Saturday, May 16, 2015

Running, Eating and an MRI?

This past week has been, if I'm straight with myself, pretty good. I'm tempted to say it's been just okay, but I know better than that. Eating has been fair, but I'll start with what's really showing some improvement, which is exercise. Despite continued intermittent back issues (discomfort that rarely, but sometimes, rises to actual pain), I made it to the gym several times this week.

I started Tuesday's gym visit with an outdoor run. Lately, the weather has been perfect for running, mild temps with a slight breeze. I ran 3 miles, including Palmer hill, in a 10:16 pace.
Palmer Hill gym run
After the run I did an abbreviated chest and triceps workout. My back is still on the sore side, and in recent weeks (or months) I haven't lifted weights with any regularity so I need to go easy.

Friday's lunch, curry shrimp burrito from high-tech burrito
On Wednesday I rode the upright bike for 25 minutes at level 8, which involved pushing myself here-and-there. I followed that with back and biceps. I got a tip from a fellow gym-goer to not do core exercises on back day, he said you can't work both because one needs to support the other. That made sense to me so from now on, no core on back days. Though I'm not really doing core stuff right now at all while I let my back heal.

Yesterday, Friday, was another run. Again I ran the Palmer loop, adding a bit to close out a 3-mile run. But this time my last mile was warp speed!  I looked down at my Garmin as I was nearly done and saw I was running in the 8:30's - holy cow! So I kept it up and ran the third mile in 8:39. I don't know what to say about that. Except that I love the 3-mile distance.


After the run I did a bit of legs/shoulders for strength training. But my back was getting increasingly uncomfortable so I stopped. I'm actually thinking of getting an MRI. I've polled anyone who will talk to me and most people with back issues think it's good to know, if you can, what's causing it. Different origins (compressed disc vs muscle issues) are handled differently. So we'll see.

Eating has been pretty ok. A tad more indulgence than I think is ideal but life is good, and I'm not gaining, so I'm good with it. For now. My weight at Wednesday's WW meeting was an even 145. If you look at my weight since returning to WW on 3/4/15 I've lost a total of 8.2 pounds, an average of .8 pounds per week. Wow, I need to give myself more credit for getting back on track.

WW statistics for the last 11 weeks.
I've stopped tracking but I'm shooting for no more than two indulgent meals per week, and focusing on reasonable meals the rest of the time. Today for example, I had an In-n-Out burger (ketchup/mustard instead of "special" sauce) for lunch with the kids. I ate some fries (we all share one order) but not many. To me that's a reasonable meal.

@ Insalata's
But some other meals... and wine... This salmon was Friday nights' dinner. Note the empty pita dipping bowls. At least I had the lemon butter sauce on the side (and hardly touched it).

That was my second glass of wine, if I'm totally honest, which, why not, right? Oh, plus I had dessert. I'd had an equally, if not more, indulgent meal on Wednesday evening. Ribs, wine...and dessert. Ok, fine, two indulgent meals. 

I'm grateful though, that I can eat like this and maintain my body at a comfortable weight. Today I went a bit overboard at a friend's housewarming party, having a couple glasses of wine and a bunch of snack food (plus ice cream). I'd already had my two indulgent meals for the week buuuuutttt...

...tomorrow I'll be on the bike for a long road ride so I used that as an excuse I plan to burn some of it off. I'm not entirely sure how many miles I'll be cycling, I just know it will be more substantial than anything I've done all year.

Ok, I did something I haven't been doing lately, I took a mirror selfie of my outfit. I felt really good getting dressed today. I wore this very summery white skirt, a pale pink t-shirt and a denim jacket. It would have looked cuter with heeled sandals but since I was corralling kids today, flats were in order. Anyway, the point is, I felt good. And I reminded myself that feeling good about my body, about myself, reinforces why this is so important, central really, to my life. I'll close with my selfie.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Holding Both

Lately I've been thinking a lot about how this maintenance journey is about holding seemingly opposing concepts. The first concept goes like this...

It is not ok to overeat. It is not ok to mindlessly eat a bunch of junk. It is not ok to engage in bingy behaviors that leave me feeling regretful and yucky. It is not ok to skip my workouts. It is not ok to eat in a non-goal-oriented way.

And the second concept is...

When it happens, it's ok.

This is a contradiction and our brains don't really like that. But it's a dissonance we have to get used to, we have to teach our brains to hold both, because both are true.

How do I do that? Part of it is about staying in the moment. When I was in my mid-20's I read Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn. That was my first introduction to the concept of mindfulness. Mindfulness is about being in the present moment. If we stay in the present moment, we can really only hold one of the above concepts at a time.

