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I decided to take a week off from working out to try and let my body rest and recover. I've been sore for a weirdly long time, specifically in the joints, in my wrists, ankles, and knees. It's started to make me nervous, like I'm really wrecking my body. I work out pretty hard, and I've heard so many stories of, like, runners who wear out their knees from the impact. I mean, I've only been running outside for like two years now, two miles three times a week, so you'd think it hasn't been long enough to have already have destroyed my joints, so maybe I'm being ridiculous. I'm so spoiled, probably. I'm so used to a pain-free body that any pain at all makes me think I must be cataclysmically breaking down.

But just to give them a chance to heal, I'm taking the week off. Of course I'm nervous about ever letting up, but maybe I should just go back to the serious diet for that seven days just to make sure. It'd be nice to reset my system, though I've been so lax lately that it'd probably be a real struggle-- the old exquisite machine has been crying out for sugar lately. But I don't want to mess up the good thing I've got going lately.

I think I should probably do something chill, though. Maybe a stretching routine. I've also been weirdly tight in the Achilles tendons, and of course my knees are always stiff as boards unless I'm actively, aggressively working on them. Maybe that would help with the joint pain too. I'm not a big fan of yoga, due to said tight knees, but stretching would help.

*Sigh* It makes me miss ballet. I haven't been to classes in like a year, because it always seems to coincide with Hawking rehearsals. But I really liked doing it, and it helped improve that flexibility. Maybe I should check the schedule-- and the budget --and see if it might be possible to go back.
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For the past several weeks, I've done basically nothing except work and watch RuPaul's Drag Race. It comes from not leaving the house much except for job stuff and not having the energy for much beyond TV. So I've watched the seasons available through Amazon Prime of Drag Race and quite enjoyed them.

Drag has always been kind of fascinating to me. While I'm not particularly up on queer culture in any way, this part of it appeals to me because I like how it plays with the arbitrary nature of gender markers. Yeah, X, Y, and Z are traditionally considered indicators of femaleness, but look, a man can put them on just as easily! And vice versa. That kind of detachment from gender norms makes me smile. Drag is of course not the same as actual gender fluidity, but I like the idea of temporarily tossing your gender to the wind and being a different one for a while.

As I’ve mentioned, while my sexuality is about as firmly straight as you can get, my gender has always felt sort of incidental. Sure, I am definitely a woman and I’m comfortable with that, but it’s purely descriptive. If I’d been identified as a boy by society, I don’t think I’d be any more or less comfortable. So, while my straightness feels pretty intrinsic to the person that I am, my femaleness isn't. I often wonder what I'd be like if I were a boy, though I have no actual desire to be one. But I have always wanted to drag myself out and see how "masculine" I could make myself look. I think that would be a lot of fun to play that role for a little while. The technical aspects of drag, makeup, costuming, and other sorts of design, are up my alley, especially because they present a perennially interesting concept to me-- we have a problem (we need to make a male-identified person conform to feminine markers), how do we use technical skills to solve it?

I also think it’s interesting that the artifice of it is so clearly on display. In other aspects of culture related to appearance, I think there’s a lot of tendency to mask all the work and the seams involved. Oh, this model looks this glamorous all the time. She’s this thin naturally. This makeup isn’t hard to do. When in reality such images are the result of carefully composed, edited, stage-managed presentation. Even as I’m aware of that, in my own pursuit of beauty I’ve always gone for that ideal of “naturalness,” by which I mean that I look this good without accoutrement— so I would literally wake up like this. But making that possible actually means an enormous amount of work, including diet, exercise, skin-treating, and shaving. This is my real actual body, but it is certainly not like this left to its own devices. But in drag, I find it neat how the artifice is so embraced, so much part of the game. It's an interesting comment on what gender markers even are, if the strongest ones are those that any person, regardless of how they identify, could put on.
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I tend to miss Bernie in waves. I usually go long periods were the physical separation doesn't really bother me, as we talk constantly and our bond still feels strong even though we're not living in the same place right now. But when the waves of being lonely for him do hit, it tends to be because I notice something that just isn't the same without him around

One of the nicest small things Bernie would do for me is rub my back when I got stressed out or sore. I don't think I realized what a difference that made until he wasn't around anymore. It was great both for making my body relax when my mind wasn't so inclined, but I also think it kept me in physically better shape. I think I recovered from exercise-related soreness faster, and it combated the results of some of my unfortunate physical tendencies, such as how I slouch down into my chair and end up sitting on my tailbone. The exquisite machine feels so knotted up lately that it's been a real pain.

