Look What The Cat Dragged In!
Greetings, folks! My goodness, but it’s been a long time!
I had started a post several weeks ago that I wanted to share with you all; in the continued pursuit of vulnerability, I wanted to come clean about the reasons behind my social anxiety. I know that a few people I’ve talked to have been surprised to hear more of the details over the last few months, and I suspect that a few more aren’t quite sure what to do with the knowledge, now that they have it.
It has taken me a long time to understand my own situation enough to explain it, and even longer to learn to ask for what I need from those who love me – but I want to set the record straight, in the hope that others might know what’s been going on in my head over the last ten years or so. The one thing that’s hurt me the most over the course of learning to open up about this is the number of people I love who have taken the news personally; this is not, and has never been, about my ability to trust others, though it might seem that way at first. It has far more to do with my ability to trust myself and my own choices. I hope I can show that in the future.
I’m still struggling with some of the wording of that post right now, and between that, life demands, and the ever-present demands of 20/20, I’ve let my post frequency dip a bit over the last few weeks. I’ll have to get back to it some other time – but for now, it’s more than time for a big news update!
Last week marked the end of Week 10 of our stretch in the 20/20 program. For those keeping count, we are committed to 28 weeks in total (plus an additional few months of lower-key training designed to make sure we keep the weight off afterwards.) Week 10 was an important milestone; in addition to another round of measurements and another check-in with our doctors, we completed our final mandatory group therapy session! Though we can always attend future groups if we want or need to, both of us were eager to close this chapter of our participation, as it’s been our least favorite portion of the program. (I’ve come to accept and even appreciate the one-on-one counseling over time, but I’m just not motivated by the group stuff the way some others are. I’d rather talk to the experts on my team if I have problems!)
That said, I’m proud of us for working so hard during the last ten weeks to be supportive, productive, and engaged members of our little groups. It hasn’t always been easy, but the folks we met along the way have all been kind, helpful, supportive, and continue to stop by to chat or say hello even now that we’re gone. I may not be in a hurry to go back, but I appreciate knowing the names, faces, and lives of others that are facing the same struggles that we are. I hope I was able to share something that helped someone else, however small it may have been. I’d love to go back in a few more months as a truly seasoned veteran, with lots of good information; for now, I’m content to know how little I know!
We haven’t had any major diet changes in the last few weeks, so we are still sitting at Stage 6. That means we have access to everything except wheat, corn, rice, and other grains. We wanted to wait to start adding those back, since things have been a little crazy (car in the shop, Aunt Flo visits, changing schedules, birthday celebrations) and it didn’t seem like the time to over-complicate things by adding back known problem triggers for many people. I’m hopeful we’ll start on those soon, but for the time being, there’s still no rush.
My measurements as of Week 10 continue to change dramatically. While I lost an inch or two everywhere, the big shift this time has been in my waist size. I’m down five whole inches from what I was during Week 5! This has been the only change that I’ve been able to notice about myself this time; at this point, I’m starting to hit the weight that I used to be before the social anxiety hit and I stopped doing anything to care for myself. That means that I’m approximately the weight I’m used to thinking of myself as. Other people keep telling me I look great and I’m way smaller, so I’m trusting in that instead of my own eyes this time! At 275 pounds, I’m now 35 pounds lighter than I was back in January, and 17 pounds lighter than the first weight measurement I took for 20/20. I still have a long way to go, but it’s working, and I’m thrilled to see it! Soon I’ll need to be dropping a size on most of my clothes – at least the exercise gear I’ve been buying is stretchy and still fits well!
John also continues to shed weight like crazy. He is getting to the point where I’m going to have to march him over to the men’s department somewhere and make sure that he picks up some new clothes that fit him! Hugs are getting nicer every day, if I may say so. 🙂 He’s beginning to catch up to my weight now, so I’m going to have to work overtime to keep up with him! Just because men have an easier time losing weight doesn’t mean that I’m going to use that as an excuse. I’m still so grateful to be doing this with him.
In service to that… I’ve also made a big decision over the last couple of weeks. When I realized that the group sessions were going to end soon, I promised myself that I was going to look into what group fitness classes were available. My team has been encouraging me to find ways to stay connected to my group members and other 20/20 participants, and I know for a fact that some of the folks I enjoyed from group do go to certain classes. I’m in 20/20 as much to work on my social anxiety as I am to lose the weight and get healthy, so maintaining some kind of group involvement was something I wanted to do for myself. I wasn’t sure that I’d be ready to try something so soon, but I’m feeling good, I’m starting to feel confident (even if I’m still far from perfect,) and I have the most supportive team in the world cheering me on – and I’m getting bored with the six and seven mile stationary bike rides I’ve been doing for self-guided cardio days! So… the time is now.
