Weirdness, binges, seeing it for what it is.

Recently, my sleep has been a little weird. I’ve been waking up oddly early, And when I say wake up, I mean like eyes popping open wake up. Ready to get up and start my day wake up, as opposed to my more accustomed drowsily climbing out of sleep for a good twenty minutes. And when I say oddly early, I mean at least 5 am, and more often than not, 4:30 or 4:00 or even 3:00. That’s been almost every night for the past couple of weeks. This morning, for example, I was so up by 4:45 that I just stayed up. Made some coffee, read some emails. You know, awake. Of course, this means that I’ve been falling asleep oddly early, too.

But tonight takes the cake. Tonight, just a little before 7 pm, I hauled myself into my bed and watched about ten minutes of “Archer” on Netflix before falling asleep. Am I an old lady? My sleeping habits certainly think I am.

I woke up at 8:45 because somehow, in my sleep, I’d knocked a book off my nightstand. It felt like I’d been asleep for hours. I was certain it was approaching midnight. To see that it was barely prime time TV hour was a little weird. And spooky. And super disorienting, like I still had an evening to live, let alone a whole other night, after a two hour nap that felt like a night.

I’ve also been binge eating.

It occurred to me tonight that that’s what it was: binge eating. I posted not long ago that my habits have been bad but not binge-y. Right? Well, that’s changed. Or morphed. Or maybe I’m just seeing it more for what it is. Last night, I ate a mound of cheesy pasta, my number one binge food. (At least half a pound of pasta. I estimate the dish at about 2,500 calories.) And then this morning I woke up, determined to have a better go of it, and prepared myself a satisfying breakfast of eggs and toast. Only to get to work and nosh on cereal that a student had brought in for a potluck brunch. And then bagels and cream cheese. And then just grazing at work. And then three grilled cheese sandwiches and more grazing when I got home until finally I was polishing off a pint of ice cream (why did I have ice cream at home?) and falling asleep.

These things cannot be unrelated. The sleeping, the eating. They’re connected. They have to be.

It’s only just occurring to me how far out I am from a regular routine of eating well and exercising enough. That hasn’t been clicking together since last spring. I haven’t been this far off the proverbial wagon in a long time. Weight gain aside, I just don’t feel good.

I’ve written this before. And recently. I don’t know when it’s going to click. I guess I’m writing now to make the click happen. Dear self: you are sleeping weird, eating weird, and feeling like crap. Something is happening. Address it right now.

The long climb.

Something absolutely incredible happened. And that incredible thing involves a trek at the base of the Himalayas in Nepal this coming March.

I am so beyond excited for this opportunity that I can’t fully comprehend what’s going to happen: among other things, me, trekking on foot with yaks and sherpas from tea house to tea house. In the Himalayas. In Nepal. Four months from now.

This news has kicked me in the ass a bit about getting back into a workout routine. I’m going to have to be in tiptop shape for this adventure, and I have just enough time to go from my currently indolent ways (one workout a week does not a fit body make) to an acceptable level of fitness. I’ll be facing high altitudes, steep climbs, and days of walking, and of course, unfamiliar customs, languages, and food, as well as a host of other things to think about and be responsible for during this trip. Now’s the time to get going.

So here are some of my goals, recorded here for posterity or at least some accountability.

Gearing Up Phase: Nov 22 2014 – Dec 14 2014

  • Yoga once a week
  • Strength training routine once a week + sprints/interval training
  • Hike/long walk/swim/gentle run/cycling/Zumba once a week

First Training Phase: Dec 15 2014 – Jan 25 2015

Second Training Phase: Jan 26 2015 – Mar 15 2015

  • Training plan TBD
  • Yoga twice a week

Week Before Travel: Mar 16 2015 – Tentatively Mar 20 2015

  • Yoga once
  • Gentle cardio, like a long walk or easy swim, at least twice

To help with this, I’m planning on taking the Three Peaks Challenge, which is basically climbing the three tallest peaks in southern California. I’m fairly sure the actual challenge, hosted by Adventure 16, has long since lapsed, but who cares. The mountains are still there. And hopefully they’ll be climbable in the four months between now and my departure (meaning, not much or any snow; I should look into that, I guess).

I know of at least one L.A. resident who trained for Everest by “doing” the stairs in Silverlake and Echo Park and carrying increasingly heavy loads. If he can be prepared for Everest doing that, I can be prepared for my (in comparison) puny walk doing that. So that will eventually be part of it, too.

I “started” phase 1 today by hiking from Fern Dell Road in Griffith Park to the Observatory and back down. It’s something like 2, 2.5 miles, nothing too intense. It’s been windy in L.A. so the smog is gone and the views are just exceptional.

Hollywood Sign, the ocean in the distance, downtown

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This is first time in my adult life that I’ll be working out with any real goal. Before it was about “losing weight” or “getting fit,” amorphous, ephemeral, vague goals. But this? There’s a time stamp on this, and I’ll be getting on that plane ready or not. So I might as well be ready!

(And of course, I’ll be tracking my progress here. Finally, something interesting to write about!)

Weigh In: 11.15.2014

Weigh In: 169.0 lbs
Total Weight Loss: -

For those of you who’ve been around for a while, and heck, for newcomers too (if you’re there, and if you are, hello!): I’ve decided for the sake of this fresh start to say that 169 is my “start:” weight. When I began losing weight in February 2011, I was 260 pounds, but the process I”m going through is so categorically different from back then. It feels right to say that in many ways, I’m starting a new journey.

