Thursday, December 29, 2011

You've Either Pot Luck or you Don't

I don't know if it is a universal thing, but around here, any occassion is just cause for a pot luck lunch.  And have you noticed at these events, how aweful (for you) the food choices are? 
We had just such a luncheon yesterday at my work, to celebrate "the holidays" and two birthdays.  I brought my own, logical lunch of whole wheat pasta with turkey meatballs (craveable), but several of my coworkers kept prodding me to have some, and kept stopping by my department to make sure I got some food.  Since mine was one of the birthdays being celebrated, I felt obligated to at least go check it out. 
My choices?
Chili with beans: really just kidney beans and beef in some mysteriously greasy sauce
Boiled (?) ham with fluffy white rolls:  I don't eat pork
taco dip with tortilla chips:  OK, yum yum yum.  I could eat the whole tray if I didn't have morals
Mystery noodle salad: dripping of mayo.  Yech!
Frosted sugar cookies: So soft and inviting with colorful frosting and sprinkles.
Yellow cake with chocolate frosting: I could have, but that would just be over the top.
Strawberries and Kiwi with fat free greek yogurt mixed with splenda. 
Can you guess which selection I provided for our little pot luck?  OK, so I was the one with the most leftovers, but I figured if I was bringing a dish to pass, it was at least going to be something productive. 
What I ate: about 2oz of weird chili, which was pretty flavorless and greasy, and I am not the biggest fan of beef, but the kidney beans tasted nice.  One spoonful of taco dip with 4 chips, and about 1/2 cup of greek yogurt with veggies.  And against all logic, I had one of those beautiful frosted sugar cookies, because I hadn't had one yet this season, and really just because I wanted one.  And I found myself justifying some of it because 'I ran this morning, I could probably use these nutrients for recovery.'  Once I got home, the kids and I polished off the leftovers of fruit and yogurt handily, and I ate two handfuls of piping hot popcorn.  Why?  Because I had already 'blown it'?  Because my eating intervals were too far apart?  Because I was just so burnt-out that I didn't care?  It really is easier not to care.
But I do care.  And while it felt ok to do that last night, this morning as my stiff, sore legs carried me to the treadmill, reminding me of what I went through on the treadmill the day before, I thought about the proverbial floodgates and how it's hard to just open them a crack without them flying wide open.  Once I have a little bit of something, it's hard for me to stop. Part of it is chemical, but a huge portion of it is mental.  When I am tired, stressed out or burnt out it is almost as if I give up and think, I am in a rough spot and I just don't have the fight in me right now.  But the truth is, I feel so much better when I eat clean, and I do have the fight in me, sometimes I just need to remind myself of that before I put something unproductive or unplanned in my mouth.  As I have said before, I am a perpetual work in progress!
Despite yesterday's 'extras', I have lost 4 pounds this week, most of it water from all the extra salt and carbs I ate over the past couple weeks, but just in those 4 little pounds, there is a huge difference in how I look (especially my face) and how my body feels.  I have been drinking about 1.5-2 gallons of fluids a day which is helping to flush my system out.  Now I can actually guage where I am at by how visible my collar bone and wrist bones are.  I know when I look soft, I am retaining extra water/weight.  I have never been so in touch with my body before.
For my birthday, my husband presented me with a gift card for a really upscale spa in the city.  I have never been to a spa, but I used to promise myself that if I ever lost a bunch of weight that I would reward myself with a spa day, and now I can make that a reality.  When I was obese, I never would have gone into a spa, I would be too ashamed with how I look/feel to be that vaulnerable.  Even as I browsed the menu of services today, I considered using it for a great hair cut or treatment.  Then I came to my senses, and decided I am going to go get a fantastic massage and facial.  And I am going to enjoy every minute of it as I reflect on the goals I have accomplish and the ones I that are still in progress.  And once my muscles relax and I am finally in a peaceful moment, I am going to let out a long, long sigh and smile.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Kill-ometers

