Better, stronger, faster

I am finally on the penultimate week of Couch to 5K. There was a bit of a break around week 6, as I was too ill to go to work, eat, paint my toenails, or even watch Maury. After a week out, I went out at 8.30 on a Friday night and ran 2.5 miles, much to my own amazement. I ran past drunks puking into the bushes, fat, bearded greasy men smoking cigarettes, and girls in what amounts to westernised kabuki makeup, wearing belts small skirts on their way to the pub. Just six weeks prior I would have been sprawled on the sofa, maybe drinking a bottle of Coke, reading blogs whilst shitty television blared in the background. No longer! Now I run past those people, ensconsed in a bubble of smugness and superiority because for once in my life I've initiated something and stuck with it.

My primary goal is to lose weight and rid myself of my massive baby gut, as I have told you all many, many times before in my whiny, woe-is-me posts. The change in my body has been quite significant, but now that I have had the chance to recover from the shock of actually losing weight despite my presence in the PCOS weight gain Hall of Fame, I'm now worried I am now not losing enough. Common sense tells me that I have been doing this since the beginning of August, and as I'm approaching my weight loss in a healthy and realistic way (ie eating well, but not dieting/starving myself), I can't expect to have lost 15 pounds or something.

I know I've lost a fair amount of weight - not only are my trousers a bit looser (that never sounds like a real word to me), but some of them are in danger of completely falling down. My tops do not enhance a series of massive, inflated rolls, but rather only slight rollage. Contrary to popular myth, the boobs are not the first thing to go on everyone, as mine cling steadfastly to voluptuousness. Bastards. My legs are firmer, my thighs slimmer. I do exercises with weights, so my arms, chest, and back are more toned than they have been since I was an athlete all of those years ago.

I think I'm doubting the extent of the weight loss because no one has remarked that I look better. Well, The Dude never shuts up about how much better I look, but he is matriomonially obligated to flatter me regardless of circumstances. I don't believe in scales, so I have no quantifiable way of knowing how much I have actually lost. I feel that I look vastly different, but if I really do and it's not all in my head, why are The Dude and I the only people to see the changes?

When I was sick, I didn't eat anything beyond a couple of bananas and an orange in three days. I know I lost quite a bit even in that brief period, and I would be lying if I wasn't slightly pleased. The thought has gone through my head that my limiting my calories even more, though not to that extreme, I could lose more weight quickly. My rational self knows that doing that is most naughty indeed, as I am also doing this to be healthy, and eating 700-800 calories a day is not that. As it is, the only sugars I consume is in fruit and my two blessed coffees per day. It's an amount of discipline I never thought I'd be able to maintain, but I have for a few months now.

I am a bit slack in the other exercises I do, I must admit. I always plan to break out my folder of exercise diagrams, cobbled together from newspaper and magazine articles, but I so rarely do. The busiest part of my year falls during the summer months, so I have been working some 10 hour days, coming home to a miserable tyrant of a toddler, and then running three or four times a week after P is in bed. When I get back in from running at 9pm, I hardly want to spend another 15-20 minutes lunging and contorting for 3 sets of 20 reps. One of the articles in my folder states that one should be dedicating 45 minutes 5 times a week to cardio! On what planet? I could totally do that if I was a housewife with no kids, but that life is not mine.

There is a point to all of this. As I'm coming to the end of my Couch to 5k programme, I have no idea what to do next. The objective of it is to run 3 miles in 30 minutes, which isn't a problem. I could do that now if I wasn't so OCD about adhering to the plan as rigidly as I do. Do I try and increase distance, or speed? I know from haunting Doctor Mama's maggot posts that I shouldn't do both simultaneously. Also - I really should find some time to do other exercises, shouldn't I? I do the weights three times a week or more, mainly whilst watching television. Ah, how I do love to combine sloth with exertion.

My head usually convinces me that I'm doing well. Otherwise, how else would I have been able to squeeze into my skinny jeans? Yeah, they aren't so much skinny as skinny-er than the denim tarps I have been wearing, plus I look like a most uncomfortable Talouse sausage escaping its casing, but whatevs man - SKINNY JEANS. The last time I wore them, three years ago and sans baby weight, I was told I had a "hot arse". Yeah, that's right. Hot. Arse. It wasn't even my husband who said it, I hasten to add.

Long story long - I would like to hear what works for you, or even what doesn't work for you. Share your wisdom so that I may live the hot arse dream again.


Jenn said...

Some time people don't comment on weight loss because it often sounds like a backhanded compliment. If someone says, "Wow you look great. Have you lost weight?", some people hear, "GOOD GOD YOU WERE FAT BEFORE!"

But anyway, I wanted to say I'm proud of you.

Tash said...

