Monday, April 11, 2011

Couch (Potato) to 5K

When I got pregnant with L, I was just about to get started on a health kick.  I had finally gotten fed up with the excess flab I was carrying around with me and decided that I'd join Weight Watchers and start training to run a 5K using the Couch to 5K program.  But then I learned I was no longer walking around alone and that positive pregnancy test was like a Get Out of Jail Free card.

Having dodged that bullet, I happily settled into my "I'll get to that after the baby is born" attitude towards eating right and exercising and ate myself stupid for the duration of my pregnancy.  For good measure, I did as little physical activity as possible.  And boy was it good while it lasted.  I figured I was fine because I'd planned on nursing L and had always heard that breastfeeding was to calories what I was to pizza or puppy chow (that amazing stuff you make with Chex, chocolate, peanut butter and powdered sugar).  Basically, I thought that nursing would torch the fat and flab from my body with ease.  

Then L was born.  And I found out that, unfortunately, I was sold a bill of goods on the nursing thing.  After dropping a fraction of the weight I'd gained - mostly just the weight consisting of L and his placenta - I plateaued at a nauseatingly high number.  So, I recommited myself to working out and Weight Watchers. 

I actually did pretty good at first.  I started out doing the 30 Day Shred with Jillian Michaels, but then I hurt my knee because my body was like "WOAH there.  Are you saying we're supposed to be active??"  So too much, too soon.  Then I decided to try different Walking for Weightloss programs with Leslie Sansone.  I loved them.  They were challenging but achievable.  Plus, Leslie was just so nice.  I liked her encouraging, friendly style WAY more than Jillian's barky "You suck, you big fatty" attitude.

Meanwhile, I was doing well with Weight Watchers.  I was counting my points faithfully and was seeing results in the form of a steadily decreasing number on the scale. 

But once I returned to work, the going got tough.  For the first couple weeks, I would come home and dutifully put on my sneaks and walk with Leslie.  I kept my Weight Watchers online points tracker up on my computer at all times and tracked everything I ate.  Gradually, though, I grew weary of counting points and logging everything I ate.  I came home from work exhausted because L was waking 4 to 5 times per night, and the last thing I wanted to do was change my clothes and exercise.  Then my 3 month subscription to Weight Watchers ran out and I didn't want to pay to continue. 

So, Weight Watchers and exercising went by the wayside.  And then I got pregnant with C.  "Well there you go," I said to myself.  "I can't diet anymore and I'm not supposed to start a new workout program so I'll just try to control my eating and not be a total couch potato and I'll be ok." 

And even though I didn't pig out nearly as much as I did with L, I still ate whatever I wanted.  Lucky for me, C was smaller than L and I didn't get fat in the face as I had with L.  So I looked pretty ok, even in my third trimester. 

Towards the end of my pregnancy with C, I decided that I wanted to try the Couch to 5K program I had heard so much about.  I was hoping that I wouldn't have to do Weight Watchers again, telling myself that just because nursing didn't drop the pounds the first time didn't mean it wouldn't do it the second time around.  Maybe just throwing in the exercise component would turn things around. 

Well, of course that wasn't the case.  Even though I gained about 15 pounds less with C, I still somehow plateaued at the same weight I did with L.  Very depressing.  So I grudgingly signed up for Weight Watchers and made a deal with my brother to run a 5K with me in June.  Just barely enough time to finish the C25K program.

As soon as I got cleared by my doctor to exercise, I put on my workout gear and grabbed my iPod.  It didn't even cross my mind that perhaps a complete novice runner should not start trying to run outside when it was 35 degrees outside.

The C25K program is basically this: 5 minutes of brisk walking to warm up, then alternating running and walking intervals, then 5 minutes of walking to cool down.  There is an outdoor track approximately 5 minutes from the house, so I decide to walk up there then do my running/walking on the track.

About 25 seconds into the warm-up walk, I was ready to quit.  My throat was starting to burn from the frigid air, and my nose was cold.  It was not looking good.  But I decided to push past it, my brother's voice ringing in my head: "You just have to realize that it's going to really suck for the first few weeks while your body gets used to it."  And realize I did.

When I got to the track, it felt like I had been walking for an hour.  I had no clue how I was going to summon the energy to run.  With my C25K app prompting me, I proceeded to start my intervals.  Half-way through the first running interval, one solitary thought was playing on loop in my head.  "This sucks this sucks this sucks this sucks..."  Even my running playlist was not enough to distract me.

The walking intervals could not come quick enough.  By the time my second running interval rolled around, my lungs felt like they were simultaneously burning and getting frostbitten.  I don't know how that's even possible, but that's what it felt like.

