Saturday, November 3, 2012

Relinquishing Control

The only way I've ever found success in weight loss is to control all aspects of my food.  I can't eat out if I don't have the nutritional analysis of the restaurant to which we are headed.  I measure out portions and put the rest of the food out of reach.  Grocery lists are made from menus and food isn't bought unless it is on the list.

I keep thinking you must know this about me, but I'm not sure I ever wrote about it.  So much time and energy is put into managing food.  I hesitate to call the behavior obsessive because there is so much to actually do when you are closely monitoring your food intake.  And doing it for a family could be a full-time job if your family, like mine, thrives on ever changing foods and experiences.

No wonder I was overwhelmed.  Exhausted.  Shattered.

I would go so far as to say I was shattered.  I kept picking up the pieces I dropped, but I couldn't get them to come back together.  Every time I tried something I thought I already had put back in place crumbled.

It turns out that I had to give up the image that I was trying to rebuild.  When I stopped being able to make it work, it was because the image was hopelessly flawed.  I was doing too much.  Thankfully, I have an amazing husband who hesitantly, because he knows me, stepped in.  He picked up the pieces I kept trying to fix and replaced them with something new.

Something I don't control.

This is a huge step.  Not only am I giving up a traditionally female house hold role, but I am no longer able to strictly control my diet in the fashion I've become accustomed.  How am I going to manage to lose weight if I don't know the specifics of everything I eat?

I'm not yet sure.  We're 2 weeks in and I'm thoroughly enjoying my reduced task list.  I haven't had the nerve to ask my husband if he is enjoying his new responsibilities.  I'm not sure I want to know if he isn't.  At least not yet.

So far my weight has not suffered.  He's been planning meals with my dietary concerns in mind.  We've had a few things I wouldn't have considered cooking.  Combinations to use up our CSA vegetables which I hadn't considered before.  It's been a healthy change.  I've even managed to lose the couple of pounds I gained over vacation!

All-in-all, only time will tell how we work in this new arrangement.  But right now I have high hopes.  Maybe relinquishing some control will do wonders for relieving stress, another theme found in successful weight loss stories.  Like mine, I hope.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Another Change in Direction

I wrote last about my change in direction.  I was giving myself permission to maintain.  Permission to just be for a while.  There is victory in maintaining and I was beginning to look to experiencing it.

And that is going to have to wait a bit longer...

The tides have changed again.  My cholesterol numbers have come back and they've come back high.  I recently changed doctors and this one believes the numbers will come down when I shed more weight.  She's given me 6 months to lose more before she wants to discuss medical weight loss options.  Not surgery, but drug assisted weight loss.  Thankfully I'm ineligible for surgery due to my weight loss this year and I'm happy for doctors to stop asking me about it.

However, I'm not much happier about the drug assisted options.  I don't like medicine and I think I've had solid weight loss success without it this year.  But I still have my hereditarily high cholesterol numbers to consider.  If the doc things rapid weight loss will get me in a better range, then I feel it is irresponsible to ignore her medical advice.

The plan provided by the doctor was 1200 calories with 45 minutes of cardio 6 days a week, no carbs after 6pm and ramp up on lean protein in all other meals.  Not to be whiny but this also didn't work for me.  I discussed that I'd been seeing results at 1600+ calories and didn't think I could do 1200.  My point was not accepted.

I've considered that this new doctor isn't right for me.  She's talking drug therapy versus crash dieting (in my completely non-medical opinion), neither option I find particularly appealing.  Instead of going through the trouble of switching again, I am going to see through the next 6 months and find out what my numbers look like in April.

Last week I tried 1200 calories.  After 5 days, I was unpleasant.  My husband can vouch for that.  Also I started to itch.  I have yet to find a doctor who's seen it or person who's experienced it, but when I lose weight I tend to develop itchy hot red spots anywhere part of my body presses into something else.  Sometimes these spots even turn into hives.  It's really not comfortable, physically or mentally as I have no idea why it is happening.

Also, that was without exercise added in!  I can see using a 1200 calories day every once in a while to reset my eating patterns, but long term I just don't think it is for me.

So I'm back to 1600 calories and I'm going to workout 6 days a week (go to the gym, do DVDs at home or walk around my neighborhood).  I've interviewed a number of nutritionists and will be scheduling with one as soon as finances permit.  I'm back on the weight loss bandwagon with reinvented motivation.

Wish me luck!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Breaking the Silence

The longer I go without writing, the harder it is to know what to say.  Life has gotten in the way as life tends to do.  My girls are growing and changing.  My oldest started preschool this fall.  My youngest is in the destructive phase I think all toddlers go through.  They drag me into every other moment regardless of the plans I have for my day.

Work is busy.  Both good and bad events have contributed, but for the first time in a long time I find myself consumed by all the things I have to learn and test.  It's exhilarating, exhausting and exactly where I want to be.  Each evening I have to drag myself away.  Each morning I look forward to going in.  It's a time to savor.

Given all that, I could easily be forgiven for slipping back to old habits and dropping my workout routine.  At least, I've thought about it and I could forgive myself for bad behavior.  All the changes I've made this year have required focus and effort I've never dedicated to myself before.  Without that intensity how can I ever expect to make progress?

The strangest part of it all is that I haven't thrown in the towel.   I haven't been as religious about tracking food and meeting my exercise schedule, but I've stuck with my good habits.  I've made decent food choices and attempted workouts every week.  I'm back to walking the stairs.  My menus at home have been simplified for week night crazy.  My gym bag gets packed each night to support me when I do manage to hear my alarm clock in time to go to the gym the next morning.

A few months back I was drowning.  I was overly busy and needed to restructure my days.  I felt fragmented and overwhelmed all the time.  I might even have been entering a funk.  I'm not sure; sadly, I didn't write about it.  I haven't written anything in two months.  I don't like that.  I've never liked leaving holes in my life and that's what it feels like when I go so long without putting pen to paper.

But there is one thing I want to capture right now.  One thing which made a huge difference.  The past month I've given myself permission to not lose weight.  In fact, I've given myself permission to maintain through the new year.  I've changed my MFP goals to reflect this and I'm sticking with it.  If weight comes off, great!  But that's not my focus right now.

I just need to be me for a bit.  I need to continue strengthening my body following years of neglect.  I need to be comfortable with myself and where I'm at.  I need to survive the holidays without losing my mind.  And I'm pretty sure I wasn't in a place two months ago where I could do that.

What does this mean for this blog?

I'm not honestly sure.  The first week of not writing, I pushed it out of my head and really didn't think about anything except surviving to the next day.  While I still have survival days, I've started wanting to express myself again.  I've had a strong urge to write for about a week now.  I keep thinking of things to say, how I want to reintroduce myself after an absence.  In my head, I've said hello a hundred different ways.  I've apologized, excused and rationalized.  Then I go and pack lunches for tomorrow.

Tonight I gave myself permission to just write.  No planning.  Very little premeditation (the opening sentence has been haunting me all day, but just that sentence).  I have to start somewhere.  I can do this.  It's strange to give myself permission to do something like write, but there are always going to be items left on my to-do list at the end of the day.  There are also always going to be words left inside.  I feel the words left inside are a greater loss.  While I can't put off folding clothes forever, at least they are clean.

And I've reestablished contact.  Will I be here every night?  Most likely not.  But tonight I break the silence.  Now that I'm written hello again, it will be hard to stop talking.  We've a lot to catch up on.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Office Workout

I work in a sedentary profession.  There is a lot of sitting and thinking.  Then there is the sitting and typing.  And every once in a while there is the walking to a meeting where I find myself sitting and talking.  Have you gotten the theme yet?

Yeah.  We move around a lot.  I knew you'd pick up on that.

Scanning through a few blogs this morning, this graphic from The Lean Green Bean caught my attention immediately.

The Office Workout

I'm trying this starting today.  I love that each activity only take a couple of minutes or less.  Also, have you done a wall sit lately.  I can't say I'm looking forward to that at 3pm, but I'm going to give it a shot.  If nothing else, all the grunting might make the people in the cubicles near by stand up to search out the noise.  I'll be encouraging exercise!

That's just how awesome I am.  :)

Who wants to try this with me?

Friday, August 31, 2012

What's in a Word

As I come to grips (again and again) with all that I'm trying to accomplish, I strive to be as honest with myself as I can.  I attempt to set reasonable goals and deadlines.  My progress I try to view as I would someone else's; in that way, I am kinder.

Lately I've been using the word obese.  It's a word that I've fought with for a long time.  When my BMI began to exceed the overweight range, I argued that I had big bones.  Not that I even know what that means.  Then a little while later I just stopped talking about it at all.  I had to protect myself from people who would use that word against me.  Hearing it aloud triggered an immediate fight response in me.