After much study of the MASSIVE Pro Club group fitness schedule, I came across a few potential candidates. Kickboxing sounds fun and I’ve always wanted to try a class like that. Zumba is a popular favorite and I know I’d enjoy it, as a fan of Dance Dance Revolution! Similarly, there’s a class called Pro Jam that my trainer described as a hip-hop dance class. Water aerobics would be doable if I were willing to get up super early in the mornings… which I’m not. But the most interesting option was the one that I’d secretly been hoping might be available at a good time for me – something called TRX.
The short version: TRX is a new-ish workout style first developed by a Navy SEAL (no pressure.) It involves special straps that allow you to perform simple exercises against the resistance of your own body weight. The good news is that it’s also very adaptable – exercises can be easily modified to be more or less challenging depending on where you stand relative to the straps in question. No matter how strong you are (or aren’t) you can make use of the equipment. I didn’t know this when I started researching, but apparently it has a bit of a… reputation as being incredibly difficult overall, and attracts many of the same lifestyle exercise nuts as CrossFit. I freely admit that I wanted to learn because people look like they’re practicing for Cirque du Soleil, hanging from straps like that! Yes, I’m a huge geek. Sue me.
My (powerlifter) trainer has been excited for me to try this since she found out I was considering it, in part because she’s a strong lady herself and is glad to find a kindred spirit, and TRX does test and improve your strength rather than just being a form of cardio exercise. (Many women get scared off of TRX because they’re afraid they’ll bulk up – this is a common misconception, but most women won’t try it long enough to find out. It seems I’m still the sort of lady that doesn’t do normal lady things. That’s OK with me.) Starting last Friday, she decided that she was going to help introduce me to things by teaching me a few TRX moves down in the free weight center. The actual class is held in a different room, but they keep basic equipment down there for people to use for their own workouts too.
Long story short – I’ve sweated more than I have in my entire life since we started going down there, and not just because the AC is weaker in that area of the building – but I have loved every minute of it. And against the odds… I’ve done well with what I’ve learned! At first I started by doing rows, just like you would do on a rowing machine, but against my own body weight using the straps. It requires you to fully trust your weight on the straps to do it right, which is both terrifying and yet exhilarating for a person my size. I’m used to not trusting my weight to anything, not even most of the furniture I sit on, so being able to truly lean back and support my own self using only those straps is amazing! Thank goodness the frame the straps are attached to is sturdy – Erin tells me she’s seen eight different people on it at once with no ill effects, so I can’t possibly be any worse!
After that, I learned to do push-ups against the straps. I still can’t do a real push-up yet, but I’m now able to get into the right position, which is huge. Thanks to the straps, it’s much easier to go as far as I can while still staying in proper form, which is the entire point of the exercise. Today, I did my first-ever squats using the straps for light support and balance. Erin tells me that most folks that are new to TRX (and certainly at my size) aren’t able to go as low as I did; I was down far enough to touch my heels on all of them today! I can even keep my core muscles engaged and tight while I’m doing it all, which I would never have guessed. I’ve been doing so well with these little lessons that Erin has arranged things for me to do all my strength training with small circuits between the straps and the mat exercises that she has me do, instead of the usual weight machines I was using.
If you’d asked me 10 weeks ago whether I thought I’d be doing squats and still breathing by the end, I would have laughed in your face. It’s all testimony to how far I’ve come, both through determination and the tireless work of my awesome team. If there’s one person I won’t live without going forward, it’s Erin – she always manages to bring out the best in me, no matter how bad I’m feeling or how tired I am on any given day. It’s always recommended that 20/20 graduates pick at least one person from their team to keep seeing after the program ends, and I’m pretty sure I’ve found mine. (My therapist has been amazing too, and I’m planning to stay with her as well, but I need the most help with the workouts and I know it.) She’s always willing to push me hard (and I’m willing to try hard) but she has a good sense for when to encourage me and when to dial it back during the tough times, and that’s so much more than I expected from any personal trainer I ever worked with. I don’t know how I’ve gotten so lucky, but I’m beyond grateful.
