Thursday, March 22, 2012

It's been a while....

Wow! It's been MUCH longer than I had anticipated between blogs.

Life has gotten in the way, I suppose. Actually, I more than "suppose"...I know it has. My lack of time at the gym, my big fat "Zero calories burned in the last 7 days" on the calorie tracker app I have, and my lack of weight loss all supports that life has interrupted my divine plan, at least until now. I have GOT to re-commit to this. Where there isn't time, I'm going to have to make it, even if that means making some sacrifices (mainly, my sleep, at this point).

I haven't been making completely terrible eating choices (though I have had a few bad meals). For the most part I have been sticking to eating clean, and making healthy snack choices. Because of that, the numbers on the scale haven't gone up. But, because of lack of exercise and not being as committed, the numbers haven't gone down, either. We're going to focus on the fact that there hasn't been an increase, because there is power in positive thinking (or so I'm told).

Anyway, we're into Spring time now, and I'm not where I wanted to be, so it really is time to buckle down. I keep telling myself "Oh, I will, I will" but I haven't been, so I'm not getting anywhere. It'll be pool weather before too long, and no one wants to see a beached whale, even if she is in a modest swimsuit. (Don't fear, I am not one of those that hangs the spare tire out for the world to see in a twenty-three size too small bikini).

There are a few areas in which I am really doing well, and those are mainly what I want to blog about today.

First, I am so excited to say that it has been 26 days since I have had a soda. That means no Dr. Pepper, no Coke Zero, no Sprite, no Root Beer, no Ginger nothing. When we go out to eat, I have either water or lemonade, usually. I have only had sweet tea 4 times in the last 26 days, too. I just started reading more and more about soda-- how it effects the body (the equivalent of something like 30 packets of pure sugar basically shocks the crap out of your system), how there are carcinogens in the caramel coloring (so much so that unless levels were lowered, there were going to have to be warning labels placed on cans due to a new law)-- things like that, and I just started thinking "What the hell am I drinking? Why am I doing this to myself?" I've even cut down dramatically on my coffee-- I've only had 4 coffees since the end of February.

Since I've cut out soda (and really, most processed sugar drinks), I have been able to tell a difference. I do feel better- I'm less jittery, I am sleeping SO much better (more on that in a bit), and I have had less issues with my acid reflux (more on that in a minute, too). I'm not filling my body up with chemicals and empty calories. The first few days, I did have some withdrawals. I got caffeine headaches and just felt icky and sluggish. I just upped my water intake and if I felt headachy, either drank some tea or took some excedrin migraine (which has caffeine in it). I always allowed migraines to be my "crutch" and my reason for allowing myself so much soda. I used to get terrible, awful, knock-me-down-into-my-bed-for-days migraines, and my doctor even would suggest to take my meds with a Coke for a big boost of caffeine. So if I felt a minor headache coming on...I'd have a Coke, ya know, to keep it from turning into a migraine (even though I know the difference between a tension headache, a fatigue headache, a hunger headache, and a migraine, and know when caffeine will help and when it won't).

After the "detox" period was over (which now, I think is just insane that I even had to detox off of something that some people even give little kids to drink), which was only a few days, I felt great! I can honestly say that I don't miss sodas. I never thought I'd really say that and it be true, but it really is!

Next, I have stuck to taking my vitamins, and have even added additional supplements. For some people, this might not be a big deal, but for me, it's huge. I have NEVER been able to remember to take my vitamins. Now, not only do I take the GNC Woman's multivitamin for metabolism & weight loss, but I also supplement with fish oil (omega 3's), cod liver oil (joint & muscle health as well as additional vitamins A & D), green tea extract (healing antioxidants, appetite suppression, & metabolism boosting), and biotin (healthy hair, nails, and skin). I take these all twice a day (except for the cod liver oil and biotin, which are just once a day) like clockwork. And believe it or not, I have noticed a difference!! For instance, a TERRIBLE stomach bug went through my work (and pretty much through the whole US, going by facebook). I was exposed to it a few times by close friends, and I didn't catch it. I had a few days where I felt peakid, like I was trying to get sick, but I never did. For those that really know me, you know how big of a deal this is-- I am the one that everyone says "Oh, poor thing. You're ALWAYS sick." I have been able to avoid several bad sicknesses this year, and I attribute this in part to vitamins helping to build my immune system and in part to being healthier (maybe not weight wise, yet but by making healthier choices).