That's something you can get done professionally, but it's expensive. Probably worth shelling out for every now and then anyway, but sure was nice having somebody who did it on a regular basis for free.
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I've noticed my throat has started to ever-so-slightly tighten up when I exercise lately. Not when I run, interestingly. These days I run outside, and while I've always been sensitive to breathing in cold air, I'm fit and accustomed enough that it hasn't been a problem recently. It's only happened when I do my fighter abs routine, which I do indoors in a temperature-controlled environment. It hasn't been much, but in the breaths between, when I transition from one exercise to the next, I've noticed a cold, constricted sensation in my airway. It goes away quickly with a few deep breaths and hasn't really been holding me back in any way, but it's new and a bit worrying. I've always been concerned by my proneness to side stickers, but that's gone away as I've gotten stronger, and this seems to be almost like exercise-induced asthma. Why would that be appearing now, that I'm at the strongest I've been in my life?

I always worry I'm not breathing properly. I have tendency to hold my breath when I'm concentrating, and when putting the effort into finishing a difficult workout I often don't breathe enough. Maybe that's it. I should put some extra attention into regulating that pattern. I've gotten good at doing that when I run, as it distracts me from the sometimes-unpleasant sensation of exertion, but not so much during fighter abs. It definitely couldn't hurt, even if no real problem is developing.
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In my hero's boast, I laid out everything that I have to do from now until the end of the year.

One of those things was that I wanted to stay on both the smoothie diet and the fighter abs exercise program for twelve weeks. Just around Christmas, I completed that goal. I am super happy, because I look and feel great.



REGARD THE EXQUISITE MACHINE. I love how my body looks, especially my abs. I'm fitter, leaner, and more toned than I've ever been in my life. I'm happy enough that I'm planning on staying with lifestyle as long as possible. Taking breaks for special occasions will happen, but living this way has made me feel healthy, strong, and beautiful, so I want to stick with it.

WITNESS ME.
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Cut for diet, exercise, and body talk. )
I also added in a calcium pill and a joint supplement. My doctor recommended the calcium, as all women under thirty-five should be working to build up their bone density before it starts deteriorating, and I thought the joint pill might be a good idea since I've been running so much. I haven't experienced any knee pain, but I have noticed they've started clicking when I do squats and things that involve deep bends. That's not much, but it makes me nervous, as I know runners often suffer knee problems later in life. So maybe the supplements will help stave things off a little.

My skin's kind of a mess, though. I've been so busy I haven't been as consistent scrubbing my face with my automatic face brush lately, and I've broken out a little. It's funny because they don't recommend using a brush like this every day, but apparently my skin produces SO MUCH YUCK it defies conventional wisdom. Sigh. If I get back in good habits it should probably get better again, but I'm only going to get busier from here, so I'm sorry it takes so much dedication to work.
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It's officially been twelve weeks of my current diet-exercise-skincare plan. I've been very happy with the results, as my skin and abs look the best they ever have in my life.

My face routine is pretty much exactly what I want it to be. I love my electric face brush, which I use to wash my face every night before I go to bed. I've read that you're not supposed to use them every day, but I have been because I think it's working for me. That combined with my moisturizer has kept my skin clearer, brighter, and dewier than it's been since I was a kid. So I'm sticking with that for the foreseeable future.

My diet and exercise, however, I think I'm going to change up. While my current plan served me well up to this point, I'm pretty sure I've plateaued. So I'm going to try something new and see what difference that makes. On September 1st, I'm going to switch to this diet where you eat high-protein smoothies two meals a day and eat a large, no-carb, no-sugar meal for dinner, with one cheat meal a week. My dad has been doing it for a while now and he lost a lot of weight. According to my dad, you don't even have to exercise on that plan for it to happen. Of course, he's a sixty-three-year-old man and I'm a twenty-eight-year-old woman, so God knows how different our workings are, and also my goals are only to lose the layer hiding my abdominal muscles.