In time, I began to look at BMI the same way.  It was a tool others used to point out all the things that were wrong with me.  I clung to how incomplete the measurement was.  Talking about my BMI, doctors would find that I immediately tuned them out.  Earlier this year, I started making piece with BMI.  Mine was 38.8 at the time.  That shocked to me.  At the start of the year it was 41.2.  These numbers are so far outside the range of normal.  I could no longer look at that number and believe that BMI was a useless measurement.

Today, four months later, eight months from the start, my BMI is 36.8.  I've made progress, significant progress.  I like looking at the original number compared to now because the leading 4 makes the leading 3 seem all that more impressive.  I'm struggling to look at that number as a measurement and not a character flaw.  But there is a truth I'm starting to accept...

I am obese.

As such I've been attempting to allow the word back into my vocabulary.  It is a medical condition.  Looking at the definition, I can understand why I've fought that word.  At least according to Wikipedia, a person cannot be obese and healthy.  They have to be obese and otherwise healthy.  Obesity means that the person is carrying excess body weight which will lead to other diseases.  I guess this is where the problem lies.  It's a medical condition with a loaded future, more loaded than might be warranted.

A few days ago, I was discussing my struggles of late in person with someone who loves me.  I used the word obese several times while describing the overwhelming feeling I've been experiencing.  Each time I said the word, it made my listener cringe.  As I stopped talking, she said, "I don't use that word.  It's an ugly word." I went onto explain my feelings about the word; it certainly isn't pretty.  And I'm definitely conflicted about it.

It's Voldemort.

It's the Condition-Which-Must-Not-Be-Named.  We don't know what it means.  We don't know how to fight it.  We are scared of what it is doing to our health and our children's health.  We see it shaping the world around us.  We don't feel like we can stop it.  Or even help.  So we stop talking about it.

I'm not going to rid the world of obesity on this journey.  But I can accept its effects in my life and myself.  I am obese.  I say that not to embrace and celebrate it, but to say that I know where I'm at and what I have to do.  I'm accepting these changes as forever changes.  I am serious.  I will change this for myself.  And one day I'll link back to this post and add some new characteristic to my self description.  I look forward to that day.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Going the Distance

Last week I started a new walking program.  At least, it is new to me.  I did a little reading and decided to walk Jeff Galloway's 5K training plan.  I looked at his and Hal Higdon's and decided that I like the simplicity of Galloway's.  Neither is overly hard considering it is all walking and the times just get changed up.  However, I plan to workout 3 days a week on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.  I can following the Galloway 5K training plan by simply shifting the whole schedule forward one day.  I would need to add a 4th day to follow the Higdon 5K walking plan and I'm just not ready to commit to a 4th day in the gym yet.

Having already walked three 5K's this year, I've been resisting backing up and trying one of these programs.  The first 5K was completed through force of will.  I was only a few weeks into PT and really should have backed out of the race I'd planned on running.  Completing that walk was painful and exhausting.  And cold!!!  It had snowed that morning.

The second was the MS 5K Walk 2 months later.  That 5K was a slow walk with friends.  We talked and walked and stopped and dawdled.  It was a day I will never forget.  I know I've not written about it here.  Some day I might, but there is one moment from that walk that I will share now.  Hitting the last quarter of a mile my hip started to cramp.  I was wet and cold and ready to be finished.  Rain had pelted us the entire walk.  The approach to the finish line was, of all things, uphill.  As I approached the finish line, I saw my oldest daughter waiting.  She was wearing her Hawaiian rain jacket and matching boots cheering me on.  Even better than that moment are the many moments since then when she's told me that she is going to do a 5K when she grows up and she wants to run it in the rain too.

And most recently I walked a 5K on the treadmill in the gym just to see how I felt.  As with the first two my hips started to cramp in the third mile.  I worked through it and it wasn't nearly as bad as during the first 5K, but still...  I'm not pleased.  I feel like all my time in PT and hard work are simply not paying off.  How long is it going to take?  How many leg lifts in various directions are required to get these muscles in working order?

While my two official 5Ks left me needing a week to recover, each had moments I won't forget.  I begin to understand why people race over and over.  Why they keep moving.  I can see that getting out there and moving will make a difference.  However, my last unofficial attempt left me frustrated and knowing I shouldn't sign up to make a third official.  Exercise is supposed to be about moving and nourishing a healthy body.  My body is getting healthier, but it is not ready to walk 5K.  I'm not sure why this distance means so much to me.  Maybe because running it will always be the first goal I made for myself.

Versus trying again and again with the same painful results, I'm doing a walking program.  A slow progression to walking a 5K.  It's 15 weeks, 3 days per week.  At week 11 I actually walk 3.5 miles.  Which is more than a 5K.  As I approached Couch to 5K, I'm going to keep repeating each week until I can complete the walk without pain.  Maybe this is the answer I need for getting past this hurdle.  At a minimum, I now have a program to follow, a specific online to progress along.  That is something I've wanted and needed lately.  Best case, I might actually whip these stubborn muscles into shape.

For now, I'm mostly working on being thankful to have yet another chance.  And more time to practice patience.  Practice makes perfect right?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Perfect Day

Since adding two little girls to my life, perfect is a redefined word.  I have many perfect moments.  They are gleaming memories sitting atop a pile of dirty laundry, cartons of diapers and an endless rotation of dirty dishes.  Not to mention the mommy sanity timeouts.  But in all of my complaining there are awesome memories, ones I'll remember for years to come, and every once in a while I get a perfect day.

Yesterday was a perfect day.
It all started by me waking up at 6am to a quiet restful house.  My girls are visiting their grandparents for the week.  Having my house to myself and only my own schedule to maintain is such an awesome luxury.  For the first two days of this week I gave myself permission to simply exist each day, sleeping late, going to bed whenever I felt like it and making meals whenever.  I seriously debated staying in bed one more day, but it was Wednesday and I haven't missed a Wednesday at the gym since I returned to working out at the beginning of July.  I'm not giving up a 6 week streak now!

For a pleasant change of pace, my husband got up and went with me.  We exercised side by side.  It was my second day of my new 5K walking program.  A short warmup followed by fifteen minutes walking.  I walked; he jogged.  We marveled over the differences between Fox News and CNN.  That's my new hobby while in the cardio room in the gym - studying the difference between the news networks.  Following our walk, I ran us both through a PT style workout.  By the end of it, my legs were shaking and I think I might have even inspired a little awe.  He's never seen all the stuff I learned how to do.  *grin*  It was fun to show off.

Workout accomplished we hit our respective locker rooms and got ready for work.  He drove me in.  I invited him to breakfast at my usual morning stop.  I was dropped off at work with a kiss and promises of dinner plans to be emailed.

My work day was fairly typical.  I'm about 3 months into a 9 month project.  The pressure is present but motivating.  Towards the end of the day I did get a bit of a scare when an issue was discovered with one of my releases.  I didn't take it in stride at all, but I do understand what happened, presented to my manager and came up with some alternative quick workarounds.  All-in-all it was one of my better days at the office.

And then came dinner.  Mmmm.  Given that we were child-free, Hubby sent me a few options which we would not consider with the kiddos.  Having heard amazing things, we headed to Carrol's Creek.  It's a marina restaurant with outdoor seating, decadent appetizers and an overall relaxing atmosphere.  Our feast included baked brie, seafood cocktail and southwestern seasoned scallops seared and served with black bean corn salsa and a cilantro cream sauce.  So yummy and cooked just perfectly.  I'm glad the sauce wasn't available until my main entree; I would have had to try it on everything!  To top it off Hubby ordered a caramel cheesecake for us to share for dessert.  It was delicious.

I wish I'd taken a photo of all the yummy goodness we enjoyed, but alas...  I was too busy enjoying it.   At least I did manage to snap this picture.   Could the evening have been more beautiful?

After dinner, we walked around talking for a while.  As we headed home, we called our girls and attempted to say good night.  I could hear all their glee in the background, but talking to Mommy and Daddy while they are hanging at Grandma's doesn't seem to be high on their list.  Soon enough they will be back making a ruckus and inspiring simple moments of glee.  But for just one day, I had a perfect day just me and my husband.  It's not often we have moments together without our kids mixed in.  I'm so happy to have one perfect one in recent memory to add to the list.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Finding my track

I'm being very quiet right now.  Words are a bit elusive.  I want so much to share all that is going on in my head, but I'm afraid.  Too much of it is conflicting and way too much of it is negative.  I'm struggling to figure out how to balance striving for a goal with loving yourself just as you are.  Especially when that goal is centered on the imperfections you see in the mirror.  I do not have the answers.  Some days I wonder if there are answers.