169 pounds. That means that I’ve gained something like 15 pounds since February, when I hit my low of 155 pounds. Time to turn that back around.

The long road back.

It’s been a very interesting few months.

In July, I had a whole thing happen that made me feel like I wanted to make my whole blog private. I took that time as an opportunity to step away from weekly weigh ins, hard core tracking, and other business. I’d come off of a tremendously anxious year, the worst anxiety I’d ever experienced, and it was summer, and I thought that maybe all this tracking and counting and numbering was exacerbating my anxiety. I felt, maybe, that it was time to switch gears to something milder, softer, less crazy-making.

Someone — some kind someone — posted a response to my decision that more or less said, “Hey, why are you stopping what works for you?” That someone turned out to be right. Turns out that the tracking is actually a sign that I’m on it. Turns out that not tracking is a sign that I’m in some kind of deep, bad denial about what’s going on.

And what was going on was this: depression and anxiety.

This summer was rough for me. I was worn out from a stressful year and had recently broken up with someone I really liked. I had weeks of freedom ahead of me (summer break, I’m a teacher), but it turns out that I’m not so good with abundant, empty time. In fact, I was bored, lonely, depressed, and still anxious. Even seeing friends in the evening wasn’t enough, because I’d spend hours and hours during the day on my own. Hours, by the way, that went to Wikipedia rabbit holes and weird, intense obsessions with historical minutiae and Youtube videos. I dated a little but didn’t click with anyone in particular (to be honest, some of the dates were nightmarish).

Then I went to Australia to visit my sister, which turned out to be the boost I needed. I came home feeling better. And finally willing to see what I was going through.

Side note for all you depression and anxiety folks: isn’t it funny how you can think you know what your depression and/or anxiety looks like, and be sure that the next time it happens (since it always happens again), you’ll know this time. You’ll know it and be able to recognize it right away. And then, of course, inevitably, you don’t. Or at least not as fast as you think you should. I was depressed for four months before I clued in.

Cluing in meant getting help. Therapy, and yes, medication. Both are going well.

What hasn’t been going well is taking care of my body. Since the start of the school year, I’ve been running at full tilt. This is probably because I’ve signed on for way too many projects on top of my already full work load. I take home work every night. Oh, and I stay late, too, because I’m assistant directing the fall play. Which basically means that I’m at work for 10+ hours, I go home and work for another couple of hours (I can’t think/process after 8 pm, so I have to get all my work done by then), and then I do things that make me sane: socialize, relax, cook, whatever. But what I don’t do is exercise (it’s been ages). And what I also don’t do is pay attention to what I’m eating.

I’m not binge-eating. That hasn’t been happening, really. I’m just not eating well. I skip breakfast on the regular. I’m eating too much sugar and starch and not nearly enough plants. I drink way, way too much coffee. Some days I eat a lot and other days, I even forget to eat. (Today, for example, I had toast and a bagel with cream cheese in the morning and then at 5 pm realized I’d completely forgotten about lunch.) I’ve lost a lot of muscle tone and cardio fitness. I’ve certainly gained fat, too. I don’t know how much, because I haven’t been weighing in, but my clothes are tighter and I just feel puffy. I’d guess I’m around 170 right now, maybe even more.

But it’s more than that, it’s more than just feeling puffy and putting on 15 pounds. I’m sort of a mess. I’ve been getting tension headaches for the first time in my life. I experienced what might have been a migraine a week or so ago (it involved a terrible, pulsing pain right behind my eyeball and then all over my head, sensitivity to light, and vomiting, so that was fun). I have a low, weird cough. My tongue feels funny. I’m not sleeping well.

I know that the thing that will really help is kicking back into gear. Tracking what I eat, sticking to a calorie goal for the day (that just works for me), eating lots of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein, not eating out, avoiding sugar, cutting back on coffee, getting plenty of exercise and sleep. That’s what needs to happen. And it hasn’t been.

The other thing that works for me is blogging. It just does. I lost over 100 pounds and this blog captured most of it. It was there for the many slumps, plateaus, and regains I experienced. I’m serious when I say it was instrumental in my success. I can’t help but acknowledge that it really should be, even needs to be, part of my process now.

Not long ago, I tried to get back in gear, and I got about 18 days in or so. Not bad! Not bad until I stopped and didn’t post for like a month. And now that I’m feeling ready to be back and committed, I’m anxious about the same thing happening again. Letting my two readers down. Suddenly disappearing. I even considered writing a bunch of posts, publishing them under “private,” and then turning them public when I was sure I was on the right track. But I realize, of course, that there’s always going to be slumps and problems and right tracks turning into wrong tracks. I can’t wait for things to feel perfect because they’re never going to be.

So. I’m back.

I want to commit to something feasible. What’s feasible for me right now is tracking daily on My Fitness Pal (profile here, if you’re interesting), exercising at least a couple of times a week, and blogging here at least a couple of times a week: a weigh in Saturday mornings (just like I’ve been doing for nearly four years now) and a mid-week post or two to talk about progress or all the feels. Basically, back to business.

And hopefully, with luck and grit and just pushing myself, the business will stay back.