I Am That Girl Now

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Frustrated and sore

On the one hand, I'm really proud of myself for switching around the exercises I do for my lower-body workout (it now being Week 5 and all) and discovering that I can really challenge myself. And I'm horribly proud of being able to step up onto a chair for my quad exercises, rather than the wussy step I had been using before (okay, okay, so it was three big dictionaries stacked on top of each other, it was still a lot lower than the chair). And I'm bustin' my buttons over my continuing quest to conquer the dreaded Lunge; I'm no longer avoiding it, I'm tackling it head-on, and even though I am horrible at it and my form suffers after two sets (and only gets worse), I am trying to get better at it. You know, I feel like informing everyone in the world how much ass I kicked yesterday at my workout, even though I was wobbly and fairly inept on several of the new exercises, because I did it, and I did it without fear, and I didn't wuss out of a single rep. I want to point at my twanging leg muscles and say "Check this shit out! I am WORKING IT."

On the other hand (for once there was a hand, at the beginning of that first paragraph, and now this is the other)... oh, on the other hand, OW. I have first-hand proof that as dumb as I looked and as piss-poor as my form was, I did manage to work the hell out of my glutes, hamstrings, and quads, because right now they hurt like blue blazes. I'm sad that my calves and abs aren't yelling at me like this because clearly that means I didn't work them half as hard as the other muscles. Hell, I knew I didn't-- the calf exercises I picked proved unwieldy and I positively half-assed the ab exercises, and I knew this at the time, so this is just the proof. Granted, this is probably the only thing that's permitting me to walk in a halfway normal manner at the moment, but that's hardly the point. I gotta get my game on for the calves and abs.

Actually, I was thinking of swapping out the calf exercises for some that would focus on my tibialis anterior muscles. Here's the scoop: my calf muscles are ahead of the rest of me by about a mile, thanks to about twenty-eight years of walking wrong. When I learned to walk, I walked on my toes. Eventually, in college, an acting coach informed me that my "distinctive" walk was a problem and had me work with a dance instructor to learn how to fake "normal" walking. Thus I worked things out so that my heels were no longer sticking in the air and I didn't bounce so much. I did, however, still have some of the bounce, and my whole balance was off. I propelled myself on each step completely via my calves, as if I was springing into the air on each step.

When I started running, it became really obvious really fast that this was just not going to cut it. For one thing, I kept hurting myself. For another thing, I was wasting a lot of effort pogoing up and down, effort that could be better spent propelling me forward. Lastly, it was screwing up the way that my shoes fit. It was all bad.

So for about the past year I've been working like mad on normalizing my walk. I concentrate more on which muscles do what and how to move properly than anyone who's not in physical therapy. I think I'm having some pretty good success-- I even have legitimate calluses built up on my heels now!-- but my stupid walking saga has thrown a bit of a monkey wrench into my lower body workouts. For one thing, my quads and hamstrings, hip flexors, and the aforementioned tibialus anterior muscles are sadly weak, since they rarely had to do work before about a year ago. For another thing, my calf muscles are already enormous in comparison to the rest of me, and I feel like they're pulling my legs out of balance-- not just in how they look, but mostly in how they work.

Which is why I'm considering the switch. I'd have to find something at home that could operate as a proper block to stand on which would also have something nearby to hang onto so that I don't, you know, fall over. I'm considering grabbing my barbells and heading to the sun porch, which has a concrete step. The other option is to step up on top of the nearby toy chest (now used to stow all my weights and other gear) and hang onto the wall for balance. I'll have to test things out before Sunday.

Foodwise, my main foe this week is not so much other people as it is my own anger. I've discovered that when I'm required to attend a gathering which is intended to be about a) chatting with other folks and b) eating decadent food, and a) I don't like the other folks particularly well and dread making hours of small talk and b) I don't particularly care to eat the food, well, this presents a problem. I feel left out, I guess. I used to be able to finagle my social ineptitude by focusing on the food and alcohol; a few drinks made me MUCH more of a party person, and the food meant there was always something else I could go do that wasn't involving talking to people. These days, I eschew the alcohol and cut way, way back on the food, and this leaves me with being far too aware of how little I really know about how to operate in this kind of social gathering. I feel like nobody wants to talk to me, and I feel uncomfortable butting into other conversations or hanging onto the sides of large groups like some kind of leech. My Hub, who is none too good at the social game himself, depends on me to be his "in" in these situations. All of these things together make me overburdened, resentful, tense and unhappy. (I can't imagine why more people don't cross the room to talk to such a clearly pissed-off individual. A mystery!)

