Friday, April 25, 2014

The mirror lies

So I'm at the gym the other night, doing a little run on the treadmill before weight training. A woman got on the treadmill directly in front of me, and I instantly felt inferior. As I ran, I couldn't stop the thoughts from tumbling through my head.

She was, as luck would have it, put together from the best parts possible. Long, lean legs. Taut torso. Arms that defied the jiggle in the tricep that most women I know are prone to. She was beautiful and athletic, and man was it hard not to compare myself to her.

I found myself wondering ... What is it like to be her? How must it feel to wear those shorts and know you're not jiggling? 

It wasn't in that beating-myself-up way that I usually approach this particular inferiority complex; it was more just honest awe that there are bodies that look like that, behave like that, run like that. Envy, thy name is Maggie.

On I ran, because I can, and I did feel grateful that in my state of something less than perfect, I am perfectly capable of working out hard. By the end of the night - after pounding out two miles and then lifting some seriously heavy barbells - I was a gloriously sweaty mess. Time to hit the locker room for a hot shower and maybe a foot scrub.

I was sharing locker room space with a several other women. Three of them had obviously worked out together. They were chattering away about their love of a particular class. One lone woman seemed uncomfortable with the whole thing, so I struck up a conversation with her. "Glad the tough part's over," I said. "Now we just get to clean up and eat dinner!" And that's when she kinda made my heart stop "How would you know the tough part?" she said. "People like you have no idea how hard it is for people like me."

If she only knew. If she only knew how I sat in the car and wept on my first day at the gym. If she only knew how hard I am still fighting to gain the healthy life I deserve. If she only knew how much I wish I had the body or the confidence to rock a pair of running shorts.

If she only knew.

Everyone, no matter how fit they appear, goes through this stuff. I believe that. I know this because when I look back at photographs of the times when I was at my physical best, I had no idea. I still craved less jiggle, more strength. So I can only conclude that the struggle is universal, and that we are all truly beautiful. We just lack the insight to see it ourselves.

So to you, dear reader, I have to tell you ... you're gorgeous. What you see in the mirror is only a fraction of a fraction of the story. You are gorgeous and lovely and strong. Your muscle may hide, but it's there, waiting for you to notice. It may be there for the world to see, pulling you through your day in a way that inspires the rest of us to do the same. Your heart, the beating soul of your body, begs to quicken its beat. Begs you to dance, to climb, to become. Man or woman, you are beautifully made, created to understand the wonder within you. You are amazing.

The mirror doesn't tell the whole truth, love. You in motion are a site to behold.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

But, weight

The scale says I am down three pounds this week. I am not sure I believe it. The scale can be a cruel lady.

That being said, my official weight since I started the new eating plan is down seven pounds. This is significant. However, last week was sort of an anomaly. I had to put my beloved pet, my best friend Benld The Cat, to sleep. Not a lot of appetite with all that happening, so it was definitely not a "normal" week. Couple that with a little bit of overdoing things on Saturday (cheat day) and Sunday (Easter), I'm not certain the loss will hold.

I have dinner plans tomorrow, then travel plans over the weekend, and lots of opportunities for eating. I will need to be mindful, but I also know I have to live my life. On May 1, I'm having dinner with my Patrick at Lou Malnati's, and I will have a slice of deep dish. I can't live my life thinking that the only time I can have pizza is on Saturday ... so it's a matter of being smart, and trying to eat within the guidelines. Even when it comes to pizza. (And a large salad on the side.)

The whole point of the eating plan is to fuel the workouts, and so far that's going pretty darned well. I'm not perfect, but there's enough available for me to do that I don't necessarily worry about missing a day. Here's what's been going on, physically, over the last week and a half:

Monday 4/14: Ran two miles, lifted weights
Tuesday 4/15: Did Rock the Funk and core class
Wednesday 4/16: Ran two miles, lifted weights
Thursday 4/17: Rest day
Friday 4/18: Rest day (oops)
Saturday 4/19: Ran five miles, lifted weights
Sunday 4/20: Rest day
Monday 4/21: Rest day (I honestly felt like I needed this; it served me well)
Tuesday 4/22: Ran five miles

For the most part, the workouts have felt good and doable. The unplanned rest days in there were in part due to being really busy, and in part because I really didn't have it in me. However, if I'm going to do my best this race season - which includes to triathlons, a 10-miler and maybe a half marathon - I need to be more dedicated. I will only get one weight training session in this week, because I missed Monday, and that can't be the norm. (NORM!)

I will say this: I am feeling good. I am probably 10 pounds away from the skirt I'm wearing right now actually fitting. It's good. I'm capable. I'm changing. I'm awesome.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Progress Report

I have lost four pounds in a month.

When you have significant weight to lose and it comes off slowly, it can be easy to get discouraged. Diets promise quick losses. Hell, the cover of Women's Health this month promised to get me "bikini ready in 10 days." (Side note: it's a distinct possibility that particular headline thinks I'm far closer to swimsuit comfort than I actually am. Also, the editor must be an asshole.)

