Once Upon a Fat Girl

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Finally Understanding The Levels

I did my hour-long bike ride this afternoon. Whew! That's five weeks in a row of one hour-long ride a week. Not bad, huh? I did 16.5 miles today--1.6 than last weeks long ride. BUT I did the whole ride at a level 5 random hills vs. last week's level 4 random hills.

I learned something during that hour. Bob Greene says that you should work out 'in the zone' which is a 'level 7.' I never really got that--I'm not real good with subjective things. It's the perfectionist in me that wants to do it right, and would rather have the guy says "exercise at so-and-so percentage of your heartrate..." Something I can measure and know for sure I'm doing correctlly.

Anyway. Today I learned what a level 7 is. A level 7 is when you COULD read your book while you ride the exercise bike...but you really have no interest. It's when you COULD read the captions for That 70s Show...but you couldn't care less. It is definitely the point when you stop spending the whole hour thinking "Damn, this is so boring!"

That's where I was today. My heartrate was about ten beats per minute higher than it normally is during my bike rides. And during the real high hills, I was praying. Please, please, Goddess, let me get past this hill. Please, let me push past this hill, because then the level goes way down for a minute and I'll be okay.

Those were the level 8 minutes. (Level 8 is where you know you can do something for the short time that you have to, but you aren't sure you could do your whole workout at that level.) Only maybe 5 minutes three times throughout the workout. Those fifteen minutes were intense. But I got through them. AND my ass isn't nearly as numb this time. Maybe because I didn't have any energy to waste thinking about it?

I did read for about ten minutes--during the warm up--out of the book Losing It by Laura Fraser. In a chapter on non-dieting, she quotes dietian Ellyn Satter (who developed a dieting-recovery program for dietians to use on clients) on the definition of "Normal Eating."

Normal eating is beng able to eat when you are hungry and continue eating until you are satisfied. It is being able to choose food you like and eat it and truly get enough of it--not just stop eating because you think you should. Normal eating is bein able to use some moderate constraint on your food selection to get the right food, but not being so restrictive that you miss out on pleasureable foods. Normal eating is giving yourself permission to eat sometimes because you are happy, sad, or bored, or just because it feels good. Normal eating is three meals a day, or four or five, or it can be choosing to munch along the way. It is leaving some cookies on the plate because you know you can have some again tomorrow, or it is eating more now because they taste so wonderful. Normal eating is overeating at times; feling stuffed an uncomfortable. It is also undereating at times and wishing you had more. Normal eating is trusting your body to make up for your mistakes in eating. Normal eating takes up some of your time and attention, but keeps its place as only one important area of your life.

In short, normal eating is flexible. It varies in response to your hunger, your schedule, your proximity to food, and your feelings.

As I was reading it, I felt like yelling "YES, YES, YES!" right there on the bike. Yes! This is what I'm talking about. THIS is how I want to relate to food. This is what I really believe will help me be healthy and fit. Ellyn Satter believes that weight has to be an absolute afterthought--not the point at all. But she says that she understands how hard that is for her patients. It's hard to let go of the weight component--to eat normally without regard to whether or not it's resulting in weight loss. It's so hard that it feels impossible. But it's a goal--something to work toward.


Blogger kathrynoh said...

I can never read while exercising. I am far too unco-ordinated for that.

"Normal" eating is such a weird concept. You'd think we'd all know how to eat normally, yet things get screwed up inside along the way.

8:55 PM  
Blogger Josephine Crowe said...

Yeah, I can't do the whole reading thing either. Though my music is a must.

I haven't heard about the "normal" eating thing before. I have been following that advice on accident. Since I've been trying to eat better, there is a ton of food in my pantry and fridge. This is so I can always whip something healthy up rather than grabbing take-out.

For whatever reason, its been working out good for me.

10:05 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

Normal Eating. What a concept. That is exactly how I'd love to feel about food. Now the hard part...getting to that place! I've been reading about Intuitive eating which is really the same thing. I love the whole idea.

8:56 AM  

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