Last night we got to go to a White Sox game on the company nickle, which was good, and were treated to dinner on the patio at the game, which had sounded like an excellent idea when we first heard about it. The problems started early and kept coming. For one thing, we were taken to the ballpark an hour and a half before the game started, with nothing to do besides eat, drink, and chat with our co-workers. (See above for my problems on that score.) The "patio" turned out to be a huge bunker-like room underneath the stands, with a view of the field out the front-- well, a view of the field if you were lucky enough to be on the lower portion of the patio, which we were not. The place was packed with other companies and parties and whatnot, and the resulting din was just astonishing. (And it echoed, too. Very special.) We got to grab foam plates and eat from the buffet, then go sit at metal picnic tables lined up in rows. Terribly classy.

Oh, and the buffet. I'd like to state for the record that my Hub and I do a better buffet for our guests than the White Sox do for their patio guests. There was a choice between burgers, hot dogs, fried chicken, and "Cajun Chicken" which was fried chicken with (my Hub tells me) a vile spice mix in the breading. For sides, there was a choice between three indistinguishable forms of goopy starch along the lines of potato salad.

I got the hamburger. This proved a mistake. It was one of those patties that has lost all trace of its origins, greasy and dead and tasteless. I loaded it up with tons of mustard and onions and tomato, and took a few extra slices of tomato for good measure. This did not help much.

My Hub was having a lovely time, eating everything in sight. He started with one of everything and went back for a second helping of everything. There's nothing he enjoys more than (and I swear he capitalizes it as he speaks, there's awe in his voice) Free Lunch On The Company Nickle. As we're getting two lunches, two snacks, one breakfast, a reception and this buffet On The Company Nickle this week, he's been happier than a pig in slop. (Not an attractive comparison, but strangely apt, particularly considering my mother's farmgirl recollections of a farm cat's reaction of horribly offended dignity when tossed into the slop: carefully lifting one paw at a time, shaking it off, and placing it gingerly into the muck before repeating the process with the next paw. If my husband is the pig in this scenario, I was that cat.) I sat there with my empty plate, post-burger, sipping my Diet Pepsi and watching everyone eat and go back for more and eat more.

Which reminds me, I need to mention the most bizarre comment I've had since the dieting thing began. While I was sitting and sipping and reminding myself that boredom was not a valid reason to eat and that even if it was, I didn't want to eat this utter shit, our receptionist sat down next to me. "So what'd you get?" she asked, pointing at my empty plate. "NOTHING?"

Now, this woman is perfectly nice in many ways, but she continually steps over the line when it comes to commenting on my weight ("You're getting too skinny!") and my lunches ("Is that all you're having? My, that's so HEALTHY"), and I'm kind of on my last nerve with her. In short, my days of accepting comments like this with bland replies are so totally over. "No," I said, "I had a hamburger. Its apparent invisibility at this point is due to the fact that I've already consumed it and it is now residing in my tummy." (I actually said this. Rattled it right off. I'm surprised as hell I managed to say anything at all.) She got quiet after that, and eventually went to a different table.

I hate that shit. I really do. I had my fill of dealing with comments on my food intake back when I was heavy, and it was part of what led me down the primrose path into binge eating, hiding wrappers and going to different stores every night so that nobody would recognize the fat chick buying two bags of chips, a 2-liter of Coke, and a pint of Ben & Jerry's. So you know, I'm primed to go off in situations like this when I have done ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG, dammit. I have standards. This is becoming less about diet and more about the fact that I really hate eating lousy food. I am really sick of excusing that fact.

Anyway... onward. We eventually fled upstairs and found our seats, hanging out with the cool kids (in our company, that would be Accounting, God help us all). That part was actually kind of fun. Eventually, however, the problem set in that a) baseball is a slow, slow game, and b) even stuffed to the gills with crap food, my Hub cannot long resist the siren song of ballpark grub. When the other folks finally appeared from downstairs, they were similarly inclined, and soon people were coming back with the ballpark treats denied them by the nasty little buffet-- nachos, ice cream, peanuts, pizza. And more beer. My Hub went off for a bathroom break (he had, while in the realm of free food and beer, gone through several pints of beer) and, after a long absence, showed up with pizza, beer, and peanuts.

I gave in to the peanuts. I do love eating peanuts at the ballpark, partly because I eat the whole thing, shell and all. (Oh my, what fiber I got.) I ate some of them. I had some sips of my Hub's beer to wash them down. I spent some time jointly making fun of another game-goer with a co-worker: suffice it to say that white pants should not be worn with thong underwear. I got really bored, because it occurred to me that most of my previous fun with ballparks was due to drinking overpriced crap beer and eating overpriced crap food in the gorgeous summer weather. Gorgeous summer weather we had, but the food, not so much anymore. Good grief.

Thank God, we took off after the fifth inning. The Sox were badly behind (I haven't even checked to see the final score), it was already 9 PM, and it took us over an hour and two trains to get home. Grrr.

