Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Skinny Brain

I got an Old Navy gift card for Christmas, and I have to admit, the only Old Navy clothing I own is one shirt that I got at a thrift shop.  Part of me was curious to see what they had, see if any of it would fit me.  The other part of me wanted to save the gift card for when I lose, say twenty more pounds, as a reward for my hard work.  But my husband, who also got an Old Navy gift card, needed jeans desperately, so we went.  As we walked through the mall, I looked in the store windows of all the places I have never been small enough to shop, and I got so excited because I knew, without a doubt, that I will be able to shop wherever I want in less than a year.  Old Navy was a bit of a letdown.  Don't get me wrong, they have great things, they are just geared toward the preppy masses.  I was only inclined to try on one thing, a dress in the most stunning shade of muted green.  On the hanger, it looked so cute, kind of goth and a little punk.  I chose the 2X because I am not deluding myself.  I tried it on and it just hung off of me, boring even itself to tears.  The tankdress underneath had really long straps that were not adjustable, and the whole thing just fit strangely.  So, I left without any clothes, figuring I would return in summer when they have more dresses, and I will be thinner by then.
Earlier that same day, I finally got myself a belt.  It is the first time I have ever bought a belt.  To be fair, I usually wear dresses and skirts, but living in a cold, snowy place has neccessitated the purchase of a pair of jeans.  I didn't know that they were a stretchy material when I got them at the thrift shop.  Long story short, I've needed a belt for a few months now, so I went and got one.  I wrapped it around me, the outside of my jacket to make sure it was long enough to go around me.  When I got it home, I discovered that there were only 6 holes in it, and the tightest one was still too big.  So I had to exchange it.  I got one 2 sizes smaller, and it just fits on the loosest hole, which will give me some wiggle room when I lose more weight. 
Which brings me to the subject of Skinny Brain.  The past couple days I have had to rethink my body.  I know I'm not thin, but I'm not as fat as I have been my whole life.  Buying things in any size other than 3X is a totally foreign idea for me.  So I am at the first stage of having to rethink my body size, which is exhillerating!  When I went to Target last night to pick up some hair products, I couldn't resist chosing something from the "regular sized clothing" section (as opposed to the moo moos) and try it on just to see if it would fit.  Again, I chose an item in size 2X, but it was a mini skirt.  The skirt fit me, and the elastic waistband wasn't even stressing, but the cheap tuling on it made it look like I was trying to be a 38 year old (oh yeah, happy birthday to me) ballerina.  But, in the past, leaving without a piece of clothing would have been a letdown, because it would have been because it didn't fit or looked bad because of my body.  Leaving without that skirt last night or the dress at Old Navy didn't bother me in the least because, no matter what I didn't like about the clothes, they fit!  I have a whole new energy, whole new elation.  I am finally shrinking.  And though the holidays presented me with a slight setback, I know I am finally on my way to my happy place.  And you should see how that kind of news fuels a workout! 

Monday, December 27, 2010

Good Riddance, Christmas!

So, all things considered, in the past five days, there is only one that I am not particularily proud of myself.  Though I missed four workouts over the holidays, I kept my eating pretty clean.  I noticed that I was giving myself a little of that good old fashioned holiday justification, and while I knew I'd have to answer to the scale this morning, I indulged a little bit.
Victories:  At all three of my actual functions, I did just what I said I was going to do, eat mostly proteins and a few extra fats but try to avoid the sugary carbs.  The one exception was when the most adorable eight year old handed me a piece of her mom's chocolate covered toffee, and begged me to try it.  It was only the size of my pinky fingernail, and I felt obligated so I ate it.  I vowed to not let it throw me off course, and it didn't.
Failure:  After all the celebrations were over, and the kids were content to play with all their new things, my husband and I settled in and had a glass of my dad's hand crafted wine that he makes.  Man, he is really an amazing wine maker!  We enjoyed a glass of his Red Cherry wine, which is made with pounds and pounds of fresh cherries.  I am allowed an occassional glass of wine on South Beach, so I didn't feel guilty in the least.  In fact, it tasted so good that I had another.   And when I was in the kitchen pouring that second glass, I felt compelled to eat the two rum balls that were in the plate of Christmas goodies we were gifted, so the kids don't accidentally eat them, I told myself.  That lead to the eating of a peppermint meringue.  Then, a dear friend of my husband invited him to come enjoy some time together on the holiday, he was visiting from Las Vegas and his family has always been so welcoming to us.  So my husband left.  I told myself I wasn't going to have anymore sweets, so I made a bag of popcorn.  By then, the wine had gone to my head and I was feeling so relaxed and quite uninhibited where food was concerned.  I ate 3/4 of a "mini" bag of popcorn before handing off the rest to my son.  That salt had me wanting something sweet, so I ate 3-4 more cookies and a bar.  As I was eating them, I could hardly even taste them (except for that meringue, that was really good)  and I was thinking, what the heck am I doing?  At that point, I stopped.  But I did end up having four glasses of wine that night and a bunch of other stuff I wasn't intending on having.  When I went to bed that evening, I felt lousy, physically and emotionally.  My stomach was burning from the wine, threatening to give me heartburn.  I slept kind of lousy too.  So yesterday, when I got up, the kids talked me into going out to get them a lightbulb for their Easy Bake oven, and after all the running around, we got back home with just enough time to pack their bags for a four day visit to my mom's house.  The chaos and my hangover had me so crabby, and I felt bad that it had to be like that, but my body was responding to the injustice I treated it with the prior evening.  After getting back to town, my husband and I enjoyed a nice, quiet and uninterrupted meal at Applebees.  I had the Cajun Lime Tilapia, which came a little overcooked, on a bed of seasoned rice with a side of steamed broccoli.  It felt so good to get whole, warm, healthy food in me, and the spice on the fish made me feel like I had a pulse again.  I told myself I was not going to go so overboard again because there is nothing to be gained from it. 
So this morning, I took the luxury of sleeping in and when I woke I weighed in.  182, yuck.  I did my cardio, which felt like a challenge today, and ate a good breakfast.  I already feel better.  Which leaves me wondering, if eating crappy and not working out leaves us feeling so lousy, why do we wish we could do that, and justify it when we do indulge?  The mind is a funny thing.  Well, to this Christmas season I say, good riddance!  I am not going to let one day of bad choices make me get off track or lose my focus.  Those extra pounds I put back on can SUCK IT!  This means WAR!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Denial

I have been (*) since I was 8.  The * is because I don't know what is politically correct.  Weight-challenged?  I have been fat since I was 8,(there, I said it) or at least that is the age I have a photo of myself at the swimming pool, and I can see that notorious roll in my lower abdomen.  So, as I near my 38th birthday this month, it's safe to say I've had some time to deal with the fact that I am fat.  I have read a bunch of blogs of people who have lost weight and still have a "fat voice" telling them they are garbage and feeding them with self doubts, but don't all people, reguardless of their weight, have self-doubt?  Part of me is a little puzzled about myself.  Yes, I am losing weight and I know that I can reach my goal if I stay on this path, but I don't want to reach my goal and still feel like a loser inside.  Then again, I have this gift for denial and dilusion, telling myself I am smart, rebellious, and witty, and I can really pour it on when there is an attractive (read normal-sized) girl in front of myself, especially when my husband is witnessing her as well.  Now, my husband is a rare breed, who makes sure I know that he isn't attracted to airheaded chicks who cake on so much makeup because inside they are so hung up on their looks that their ego will shatter if someone doesn't drool over them.  Still, in the private chambers of my mind, I wonder if he secretly wishes he could be with someone like that.  Even when I am in the presence of children, I see how they have a preference toward more attractive adults, which generally leaves me a little on the fringe, even though I am pretty good with kids if I say so myself.  There will always be doubts in your mind, one can only hope they lessen once you feel better about your body.  I have always been complimented (by acquaintences and strangers alike) on my face or features of.  When I wore contact lenses, people always commented on my gorgeous brown eyes.  I have also gotten many compliments on my lips/smile. And most outrageous, once when I had dreadlocks down my back, someone told me I look a lot like Julia Roberst when I smile.  What a compliment!   I do feel like, in general, I have an attractive face.  So, that gives me a little edge over my self-defication when I feel it creeping up.  But since I have been "on track", I don't generally hear the negative voices.  I feel really strong, mentally and physically.  I can't imagine feeling anything other than that once I reach my goal.  But, if I feel that way when I have healed the outside, I will refer back to a line from one from my favorite band, Green Day:  "She figure out all her doubts were someone else's point of view."  And I will try to not assume that people are thinking the worst of me, and will not let myself doso either.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Unwanted gifts