In this moment, these choices are not ok, and I will not accept them. In this moment, I will hold that eating a ton of chocolate at the staff meeting, just because someone brought it, is not permitted. By who's authority is it not permitted? By my own, of course. I am the only one in charge here.

But an hour later, when my authority was compromised, by me, I must hold something different. It happened, it's ok. In this moment, it is ok. Because if it's not, I have to scold, point fingers and otherwise assign blame. Blame can lead to shame. Shame leads to weakness, hiding, fear. None of those feelings will help me make the next right decision.

So it's ok in this moment. And then not. Hmph, I started out by saying we have to hold both but I guess what I've described, by bringing in this mindfulness idea, is that we only have to hold one. At a time. No dissonance, no conflict. The question becomes, "what is true in this moment?" What do I need right now to move toward my goals? Whatever I need, hold that. Forget the other. The other is not here, in this moment. The other can be used in some other moment when it is needed.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Salami, Surgery and a Social Life

Things were getting better with my back, until they weren't. I'd hoped to get out for a run or something this weekend but it didn't happen. I've been averaging twice a week for exercise, which you know isn't making me happy. But I'm taking my own advice, focusing on a mix of patience and confidence. Things will get better, my body will come around.

El Dorado Kitchen, Sonoma
On the eating front...I'm eating. Some days too much but mostly staying within reasonable boundaries. I'm going out more than I typically do, building up a social life and finding ways to be out in the world, meeting people, trying to have fun. So much of being social involves food. I'm posting a couple pictures from recent outings.

So I focus on the at-home meals as being clean, whole, light meals which then allows me to indulge when I'm either restaurant dining or at a dinner party. Not that I can indulge at every restaurant meal or dinner party, the calories would add up. I use "calories" for lack of a better word - I think you know I don't count calories.

The view from the bar at Coqueta.
Still, I'm not sticking to this as well as I'd like, evidenced by, for example, my eating salami for dinner lately when I'm home alone. Salami, crackers, a string cheese...maybe a bowl of cereal. More salami. These "dinners" are more like grazed snacking and I have a couple problems with this behavior.

First, I don't feel so great physically when I eat like this. I notice my body isn't in the same groove. My skin doesn't like it and my "system" gets wonky. Second...well, second are the calories of course. If my plan is at-home meals that are clean and light - salami must be the complete opposite of clean and light. The good news? the salami is gone, I finally ran out last night. And I won't be buying more for the time being.

All that said, my weight is staying within range...I was 144 pounds last Wednesday. That was a 4+ pound drop from the week prior, which is crazy. I expect it will bounce back up by a couple pounds this week.

Ok, enough about all that... I have a tummy tuck update. After healing from the surgery I noticed my skin was a little funny where the incision ended, near my hips, kind of crinkled up. Apparently this happens a lot so the doctor said he could fix it when I'm ready. Also, I'd paid extra to have my love handles removed but they are still there, so he's fixing that too. I'm scheduled to go in for what I'm calling a touch-up, in July, going under the knife again, hopefully for the last time. I'm sure I'll post pictures after all is said and done.

Everything else in life is going well. The kids are doing great, Miguel and I are humming along with our new life, all working together for the greatest good... And I'm enjoying the ride. I might sign up for a tri training plan, just to give me some structure, even if I don't actually do the tri. More on this to come.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Oh My Back

My back flared up again. In the past I had a pretty good idea what caused it but this time I wasn't certain. In my last blog post I wrote about going on a 6 mile trail run/hike. I went to the gym for the next three days in a row and I remembered working out pretty hard. I felt really strong and good. That and I was dealing with stress that I was taking out on the dumbbells.

Anyway, the pain grew to the point at which I had to stop exercising altogether for a couple weeks. Eventually I was able to get back to doing something light on the weekends, I took a 10 mile cruise around town on my bike. The next weekend I went on a 3 mile easy run. I've since done a couple gym sessions but sort of here-and-there, not trying to get back to a routine just yet. Oh, and I went on a mountain bike ride last weekend, the Shoreline Trail at China Camp State Park. I'm WAY out of mountain bike practice.

So my back is not 100%, maybe 75%, and I'm still treating it with TLC. While my mind is looking forward to getting back to something regular, my body isn't ready for that just yet.

On the food front, things continue to go pretty well. I'm still attending WW meetings every week for a reminder, for inspiration and motivation. I haven't been tracking lately, my weight is back in my official WW "goal" window (145-149) but just barely. All in all, I'm quite happy with how things are going in this department. It feels as though I'm starting to get a more intuitive relationship with food, the foundation of that being I have a radical knowledge that I can eat whatever I want, and however much I want. All the choices are mine and mine alone.

