My online Weight Watchers group has been holding a series of 5 week challenges. The challenge is not all about who can lose the most weight. Instead, it's totally about how you work your weight loss program, how you get yourself healthy... and how friends can motivate us to getting there.
We started this process in December with a month long conversation about getting our mojo back and getting back on track on January 1st. The conversations were eye-opening for each of us. We talked honestly about binge eating, stress eating, boredom eating, what will set us off into an eating frenzy, triggers, emotions involving food... just about any part of why we all got overweight and unhealthy in the first place.
At the beginning of the first challenge, I decided to be a cheerleader for the group instead of an active challenge participant. Being only 8 pounds over my goal weight, it didn't seem like such a big deal to get where I wanted... and I didn't want the competition factors to bug me.
So I tried to watch my portions and just manage getting back to my goal weight by myself... while watching and cheering my friends as they made great strides toward their goals. It was fun to make up cheers each week for them.
When that challenge ended, many of the participants had lost at least 10 pounds which was very cool. I had not made any real progress. Decidedly bad for me.
With a week off for the Challenge Mistress, a second challenge was offered. Realizing that I was actually in such horrible shape that I could not get to the top of the stairs at work without being so out of breath that I had to rest, I knew I had to do something. Especially since there is no alternate to getting upstairs at work! We have no elevator, our break room is up there and we store closed files up there. I'm up there several times a day, so this was getting to be kinda scary for me.
Swallowing my pride, I emailed the Challenge Mistress to ask for help on an exercise program. I'd come up with an idea of one, but needed help to know if it was enough exercise to get me into shape. Surprisingly, she actually took away some of the stuff I had put in so I didn't get overwhelmed at the outset. She also tweaked the program I'd come up with so that I would not get bored.
Oh...my...gosh... I hate exercise! I always have.
Bummer for me! That's the only way I'm gonna get in shape and be able to do anything now. Ugh!
So I get myself back on track with my Weight Watchers program and start exercising. I'm doing pretty well... over the first couple weeks a couple pounds come off... and then, my big brother's situation happens.
After a week with that level of stress, I knew I could not keep up the pace of anything extra and keep my sanity. It was enough to get through work each day. I quietly bowed out of the challenge and spent much time praying for my big brother.
Fast forward a few weeks, he second challenge is over and big brother is doing better... finally! At this point, I'm wishing for another challenge to start, but know that the Challenge Mistress has got to be tired of doing this for us. I am amazed when she agrees to do a third challenge... and determine that nothing will stop me from participating. The challenge will run from April 9th to May 13th... today.
Yep, I've been participating the entire time. The timing was interesting because tomorrow is my birthday and we are going on vacation in another couple weeks. I admit that I am vain enough to have wanted to get myself into shape mostly so I could look good for both birthday and vacation.
But, at the same time, today I've got to admit to having learned some interesting things during this challenge.
I learned that I truly do hate exercise! Yep, I do. But... like cleaning the toilets, some things that we hate doing just have to be done. So I've been getting up at 5 a.m. almost every day to do exercise before work. Knowing how tired I always am when I get home, I knew if I didn't do it early, I wouldn't do it at all. Some mornings have been terribly difficult to get out of bed and it was all I could do to not re-set my alarm for more sleep.
I learned that this ding-dang exercise thing actually works. Yep, go ahead and laugh. It was a lesson I needed to learn since when I lost the 50 pounds the first time I didn't do any exercise. Just did it with managing food and portions and working the entire Weight Watchers Program except the exercise part. It also works in that I've lost inches in interesting places! In the last 5 weeks, I've lost 1 inch in the bust (bummer that, but oh well!), 2 inches in my waistline, 1.5 inches in my hips and 1 inch in my thighs. Now that's very cool stuff!
This ding-dang exercise thing (the DDE) has gotten me to the point of being able to fly up the stairs at work without pausing for breath. I have a ton more energy. I feel so much better. It seems my immune system is also responding because I didn't even get a cold this year when everyone at work has been practically coughing up their lungs onto their desks!
I've also enjoyed the fact that the DDE has helped me with my posture. I've always had terrible posture... but since my abs are getting tighter and my back is getting stronger, I've noticed that I'm not sitting all hunched over all the time. Now I notice when I do and straighten up because I've discovered it's actually more comfortable.
Another lesson in all this is that my friends are truly amazing people. I've known that for ages, but they reinforced my understanding of how supportive they are during this challenge. Their celebration with me the day I announced that I could climb the stairs at work without getting out of breath was awesome! They celebrate the pounds lost, the victories of not eating certain foods that are triggers, the days when I can fit into clothing that I'd given up on ever being able to wear again, the normal day-to-day stuff of learning to live with food issues... they encourage me and I am so grateful to each of them.
The weird thing I learned about myself is the fact of how competitive I am. Wow... I didn't realize that would be such a motivator in this process! In all of this, I've worked the challenge hard and managed to stay at the head of the pack. Right now, as of Monday which was the last time the Challenge Mistress posted results, I am 2 points ahead of the next challenger. She's keeping me on my toes and working hard all this week to stay ahead of her. It will be interesting when our Challenge Mistress posts the final results to see if I managed to keep my very slim lead.
Today is the end of this challenge. My scale shows me at 3 pounds UNDER my goal weight and I'm thrilled. I have to admit that I've enjoyed being a participant in spite of the DDE portion. I'm going to have to keep my routine now, and get up early several times a week to do the DDE. I do not want to lose the far healthier feeling I have going on. It really is wonderful to feel good.
...may there be mercy and blessing on Challenge Mistresses and encouraging friends.