Catching Up, Part 2

In my last post, I talked about the physical and emotional challenges faced during the first month of my new workout experiment.

Amidst grief over the loss of a close friend, stress from taking three classes, and the struggle in returning to exercise after a 6-month break, I made it through “Month 9” of the workout and lost 5.5 inches from various areas of my body. Not a bad start.

That covered late January to late February.

What happened in month 2?

Catching Up. Month 2 of 3.

On February 26, I started the next phase in my experiment, “Month 8” of Tracy Anderson’s Pregnancy Project.

I admit, it was tough going at times, lots of balance-related exercises including a really tough one that almost made me topple over (I think I need a sturdier chair; mine’s really old and rickety). At the end of the first day, my legs were very shaky. In fact, in the final leg exercise when you have to hold yourself up by using a chair for balance and support, I felt like I was clinging to the chair. I could barely hold myself up; my arms were feeling it. Throughout the entire month, I’d end each workout feeling thoroughly wiped out.

Challenging though they may be, I like this month’s exercises because Tracy offers several modifications for leg moves if you simply cannot find your balance or lift a fully extended leg AND do the balance move all in one. That is very helpful — not only for pregnant women, I’d imagine, but also for someone like me who needs that encouragement and direction for when moves are too much for my size. I really like that she takes the time to offer those suggestions and explain why she’s doing the moves and extensions that she’s doing, and what she’s trying to reach or target. It’s very informative and helps me to focus.

Overall, this particular month felt really tough. At the end of each day’s workout, my body felt like jelly, every muscle ready to collapse. Some days I barely made it through. Mainly, I think it was the challenge of the new month’s moves, but sometimes it was because I exercised and then shoveled snow for an hour. Gotta love winter!

One thing I noticed during this month was some general streamlining around the part of my arm that connects to the shoulder and the arm pit. That whole area seemed to be smoothing out or pulling in… or something. Maybe it’s just a trick of my eyes, but when I lift my arm or lower my arm (like in the shower), I feel like it looks more shaped. You know what I mean? Anyway, it was a small change but I’ll take what I can get and keep at it.

What A Pain In The Neck!

Midway through the month, I found myself feeling very achy, and my neck was killing me. I thought I slept funny, but it bothered me all day, making me wonder if I was coming down with a cold or flu. In an attempt to stop whatever it was in its tracks, I battled back with vitamin C, Advil and warm tea, and tried to get to bed early (early for me, anyway).

The next day, I felt fine. No cold or flu. But my neck pain wasn’t gone; it was worse.

The left side of my neck was all tight and sore and the pain traveled all the way down into my left shoulder, which was also incredibly tight. And my left eye watered a lot that day. I would have thought those were the symptoms of an incoming migraine or something, but my head didn’t hurt.

I thought to myself, okay, maybe it’s stress. I have a full load of homework to do plus midterms coming up, I’m still upset about my friend, and I haven’t been getting enough sleep. Those all seemed like logical reasons for having stress-induced neck pain, but for the most part I had no idea why it was happening.

Unfortunately, my usual approaches (Advil, gentle stretching, a warm shower) didn’t help to loosen up any of the tightness or discomfort. I wanted to do my workout, I wondered if it would help loosen up the tightness, but I worried that it would simply make things worse. I made that mistake in the past, and ended up losing 6 months due to worsening injury, so this time I felt more inclined to just take it easy, ice it or put a heating pad on it, and wait.

So that’s what I did.

I took one day off from working out. (Technically, I took 2 days off, but one was my usual ‘rest day’ so I’m only counting the one day I actually said, “Nope. I’m in pain, this isn’t good, and I’m not going to reinjure myself if I can help it. No workout today.”)

The kinks did seem to slowly work out with gentle stretching. Eventually, doing my Tracy workout also helped — after I thoroughly stretched to loosen up first, the workout seemed to loosen it most of the way. But every morning for a week I woke up with a stiff and sore neck and shoulder. Made me wonder if my pillow had gotten too flat!