So, I have a confession.  I weigh myself almost every day.  I know I shouldn't, its counter-productive and shouldn't matter, but because I am so excited, it is nearly impossible for me to stay away from the scale.  On Monday, I was happy to report that despite my chaotic weekend, I had managed to stay at 179, but the past two days I am back up to 180.  Boo hoo, right?  Normally I wouldn't give a second thought to one measly pound, but it is what this particular pound represents to me.  I have been all up and down the 180's and back this year, but never seemed to break to the other side before caving.  This time, I have been sticking to plan, working out consistently if not religiously, and still that guy wants to creep back.  I am trying to convince myself not to be worried about it, that this is just one of many plateaus, but if I'm being honest with myself, there is disappointment.  When I am thinking logically, instead of emotionally, I realize there are a few, positive reasons that this could be happening.  First posibility, in phase 2 of South Beach Diet, you reintroduce grains and fruit, and in this particular week, I am steadily increasing those carbs until I reach 3 grains and 3 fruits per day, which is what is considered a normal, healthy amount.  Carbs give you energy, which is definitely a plus, and they taste good too, but they also make your body retain more water.  Hydration is also a good thing.  So, if that's why I gained one stinky pound this week, still a positive result.  The other posibility, and this is the one I am going with, is that I have gained muscle.  I have really been focused and making the mind-muscle connection when I work with the weights, and it makes a huge difference in the quality of workout I get.  I do this by imagining how I want each muscle to look once I hit my goal, and then squeeze it like I can will it to happen.  Oh wait, I can!   My shoulders are starting to look better all the time, and that jiggle under my arms is starting to tighten up, too.  And when I am doing my reverse crunches, with my legs extended above me, I can't believe how great my legs are starting to look.  So, either of those explanations are positive, and I will try to focus on those.  One thing I will NOT do is let this get me off track.  I know that plateaus are just part of the territory, and usually once you get past them, you have another weight loss.  You have to constantly keep your body guessing or else it gets accustomed to the routine and stops being as effective at losing.   The weight workout I am following changes the amount of reps every 2 weeks, and you only follow it for 6 weeks, then I will have to design or find a different routine.  I wonder if anyone has tried the bands for working out, and if it is effective?  If you have an opinion on tension bands for exercise, please leave a comment! 
As for now, I just finished an awesome muscle workout and am feeling strong and happy.  No matter how many pounds I lose or gain, nothing can compare to that!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Wild Weekend

So, last weekend was one of the most chaotic ever.  It started with Friday, running errands, Christmas concerts, early pick-ups of kids, etc.  Friday evening, when my kids were playing so great together all day, Israel tripped over some of Zach's trucks and caught himself funny, sending the bones of his forearm in odd angles.  It was the most horrifying thing I have seen in person, and I nearly fainted several times while trying to get myself and the kids dressed.  Personally, I am so greatful that my husband was there, being a former skateboarder, he has seen (and had) much worse, and he kept his cool while I was trying to keep myself upright.  It was a long night, they needed to keep him overnight because he couldn't be put under anesthesia since he'd eaten less than an hour before it happened.  That is one tough kid!  He never even complained, even after being splinted, his arm twisted in the shape of an S, for 16 hours until they could put him under and realign everything.  He has a cast up to his armpit, poor thing, but he is in unbelievably good spirits. 
Being out of my element meant, being subjected to eating things off plan.  I tried to pick the best choices available, a tuna salad sandwhich, dry salad, and turkey and cheese on some delicious herb (albeit white) bread.  I went hours and hours without eating, didn't take my medicine and didn't sleep much.  So by the time we got home Saturday evening, my metabolism was shot and my energy was drained.  We, as a family, spent most of Saturday and Sunday resting.  I missed my workout on Saturday (weights), but did my cardio on Sunday.  My appetite finally started making a comeback late last night.
Today, I am back on track.  I am happy to announce that my wonderful 179 on the scale has remained, despite the bizzare eating I did over the weekend.  As delighted as I am with that number, I am ready to see it change again, hoping to get down to 177 by next Monday, but with Christmas this week, I will be realistic and hope sincerely, not to gain any weight.  I will plan small cheats, but I think it is best if I stay away from any sugary carbs, which really make me crave and crave and crave once I've eaten them.  My cheats will be in the form of fats, like gravy, and maybe a tiny serving of potatoes.  And I am going to make sure to fill up on water before hand so that I will be less tempted to stray from plan.  Its good to have a plan in place before hand, so that you don't go crazy with carbs.  What tricks have worked for you at holidays?  I will try to exercise restraint at the two parties I am going to, and will definitely let you know how it goes!  Yikes!  Only 223 days until the contest ends!  That will certainly be in the back of my mind when I am surrounded by yummy food. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Motivation

I did NOT want to work out today!  I looked at my house and was trying to convince myself that it was more important to clean it up than to do my workout.  Not to mention, all the kids' clothes that need mending, and the laundry, and...
This is how we let ourselves slide, under the sleek disguise of "something else" that is more important.  But why do we sabotage ourselves, when we know what we must do in order to reach our dreams?  When I stopped and thought about it, it really came down to being lazy.  I didn't feel like exerting myself.  And, if you aren't really in it when you are working out, you probably aren't exerting enough effort to make a change in your body.  Your mind has to be part of the workout.  So where does this leave us when we are just in the wrong mindset?  In every other facet of life, we find ways to motivate ourselves to do something we don't neccessarily feel like doing.  Housework, driving on slippery roads, even going to work or school.  What tools do you use to get motivated to do those things? 
Today I used reasoning and music.  I have only missed two workouts since I began this journey, and I didn't want to let myself or my readers down.  OK, so I don't have readers yet, but once someone sees the incredible progress I make with my body, people will read.  I talked myself out of being weak.  A little music by Flyleaf helped me feel strong, and I decided to put the workout on the TOP of my list of priorities, and let the other chips fall where they may. I am most important.  Without me, none of the other stuff matters.  My workout was awesome.  It is bittersweet that it kicks my butt a little bit.  During it, I feel like I am really testing my strength, and after, my muscles feel so strong, and my energy level spikes.  I actually like the energy I get from weight training more than cardio, it lasts a lot longer.  Plus, having slightly sore muscles is a reminder of the work I did, which makes me feel skinny and attractive, even no one else sees it.  By the way, for those of you who use muscle soreness as an exscuse to not workout, after the first few workouts the muscle soreness decreases tremendously, and your muscles start to heal faster and faster.
My reflection has been changing though.  When I look at my face and neck, I am amazed at the difference.  Yes, it is only 13 pounds (oh yeah, I am down to 179 now.  Shh!  I wasn't supposed to report that til Monday, but I am so excited to be under 180 that I had to write it) but I am noticing some big changes.  My rings are getting loser and loser, so are my pants and funny enough, my underwear are baggy in the butt.  Now that is a strange sensation!  It is already easier to cross my legs, bend down, even do certain exercises.  I am starting to see some shape to my shoulders instead of them just being round.  So, at 179, I am 36 pounds lighter than when I first began the South Beach Diet in Oct 2009, and 44 pounds lighter than my all-time highest weight.  It finally feels like this time could be the real deal.  I might actually be a success story at some point.  To think that my goal weight is just 34 punds away feels absurd to me.  I am so used to the number being so much larger than that.  And, I am not against the idea of going lower than that if I am not satisfied with how I look or how my health is doing.  As my husband has told me many times, (and I consider him to be an expert on the subject) I will need to continually step it up and make it harder for myself, in order to keep seeing gains.  That's why it is good to start off slow, so you have somewhere to go.  For now, I am still following the routine from Oxygen magazine.  By the way, that is another of my great inspirations, looking at people who have the physique I admire and thinking about how hard they work to get there.  The article is called "Your Best Body Starts Now!" and it is from Fall 2009.   I will tell you the muscle workout I do, in case anyone wants to try it out.  For tips, how-to's and inspiration, oyxgenmag.com.

