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Vasaris, the Fuzzy Dragon
vasaris
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March 2014
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Vasaris, the Fuzzy Dragon [userpic]
All hail the passing year and the beginnings of the new one!



Happy New Year!


For the last several days, I have been thinking about New Year's Resolutions.

I'm not much of one for them myself. There are the usual things, which I try to remind myself of occasionally -- be kinder, more understanding, more patient... well, pretty much, more everything nice and kind, really, and less bitchy, carelessly cruel, and/or indifferent. (For example, one of my first thoughts about the earthquake and tidal waves was the awful 'Well, there's one form of population control' followed by 'Chances to rebuild can reform countries.' Even now, although I have great sympathy for those who have been hit by the devastation, I find myself feeling as though I am lacking because the horror of it does not bring tears to my eyes. Mind you, we no longer have cable (which translates to no TV at all where I live) so I haven't seen any pictures either. I can't figure out if it's that I'm broken in some way or if I find bitching about something that you could instead be doing something about to be ridiculous. Send money/care packages/support international charities/lobby your congressperson/local and international business -- sitting in front of the TV and crying about it doesn't accomplish much and frankly makes me impatient about the whole thing. DO SOMETHING instead of moaning, damnit.)

In any case, over the last several days there have been many jokes at Curves about the fact that it's been slow this week but next week will probably be busy. The New Year will remind those people who haven't been coming in, in some cases for months, to try and drop the pounds that they've put on -- whether it was just during the Holidays, or through the course of the year.

It's a funny joke. It's also a sad one.

I've posted at various times about my progress, which has been admittedly spectacular over the last nine months, over 100 pounds lost, significant muscle gained, a body that looks less like a doughy pear-shaped lump and more like a woman. (On Tuesday I was startled by seeing my shadow and realizing that OMG! I have a figure! Haven't been able to say that for... what, twenty years? Not since I was a teenager, anyway.) I've blissed out over the fact that the little machine-thingy that reads %-body fat is actually coming back with a reading. Okay, so it's still nearly 50%, but instead of giving me a blank look it actually *gasp* responds! And it's not a fluke, because I've tried it twice since my last official weigh-and-measure and it keeps telling me things! Yay! [/bragging]

I think about that progress and I think about the millions of Americans who are overweight -- both more and less so than I am -- and I know that significant numbers of them will resolve to try the next diet fad, or diet pill, or miracle cure, or gastric bypass, and will fail because losing weight is so damn hard. It's so easy to skip a day of exercise, or cheat on your diet, or any of a thousand little things that will sabotage them.

People ask me "What is your secret? You're on Atkins, right? South Beach? How are you doing it?"

I, of course, reply with "Curves."

"Is that a diet?"

This is a statement that often makes me want to bang my head against the nearest hard surface. Not just because the one in my town is prominently upon one of the two main drags that make up the commercial districts, but because it's always an assumption of just a diet.

So I shake my head. "No. Exercise. And watching my calorie intake."

Mind you, there is an official Curves diet. I'm not on it, but it does exist. I might be losing weight faster if I did, but I like bread too much to confine myself to one piece of wheat toast every two weeks.

People then look at me like I am the Oracle at Delphi, spouting incomprehensible babble and hissing noises while suspended above smoke produced by dubious herbs. Like so many people (including me) they don't really like hearing that the secret is that there is no secret. It really is just as simple and complex as what the health care providers of the world have been trying to tell us for decades.

It's all about the diet and exercise. Specifically muscle building exercise.

That's one thing about Curves that I really appreciate. I've watched my mother try to lose weight for years, generally doing the aerobics thing and getting nowhere in the end because a) she went off the diet and b) she stopped doing aerobics.

Both things are bad -- exercise and moderating how many and what kinds of calories you take in really are the secret to success as far as I can tell. Unfortunately, exercise -- raising your heart rate to specified levels for thirty minutes or more -- is insufficient on its own or even with diet to help turn your metabolism into something that will work for you in the long run.

The Curves method of making sure you get some strength training with your aerobics (a strong heart is nothing to be sneezed at, but it helps to have other strong muscles in the body, even if all you want to do is open the pickle jar) really does do what it purports to do -- raise metabolism.

How do I know?

Once upon a time, not really that long ago, it made no difference when I was at work if I ate or didn't eat before work. Similarly it didn't matter if I ate during shift, although I would, on occasion, become hungry enough to buy something to eat. My energy levels were precisely the same one way or the other.

Now I have to eat. I complained once to my mother that I find it kind of irritating, really, because it was sooooooo much easier when I didn't have to kick myself for not grabbing some yogurt, or bread or something because otherwise I'm stuck searching a convenience store for something relatively low-calorie that qualifies as something approaching real food.

This is just as hard as it sounds.

Muscle at rest burns more fuel than fat at rest... and my body gets bitchy if I try and insist it burn fat for it all the time. After all, like any chemical process, it takes energy to make energy. Contrary as it sounds, it still takes food to burn fat.

I also find myself moving more than I used to. People find me boogying behind the counter -- often to music I can't even stand -- and it's because I find that have to. Much of the time it's completely unconscious, or I'm aware that I'm doing it but, despite the feeling that I look like a fecking moron, I keep it up because I need it.

Which is damn strange, really.

One hopes that I'm not turning into one of those peppy bouncy people. Although I suspect that I'm by nature too cynical and sarcastic to completely morph into one of those cheerleaders I often wanted to strangle when I was in high school.

In any case, for those few of you who actually read my journal and have asked me about Curves, have encouraged me (*happy smile*), and asked about what works... this is part of my answer to that.

1. Exercise, with strength training. Circuit training really does work.

2. Calorie intake. Watch what you eat. I should note that Slimfast.com thought that I could eat 2100 calories a day and still lose weight given that I exercise every day. I actually stay between 1200-1500, or there about. After a while it isn't even really that hard. That said, you do occasionally have to raise your caloric intake to keep from shutting your metabolism down. You have to love sanctioned cheating. If you're interested, the founder of Curves International has a new book out that discusses a lot of that in detail. I don't have the title on hand but I'll post it eventually.

3. Determination. There's a phrase that Curves has trademarked -- 'The Power to Amaze Yourself.' And it's true. One of the most important things I've learned so far on this journey is that this is probably one of the most profound truths you'll ever encounter.

You have the power to change everything.


4. Forgiveness. Because it's easy to fall and sometimes hard to get back up. But it's okay if you miss an exercise session or cheat on your diet -- as long as you don't do it all the time. Forgive yourself for lapses and failing to resist temptation occasionally. Just get back into it because you can do it.

I suspect that I'll have an essay about body image and another about exercise in general eventually, but I just want everyone to know that you can do it. Whether you get results like mine or only drop a couple of pounds, you have the power to reshape yourself and your future.

I believe. So should you.

Happy New Year!

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Comments

Happy New Year to you too! FYI, your posts aren't showing up on my f-list.

Mostly: Congratulations! You've taken control despite living in a culture which penalizes (and offers practically no support to) people who weren't born with a winning ticket in the genetic sweepstakes. I don't know whether you did the interviews or not, but you are an inspiration and I hope you understand that.

*hugs*

Weird. Well, if it didn't show up, I just spent time mocking people who reviewed Curves: Permanent Results without Permanent Dieting. Mostly because the people who miss the point, really, really miss it... or have an ax to grind.

you are an inspiration and I hope you understand that.

*blushes* Thanks. No interviews as of yet. Hope you're having a great day. :)