Time. Increase by time. Back in the day, when I first started running, I just started at 5 minutes or whatever the heck and every few runs added to it. The mileage and distance will come with it. The plan I'm on now since blowing out my arch is also time -- starting with 30 seconds and increasing to 8 minute chunks of running until you're running continuously for 32 minutes with no walking. And go from there.

The only time I ever paid attention to mileage/distance was when I trained for a marathon and I had a good rate of speed going in and just wanted to keep that going for 26m. My rate of speed right now is ass slow, so I'm just going to focus on time and increasing it. Already I feel by the end of the run when I'm warmed up I'm running faster than I was at the beginning, so sometimes even if I plateau time wise, I know my distance has improved.


Brigindo said...

First off congratulations that is most awesome and you are amazing.

Don't worry about the lack of comments. I agree with Jenn that often people are uncomfortable making a comment. As for tracking your progress you could try taking your measurements once a month. Eating healthy and exercising is more likely to result in loss in inches over loss in pounds.

As for what's next, I would suggest, like Tash, to increase your time. Of course you may not have that much time and/or you may get bored after awhile. If your doing cardio 3 times and weights 3 times you're doing fine but you can swap up your cardio every once in a while. This is good for both keeping interest and working different parts of your body. Dancing--even by yourself in a room with loud music--can be a great cardio workout.

Meg said...

Hey Pru - congratulations on your weight loss and getting fit! As a sad hater of exercise, my eating has been everything with my weight loss (now 7kg or 15 lbs! Yay for me!)What has helped most actually is counting calories - not for the sake of actually keeping to a limit, because I don't - I average about 1500 a day - but just because it keeps me conscious of what goes into my body. And also knowing exactly how much weight certain things put on. Like pasta and bread are worse than almost anything else. A wholemeal cheese, ham and salad sandwich with butter, mayo etc. has more calories than a medium fries from McDonalds. Also making small changes like low-fat milk, no butter on my sandwiches etc. makes more of a difference in the long term than it seems to in the moment. Also, I have been eating rice crackers like nothing else, Sakatas, instead of snacking on other things. They are only 5 calories each. And corn thins - do they have them in UK? they are 22 calories each. You can gorge them and it doesn't matter.

Also the calorie counting is seriously gratifying in an anal way. It keeps the OCD at bay, haha. I even bought a calorie diary from www.calorieking.com. I suck and I am a geek. But it amuses me.

Meg said...

Oh - and the other thing is that you only burn up about 5 calories a minute with walking, or 7 to 8 with running. It depends on your weight and metabolism though, of course.

So half an hour of running only equals a tomato sandwich without butter or cheese or anything else and a banana.

It puts it in perspective. Not that it isn't important to exercise, but if hot arse is the objective, then its all about the mathematics of what goes in.

elizasmom said...

First of all, congratulations! I had to laugh at your description of running past the other people because that is EXACTLY why I usually plan my runs to go past our town's Dunkin Donuts.

I also vote for increasing the length of time you run, versus speed. In my experience belaboring speed often ends up discouraging me, while increasing time is a much more doable challenge.

If you're looking to push yourself speed-wise a little bit, though, have you ever thought about entering a 5K race? Don't go in expecting to win, just enjoy the race pageantry. Plus, they're usually for charity so you can feel good about yourself. Then, because of the ambiance and the slight edge nerves will give you, you may surprise yourself and run faster than you thought you could.

I enter about 3 or 4 races every year — I always finish in the middle of the pack but I enjoy myself hugely.

kate said...

I have been working on my 9 week Couch to 5k program for 4.5 months now, but I have the major excuse that I have broken lungs (exercise induced asthma, bad allergies, recent former smoker, etc.) I'm thrilled that I can FINALLY run 15 minutes without stopping (which means that I'm really only somewhere around week 6... but the forward motion is all that matters, right?). Since I have such a hard time increasing the amount of time that I run without stopping, instead of following the program's duration pace, I add extra runs in each week. So instead of the three times a week, I do four (though next week, I'll try to add another short run). I figure that the point in sticking to three times a week is to give your body time to adjust to the rigors of running. And if I've been doing this for as many months as I have, I figure that my muscles/tendons/bones are prepared enough to add an additional run in each week.

So I TOTALLY get the feeling of pounding the pavement (well, the [safe, non-allergic, non-humid in-house environment where lives my] treadmill) and feeling all gloaty, and accomplished and crap. It feels frickin' awesome. I love sweating, and turning up the speed and pumping my fists and shouting random Ludacris lines with my headphones on while my scrawny husband lays on the bed watching House reruns.

And I have to say that it took me 3 months before I lost any weight at all, but yeah, your body totally changes in spite of that. My jeans are way looser, my legs are out-of-this-world hot, and I KNOW that even though I've netted only about 5-7 lbs of loss, I am decidedly firmer all over.