Whatever it was — stress, flu or wacky pillow issues — it finally worked itself out. And whatever it was, I sure hope I never get it again because it was a real pain in the neck! (I am so sorry for the awful pun, but I had to say it.)

Stress Weighs Heavily

In mid-March, I felt like I was really struggling. Not just physically because of the neck pain issues, but also emotionally because of some ‘life’ stuff going on. Not yet at liberty to talk about some of it, but it’s the kind of heavy stuff that normally would make me want to eat excessively — or, if not eating in large quantities because I don’t generally do that anymore, then simply eating a few bits of extra food but reaching for the unhealthy garbage. Essentially, it was emotional eating. Which caused even more emotional distress because I struggled to deal with that and tried not to fall into old patterns of behavior. NOT easy.

Add to all that the midterms and projects due for 3 classes, and I felt burned out and exhausted. Enough that I made the decision to give myself two ‘mental health’/rest days where I normally would exercise. (And this was on top of the 2 days off during a previous week, due to the neck pain.)

It’s amazing how the mind wants to immediately berate and punish for taking a break, like I’m somehow doing something wrong and ‘bad’ by skipping a workout or two and choosing to rest. But just as I’m working on getting my body in better shape, this is another part of what I’m working on — the negative mind stuff that needs to be stopped.

And really, would 2 days off hurt my progress? Or would it give me the rest and renewed energy needed to keep going? What’s the right choice?

At the time, I assessed myself and came to the conclusion that I was mentally and physically exhausted because of a number of trying circumstances, and made a strong decision to release myself from that day’s workout because rest was what I felt I needed most.

I’m working very hard to give myself that permission, to make those choices just as I make the choice to work out every day. To be okay with giving myself a rest.

So I did rest, and I’m glad I did because I really did need it. But it’s amazing (and annoying) to me how I still have to convince myself that it’s okay to need it.

After those 2 days off, I returned to my routine and did my workout just like always.

Results After 2 Months

After the first month, my weight hadn’t really budged much but I’d managed to lose 5.5 inches, so perhaps the fat is converting to muscle and making me a little bit smaller even if the numbers on the scale aren’t changing dramatically.

In this second month of workouts, I struggled a lot and took time off (though I made it up at the end of the month, extending my timeline with extra days). At any rate, I thought the excess stress and time off might hurt my progress. I expected the numbers to go back to 279 or 280 (or worse, go higher than what I was when I’d started).

Imagine my surprise when I got on the scale and saw it had actually gone DOWN. I had to get off the scale and get back on again. TWICE. To make sure I wasn’t seeing things. 😀

Perhaps those 2 days off actually helped rather than hindered. Maybe it’s simply bullshit myth, but I’ve heard it said that when you hold onto stress, your body will sometimes hold onto its weight (or even gain weight). Maybe taking a couple of mental health/relaxation days to recuperate from some serious stress has helped me let go and get the metabolism moving again. You never know!

At any rate, when I got on the scale, I found I was down to 275. For anyone keeping track, that’s 5 pounds since the previous month’s weigh-in. Not a huge number, but much more movement compared to my scale progress in month 1 of this experiment. So I’ll take it! I’ve got a lot more weight to lose, but every 1/2 pound counts.

Also of note: I’ve lost an additional 4 inches.

The Breakdown:

  • 1 half-inch off my bust
  • 2 inches off my ribcage (under-bust area)
  • 1 and 1 half-inches off my waist
  • 1 half-inch off my hips

No change to my thighs or bicep measurements, though I admit that measuring myself in those areas is not an exact science. In fact, it can be pretty darn awkward.

To sum up: after 2 months I’ve lost 9.5 inches and 5 pounds.

It’s slow but steady and I keep going and trying as best as I can.

Next up… Catching Up, Part 3 of 3, otherwise known as “Month 7”!

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