I am totally confused about running and distance and treadmill settings that I have a slight headache this morning.  When I started running last summer, I used my distance tracker on my car to guage how far a mile and 3 miles were.  Based on that, I was running the one mile distance in about 10-12 minutes, and when I ran what I thought was 3 miles, it generally took me 30-35 minutes.  When I did my 5K it felt so much farther/longer than the distance I measured with my car, and it took 46 minutes to complete.  I chalked it up to extreme weather conditions, a heavy heart/mood and horrible humidity. 
The distance tracker on the treadmill I am using begins in .10 and works its way up to 99 before it switches to 1.0, so I know it isn't reading in miles, which is what I am more comfortable with.  The day I thought I ran a mile, I was judging it only on the time I was running, about 10 minutes.  The distance tracker showed me .33 and I had no idea what it meant, but assumed it was about a mile, since that's how long it took me to run a mile last year, or so I thought.  Today, I doubled that distance and ran until I saw .66, and did it in about 11 minutes.  Then, when I got home I googled the conversion rates from kilometers to miles, and my mood sank.  Now, I was not trying to delude myself into believing I can run 2 miles in twelve minutes, so I knew I would need to convert things in order to guage how far I'd gone, but I found that in twelve minutes, I hadn't completed a mile, and to make matters worse, it was really challenging for me to run that.  Today was the first time I actually figured out my per mile time from my first 5k, nearly 15 minutes per mile.  That is a little disheartening, but now that I have the conversion chart printed, it will help guide me.  And, while I was running I felt like I wanted to stop 5 minutes into it, but I also knew that I could keep running and I did, and I was also aware that I could go faster if I wanted to, but I didn't.  I can tell I am going to be sore for a few days, so I will not run again probably until Saturday or Sunday.  The zany thing about the treadmill is that it is set in miles/hr for speed by kilometers for distance.  Sheesh!
So my running in the next few weeks will include actually running a full mile (for real this time) to see my time, then increasing my speed for the next mile run.  Eventually, I will run longer distances at varying speeds to see where I am comfortable, then slowly work toward faster speeds.  At 5'0, my legs are extremely short, so I don't expect to be a speed demon, but I know I can improve on a 15-minute mile!  At some point, I should probably invest in one of those fancy armbands I've seen runners wearing, to track speed and distance.  If anyone wants to chime in on their experiences with said device, feel free to chime in.  I'd love to know if they are accurate.
When I was turning 29 I remember having a long list of things I wanted to do before I turned 30.  They included such silly things as learning to play guitar and learning to skateboard.  I never tried skateboarding, thank all that is holy.  I did monkey around with an accoustic guitar and taught myself a little bit, but gave up before reaching my dream of jamming on stage with Green Day.  Ahem!  Before you laugh, they do invite audience members on stage to jam at each show.  Or, at least they did when I was 29.  My list of silly desires never included weight loss, because I wasn't ready to commit to it.  When I began this journey toward health last year, I decided that by the time I hit 40, I wanted to look and feel better than I have in years.  Tomorrow I turn 39, and my goals have changed tremendously from the ones I had 10 years ago.  I now have a family of my own, have finally committed to a healthier lifestyle and am going back to school.   What's left to shoot for before 40?  Finishing a 5K in less than 46 minutes, for one.   And even if I never accomplish silly side dreams, I have already accomplished the ones that matter the most.  Anything else, is just a bonus.
Happy Wednesday everyone!  Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Magical Power of New Nikes

Last week, I was eating so horribly that I had been planning on going back to a ketogenic diet after Christmas was over, but I have since changed my mind.  I will need the extra energy since I will be running.  So, I am just back to my normal clean diet, which consists of lean protein and whole-grain carbs and veggies, and a little bit of fruit.  My body has already responded positively, as I have lost 3 pounds of water since yesterday morning.  My maintainance weight is only a few pounds away, and I know I am still holding some excess water, so getting back to where I should be won't be too much of a struggle. 
It only took me eight years, but I finally went out and got some new running shoes yesterday!  They are Nike brand, like my last pair, but they are way more current, and the tremendous support they have feels amazing! 
I got a chance to try them on the treadmill this morning, but I didn't run in them yet.  I actually felt very sluggish this morning, and nearly fell back asleep after my alarm went off, something I never do.  The holidays have really worn me out, and my kids are coming down with some sort of headcold once again, so we are all a bit slow this week.  But I did get some nice low intensity cardio done this morning, and the new shoes made it feel like less of an effort.
I have been noticing that I am letting my posture slip a little bit, and I am feeling it in my knees and hips again.  I need to be more conscious of it more of the time in order for good posture to eventually become a habit.  My joints feel so much better when I support myself properly, I never knew it would make such a difference!
Depending on how I feel when I wake up tomorrow, I may try to log 2 miles running.  To see how it feels, particularily with the new shoes and proper support.  I am anxious to see if my knee can take it.  Despite my knee irritating me while running yesterday, it felt fine afterword, and even feels pain-free today.  So, maybe a 2 mile run tomorrow, followed by some low-intensity days and maybe I will try a 3.1 mile run on the weekend.  If I can do it on a treadmill, I can do it on the pavement.  I can do it without pain, I am going to sign up for that 5K on Monday.  Then, I will get into actual training for it, so I can reach toward my goal of finishing it in 30 minutes or less.  This challenge will do just that, challenge me.  I noticed I have a tendency to get in a rut with my cardio sessions, always opting for the same intensity for the same time period, pushing for a faster time or higher intensity can only benefit me, as long as it isn't high intensity every day.  Running is becoming like a badge for my weight loss success so far.  Knowing that I can do it, but not everyone can, fills me with a remarkable pride.  I haven't been able to say that about very many things in my life, so running is becoming a pretty special thing for me. 
And won't I look hot in my new black and magenta Nikes, especially when I get down to the 140's and reward myself with a new running outfit to match!  New shoes have a really magical power, don't they?
Well, have yourself a great day, readers!  I will report the results of the 2 mile tomorrow!

