Tuesday, December 2, 2014

In the Holiday Groove...and Two Year Goal-iversary!

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Thanksgiving was wonderful and I'm glad it's past. I'm really happy with how the past week has gone. I'll start with exercise, since that's been a huge part of what's kept me focused. I think a quick list is the best way to go. I'll start with the day before Thanksgiving...

Wednesday: 3 mile run (including the big hill) and weight lifting legs/shoulders/core
Thursday: rest
Friday: 25 minutes upright bike, weight lifting back/biceps/core

Saturday I went on a monster hike. It was only 4 miles but a lot of those were spent on serious uphill. The terrain was a bit rocky too, which added to the amount of "work" I was doing.

Sunday: rest
Monday: 3 mile run...wait for it, at 9:23 pace!, oh yeah!! I didn't run the hill though, because my calves were sore from the hike. I hope to run it this coming Thursday. After the run I did weight lifting chest/triceps/core.

So that's exercise...food-wise it's been an interesting week. Somewhat feast and famine. Well, not famine of course because I don't do that but more feast and clean eating.

Thursday I ate with abandon. I gave myself unmitigated freedom to eat and drink without expectation. I was mindful though. For example, at breakfast I had oatmeal, fruit and two hard-boiled egg whites. I considered adding sugar and cream to my oatmeal (because that's how I like it) but skipped it to balance out the later eating. At lunch I ate traditional Thanksgiving food with all the trimmings...and then the same at dinner except to add alcohol.

One good thing is my appetite. I can't physically eat as much as I could in my previous life so even if I go "all out" on the eating, I can only take that so far without inducing a painfully full feeling, which I don't like. But I never really stopped eating...meal, graze, meal, graze... I'm sure I managed to eat a ton of calories. For tracking I just wiped out the days' Points plus all my weeklies and called it close enough.

Friday morning came and I reminded myself of my Holiday plan. Eat whatever/how much I want on the day of the holiday, get right back to routine the day/s after. I also had a feeling of wanting to eat clean. I could feel my body processing all the food and drink from the day before. 

Yesterday's lunch - black beans and 1/4 avocado
Things cruised along like that all weekend, clean eating, feeling good. After work yesterday though we took the kids to get a Christmas tree, which meant home for dinner later than usual. I was starving and made the kids a quick grilled cheese sandwich for dinner. I ended up eating half of one of theirs while I cooked myself a different meal. Man are they Pointy! And then, after dinner, the leftover pumpkin pie and whipped cream in the fridge got my attention.

So I had my first T-day leftovers, a slice of pie with whipped cream. I was mindful while eating it, enjoying every bite, and made a plan to put the rest down the disposal when I was done. Yesterday was four days after the holiday and there's no reason to keep leftovers any longer. Oh, and earlier in the evening I'd happened upon an open bag of Cheetos Puffs my mom had brought over. I had two of those and quickly dumped the rest before I lost my resolve. Oh, and I had a pumpkin bar the kids had baked last week too. So yesterday was a high Point day (52), pretty much wiping out all the hiking Points I'd earned and leaving me two points in the red for the week. But I'll earn four at the gym today so I'll be fine.

The kids with our tree
So the holidays are in full swing. Like I said, we got a tree. Did some decorating last night but still more to go. Getting the tree put an excitement in the air for the kids. Now just to keep up with the clean eating even with all the treats around. I got on the scale this morning to see if my weight confirmed what I knew, that I'd been eating and exercising enough to lose weight. I saw 145.8 - super happy to see that 145 number again. I'm very close to being back at my goal weight, which feels great! I'm so super, happy, thrilled, glad, relieved, etc that I got things under control before the holidays even began.

Oh, that reminds me! I completely forgot that my goal-iversary passed. On November 9th, 2012 I reached my goal weight of 145 pounds. It had taken me 5 years, 8 months and 25 days to get there. Just another reason I'm happy to be back on track. Noting the anniversary at a time when I am working hard to be a maintainer felt great!