One thing I mentioned earlier is that I have been a long sufferer of acid reflux. Terrible, blindingly painful acid reflux. It started several years ago, as my weight increased and my food choices deteriorated. It got worse during pregnancy, so bad that I went through 10 bottles of tums in the 36 weeks I was pregnant (10 bottles of tums is roughly 20,000 tums...yea...). When I was at the hospital after having L, one of the nurses cheerfully told me that she betted most of my reflux problems would be gone since I gave birth. I never asked for a single pain medication, nor any after-birth assistance, with the exception of requesting an no, cheerful nurse lady, it didn't go away. Up until about 6 weeks ago, I was taking 150mg of zantac TWICE a day- that's a double dose each day- to keep the acid at bay. Taking all that medication didn't guarantee I wasn't going to get reflux, either, it just made it bearable. Well, I have noticed as I clean up my eating (even if the dish is spicy), I have been getting less reflux.

So, one night, I ate bad, and got terrible, awful, reflux- probably one of the worst cases I have ever had. I was almost in tears, it hurt so bad. And then I remembered a friend of mine telling me about a home remedy she has tried in cases of desperation, and it worked. As unappealing as it sounds, she told me to drink a teaspoon to a tablespoon of straight vinegar. Let me tell you- I put this option off until the absolute LAST minute. Seriously, I had no other option that did not involve packing my child up at 2 am and hurrying to Walgreens, and when this particular event occurred, L was NOT sleeping well, so waking her was NOT on the table even if my chest was exploding. So out came the vinegar. I pinched my nose, held my breath, and swallowed a teaspoon. Cringed, from top to bottom, and felt it burn all the way down my esophagus. Much to my sputtering surprise, as soon as it hit my belly, the reflux stopped. Like, immediately.

There is something to be said about home remedies, and not filling our bodies with chemicals sometimes. It was just so disgusting to me to drink vinegar (eew, I mean, have you smelled that stuff?) that I would rather have spent 20000 times the money (probably literally, because 60 zantac is over $20 and lasted me a month...and vinegar is less than $2 a bottle and will last me probably 6 months or more at a tsp a dose) than to have taken 30 seconds of dealing with the bitterness of vinegar. While I still cringe from top to bottom, and it still burns all the way down, I am not nearly as disgusted by the taste...just don't chase it with water if you try it on your own. I did that the second time and all it did was amplify the taste and made it last about 10 minutes instead of 30 seconds. Just deal with the taste. Like the smell (if you use it to clean), it will go away pretty quickly.

I believe so strongly in the vinegar to treat reflux method now, that I will not buy tums or zantac anymore. I had to take it that night, then the next two nights after that. Then, I don't know what happened -- if the vinegar has neutralized acid production in my stomach or what-- but I have only had to take it a handful of times since. I have had reflux a few more times than a handful, but every single time, drinking a half a cup of whole milk has stopped it. I am floored, because before the vinegar trick, I could probably have drunk a gallon of milk and it would've just made it worse (seriously, folks, if my water was too cold, it gave me was THAT bad). That is why I think maybe the vinegar has done something to curb the excess acid production. Now, giving credit where it is due-- I'm also eating better so that is also a contributing factor-- but I truly believe that the vinegar has helped tremendously.

One thing I have learned that makes itself loud and clear, over and over again is that this journey is NOT just about losing weight. This journey is about changing my lifestyle to make healthier choices, in order to make being fit and healthy a lifetime commitment. It's not going to happen in a day, and it's going to take more than eating a salad instead of a slice of pizza. There are many parts to the pie of living a healthy life, and each one is as equally as important to the other (and directly effects the other).