Advice From a Novice

My loyal reader Tony has asked a question about how to approach loved ones with concern about weight and health issues.  In my experience, it is one of the most touchy subjects to broach, and it's recipients are usually the most touchy lot you will encounter.  After all, you are, in essence, reminding them of their shortcoming, even if your intentions are perfectly well-meaning.  Those of us who consistently make health-conscious choices can see the potential in others, or feel the joy of living well, and want that for the ones around us.  It is human nature, and an ulitimate display of love.  But how well it is recieved relies heavily on how sensitive the recipient of your concern is.
I think, for most people, telling them you are concerned for them/their health, makes them feel guilty that they not only are killing themselves (which all overweight people are well aware of ) but they are inconveniencing you in the process.  In my own experience, when my husband and I would discuss it, he would tell me that he thought I was beautiful no matter what weight I was at, but that he worried that I would be around to see our boys grow.  The amount of guilt I had in knowing I was causing him grief and concern made me binge and binge to try and suffocate the guilt.  I knew I was making poor choices and that it would eventually kill me, and the fact that I couldn't just buck up and fix the problem made me feel worthless and weak.  Being overweight is more than a physical burden, but a mental burden as well.  I was never so sensitive about my weight/poor choices as when I didn't feel strong enough to change it. 
What did work for me, and always has worked is inspiration.  Success stories of any kind.  When I first started blogging a year ago, I was still in the habit of bad choices, and I blogged about raising autistic kids, because that's what I knew about.  Then I read Lynn's blog and just seeing the results she acheived and how she was handling the day-to-day really inspired me to do the same.  Shows like The Biggest Loser and Heavy have also inspired me greatly, and I have had some really great workout sessions after watching those things.  I am also really inspired by people who already look the way I want to, which is why I subscribe to Oxygen magazine. 
But how to bring it up in conversation is tricky.  It isn't something you can gift someone; it is nearly always seen as an insult.  "Here is your one year membership to the gym, Bob"; kind of comes off like a bit of lemon juice applied to an open wound.   Letting your loved ones know that you too have flaws that you are working on, might be just the opening to get the conversation rolling.  Maybe you are trying to quit smoking, or trying to make sure you drink enough water, or eating more green veggies.  When I see someone I know working toward a goal, it inspires me to work toward my own harder, and also makes me feel a little more comfortable discussing my struggles with them.  When I feel like someone is already (in my perception) perfect, I don't want to discuss anything with them, because I feel they won't understand.  Now is the perfect time of year, while everyone is discussing New Year's resolutions, to talk about positive changes.
Tony, if your brothers live near you, maybe you could invite them for a mini training session to your gym.  Maybe if you complain that you can't get a good spotter to help with your heavier training, you could commission them to "help" you, and in turn you would be inspiring them, and letting them know that you are human as well.  The most important thing is opening the door to communication in a very innocent way, then when they are ready to share their thoughts and fears with you, you can reassure that you are very willing to help with training and nutrition advice if they want it.  They already know you know your stuff, but do they know that you are willing to share your knowledge and even excited to do so?  When I was obese, I felt "in the way" in every way, and was even shy to ask my husband training or nutrition questions.  Now I see how absurd that was, and I have taken my own path, but there are a lot of illogical thoughts and feelings that come along with feeling wrong in every way. 
I don't pretend to be an expert on the subject, and I try not to force my exercise religion on anyone who isn't asking for it, but I try to make people feel comfortable around me so they know that if they do have questions, I am more than willing to help.  Usually it comes from me talking about a challenge I am having, whether it's avoiding certain foods or being lax on my training.  Sharing some of my own flaws helps put people at ease that I am not judging them, and they usually open up and share too, and ask questions to boot.   
In the end, the old saying still holds true; you can lead a horse to water, but you can't force it to drink.  No uncommitted person will ever stick with it, and motivation toward committment generally has to be self-driven in order to have relevance.  I know that I could have lost weight without support, because my motivatioin was internal, but I have been so pleasantly surprised and blessed by the support I have gotten.  Maybe the best way we can help is to listen and when the time is right, be an enthusiastic cheerleader, a good example, and at times, a valuable resource.  And if all else fails, a little love and understanding never hurts.
Tony, I hope you find the right way to open up the conversation and let your loved ones lead you to where they are comfortable going.  You will all be the better for it!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Bloated and Salty, Merry Christmas!