Plie squats
Lunges
One-arm row
Seated dumbell curls
Dumbell bench press (I use a stability ball since I don't have a bench)
Standing overhead press
One-arm extensions
Bench V-sit (I use a small table)
Reverse Crunch (I do this bracing the underside of my couch)

The next time you find yourself wanting to cop out of a workout, ask yourself why you are trying to escape it, and try to imagine how you will feel emotionally and physically if you allow yourself to skip it, as opposed to just pushing through it.  And, if reasoning with yourself doesn't work, turn on some loud music that makes you feel good.  Find your tricks and know the cues so you can stay on track.
Two final thoughts, Oil of Olay products are outstanding!  My skin has never looked more radiant!  I use Age Defying night cream at night and Olay Complete during the day.  What a difference it has made!  Remember, most people start to see more wrinkles when they lose weight, so moisturize!
Secondly, if you haven't tried greek yogurt, RUN to the store and get some now.  It is my favorite healthy treat.  Yesterday I combined plain greek yogurt with pumpkin concentrate, cinnamin and splenda.  It tasted like the filling of a pumpkin cheesecake.  If pumpkin's not your taste, try fresh fruit, or just add a little vanilla extract and some splenda, I am telling you it tastes like cheesecake and you get tons of protein and some healthy fats/ probiotics.  Make sure to get the plain kind and flavor it yourself though, the flavored kinds have a bunch of unwanted sugars and additives.  Try it, if you don't like it you can yell at me, but I bet you'll like it!
Hopefully we can all find the inner strength to push past the times we don't feel motivated to workout.  Let your mind be a weapon, not an enemy. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Balance

Today I am thinking about balance, and how it seems so fleeting.  If I take a little "me" time to stay up and watch a movie after everyone's in bed, I pay for it the next day, mentally and physically.  If I take time to rest my body and muscles, then the house suffers.  Sometimes the perpetual flow of tasks seems too much, never mind preparing healthy meals and finding time to workout.  Don't get me wrong, I am staying on track with my diet and exercise, but I can see how people derail.  I'm not even working right now, there are people who handle so much more than me, with grace.  When I was working, my house was rarely ever clean.  The only time it was acceptable was when we knew company was coming.  My philosophy was always to spend my time enjoying my children, they were more important to me than having a clean house.   But, we all feel happier when the house is clean.  Now that I'm not working, I am stuck in this place of knowing I have a bunch of time to get stuff done every day, but I'm always torn between what things to get done, and a lot of time, one thing depends on the other.  How does anyone hold it all together on a daily basis?  I envy those people who have so much energy they work their full time job, pick up the dry-cleaing, drive the kids to soccer practice, hit the grocery store, cook a healthy homecooked meal, which they all eat together at a beautifully set table, help the kids with their homework, baths, and put the kids to bed, then they spend an hour or two cleaning their house before settling into bed to read a chapter or two before a few hours of sleep separates the beginning of another crazy day.  I am not a Type A personality by any means!  And that kind of jam-packed day isn't my idea of perfection, but I see some people doing it and holding it together so well.  Or maybe, that is just my perception of their lives.
One time a coworker told me she is so jealous of the life I have, the great relationship I have with my husband, my adorable kids, even my vehicle.  That was the perception she had of me.  In reality, I was struggling to pay for that vehicle (and still struggle),  my husband and I have had our "moments", and raising two Autistic children is more challenging than she could ever realize.  In return I was envying some of the aspects of her life, she is the fittest person I know, running marathon after marathon, is adorable and charismatic, and so upbeat and outgoing.  So, perception is a silly thing.  Life doesn't come pre-packaged, all simple and neat.  How many times have you looked at someone and envied them for the simple fact that they don't have a weight issue.  Being able to sit in a chair without worrying if they'll fit, or if the chair would break, being able to cross their legs without even thinking about it, even to have a pair of jeans that fit good without cutting off circulation or respiration.  But, skinny (or even "normal") doesn't mean they have a perfect life.  I used to fantasize about moving away, or more appropriately, running away from my life.  (This was when I was single).  It felt so good to think about being on my own, starting fresh somewhere else.  Then someone reminded me, that everything I was running away from would follow me.  My bills, my bad decisions, even my fat.  That really made me think.  The only way to get rid of something you aren't happy with, is to face it and make a solid effort to fix it.  And with weight, it needs to be a daily thing that you face the ugly.  If you don't know what you're enemy is, you will never be successful in conquering it.  The journey to fix the outside is tremendous, the journey to heal the inside is vital.  When I am fit, I will still have all my other problems waiting for me to deal with, my children will still be Autistic, and I will still be struggling to pay off my vehicle.  I am reminding myself everyday of that.  So instead of weight loss being this year's resolution, I am going to resolve to find balance in my life.  To know that, it's OK to let the house get away on me if I need a peaceful soak in the tub, or to take the trash out tomorrow so that I can play one extra board game with my kids, or to get up an hour early in order to have time to reach my goal of better health.  There are millions of compromises we make everyday, the balance comes in whether or not our choices make us happy. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

All Mixed Up

Last weekend I didn't work out at all.  This weekend, I discovered why I let myself off the hook, despite my desire to make this thing work.  KIDS!  Oh, I did my interval cardio (walking) indoors, and I was bowling over kids and jumping hurdles of toys and wet snow socks along the way.  Then came the weights yesterday, I had to fight with my kids to gain use of my stability ball (which to them is a giant bouncing ball) and warn them several times to "look out" for my weights, which still ended up with my older son walking right into one of the ends of a 10-pounder while I was doing my thing.  About the only workout that went smoothly was the unplanned one, snow shoveling.  No one wanted to help.  With the wind whipping more than 40MPH, I understand.  I got a great extra workout from it, and boy did I sleep GOOD last night!
The blizzard delayed school opening by 2 hours this morning, which jumbled up my morning routine a little, but I managed.  At 6:30 AM I was looking at the weather forecast and state troopers were saying not to drive unless absolutely necessary.  I was tempted to call my kids in sick to school, out of fear of driving to go pick them up later.  Then, I thought about how lame that was, and how, by doing that, I was letting my fear run me.  I am stronger than that.  Yeah, I need new tires, yeah there were trucks sliding around on my street, but if I am careful I should be fine.  And, once the sun came up, I was feeling a lot better about just doing it.  For crying out loud, this is just the beginning of winter, we've got a long way to go!  Yuck!  The old me would have told winter to "suck it", but I have a much more positive outlook these days.  We'll see how that outlook is doing at the other end of winter!
So today starts week 3, that means Phase 1 of South Beach Diet is done.  This first week of Phase 2 I get to add one whole grain and one serving of fruit back into my diet.  It is best to do it slowly like this, so you don't start having sugar cravings again.  I had a piece of wheat toast with Smart Balance light butter with my breakfast, and even though it had gotten cold and soggy by the time I got to eat it, it was DELICIOUS!!  For my snack, I had 2 low fat cheese sticks and the sweetest grapes I have ever eaten.  What a treat!  And, what I think is particularily wonderful about this plan is that, by the time you reach phase 2, you aren't craving junk food, you are craving fruit!  Those grapes tasted like they were soaked in sugar, and they really felt like a cheat food.  It's amazing how your brain gets rewired when you eat clean.  By the way, if you haven't tried frozen grapes, you should.  They rock my world!
My scale said 181 today, which is a 2 pound loss over the week.  I am pretty happy about that, it means I am right on track!  Hoping I can get down to 179 by next Monday, that would be a milestone for me, I haven't weighed less than 180 in probably about 10 years, maybe even more!  There may be more shoveling to do later this week, which will help I'm sure. 
What I have to say to anyone reading, anyone who wants to lose weight, and please know that I have not been paid to say this, the South Beach Diet Supercharged  is really the easiest weight loss plan I've ever followed.  Except for the first two days, when you are breaking the sugar addiction, it doesn't even feel like a diet.  The interval cardio only takes 15-20 minutes to do, and you don't kill yourself.  The Total Body Workout starts easy and gets harder, giving you a chance to build up your strength and even flexibility, and the moves are easy to understand.  Since there are very few limitations to quantity of foods or even how frequently you eat, you will never be hungry.  Once you learn why your body has cravings, you can avoid them altogether.  Even after two short weeks, I am starting to be more in tune with how my body is working, and pick up on the cues that it is time to eat.  If you committ to getting through the first few days of this plan, and you keep the right foods in the house, this is almost foolproof.  Imagine if you started today and lost 2 pounds per week, (and, we don't want to lose it more quickly than that, or you get the ugly hanging skin afterword and put strain on your organs) how many weeks would it take you to reach your goal?  Even if it sounds like a long time, think of how long you have been living unhappy.  For me, I have a photo of myself at age 8, doing a stunt at the swimming pool, lower belly already has the roll of fat.  I am turning 38 at the end of the month.  For me to give a year to myself, in resolve to fix my body and mind, that seems like chump change in comparison to the 30 years I have spent overweight.  Even if it took five years, or ten, just knowing that my goal is accomplishable is what drives me.  What else is there in life?  I will show everyone how, even at my age, I can really kick some booty!
230 days til contest ends, measurements coming Jan 1. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Good Day for Up