At first, my only track companions were an old man who was lapping me like it was his job (and giving me concerned looks every time he passed me) and a couple who was walking at a glacial pace on the inside lanes.  Since I had my earbuds in, I couldn't hear how hard I was breathing, but judging by how it felt, I must have sounded like I was seconds away from dropping dead at any time.

Then after a few minutes, a younger guy started walking on the track.  He was likely about my age, give or take a couple years.  If I could describe him in the most politically correct way possible, I'd call him a wigger.  Both legs of his sweatpants were rolled up to his knees and his sweatshirt had "FUBU" emblazoned on the front.  He had a ginormous "diamond" (or wanna-be diamond) in his ear.

Unfortunately, almost every time I was cued by my app to run, I was either right next to him or right behind him.  This made it look like I was running to impress him or otherwise get his attention.  He began to watch me as I passed him, which gave me mixed feelings.  I felt a little creepy about it, since I am an old married lady and don't even think about attracting attention from strange men anymore.  Also, I am far from looking my best, so I don't even really feel like it's possible that said strange men would look at me and think, "Wow, what a babe."  But it also felt kind-of nice.  Like maybe I was impressing him in some way and maybe he was, in fact, thinking, "Wow, what a babe."  But I quickly dismissed this option as not even a remote possibility.

Soon, I was feeling so close to death that I was only running for part of the running intervals.  I considered quitting and going home, but I told myself that I had come this far and even if I had to walk the rest of the time, walking was better than going home and passing out on the couch before I finished.  My throat was on fire and the rest of me was freezing.  My face was numb and all I wanted to do was lay down and take deep breaths of warm air.  But, I trucked on until I finally completed the last running interval and was cued by my app to "cool down".

"I'm freaking freezing, I don't need to cool down!!" I screamed mentally at the stupid app.  But I was beyond relieved, and I started a slow walk home.  I had to stop a few times to bend over at the waist in an attempt to catch my breath and stave off the spells of dizziness that kept rolling over me.

Day 1 of Week 1 felt like it had lasted ages.  I fully expected L and C to be married with children of their own by the time I got home.  And I'll be honest, I had every intention of throwing in the towel and never running again.

Oh, remember the wigger?  Well when I got home, I quickly saw why he kept looking at me.  I happened upon a mirror seconds after arriving at the house, and my face was BRIGHT red.  I'm talking 3rd degree sunburn, lobster red.  The tomato face combined with my heavy panting breaths must have had him worried that I was going to keel over and would need emergency assistance.

I decided not to quit, though.  Lucky for me, my mom has a treadmill and I decided to give that a shot.  To my surprise, Day 2 on the treadmill was substantially easier than Day 1 outside.  This heartened me that maybe I wasn't so ridiculously out of shape as I thought, and I chose to keep my word to my brother and keep on keeping on with the program so I could run the 5K in June.

I just finished Week 2 last night, and while it's still hard, I can do it.  And 3 weeks into Weight Watchers, I've lost 7 pounds.  So I'm doing alright.  I still don't feel great about myself, especially now that I know Wigger Boy doesn't actually think I'm a babe.  But, I'm working on it.  And I really don't care about Wigger Boy.  My husband still (somehow) thinks I'm attractive, and that's enough for me!   


Sarah Harraka said...

Oh my gosh I love you! Your entry totally made me laugh (the kind of laugh that I'm glad I'm not in a quiet computer lab like this one time in college that I was and kept bursting out laughing.....I was that weird girl). You totally inspired me to get my potato butt of the all to comfy futon and start the C25K as well. I feel great but a little leery of day 2.....hehe. You're one awesome Mama! Keep it up!!

Anonymous said...

C25K program is great! You will enjoy it. You need a running partner though!


Carlie said...

I admire this, and people who run.. I can last about 4 minutes before quitting from exhaustion or mere boredom. (And there's always that asthma excuse.) Just running is sheer torture. I think I need to be- I don't know- doing some kind of sport, or climbing on things, to not realize I'm getting exercise. Haha. Unfortunately that stuff isn't so easy to come by.

Kathy said...

Now that the weather is nicer running outside is actually fun. I never thought I would be able to run 25 minutes straight but I am and I'm not dying. Keep up the good work and your blog totally cracked me up!

Paige said...

I am totally impressed! I have been considering the C25K program, but I have the opposite problem with temperature. It is only June and it is 94 degrees in the shade with 70% humidity, and even opening the door to let the dog out makes me "glisten" immediately! I have also been considering WW, so you are on my wavelength!
I am inspired by your dedication, can't wait to hear more about your progress!