I knew how the scale would look before I even stepped on it today.  My face looked bloated and wrinkled, my lips cracked and salty with the flavor of road salt, my stomach and butt extra jiggly when I walk, this week I even had to loosen my belt, and found it more difficult to cross my legs.  My joints ached like an old lady, and the ache in my achilles tendon, which I thought I was well rid of, returned with a vengence, souring my mood and threatening to keep me from running.
After feeling like that, and seeing a 162 on the scale, I headed to the cardio room to see about running a bit.  I got a good stretch in, and started slow.  Then I figured, what is the point if I don't push myself?  So I ran intervals at my usual pace and elevation.  It felt like it took so much more energy than usual, and I even had to walk after 13 minutes, due to an irritation in my bad knee.  I was entirely unimpressed with myself, but not defeated by any means.  It just leaves a lot of room for improvement. 
My husband and I do not recognize Christmas, and only celebrate to appease our families/coworkers, but it was a pleasant enough weekend.  We had a lot of family time together, which equated to eating a lot of junk food and having some drinks.  While I didn't go overboard with the alcohol ( I had 3 rum drinks on each Friday and Saturday evening) it doesn't take a lot to make me feel lousy the next day.  I think this was the greatest source of my joints aching, because that wasn't an issue before this weekend.  It has me thinking about inflamation, and thinking I may research the anti-inflamatory diet to see if it is something I could maintain.  For now, I just need to get my normal sensible-carb diet back on track and focus on rehydration!
My favorite part of this Christmas season?  At my celebration yesterday, my step-sister-in-law (my husband's step sister) came to me and asked me how I had lost so much weight, and said that she just found out that she is pre-diabetic and has been ordered to lose weight.  Telling her about the South Beach Diet and my journey triggered something really magical in me, rejuvinating my resolve and reinspiring my to keep up the good fight.  I found myself, as I have done in the past, focusing on her very round stomach, but this time, so excited for her to start her own journey and to see her progress.  It also brought out a bit of the competetive side of me, as I secretly vowed to get back on track and kick some serious booty, so that by the time I see next Christmas, I should be at goal weight, looking and feeling like a force to be reckoned with.  I seriously hope she can find a diet that works for her and stick to it, I am seriously pulling for her, heart issues run in her family and even though she is a few years younger than me, has been on blood pressure and cholesterol meds for more than a decade already.  It will be interesting to see what developes.  She seems very willful, which can be a huge help or hinderance, depending on the mindset.
We also talked about running, as her brother ran a 5K a few years back, and we talked about me considering running one this spring.  The only reason I haven't fully committed to doing it is because I am sort of waiting to see what this knee of mine is going to do.  If I have a slight irritation while running, that is one thing.  Last spring/summer when I was running, the pain didn't set in until after I ran, and then it lasted for days, feeling like something was going to tear when I went down a set of stairs.  Not good.  But, one of my gifts was a generous gift card for a department store that among all sorts of other things, sells serious running shoes.  It should cover the better portion of a good pair for me, and I am more excited than ever to keep running and challenging myself.  One of my step-in-laws asked me if I was ever going to try a full marathon and I reacted as I always do, "No way!  That's not for me.  I'm too old and not that interested in running.  It bothers my knees."  Then I realized that I was making exscuses so as not to have to really push myself.  True, I am not planning on running a marathon, or even a half, and the knees are a valid exscuse.  But saying I will never do one is a little absurd.  Why limit myself to just a 5K?  Right now, running 3 miles is doable.  Not easy, but doable.  The thought of 13 miles seems nearly impossible to me.  But I know if I trained for it, building up slowly, I could do it.  And the same is true of a full marathon.  If I invested the time and effort into training, I could do it.   I don't have the desire to do that right now, so it isn't something I will devote a lot of time or thought to, but it made me aware of my rigidity in mindset in that one area, and made me wonder what else I might be passing up due to outdated ideas of what I am capable of.  Running a 5K in the first place was a departure from that rigid mindset, there are many more things to explore and I am excited to find out what they will be. 
I may be able to sneak out for lunch today, to get my hands on some new running shoes, and see if they make a difference in my knees.  If I get them today, it will be nearly impossible for me not to run tomorrow, to try them out, though at this point I try not to run two days in a row.  Time will tell.  My customer flow at work might prevent me from leaving, and it may have to wait until later in the week.  For now, I need to do a little research into what type of shoe I want to get.
I go back to college in less than a month, and I feel really ready for that new chapter to begin.  As I said in an earlier post, as soon as I opened the door just a crack, the universe rushed in.  Despite the challenges, this has already been the most rewarding journey.  So much so, that I almost feel sorry for skinny people who have never had to go through it.  How absurd is that?!  My journey began due to a bum knee making me aware of what years of obesity was doing to my body.  My knee is still messed up, and may never be as strong as someone who never had weight issues.  But having to face my demons and challenge myself has made my spirit ironclad, and proved to me that my resolve is rechargeable.   I can't wait to see what else I can do.  Bring on 2012!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Buzz and a *Sigh*

Yesterday, a huge chunk of my stress broke off the iceberg and sank into the deep waters.  Today is the huge, welcome sigh that follows.  I am dripping of caffeine, drunk on it's giddy-mood-making wholesomeness, and looking forward to all the inspiring things I have lined up for next year. 
I am turning 39 in one week, and I still feel 25, thanks to  turning my health around.  And pleasantly enough, most people I meet, think that I am in my twenties yet.  I will admit that losing weight has added wrinkles to my previously-flawless face, but that is such a small price to pay for my health.  Taking back my health means I will live to see my kids grow into fine young men, and have families of their own.  It means I will someday reach retirement age, and be able to travel and see the world, and have the energy to go anywhere and do anything I want to.  It means I will have a lot less chance of being stricken with cancer or heart disease, or even osteoperosis.  It means I will be able to enjoy life, not just in the future, but in the short term.  I always knew I was smart, but getting healthy has been a down right genius thing to do for myself!  So, wrinkles are a really decent trade-off if you ask me.
I am really starting to get excited at the prospect of running the Celcom 5k in May.  I realize it doesn't take 5 months to train for a 5k, but I have some kinks to work out of my system.  Namely, making sure my posture is correct so I don't end up with knee and hip pain like I did last time I decided to run.  Unlike last time, I will use a 5K training plan as a guide, run more consistently, and be consistent with strength training to help ease the load on my knees.  My finishing the first one was bittersweet; I was so proud I finished, and ran the whole thing, but I was disappointed in my 46 minute finish time.  So I will put more research and effort into training for this one.  I will get a chip to wear so I will know my time, anything faster than 46 min will make me proud!  This morning I ran a mile, and did it in about 10 minutes.  Some of the training plans I am finding are recommending training in intervals, and pushing yourself a little harder than I do.  It will be another test of what I am made of, and I am interested to see.  It has gotten me so excited that I want to run every morning.  That wouldn't be so smart at this time, since the only way I can do it without knee pain is on an incline, which makes my quads, hams and glutes quite stiff/sore for a few days after running.  I wanted to see how my knee would handle a mile of straight running, as opposed to the one minute intervals I have been doing recently.  So far, really good.  Tomorrow will be a low intensity day, but on Saturday I may either try to run 2 miles or run 1 minute intervals, but push myself harder.  Seeing what I can do is a novelty to me, and it's really getting me fired up!
Then again, it could just be the caffeine.
Hope you got a charge out of your day!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Losing Weight is Fun