The numbers have officially gotten to me.  I've been obsessing over them for weeks (maybe months now).  They have infected my happy and I haven't been able to shake them.  All I find is more reason to criticize myself.  To judge me.  Not only is it counter productive, but I'm too close.  There is no objectivity when looking at oneself.  How can there be?  The numbers were to provide objectivity, but I've turned them negative.  All I tend to see is how much better I can do.  Not how much I've accomplished.

Last week I was introduced to a movement called Fat Acceptance. I understand this to be a movement to change the perception of fat people in society at large.  I can appreciate the need for that.  I'm obese, but I'm not lazy.  I have weight to lose, but that is not the source of all my medical issues.  Obese people need access to the same things people of normal weight need.  All that I can buy into.

However, I also believe that being overweight can cause stress on the body which would not occur at a different weight.  Similar to how running will cause stress on the body that wouldn't be experienced by a non-runner.  The idea that you can be 100% healthy regardless of weight is not something I'm sure I agree with.  My weight is a symptom of the lifestyles I've lived which, at the points when I was gaining weight, were most definitely not healthy.  For me at least, I do not consider my health to be 100% with the weight that I carry.

Where does this leave me?

This process is going to take years.  For me it is not as simple as reduce calories, exercise more, lose weight, be happy.  At least I don't think it is.  The first two steps I believe will lead to the third.  This is what I have witnessed, how I've succeeded so far this year.  The fourth step is the problem step.  Will doing these things make me happy?

Or do I have to be happy first?  Be Happy.  Exercise More.  Reduce Calories.  Lose Weight.  Is that the correct order?  If so, I have to start with a much much harder question.  What makes me happy?  Is happy even the right word?  I'm not always going to be happy.  But I need to be making healthy decisions even when I'm not happy.

This is what I mean by confused and conflicting.  I'm stuck in this place of inaction and I'm scared if I don't get out of it all the weight will creep right back while I'm busy trying to figure out my next step.  At this point, the pragmatist steps in and says 'Just do something.'  I tend to listen to the pragmatist.  So here's what I'll do.

First, no more number posts.  I'm pretending to be objective when I'm really not.  Time to knock it off.  I'm continuing the calorie counting.  That is helping me.  But I don't need to analyze it.  Not right now.  I am on the fence about my weigh-ins.  I've been weighing myself each Wednesday and that is a good practice.  I just have to work on not beating myself up over what the number says.  Monthly I'll still share as I really want to keep track of how my weight changes over time, especially with regard to how I'm feeling.

Second, I'm modifying my workouts.  All this started because I decided to run a 5K.  That hasn't happened, but I've pushed myself and walked a 5K three times.  Each time I've done better but still experienced cramping in my hips by mile 2.  I did some looking and there are a few walking programs out there that get you ready for distance walks.  I'm going to pick one and see if taking a more gradual approach will help me overcome these muscle issues.  That will be shared here of course.

Third,  more of my day to day life will be showing up here.  I do a lot when it comes to health only a portion of which has been shared here.  Given that I'm not going to capture a miraculous 100 pound loss in a year on this blog, I can capture some other very awesome things that I'm learning or doing.  And really won't a record of all that be even more miraculous?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Lizard Toes

I'm new to the smart phone world.  At the same conference where I decided to change my life, I also determined that I needed to get a smart phone.  I'm deep like that.  You see this was a conference of seemingly together professional women who also happened to be mothers.  And the single common accessory was an iPhone.  Not just a smart phone or general techie tendencies.  Nope.  Everyone BUT ME had an iPhone.  I made it exactly 34 days past the conference before I ordered one of my very own.

It probably helps that I love Macs.  Apple has a company has its issues (Huge cop out, but I'm not sure there is any company that doesn't), but the make a fine product and I have drank the Kool-aid.  So into the smart phone work I dove.  My first 6 months were bliss.  I could do things I never knew I needed to do all from the phone in my pocket.  We had so much fun together.  Playing games, taking pictures, editing pictures, shopping for real estate.  List list is endless.  It was love.

All this is relevant because I got a pedicure!!!  See the pretty lizard toes?  They are mine and I love them.  I love them so much that I wanted to post a picture here for you to see.  The light shining off the pretty teal polish.  It makes me so happy.  I almost had to go out a buy a pair of sandals so that I could show off these beauties to the world.  However, you, my loyal readers, are the only people outside me immediately family to observe the results of an hour of pure unadulterated pampering of me.  Something I needed so much.  I'm so thankful I took the time.

And it has taken me 3 apps and 65 minutes spread over two days to provide you with this picture.  *sigh*  I'm not sure how other people do this, but I've got to be doing something wrong.  Here's my steps to get this picture here:
  • I took the picture
  • Edited it in Instagram (not registered with FB)
  • Emailed myself a link and uploaded it somewhere (does anyone know HOW instagram works?)
  • Found a copy on my phone
  • Downloaded the Blogger app and failed to comprehend how to add a photo to a Blogger post via the app
  • Tried linking to the photo via the URL Instagram gave me
  • Got instructions for using Google+
  • Downloaded the Google+ app and learned that all the pictures I've been posting for both my blogs are publicly accessible and linked to me via Google+ (so much for this being a secret)
  • Refused to enable Instant Upload of all my pictures from my phone to Google+
  • Shared this single photo will all my Google+ followers
  • Found that I could then see it from Blogger via Picassa (???)
  • I clicked the button to include it in this post

Wow.  I'm definitely doing something wrong.  Or...  Or!  This smart phone thing has us all convinced that it takes an advanced degree to do anything.  But wait!  I HAVE an advanced degree.  In Computer Science.  Why is this so hard!?!??!?

Anyway, figuring all this picture stuff out was fun.  The honeymoon is over with regards to my iPhone.  I love it.  I'm going to keep playing with it.  But this has to be easier.  I'm also not sold on having all my data being shared in one place.  I know that is the trendy thing to do, but I'm not that trendy and all these companies linking back to Google makes me a little nervous with the overall picture you can get all to easily of me on the internet.

All that aside, I loved getting a pedicure.  I don't know that I will get them regularly, but I'm going to enjoy my lizard toes as long as possible.  The massage portion of the pedicure was also an awesome treat.  I've been beating up my legs lately and it felt nice to relax and have someone take care of me for a few minutes.  Maybe I need to work on allowing some pampering simply because it makes me feel nice.  No mountain climbed necessary.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Celebrating Progress

I've drafted three posts now and haven't published a single one.  I'm so tired of complaining about my life and my progress.  I'm actually tired of hearing myself complain.  Every time I've tried to justify not writing I read my words and hear a whine in my voice that I don't like.  This is taking too long.  I'm working so hard.  I messed up my diet.  I'm tired.  I'm tired.  I'm tired.

As of this month I've lost 21 pounds.  I've been ruminating over the number for days, actually weeks, now.  I think about it all the time.  At no point since I started this weight loss iteration have I obsessed over a number like I have this one.  I've lost more than this in the past.  Forty pounds lost was the climax of my weight watchers experience.  Twenty of that never came back as anything more than temporary baby weight.

Having reached 21 pounds lost, I'm now at my lowest weight in my adult life, 219.  I don't remember the moment when I crossed into the 220s for the first time, but I know it was before I graduated from undergrad.  Reaching 219 is a huge accomplishment.  One to be celebrated!  Every step forward from here is a step into unknown territory.  I'm no longer reversing the ups and downs of failed diets.  I'm breaking new ground with every forward step.

Thinking back I didn't diet in college.  My weight management plan was to buy another Diet Coke with a side of cigarettes; a substitution habit which began in high school.  Food was impulsive and secondary.  I don't remember thinking more about it than where the free food locations were (Engineering Building Atrium), how much a box of Rice Roni cost (89 cents) or if the 7 Eleven nachos were fresh (No, always No).  Looking back, my many attempts to quit smoking definitely contributed to my weight gain.  I don't remember ever losing weight when I would give into the cravings; smoking would just stop the upward trend.  That habit steadily declined until late 2007 when I decided I wanted kids.  Finally I quit for the last time.

Now I find myself at my lowest weight.  I'm no longer a smoker.  Diet Coke still happens, but on the order of maybe 32 ounces a month (I easily consumed 64 ounces a day).  I've learned buckets about food and portions and exercise and nutrition.  I'm working out harder and longer than ever before.  I can feel myself getting stronger.  And none of the changes I've made to my life are dangerous, unhealthy or unsustainable.

Wow.  I have so much to celebrate.

Why do I hesitate?  Fear that I can't do it without those habits.  Nostalgia for all the plates of nachos consumed without a care.  Doubt that the weight won't come back two fold.  Fatigue from pushing myself to change while maintaining a life I love.  Remorse over not taking care of myself sooner.  Worry that it is too little too late.  How can I celebrate when I still have so far to go?  I'm a fat person celebrating being less fat.  It's obscene.

