August 29, 2009

Comparison is the thief of joy

Well, today was the big dunk test to see how much body fat I lost and how much muscle I gained. I mentioned before that when I was tested at the beginning of the 10-week boot camp challenge I was at 34.1% body fat. That is in the poor range, so there was lots of room for improvement.

Over the last 10 weeks I have missed maybe 5 days of boot camp and three of those were because I was out of town. I have a serious addiction to this boot camp and I am a completely different person on the days we don’t have it. I’m tired, sluggish and kinda bitchy, really. But on boot camp days I have so much energy, especially immediately after. I could beat Tigger in a bounce contest I am so hyper afterward – even at 7 am. The exercise part of the challenge was not hard for me. I mean the working out was hard, but the motivation to do it? I just wanted to because I love it. The workouts push my limits, and sometimes I might hate some of the exercises, like burpees, who the hell invented those little shits of torture? I do the reps and I sweat like a pig, burning around 500 calories on the weekday workouts, and more than 600 on the Saturday workouts. I swear, I frakking love boot camp so much that I’m going to get a license plate frame made that says BOOT CAMP IS MY PROZAC because holy damn it is.

The food part of the challenge wasn’t too horribly hard for me either, only because I had changed my eating habits last Labor Day when I joined Weight Watchers. I needed to make a few adjustments in this challenge though, like cut out all sugar (no more dark chocolate from Trader Joe’s) and refined flour products (no bread – gah!), and boost my protein intake focusing on lean meats and those high in omega-3 fats like salmon. I learned to love some new foods, like almond butter and flax seeds, and didn’t really miss sugar or alcohol. Social events pretty much sucked as far as will power went, and I had moments of weakness, but when I did I picked up where I left off and got back to healthy eating as soon as I could.

Each week I took measurements and weighed in. The first week I lost four pounds and I thought, “Wow! This is a piece of cake! At this rate I’ll be at my goal weight before 10 weeks is even done.” So very not true.

I lost no more weight for a long time after that. WTF? For weeks the scale did not budge. I was losing inches though – half an inch here, two inches there, but I could not get past the number on the scale. Even my clothes told me I was transforming because I had to pull out my smaller pants about halfway through the challenge. But the scale was stuck. I thought it might be broken, but I trudged along, working out five times a week and eating vegetables until I practically turned green.

Throughout this I’d watch my friends go out to lunch while I sat at my desk eating food I prepared and brought from home. I watched Matte enjoy wine while we watched TV and I slurped water from my SIGG bottle. I went to parties and allowed myself one glass of wine that I usually couldn’t finish, came home sober, and woke up sans hangover. The non-hangover mornings were an added benefit to this new way of living, and with the two liters of water my body craved every day, even my skin looked better – another bonus. Eventually I lost a couple more pounds, but they didn’t seem indicative of the amount of work I was putting into this.

Basically I kicked ass for 10 weeks and was nervous and excited to see where my body fat would be at today’s dunk test. I was so excited I could not sleep. I woke up at 5am wondering if it was time to go yet and every five minutes after that to see if it was 7.

When I got to the body fat testing place I saw that my toughest competition was about to get dunked in the time slot before mine. This woman has not attended boot camp as religiously as I have, but she told me awhile back that she’s lost double digits in pounds and in inches. Bitch. Many of my fellow boot campers have hinted that I was a lock to win this because I have shrunk so much and look so toned. Unfortunately, there was no way for me to know how I had really progressed until I did the dunk this morning.

The dunker dude called me into the truck for my turn while my fierce competitor was still inside in the changing room. When she came out, I asked her about her test and she said she had a 10% improvement. This is practically unheard of, and the dunker dude told me that only bodybuilders lose body fat at a 1% a week rate. I knew when I got into that tub of water to see how buoyant I was I needed to get to 24% body fat.

I didn’t make it. She beat me, taking me out of the running for a free year of boot camp. After all my hard work, determination, anal retentive boot camp attendance, and piles of rabbit food, I would not win the challenge. I faked a smile at the supportive dunker dude when he handed me my report but I wanted to cry.

After I changed out of my sopping swimsuit I went out to find my boot camp instructor who was outside jumping up and down to hear my results. She wanted to capture my excited reaction on video for her website. Only I wasn’t excited, I was dejected. I worked SO DAMN HARD and I didn’t win. I couldn’t focus on anything else. I couldn’t think about how awesome my body feels, how much less space I take up in the world, how I don’t feel bulky anymore, and how my body doesn’t jiggle in places where it used to. I didn’t care that my waist is 26 inches or that my thighs have shrunk and if you touch my abs, they’re hard. It didn’t matter that I went from a poor 34.1% body fat to a healthy 29.6%. I had lost the game, and I had lost to the person I knew would beat me – the person who WAS NOT at boot camp every single day. WTF?