Well, that's all I have for now. I hope you're feeling back in the swing after Thanksgiving. In case you're still struggling, let me remind you, it feels really good to be on track. Start now, start with your next meal, and before long, you'll remember why you feel so much better when you're living in a way that aligns with your goals.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

8 Muddy Miles (and then some)

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I am on a roll. It feels so good to be in this place, how I wish I could always be motivated and inspired as I am now. Haven't figured that out yet, but that's ok, I'm just happy to be here now.

A map of my long run
On Friday night I went to bed, feeling good about my plan to do a long run on Saturday morning. But when I woke up and saw the overcast sky, the wind...it looked cold! So I told myself to just pick a spot and start running, if I was miserable, I could do a quick run and be done. I chose a spot near some wetlands preserves and headed out. Before long I was running up a hill. Down the other side and then the rest of the run was flat.

Note to self, when running in a wetlands area after rain, expect mud. Miles 4 and 5 were especially muddy, I almost slipped a couple times even and my shoes were soaked when there was no avoiding stepping in puddles. I listened to Pandora (for the first time on a run), Rihanna station. I only know a couple of her songs and don't regularly listen to that genre of dance-pop/hip hop/house-type music so almost all the songs were new to me. That turned out to be an unexpected source of fun, really kept me entertained and I didn't hate any of the songs, even the Nicki Minaj one (I only know it was a Minaj song because she kept saying her own name in the song). A lot of female empowerment stuff too, which I particularly liked.

Anyway, the weather was gorgeous, a bit breezy at times but that balanced nicely with the warm sun, and I just cruised along, happy to know I would run the 8 miles I'd hoped for.

As you can see I averaged an 11:44 pace but I wasn't paying attention to my speed. I just wanted to enjoy the run, and I did.

Happy post-run smile

Muddy calves, muddy socks, muddy shoes

Sunday was a rest day. Unfortunately it was also an eat-too-much-junk day. I didn't plan well and ended up having lunch at a kids' party - pizza and cake. That wouldn't have been so bad - I had one slice of cheese pizza and a very small piece of cake - but coupled with some evening snacking, I got into a hole with my Points (even with the 16 APs I'd earned the day before).

But I woke up on Monday determined not to use the slip as an excuse to stay down. I knew I wouldn't get out of the hole by Wednesday but I didn't want to dig an even deeper one. So I stuck to my daily Points both yesterday and today. And I exercised.

On Monday I went for a run around my gym, including a big hill. I used to run this big hill route when I didn't have enough time to run 3 miles. But I've run it a couple times now as part of a 3-mile route and I think it's gotten a tiny bit easier. Still, it's a big friggin' hill!

But what really got me excited was how fast I ran that last mile. While running down the other side of the hill I thought, "Wow, I'm really moving, what if I try to keep this up when I'm back on flat ground?" So that's what I did. I just kept going with long strides, pushing hard, running! 9:16, roughly 6.5mph. I was running that pace back in the spring, but since the surgery, not really. It felt good. And fast.

After the run I did back/biceps core. I ate a healthy dinner and got to bed at a reasonable hour. No evening snacking. Win! Today started with me getting my period. I've been off-and-on crampy for at least a week so it was about time. My cycle is so unpredictable these days. But at least I'm not having hot flashes at the moment. And, by the way, I have a stellar excuse if I'm up at tomorrow's weigh-in. Not that I need an excuse. No, not me, never.

On to today... I went to the gym after work and rode the upright bike for 25 minutes. I'm back to being able to push myself without it being painful, which is nice. I did chest/triceps/core after the bike, was there for an hour. I left the gym feeling on. my. game.

So there you have it. Weigh-in is tomorrow. Thanksgiving follows. I'll take whatever the scale says in stride, and then eat to my heart's (and stomach's) content on Thursday, and then get back in the groove on Friday. Sounds like a good plan, right?

Friday, November 21, 2014

A Great Week

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I had a bunch of stuff I meant to write about but now that it's Friday night at 10pm....

Anyway, I've had a good great week so far. I hit my goal of exercising 4x during the workweek. I glanced through my workout log and noticed I've hit that goal for four weeks now. Working out four days a week is important to me for several reasons. There's the obvious calorie-burn type reason but that's not the most important. For me it's about stress management and maintaining fitness. I like the level of fitness I reach when I regularly hit that goal. And I feel so much better too.