And I'm being harsh.  I know that.  I recognize it.  I'm not being nice or kind or forgiving towards myself.  That is one of the things my husband called me out on months ago.  This process is all about learning how to take care of me.  What habits will serve me well.  What does my body need to thrive.  How can I feed my soul without food.  As I try, learn and incorporate new things, even discarding previous staples, I'll feel better and the weight will come off.

Celebrating would feel good.  I should try it sometime.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Yesterday I was feeling strong.  I was positive.  I started thinking about what I wanted to teach my girls as they watched me go through this.  Because I know they are watching.  Ideas that kept swimming in my mind include:

Take care of yourself now.
Prepare to succeed.
Hard work opens doors.

Those first two lessons are something I wish I'd know 20 years ago.  Maybe they were offered; maybe they weren't.  I didn't see, internalize or act on them.  And I truly wish I had.  I focused for years on working hard to make up for my perceived shortcomings.  I've pushed so hard to excel at my course work, advance in my career, build my family, I neglected major parts of me.  Most notably my body and health.  I hope that realization doesn't turn into the regret in the coming years.  Me is something I plan to take care of now.

Which brings me to this month's weigh-in.  Today I weighed in at 219.  I have lost one pound since June.  I started writing up a list of all the reasons why I should still feel good about the last month.  The list didn't feel right.  It was me talking myself out of feeling what I'm feeling.

Quite simply I am disappointed.  In my progress.  In myself.  In this process.  I want all this work to pay off much MUCH faster than it is.  I'm tired all the time.  With today's weigh-in I am also sad.  I'm telling myself this is okay.  Permanent change isn't fast.  Results will come when I make sustainable changes.  It's okay to be frustrated and fed up.  Which brings me to another lesson.

Don't compromise.

It's not PC.  It's not pretty.  And it's not always nice.  When you find a goal that means the world to you.  When you decide it is your mission to reach that goal.  When that purpose lights you up and makes you want more.  Do not give up.  Don't settle for less.  Don't let anyone get in your way.  Including yourself.  Especially yourself.

This month  I've allowed some old habits back in.  Those habits have chipped away at my resolve and my progress.  I've let them.  I have actively looked the other way while I made poor decisions.  I hate that I'm a self-saboteur, but I'm not sure I can call myself anything else.  One thought keeps coming to mind as I chew over the last month - I'm tired.  I'm not completely sure why.   After 7 months and 21 pounds, is some sort of mission fatigue setting in?  Is this a yet unidentified funk?  Do I just need to get to bed earlier?

Now is the time to figure it out.  I'm not giving up.  Back to earlier bedtimes, homemade lunches and weeknight prep hour.  Back to stopping when I know I've reached my calorie limit for the day.  Back to believing that I not only can but will accomplish this goal.  If the tired continues, I will see the doctor.  But first it's time to dump all the excuses.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Factoring in Exercise

Here's my usual calorie counting round-up:

DateFood CaloriesExercise CaloriesDifference
Monday, July 2315442081336
Tuesday, July 24161701617
Wednesday, July 25 17104521258
Thursday, July 26160701607
Friday, July 27 23264881838
Saturday, July 2822014791722
Sunday, July 29198701978

  • Consistent Tracking: I tracked every day!  I have to admit this is a lot easier with MFP than WW or my paper journal.  Or maybe I'm really really infatuated with this website...
  • 1600 Daily Goal: 3 days out of 7 tracked were between 1400 and 1650.  This is the last week I'm going to include this evaluation criteria.  I'm not finding it motivational or useful.
  • Weekly Average: 1856 - second highest since I started tracking.  Ouch.
  • Monthly Average: 1725
  • (New!) Weekly Average w/ Exercise: 1624 - This is a reassuring number.  It is one that I will work to lower, but it is good to know that my overages and exercise are helping to balance each other as I work to figure all this out.
Last week I came up with 4 goals to focus on this week.  I actually debated even sharing those goals.  Strange given that I'm beginning to be comfortable sharing so much here; I can't figure why those bothered me.  Maybe because I'm not sure how they will work.

Goal 1 - Exercise M, W, and Sa.  This was a resounding success.  I even added Friday into the mix after my pipe explosion.  I felt good for all the exercise and will continue with this being my base schedule.  Why Monday - Wednesday - Saturday?  Monday starts my week off on the right foot.  I mentally set the stage for a successful week with a positive active note.  Wednesday is weigh-in day for me.  No point in skipping that.  And Saturday is Junior Fitness.  How on earth can I let my little girl down by not wanting to go to the gym?  Yup - I've totally worked myself into a corner on that one!  The past two week's this has been my schedule and, for the first time since I started all this, it doesn't feel at all forced.  Well...  There might be a little force on Monday, but it is a good healthy coercion.

Goal 2 -Eat 1/2 my exercise calories.  This one scares me.  It is so counter intuitive to eat more when all I want to do is weight less.  However, this got added because I actually have already been eating half my exercise calories.  Actually I have actually been eating all my exercise calories.  On one hand I can say that I succeeded at this goal - I ate them.  Looking at the Difference column in the table up there, I've still got a pretty rocky ride in calorie totals.  That may be fine, but it might also be aggravating the overindulgence on the weekends when I'm more tired, less scheduled and struggling to recover enough to survive the next week.  I'm going to keep the spirit of this goal in the coming week by attempting to eat only 1/2 my exercise calories.

Goal 3 - Roll legs (IT band) each evening.  I think I got 3 out of 7 here - less than 50%.  This is a simple requirement for keeping me pain-free.  Wow is it ever an effective treatment for the pain I've had in my legs for so many years!!!  And so simple.  But. I. Must. Remember.  I have been bad about that until the pain comes back.  Being proactive in this area improves my quality of life.  Done.  This goal stays.  Maybe it will even move to number 1.

Goal 4 - Blog in the evenings.  Ha!  I'm blogging all over the place.  Before work.  At lunch.  After dinner.  In my head during my commute.  This goal is more about time management.  My evenings have been hard lately - I'm so very very tired.  But I need to add some structure there.  Allowing myself to lounge in the evenings isn't as rejuvenating as I would like.  Also, I'd like to start planning my morning workouts for the week so I'm not coming up with them fresh each day.  This goal stays as well (do I detect a pattern of being slow to let anything go?) but in a modified format.  I'm not sure how to say it concisely - I setup for the next day each evening.  Be it writing a blag post, packing a gym back or putting together lunches.  The prep work at night sets me up for a good following day.  I'm going to keep at it.

All in all, I had a good week.  I feel okay to good most days.  I've had at least 3 mothers of older children tell me over the past week that this is a demanding time and it will get better with respect to the exhaustion.  The exercise is helping with that as well the morning coffee I can't seem to give up.  Not only can I do this, but I am doing this.  Every day.  Of that I am very proud.  And hopefully I'll have smaller numbers on Wednesday to show for all this work!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Workout 120730: Overslept

The alarm clock went off.  I remember being annoyed.  I turned it off.  I did not wake up.  The extra sleep was glorious.  I needed it.  However, when my 3 year old came in to wake me up at 6:15am, I still needed to get to the gym and I so didn't want to.

But I did:

25 min Arc Trainer - Interval level 3
5 min Treadmill - 2.0 mph

I wore my heart rate monitor again today.  It told me that I burnt 647 calories with an average heart rate of 147 bpm and a maximum of 173 bpm.  MFP says 394 calories were burnt.  I am really rooting for the HRM.  It would be awesome if that extra burn was real!

Apparently, the signal the HRM sends out to communicate with my watch works on a lot of the exercise machines at the gym.  It was strange to not be holding onto the machine and have my heart rate show up on the machine's display.  The first strangeness - the rates were not the same.  The machine was usually 2-3 bpm faster than the watch.  If both readings are coming from the monitor around my chest, I'm really not sure what to make about that.

The second strangeness...  This happens without me doing any pairing or modification of my equipment at all.  It occured to me that someone else's heart rate monitor could be talking to my machine or watch.  OR my heart rate could be displayed elsewhere.  That was strange to think about for more than 5 seconds.  I'm very curious what the range of the HRM is now.  Also, if this is some type of universal signal maybe there is an app for my phone and I can entirely bypass the watch.  That's an exciting thought.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Workout 120728: Exercise Calories

Third Saturday in a row!  I'm really enjoying my new Saturday morning routine.  I like getting up and out of the house at the start of the weekend.  Now if I could just manage it on a schedule.  Each week we've been a little later to the gym.  Bean is headed to a class, so the time is more relevant than I'd like it to be on a Saturday morning.  However, that class is what is getting me in there, so we pretty much need to make it on time.  The lesson I learned this morning?  If you want to be at the gym at 9:15am, start cooking breakfast before 8am.  Let's see how I can apply it next week.