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Diet is a dirty word (and Lent is helpful)

I started to fall into a rut towards the middle of last week. I was frustrated that the numbers on the scale hadn't moved in a while. I deviated from my diet several days in a row, and I was losing sight of all of the reasons I started this journey. I was more focused on losing pounds, than getting fit, and beating myself up over not meeting some goals I had set for myself. I started thinking about what I could do to help get myself back on track. Along with revisiting some of my intial goals and adding some new (and sometimes silly ones), I also realized I need to change the way I'm approaching this whole thing.

I realized, quite quickly, that the first thing that has to go out the door before I can get over this case of the doldrums is my focus on dieting. I'm not dieting...I'm changing my entire outlook towards food and teaching myself how to consistently eat well all the time. Now, I'm not talking about the word diet in the context of "The American Medical Association suggests the following for a healthy, well balanced diet..." I'm talking about the "ZOMG!! I just read in People magazine that Beyonce lost 25lbs doing the rice and chili pepper smoothie diet!"

The word "diet", in the context in which I (and many of us) have been using it, has a negative connotation that indicates, at some point, a goal weight will be attained, the diet will cease, and I can go back to doing whatever I felt like doing. That's so totally not the case here. I am changing my entire lifestyle. My ultimate goal is to live a longer, healthier, fitter life. Changing my eating habits so that I am eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, more lean meats, and less processed sugars and flours, less fat, and less (read: no) fast food is not a diet. Simply enough, it's just the right way to eat! "Diet" implies something like Jenny Craig, the cabbage soup diet, medically assisted weight loss, pills, and any of the other thousands of "quick" weight loss plans out there. These do nothing to help a person learn how to eat for nutrition and sustinance (rather than emotion, convenience, etc). Calling what I am doing a "diet" is doing nothing but sabotaging me.

A "dieter" will beat themselves up mentally over deviating from "The Diet" and eating a cookie or having a small piece of birthday cake. A "dieter" will have "cheat days" where they can fall off the wagon completely and eat whatever they want in whatever quantity they want. A "dieter" will more than likely spend many, many days of their lives "dieting" and few days of their lives losing weight, keeping it off permanently, and feeling great about themselves. That's why most diets out there are called "Fad Diets" or "Crash Diets"...they're not meant to change a person's lifestyle for life, they're meant to give them a quick fix before bikini season or some other big event.

A person who has committed to changing their lifestyle, who consistently makes healthy choices, knows that she can indulge in a small piece of cake or a cookie every now and then and it's ok. A lifestyle changer will not need "cheat days" because they either no longer want the bad foods out there or because they allow themselves the occassional indulgence (which takes away the taboo that they're doing something wrong by "cheating" on eating well). A lifestyle changer will spend some days of their life planning out delicious, nutritious meals for herself and her family. She'll spend days shedding weight and she will know that weight is gone FOREVER.

Along with the big D word, the phrase "cheat day" has got to go, too. I can't think of a single time that cheating is acceptable-- not in school, not in a marriage...and then there is that little phrase about winners never cheating and cheaters never prospering. So, using that mindset, the whole concept of a "cheat day" when it comes to eating does nothing but set a person up for failure, one bite at a time.

What I am learning is that even the healthiest people indulge from time to time. But, when they do indulge, they limit themselves. They do not go overboard, and their sweet tooth or salty craving (or whatever) is satisfied. They also know healthy ways to indulge. I feel that if I allow myself to have a whole day or even just a meal, I am doing myself a disservice. If I instead, allow myself to indulge my cravings in a healthy way, when I get them, I will not even contemplate going off the deep end and eating like crazy. And, from what's happened in the past, one cheat day a week soon leads to two, then three, then finally you're not cheating anymore because you're no longer eating well to begin with.