So what I think I'm going to do is kind of chill out with the eating restrictions for the next couple of days. Hopefully that won't mess up my system too much, or make the transition any harder. Then on September 1st, I'm going to eat the mostly-smoothie diet for a week, without working out. That might make it easier for my body to adjust. Then I'm going to start working out again while on that diet, with a new regime that is how martial artists get abs. Three months is probably the right amount of time to see if it works. I wonder if it will be miserable, but I'm going to give it a shot and see if it works.
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Today is the last day of the semester, which means I am about to start a two-week break before things kick in again. All of my jobs are currently for colleges, so I'll have no work commitments until things get intense for me again when the new semester starts. It's a bit expensive for me not to work during that time, but I will enjoy the time off.

It's almost the end of the summer as I defined it when I made my plan for the months of June through August. I'm in very good shape as far as the goals I set and the things I wanted to accomplish.

I finished the first draft of Base Instruments, and had a very enjoyable and productive reading dinner for it. The first draft turned out better than I thought it would, and it was so much fun hearing friends read it aloud. They made some great, helpful suggestions-- these reading dinners are the best --that will be great for the direction of the next edit. I am currently taking a week or so away from it before I dig in, though, so I can look at it with fresh eyes. Part of the job will involve cutting it down-- it turned out much longer than I wanted --so I think I can't be this close to it when deciding what I can afford to lose.

I just finished my syllabus for my class at Lesley. That proved much more difficult to make than I thought it would, mostly because of the constraints I set down for myself. I needed things with culturally significant protagonists, that my students could get for free online, that weren't all white dudes. I did the best I could with that, and I think I will enjoy teaching the pieces I chose. The only thing I'm not sure about is if I gave them the correct amount of work-- neither too little nor too much. I guess we'll see, and I can always adjust if things aren't working.

My diet and exercise plan I've managed to stick to for almost twelve weeks now. I'm pleased with the results, though I'm pretty sure I've plateaued. I have definitely got better abs now than I ever have in my life, but they're still not where I want them to be. Maybe my expectations are unrealistic. But I may investigate into what I can do to jumpstart things again. In any case, I'm happy enough with the progress that I think this is how I'm going to be eating from now on.

Now to make a plan for the two weeks. I'm sure there's a way to make the most of the time, so I've got some thinking to do.
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I don't know I ever articulated these, but as we're about at the halfway point of the summer, I thought I'd look over my current set of goals for the season and see how I'm doing on them.

1. Draft a complete version 1 of Base Instruments

This is going really well! After making a mostly complete, and very thorough, outline, I have plunged into the actual writing, and I've gotten at least one piece of a scene drafted every day since I started. I'd estimate the draft is around fifty percent complete. It's not very good yet-- I'm shooting for completion, with plans to polish it later --but it's coming into existence where it wasn't before! I want to have at least a rough version 1 finished by the end of the summer.

2. Maximize ab development

My diet and exercise plan is turning out great. I'm trying to get my abs as defined as they possibly can be, and I've made the best progress of my life. I'm stronger than I've ever been too-- I pushed myself all-out on my run yesterday, and I actually ran a mile in 5:45! Fastest time for me ever! I look great, I feel great, and I do great. I'm also finally at the point where I think my body has adjusted to eating like this, so I'm not even constantly hungry anymore.

3. Do 31 Plays in 31 Days 2015

I have been really happy doing this in the past, so I think I'd like to participate again this August. I may change the terms for myself, however. Not exactly sure how, but I think I'd like to tailor it to a specific project I'm working on rather than just generating material for material's sake. Maybe that will be working on Base Instruments, if it's not finished by then, maybe it'll be for something else. But I like the productivity the structure has given me in the past.

4. Get together my bid for Mrs. Hawking and Vivat Regina at Arisia 2016

I have some informal approval already, but I'd like to get things official set down, so I know what to plan for. I'm both excited and daunted at the prospect of putting together SERIAL THEATER, WHICH IS BASICALLY UNHEARD OF, but I think that newness and daring will make it more exciting. So I'd like to get my proposal together and sent out before the end of the summer. Best to settle things as early as possible, to maximize preparation time!
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I’ve been investing a lot of effort lately into working up the old mortal shell through which God would have me experience His creation. I am probably a little too wrapped up in my own vanity, but I also care about keeping myself healthy and in shape. It makes me feel really good to look pretty and feel strong, so though it adds a fair number of extra responsibilities to my list, for me it acts as a form of self-care.

Content warning for body and diet talk to follow. )
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I have been getting a lot of things done lately. I've been working dilligently away on Base Instruments, and it's coming along. I wrote another pitch, this time for my other screenplay, The Tailor at Loring's End. Sunday alone I cleaned everything in my house except for mopping the kitchen floor (my least favorite chore, for some reason, so I avoid it), did all the laundry, washed and put away all the dishes. Made myself some chicken with sauteed apples and onions to eat this week.