Ok, seriously?  This Christmas thing is about to drive me over the edge!  Work has been CA-RAZy(!) busy, with our employee 50% off sale, so busy that I can never get caught up with anything, so my office (which is visible from the sales floor, looks like a bomb went off.  On top of it, I have been getting serious glares of disapproval from coworkers and customers alike, due to having to leave to drive my kids to the sitter every day, which was approved by my boss, whom has now rescinded the approval due to coworkers complaints.  I am the only optician on staff most days, so it makes it quite challenging when I am not here.  So aside from the holiday madness I have added the extra stress of having to find a solution to our transportation issue.  The issue will officially be solved by the time the kids are done with winter break.  Whew!
I am still eating about 75% on-plan, which I realize isn't close enough to do me any good, but I believe being 75% on-plan is better than being 10% on plan, which is where I used to live.  I am still working out every week day, mostly cardio, but I have been consistent about adding the running intervals 1-2 times per week, and have been able to really challenge myself.  I have resigned myself to be being partly on-plan through the weekend, then once Christmas is over, I will do a week of ketogenic just to rid myself of the sugar beasties.  I should be starting the new year feeling pretty fresh.
An acquaintance/former coworker/occassional-current coworker came to say hello last week, and it turned out to be a really pleasant visit that may just go a long way toward staying strong in my resolve.  She walked the 5K that I ran last summer, and told me that she ran/walked a 5K last month, then signed up for one in May.  The Celcom marathon is one of Green Bay's biggest marathons, so many people sign up for it that the street is completely saturated and people are tripping over/elbowing each other.  But that is the full marathon.  I had no idea they added a 5K on a separate day.  She asked if I was running it, and I said I hadn't planned on it, but then I started thinking about it, and thought, why not?  And that was a bit of a pivital moment for me.  Running on a treadmill (on an incline) doesn't hurt my knees, and I have been working toward correcting my posture, so there may be no reason I can't run a 5K.  I never considered myself a runner, but I do like to run.  And I know I can do a 5K because I've done one before.  I may try the 0-5K thingamajig everyone's so fond of.  Now I am excited again.  I have a definitive goal.  And, considering the warmer temps in May, I might just have to get a cute pair of (gulp) running shorts for the event.  Perhaps when I get under 150 that will be my reward.  That is a goal that has been so ellusive for me as my resolve waxes and wanes. 
So, for right now, I am going to set a goal for myself.  Between Dec 26th and March 30, I want to get under 150.  And that means, to be solidly in the 140's.  That is totally accomplishable, I just need to dedicate myself to it and make it happen.  I can't imagine how I will look and feel once I get to the 140's and have less than 20 pounds left to lose!  Now I am all fired up,  I can't wait to make my dream happen!  Losing weight is fun, no matter what anyone says!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Chocolate-Covered-Dream-Smashers

 I have been so stressed out lately that I have been reduced to using terms like idiot-f*#k (have you noticed how the incidence of bad driving directly correlates to the proximity to Christmas?) and grunting like a mad ape.  I have been on a wild ride this week, totally exerting myself on the treadmill every morning, then allowing the stress to overwhelm me during the day and eating Christmas goodies brought in by the multitude of vendors.  Then, I go home at night and look at my figure in the mirror and think, wow!  I can actually see a feminine figure emerging; I need to keep going, I am getting closer to my goal.  Then, the stress greets me at work the next day, and there are always nasty little chocolate-covered-dream-smashers waiting there to sink into the pit of my stress.  They taste really good slipping down my throat.  And they lead to cravings.  Eye roll, hard core.
So, I have been about 75% on plan this week, and have done some pretty intense cardio sessions.  I only did one weight session, and have still been struggling with resolve where that's concerned.  Part of the problem is that if I do my weight work when I want to, I wake up my husband.  But if I wait until he's awake, I have to rush it in and can only get 2 sets.  I am accomodating to a fault, so I usually just end up doing cardio instead.  It's just me, the treadmill and a huge theatre-size TV to work out the details at 5am.  And I like it.  I realize it isn't doing much for me, physique-wise, but it makes me feel good to start my day.  And when I run on an incline, it does make my lower body sore for a couple days, in a good way.
So that is where I'm at this week.  Think I can make my way through the rest of Friday OK.  The weekend will indeed include more indulgences, then back to business on Monday.  I will find out on Monday, if one of my biggest stresses will be relieved anytime soon, that will be a huge help!  With the holiday approaching, I want to make it out with minimal weight gain, I would be happy with just maintaining.  I can tell the inches are coming off, as my clothes are so loose right now, and my body shape has changed a lot this month.  It seems a bit magical to me, to be noticing my physique changing this late in the game, but it gives me hope for what comes next! 
Hope you all rocked your week and have a fantastic weekend in store!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

If You're Going Uphill...