Once I feel like I'm completely back to my former fitness level I can ease up a bit, miss a day here or there, without much consequence. But for now, staying very focused on the objective at hand. Which reminds me, it might be time for a recovery week. I've kind of forgotten about the concept, which is every 4th week I cut back on everything. Less time/intensity in the cardio and lower weights/reps in the weight training. But I'm hesitant to do that right now, I feel so focused on building my strength and endurance up that I don't want to back down. We'll see. Might be a smart thing.

Speaking of smart things...I signed up for a half-marathon! The Rock n Roll Half Marathon San Francisco, March 2015. I ran the inaugural version of this race in 2013 (with Laurie, who's also signed up). The route has changed since then, which has me so excited to run a slightly different course. A lot of SF races run a very similar course and while this race has some of those same parts in it, some are also new (for me). But I just noticed, the race starts at 6:30am. Holy early race time! Might have to stay in the city that night.

Eating is going ok. I went out to dinner last night. I made a very good choice, a grilled skirt steak that came served with white rice, grilled asparagus and an asian slaw (made w/o mayo). I skipped wine and fortunately they didn't put any bread down in front of me. After dinner I was headed home when a mom-friend texted about meeting up for a drink. Eh, why not? So I added a martini to my Points fort the day. And when I got home...I wanted something salty and started in on a bag of Garden of Eatin' Red Hot Blues. Yum! I think I ate maybe half the bag. 15 Points. It was a big bag.

Between that and the martini, and a larger-than-normal homemade dinner Wednesday night, I wiped out all my weekly Points and even went into the red by a couple Points. Today's workout (30 min run + weight lifting) got me back in the black but I will have to be want to be careful with my choices from here on out if I want to remain in the black. I'm not too worried about it though. I'm planning a long run tomorrow, which will give me a good chunk of APs to work with. And besides, why worry? I ultimately do whatever I want anyway. Just gotta stay focused on what it is I want :-)

And sleep, sleep is one thing I want. Night all!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

*MY* Daily Points Target

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I lost 3.8 pounds this week. I know it sounds like a lot, and it is, but if you take my total loss of 4.4 pounds and average it over 3 weeks, I've lost 1.46 pounds per week. For me, that's still a lot. I usually average somewhere between .5 to 1 pound per week. Anyway, I was kind of shocked to be down that much but I'm pleased to be reminded that the program works.

So there's been an interesting issue as to how many Points I should get set for my daily target. Last week I noticed on my paper weight tracker it said 26 Points. But the WW app had me at 30 Points. Eating 30 Points per day (plus the weekly 49 plus all my Activity Points) had me lose 1.something pounds the first week, I gained .6 the following week (although that included going over my Points the last two days of the week so it's not a fair assessment). 

So last week I asked the receptionist and he said the paper was right and the app must be thinking I'm still on maintenance. I started to pout. Then I remembered, "Hey, this is my choice. If I want to eat 30 Points per day I can." 

So then the thought shifted from how sad for me that I have to do this to what do I want to do? I can't tell you how much the resulting power shift changes everything. It's not an external force upon me, it's about my choice. So I made the choice to follow the paper, 26 Points. And I didn't pout about it.

This week I put in my new weight and the app changed my Points to 32! I checked with the receptionist again, he ran the numbers again with my new weight of 149 pounds and yep, still 26 Points if I want to lose. Fine by me.

A board full of Thanksgiving day tips from fellow WW members.
So next week is Thanksgiving. Lots of talk in the meeting about holiday-eating-strategy. They had us write down a tip and post it on the board. I read a bunch of them and what I liked most was the wide variety of sometimes conflicting ideas, don't eat pie...not even one bite, eat a small slice of pie, lose weight beforehand so you can gain some, walk the dog longer, don't leave the house, plan to gain a few pounds and lose them in January. It's all so personal, right? My way is my way, yours is yours.

I'm going back to my tried-and-true method of eating whatever I want, in as much quantity as I want, on the holiday itself. No measuring, weighing, or tracking. But on the other days, eat (and track) like normal. This method has always served me well. I'm also planning to make a healthy dish or two that I really like for my mom's holiday gathering. Maybe some roasted brussells sprouts with a balsamic reduction and feta sprinkles. 