So how does one "indulge" in a healthy way? I have a sweet tooth...if you know me at all, you know this. Instead of eating a whole candy bar when I have an urge for something sweet (or, worse, waiting until I have a cheat day and eating a whole molten lava cake or something crazy), a healthy approach would be to allow myself one Hershey's Special Dark miniature. Dark chocolate in moderation actually has health benefits (hello, antioxidants) and one piece of rich dark chocolate is usually enough to kick a craving. We just think we need the whole bag. If I'm at a get together and there are a lot of unhealthy dips and foods, along with a veggie and fruit tray, I try to fill a majority of my plate with the fruits and veggies. The less room on my plate, the less likely I am to fill it full of stuff I don't need. I will, however, leave a small spot for 5 or 6 chips and a small spoonful of dip or 2 or 3 little meatballs or smokies. Then, I eat all the fruit/veggies first, and save the "bad" food for last- like a treat. I have actually been doing really well with this approach. I made a King sized Hershey's Special Dark bar last over two weeks (at WORK, mind you) by eating one little piece every so often. At one point, I had even forgotten I had it. I am so proud of myself for this because I believe I'm finally learning portion control, and eating when hungry/craving versus eating when bored.

Food isn't a reward, and it definitely isn't taboo, so there is no reason why anyone needs to cheat on themselves with it.

That brings me to another word (well, phrase, really) that I am working to remove from my vocabulary-- "losing weight" or "losing inches" . I lose my keys, socks and shoes, my cell phone, coupons, hair ties and clips, and various and sundry other things all the time. I'm what you would call "scatterbrained" (lovable, but scatterbrained). With each of these items that I lose, comes the hope that I will soon find them again. I don't know about any of you, but the weight and inches I am able to banish from my body by eating right and exercising will be gone for good. I don't want it back, ever. I certainly don't want to "find" it again at the bottom of an ice cream container or a box of cookies. What does one do with items they no longer want? They throw them away, or more apt to this situation, they get rid of them. So, from this point forward, I am no longer losing weight/inches. I am getting rid of it.

Something else that has got to go (and has been previously attacked in blog form this week): my reliance on the scale, and my reluctance to believe I'm making progress when the numbers don't fall. I read something very poignant after I posted that blog that really, really struck me. A mother, when standing on the scale, is approached by her three year old daughter, who asks "Well, what does it say, Mommy?" The mother isn't happy with the number, but simply looks at the daughter, smiles, and says "It says Mommy is just right." The author went on to write that she explained to her daughters that she went to the gym because some of her clothes didn't fit well, after having their baby sister because her belly got so big, and she needed to make sure she was able to fix that. She makes it a point to NEVER dwell on the number on the scale, and to never talk about how unhappy she is with her body (even if she truly is) in front of her daughters. After reading that, I came across an article discussing how girls as young as THREE have been diagnosed with eating disorders and body image problems. How does a three year old develop body image disorders? They learn from those around them. Their little sponge brains suck up everything we say and do, including when we complain about being fat or not liking the way we look.

I never want my daughter to allow the numbers on a scale define her. I never again want to allow the numbers on the scale to define me, either. We are more than those numbers, whatever they may or may not be. I want L to grow up watching her parents make healthy lifestyle choices. I want her to see us living active, healthy lives, and filling our plates with yummy, nutritional food. I want her to see me as a person she can look up to for positive body image, in a world filled with unhealthy bodies. I do not want her to define her self worth in numbers.

So what does Lent have to do with this?

Lent is a 40 day period between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday when followers (who are generally, but not always, Catholic) choose to give up something (or things) that they enjoy. It signifies when Jesus fasted in the desert for 40 days. People give up smoking, drinking, cursing, carbonated beverages, caffeine, red meat, and all sorts of other things. Anything that is considered a sacrifice for them, they can give up for Lent. Lent is a good way for people to rid themselves of their vices, because, along with all the many other reasons (health, money, whatever), a holier reason is now attached.

This year, I have chosen to give up soda and other beverages containing processed sugar (sweet tea, lemonade, etc). I've also chosen to give up fast food completely (unless it is some kind of extenuating circumstance--like we have no other option for food-- in which case I will get a plain salad without dressing or a grilled chicken sandwich with no bun/sauce), and to give up "cheat days" (which plays along with the idea of a lifestyle change rather than a diet). I will allow myself to indulge from time to time in a piece of dark chocolate or a small slice of birthday cake or the like here and there, but I will not over do it, and I will not allow myself a whole day to waste a week's worth of hard work in the gym.

