Thursday, September 3, 2009

Fat Sucks You Dry

If you've always been heavy, or never been heavy, you may not realize how absolutely *draining* it is to be fat and out of shape. Every task takes a large withdrawal from your limited energy stores, and it doesn't take much to zap you clean dry.

When I weighed 280 pounds, just vacuuming the floor brought me to the brink of sheer exhaustion. Seriously. I vacuumed as little as possible, because when I did, it left me useless for the rest of the day. I'd first have to gear up mentally for the torture. I'd have to pick up toys and clothes and stuff off the floor... and that alone took me at least 45 minutes. I'd heft myself up off the couch, hobble towards a toy, and then I'd have to pick it up. Bending over to touch the floor is no easy task at 280 pounds. The belly really gets in the way, the knees hurt too much to bend, so you end up leaning down trying to compress the stomach fat into a space way too small, and then the boobs start hanging all the wrong way and getting cleavage in your face, and when you finally grab the toy and straighten back up you're so out of breath you have to sit down and rest. Multiply this x30 if you have a whole bunch of little kids, and you have one very sweaty, hot, exhausted mother plopped back on the couch before she's even touched the vacuum. A couple hours and a box of Little Debbies later, I'd get up and get the vacuum out. Pushing that heavy thing around was like doing an hour of aerobics to me, and when I was finished I was usually so tired I couldn't even put the thing away. Any other kind of cleaning was exhausting too: mopping was nearly impossible. I used to ask my 5 year old to do it. I just couldn't.

Mow the lawn? Impossible. Weeding? No can do. Make a bed? You have to be kidding me. Play with my kids? Not too much. Walk the dog? Forget it.

Life went by, I couldn't always participate. I was too out of shape. I was too tired. My fat was sucking me dry.

Now, at 240 pounds, vacuuming is a generally easy and pleasant experience. I love to mop! It does get my heart rate up, but I enjoy it. I can go shopping, I can walk 2 miles. I can play with my kids. I can do lots of things.

But I am still tired. I'm more tired than I would be if I were 30 or 50 or 80 pounds lighter. If you don't believe me, try strapping a 50 pound bag of dog food on your back and go about your day. Or just fill a backpack with 50 pounds of weights. Or even a 20 pound sack of potatoes. Wear it. ALL DAY. Vacuum with it. Weed with it. Shop with it. Tell me you're not exhausted after 16 hours of THAT.

I know that strength training makes a big difference in endurance, but getting the weight off is the real key. There was a time when I moved effortlessly through life; when I jogged to catch up to a friend or spent a whole day shopping or played basketball for an hour. There was a time when I weighed 140 pounds and thought nothing of running downstairs to fetch a basket of laundry and running it back up again; when a walk to the store and back with bags of groceries was no big deal. I want to move freely through life again.

When I go shopping now, I am still quite tired when I am done. I really can't tolerate more than 2 or 3 stops in one trip... I just feel so wiped out. If I exert myself, it takes me a long time to recover. My fat is still sucking me dry. But not for long.

I mentioned my new workout DVD the other day: The Biggest Loser Workout: Power Sculpt. 6-Week Program for Maximum Weight Loss. Well, I tried it. I love it! I am not a big fan of exercise DVDs, but I got this one because 1) I love Jillian and 2) I wanted to change up my BOOORING strength training routine. So let me tell you:

Pros: Jillian! I love pretending she is my trainer. Feels good. I want to please her! The weight lifting is mixed with small cardio moves which really got my heart rate up and had me sweating without feeling like I was doing a ton of work. It has a warm up (5 minutes) and a cool down (5 minutes) and then three programs in between. I did the first program (20 minutes) which it recommends you do for two weeks, and then add sections 2 and 3 later which are each 10 more minutes. Great way to build up your endurance, IMO. I *loved* that I did not feel like I was doing a boring, dancey aerobics tape. I also loved that it didn't seem like a bunch of boring, repetitive moves (which strength training can turn into, in my experience). It did not seem HARD because it was not *continuously hard.* It was more like, every so often she would give you a move that IS hard but it was over so fast and switching to something else that it wasn't so bad. It was hard enough to make me go WTF in a few places, but also not so hard that I cannot see myself *ever* doing it. I modified the lunges and knee bends because I can't do those; I just bent my knees very slightly but did all the other moves. When it was time for the cool down, I was all checking the timer to see if I missed something because it really didn't seem like 20 minutes had gone by... more like 10. So that was nice.

Cons: The DVD never tells you what size hand weights to use, but it looked like they were using rather small ones so I started with 5lb weights. That worked fine. I might increase it later as I become stronger. In a few places, the Biggest Loser contestants are doing the moves wrong but the camera is on them (and not Jillian) so then I wasn't sure what I was supposed to be doing. I did figure it out but I think they could've maybe practiced a little first, or done a few more takes so at least all the contestants were doing the moves right. A few times they were showing contestants while Jillian was explaining a move but it was not clear enough to me right at first. I wish they'd have had Jillian SHOW each move first while explaining it. And she kept calling this one girl "Poodle" which I totally didn't get, and I kept thinking, "Poodle? What the heck??" But all of this was really not bad enough to keep me from loving this DVD!