Friday morning I discovered something.  Running on an incline doesn't hurt my knees or my hips.  Insert twinkle in my eyes and a slight brow raise.  I like running.  I feel like I want to run.  When I am done, I really feel like I've done something.  And the rest of the day, the muscles in my lower body affirm that I have indeed done something good.  My takeaway is, if you're going uphill anyway, you might just as well run.
The weekend was chock full of seemingly endless errands, my kids' holiday concert, my husband's photo shoot in Philidelphia (which, in itself, included lots of running around getting misc. items for said trip) and two trips to the airport.  I ate off plan 80% of the time, for no reason in particular, and didn't do a workout of any kind on Saturday.  By the time we were picking my husband up at the airport last night, my stomach was only halfway committed to the planned trip to our favorite restaurant.  We waited nearly an hour at the curb for him to locate his luggage.  During that time, there was a whole slew of emergency vehicles and news stations flooding the airport.  Apparently another plane had to make an emergency landing due to an engine problem.  Fortunately, everything went smoothly and everyone was fine.  But the minutes waiting for a response from my husband were nearly untollerable!
Dinner was late for me, after 9pm, and my body just wanted to shut down and go to sleep after treating it so badly all day.  But it meant a lot to my husband, who has been so calorie and carb depleated for the past month, for several photo shoots he has done.  My kids ended up with belly aches from eating too much, and despite only eating some chips with salsa and an ahi tuna wrap, I felt so full and bloated that all I wanted to do was get the kids to bed and do the same.  Sorry for the anti-climatic reunion, husband!
This morning, I felt as though I had to right some of the wrongs I did to my body, and had been planning to use the eliptical.  I haven't used one in years, and figured it would be kick me pretty nice, considering all the range of motion.  After about three minutes, the first interval switched and I found myself feeling like I wasn't going to get a good workout out of it, because it made my knee feel strange, and not good.  So I switched back to the treadmill and got in another 20 min interval of intense cardio with running.  It felt perfectly challenging, just the right amount of time between intervals, and my heart felt so warm and good.  My mood is always fantastic after running, too.  So, I know this is going to be a great day, and a great unofficial start to the week.  I had a really stressful week last week, my stress is still going to be there for me this week.  I didn't allow myself to let that be an excuse to comfort eat last week, and I will try to make the same true this week.  It seems like so many things in my life are not going smoothly right now, and things are total chaos, but the one thing that is working is my health.  Having to face these challenges in poor health would be a death sentence.  So, since it is the one thing I can control, I am going to take it and run with it.  Literally.  And while I'm running, I might just as well run uphill, as a big middle finger extended to my stress.  Man, I love that treadmill!
Happy new week everyone!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What to Do With These Arms?

With my Year Two resolutions clearly in my mind, I have been spending a lot of time focusing on my posture, and a nasty little habit that has formed in recent months, crossing my arms.  I do it while I am helping customers, I do it while I'm cooking, I even do it during low intensity cardio.  It is just comfortable.  Now, I know that someone concerned with body language would say I am trying to put up a wall around myself, it is said to be a way to protect or distance one from a stressful encounter.  But in reality, I have had a very awkward time figuring out what to do with my arms since I have lost weight, and that is what feels really natural to me.  Plus, it keeps me warmer too.  When I first started this job, I noticed that I was in the habit of putting my hands on my hips, something I had never done before losing weight, as it was difficult to even find them under the rolls of fat.  But, being aware of the body language, I changed that habit.  Now this with the arm folding.  It needs to stop, at least at work.  What a odd thing to not know what to do with ones arms! 
I have also been trying to figure out why my legs,knees, hips on each side feel totally different when I walk, that is a work-in-progress.
Yesterday when I woke up, I was actually startled at my reflection in the mirror.  My hips/lower abs looked flatter than I've ever seen them.  So much so, that I felt compelled to get out the measuring tape.  I have lost 1/4 inch off my hips since Dec 1!  The funny thing about that is, after being on track and adding more weight training back into the mix, I am a pound heavier!  So, I know I am losing fat and gaining muscle.  All good things.  Motivation due, in huge part, to the treadmill.  Just one more example of a good thing building upon itself. 
Hope you are all having a successful Wednesday!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Goodbye Big Red