Soda is going to be a hard one for me. I have cut down on my soda and sweet tea consumption dramatically in the last 8-10 weeks but I still really enjoy a McDonald's sweet tea or an icy cold Dr. Pepper, all too often. I could see I was slowly slipping back into the multiple sodas/teas per day habit that I had last year, and I need to stop that quick. The cheat days aren't going to be as bad for me as I had originally thought. Even on my past, recent cheat days, I hadn't been bringing myself to make that terrible of choices. For one, I think about how hard I work when I'm in the gym (and how sporadically I've been able to go, even though I want to go as much as possible) and secondly, I just really haven't wanted to be "bad". I'm one of those weirdos that doesn't actually mind eating healthy. Fast food is going to be a little bit of a challenge just because it's easy to run out and grab something at lunch, and some fast food joints do offer healthy options. Usually I don't do to terribly when I grab something on the run, but I need to stop doing that if I am going to keep on trying to eliminate heavily processed foods.

I have often read that it takes 30 days to form a habit. So, if I really stick to these "sacrifices" (which, as far as my health is concerned, aren't really sacrifices at all), then I should be able to be completely done with them, even after Lent. I will even have 10 extra days to really solidify the "habit".

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Don't trust the scale (and other lessons I've learned so far)

We're about two months into my journey. I am happy with my results thus far, even though I feel like I'm not as far along as I should be. In just two months, I feel like I've already learned so much, and that I am making great strides into permanently changing my fitness and eating habits. Of course, along the way, there have come some life lessons. I'd like to take a few minutes to share these with you. Maybe in another few months, I'll revisit these and see if my opinions have changed.

1. The scale is not the be-all, end-all indicator of progress. In fact, as far as progress indicators go, I'm learning that the scale should actually be the last place I go to "check up" on myself. There are so many other ways to see how far one has progressed in getting fit. For instance, I have had very little movement on the scale in the last 3 or 4 weeks. Granted, I have had some slip-ups as far as eating healthy, but I have also been going to the gym and doing more physical activity than I had in the past. I let this consistent number on the scale get to me, and I shouldn't have, because when I began to measure myself (a better progress indicator), I discovered I had lost another few inches in my waist. I have also been wearing some clothing I hadn't been able to in a long time, which means that my body is changing. I've noticed that I am able to do more at the gym, too. At first, I would get a mile or two out on the treadmill, and that was it- I was spent. Now, I am getting a mile or two out on the treadmill while carrying on a conversation (Hello, stamina! Nice to get re-acquainted with you!) and then hop off and go to 35-45 minutes of pretty high impact aerobics. Sometimes, I feel like I could still keep going, even after that, but by that time it's usually late and I have to go pick up L. So, when I do go get her, I still have energy to come home, play with her, clean, cook, etc. I'm also sleeping better (though, still not great, I am averaging a few more hours per night), waking up earlier (without that tired, dragging feeling) and I'm pushing through that afternoon slump without getting a coke or candy. All of this is improvement, and better indicators of the progress I'm making than the stupid scale.

2. I don't like celery. But, I'm eating it anyway. Why? Because it's very healthy, and makes a very filling snack. I am limited as to what I can snack on at my desk, and I like to change it up so I don't get bored eating the same fruits, veggies, or nuts every single day. I also don't like plain bananas, but I am working on sneaking them into my diet more. I can't peel and eat a banana- it's the texture, not the taste (for the most part) that gets me- but I can eat them, blended in a smoothie. So, because bananas are extremely healthy (and I can always use potassium to help with leg cramps and such), I do that. I don't always want a banana in my smoothie, but I always put one in. Sometimes, you have to just suck it up and do what is healthy. (Note: This does not mean you're going to see me munching on tomatoes anytime soon...but I am working on avocados.)

3. I actually don't mind working out. Most of the time, I even look forward to it, and find myself disappointed when I miss a day I had planned on. I used to wrack my brain everyday, trying to think of excuses not to work out (and I felt like I had a pretty decent arsenal, too-- I have too much to do at home, I didn't sleep well, I don't feel good, L is grouchy, I don't have time, etc, etc). If I had to miss a day...yea, I wasn't disappointed. I didn't want to go-- because, I realize now, I didn't actually care about my health/fitness. Now that I have changed my mindset, when I have to miss a day for whatever reason (there are actual reasons that one might have to miss going to the gym, like getting sick with bronchitis), it makes me so frustrated. I feel like I'm sabotaging myself, even if I can't go to the gym because of something totally out of my control.