And weirdly, this running program is the very first exercise regime I've done wherein my boobs were not the first to go. So, I kind of wonder if it's just the nature of running or what, 'cos usually, my boobs run screaming at the first hint of exercise, but now? The girls are hangin' tough. (And believe me- I wish they'd go down a bit, 'cos those uber-supportive sports bras for "full figured" girls are damn expensive- I wish I could get away with one of those little stretchy tank thingys- cuter and cheaper!).

Anyhow, CONGRATS on coming to the end of your program! You give me hope that eventually I'll end mine, too. And actually, whether I like it or not, I'll be attempting to run a 5k in about 2 weeks anyway. So, I'm hoping to be able to run at least 20 minutes at a time by then so I don't come in dead last, so that I can hopefully finish the whole thing in under an hour!

As far as your next move, you can either begin to try to gently increase your speed, or you can start to try to increase your distance/time. I suppose it depends on your goal (beyond fitness, obviously). If you want to start winning 5ks, then start working on speed. If you want to eventually run a marathon, then start working yourself up to running 5 miles at a time, then start upping the number of days that you run until you can run 25 miles a week without problem. That's what I'd do.

Lastly (and to end this here novel...), I have to sing the praises of the Nike+iPod doodad that I recently got for my birthday. I don't wear Nike shoes, so I had to buy a little thinger to hold the tracking device on the top of my laces (instead of in the sole of the shoe where Nike has a hole for it on their special shoes), but it is AWESOME. It tracks distance, time, pace, and has a website that tracks all of that data for you. You can join challenges with people all over the world (like right now, I signed up for a Dems vs Repubs challenge for who can run the most miles before election day, so my miles count toward the dems), and you can set your own goals, too. I've got a goal of increasing my mileage per week, and decreasing my average pace (which including walking is at about 13 minutes- without walking it's at about 9 mm). Anyway, if you like that kind of thing (and you have an iPod), it's a really, really awesome motivator.

So YAY for you! Yay for someone to talk running with! Yay!!!
(oh, dear, that was far too perky. Just imagine a few fewer exclamation points in that last paragraph, eh?)

DD said...

"Trousers" don't sound like a real word to me, either.

I weigh myself almost every day and even though the pounds seem to drifting away, I definitely know that they are not coming from my ass (ask my jeans). Instead, I'm afraid that one morning I'll wake up and look into the mirror and look like a post-head shrunken victim...or somethin'.

Comfort Junkie said...

If you want to see the difference, take some photos now and compare them to your most recent ones. It's too hard to tell in person when you see yourself in the mirror each day.

The only exercise I like is pilates and yoga. I've considered dance classes but not quite ready for that level of embarrassment yet.

Betty M said...

No wisdom here as I am still carrying a load of post baby weight and haven't done anything to shift it except get moody and miserable about it. last time I was hot, hot, hot I achieved it with yoga and swimming. With swimming it was definitely upping the speed so you covered more length per 30 mins that worked for me.

Geohde said...

I'm not back to exercising yet, but when I used to be fit, I found I had to literally run my arse off. It was boring, but felt very virtuous.


Lotta said...

Fantastic that you are doing the couch to 5K. I've had trouble sticking with it cause it makes my feet hurt. And I'm a big pussy about pain.

I bet you are still wearing baggy clothes! Buy some sexy pants you will get some compliments!

Vacant Uterus said...

You are the PCOS sufferer I always wanted to be like but never was. I am that person who is reading blogs on a Friday night after a dinner of hotdogs and tater tots (way, way too many tater tots) thinking "I should be exercising!" and then getting up to get a bowl of ice cream. God bless you my dear.

The only thing that ever really helped me lose weight was birth control pills combined with Topamax for migraines and metformin. Works like a charm but should any doctor stop prescribing, I'm right back to where I was. And I'm still not able to climb two sets of stairs consecutively without getting winded. So obviously I cannot recommend this.

Good grief, I'm a terrible commenter. I'm going to stop now. You rock. Let me stick with that.

Anonymous said...

Go Pru!
You are doing fabulously, wonderfully well, and I bow in awe to your determination. Only today I watched part of the Great North Run, and mused lengthily on the non sequitur that I feel the phrase 'fun run' consists of.
Tell me, how do you stop your lovely-sounding (stop me if I sound creepy) boobs from walloping up and down painfully? I have tried jogging a bit intermittently, but am brought down by boob pain even before the lactic burn sets in.

And yes, compliments about weight loss are a conversational poisoned chalice I've drunk from in the past. You know you look fabulous - listen to the Dude!

Nic said...

I think it's fabulous that you've stuck with it! And, I think if you're running 3x/week and lifting weights, that's a pretty good mix right there. Recently I've been pretty happy with myself doing weights 2x/week and cardio 1-2x!