So… all that said, it looks like I’ll be attending my first official TRX class, starting… tomorrow at noon. I’ve only ever been to one other fitness class in my life; a water aerobics session at the Redmond public pool, something I got talked into by Cara a few years ago. 🙂 Because of the potential for my blood sugars to be unstable that early in the morning, it was incredibly hard for me to make more of those classes, but the one I did get to go to was a ton of fun! I got along well with the other students, the class was tough but fun, and the instructor was great – and I was SO tired the day after! Even when I wasn’t able to do everything, or do everything right, I still had a good time trying. I’m trying to channel my positive memories of that despite still being nervous as heck. It’s entirely possible that I’ll be the only lady in the room, or one of only a few, and I’ve never been in a formal fitness class before, much less with modifications available. Erin’s advice was to go early and introduce myself to the instructor, so that’s what I’ll do. Outside of that, it’s a matter of believing in myself, being determined to succeed, and not taking myself too seriously!
For the curious, I’ll also be doing this alone. John hasn’t made any fitness-class promises to himself, and while he’s bought a punch card to start taking classes too, he’s opted out of my crazy TRX plans. It still feels weird to me to be blazing this trail on my own, since we still often share so many interests and do so many things together – but this is one of those things we’re both working on over the course of 20/20, and it’s a good way for me to find something I like and make it my own. It would have been a huge weight off my shoulders to know that I’m not the only newbie in the class tomorrow, but nonetheless, I’ll do my best and press on, even if I have to be the only new kid on the block. I’ve been able to accomplish so much already in ten short weeks, and this is just the next step on my road to victory.
That is, assuming I can step anywhere at all after tomorrow! I’ll check in as soon as I can to let you all know how things go. I’ll also be checking in for my 10-week doctor appointment tomorrow afternoon, to touch base and talk about progress. I am preparing myself for the possibility that I may need more time in the program than I originally thought – while I’ve been losing weight like crazy, it still hasn’t been the 1-2% of body weight each week that they look for. (By that math, I should have lost 30 pounds by now, not 17.) My team is amazed that I haven’t lost more with as hard as I’ve been working, so if it comes to that, it probably just means that my diabetes is affecting things more than the average 20/20 client. They don’t like to start talking about extending programs until the midpoint or later though, so the real determining factor will probably be the 15-week checkup much later. I wouldn’t call that possibility a dread, because I’m still enjoying the vast majority of what I’m doing, but the setback would be frustrating in terms of getting where I want to be by this time next year.
Still – it’s progress, however slow it may be. I’m seeing nothing but improvement, and I’ll keep doing my best no matter what happens. I’d rather do it the right way and spend more of my time learning and changing, than rushing because I’m hoping to get out of the program as soon as possible. The point of all this is to change habits and lifestyles, not to get past the food police so you can go back to doing things the way you used to!
I don’t want to go back to the way I used to be. I like the new me, and I’m liking her more every day.
Well all I can say is as you progress with meeting people, if you act like your interested in their lives then they will do the same and that builds trust. Then as that progresses maybe you can muster more courage and go out for some after class fun with someone. I’ll bet if you asked you would get a yes. Try it sometime.
I just might! Thanks for the great advice. It’s a little bit tough around here to make long-term friends (there is a local phenomenon called the Seattle Freeze!) but most folks are more than willing to be friendly during the day-to-day stuff. Right now it means a lot to me just to be able to be comfortable and natural around others in general. It’s a new thing after so many years!
One day at a time! The goal can seem far too distant to achieve but we all know you can do it and with GUSTO! I wish I had been given an opportunity like this. Keep up the good work! Chris has given you good advice. If you’re friendly, others will be also. Let others see what a great friend you are!!
“One day at a time” has been my personal mantra since I started 20/20! It’s pretty much mandatory for getting through a challenge this big. Two months ago I couldn’t have dreamed I’d make it to Week 10, but now I’m starting to think it’s possible to make it to Week 28 and beyond. If I can succeed at the things I’ve done so far, making friends should be a cinch!
So happy for you for all of the positive changes you are seeing! And so proud of you and John for remaining committed to keeping on! Thank you so much for keeping up this excellent and interesting blog. It is really helpful towards gaining an understanding of and an increased appreciation for the journey you’all are on. -a journey of the best sort. I trust you survived the class yesterday, so an extra Whoo-hoo to you!
Hugs and love, Mom Carolyn
Woohoo! Way to go starting TRX! I’ve always been curious about that but never tried it myself! 🙂 I wish I could go with you to a class! It was fun going to water aerobics a few years back, I miss water aerobics. I might get back into that if theres a good one local early enough that I can go before Joe goes to work. Sorry I haven’t checked in a while to read your blog! I have so much to catch up on! Proud of you for all your hard work, and you look super amazing! Big hug!! <3