4. Working up a sweat does make you feel better! On the days where I have no reason not to go to the gym (no plans, no need to pick L up right after work, etc), but don't feel well, it's hard to get motivated to go. But, I've found that on those days, if I can get myself through the door at the gym and into my workout clothes, I end up leaving (after my workout) feeling much better. I usually convince myself to go by telling myself "Just 2 miles on the treadmill" or "Just a half hour on the stationary can do this." By the time I'm done with my 2 miles or half hour, I'm sweaty, my heart is pumping, and I actually feel better. Sometimes I stay and do some more, and then sometimes I just stick to my word and go home afterwards, but either way, I end up glad I went. If I'm in a bad mood, frustrated, or stressed about something, it's the same deal. I have to force myself to go but I feel so much better afterwards.

5. Eating healthy isn't harder or more expensive than eating bad. Contrary to popular belief (or what McDonald's Dollar Menu would lead you to believe), it is not more expensive or less convenient to eat healthy. At first glance, it can seem misleading when you can spend $3.28 and get a McDouble, small fries, and a large Sweet Tea, that you can get anything healthy for anywhere close to the same price. But when you really think about it, buying groceries and fixing them yourself (and eating leftovers) is a cheaper and healthier way to go. I can spend about $10 and get a bunch of fresh veggies, salad greens, a protein (like a chicken breast) and dressing for a salad that will feed JP and I both for at least 2 meals each. It's more filling (both in terms of fullness and vitamins/nutritional value) and costs less than the calorie/fat/sodium laden fast food. And as far as convenience goes, popping a container of leftovers in a microwave at the office beats sitting in a car breathing in someone else's exhaust fumes at the drive thru. AND, if leftovers aren't your thing, there are plenty of frozen meals now that are healthy (Kashi makes a few really awesome ones) that are less than $5 a meal.
6. I may never run on the treadmill. But I will, eventually, run. To date, I am still afraid to run on the treadmill. I have decided to go at my own pace there, and as the weather gets warmer, do more attempted runs outside. If I eventually can run on the treadmill without paralyzing fear of flying off the back, great. If I never do more than a very, very brisk walk on the treadmill but start knocking out some miles outdoors, that's great too. Just as great.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

I'm BACK!!

I'm back in the gym!
Monday was the day I was re-released to go to the gym. I was told not to over-do it, and stop if I had the same problems like I did two weeks ago.
Thankfully, I did not have those problems, and was able to complete 2.7 miles on the treadmill on Monday. I did incline intervals for the first 15 minutes at 4.0, and then 15 more minutes of walking at an 8% incline at 5.0 (which is almost a run), and then about 3-4 minutes of cool down for a total of 34 minutes and 396 calories. I am so happy with that, as my average mile was around 11:30. I'm really happy with that because that's a personal best for me right now.
JP bought me my Valentine's Day gift a few weeks early, too, and I got to try it out Monday. I got a Polar FT4 heart rate monitor/calorie counter. I love it. It is pink (of course) and came with one of the chest straps (which provide the most accurate heart rate calculations). I was pleasantly surprised to see that I burned around 150 calories more than what the treadmill showed, about 70 more calories than MyFitnessPal showed for the workout I inputted, and about 200 calories more than what CardioTrainer showed. I also learned that my target heart rate for calorie burning is between 130-165, and during the incline intervals (and during my super fast power walking) my heart rate stayed around 180, which is 89-92% of my max heart rate (which is what gave me the extra calorie burn, most likely).
I'm excited to finally try Shred, and the other Jillian Michaels DVDs, and see what kind of calories I burn doing those.
I STILL haven't gotten to start Shred yet. Another little bump in the road was that my sweet, wonderful toddler L decided she didn't have to sleep at night anymore (and as a result, Mommy and Daddy didn't, either). Thankfully, after discovering FOUR new canine teeth and treating a case of the snotty noses, she seems to be sleeping again (mostly) which means Mommy gets to sleep again (mostly) which means 5 am won't be so harsh. When you don't get to sleep until 4:30, there is no 5 am meeting with Jillian. Since L has stated sleeping again, and is spending the night away from home tonight, I am going to attempt to try Shred in the morning.

