Monday, February 23, 2015

Libations and Llamas

In last week’s post I pointed out that the benefit of weekly posting is that it forces me to write about some way in which I improved during the past week, and knowing that I’ll have to write about it, I’m more likely to make the improvements happen. My biggest challenge last week was that it felt like despite my best efforts at improvement, circumstance did not want to see it happen.

After pushing off my Monday weight training to get a much-needed massage, I moved that workout to Tuesday, leaving me with just one weeknight ride to complete for the week. Unfortunately, it snowed hard just as I was leaving work, making it unsafe to ride on the road in quickly-darkening conditions. Just pedaling on the trainer seemed like a waste of time and I was already in a sucked-dry mental state, so the thought of doing something so unpleasant that would have so little immediate payoff was really bringing me down. I was really at the point where I needed to feel like my sacrifice was worth it. Despite feeling that way, I knew that skipping the workout would only set me further back, so I got on the training and busted out 4 x 1 minute as hard as I could plus 15 minutes each of warm-up and cool down. Under the circumstances, it felt like the way to get the most payoff for the least amount of time and mental energy.

My other tough time of the week was Thursday night when we were supposed to attend the “Inaugural Ball” of a new local restaurant/craft beer bar. That would in theory be totally fun, except that I desperately wanted to shake the fat feeling of the damage that I had done over the weekend in Illinois. As much I hate talk of burning calories, counting calories, or anything involving the word calories, I can’t deny the fact that one will generally lean out faster at a higher cycling volume than a lower one, unless they are overtraining or making bad food choices that disproportionately increase hunger. I refuse to count calories or even mess with the overall volume of healthy food that I’m eating, since I’m still very much in the danger zone for bingeing right now. So with the weather forcing my riding volume to be low right now, all I can really do to try and improve my body composition is to avoid alcohol and treats.

I was already ready nervous about having to go out to the bar, but I knew that Frank was looking forward to it, so I didn’t want to ruin it for him. Even though I was feeling pretty low on willpower, resiliency, mental energy, or whatever you want to call it, I made peace with the idea that I would just go, order the least dietarily offensive thing on the menu, and suppress how sad I was to be watching my boyfriend drink beer while I couldn’t. Sounds like a good plan, right? Unfortunately, we got there early and the place was already packed with a variety of annoying people, so the amount of sucking-it-up for which I was prepared was quickly exceeded, and I’m pretty sure I ended up ruining it for Frank with my Saddy Sadderson-ness after all.

 I did, however, succeed in not drinking that night nor through the weekend. Frank purchase a bottle of Brooklyn Black Ops, which we hear is amazing, so I said that we could drink it next weekend after I get in one more week of “good behavior”.

So the question is, was it improvement? The problem is that when I think about the goals that I want to accomplish in the coming months, they are very conflicting. I want to lose weight and get back to feeling fast on a bike, because I want to feel the confidence that comes with that. There is also the practical element that being fit makes social riding fun instead of miserable. I also feel like racing is an important part of growing social connections, because that is where one is most likely to meet like-minded folks. I feel like I was not as good at making friends during ‘cross as I could have been, because racing wasn’t that fun while I was in bad shape and I probably didn’t exude such a friendly demeanor when I was nervous or bummed about bad races.

Focusing on losing weight and getting fit can be very healthy, and it can be very unhealthy, depending on my focus. Ultimately, I want to be fit enough to race, ride with faster people and still have fun doing it, and be able to eat out and travel for social reasons. I know that I should probably work on my feeling that I need to lose weight and be fit to make friends, and start thinking more about how I can be confident with the body that I have now, but let’s face it, being in good shape is more fun unless you let it take over your life.

Where I ultimately want to end up is that I don’t miss workouts just because I don’t feel like it, or eat because I need a mental pick-up. At the same time, I want to have to flexibility to alter my schedule for fun or social reasons, and go to bars and restaurants and not have anxiety because I know that I can either eat and drink what I want to, and/or be able to say no to things that will make me feel bad physically without any trepidation. Basically, the ability to go off track when it’s beneficial for me and then jump back on immediately after.

 I got really good at that a couple of years ago when I had my eating disorder under control and was really fit already. My favorite victory story was the time I was out to dinner with Sarah and Josh, and for reason, they gave us free dessert. Josh and I both ate some of the cake that they gave us, and it was really good, but I stopped before I felt sick and didn’t feel the need to finish it. We left with cake still on the plate and I felt totally okay with it. That was a pretty rare and glorious moment for me; I’m pretty sure that if I managed to leave cake on the plate now, it would be a miserable, hard-fought battle rather than an easy one.

That’s why it’s hard to call going out and not drinking a success if it still causes me anxiety to do so. At the same time, maybe it is progress to have done so and prove to myself that I could. Maybe in doing so I won’t be so stressed out about it next time. So I’ll call it an improvement, but know that I still have some work to do.


Also, I did get to ride my bike outside this weekend, at least on Sunday. We got 33 miles of rolling pavement from the “Llama Loop”, and for the sake of one less picture-less post during hermetically-sealed hands season, here is a picture of the eponymous llamas.

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