Today's workout:

15 min Treadmill - Hill level 4
3 Sets Each:
10 squats with 10 lb weight
5 Bridge Kickouts
40 Jump Ropes (60 - 75 sec)
10 Bicep Curls with 5 lb weight
10 Tricep Extensions with 5 lb weight (each side)
10 Walking Lunges (5 steps each side)
20 Knee Lifts
10 Crunches
10 Reverse Curls

Between the jumping rope and lunges I was pretty exhausted.  I'm thrilled with how much I got done.  It was also strangely satisfying to feel sweat trickling down my ears.  Proof that I'm working hard and making progress.  I like the affirmation.

Earlier this week I added a goal to eat 1/2 my exercise calories.  Before going hog wild, I want to get a more accurate count of what those calories are.  I know the cardio machines in the gym are useless for giving real totals.  Also MFP can only guesstimate because it doesn't have your heart rate during the workout.  Really I need to wear a heart rate monitor.  Lucky for me, one of my co-workers happened to have a Timex that she's no longer using.   Today was my first workout wearing it.

Circuit Training, which is what I consider these style workouts, comes to about 400 calories burned for 30 minutes according to MFP.  The heart rate monitor had a different answer.  As I stepped on the treadmill I started it.  After switching it off during my stretching, it told me that my average heart rate was 145bpm and I burned 812 calories in 45 minutes!!!!  Wow!

That said, I am not planning to eat 406 extra calories today.  Yesterday I went overboard with dinner so I'm working off an overage anyway.  I'm also not sure that I believe the HRM yet.  812's a pretty impressive number.  At least it is to me.  I'm excited to play with the numbers more this week and see how they look taking exercise into account.  Plus I love having a new tool.  I've never been a gadget person (despite years of working in the tech field), but that appears to be changing.  At least I don't have to worry about being bored with MFP.  I'm having too much fun with all these numbers.  :)

It's time for Stop By Saturday again!  This week's question - What is your favorite event to watch during the Summer Olympics?  For me it would have to be gymnastics.  In recent years I've added swimming to my list but I've been watching gymnastics (women's) since I was a little girl.  There is something about it I just love.  Also, I love to see the sport the host country adds.  Sometimes they are really interesting.

Check out the other blogs in Stop By Saturdays:

Friday, July 27, 2012

Workout 120727: Inner Calm.

Last night my world exploded.  To be more accurate, the drainage pipe in my basement exploded.  Versus having a nice calm problem like the tub not draining, something has broken and the tub drained into the finished basement.  Presently the upstairs bathroom, laundry room and kitchen are off limits to all those who wish to use water in my house.  Thankfully (???), there is a second bathroom in the basement which appears to be on the other side of the drainage issue.

Given all that, I woke up this morning and determined that my optional Friday visit to the gym was not optional.  If I wanted a shower before I was due to be at work, I would have to find it elsewhere.  So I headed out the door.  My husband, the awesome and amazing man that he is, is at the house with the kids monitoring the situation and waiting for the plumber.  Even when I started working again after being unemployed for 9 months, I'm not sure I was ever this happy to have a work to go to.

Getting in a bonus workout is awesome.  However since I wasn't planning on being at the gym this morning, I pretty much stuck to the cardio machines and sweated out for a bit.  Today's workout:

30 min Elliptical - Cross Training 2
10 min Treadmill - 2.0 mph

This workout felt good.  My feet are a little tender, but that is more due to the new inserts I purchased to add arch support than the length of time on the Elliptical.  About 20 minutes into the program the machine told me to pedal backwards which I did.  It is much harder to pedal backwards than forwards for me still.  At that moment I did marvel at the progress I've made.  I remember in the beginning weeks how I was struggling to make it through my workouts.  Just completing them was an accomplishment.  I remember being proud every time I added a few more minutes.  It was a wonderful journey down memory lane in the middle life happening and shattering my calm happy place.

I'm happy this week is almost over.  I'm happy that I don't have to cook dinner tonight.  I'm exceptionally happy to have the time and resources to go workout while my house is falling apart.  Now if I can just hold on to that happy long enough to be able to use the running water at my house again.  That will be something to celebrate!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Workout 120725: Better Burn

Wednesday's workout:

10 min Treadmill - Hill level 4 - 3.0 mph
10 Squats with 6 lbs
30 sec Plank
10 Bosu Reverse Lunges - each side
10 Modified Push-ups
15 sec Side Plank - each side
3 min Arc Trainer
Repeat Set
5 min Treadmill Cooldown - 2.0 mph

Today felt so good.  I was worried about my knee starting out.  It felt shaky from the moment I put weight on it this morning.  Turns out?  I didn't need to worry.  I paid attention to my form in the squats and lunges, put a little padding under my knees when I did the push ups and stopped to stretch each time I felt a twinge.  All went well and this workout left me sweaty, tired and satisfied.

Reverse Lunges turned out to be the surprise of the day for me.  I've been working up to doing them without using my arms to steady myself.  I was able to do the first set with no hand at all.  The second set I got 5 in without my arms, but the last 5 I needed the extra support.  I couldn't keep my balance on the Bosu without hands at the end.  However, still huge progress.  I'm happy, just surprised at how hard they really are.

On a food note, I had the worst snack attack I've had in a long time yesterday.  I've been craving chicken wings lately.  Versus going out and eating a plate of Buffalo wings at a restaurant, I decided to get 2 drummies from the hot bar at Whole Foods.  I also wanted something crunchy, so I picked up a thing of their Spicy Pub Mix - rice crackers, sesame sticks, peanuts, wasabi peas.  I looked for a smaller size, but ended up having to buy the big size.  I know better.

I ate the wings on the way back to work.  I felt really self-conscious driving down the road eating a wing.  All I could think was that I looked like some fat chick chowing down on her way back to the office.  No wonder I'm fat if I gobble up wings all the time.  I know this isn't true, but it was where my brain went.  I was judging about me based on my assumption of what others might be thinking and that is just no good.  Who knows what they are thinking?  Certainly not me.  And really?  I'm sure their thinking about my chicken wing habit.  That train of thought is still bugging me.

Upon returning to my office, I measured out my serving of the Spicy Pub Mix and put the rest in my cabinet for some other time.  From that point forward, I could not stop thinking about it.  I never just pulled out the container and started eating, but only just barely.  Finally after an hour of grabbing another tablespoon, eating it, not being satisfied, obsessing and repeating, I took the snack mix and put it out in the community area of my office.  It was far enough away from me that I didn't have to think about it any more.  No lasting damage, but my head was in a very bad place.  Removing the food short circuited it thankfully.  I just hate that I get that way over food.  Or anything really...

Next time I have a craving for wings, I'm simply going to go to a restaurant and order the damn wings.  I'll eat them with blue cheese and enjoy them.  Then I can be done and not go through this ordeal again. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Considering Goals

Update on the calorie front:

Monday, July 161594
Tuesday, July 171615
Wednesday, July 18 1626
Thursday, July 191595
Friday, July 20 1809Dinner out at my favorite Mexican Restaurant
Saturday, July 211877Beer and Brie
Sunday, July 222065Family Dinner Gathering (chips and dips)

Evaluating the week using my criteria:
  • Consistent Tracking: I tracked every day! My Fitness Pal is still amusing me.
  • 1600 Daily Goal: 4 days out of 7 tracked were between 1400 and 1650.
  • Weekly Average:1740
  • Monthly Average: 1686 
Best part?  While my Weekly Average was up, my monthly average stayed stable.  Of my 4 criteria, Consistent Tracking and Monthly Average seem to be telling me the most.  I like that my monthly average isn't fluctuating a lot between weeks anymore.  Maybe I will aim in time to get it down to 1650 (my maximum daily goal).

As for my shortcomings this week.  Brie needs to come in 1 oz serving sizes.  An ounce of Brie is more calories than I expected and it's very hard to stop at just one ounce.  I might venture to say impossible when there are 6 more ounces just sitting there looking yummy.  Also looking back on my daily logs, I know there was more Brie consumed during the weekend, but I see no record of it.  Oh how disappointing!  I bet I went over more on Sunday that I think I did.  Shoot!  Why does cheese have to be so good?!?!?

This past week I did keep my paper journal and I even wrote in it a few times (maybe I should have written more about cheese).  I like having it with me.  I particularly enjoy sitting with a pen and putting down thoughts slowly with no ability to take them back.  I can cross them out, but they are still on the paper under all the extra ink.  There's something so nice about that.