Afterwards I felt fine, not exhausted or anything, and I wondered if the workout had done any good. I sat down to read and drink some water and then all of a sudden I felt like a bus hit me! All of me felt "worked out" and like I needed someone to scrape me off the floor! I felt like that for a half hour or an hour, but then I was fine. So I think I must have gotten a good workout.

I think this is going to keep me excited about working out. I'll still bike and walk and do Wii Fit, but I plan to do this DVD 3 times a week. And it does have a nice feature: you can turn off the instructions once you know all the moves, and then you won't have hear her calling that girl poodle all the time.

I'm getting stronger. I feel alive and full of hope. I'm going to exhaust the fat before the fat exhausts me!

35 comments:

cmoursler said...

Hey, I weigh in at 226 now but I know just what you mean. When I started I was much heavier, I would go grocery shopping and zap, that was it for the day. The other day I went grocery shopping, walked 2.8 miles and then went to church later. Take that 36 lbs of body fat. I know, people underestimate how much difference 40 lbs can make, it makes all the difference in the world. Keep up the good work

Wii Fat Marathon said...

Amen!

Feed Me I'm Cranky said...

This is a great post, Lyn. I think we forget that the biggest drawback to being overweight is how uncomfortable it is and how imprisoning it can feel. It truly limits our day-to-day activities and can make even the simplest task, a burden to bear. When I was 280 pounds, my feet and back ached every morning. At the end of a day at the zoo I was an absolute train wreck. I feel ya. You're doing an amazing job and thank you for helping us all see how paralyzing being overweight can be.
xoxo

DownsizingDoc said...

Good post. Back in the good old days (when I had "only" 50 lbs to lose) I too would tell myself the 50 bag of dogfood thing. I now need to lose over 70 lbs. Good reminder....

anne h said...

Yes and yes on the physical limitations and the mental ones too.

Lonely said...

I am SO with you on the fat exhausting me. I wasn't too bad at vacuuming a room, but when it came to the stairs it took me forever and I was a wreck afterwards. Before I gained all this weight I also LOVED to shop. DH and I would spend a whole day shopping and it wasn't enough, whereas at the moment half a day is more than enough for me, my feet hurt, my joints ache, I'm just exhausted.
But as I'm going to the gym and starting to lose a little of the weight it is getting easier and instead of doing 5 mins house cleaning and stopping for a rest because I'm hot and sweaty now I think of it as a bit more of a workout as well and make the most of it. I'm still exhausted afterwards but it feels good.
I can't wait to notice more changes in my fitness as I lose these dreadful pounds.
Thanks for the review of the dvd as well, sounds like it would be something I'd like, will keep my eye out for it for the future.

100togo said...

wow! thanks for writing this ... this is so true for me, and I am relieved to hear that it's not just in my mind. I worry all the time that I won't be able to keep up with everything in my life, because everything exhausts me. It's also great to hear that even some pound loss makes a difference. That DVD sounds great ... take care.

Jodie said...

This is so true...I rarely play on the floor with my kids because the energy to get up and down and move is sometimes to much. I'm glad we are all striving for a better life! It is very encouraging to read everyone's posts.

Anonymous said...

This is true for me as well. I have had a good workout routine for years, and that gave me a very good baseline for measuring my energy level. When I was around 195 lbs, I would be very breathless on the elliptical. I actually went to the doctor, thinking I might have some kind of asthma or breathing problems. But when I lost weight, the breathlessness really just went away, and it was a very noticeable difference. My energy levels are much higher now. Thank you for the reminder of one of the benefits of getting to a healthier (for me) weight! Good luck to you in your journey, I am continuing to root for you! Becky

Tina said...

Yay for getting stronger! It helps so much with everything from doing laundry to grocery shopping. You're doing great Lyn!!

Leslie said...

Sounds like a good plan. Mixing up the exercise really helps keep me from tanking; and it's good for the body as well. Moves different parts in different places! You sound very positive and committed about weight loss and exercise these days. Isn't it great when it isn't always a drudge? Hang in there.

MB said...

I'm going to have to check out that DVD. Jillian scares me and I'm sure she would make me cry if she were in my living room but I'll be ok knowing she can't come through the tv.

I love your honest writing and whether you are having a good day or a bad day you inspire me to keep at it. Thank you! Have a great weekend.

Laura said...

Thanks for this post. It is very tiring and that's been half my battle to start working out. But I'm getting there! I'll have to add that DVD to my netflix and try it out. Thanks for the review!

Steelers6 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steelers6 said...

Hey, sooo glad you like the Powersculpt DVD! I switch around between that one and Jillian's Shred. It is nice to add the levels on the Sculpt, I think it helps avoid getting bored, & of course then eventually you get a longer workout! And truly, after u have done it for quite a while the scarey or tough moves aren't bad anymore. What a sense of accomplishment!
Know what u mean about pretending she is YOUR trainer.

I also forgot to mention I think it is useful to simply WATCH the dvd's at each level first, so you know how 'down dogs' and 'oblique twists' (from Shred) etc are supposed to look.