Ok, that's all I have for now. I'm down 4.4 pounds. Maybe next week I'll go over 5 pounds lost and get a Bravo sticker plus a few claps from the other lonely souls that will be at a WW meeting the day before Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A (Not So?) Simple Question

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Yesterday, I posted this on my Facebook page:

Someone posted a comment asking a seemingly simple question. Or two.

How did you get things turned around? 

What are you doing that is different?

As to how I got things turned around, my first thought was, "I made a decision." But as I thought about it, I realized there's more to it than that. It's true, I did make a decision, but I also do/did some things that supported me getting to that decision, one of the biggest of those being I weigh myself regularly, if not every day. Getting on the scale is a reality check, without it, I can too easily slip my head into the sand and pretend weight gain isn't happening. 

Studies show that daily weighing is an important tool in weight maintenance*. To borrow a few lines from the articles, "
The study showed that greater weight loss was associated with increased frequency of self-weighing, especially among those who self-weighed at least weekly." "These results indicate that an intervention focusing on daily self-weighing can produce clinically significant weight loss."
"It seems that, for successful dieters at least, daily weighing can be a beneficial strategy in weight maintenance, 'It's like checking the thermometer in your house to see what the temperature is, it helps you know how to make adjustments.'".

So, I weigh myself. What else did I do to get things turned around? When I ate a certain way (bingy, snacky eating) I noted to myself how that felt (not good) and patiently reminded myself that this behavior is not in support of my goals. And further, the scale is a direct result of said behavior. Those reminders were NOT beating myself up, nagging myself, shaming myself, etc. They were more like, "Hey, what's happening? This isn't helpful." The reminders didn't result in immediate change but I think they put me on the path to turning things around.

The other thing I did was give myself kudos when I engaged in goal-oriented behaviors. If I resisted the urge to buy a Snickers at the checkout, pat on the back. If I stopped eating halfway through a quart of ice cream, pat on the back. If I made a good choice for dinner, pat on the back. These little positive reinforcers for all goal-oriented behaviors kept my confidence up, allowed me to continue to feel capable and competent, even if I was slipping back overall.

I continued to exercise, even when what I did was very little (a 10 minute run) and I continued to ask myself when and how I was going to intervene with my eating. Just because I didn't know the answer, didn't mean I stopped asking the question. Eventually, the plan to return to WW emerged as what I needed. I'd tried to self re-align and eventually acknowledged when it just wasn't working. There have been many times in the past when that has worked, just not this time.

I'm sure there's more to say about how I got things turned around but that's what comes to mind. On to the next question, what am I doing that's different. This one is a bit easier to answer as the change is obvious.
  1. I'm tracking again. Mostly. I didn't track for a couple of days this weekend when restaurant meals made it too much of a pain in the ass (for me). But I did make very conscious choices about what I ate at those meals and took a stab at how many points I might have eaten in total.
  2. I'm attending WW meetings again. I can't tell you how much they help me.  
  3. I'm focusing on the little things like salad dressing, more veggies with my meal, tea. Little things I used to do all the time that had been sort of forgotten.
  4. And the big things like less alcohol, limiting or avoiding after dinner snacking.
  5. I'm eating daytime snacks again. I'd gotten away from making sure I had two snacks every day, one between breakfast/lunch and one between lunch/dinner. Some people don't need snacks but I know they go a long way toward helping me feel satisfied and not overdo it at mealtime.
  6. While I never stopped exercising I had let it slip just a bit. I'd pushed it down a rung or two on the priority scale, which meant missing a day of exercise was becoming the norm, instead of something out-of-the-ordinary.
  7. Finally...no more fast food. For example, a McDonald's burger is 7 points and a vanilla cone is 5 points. 12 points is a large meal. A burger and cone are not a "large" meal. Not to mention, who knows what's in that stuff. I'm not swearing off fast food forever, that's not my style, but it was getting to be a habit.
  8. Focusing on sleep. I'd let getting a good night sleep slip way down on the priority list. Feeling tired and dragging, staying up until 1am in front of the television...bad stuff when it comes to weight management. I've talked for years about wanting to get more/better sleep but I never really committed to it. I'm getting better at walking the talk.
Ok, there you have it. Gotta run!

* http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3788086/