Quick losses aren't inherently bad. They can give you the motivation you need to keep going. Losing six pounds in the first week - mostly water - can make you feel successful because of the number on the scale. But that's all it is; a number on the scale. Do I want bigger numbers? I'd be lying if I said I didn't. But the truth is, looking back over the past month, I see greater success than one can measure on a scale; far greater, for sure, than the measurement of my body's relationship to gravity.

I'm eating better; consuming whole, real foods and fueling the athletic events life puts in my path. Over last weekend, I completed a 5K and a two-hour indoor cycle event, and this week tri training begins in earnest. There's good stuff happening. But probably the goodest (oh, shut it; sometimes I talk bad) is that I'm learning not to obsess about the number.

It's only four pounds. But the difference it's made in me is so much bigger than that. I can see it in my cheekbones. My belly fits better in my bikini underwear. (I am not, however, "bikini ready," regardless of what the magazine says.) I honestly have more energy. This is not about weightloss anymore; it really has become about me, who I am, what I need, and how I can be a better athlete.

So yeah, I'm down four. I'd like to lose another 20 to 30. But the real goals are to be able to crank out 30 push-ups from my toes. Do a decent pull-up ... and then another. Those sorts of things. The rest? That's just gravy.

But since we're here, let's look at last week.

  • Monday: Did not work out; still sick. Ate within guidelines.
  • Tuesday: Took spin class. Ate within guidelines.
  • Wednesday: Took barbell class and ran two miles. Ate within guidelines.
  • Thursday: Did not work out; felt like I needed rest. Ate a few calories over.
  • Friday: Did not work out; had an event with my sister. Did not log calories. Tried to stick within program, but ate some sweets.
  • Saturday: Did a 5K, ate within guidelines (which was easy because it was "cheat day.")
  • Sunday: Did a two-hour spin class.

Honestly, this is a pretty good week for anyone, and in my case - recovering from strep and an awful cold - I think getting anything accomplished is a solid win.

So far this week, I have a solid training plan. Three weight training sessions, three runs, some yoga, some swimming, and maybe - just maybe - I'll get the bike out of storage. It's time. Outdoor workouts, here I come! (Also, when I finally weigh less than 200 pounds, prepare to cover your ears; you're gonna hear me hollering!)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

But you can just call me Maggie.

You guys, guess what? I just heard from the manager of PR at Lifetime Fitness corporate, and I've been chosen as an Esprit de She Brand Ambassador!

Esprit de She is a women's race series, and they do two in Chicago each year - a sprint triathlon and a 5K. Dedicated to "the spirit of her," Esprit de She is a great opportunity for women to come together and participate in the athletic endeavors that keep our hearts and minds healthy. I'm proud to be associated with them.

As an ambassador, I'll be sharing information about the events I'm participating in, and encouraging all my friends (well, the women, anyway!) to join me. I am already registered for the triathlon - it takes place in June - and I haven't made up my mind yet about the 5K. Unless something comes up on that date (it's July 24, a Thursday night, in the city) I think I'll do it. Care to join me?

And that's it; that's the Big News. I'm thrilled to play a small part in the great work Esprit de She does to promote fitness among women. It's a great organization, and I'm ready to go!

Ambassador Bieritz, out!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Of weddings and weigh-ins

I was out of town last weekend, so I didn't get an "official" weigh-in done. I did, however, make a fair estimate that I am down another pound. Let's hope that come Saturday morning, this holds true.

Turns out it's either not hard at all or insurmountably difficult to stay on an eating plan while traveling. Stick with me here; I promise it makes sense. I would wake up in the morning and have a cold chocolate fudge pre-made shake; I brought them with me. Perfect breakfast; set me out the door to my morning run ready to go.

On the way back up, I would stop at the St. Arbucks in the lobby of the hotel for a tall nonfat latte, no sugar. I'm getting used to these, I tell ya! Once back up in the room, I showered and changed and went about the business of doing whatever needed to be done; hair and makeup for myself for the wedding, or helping others get ready, whatever. It was nice to have "approved" snacks with me - 100-calorie packs of almonds, and protein bars that work as a meal - so I didn't feel hungry and then make bad choices.

And then, it would be dinner time. Both Friday and Saturday presented me with options any sane person would struggle with. On Friday I opted for one slice of Lou's, a small salad, a beer (oh, how I love pizza and beer) and half a slice of cheesecake. Not great by any means, but not awful.

Saturday night, however, our food choices included a mashed potato bar, a macaroni and cheese bar, and a slider bar. I was in trouble.

I ate it all. Plus a piece of cake, because it was actually good.

So I wasn't perfect ... but I didn't go off the chain, either. I think it's possible to do okay and not completely lose your shit when it comes to eating. I had fun, I ran each morning, and I was mindful of what I was eating. I didn't put butter on my potatoes (although I did go for a little cheese. And bacon.) and I didn't feel full afterward. I call that a win.

And, now that I'm home, I feel like I'm coming down with a cold. It's always somethin', isn't it?