishing photos, 5 minutes after the start, I forget about body image and just do. Wether its struggling up a mountain side, crawling through mud under barbed wire or feeling like a beast doing the Heculean Hoist, I forget about what my body looks like and focus on what it can do.
It is a lesson that I am constantly learning with each race and each time I train for one. It is a constant work in progress, moving closer to being healthy instead of being 'thin' again.
Posted on 5/26/2013 by velix
I am sitting here waiting for a friend to call so that we can head out for one last trail run before Saturday's Spartan Sprint. I did the sprint last year, and another OCR and absolutely loved it - well - I loved the feeling of accomplishment afterwards, and getting full of mud. I have trained more this year in some ways - like actually getting my ass on a trail and jogging for more than 30 seconds at a time. But I haven't trained in other ways as I did last year (no gym for a few months = no weight training). Of course, I've done a lot of crazy yard work, pick axing, wheel barrows full of top soil uphill, carrying 50lbs cement bags - all very Spartan worthy activities.
But I feel fat.
It is horrible I know. But with the extra pounds that I have on my body, it's all through my mid section - my 'spare tire' is prominent - and not very attractive in my running tights.... or tight tank top that is essential for crawling in the mud then running 5k....
But I am a Libra. I can never feel and think the same thing. My brain tells me that just because I am 208lbs, does not mean I am not strong (and fit to a certain extent). My training and racing partner only weighs about 140 tops and is 5'1. She succeeded on all obstacles last year and did no burpees. I am jealous because she can make it across the monkey bars and I can't let go of one. But she admits that she did not try the wheelbarrow full of top soil uphill when she was helping me with my yard work cause she knew her strength (and limits) - she is a great friend - constantly reminding me that our strengths and weaknesses are different. I know that strong comes in all shapes and sizes. Roller Derby girls, weight lifters have big girls that kick ass and even excel at their sport (in case ot RD, size comes in handy if you are going to be a blocker!). I KNOW in my head that I can kick ass too.
But when I have to squeeze into clothes that stick to me like glue, I feel like people are laughing at me - thinking - who do I think I am, I KNOW that "no one cares" and "do my own thing" - my friend says its because I am egocentric that I think that people are looking at me - but I think its more about comparing myself to other people - which at 40 - can't I just get over myself already and just get out there and screw any negativity I feel coming my way?
I KNOW that running the Spartan races - whether I finish in record time, or come in last, that I am out there doing it and that's all that matters. But damn if I don't feel like I should be wearing a sports bra and hotpants with washboard abs at 40 (like so many of the fantastic women in the OCR world). I KNOW I can't keep comparing myself to others - and the worse of it all - I KNOW i can change the way I feel and look if I just focus - that I can actually change the body I have ... I mean, I still get out there - and usually 20 minutes into a trail run, I feel fucking fantastic (yes, swearing is necessary here) - but damn if the mental turmoil I struggle with each and every time I get ready to go out doesn't damage my soul just a little bit.
On that note - shoes are tied, and out the door I go - feeling nauseous but out nonetheless.
Posted on 5/23/2013 by velix
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