Yesterday was a challenging day for me.  I feel like I crammed so much into so few hours, then the dreaded snow came.  The roads were so slippery and I am in desperate need of new tires, so I was extra nervous.  But Israel's Christmas concert was yesterday, so I had to squeeze that into my day with everything else, along with freaking out about driving.  After I picked up the kids, all I wanted to do was make it home safely, and we did.  Then I realized that we had movies that needed to be returned to the movie store.  I had run out of time earlier in the day, and now there they sat.  My guilt from being unemployed made me take on the responsibility and return them, despite every fiber of my body thinking it was a bad idea to be driving in those conditions.  I got stuck twice.  Well, semi-stuck.  Both times I was able to get back on track, but it was nerve-wracking.  If I haven't said it before, I HATE DRIVING IN SNOW!!! 
Today, on the other hand, was as close to perfect as a winter day can get.  Sun was shining, temps were up around 30 degrees, snow melted off the street.  I decided to just chill out today, for a change.  I spent time on the couch watching shows I enjoy and writing a letter/Christmas card for my mom.  I saved my workout (weights) for a little later than normal (usually 11 AM, today, 1PM) which gave me so much energy!  I had an awesome workout!  Then, for fun, I tried on some of the things in my closet, things I haven't put on in a while.  All good surprises, everything fit way better, some stuff was even TOO BIG for the first time in like...forever.  That's what's so cool about the South Beach Diet, it is really so simple to convert to this healthier lifestyle, that sometimes I forget that I am losing weight.  I am really noticing it in the size of various rolls of fat decreasing, like the ones under my arms, and my hips are definitely smaller.  And my rings are fitting much looser, I even had to switch fingers for some of them.  Before my first attempt at SBD, my rings were so tight they were nearly cutting off circulation, so this is a huge deal. 
As I got to my older son's school, I was walking briskly, in a great mood, then I began to slip on some black ice.  My knee started to go down, and my back foot was bent funny, but I caught myself.  The stunt, which must've looked like a lunge, could have been bad if my body wasn't already warmed up from my workout.  In fact, if I that had happened a couple weeks ago, with my unhealthy, stiff cold body I probably would have sprained that foot or strained my quad muscle.  I am really glad I made the decision to get healthy.  With only 233 days left until the close of the contest, it's full steam ahead!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Change

I am really relieved that I had the strength to perservere yesterday, because if I hadn't, I would be wallowing in self-pity again today.  It is so easy for things to build upon themselves until we believe we have no power over them. 
This morning, in preparation for the forecasted snow, I decided I'd better fill up my tires.  My fancy valve caps have been showing the red "fill them idiot" marker for weeks now, and I keep procrastinating.  So now that we are going to get some real snow, I decided to take action.  Never mind that it is 7 degrees above with the wind chill, I was determined to just get it done and cross it off the list.  The first station I went to, was some sort of air/water mix, and the hose was frozen solid.  So instead of getting any air into my tire, I let a bunch more out in the process of trying to test my tire and get the air to work.  So I gingerly drove to the next gas station.  Air is working, that's a start!  My fingers and toes were already starting to feel uncomfortably cold, but I was determined to get those babies filled.  Long long story short, after about 40 minutes of trying to get my tires fully inflated, nature won and my now numb toes forced me to seek heat.  The tires got a little fuller, but that red warning mark from those valve covers is still taunting me.  My toes were in so much trouble, that it was painful when they started to thaw, and now, two hours later, they feel a little bruised.  Stupid winter weather!  My original plan was to fill up my tires and get an energy drink to help fuel my cardio.  By the time I hopped into my car, I couldn't even PHATHOM drinking something cold. 
When I got inside my cozy, warm apartment, I felt horrible about the event.  And though I had planned on eating what I normally eat for breakfast, the happenings made me feel bad enough, physically and mentally, to make me consider procrastinating my cardio session.  But then, as I put the turkey bacon on the skillet, I figured out that my cardio session would probably take the same amount of time to complete as my bacon would take to cook, so I went ahead and did my cardio.  I don't have a treadmill, and obviously don't have the money to get one, so my cardio is done inside my apartment, walking back and forth down my (fortunately) extremely long hallway.  It isn't ideal, but I can't let that stop me.  I have fallen victim to using that as an exscuse before.  I'll wait til spring, so I can walk outside.  or, next month I'll save a little money to buy (fill in the blank) for working out, then I'll be ready.  It is all too easy to let yourself off the hook until everything is "perfect".  To tell the truth, there is a lot I don't like about walking outside.  The weather is unpredictable, the footing is unpredictable, the reaction of people driving by is unpredictable.  And I don't like walking on treadmills that much, it always feels unnatural to me, like I am walking way differently than when I'm on the ground.  Maybe it'll just take more practice.  I would like to get one eventually.  In Vegas, because it never rains, we had a treadmill on our balcony, with an amazing view of the city and mountains.  It was awesome to be out there in the morning, watching the sun rise over the mountains.  Ahhh, someday. 
My goal for this season, in this wintery midwest city, is to focus on what I can do, and try to make the most of what I've got.  It is a mindset I am not used to, but it's never too late (or too early) to change!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Slippery Slope

Tonight I became painfully aware of how easy one bad thing can turn into a slippery slope of a multitude of negative thoughts and despair.  I didn't get the job I was hoping for, someone more qualified with a lot of relavent experience got it.  I immediately went into bummer mode, and started thinking my whole world was doomed.  I thought of the worst things that could happen and let those them consume me.  What if none of the interviews are fruitful, what's wrong with me that no one wants to hire me?  I am going to lose my car, then how will I get a job?  I am a loser and my husband is working himself to the bone because I can't get a job, he is going to end up resenting me and leaving me I can already guess how my unemployment appeal will go!  I let the negatives flood into me until I just wanted to comfort by eating crap. 
But this is a new journey.  I had to step out of that mode because I was about to let the power of my own thoughts destroy me.  Haven't you ever seen someone self-destructing and just wanted to reach out and shake some sense into them?  I had to stop myself because I knew if I didn't, I would be falling back into old patterns, and who knows how long I would have been on that roller coaster before making yet another attempt to get healthy, the time and trials wearing more and more of my self esteem away.   In the battle over health and weight control, we have to be stronger than our weaknesses. Comfort food is the evil that caused my most hurtful issues.  And by dieting and staying on track, it is like I have that evil trapped outside my locked door.  Why would I want to invite such a monster back in?  One job decline isn't the end of the world.  Maybe that wasn't the job I was meant to have.  Maybe there is something great around the bend that I can't see yet.  Sabotaging my recent victories by eating junk will make me feel like I truly AM a failure, and send me spiralling down into the abyss of self-pity and careless indulgence.  So, I pulled myself up, had a sugar-free popsicle, and when I picked up my kids, realized that I have all the reason in the world to be happy.  Like anything in life, when you reach an obstacle it isn't the challenge that determines your character, but how you handle the challenge.  In rough times, having someone supportive next to you is a blessing, but in all honesty, the best driving force I can think of is to take actions that will enable you to be your OWN inspiration!
I will leave you with a little marinade idea I have been using on my chicken, in an attempt to recreate the Chicken Argentine I enjoyed from the restaurant last weekend.  It is not quite the same, but I love it just as well!
In a storage bag, put some olive oil, Mrs. Dash Fiesta Lime seasoning, Lawry's Seasoning Salt and a splash of cayenne pepper.  Let chicken breasts marinate, grill or cook on skillet and enjoy!  YUM!  It has just a kick of spice to wake up your mouth and get your body buzzing!  It even kicked up my energy level a bit, and THAT is a huge deal!
Hope the next time you hit a bump in the road you reach for some of my chicken recipe instead of something that will derail you.  Here's to overcoming challenges with your mind!

Just Breathe!