When I moved back to Wisconsin in 2009, after five gloriously warm winters in Las Vegas, I was horrified when I went shopping for a winter jacket.  And even more horrified with the one I eventually purchased.  At the time, I was a solid 3X, working my way toward the need to shop in a specialty shop.  Target, which usually has pretty cute clothes, does not cater to the 3x crowd, at least where winter jackets are concerned.  I tried two other shops and found the same problem.  Yes, I finally had to settle for a jacket from Walmart, as they do indeed cater to the 3x demographic, and had offerings in my budget.  (I hadn't yet discovered the joy of thrifting at that point). 
There she was, the hugest, reddest, quilted/padded jacket, with inconsistent zipper functioning.  Oh, and the best part, reversible.  The other side?  Light grey.  So, red if you want to indeed look like the broadside of a barn (which I did) and light grey if you want to look as vast as the veil of snow covering the city.  I never wore it grey.  I complimented "Big Red" as my husband and I referred to her, with such accessories that I am amazed I never had the fashion police called for harassing people's eyes.  What torture it must have been for my children to be seen with me.  The hat was a brown knit, with faux fur inside.  It had a huge pom at the top, and flaps to cover my ears, and long strings with more poms.  One girl at my son's bus stop told me it looked like a pineapple.  Fair enough.  I finished my "look" with a rastafarian red/yellow/green and black stripped scarf.  I was a sight
By the end of winter last year, I had already lost a considerable amount of weight, and Big Red was starting to fit so loose on the bottom, that the chill air blew right up under her, keeping me freezing all the time.  In faked sad tone I explained to my husband that I would not be able to wear her another year.  A twinkle gleamed in both our eyes. 
So, it is with profound (profound!) joy that I say goodbye to Big Red and the likes.  This year I am donning a 1x, black suede with intricate ivory stitching (dry clean only, thank you very much), a gorgeous soft fluffy cream scarf and a cream wool hat.  I almost look better in my winter gear than out of it.  It was a very proud moment to be able to throw Big Red to the back of the abyss that is my closet, never to be used again.  It is so symbolic of all the positive changes that have come about since I began this journey.  I used BR's zipper pull to repair one of my son's jackets, so it is not usable or donatable, so I might just save it as a reminder of why I am never going back to that place in my life.  Shudder.  Good riddance, Big Red!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Is That All You've Got?!

I stepped on the treadmill today, ready for all-out war.  Today was the day I tried the intimidating "advanced" level for the first time.  The diagram on the machine made it look like I would be sucking wind for the majority of the 20 minute program, with a slight cool down at the end.  I let the program choose my top speed, which is the same for every program, and about as fast as I can walk without holding onto something for balance.  As I got into it, I noticed the speed was lower than I expected, but there was a lot more incline work.  Don't get me wrong, it made me prespire and got my ticker cranked up, but I kept thinking, is that all you've got?  I was expecting to be a pool of sweaty defeat.  In jest, I said to myself, maybe they need another level, "professional obesity conquerer", perhaps.  In reality, it was a great workout, my heart felt really warm and good and I ended with a big smile on my face.  The mighty "advanced" level has been conquered.  Next time, I will crank up the speed to push me a little harder. 
One thing I was reminded of over the weekend, is the power of sugar-free gum.  Particularily the ones that taste like dessert.  My son put a piece in my mouth out of the blue, and I delighted in how sweet it was.  I already love to chew gum, so I will use it to fight off any stray sweet cravings that may crop up.  The one I have now tastes like strawberry shortcake.  Those cravings have been few and far between, but it's nice to have a weapon in my arsenal when they do. 
I start this day feeling nearly invincible, and realizing that it may have taken me a while to get back in stride, but I'm back baby! 
Have an awesome week everyone!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

What I Know

Here is a little bit of what I know.
1. If you are short, and your husband uses your vehicle, causing you to readjust the seat, it is not in your best interest to try and adjust said seat while driving up a hill.

2. There are occassions when the weather forecasters are wrong, and that's not always bad.  Staring at a yard full of green grass instead of a blanket of snow means I love this particular incidence of mistaken meteorology.

3.  If you live in Green Bay, grocery shopping on Sunday, just before "the game" starts, defies all logic and common sense.

4.  If you do decided to grocery shop on said occassions, you will nearly escape with your hide, as you are all but trampled by gassy eldery patrons who either can't see you coming or don't give a damn.  Instead of hand sanitizer, they ought to hand out gas masks and blinkers.  Maybe a free eye exam for anyone over the age of 70.

5. When I am on track, I am a force to be reckoned with!

Reining in my weekend felt fairly effortless, finally, this weekend.  I'm sure a lot has to do with the fact that my husband was around the whole weekend.  It has been a while since he hasn't had work of one sort or another booked.  Friday at work, I had a planned cheat meal from McDonalds, which was a burger and fries, and I tried the new candy cane Mc Flurry; it was just OK.  The burger was semi-cold and by the time I got a chance to eat the ice cream it was partly melted.  But I did it because my husband was leaning toward not having a cheat meal, and I wanted to make sure I didn't eat that sort of thing in front of him.  But, as the evening passed, we decided to go to our favorite restaurant, and I ate without abandon too.  Another, much higher quality burger with avocado and some steak fries.  I didn't even eat half my fries as I was full from chips and salsa and the burger.  I left the restaurant feeling so full, and vowing to let that be the last unproductive thing I ate for the weekend.
Yesterday, my mother-in-law  took the kids to help decorate her Christmas tree, and my husband met up with some of his friends, which left me a few hours to myself.  I could have gone somewhere to eat, but logic was on my side, and I ate my regular, clean meals as planned.  I shared with my husband that I felt bad about how lax I'd been on the weekends, and that I want to reign it in, and it helped hold me accountable.
Today, I feel so good already, without the sodium hangover, bloat and saggy/jiggly feeling.  I had the best weight and cardio workouts today, and am so amped up thinking about conquering the next level (advanced) on the treadmill tomorrow morning.  I am set for a productive week.  Now if only I could retrain myself to do the shopping on Saturday...
Have a great Monday readers!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Watch Out for My Left Jab