One thing I did write was what I aim to do in the coming week.  This week my goals are:
  • Monday Wednesday, Saturday workouts
  • Eat 1/2 exercise calories
  • Roll legs (IT band) each evening
  • Blog in the evenings (versus in the morning)
Wish me luck!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Workout 120723: Circuit Training

Monday's workout:

10 min Treadmill
On Swiss Ball with 5 lb:
10 Bicep Curls
10 Tricep Extensions
10 Front Raises
10 Lateral Raises
10 Shoulder Presses
10 Crunches
10 Back Crunches
On Floor:
10 Abductors
10 Adductors
10 Glute Press
10 Reverse Curls
5 min Arc Trainer
Repeat Swiss Ball & Floor exercises
5 min Treadmill Cooldown

Monday I simply felt tired.  This weekend I felt tired.  I didn't push as hard as I'd have liked to in this workout.  I'm not sure what was up with my energy level.  Actually that is not completely true.  Maybe it is more accurate to say I'm not sure if I want to address what is up with my energy level.  More water.  Less coffee.  More sleep.  These are the keys to getting some bounce back in my step.  But it is hard to do.  I like my coffee.  I like sitting up chatting with my husband or goofing off on the internet in the evenings.  Bleck.  These are grown up decisions.  I want kid decisions back - like would you like whipped cream or marshmallow fluff with that?

The one thing about this workout - my heart rate didn't stay up.  My feet weren't feeling great so I stayed away from the jumping.  No jump rope or jumping jacks.  With those, my heart rate drops back to normal-ish pretty quickly (improvement!!).  My understanding is that that means the calorie burn rate drops.  I definitely want to keep that up!

For the rest of this week I'm going to work on having shorter strength training intervals.  Or mixing in the strength exercises which do get my heart rate up (lunges, planks) more often.  While I'm by no means in good shape yet, I am starting to understand how people could get frustrated going to the gym everyday and not seeing results.  It's hard to stay motivated and creative.  I'm always balancing what the restrictions of the shape I am in as well as the progress I've made.  Plus...  I really hate the bike.  It is soooo boring to me.

Another goal this week - roll my IT band each night.  I've been lax about this and I'm starting to feel it.  Not good!  My knees will thank me later.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Workout 120723: Mom Anxiety

This Saturday marked a new routine for me and my oldest.  Bean and I had breakfast at home, got dressed for the gym and got there in time for the 2-3 year old class.  Just like last week, her class got combined with the later 4-5 year old class.  She still loved it.  While she was being entertained, I decided to try a day of cardio:
15 min Treadmill - Hill Setting level 4
20 min Arc Trainer - Interval Setting level 3
5 min Teadmill Cooldown
It was wonderful.  I really like starting my Saturday out this way.  Afterwards I showered and Bean and I headed to the grocery store.  This is turning into a solid Saturday morning routine for me.  The only hard part is getting home at 12:30pm with a starving kid.  This coming Saturday we are going to make a serious attempt to be at the gym earlier.  Bean's class isn't what is keeping us at the gym so long; it's me and my need for a shower after working out.  And I'm not about to give up that luxury.

There was only one part of the Saturday excursion that really got under my skin.  As I was getting lathered up in the shower, I head a kid start crying.  It was a young child.  It was either hurt or scared.  Very obviously distressed.  When I'm working out at 5:30am, there are no kids in the gym.  Saturday morning is a very different time.  There are lots of kids.  One of them was mine.

As I stood in the shower, I caught myself listening intently for the cry.  I started hurrying to get done with my shower.  What if that cry was my girl?  What if she'd fallen on the stairs?  What if she was scared by someone?  The child continued to cry and I continued to get more and more worked up.  I started counting the minimal number of steps it would take me to get ready enough to leave the locker room and go find her.  I debated walking out into the gym before I was even dressed.

I stopped myself.  I had to.  My child was left with qualified adults.  I noted where I would be in the building.  There are intercoms.  And someone would come into the locker room to find me if my child really needed me.  Not to mention, this didn't sound like my kid.  It was too young.  The cry was of someone newly verbal.  I could hear all this and still my heart raced and I wondered...  Is that my kid?

Eventually I did calm myself down.  And I finished my shower taking all the steps that I usually take getting ready for my day.  The child stopped crying and no one came to find me.  I walked upstairs and there was Bean, happily playing with all the other kids.  She proudly reported eating her whole snack and holding the purple part of the parachute.  All was well.  She was better than fine; she was happy.  I might have shortened my life by a few minutes with all the freaking out, but I'm earning those back these days.  It's a process, but it sure does make me wonder how I'm ever going to make it through the next 18 years.  *sigh*

I'm taking part in Stop By Saturday's again over at Does this scale make me look fat?  The question this week: What is your exercise of choice?  For me it is strength training right now.  I love the cardio machine, but I can see how they get boring.  Try me in a couple more months and I may say the same about Lunges, but right now...  They are just so cool!  Maybe it is a side effect of not being able to do so many of these things no very long ago.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Who knows

Last week I got a little closer to including my family in this journey I'm on.  When I started using My Fitness Pal (dublythe if you want to be my friend), it was because my sisters were all using it enthusiastically and I thought it would be good to give it a try.  Up until now this blog, my husband, a few friends and my physical therapist have been the only people to know what I'm up to.  I haven't been sharing.  I've been scared.  I still am.

I'm not really sure how I feel about my sisters knowing that I'm actively striving to lose 100 pounds.  My family is a tight knit one, so they know I'm up to something.  It's one thing to admit that you are watching what you eat or trying to lose a couple pounds.  But to admit that I'm trying to lose 100?  Yeah.  Um.  No?  I can admit that desire here, but it isn't something I talk about with people easily.  Or at all.

After shocking myself by saying it out loud, on tape, at an event last November, I talked with a friend at work.  I was still working out if that was what I really wanted.  By January I determined that I did.  I took months after that to work up to talking about it with my husband.  It kind of tumbled out during a "let's see if we can figure out how you got here" discussion with my physical therapist.  There are 4 people who know me in real life that know about this blog; two of them are regular readers.  That makes a whopping 7 people.  Maybe for some people that is a lot, but I have a huge family where very little is truly private.  Why haven't I told them?

My best guess is that I'm worried it won't be good enough.  They know me so well, they might be able to poke holes in all I've been working on for months already.  It's also embarrassing, humbling, to know where I am and how far I have to go.  We're a competitive bunch and I don't want to compare myself to them positively or negatively.  Support is good, but I have to remember there are no winners and losers in this.  Reaching my goal is what matters.  They don't know about my goal yet.  Am I ready for them to find out?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Workout 120718: Too Early for Pleasantries

This morning my oldest girl, Bean, woke me up at 4:15am.  She'd had an accident and needed help getting cleaned up and back to bed.  In the 15 minutes it took me to get her squared away, I woke up.  My bed looked so inviting and any time you wake a see something less than a 7 as the first number on the alarm clock...  Let's just say I am extremely, immensely, gigantically proud of myself for not crawling back in bed and ignoring my alarm clock.

Instead, I turned off my alarm clock before it had a chance to disturb the peace in my house, put on my workout clothes and did this:

15 min Elliptical - Cross Trainer Setting
30 sec Side Plank - each side
10 sec Bosu Plank x2
30 sec Plank (on elbows)
15 Abductors - each side
10 Glute Press - each side
10 Adductors - each side
3 min Jump Rope (68 successful jumps)
10 Squats with 6 lb
20 Crunch Bird Dogs - each side
10 Swiss Ball Bridges with pull in (While in the bridge, pull the Swiss Ball in using feet, then push it back out and lower)
3 min Jumping Jacks (60 total - done if 6 sets of 10)
10 Walking Lunges
30 sec Swiss Ball Wall Sit
10 Bridges with 5 count hold
5 min Treadmill Cooldown

I'm glad I got up and got to the gym.  I was tired.  I still am tired, but I'm thinking that is just an artifact of my life at this point.  Working full-time.  Two little kids.  Getting to the gym doesn't get easier, I just get used to it.  Everyday I do what I can do make sure the next day hasn't been sabotaged.  Pack my gym bag.  Do laundry.  Pick out clothes for my kids.  Pack lunches.  Get to bed.  I have a mission to lose 100 pounds.  There isn't a lot of room for other things in my life.  This takes up so much of my time.

And I'm increasingly grateful for the quiet time with myself the gym offers.  Most people working out at 5am are quiet.  They are there for the same reason I am.  It isn't social hour.  Get in.  Get it done.  Get on with your day.  I spent an hour this morning working out and I didn't speak to another person beyond saying hi as we passed each other.  I'm not generally anti-social, but it's an absolutely luxury to be alone with myself these days.