I got home, I went directly to the freezer, dished out a small bowl of the new Breyer's CalSmart ice cream, and ate it. I was on the way back to the freezer with the intent purpose of getting more ice cream when a loud voice in my head said YOU. ARE. NOT. GOING. TO. EAT. MORE. THAN. ONE. SERVING. I therefore got out my daily dose (neglected for days on end-- whoa) of Dove's chocolate, sat on the couch, ate it with less savoring than normal, and then drank a giant glass of cold water.

I'm not counting that as a binge at the moment, because although it desperately wanted to be one, it didn't get to be. I'm discovering that having my Inner Cartman being pissed at me for calling a halt to the festivities is almost as distracting in the emotional sleight-of-hand switcheroo sense as spending time after the binge hating myself for binging. Awareness is a gift: if I know the rules my stupid subconscious plays by, I can play right back. So this is good.

I'm also pleased that there was a single serving of ice cream (70 calorie, low-fat ice cream, at that, and not too shabby tasting) and a single serving of chocolate, both things that I would have gone apeshit on before. I'm pleased that I instinctually used a small bowl. I'm very pleased indeed that the loud voice in my head showed up when it did, rather than hours after the fact; perhaps it has invested in an alarm clock so it can stop being so damn tardy. These are good things. I'm not happy with myself for giving in to emotional eating, but I seem to be managing the kill-switch earlier and earlier these days, and that is very damn good news indeed.

I was up late, and pissed off, and pissed off that I was going to be stuck in more of the same situation today, and I still pulled that off and then got up this morning and hopped on the treadmill (okay, more like "dragged ass over to the treadmill", but I did it) and waited to eat breakfast until we were at work. Right back on track. This can be done: I'm doing it, by God.

My problem-- my continuing problem, since that was just Meal One of many this week-- isn't the food. I don't need food when I'm not hungry, and I'm becoming snobbish about quality so I really don't need crap food. (And like Dietgirl, I'm also becoming very aware of what food makes me feel like crap afterward, and have been adjusting appropriately.) My problem is social. I feel left out, and I get pissed off about feeling left out and ignored. In retrospect, I didn't bother making noise before the food was planned, and I could've (apparently the vegetarians in the company kicked ass on this one), so next time I need to make a polite stink ahead of time.

I feel left out because all the food choices are so awful-- it presents an attitude of "we don't do healthy here, bitch, take your snooty fruit-liking preferences and shove 'em while the REAL people eat cake and roast beef and cheese and fondue and barbeque and fried things and drink a lot of liquor." Comments like the one from the receptionist last night don't help. It's the same feeling I get at parties that my friends throw-- this horrible sinking feeling, this I'm not one of them anymore feeling. Feeling unimportant. Feeling stupid. Feeling wrong.

This generally comes back up as righteous anger, and unfortunately when I get the "I'm wrong"/"they're JACKASSES!" combo going in my head, and food is involved, I generally end up eating the food. I'm tired of having that happen. It's a shitty reason to eat food, and it doesn't cure the nasty glut of emotions.

So. Soon here we're heading off to the first part of the company meetings-- with lunch and a snack and a reception after. My main challenge here is going to be to stay calm. Stay centered. Stay myself. Stay conscious of my own worth and stay confident in my choices. Tonight the role of Meg Veres will be played by Angelina Jolie, in my head, radiating confidence and grace. And fuck 'em if they don't like it.


  • Would it be terribly awkward to bring your own food?

    I don't work in a big company any more, but when I did and there would be regular crazy potlucks, I made sure that I contributed something healthy and that I brought my lunch. Usually I ate before the craziness started and had a couple of little tastes of things I thought looked appetizing.

    Unfortunately many people view work-provided food as an excuse to go whole hog. I know this because I am an event planner and when I have put "healthier food" as a potential suggestion on meeting evaluations, there is usually very little interest.

    On the social front, can you see a way of setting a goal for yourself? Like, talk to five different people during the event and find out one thing about each? Maybe make your husband do the same thing and then tell each other what you learned? You might keep yourself too busy to be resentful.

    By Anonymous Alison, at 12:36 PM  

  • I forgot to mention that when people asked about my lack of crazy partaking, I just said, "I already ate." Most were happy to leave it at that. And if they press, just tell them what you ate and how good it was. Really, only the very rudest of people care what you put in your mouth.