Today has been one of those days where I can't seem to catch my breath!  Right after getting the kids on their busses, I went to work on my To Do list, and haven't stopped since.  With Winter in full swing, I am finally getting around to all the chores I now realize I would have been wize to do in nicer weather.  But, the garage is clean, the sandbox put away, all the toys and clothes I have been saying I would donate (for the last 1 1/2 years) are finally donated, not to mention shooting across town to the pet store for mouse chow, and the last minute stop at the grocery store.  This is my moment to breathe, while my chicken breast marinates, and I am enjoying a cup of Celestial Seasonings Madagascar Vanilla Red tea while the only sound permeating the silence is the clicking of my keyboard.  Silence is gorgeous!  Less than an hour until I pick up the kids, so I am enjoying this while I can!
My energy levels have felt depleted this week, and I feel myself licking my lips for the weekend as if it were candy.  Not that the weekends are that much saner, just get to stay in bed a few moments longer and not rush to get kids ready.  And, a little time with my husband is nice.  With my energy levels being so lacking, I am proud that I have been able to stay on track with my diet and exercise.  The weight-based workout makes me feel so good during and right after, but I do get a little stiff/sore from it afterwords.  My husband said that will pass, once my muscles are used to being worked again.  I think my lack of energy is hormonal, but I am just pushing through it, or else I'd never get anything done!  The old me would've procrastinated, that's how all those chores got on my To Do list in the first place! 
With Christmas approaching, my thoughts have been turning to family, and some really great memories have come back to me, not neccessarily having anything to do with Christmas, and some really scarring memories came back to me as well.  There is a memory that I have involving my mother that has hurt me so much, I am ashamed to admit it, but I still harbor bad feelings about it 26 years later.  Maybe the best way to heal these scars is to share.  I was 12, and as mentioned in previous blog, had already developed breasts.  It was summer and I had gone to my mom's room to talk to her.  She was laying in bed, reading and looked at me and said, "Look at those legs!  I don't know what we're gonna do with you, girl!"  Yeah, my thighs were thick, mostly with muscle, but that was the early 80's, there was no such thing as muscle, you were either Twiggy or you were fat.  That comment, coming from someone who made me feel such comfort and security,  in an instant made me feel like everything about me was wrong.  I was ashamed of myself, my body, even more than I already was because now not only was I developing faster than other girls, but I was also hideous and had thunder thighs.  I began dieting at the age of 13, and I bought into every horrible thing every teen magazine was telling me about my body.  So began a nearly 30 year battle for self.  When you lose weight, it is all for nothing if you don't find yourself.  Living in shame and regret doesn't slip away with the pounds, you have to heal the inside too.  One of the only times I saw the show "Dharma and Greg" Dharma, who was charming in her earthy, positive way, was teaching someone how to release the negative energy by imagining each exhale, you captured a negative thought or feeling in a bubble and then you just close your eyes and blow it away.  Sometimes I wish it were that easy.  Maybe it is that easy.  Maybe all we have to do is capture those horrible feelings and decide to let them go.  I forgive my mother for the comment she made, she had no idea it would affect me the way it has, and it wasn't her fault I let it eat me away for so long.  Who among us would want to be held accountable for everything we've ever said?  I think this time around I am going to let go of some of my emotional baggage.  I am probably about halfway through this life, I want to live the rest of it able to find joy.  Even if I never lose weight.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sleep

I am so out of it today!  I slept horribly last night.  Part of the issue was that right before I went to bed, I saw a spider descending down onto the dresser right next to where I sleep.  I tried to squish it, but my slow reflexes meant he got away.  Oh great!  Now that's all I'm going to think about while I'm trying to sleep.  I tried to convince myself it would be silly to lose sleep over something so small in comparison to my enormous size, but it didn't work.  I stayed up a bit, watching one of my favorite movies, and every so often got up and turned on the light to see if I could catch that bugger creeping around.  After 1/12 hours I decided to get some sleep.  I pulled the blankets over my entire body except my nose and slep restlessly for a little more than an hour and a half.  Then, feeling like I was being stalked, I got out of bed and turned on the lights to see if I could find it.  I had my favorite spider-fighting weapons in hand, hairspray and a shoe.  Sure enough, as soon as I caught sight of him he made his way over to my bed and started descending down the wall right by my pillow.  When he got about a foot above my bed, SPLAT!  Got him with the shoe.  I was certain I would sleep great after my victory, but my grumbling belly kept me awake.  Did you ever notice how hard it is to sleep when your stomach is growling?  I think it has something to do with blood sugars and seratonin.  I got up and ate 1 teaspoon of natural peanut butter.  I was awake 1 1/2 hours later with my belly growling again, this time it felt like I was on an extreme amount of caffeine, I felt WIRED!  So I grabbed two low-fat string cheese sticks, quickly gobbled them down, and finally, warm, peaceful sleep took over my body. 
When  I woke, my head felt thick and stuffy, I felt like all I wanted to do was go back to bed, but I had kids to get to the bus stops and a job interview this morning.  It is so cold out today, 12 degrees, with windchill, 0 or below.  The cold didn't wake me up, it made my eyes water.  I did my interval cardio, which felt forced but did warm me up a little and helped ease my slightly stiff leg muscles, from yesterday's work out.  I relaxed for an hour or so, having my famous eggs and turkey bacon, this time with some spinach, a Diet Coke, and a couple cups of coffee with sugar free creamer and splenda-type stuff.  I got all spiffed up for my interview and I could tell it was not going to go good.  Part of it was just due to how out of it I feel, but the other is because I don't really want the job.  It is for a company I have worked for in the past, and it's a good company, but the hours are kind of sucky.  The nights I would work til close, I wouldn't even get to see my kids except when I drop them off for school in the morning.  That is a pretty big price to pay for a job.  I am hoping for the job at the hospital.  The atmosphere, hours/days and type of job is desirable to me.
Anyway, I took a few "Before" photos that I feel comfortable enough with to post.  Don't get me wrong, they are hideous!  The shirt is one I got from doing an eye clinic in Thailand.  At the time, I was a bit bigger and was horrified that the biggest size shirt they had was 2X, but it was a gift from our hosts and everyone was wearing them one day at clinic, so I had to stretch it out over my knees to get it to fit!  Today it fits quite comfortably, but that may be a result of the stretching still.  The shorts are my husband's.  I don't own any shorts, but maybe next summer that will change.  I would NEVER tuck my shirt in, but did it so everyone can see the horror!  I am feeling good about the choices I'm making, so I think it's time to post the "befores". 
Sometimes I wonder if anyone will read this blog?  Anyone out there?  But watching one of my favorite movies, "Julie and Julia" always inspires me to keep going.  There are probably thousands of people blogging about losing weight, but if I inspire or help even one person, then there was a reason for doing all this.  Only 236 more days until the contest ends.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Week 1 Results