I never used to be comfortable alone.  Even when I hated living in a loud house with intrusive siblings, being alone was so unsettling.  I avoided it.  To a fault.  I would seek out bad company versus spending time in my own head.  With life so busy, now I truly cherish the times that I have when no one else is awake.  That time is more rejuvenating than the hour of sleep I could have gotten instead.  Maybe this is the key to keeping the funk at bay.  The workouts are good for me, mind, body and soul, but maybe half of that good is simply being unplugged from everyone else's lives.  Time for me to just be me.  It's one luxury I'm not sure I can live without.

I found this video last week on how to be alone.  The video is beautiful in and of itself, but the message is beautiful as well.  Spend time by yourself.  Learn to enjoy it.  It's definitely something I wish I had done before I had kids.  While it's too late for that, I certainly can cherish the moments of solitude I am able to attain now.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My Fitness Pal

Last week I learned that my sisters were on My Fitness Pal.  I've had a MFP account for a while - their database of foods is pretty substantial - but I haven't really used their site as much as I've used Sparkpeople.  Their web interface did nothing for me when I checked it out briefly, but I hadn't really looked into their mobile app.  After hearing my sisters rave over how easy it was, I decided to join in and see how things went.  Turns out, the app is a huge improvement over the website.  Here's what I've tracked this past week.

Monday, July 91596
Tuesday, July 101665Thai Basil Pork was worse than I thought
Wednesday, July 11 1600BINGO!
Thursday, July 121596
Friday, July 13 1891Wegman's Hot Bar Smorgasbord
Saturday, July 141648
Sunday, July 151813Pizza for lunch - soo good!

Tracking via the iPhone app is easy.  I love that I can scan bar codes to enter foods.  Where Sparkpeople gives a 250 calories range for me to stay within, My Fitness Pal gives me a number to stay under, 1630.  Any cardio that is added is automatically included in your allowable calories for the day.  I think I like that through I've been trying not to eat those extra calories.  I've setup my account for losing 1 pound per week.  If not eating my exercise calories means I lose a little faster then yeah, but I'm not going to give myself too much room to go over my 1600 calorie goal.

They also provide some good graphics as to how you are doing as the week progresses.  I found this graph to be motivating as the week went on.  It shows numbers different from those int he table because it includes exercise calories in the totals.  Also motivating is this little message they give you at the end of each day "If every day were like today...  You'd weigh ###.# lbs in 5 weeks".  I like seeing that affirmation that I'm doing what I need to be doing.  It's also good feedback when I'm not exactly where I want to be.

Evaluating the week using my criteria:
  • Consistent Tracking: I tracked every day!  It helps to have a new toy to play with.
  • 1600 Daily Goal: 4 days out of 7 tracked were between 1400 and 1650.
  • Weekly Average:  1687
  • Monthly Average:  1684
That's interesting.  My weekly average was higher than last week but my monthly average is still trending down.  One month ago the monthly average was 1809; that's a 125 calorie reduction on average or 6.9%.  That's great!  The monthly and weekly averages being close together tells me that I've got a better handle on my day-to-day consumption.  I'm not having wild overages.  I'm sure they will occur, but I'm happy they are less frequent.

I do wonder if my monthly average will always trend higher than my goal.  I would probably have to start eating under goal more often to get the average to allow for days when I go over.  I'm happy with where my averages are right now, but the point of tracking them is to use them for some perspective on my progress.

One thing I didn't do this week was tracking in my notebook.  I actually missed it.  And when I went to write out this post, I realized that the notebook was telling me things that the website isn't really set up for.  I could see based on my handwriting how I was feeling, if I was eating on the run and when I particularly liked a meal.  I didn't get that of the website.  Next week I'm going to keep tracking the details on MFP, but there will be an attempt made each day to record thoughts in my journal as well.

Yeah for a new toy!  Yeah for consistency!  I'm feeling good.  Two weeks in a row.  I look forward to keeping this streak going!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Workout 120716: Arms & Abs

Today's workout:

10 min Arc Trainer Warmup - Interval level 3
10 Bicep Curl
10 Tricep Extension
10 Front Raises
10 Lateral Raises
10 Shoulder Press
10 Crunches on Ball
10 Back Crunches on Ball
60 Jump Ropes (27 consecutive!)
10 Bicep Curl
10 Tricep Extension
5 Swiss Ball Passes
30 sec Bosu Planks x2
15 sec Side Plank
3 min Elliptical - level 3
10 Bicep Curl
10 Tricep Extension
10 Modified Pushups (still about a foot off the ground)
15 Crunches on Ball
5 Back Crunches on Ball 
3 min Treadmill cooldown

I'm considering this Circuit Training.  It took me about 40 minutes and my heart rate it definitely up the majority of the time.  I love that I'm already able to jump rope much more comfortably than I was a week ago.  Very cool!  Side Planks?  Not so cool.  I'm really hating them.  I'll have to try to get 3 sets in on Wednesday towards the beginning of my workout.  Doing them more than half way in is a sure fire way to let myself out of doing them.

Today I tried to focus on arms and abs.  My legs are still sore from the lunging and squating on Saturday.  Not terribly sore, but enough that I convinced myself to leave them be.  I'm glad I did, but I didn't feel as even worked out as I did on Saturday.  That probably makes sense since I didn't work my legs.  :P

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Workout 120714: Junior Fitness

Last week I pulled the new July flyer walking out of the gym.  There was a note in one of the empty squares of the grid.  Junior Fitness classes offered for 2-12 year olds.  See the day care for information.  The lower age limit immediately caught my eye as my oldest is 3.5 and there is so little that she qualifies to participate in.  Particularly activities that cost less than $15 for 45 minutes.

The day care is closed when I'm in during the week.  Hopefully most kids are still sleeping at 5:30am; I love it when mine are.  I actually remembered to call in one day from work.  On Saturdays, they offer a 2-3 year old class for 30 minutes.  I mentioned it to my girl and she just about passed out from excitement.  She's been asking to go to my gym with me a lot lately.

Bright and early this morning we got up and dressed for the gym.  She entered the day care like a pro, not even bothering to say bye to me.  The woman at the counter just smiled and told me to be back before 2.5 hours was up.  Obviously not a necessary part of that scenario, I headed to the cardio room.  Here's what I accomplished:

15 min Elliptical - Interval setting (I took a peek into the day care - nothing eventful)
10 Abductors with 5 count hold each side
6 Bridges with Kick Out
20 Crunch Bird Dogs - each side
40 Jump Ropes (took me two sets to get there)
15 Adductors - each side
10 Glute Press - each side
5 Reverse Curls with Stick - 3 sets
20 Jumping Jacks - 2 sets
10 Walking Lunges each side
10 Squats
6 Side Lunges each side (my knees were starting to be sore at this point)
20 Crunches on Swiss Ball
10 Back Crunches on Swiss Ball
5 min Treadmill walking cooldown (Plus I needed to peek in on the class again - they were in a racquetball court trying to dribble dodge balls.  It was sooo cute!)

After my final stretch, I headed to the showers.  Normally when I don't have to go to work I go back home to shower and dress, but today we needed to get to the market before is closed and the grocery store.  It was very pleasant to get a workout in, get showered and changed all while my daughter was happily entertained elsewhere.  What I didn't get to see was that the kids got to play Parachute (do you remember doing that in elementary school gym class?) and that was all my girl would talk about.  She loved that there was a purple section in the parachute and that is where she got to hold on.

Edit: I've retroactively joined in the Stop by Saturday blog hop over on Does this scale make me look fat?. The question posed was "What are your vacation plans this summer?"  My answer - the beach!  I'm so looking forward to a week away.  Funniest part?  I don't like sand.

Check it out the other members of Stop By Saturdays:

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Funk Endith

As of this week, I believe I can now declare my funk officially ended.  I had lots of emotions ranging from glee to utter frustration, but none have swallowed me whole for days.  This a a good thing.

While meeting with my trainer yesterday, she asked a question I've been asked by someone each time I leave a funk, but I've never thought to ask myself.

"What turned it around?"

This is such a vital question.  The first time I was asked, I thought back on earlier this year.  I'd signed up for a 5K that I couldn't run.  I'd signed up with a friend.  I wasn't going to quit, but I was really not feeling good about the outcome of things.  As my friend continued her C25K program, I started packing my bag each night to make it to the gym the next morning.  I couldn't keep up in the program, but I could choose to not give up on my bigger goal.  I knew that getting to the gym was part of that.

So every evening I made sure my gym bag was packed.  more often than not, I got up the next morning and went to the gym.  Eventually I left the funk behind.  I remember being so dark and I remember thinking I couldn't do any of this.  but I shoved it away and kept moving and then I just felt better.  The first time I was asked that question I blamed my friend, or maybe my friend keeping tabs on me, for pulling me through.

This time?  What turned it around?  As I tried to come up with an answer, a summary of the last month tumbled out of me.  My foot pushed me out of the gym.  I spent two full days off schedule working on a service project.  My kids got sick.  We demolished part of our yard.  I was tired.  I got new shoes.  My feet started feeling better.  The project was successful.  My kids got better.  The yard got finished.  I was still tired.

