Saturday, January 06, 2007


Week number one
[31/12/06 thru 06/01/07]
6 miles down. 94 to go.

MezzoDiva -aka- the operatic knitaholic (proper noun), Def:
1. Classical, theatre, jazz vocalist/actor; obsessive fibre artist and unrepentant sock-knitting addict; chronically verbose blogger.
2. A 40-something size-24 woman who blithely registered for a two-day 60-km weekend walkathon The Toronto Weekend to End Breast Cancer taking place September 7-9, 2007 and had better get her fat ass off the sofa NOW and start moving.
3. WTF was I thinking?????

In recent discussions with the girlfriends I was reminded of a lesson I learned in acting class about the basic underlying drives for all human behaviour. There are two types of urges to which human beings respond: Every action stems from either attraction, the impulse towards something, or aversion, the impulse away from something. There may be millions of differing specific details in every instance, but every single thing we do boils down to one of those two imperatives.

In other words, it's always about the carrot, or the stick. Furthermore, most human beings have a tendency to be more responsive to one or the other of these types of imperatives. And it has taken no great amount of self-examination to realize that my primary mode of motivation is the stick. I have to admit that I am more strongly driven to do things in order to avoid discomfort or punishment than I am driven to do them in order to reap the benefit or rewards. For me, fear is a powerful motivator.

Let's take it a step futher: There are two specific things that I fear.

In the grand scheme of things, I am concerned that if I do not get my health, especially my weight and fitness level, under control starting now, then it's all going to be downhill from here. I am currently out-of-shape and unfit, and except for a brief period of physical fitness a couple of years from 2000-2002, this has been the norm. And in my family tree of geneological medical histories you'll find the top ten tunes on the obesity-related diseases hit parade: there's been type-2 diabetes, hypertension, stroke, coronary artery disease, heart attack, arrhythmia, angina, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and asthma/COPD. Oh, yeah, add to that a few extremely painful cases of varicose veins.

Now, I am very lucky that despite my tendency to rubenesque proportions, I haven't yet developed any of these potentially life-threatening complications. But at 40+ I am at a chronological cross-roads: if I continue to slide down this slippery slope of least resistance, returning to the fork later and choosing the other path will become exponentially more and more difficult. So I have some pretty good reasons to want to develop a healthier lifestyle that I can build into habitual behaviour for the rest of my life.

In the short term, the fear is more immediate: I signed up for a two-day walk of 60 km (that's 37.5 miles) next September. And oddly, I am not so much afraid of the first day as I am of the second. I am REALLY afraid of trying to cajole my body to go back out on day 2. The discussion will go something like this.

Me: Good morning. I know you're a bit sore, but we really should get going. So let's move please. Okay?
Body: No.
Me: We'll get up and stretch... then we can go for another 30 km walk today. C'mon, it'll be fun!
Body: No.
Me: There will be coffee. And breakfast. Mmmmm....
Body: No.
Me: You can get a massage....
Body: No.


Me: Come on, just a little stretch, a couple of steps and I promise you'll feel better! How about just around the block?
Body: No.
Me: Okay, how about we start by just getting out of bed?
Body: No.
Me: But we promised!
Body: No. No. No. No-no-no-no-no-no-no-no-no-no-no-..... NO-NO-NO-NO-NO!!!!

My body will have become a recalcitrant two-year-old rooted to the bed with a new favourite word and nothing I say will move her.

All kidding aside, I am afraid of setting myself up for some serious pain! If I don't get myself out there NOW and start rustling up some mileage, I will not be ready to do the real focussed long-distance training that begins in the spring. There are coaches and plans available to help us work up to the goal, but I need to get in some advance training to be able do the training.

So when I saw Runagogo! I decided that this was a great way to begin. I won't be running, but I will comit to get in my 100 miles by April 1st. That's just 9-10 miles a week on average. Even I can do that! And if this weather continues to hold, I'm getting back on my beloved bicycle which has been languishing as a purely decorative feature of my front porch for the last couple of years.

When I got fit the last time, the bike was my primary mode of transportation and I was a road warrior! I biked everywhere, often 15 miles a day or more round trip through the GTA, downhill and back. I was still a zaftig babe, weighing in just under 200 lbs, but much of that was solid muscle. Pilates mat classes strengthened my mid-section so bending forward on my bike didn't strain my back. I lost over 60 pounds back then over about 8 months by burning my own body's reserves for fuel, by drinking a lot of water and making sure to eat all the things you should eat.

See by the time you eat all the things you "should," there is not a lot of room left for the things you "shouldn't". Don't get me wrong - this was no deprivation situation: there were some significant quantities of food consumed here at casa MezzoDiva. It was more about proportion control than portion control. Eating less was no part of the agenda. But the quality and ratio of the food was healthier.

We cut out the processed and white foods almost entirely: refined sugar, flour, yeast, and most conventional dairy. We ate lots (LOTS) of lean protein and healthy fats, especially fresh fish, beans and soy, some poultry and also steak; lots of whole grains, especially brown rice; some organic milk, cheeses and yogourt; and at least half the volume on our plates consisted of colourful vegetables and fruit, often raw and in huge magnificent salads we devoured daily. Good quality dark chocolate was also a staple. And listen up people: there was still the occasional ice cream and cheesecake, even french fries. But they were the exception, not the rule, and they weren't missed very much after the first couple of weeks.

We are committed to making these changes in our lives again. We're buying better groceries and phasing back into that healthy mode of eating, cooking more and eating packaged foods less. And of course there's the moving thing.

DH is very good company on any kind of expedition. We have done a couple of walks together already: just 1.5 miles on New Years Eve and another 2.5 miles Friday. I know that's only 4 miles so far, but I had to take a break mid-week due to fun-of-fertility rituals (which in recent months have become rather debilitating for 3-4 days). But Friday we jumped right back on the wagon, and we're going back out again today for at least another 2 miles.

I aim to go out and walk 4-5 days a week (with some time off for lunar hormonal challenges). If I get 12-15 miles a week most of the time, then the periodic times off once a month won't keep me from getting in my 100 miles.

Why not get up off your butt, put your knitting down (briefly) and join us! For more info about it, see Rachael at Yarn-A-Go-Go for the details.

And if you REALLY want to motivate me, you can (please) sponsor me here. Thanks!

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