As promised, my week one weigh in results...183.  I did dip down to 182 on Saturday morning, but water weight is always changing, and a 9 pound loss is something I am definitely delighted with!  From here on out, the poundage will probably start looking more like 1-2 pounds lost per week.  I am happy with that.  If I lost 2 pounds per week, I could be nearly 50 pounds lighter in 6 months!  Who wouldn't be delighted with that fact?  That would about put me in the vicinity of where I should be, maybe even a little less.  I think with my musculature, I am told 145 ish would be an ideal weight for me.  I don't put any stock in the BMI because it doesn't account for muscle mass/ body composition.  When I was in my 20's and had more muscle, I was told that I should aim for 159, but I have lost some of that muscle mass, so I think my goal will be 145 if I have to pin it down to a number.  I think, more likely, I will decide by how I look and feel.  I want to have some muscle to show off, I don't want to be skinny-fat. 
As far as my diet/exercise this weekend, I skipped my workouts on Saturday(weights) and Sunday (cardio), and I had a planned cheat meal on Sunday.  My leg muscles were still sore from my Wednesday muscle workout, and I knew they needed proper time to heal.  I have no exscuse for skipping the cardio, I just didn't make time for it.  I won't beat myself up over it, I don't imagine I will workout 7 days a week when I am fit.  I normally wouldn't even have entertained of cheating so soon into my diet, but my mother-in-law took the kids for tree decorating, so my husband and I got some time to have a relaxing lunch together.  We went to one of our favorite restaurants, Margarita's.  I had the Chicken Argentine, which is a generous chicken breast rubbed with spicey seasonings and grilled over an open flame, with a side of sauteed veggies (peppers and onions), I ordered guacamole on the side, for the good fats.  So far, all of those things were SBD-OK'd, but I dipped my chicken in the most delicious sauce I have ever tasted, Margarita Sauce.  In reality, it is slow-cooked mexican cheese with peppers and seasonings.  I bounced the idea off my husband, who reassured me while it may be higher in fat, there were probably little or no carbs, so I just went ahead and indulged.  I made sure to dip the veggies in the guac instead of the sauce, so I could at least cut down some of the fat/calories.  I was able to pass up the big, warm basket of chips and salsa they brought, (which my husband was kind enough to convince me tasted less than fantastic this visit) and didn't touch the refried beans or rice that came with my dinner.  And despite the waiter mistakenly refilling my Diet Pepsi with regular, which I realized after a few large gulps, I left the restaurant feeling proud that I didn't go overboard, but I was soooo satisfied in tasting the perfectly-seasoned chicken and yummy grilled veggies.  I left knowing that I would probably encounter sugar cravings after those few gulps of sugary soda (which I don't drink even when I'm not dieting), but that I was going to get right back on track and just stick to the plan.  To my surprise, the sugar crave never came and getting back on track was as easy as if I never had a cheat. That is the difference between a planned cheat and an impulsive cheat.  A planned cheat can actually be good for you mentally, and can rev up your motabolism, but you can't go overboard or blood chemistry will take over and you won't be able to stop craving the sugars.  Even after the 2 week, restrictive part of SBD(South Beach Diet) you get to add carbs back in, but if you do too many too fast, or add the wrong kind of carbs, you regress and start craving sugars again.  Like everything in life, moderation is the key.  You do have to will to control these things, it just takes being smarter than your habits.  Before I ever picked up SBD, I never would have imagined myself not craving sugars.  I thought it was all in my head, lack of willpower, need for dopamine, anything but blood chemistry.  I tried to will myself to give up sugars and was miserable.  I am telling you, if you can get through the first 2-3 days of SBD and stay completely focused, you won't even need willpower because your cravings for those things will be gone.
Another discovery I made is that I can take great pleasure from simply smelling great aromas.  I don't mean aromatherapy, but real life stuff.  The other day I was in Walmart and there is a Subway in there.  Hands down, my favorite fast food.  LOVE the smell of the bread baking.  And I thought the smell would be torturous to me, knowing I couldn't indulge, but then I realized that just smelling it made me feel warm and good.  The best example of this is the coffee isle at the grocery store.  Who doesn't love the coffee isle?  I often go down that isle even if I don't need to buy any coffee.  And, it doesn't make me pine for a cup, I am satisfied just to smell that awesomness!  That is the power of smell, but you have to be aware that smell doesn't always mean you want to taste.  Let your nose have some of the fun.  The one thing I have a hard time resisting tasting upon smelling it, is popcorn.  Now, I have a sort of love-hate relationship with popcorn.  I love the buttery, salty warmth, but I hate the hulls and dehydration/burning lips.  This brings me to my other proud moment that happened this last weekend.  I promised my kids if they were good all week, that we would bring them to McDonalds on Saturday, and they earned said trip.  The whole family went.  I ate my SBD-approved meal right before we went, and while everyone else was happily smacking and eating, I sipped my Diet Coke and was perfectly OK with not eating any of it.  Sure, when we think of McDonalds, we always remeber the times when the fries were piping hot and cooked just how we love them, and there was just the right amount of sauce on that Big Mac, and the pickles just sang in our mouths.  Well, that's what I usually thought of.  But even though I wasn't too interested that day, I used a trick that has come in handy many times, I imagined those fries had been sitting there for 1/2 hour, and are now cold and hard.  Yech!  And I thought about the time I bit into my Big Mac and found a 2 inch piece of bone in it!  Suddenly, those things not only didn't interest me, but almost repulsed me.  Gum is another great distraction, sugar-free of course!
Another thing I have been thinking about is artificial sweetner.  Part of me is so dependent on it, I still like my coffee to taste sweet, and I drink a lot of diet soda.  Even protein powders have it (not that I'm using any right now, but they are a healthy, convenient way to get the nutrients you need as you become more active).  There are people on both sides of the fence.  I primarily use a generic version of Splenda, and feel OK to use it because it appears to have no carb impact.  I have been considering cutting back on it though.  I have always been jealous of people who can drink their coffee black and sip on plain water all day.  I pretty much live on sugar-free drinks like Crystal Light (generic, of course) and diet soda.  The verdict is still out on the sweetners.  I may try the natural ones again (Stevia), though they taste funny to me.  I will have to do some more research and at least make an effort to drink more plain water.  It is, after all, very good for your heart, and revs up your metabolism as well. 
Nailed a muscle work out, now I'm going to go try to cross a few more things off the To Do list before picking up the kids from school.  Job interview tomorrow.  Fingers crossed!

Judgements and Assumptions

I have been thinking a lot about judgements and assumptions.  We have all fallen victim to these horrible beasts, but haven't we also been guilty of them as well?  I know I have.  For more than just weight issues, I have really low self esteem.  I was the girl who developed breasts first in my class, had my period first, and because I was ashamed of my breasts, developed posture so horrible that I was made example of in health class.  I always felt unattractive, unfeminine, ungraceful, unneccessary.  And because I grew up in the shadow of a beautiful, popular older sister who got good grades and had lots of friends, I always felt not good enough.   The ugly manifests itself internally by way of me making harsh assumptions and judgements on the majority of people I come into to contact with, either in person or even on TV.  If I see a beautiful girl on TV and she's acting dumb, I make a smart-ass comment.  If I see a smart, geeky girl, I comment.  What am I getting out of this?  Confirmation that I am good enough to have certain good things in my life?  Namely, my husband, whom I have always considered out of my league.   I have overcome some of those feelings, by way of the attitude of others, namely my favorite band, Green Day,or changing my looks, putting on a tough, goth/punk facade and talking tough, even just in joking.  Most people who meet me tell me I am quiet and laid back, but I am a wreck inside.  I feel like I am constantly 'journaling' in my head.  I don't think I'm quiet, I have a quiet voice, I consider myself an observer.  And usually when I observe, I am making assumptions and judgements, which sometimes come of as synical.  These nasty little truths have gotten my into awkward situations, so I am careful about which thoughts I share.  My low self esteem leads me to assume the worst in everyone, but also form assumptions and misconceptions about how perfect other people's lives are. 
As an example, this was what transpired on Saturday, while my husband and I were watching TV together.  A Victoria's Secret commercial came on, some fantastic sale they were having.  I immediately felt ugly and assumed that my husband was probably drooling on the inside, even though he tells me he is so desensitized to seeing all that stuff.  My reaction to my assumption was to put the commercial/company down.  I sarcastically said that they were marketing that commercial for women, and I bet lots of women were super excited.  Though he agreed that those commercials are marketed toward men, he said he has known people who shop there for themselves.  I said yeah, girls who already look like that probably enjoy shopping there, but even when I was much thinner than I am now, they didn't have my size.  I was referring to when my friend got married in 1999, we went into a Victoria's Secret store in the smallest midwest town and there wasn't a thing that would have fit me there, not that I was looking for any, but I did buy some nice perfume, which is why fat girls go to Victoria's Secret, right?  I felt the negativity seeping out of me as we discussed it, and in the end I told him that I know girls who don't look like the models shop there, girls who society would consider of 'normal' weight, and I'm sure it does make them feel good, but at those prices, it better be a special event.  Even though I was trying to convey a positive spin, I still said something negative because my experience all those years ago hurt me.  It wasn't their fault I was so fat, but I turned it into that.  And, I have since received their ads from time to time and they do offer extended sizes in most of their goods, I was just looking for something to complain about.  The thing is, being negative doesn't make me feel good.  It makes me feel like my husband will get sick of my horrible attitude and leave me for a positive person.  There have been times when I am so 'on-track' with my diet and exercise and I just talk confidently and positively, sometimes joking, and THAT makes me feel good.  When I say to my husband, "Next year, I'm going to be on the cover of Oxygen, cuz I am going to shrink so fast it'll make your eyes spin!"  we both know I am joking, and that's not even a goal of mine, but it makes me feel good.  So for me, being positive starts within.  When I feel horrible about my body, Iproject that negativity onto everyone else.  When I feel good about myself, I can accept that I am not the most beautiful creature on earth, but that's OK because I am pretty awesome.  Some things we can control and some things not.  I want to make an effort to slough off the negativity that comes with being unhappy with my body.  Sometimes we get so caught up in the patterns of self-disgust and shame, that we forget to be amazed by ourselves when we do something positive.  At one of my job interviews last week, I was asked what I am most proud of and it threw me for a curve.  What am I proud of?  It's an important question because, as much as we think about what we want to accomplish, and dreaming is certainly important, I think it is equally important to think about what we've already done or committed to doing that makes us proud.
Knowing where my negative judgements and assumptions about others stem from gives me a little insight into the people who judge me negatively.  It doesn't take the sting out of it when someone looks me up and down with their eyes, but at least I know that it means there is an ugly little 'unhappy' living inside their judgements as well.  At least, that is what I am assuming.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Good Deal!