DAMMIT! I WORKED SO HARD! So, she had a baby a year ago and still had baby weight to lose. Whatever. Who cares? She doesn’t work. For all I know she has a gym inside her house. Maybe every time the baby sleeps she rides a spin bike, or climbs a Stairmaster. Or maybe she has a nanny and spent every day at the gym or at a spa getting fat reduction treatment. She could not have won fair and square, could she? She didn’t work as hard as I did! I was sure of it because people think I am insane about my devotion to this, and that woman is so totally not even close to insanity. Not to diminish how busy moms of newborns are, but all I could think was she worked out outside bootcamp, something I couldn’t do.

I was fighting back tears the whole drive home. Yes, I’m a sore loser. I don’t care (pout). Anyone who worked as hard at this as I did would be pissed too. All week, Matte and I looked forward to going to Hobee’s for blueberry coffeecake smothered in butter after the dunk test. I know you’re not supposed to reward yourself with food, but sweet baby jesus, I needed something sinful to eat. After learning I didn’t win though, I no longer wanted it. I wanted bell peppers and lettuce and tasteless food that might make me lose more body fat. My boot camp instructor was hosting an end-of-challenge celebratory BBQ in the afternoon and I didn’t even want to go to that. I was afraid my emotions would betray me when she announced the winner of the contest was someone other than me. I wanted to crawl into a ball and cry like the big fat baby I was, but the coffeecake won and I savored every scrumptious bite.

I once read a quote that said “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Never was it more true than today. Comparison to my boot camp rival is what stole the joy I should have had in my own success. I mean, I am now in a healthy body fat range! Just 10 weeks ago, my percentage was “poor”. There’s nothing lower than “poor” except dead. I lost 8 pounds of fat, and gained 2 pounds of muscle. I LOST FOURTEEN GOTDAMN INCHES! FOUR. TEEN. INCHES. I mean really! Today me could kick 10-week-ago me’s ass.

It took me a few hours and some retail therapy to realize I was being a dipshit. Do you know how good it feels to put on jeans that you haven’t even been able to pull all the way on in over a year? I’ll tell you how it feels. It feels AWESOME! As awesome as trying on clothes in the Macy’s Juniors Department and having them fit! It’s also very satisfying hearing people who haven’t seen me in awhile ask, “WOW! How much weight have you lost?” They never believe me when I say, “Only about eight pounds,” because it looks like more. That’s all boot camp, baby.

So despite my disappointment at not winning the free year I’ll still go to boot camp. I’ll pay my hard earned money and get up at 5 am and go workout in a beautiful park (in the dark these days) with my incredible trainers who will kick my ass every day. I go partly because of my addiction, yes, but mostly because I am making an investment in myself and the returns are not only guaranteed, they are frakking incredible.

9 people have roominated about “Comparison is the thief of joy”

  • Alison says:

    You’re still amazing, even if you didn’t win. Monday I start a weight-loss challenge. When I feel like caving, I’m going to think of you.

  • Sarah says:

    Well done on an amazing result. I can quite relate to your feelings of disappointment and I bow down to your ability to overcome them. You rock!

  • Saj says:

    You looked great when I saw you ten weeks ago, so I can’t even imagine how amazing you look now! I would KILL for hard abs! FOURTEEN inches!!! The Juniors department!

    You should be getting a cramp in your shoulder patting yourself on the back. You should be thanking Miss 10% Improvement for the motivation. (And then flipping her off behind her back!)

    Congratulations! You deserve it! Every last ounce of congratulations. Now go eat some dark chocolate from Trader Joe’s and celebrate!

  • Sandi says:

    Sounds like you won, to me!! I did do a double take at your first line, thought, because I thought it said today was your “drunk test”. Then I put on my glasses….

  • Michele says:

    You totally rock for not only signing up for boot camp but actually attending. The very idea makes me cringe! I am sure your hard work has paid off – even if you didn’t “win”. You are healthier and looking good, that is winning in my book. Keep up the good work!

  • Finn says:

    I am glad you came around. I understand how you felt, but you did something completely amazing and you should be damn proud of yourself.


  • Noelle says:

    Congrats on your successes on your own journey! I know just enough about body physiology to be dangerous, and I think, despite how much I love “The Biggest Loser,” that it’s completely impossible to compare individuals losing weight. We all have such completely different body chemistry, and weight loss doesn’t ever work the same way on two people. It sounds like you won the real battle, which is changing your view towards food. Congrats!

  • RachelV says:

    As your fellow boot camper, I can say that you’ve been an inspiration for me to get motivated to do something this summer. If you hadn’t signed up, neither would I. We’ve worked hard and we can only look at where we’ve been to really appreciate how we are now. My own results weren’t stellar because I couldn’t do the food thing so watching you as you shrunk away made me realize how much food is part of the equation and how I need to have some willpower when it comes to eating. Maybe I’ll get there someday.

  • sizzle says:

    Goddamnit! I really wanted you to win. But I AM glad you are starting to see how amazing you are, how much you’ve accomplished. 14 INCHES! HOLY COW!

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