As a child I was painfully shy and socially awkward, but I learned early on that if someone doesn't give you what you want, socking them in the eye is a fairly good negotiation technique.  I was a chaotic mix of low self-esteem with a temper.  I was always in the shadow of my older sister who was cooler, taller, prettier and way more popular, and felt as though I always had to fight to be noticed.  As I got older, and a little braver, I got an adreneline rush from being bold, and would measure my self worth in shock value.  Phases of pink mascara or clown-red lipstick, or swearing, underage drinking and staying out all night became my norm.  During college, in the throes of a major depression, I heard the band Green Day, and immediately adopted them into my apathetic life.  The lyrics and music made me feel strong, when it seemed the rest of the world was conspiring to make me feel anything but.  It was then that I got my fight.


That's me in 1976, at the ripe old age of 5.  The boy is my cousin, and we were standing up for his mom's wedding.  Now, I know the quality's aweful, but if you look closely, you can see a nice shiner around his eye.  Yep.  He had a matching one on the other side.  That's what he got for refusing to kiss me!
 I met my best friend in the seventh grade, when we were both awkward and (sorry, Friend) a bit geeky.  Talking and laughing with her was absolutely effortless, our wits were perfectly matched.  She has been there through crushes and crushed dreams, through mishaps and failures and major triumphs.  She flew 2,000 miles to see me get married, even though I was going to be coming to her hometown the very next day.  And 25 years later she is still here for me, supporting me as I raise two autistic children, and try to balance work, college and family life all while trying to win my chronic battle with obesity.
Yesterday she posted something on my Facebook page that reminded me who I am; who I have always been, a FIGHTER.  That word had a profound affect on me this morning as I did my cardio.  I watched my head bobbing up and down as I killed myself on the treadmill, and said the word over and over.  It was an extraordinary workout, driven by my spirit.  Those are the best kind.
So this blog is dedicated to those people in our life who wake us out of our funk, and remind us what we're made of.  I can't believe I didn't think of the word for myself, but since it came from someone who knows me better than anyone else, it had even more power to it.  I am a fighter.  Thank you for reminding me, friend!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Caffeine is Like Air to Me

Both my doctors are out of the office again, so here I sit, all caffeinated with no one to sell glasses to.  It makes for a very self-indulgent day of catching up on my favorite blogs, writing my book, and maybe a few on-line crossword puzzles.   If my boss or any other supervisor caught me, I would at very least, be written up.  But I'm a rebel like that, I like to live dangerously.
Today began with me rubbing my eyes for about ten minutes, feeling like all the fluids had relocated to one side of my head, and feeling a bit of apathy for my sore muscles and strange-feeling joints.  My back and bicep workout yesterday has left me sore, and it is easy for me to mistake that feeling as being over-trained, but logically I know it has been weeks since I actually exerted myself on a good weight workout.  So I did the only logical thing, washed down a caffeine pill with a cup of coffee, and headed off to the cardio room to log 40 minutes of low-intensity cardio.  When I was done, I felt a little more awake, but by the time I was making lunches for my kids and dropping them at the bus stop, I was yawning.  So, a couple cans of Diet Coke later, I think I am finally feeling somewhat alert.  Not that I need to be today, afterall. 
In my optomistic character, I have taken a negative and turned it into something useful.  Lately I have to leave work to pick up/drive my kids to the baby sitter every day, which, while approved by my supervisor, isn't winning me any friends as I leave my department in the hands of someone from another position, with little experience in the field.  It causes me stress, as I have had some bad experiences with what sometimes waits for me when I return.  So I decided to help combat the stress I feel by intentionally parking my car at the tip-top of the parking ramp, so that not only do I have to walk down a bunch of stairs to get to my basement office, but at the end of the day, I have to climb back up them to get to my car.  I finally counted them, there are 51 stairs.  Down goes really smoothly, with the exception of my somewhat cranky knee, which feels much better than it did a few weeks ago.  Up really kicks my butt a little bit, making me breathe heavy and making my heart feel all warm as if I have just finished running.  I actually really like that feeling.  Then, I hit the brisk Wisconsin wind and it feels less brutal after climbing all those stairs.  I enjoy this little faux workout so much that I may start parking at the top in the mornings as well, that would afford me two trips each way.  While I am not deluded myself that this will actually aid in my weight loss, what it does do for me, is take away a little bit of my stress, and boost my energy.  Who knew such a small thing could be so great?
So, despite the inevitible snow on its way, I am happy to say that my cravings are gone, and I am in a very productive frame of mind.  So the snow and all it slippery intentions, can SUCK IT!  I am having a good day, and a great week!  Hope you can say the same!