My workout plan goes well. I think my body is in the best shape it's ever been. This system of working out six days a week, alternating ab routine with cardio, plus a low-carb, no-processed sugar diet with one cheat day a week is suiting me. It's not easy, but I feel strong and healthy-- and my abs are more visible than they've ever been. I'm in the middle of week three, and I'm hoping to make it at least a month so I can see where I am then.

But I think I need to get out of the house a bit more, or at least invite people over. I never mind being alone, but I do experience the sensation of missing friends. I feel like I haven't had much social interaction in some time. I'm handling Bernie's absense-- which has just hit the ten-month mark --pretty well, but I get into waves where I feel it more keenly than usual. I should make a point to make plans with people to keep it in check. The only remedy for missing people is to reach out and arrange to see them.
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At the end of my first week of my new exercise plan, my body is shockingly sore. I'm really surprised to be in this much pain. I didn't think the new stuff would be that much different than my previous regime. But my thighs and my back, of all things, are killing me. My new routine is mostly ab-focused, and while my abs feels fine, it's common for when the abs wear out in the course of a workout the back muscles engage to compensate. 😝

Otherwise I mostly feel healthy and good. It hasn't been hard to hold to the new diet, as I like eating mostly meat and vegetables, especially with the one cheat meal built in. But my muscles really hurt. I don't think it's any injury, just being ripped up from the effort, but it's been a while since exercise-induced muscle soreness bothered me this much. I actually ate some Advil today, which I usually don't use for anything except migraines and cramps. It used to help a lot to get massages, but without Bernie, it's tough to arrange without paying for it.

I think I am reluctantly going to make today the rest day for week two. I hate starting off the new week with one, as that means it's gone already, but I think I need it. One the positive side, if I'm feeling it this much, probably means it's working.
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This is the last week of ballet classes for the summer, which means I'm going to need to rethink my workout habits from now until September. I've also been feeling weirdly uncomfortable with my figure lately, and doing things that make me feel healthy, strong, and like my weight is under under control make me feel better about that stuff.

As anyone who's known me for more than five minutes knows, I've always wanted washboard abs. I've never quite been able to achieve them, but I've never actually stuck with a program long enough to see if it would really work. I have to be careful with this stuff, to make sure I don't do anything unhealthy, but since I need to rework my exercise plan anyway, I want to give it a serious shot. I've got a system I'd like to give a try, which involves an eating plan as well. It's a lot of work and willpower-- I'm better at doing the exercises than I am at following dietary directives. Not that I don't eat pretty carefully anyway, but with my love of Coke and chai lattes, I've always had way too much sugar.

But I just love abs so much, and I've never really had them. I'm old enough that if I don't get serious soon, I'll never know what it's like to have them. Yeah, I may just not have the genetics for it. I know people who work out less and eat less carefully than I do who already have them. But if the only thing that's standing between me and the belly of my dreams is sticking to a diet and exercise plan for a month, I would kick myself if I never actually did it once in my life.
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Body positivity is a weird thing with me. I tend to have a pretty good self-image, and through rigorous mental retraining I'm learning not to apply my crazy ideas to anyone else's body, but I have a hard time letting go of them when it comes to my own. Sometimes my crazy comes out in weird ways.

A few years back, during a period where peak depression intersected badly with a much more sedentary schedule, and I gained a small but noticeable amount of weight. It wasn't obvious to most people, but it made it so my clothes didn't fit. I had an incident where I popped a button off of a pair of jeans due to being too big for them that really left me upset. I should have just thrown them away, but I stuffed those jeans in a draw in a rage and tried to forget they existed.

I slimmed back down relatively soon after that, and all of my old clothes fit again, including those jeans. It's very satisfying to me that I can now fit my hand inside the waistband where once I wasn't even able to close them. I put a new button on them, but because the old one tore up the placket so much, it's probably not going to stay attached much longer. So they're kind of a pain to wear. But I keep them, I keep wearing them, instead of throwing them away. Because to get rid of them would be to admit they DEFEATED ME. And my crazy WON'T ALLOW THAT.
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My ballet class just went out of session for the summer-- boo! --and I've resolved this time to do better about practicing on my own than I did last year. It's a big chunk of my workout that I don't want to just chuck out, plus I want to preserve and develop my skills. I actually did it tonight, for about forty-five minutes, holding onto the door frame into my office so I could switch between my door and vanity mirrors as I did barre work without the barre.