Enough on that...the final thing happening is, I have a cold. Wah! Sniffles, blocked up nose, hyped up on cold meds. At least it's coinciding with this back pain thing so I'm not getting sidelined by it. My hope is that about the time the cold goes away, maybe my back will be ready for more regular exercise.

Monday, April 6, 2015

This is an Other

Some days are better than others. Today was an other. Funny thing though, the last few times I've had monster-bad days, I haven't wanted to eat. In the way-back past I would've wanted a bag of chips and a pint of ice cream - for an appetizer. But now, it's as if I can't really enjoy food when I'm feeling like crap. At least in the initial jolt of pain or sadness. Unfortunately, it doesn't really last. Give it a day or two and I'll probably want to dive head-first into that ice cream.

Aside from the state of my personal affairs, food and exercise are going well. Last week, the week following the half-marathon, I hit my goal to exercise four days. I went to the gym on Monday and did a light, post-half recovery workout. Tuesday I was hit with a wave of exhaustion in the late afternoon and thought it smart to get some rest. I did just run 13.1 miles on Sunday after all.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday saw me hitting the gym after work and doing my thing. I'm still not doing what I used to do before this whole divorce/life-change thing reached a peak, but that's ok, I'll get there eventually.

Jumping back to Wednesday, I lost 2.2 pounds this past week. It was no surprise given I'd gained 3.2 pounds the week prior. Something crazy is happening with my weight, jumping around like that. I'm curious to see what it will be this week. So I'm 149.8, which is .8 pounds over what I'm allowed to be to maintain free Lifetime status at WW (my official goal weight is 147 and we're allowed to be +/- 2 pounds of that weight). I'd really like to stop paying that $40 monthly pass fee so I hope this is the week.

But I'm definitely not starving myself to get there. Friday evening I had dinner in a restaurant. I had a few sips of wine, a bit of bread, shared fried calamari for an appetizer (I know, I know, but it was so good) and ordered grilled salmon for the entree. The salmon came with steamed veggies and the smallest portion of roasted red potatoes I'd ever seen. And a small cannoli for dessert. I entered in everything into my tracker and came to 26 points. Not too bad.

We had a family Easter party on Saturday (the only day that worked for everyone) but I made smart choices there (including no candy), knowing I was attending a dinner party that evening. The dinner party was over the top, with one of the guests being a bona fide chef who prepared the food. He served everything small-plate style and we all stood around the island eating and drinking while plate after plate of yummy stuff emerged. Oh.my.calories was there a lot of food. And it was good. Check out the spread.



Deviled eggs with smoked salmon, grilled lamb, bison burgers, beef carpaccio...and the list goes on and on. Anyway, I comforted myself by mentally increasing the mileage in my planned Sunday run by 1 mile with every passing hour. Points-wise I decided to just wipe out all the Weekly Points I had left plus any unused Activity Points (including those I'd earn on Sunday's run). Who knows if this is right, but it's too much to attempt calculating.

Sunday came around and it was time to pay the piper get outdoors and experience the joy of physical exertion. A trail run was just what I needed to clear both my head and my body. I did a loop route in the Henry Coe State Park, a trail I hiked for the first time about a year ago.

The loop is 6 miles. Some parts were either too steep up/downhill to run - up being too hard, down being too scary - or the trail was too rocky/narrow. So where I could run, I ran, otherwise I hiked, quickly, to keep the exertion at workout levels (vs Sunday stroll level). Check out the elevation profile.


It was a beautiful day, a little chilly and windy at times but the scenery more than made-up for the cold.

Henry Coe State Park in April
That brings us to today. I made good food choices, balancing out the weekend's bacchanalia, and went to the gym after work. I was a little stiff from the trail run but mentally, I really needed a workout. I started with the hill loop around my gym, 2.34 miles in 10:26 pace. Considering the size of the hill I ran over, that's darned good. Actually, it's good no matter how you look at it!

Then I went inside to do legs/shoulders/core. That was asking a bit much from my body. I had to cut short the number of lunges because my legs were just not up to it, and after about 2/3 of my total workout, I just stopped altogether. My body wasn't happy and I wasn't in the mood to push it. Aside from my being emotionally tired, I probably didn't eat enough to fuel what I was trying to do either.

But I closed out the day eating all 26 of my Daily Points, leaving the 6 APs I earned in the gym for tomorrow if I want them. It's a sad day, to be sure, when I'm ambivalent about eating all my Points.