So, yesterday was such an "up" day for me.  I felt so good after my workout, and my spirits stayed high all day and into the evening.  Part of it was in the decision that I really am going to go through with this contest.  I read all the directions and started getting ready for my "before" photos.  I needed to be wearing a sports bra and "workout shorts" that are short enough to clearly see the legs.  YIKES!  I don't own said shorts, so I went to Target to see what I could find in size "disgusting".  A few posibilities, but a little bit expensive for something I would only be wearing once or only underneath something else.  So, onto Walmart.  As luck would have it, there was nothing that would work in the main fitness clothing area, but as I was wandering around I found a lonely rack of clearance items and on it was a 3 pc outfit that would work perfectly.  It was an OP set of t-shirt, workout shorts, and leg warmers.  All for $3!!!  Yay!  The exilleration of getting such a good deal, particularily when I am unemployed, only added fuel to my high.  They had only one set left in my size.  Well, slightly smaller than my size to be honest, but for the price I couldn't pass it up.  I rushed home and took my "before" pictures, and it was so horrifying the way I look!  My husband asked if I was going to post them on here, and I said I don't think I'm ready for that.  Maybe in a month or two, once I don't still look like that. The thought of, at the end of July, I will be able to post some "after" photos, for the first time in my life, is pretty exciting.  The structure of having a goal and a date will drive me.  I am a creature of structure.
So I know I said I wasn't going to post my weight until Monday, but I just keep losing this week.  I went from 192 on Monday, to 183 today.  I know I lost at least half of that from my blood pressure pill, but wow, I was expecting to have to really fight hard to get these pounds off this time.  I know I will hit that plateau, probably sooner than in the past, but I am still losing.  And, each time I start this diet over, I am at a lower and lower weight than the last time.  So, I am hoping by the end of next week, to be under 180.  I seriously don't remember when the last time was that I saw those numbers. I am so happy I made the decision to give this another try.  Tank tops, here I come!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Head, Shoulders, Hips and Knees

Today, on Day 4 of my journey toward health, I discovered something very valuable. 
LUNGES ARE MAGICAL!  *Disclaimer, I am not a normal, sensible human being.  Just because this works for me doesn't mean everyone with bad knees/hips should do this. *
Even though my legs have always been my strongest, most muscular body part, I hate working them out because I hate the weak, shakey feeling I get afterwords.  But, I have had a growing tightness/ discomfort in my hips for years now, and when I looked up stretches for this problem on the internet, one of the stretches shown was suspiciously like a lunge.  I tried it, and my hips opened right up and stopped feeling sore.  Now, every time I get that tightness, I do a lunge or two and everything seems to realign.  My knee was still feeling stiff and irritated today, and I was going to skip the leg portion of my workout, which includes plie squats and lunges.  The thing that is going on with my knee feels like something is out of whack, needs to move or pop, realign.  I moved my knee in a couple different ways to get it to pop and it did, which felt a little better, so I decided to go ahead and give it a whirl.  The plan I'm following only has me doing 1 set of 8 squats, and by squat number 5 I was starting to feel discomfort in my knee, but I told myself, 'there's only 3 more and I'm done for today', and finished the set.  While my knee was still a bit irritated, I was starting to feel the warmth of the blood in it, which numbed the discomfort a bit.  Next came the lunges.  Oh how I loathe lunges!  They are so hard for me to do, I always feel like my form isn't right, always feel like I can't get back up once I get down.  I tried to focus on the muscles doing the work (butt, quads and hamstrings) instead of my knee.  After my second lunge, my knee made a huge "POP!" and I immediately felt better than I have since the issue started.  I gladly finished my entire workout, no more pain, and afterward, walked a bit to help my legs be less stiff/sore.  The thing is, I was supposed to do this workout on Tuesday (Day 2) and I knew my knee wasn't in a good place so I told myself I would just do the upper body stuff.  As the day went on, something else after something else came up, and I skipped it altogether.  I felt guilty, but I justified it by the bum knee.
This scenario is representative of my entire life.  I always let myself off the hook, never hold myself accountable, and I am really good at finding justifications for just about anything you could dream up!  Oh, and I can really pour it on when I have to!  It all wins me the luxury of being lazy, and doing just enough to get by.  I am not like this at work, I give everything I've got, go above and beyond.  And I'd like to think I am a better than average mom.  Why do I treat myself like crap?  I think this is a fairly universal truth among overweight people, particularily obese people.  It isn't just diet and exercise that I neglect, but my whole being.  When I first get inspired to focus on my diet/exercise, I also start taking better care of my skin, teeth, even my house.  It is an interesting phenomenon.  I think it is because, deep down inside, I think I am not deserving.  I have these feelings so often, but it manifests itself in different forms.  Thoughts like these are just different variations of the same:
I am not enough to keep my husband satisfied/happy
I will never be financially stable
My kids will grow up to detest me and think I'm lame
I can deal with myself later, I've been fat this long.
Some day I will get fit.  I'm not strong enough, mentally, to get into it right now.

There are always these little voices that make us back out of a challenge.  Ultimately, it comes down to knowing that you do have the strength to do what you've always dreamt of doing, you just have to stop letting yourself off the hook.  Have you ever taken a test, so sure that you were going to do horrible, and acutally did a lot better than you expected?  Life is like that, too.  You never know what you have inside yourself until you push.
So, as a way to hold myself accountable for my health and fitness goals, I have decided that I am going to join a contest.  It is the Eat Clean Diet Makeover Challenge.  I just found out about it, and it started in August, but it goes through July, 2011, which gives me a good, solid 6 months. I am not expecting to win, and really don't care about the prizes they are giving away, I just wanted to chose something concrete to keep me on task.  I have to take horrifying "before" pictures in sports bra and work out shorts,  that is not a pretty sight!  But, it will serve as a reminder of why I am doing this.  Or at least, one of the reasons.   Whenever I push myself farther than I thought I could go (like today with the knee) I discover my own strength and the challenge leads me to imagining how much farther I can go.  When I am focusing on myself, a challenge is a ficundity, building on itself and feeding my motivation.  And, at the end of the day, when I am tired and sore, I will know that I got that way from doing something good for myself, and not because my poor, neglected body is starting an uprising against me!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Fudgesicles and snow

Mmmmmm!  I just got done indulging in a sugar-free fudgesicle.  They are approved in the South Beach Diet,and since it is such a treat, I let it melt slowly on my tongue, enjoying every minute.  Fudgesicles have saved me in the past.  Lets face it, there will always be times when it is tempting to reach for sweets, especially when the hormornes are a bit 'unbalanced', and to me, the sugar-free fudgesicles taste so chocolately and real that it feels like a total indulgence.  Sugar-free pudding is the same, but if you are keeping your junk calories under 100, you only get one cup. 
I bought the fudgesicles in a sort of celebration of the great things that have happened this week.  My first thing to celebrate is the beginning of this new journey and the hope of it leading me back to health.  The second thing I am celebrating is the fact that I landed two job interviews this week!  I have been job hunting for more than 2 months now, and have only had three interviews, and that includes today's.  I have one more scheduled for Friday.  Just getting the interviews feels like a breakthrough of sorts.  I can't wait to get back to being productive!
The snow has arrived, and the driving conditions are dreadful, but even though I am not a fan of it, I am in such a great place right now, mentally, that I told myself I am not going to let it get me down.  If I analyze how much time I spend actually driving in it, it's not much, and there (hopefully) less than 4 months of the heavy stuff left.  Last year the winter seemed to go by fast.  I don't mind the cold, I don't even mind the snow, I just hate driving in it.
I have to make note of what is going on with my body.  My blood pressure medicine has a slight diuretic and a lack of planning and laziness  meant I went without my medicine for 3 days.  Horrible, I know.  The reason I mention it is, my weight on Monday morning was 192, but I didn't consider that my "starting weight" because I knew that once I got back on my meds Monday evening, that that number would drop due to the diuretic.  The following morning, yesterday, I was 189.  This morning I was 186.  I am not sure how much of this loss is from the diuretic and how much from the diet.  I do know that the reason you lose so much on the first two weeks of this diet is due to the lowering of carbs.  Carbs allow your body to retain water, so when you aren't eating as much of them, you lose water weight.  Anyway, I wanted to be sure to mention it, so that it is clear that my results might not be typical this first week.  I would think it would be evening out by now.  I will weigh tomorrow, just to see if there is any significant change, but I am not expecting.  The lowest I have ever been, since starting the South Beach Diet, is 182 so I am not sure where my true starting weight is, but for the majority of the "off" time, I was around 186.  Just to be certain of my true progress, I took my measurements today, and will be posting my weight loss progress on a weekly basis, and my measurements on a monthly basis.  Who knows, I may even get a picture or two posted at some point!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Day 2