I did the Banish Fat Boost Metabolism DVD by Jillian this evening and HOLY CRAP. 777 calories and I had to stop a few times throughout because my heart rate went too high and I started getting dizzy. She is a killer, but I can totally see how she gets results out of people so quickly! I LOVED it, and can't wait to get to where I can make it through the whole DVD without stopping.
You may have also noticed that there was not a Monday weigh in. This is because I was tired of reporting "no change" for the last several weeks, and there was, in fact, no change on Monday. What I have learned through being sick is that there is only so much that eating well can do as far as weight loss, especially when you're like me and didn't eat completely terribly to begin with. In order to continue to see results, I have to incorporate cardio and weight training. I have also learned that sometimes the scale is not the be all end all indicator of weight loss. Once I start the weight training program, especially, the numbers on the scale may not move as dramatically as I want because muscle does weigh more than fat. As I tone up and add a little muscle, the scale might be deceiving. BUT, the tape measure won't lie. Inches are going to add up!
I am going to post a new weigh in on next Monday, and start again with the regular Monday weigh-ins. And, on the 1st of every month, there will be new measurements. I can't wait to see all these numbers shrink!
People are also starting to notice something is going on with me, too. I have been getting a lot more "You look different, but I can't put my finger on what it is" comments, and "Did you do something different to your hair? Is that a new outfit? Something looks different about you." I have run into a few people who I haven't seen in a while, who know I'm doing this weight loss journey, and they've all said they've been able to tell I've lost weight. One said my face is thinner, and another noticed my jeans were too big! I am happy to report that my total weight loss since June 2011 is 22 pounds (and from what I read, it starts to become noticeable to people after the first twenty). Of course, when you think about it, that's nothing compared to what I'm going to lose this year (amazing what some dedication to getting fit can help one accomplish, huh?) but it is still a start in the right direction.
I had planned to start the Couch To 5k program this week but I think until the weather gets warmer, I'm going to take a different approach. I am going to do the treadmill at the fastest walking pace I can, and work on increasing my miles per workout. Then, once I can start doing some running outside, I'm going to work on increasing my walking pace to a run, and then work on trimming my run time down.
Why? Why not just run on the treadmill? (I know you're thinking this). Well, let me let you in on a little secret.
I am terrified of actually running on a treadmill.
I know, this is completely ridiculous, but I am. I have, possibly, watched too many youtube videos of people flying off the back of treadmills. I am, more than likely, the least coordinated person I know. Plus, I feel like I look ridiculous when I run. I am sure, on all counts, I am overreacting, but I just can't get up the nerve yet to let go of the handles on the treadmill, up the speed just a little (I already walk at 5.0, running is anything over 5.5), and jog.
The idea of running outside, on a track, doesn't phase me at all. In fact, I'm a little excited about it, and looking forward to springtime. Plus, there are no 5ks run on treadmills. They're all run outside, on pavement (unless you're doing the Warrior Dash, then it's through mud, hay, gravel, etc). I have also read that running on the treadmill is nothing like running on actual pavement, so I figure if I want to start doing 5ks and eventually half marathons, I need to get my butt outside.

A few afternoons this week, I had a workout buddy, which was awesome! I can go to the gym at the same time as JP, but we cannot work out together. The nice way of putting it is like this: We are not motivated by the same things, and we do not respond the same way to the "coach" mentality. The not so nice way of putting it: JP tends to try to motivate me by pushing me (like a football coach would) and it just makes me grumpy and mad. But today, my best friend since we were 10 came to the gym with me. It was fun having a friend there! We tried Step Aerobics, Cardio Dance, and Aerobic Dance. I realized I'm completely uncoordinated, but, managed to burn an average of 500 calories doing each workout (if I would've been able to actually DO some of the stuff, I probably could've burned 1000 calories each! But, I did the best I could for having two left feet).
(If any of YOU would like to try my gym out, send me a message on Facebook. Anytime Fitness is the BOMB!)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

New month, new weight and measurements!!