Musings on positive body perceptions. Content warning for body talk. )
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I've hit a bit of a plateau when it comes to ballet. Last October marked two years of about two classes a week, and while I know I've really improved in that time, I've not made any real progress some time. It hasn't been my biggest focus lately, and I pretty much never practice outside of my three hours a week of class. That's not nothing, but I'm sorry that I'm not feeling much progress. Right now I consider it mostly just to be regular exercise, rather than a project I'm undertaking or a goal I'm working towards. Sadly I can't really afford to divert any more focus to it right now. I still enjoy it very much and plan to keep up with it, but I don't expect to make any great leaps forward anytime soon.

The one thing I did accomplish recently is I had "click moments"-- the experience when something suddenly becomes clear or makes sense to you --regarding how to balance in two particular instances. When performing a battement or jete, the lifting of the leg, balance is maintained by steeling the muscles in the back of my standing leg's thigh. It finally occurred to me to concentrate particular effort to that in order to stay in position without falling over. Also, when on eleve, up on the toes, to prevent falling forward, resist with the abdominals, and to prevent falling backward, resist with the gluteals and the back of the legs. It holds you in the center. It takes a pretty significant effort on both counts, but that's the way to keep correct position. It may seem obvious, but to me thinking of those isolated efforts in particular makes a big difference. I have to practice and tone those muscles in order to do it better, but having the mental understanding will aid in my ability to physically accomplish it. And that's a bit of progress I'm glad to have.

Dysmorphia

Dec. 25th, 2013 10:44 pm
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The degree to which I am body dysmorphic, at least at times, sometimes shocks me. Maybe "dysmorphic" isn't the right word. I don't really dislike my body. In general I'm pretty damn happy with myself, perhaps even to the point of vanity. But I must not have a very realistic picture of myself, because everyone seems to tell me different.

Several times in the last few days a bunch of people have commented on my "tinyness." My trainer at the gym, the receptionist at the garage, my mother. I said to my brother, in regards to a sweater, "Isn't your girlfriend about my size?" and he said I was crazy.

I am a small person, a lean person. I know that, I'm not completely nuts. But I don't feel tiny. I feel... well, regular. Not fat, really, but not particularly small. I work out a lot, at least five hours a week, of either ballet or intense circuit training, and I do it because I prefer myself hard and lean. I don't really like my soft places, under my bellybutton, my upper thighs. I would have thought someone who works out as much as I do would be harder and leaner than I am, but I guess not. I confess it bugs me, if for no other reason than my perspective seems so skewed. I also don't like how broad my bottom ribs are, and they're uneven on top of everything, so my trunk looks coarse and lumpy. I'm so wide there that I'll never really have a narrow waist. If I could change anything about myself physically, that would be it.

I know you don't want to hear a skinny white model bitch about how she feels fat sometimes, or at least fatter than she actually is. It just shocks me how differently I see things about myself than what other people see. It actually makes me feel kind of insane. I know intellectually how poisonous culture is for women's body image. But since I don't really feel negative toward my body (at least not most of the time) I guess I don't always realize just how pervasive it is.

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[livejournal.com profile] katiescarlett29 suggested getting massages at a local massage school, because going to students meant that they'd be cheaper. It was a great suggestion, as we got thirty-dollar forty-five minute massages that were really very nice. The therapist I had said my tissues were very clean and healthy, which I was very curious about; I guess physical issues in the joints and muscles is something they are trained to perceive when they touch you. I work out a lot and dance ballet and I'm often slightly sore, so I was very glad to hear that everything felt proper-- no misalignment, no scar tissue, no anything. The only problem detected, interestingly, was in my left hip. While most of the massage was fairly gentle and straightforward, when he got to my hip he really dug in, so much so that it was almost painful. Apparently my flexor on that side was much tighter than on the right, and the difference in pressure he used on it compared to on the rest of me was rather shocking. That was very interesting to me because I always feel when I'm dancing that I can never manage to get quite enough of a stretch in my hips. They are much more flexible than most people's but I think because of that the standard stretches usually done for hips, such as butterfly, are too easy for me and don't actually do anything to stretch them. Afterward I really did feel loosened up. I will definitely go back sometime, since I felt so good afterward and it really wasn't too expensive.

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