    By Anonymous Alison, at 12:39 PM  

  • Meg, you did *so* great in that situation, and you'll do even better today since you've had the time to pick through it all in your head. The receptionist's comment really struck a nerve with me, too, as I've been getting that same attitude/unsolicited comments from some people in my life. When did it become okay to tell people they're "too skinny" or that they aren't eating enough? When I was really overweight, I don't remember anyone telling me I was "too fat" each time they saw me or, "Whoah, Nelly! Look at all the crap on your plate!" It's like, somehow, losing weight puts a sign on your ass that says "How's my eating? Comments welcome." Grrr... I want my sign to say, "Comments? Call 1-800-EAT-SH*T" It's funny how I love opinions from other weight-loss journalers, but I hate them from people in real life who have no clue. It just really irks me.

    Sorry, I told you it hit a nerve. ;) Congrats on your workout, girl! You showed those leg muscles who's boss!

    By Blogger Zara, at 2:20 PM  

  • Great job on the weights, the treadmill, and the "patio" buffet. You seem to be very in touch with your feelings and you are really nipping unwanted behavior and comments in the bud.

    By Blogger Nikki, at 3:54 PM  

  • Oh. my. god. I KNOW THE FEELING!! My sister-in-law makes the same sort of comments to me. She is about 5'9" and 110lb. yet she's always making some sort of "snooty" comment (around my family, mind you...as if she wants them to chime in with her) about my healthy eating. At least I'm eating...even if it's healthy. She's stick thin and barely eats. I've come to conclude that she makes these comments as a buffer against people making comments against her, but it drives me crazy and makes me soooo angry to be around her.

    By Blogger k, at 5:03 PM  

  • You are doing so awesome Meg. Really telling people that you don't think the food looked all the great would be my answer. Just because a cookie is free it doesn't make it good. I try to use that theme with chocolate. If I want to indulge I am going to make the calories worth it. Sometimes it isn't even about eating healthy as much as it is just liking good food.

    Your comment about the workouts and how bad your form got. I have noticed that when I am with my trainer and my form starts to give and my muscles start to shake I almost immediately am ready to be done. My trainer rarely agrees with me. She keeps pushing me even if it does start to look ugly. Sounds like you are doing great being your own trainer :o)

    By Blogger Mamato2boys, at 7:04 PM  

  • Yeah, Lunges are hard. It took me months to get good at the ones where you walk, and lunge.

    It helps me to hold a big balance ball, if you do that you'll notice that you don't lean forward too far (putting pressure on the front knee) and that you are using your hip flexors more to balance yourself. Worked for me.

    By Blogger Jackie, at 10:46 PM  

  • I've got one of those social events this evening. If I get questions about what I'm eating, I usually say, "I'm still deciding. I like to check out the selection before I make up my mind. I think that x and y and z look good, but I'm not sure what I'll have first." Odds are the nosy person is not going to follow me around to find out what I did indeed end up having (or not having).

    Delayed-onset-muscle-soreness (DOMS) is not necessarily a good indicator of whether you worked the muscle hard enough. It feels good in an awful sort of way, :-) but it doesn't tell you all the much. I should have an article around here somewhere about this... I'll try to dig it up after the aforementioned social event.

    Congratulations on how you handled the binge-that-wasn't!!!

    And I have to say that I am one of those people who used to hate seeing healthy food at company gatherings. I felt that if I was eating said healthy food, people would be looking at me and thinking, "oh, the fat one is eating the healthy food, who is she kidding". So I would eat the unhealthy stuff to re-assert control. "see, I'm eating whatever the hell I want." Yeah, I know, stupidity reigneth sometimes...

    By Blogger Mich, at 3:28 AM  

  • i just worry for the future of the universe (well, the western world) when so many of our events and rituals revolve around eating REALLY SHITE FOOD!

    you'll have the last laugh when your colleagues cark it from a coronary :)

    By Anonymous dietgirl, at 6:05 AM  

  • You did really well, especially since you didn't slap that receptionist into next Tuesday, which is what I would have done.

    Seriously, I am SO sick of people commenting on what I eat and telling me that I don't need to lose any more weight. Ladies and gentlemen, I'm 5.5kg (12lb) ABOVE the top weight in the ideal weight range for my height. Losing that will not harm me in the slightest.

    Sheesh... it would great if it weren't for all the stupid people... :P

    By Blogger ladymisstree, at 7:34 AM  

  • Hey, Meg... doesn't that grocery bag analogy apply to working out, too? :P

    I am really learning a lot from reading your posts... a lot that I think I never realized, because I'm not yet where you are. But yes, I've felt that "left out" emotion - and didn't realize that's what the problem was. It is so hard to deal with social eating. It is what I have always been worst at, and continue to struggle with.

    I think you are doing great... I really give you credit for standing up to that receptionist. It's true that people say way too much about our eating choices. Who the hell are they to ask or criticize?

    Anyway, this was an excellent post. :) Thanks for sharing it!

    By Anonymous Maeander, at 3:50 PM  

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