Keep us posted!
Best,
Chrissy

Anonymous said...

Your experience with TBL members doing movements wrong is quite common with their DVDs. Though they are billed as for heavier, inexperienced exercisers they really aren't good for amateurs.

Taryl said...

Ease of movement and less exhaustion are one of the biggest healh payoffs I am loving (and waiting for more of!) on this weightloss journey. Some days I just feel so impossibly energetic and floaty it really brings home how totally wiped and lethargic I was before - not the kind of mom my kids deserve and not the kind of wife I want to be for my husband, either! I'm only about 1/3 of the way into my loss, but the improved health is such potent motivation for continuing.

Hanlie said...

I can really identify with this! The difference is not so much the weight loss, which has been modest, but the exercise (and the energy giving plant-based diet). I used to schedule one errand per day and postpone it until the last possible minute. Everything was a mission!

Now I'm active and I get so much more done!

I don't have space to do exercise DVD's (huge coffee table that I'd have to drag out onto the patio), but I've heard that some people who do DVD's first watch them from the couch to familiarize themselves with the moves. It kind of makes sense to me.

That sounds like a fabulous workout and I'm sure it will produce great results! Good luck!

Lady Downsize said...

I can relate your weight scenarios. Try the same things at 350 or 330 pounds. Just standing in one spot breathing for too long creates a heck of a sweat. At this weight you'd need more than one back back to put more weight on the front than the back, and somehow attach the majority at the waist so it hangs on the hips, butt and thighs.

Lyn, It's just great that we are working hard to change it all.

Salted with Shadows said...

Such a true post Lyn...that's ultimately what drove me to weight-loss surgery, I was just so sick of being uncomfortable. Summer sucks, everything's tiring, and you're in pain all the time. You're lucky if you can fit in seats anywhere. All that fun stuff. I'm only down 33 pounds but I already feel better and can't wait to feel even better than this!

Anonymous said...

Okay I'm going to try the DVD I need a change in routine. Thank you.
Liz

Jeannette said...

Thank you for being so open and honest. I am certain that you are going to escape obesity... as certain as I'm for sure of it for myself. :)

Rachel said...

What a positive post! You're definitely on the right track and full of motivation. Thanks for sharing :)

Theophilus Academy said...

I started that workout with 2lb weights and have moved to 5lb...and that's probably as high as I'll go. With her other workouts (shred & no more trouble zones) I use mostly 2lb.

You are going soooooo good!!!!

bbubblyb said...

Glad to hear your feeling alive and full of hope. Glad you like your new DVD too. It's always great getting something new that makes us feel excited.

Anonymous said...

this was incredibly timely for me today. thank you!!!

Tammy said...

I know all about the fat sucking you dry. My highest weight was 340 lbs. I couldn't do a damn thing. I was a slug. However, down to 241.8 now!! Things are looking up!! :)

Julie said...

60 pounds overweight and i know about the fat sucking you dry. combined with rheumatoid arthritis it can be a battle for sure. i know you and i can beat this.

Heather said...

Thanks for posting your review of the dvd! I may just have to go out and get it and a few others of hers because I am very bored with my routine as well.

Greta www.bigbottomblogger.blogspot.com said...

Great post...important and relevant information. Our "Fat Prisons" must be torn down!!! Woo hoo!

moonduster said...

I know exactly what you are talking about when you say how exhausted being nearly 280 pounds made you feel. At my high weight, I weighed 272.5 pounds, and I was always tired!

I'm 156 now and loving evry non-exhausting minute of it! :)

You'll get there too!

Slow Cooker Guy said...

I know what you mean. My days would become: "Ok, I've got X hours of energy, how do I spend it? Having went up and down, I know that a 20 pound difference can be huge!

happyfunpants said...

Ooh! Now I want to check out the DVD! :)

I think a lot about what you wrote about in this post - mostly when I'm running. Sometimes I feel like I should probably be faster - I'm only at 10'45" per mile. And then I remember that I have 60 extra pounds on me - and I'd like to see how fast anyone could be with the extra 60 pounds.

Keep going. You rock.

:)

P.S. The temptation to call people "poodle" now is high. I don't know why but that part of your post is STILL cracking me up. :)

1/2 Girl said...

I know what you mean! When I was 335 getting up 5 stairs, not flights just stairs, would make me huff and puff.

Keep it up :) You can do it! In fact I'm in training right now for a 1/2 marathon!

Just do something every day... walk, sit-ups, yoga and never ever give up!

It's a marathon not a race :)

Rachel said...

"I know that strength training makes a big difference in endurance, but getting the weight off is the real key." I hope this doesn't sound too nitpicky, but those two things aren't mutually exclusive! I know everyone has to find what works for them, but I've lost around 40 pounds and my first 15 came off when I was emphasizing weightlifting, NOT cardio. I think it boosted my metabolism enough that I was burning more calories just by sitting around - enough to actually lose, as long as my diet stayed in check. I would just hate to think that you sacrifice strength training, is all, and I wanted to offer a little encouragement.

You're doing great! Keep it up!