Something has shifted with regards to how I feel about my personal image, how I address food and exercise, and my general outlook on wellness. I have been doing really, really well with the workouts, and up until last Friday had only missed five total workouts of my six workouts per week, in (counting… giving up) however many weeks it has been since April 4th.
Then last Saturday I threw my back out. Oh, my neck and shoulders have always been wonky and I try to have a care when exercising shoulder and back muscle groups, but somehow between sitting in one spot for quite some time on the couch Saturday morning, then Bill touching my bare back with a cold can of soda so that I flinched HARD, that was all she wrote. I could NOT move my head in any direction and had to keep it firmly facing forward. I could NOT lift my arms up anywhere near shoulder height without screaming pain. I was nauseous and every time I shifted positions I actually whimpered.
I loaded myself up on ibuprofen, alternated between an ice pack and a heating pad, and slept in what I like to call my “traction” setup: a conforming pillow supporting my neck, a rolled-up towel under my lower back, and a pillow underneath my knees. When on the couch I reclined the footstool and stuffed pillows behind my back and my head. I moved as seldom as is humanly possible.
By Sunday I was feeling a bit improved, but still stayed ass-planted on the couch. Sunday evening I sat in the hot tub for a good forty-five minutes. Monday saw still more improvement, which was ALMOST totally jacked by the necessity to go out and pick up a metric ton of dog shit in the backyard. More hot tubbing yesterday, and today I feel like I might be up for some light cardio. I can turn my head on my neck in all four directions now, though looking up is still the most painful. Arm movement has returned, and I’m doing some light stretching to help work out the kinks. I am doing NO upper body weight routines until I am pain-free, whenever the hell that’ll be.
The thing is, when I first started this self-imposed exercise challenge, I was in a guilty panic any time the hint of a possibility of missing a workout came about. I wrote about how, after the first month, I weighed and measured and didn’t see any change. I had one bad day there, then I decided to completely ignore any measurable indicators of success, and just go by how I FEEL.
What a friggin’ concept. Eat right and exercise with only the goal to FEEL BETTER.
I know I’m stronger. I can see some muscles, feel a change in how I move, see a slight change in my shape here and there. My stamina is greater during my cardio workouts, and I’m steadily increasing weight and reps in my weights routines. My clothes don’t fit all that much different, but I’m not afraid to wear sleeveless shirts. I need a freaking tan like you read about, but I’m not ashamed to wear shorts. I doubt I’ve lost much weight, but I no longer care about that. I want to feel healthy and happy, which will (and does, I think) reflect better on the outside than losing dress sizes. If I happen to lose weight along the way, while I’m living this better, healthier lifestyle, that’s a great side effect.
I’m not counting calories. I’m paying attention to what I eat, how I eat it, and even when I eat it. It suddenly became vitally important, about a month ago, that I “fuel my workouts”. That’s something that’s never happened to me before. I just started pooping out about halfway through my cardio, and when I realized it was because I hadn’t eaten for several hours before my workout, I started grabbing a handful of nuts or a piece of fruit or a tub of yogurt about a half-hour beforehand. That I needed to start doing that tells me that my body is using its energy more efficiently. At some point, in the hopefully near future, I will have gained enough muscle mass to kick over to fat burning more quickly and easily.
So. Yeah. Bill would say that there doesn’t seem to be much different about me, physically. He actually kind of annoyed me the other day because he inferred that I haven’t been trying hard enough (“If you want to actually see results, you should start doing two-a-days and only eat eight hundred calories.”) When one works out six days a week for at least an hour, that’s a tough pill to swallow. But! I haven’t lost my optimism or my encouragement or my pride in myself, because I know the biggest and best change is internal, not external.
And that change has already occurred.