I know, it is unusual to start a blog on day 2 of a diet, but I have just been reading a blog called Escape from Obesity, and it inspired me to blog about my experience.  I am hoping to achieve the results that Lyn did in her blog.  On my first attempt, the South Beach Diet significantly improved my blood pressure and cholesterol numbers, but I had only been eating better, and did not incorporate any exercise into the plan.  My doctor was happy about the improvement, but still saw a need to improve my blood sugar numbers and my good cholesterol.  The only way to do that folks, is by exercising.  So, I invested in an updated version of the South Beach Diet, this one called Supercharged(!) and it was worth every penny.  What I was lacking in the past was the structure.  Supercharged has a day-by-day to show you what to do for interval cardio and total body work out.  I must admit, I found myself thinking I need to challenge myself more, but decided to stick to it as planned.  This try, I am going to stick to the interval cardio plan, but add in my own at-home workouts from Oxygen Magazine and maybe have my husband design workouts for me when it's time for a change.
Day one was OK.  I didn't think about things too much, it was more about not licking my fingers or the ice cream scoop while preparing food for the kids.  If you aren't familiar with the diet, the first 2 weeks are about almost complete elimination of certain sugars, the ones that make your blood sugar spike.  These little devils are the ones that make you want more and more and more sugars throughout the day.  While the first few days are tough, I usually stop craving sugars by the third day of this diet, and find it relatively easy to stick to.  I don't use the recipes in the book, I just choose foods from the list of approved items, and make my own food.  Even though my knee was still a little irritated, I decided to do the cardio in the book.  Nothing too extreme, just 14 minutes of interval walking, with easy to moderate pace.  My knee was a little "grumpy" in the end, but a little rest made it feel better.  The reason interval training works is because your body burns more FAT at lower levels of intensity and more CALORIES at higher levels of intensity.  Interval training is the best of both.  I ate clean all day, I still have some more tweaking to do, to incorporate more veggies into my diet, but at least I didn't compensate with garbage, I just ate pretty clean.  My son was enjoying a bowl of pretzels and wanted me to have some with him, and it was very tempting, but I also knew that meant it was time to eat.  When I fill myself up with clean food, those garbage carbs don't effect me, when I am hungry, my will to avoid them is weak.  I ended the day with a little pampering, a facial mask and some luxurious lotion, and felt good about my decision to try again.
Today has been much the same.  I ate my same breakfast, eggs and turkey bacon, as I have been eating for a year and happen to enjoy.  I am trying to keep my meals/snacks 3 hours or less apart, to help keep my motabolism fired up, but it's hard to remember.  My older son is always aware of when I am on a diet, and is very curious and always wants to try one too, I just tell him it's not a diet, I am just chosing healthier foods to eat so that I can keep my heart healthy.  I don't want my kids to grow up thinking they need to worry about their weight, but I do want them to be conscious of their health, and how the choices they make effect it. 
I am not overly optimistic about this venture, but it seems like the times I do really well, are the times when I just don't make a big deal of it.  It is about not making choices that will end me up in the same, depressing place I have always been.  Sounds simple.  We'll see in a month, that is about the time I start to let things slide a bit, and I have to make the choice to indulge in loss of control, or pull from my inner-strength and get things back on track.  I am hopeful that I will stick to it.  I keep thinking about how cool it would be to go through a hot, sticky summer able to wear tank tops and not be ashamed of my hideous arms/flab.  There is time, and time will tell.

The Big Fat Hurt

Yesterday, I started the South Beach Diet...again.  It was spurred on by a month or so of horrible eating habbits, but even moreso by pain.  This time, not the emotional pain I have learned to internalize and shove away for years, but a pain in my knee.  I have never had issues with my knees before.  This pain, brought on by spending an entire day of house cleaning, then bowling, was clearly a sign to me that I need to start taking care of myself.  But, I have been here before.  Usually it is the other kind of pain that brings me to this sort of "fresh start", or a death of a friend, or hearing someone's success story. 
I am turning 38 at the end of December, and I feel as unhealthy, disgusting, weak, lame, unworthy...you can probably fill in your own words, we all go through times when we are self-loathing.  I am 5 feet tall and weigh 189.  As I type this, I am proud to put 189 as my starting weight, I have reached the 220's in the past.  But with my recent yo-yoing I know that part of the reason the numbers are lower when I am not watching my diet /exercise is because I am losing muscle.  I was diagnosed with hypertension and high cholesterol two years ago, when I began having the shakes and was worried that I was anemic or had a degenerative disease.  Even when the doctor told me that my blood pressure was high and my triglycerides were at dangerously high levels (upwards of 600, normal is 150 or less) I still argued with him, begging him to check me for anemia.  I had no idea high blood pressure and cholesterol could make you feel so weak and sick.  The doctor I had at the time put me on a low cholesterol diet.  He handed me a hand-typed sheet that looked like it had been in circulation since the 70's, and it just had a few ideas of what I could and couldn't eat.  He strongly recommended that I do cardio at least 4 times a week.  I began medication for my conditions right away, and with a little bit of effort in the diet/exercise area, my numbers were starting to turn around by my 1 month check.  Then at the three month check, they were back up to dangerous levels, I hadn't been taking care of myself.  I continued this way until I moved out of state.  When I got my new doctor, he told me straight out, that I was going to kill myself, and that I was setting a poor example for my kids.  I was immediately put off by that, but on my drive home, I realized he was right.  On a prescription pad he had written down South Beach Diet or Zone Diet.  I had tried South Beach when it first came out, and I liked the fact that the book really breaks it down into simple terms, what your body is doing and why you are craving certain things and how to break the addiction.  So, I opted for South Beach.  But I didn't start right away, I of course had to get my bingeing out of the way and get in the right place, mentally.  This meant eating everything I knew I would miss once I was in the prison of being on a diet.  I started the diet the day after Halloween, 2009.  I knew I wouldn't be able to start before that, with all the candy just laying around.   The first three days I was miserable, thinking only about what I couldn't eat, and finding I had to catch myself more times than I care to admit, when reaching to put something in my mouth (or even lick off my fingers after preparing food for the kids) without thinking.  I found it a hassle to have to be so aware of food, and I was not sure if I could stick it out.  But, I was determined to get better, for my son's sake, and was dreaming of being the girl who can buy clothes from any shop I chose.  So I began giving myself pep talks.  I told myself I could eat whatever I want, whenever I want, that the option was always there.  That bit of psychology worked, because denying myself what I was obsessing over made me feel a kind of strength I hadn't felt in years.  I wanted to gobble up every last Snickers bar in the kids Halloween bags, but I knew if I did that, I would be putting myself in the same place I have always been, and being in that place has always made me miserable. 
I did great on the diet for a month, stuttered a little after indulging in Thanksgiving delights, but got back on track.  By the time I had bloodwork done in January, I was 17 pounds lighter and my numbers had significantly improved.  My clothes were fitting looser and I was getting compliments.  I was on a roll.  I felt so good after my doctor's appointment that I celebrated...with McDonalds.  And I didn't stop celebrating until July, 2010 when I gave it another try.  I had gained back 6 more pounds, putting me at a starting point of 208.  This time, it was harder to get the pounds off, but I finally slipped under 200, a huge deal for me.  It had been about 6 years since I had seen the underside of 200, and it felt great.  Then, a death of a close friend sent me reeling toward the comfort food, and justifying it.  I knew I would get back on track, and I had a few more "do-overs" or "first days" again since.  Through the summer my husband and I were dealing with the illness and death of his grandmother, and our plans to escape the wintery cold and move back to Vegas came screeching to a halt.  My employer was not able to rescind my resignation, so I lost my job in September and have been feeling the harshness of the economy, not only in seeking employment, but in the amount of competition for benefits.  I was denied unemployment because I quit for less than "good cause" as deemed by the state and my previous employer.  I stress more about money than anything else in life, so you know I was not sticking to a diet during these rough months.  This past month especially, I have turned to comfort food.  I have been eating a lot of ice cream, popcorn, even finishing off my kid's Mountain Dew (which I hate, but love caffeine) when he couldn't finish it.  I was justifying it the same way I always have, and I have been overweight since the second grade, that I know one day I will commit to something and be healthy, and I won't look back.  I have been so certain of it my whole life, like it is inevitible. I just have to start, and the time when it is "meant to happen" it will happen.  I have posterboards filled with muscular women from Oxygen magazine, with phrases like, 'don't ever give up' or this saying that I love, but don't live up to: Mastering others is strength, mastering yourself is true power.  Unknown.  I have plenty of time to devote to working out and cooking since I am not working.  And, I have an unbelievable secret weapon in my house that not a lot of people can say, my husband is a body builder and knows more about nutrition and fitness than anyone I have ever met!  And he is incredibly supportive and understanding.  I have all the tools I need, the rest is up to me.  Being fat hurts on the inside and out, and I am tired of hurting.