I told myself at the beginning of July to go back to the gym.  And I listened to me.  I wasn't getting any less tired.  There wasn't going to be any less life happening in the near future (for which I am thankful).  I was tired before I stopped going to the gym.  Enough was enough.  I needed to get started again.  And I did.

But I can't say what turned it around.  Just like I can't say what exactly turned it around last time.  As an engineer, I want to dissect my actions and thoughts and find the trigger so I can pull it again next time I get in a funk.  I want the funk to end because my schedule says it is time to end, damn it!  I want to feel better all the time and stop spending energy and effort on being down.

The rest of me laughs.  The engineer is humored so much of the time, allowed to schedule and manipulate, refine and control.  But sometimes it isn't going to get a say.  The rest of me needs time and space as well.  If the rest of me is dark, then I'm dark.  If I'm down, then meetings will be moved and schedules rearranged.  Funks are going to happen.  I am not going to be able to schedule them for convenient times.  I am not a machine in need of fixing.  Maybe I simply need to be a little more careful to not treat myself like I'm broken.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Workout 120711: Challenge

After three weeks of no gym and physical therapy ending two weeks ago, I decided it was time to meet with a trainer at my gym again.  I want to make sure that I am still challenging myself.  Plus it is fun to have someone to talk to while I'm working out.  I never cease to learn something.  Today was no different in that regard.

10 min Treadmill Warmup
5 Swiss Ball Passes (Lying on my back I pick up a Swiss Ball between my feet, lift it up and pass it to my hands.  With the Swiss Ball in my hand I lower my arms and legs back to the floor.  Then I reverse, passing the ball from my hands to my feet)
5 Bosu Squats
5 Bosu Reverse Lunges each side
5 Swiss Ball Passes (OWOWOWOW)
5 Modified Pushups
While sitting on a Swiss Ball with 5 lbs in each hand:
3 Sets 12 Bicep Curls
3 Sets 12 Tricep Extensions each side
10 Front Raises
10 Side Raises
10 Shoulder Presses
5 Back Crunches on Swiss Ball (Lying on the Swiss Ball on my stomach, I put my hands behind my head and lift up using my back muscles)
38 sec Bosu Plank (Elbows on Bosu)
30 sec Side Plank each side
2 min Treadmill *
10 Squats *
* Repeat 3 times
Wow!  That was a lot!  And I feel good!  The part that made me the happiest was walking downstairs to the locker room afterwards and my knees not hurting.  I was a little worried because I did have to cut the last set of Squats short.  I started feeling my knee pull.  BUT considering I did a grand total of 33 squats!?!?!?!?  That is huge progress!!!

I also really liked the Swiss Ball Passes.  Those are something I read off the Lean Green Been and had to try out.  They are hard and work my lower abdominal muscles which is the same area the Reverse Curls work.  However, I'm getting very frustrated with Reverse Curls because my feet are no where closer to getting under that damn stick.  In time, yeah, but I've been doing them for months.  I needed something new.  Happily I have found it.

A good work out was seriously needed today.  It was weigh-in day and I'm not happy, but nto unhappy either.  The scale showed a 0.0 pounds change.  For a couple minutes I was down.  Then I remembered that I'm coming off party weekend.  Plus last week was my first full week back at the gym.  It will all settle down.  AND no gain means I've still lost 20 pounds.  That is a good feeling.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Crabs and Beer

I've felt good this past week.  Exercise has been reestablished.  I've recommitted to our weekly meal planning and am cooking at home more often.  I actually have a plan in place to use all our CSA vegetables this week.  The past two weeks I've had to toss more than I'd like.  This week I'll have room in my crisper drawers when we pick up our share on tomorrow.  Woohoo!

Monday, July 21648
Tuesday, July 31588
Wednesday, July 4 1427I would have gone over on this day (or come a lot closer), but my lunch spoiled.  After tasting it, I had no appetite.
Thursday, July 51764Pomegranate Martini!
Friday, July 61438super low-cal diner: Polenta and Swiss Chard
Saturday, July 7---Family Party (honestly - it was too hot to do more than snack but I did fit in a slice of rhubarb strawberry apple bread.  Sooo good!)
Sunday, July 8---Recovering from Family Party (pizza and salad day)

  • Consistent Tracking: Two days not tracked.  My family's annual Fourth of July party is pretty much untrackable.  That's not totally true, but I'm okay with not having tracked it.  I did try to make good decisions (like a salad with very little dressing after 2 slices of pizza at lunch).
  • 1600 Daily Goal: 4 days out of 5 tracked were between 1400 and 1650.
  • Weekly Average:  1573
  • Monthly Average: 1690
Check me out!  *smile*  I'm pretty pleased with this past week.  I felt good and didn't struggle with food all that much.  I contemplated trying to track at my family's party, but decided not to.  I knew I'd had a good week and my exercise was where I wanted it to be.  I simply enjoyed the party.  The best part was standing around the back of a truck eating freshly caught and steamed blue crabs with a cold beer.  Mmm.  Nothing, nothing, says summer like steamed crabs and beer.

I also adjusted my range around my daily goal.  On my tracking post last week, Heather commented that going under isn't a bad thing.  Thinking more about it I put the lower limit on my calories because I didn't want get in the practice of eating too little.  However, that is not usually my problem.  I tend of overeat.  For my 1600 Daily Goal, I'm going to continue forward with the upper limit of 1650, but use a lower limit of 1400.  I'm okay with this especially considering the two days above where I would normally have been outside of my range.  I wasn't going hungry either of those days.  It can be a good thing.

My biggest surprise this week is how my Weekly and Monthly averages dropped again.  I am positive some of that has to do with not tracking two days, but I've not tracked before and had the averages stay high.  I'm steadily trending down!  That is a very good thing.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Workout 120709: Modifications

Thanks to a small loss I found a new blog last week, The Lean Green Bean.  The name alone pulled me in, but then I found out about Foodie Penpals (which I subsequently joined) and the posting of weekly workout programs.  Last Friday the workout posted was a 5 min Medicine Ball Workout.  I don't have a Medicine Ball and knew some modifications would be needed but the thought of timing my exercises versus counting reps was intriguing.

Monday's workout:

10 min Treadmill warmup - 3.0 mph
5 min Med Ball Workout with Mods
5 min Elliptical
5 min Med Ball Workout with Mods
5 min Treadmill walk

To start off, I did not use a medicine ball.  I figured for starters I would just attempt to survive the 5 minutes.  Additionally,  I can't actually do some of these thing yet.  But attempting is the first part of succeeding, right?  *grin*  So here's how I modified:

20 sec Pushups - I tried a pushup with my knees on the ground.  I could get within 12 inches of the floor before I was unable to push myself up again.  So instead of pushing myself back up, I just lowered my upper body to the floor as slow and controlled as I could.  Admittedly, the last 4 inches was usually a flop.

40 sec Wall Passes - I think there are where you take a medicine ball and slam it into a wall and then catch it on the rebound.  I didn't attempt this one as the room I was working out in had mirrored walls.  Instead, I took a 6 pound ball and used it to do tricep presses.  I held the ball above my head with both hand, lowered it down behind my head and then pushed it up again.

60 sec Plank - one 35 sec plan followed by a 15 sec plank.  Versus having my arms straight with hand on a medicine ball, I was supporting my upper body on my elbows.  It turns out that a 35 sec plank is a bit harder than a 30 sec plank (which I have been doing).  I spent the rest of the 60 sec struggling to get back into plank position resulting in about 15 more sec of actual proper form.

80 sec Overhead Lunges - Here is simply left off the medicine ball.  When I lunged forward I lifted my hand in the air.  As I came up I lowered them.  I was shocked at how many of these you can do in 80 sec.  I managed 8 in my last workout; today I did a lot more than 8.  Next time I'm going to try these with the 6 pound ball.

100 sec Wall Sit - Again, I left out the Medicine Ball.  I also had to break this into a 50 sec wall sit followed by a 30 sec wall sit. 

All in all I am thrilled with how that workout turned out.  I know my total time in some of the exercises didn't match the total prescribed, but I wanted to keep close to 5 minutes.  The point of this workout for me was to (1) see if I could complete it and (2) do short bursts of strength building stuff balanced with cardio time.  I count this workout as a success.

Six months ago, I never would have attempted this.  Today...  I did it!  I have lots of room to grow, but I actually find that reassuring.  There's a lot to learn here.  I'm no where near topping out and that is so refreshing.  As long as it is going to take me to lose this weight, I don't have to be bored doing the same exercises day in and day out.  Woohoo!  I wish I could bottle this feeling and carry it through the rest of my life.