I'll keep this one short, and sweet.

Every month, I plan on updating my weight and some measurements.

My goal is to lose 10lbs each month until I meet my ultimate goal weight.

Sooo, this month....

Weight: 187 Loss of 7lbs (remember, I ended up weighing 194 instead of 197 to start)

Chest: 45" Loss of 1"

Waist: 37 1/4" Loss of 3/4 inches

Hips: 42" Loss of 1 1/2"

Total inches lost: 3 1/4"

Also, my size 14 pants now fall off of me when I walk around. The 12 slims I have are still too small in the hips but I'm pretty confident I'll be in those by the end of this month.

I didn't hit my 10lb goal, but I feel pretty accomplished with these numbers considering I was sick for the entire month almost with that bronchitis.

February is a new month! Gym, Shred, Yoga or Pilates, and eating right. I'm hoping for a lot of lower numbers next month!!

Monday, January 30, 2012

The South Beach Diet

Today, I will be starting Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet. If you recall in one of my first posts, I mentioned I had done this in the fall of 2011 with really good success. The holidays came, and all thoughts of dieting went out the window, so I didn't stick with it (and gained weight, believe it or not)!

Since I went to the gym last Monday and my lungs were still not ready for any intense cardio, and since my doctor said to give myself at least another week if not two of no physical exertion other than very low impact activity (like yoga, pilates, basic cleaning, etc), I wanted to do something that would keep the numbers dropping lower and lower on the scale. They didn't move from my weigh in on Jan 16 to my weigh in on Jan 23. I still weigh 187 pounds. That is still a 22 lbs weight loss total from about October of 2011 until now, and 7 lbs of that was this month alone. That's nothing to shake a stick at. Progress is progress. Weight loss is 1 lb at a time, just like weight gain.

Of course, optimistically, no change in the scale also means I didn't gain weight but it was still frustrating not to see a smaller number. I am trying not to beat myself up over this because I was on so much medicine that increased appetite, caused bloating, and could trigger an increase in weight gain that I am lucky that number didn't sky rocket. After all, I was eating everything in sight, and had a few slip ups with non-healthy food.

To keep myself on track until I can get back in the gym and start the 30 day Shred in the mornings before work, I'm going to do Phase 1 of South Beach. It is just two weeks long, so I'm hoping by the time I'm done those two weeks, I'll have shed some stubborn weight and have even MORE motivation to kick butt in the gym (and not let a DVD version of Jillian Michaels make me cry)!

For those of you not familiar with the South Beach diet, it was designed by Dr. Arthur Agatston, and according to his book/cookbook "The South Beach Diet Cookbook", his weight loss plan was "made for people who love to eat". I liked that as soon as I saw it. But, if you're like me, you've done your fair share of "crash diets." Smoothie diets, salad diets, etc-- I've done those with little to no success, not to mention, the success was short lived, because you can't exist on smoothies or salads or cabbage soup alone. So, before I started this diet, I did my homework. The South Beach diet is actually recommended as a safe, healthy way to lose weigh by the Mayo Clinic. It also has been known to help regulate blood sugar in diabetics, lower cholesterol, and regulate blood pressure. It is meant to slowly help a person change their lifestyle by taking away and reintroducing foods in three phases. By the time a person gets to the final phase, they are not only at their goal weight, but have changed their lifestyle. Cravings disappear, as well as the dependency on sugar for energy. I can definitely attest to this. Within the first three days of Phase 1, I found myself not wanting sugary treats, sodas, or even caffeine (though you're allowed coffee).
Dr. Agatston goes into great detail about good fats and good carbs, and how we as a society just lump all fats and all carbs together in one category and call them bad. He said this is why people try and fail to do low or no-fat diets or low or no-carb diets because your body actually does need fats (those found in Mediterranean oils like extra virgin olive oil, canola oil, nut oils and omega-3 fish oils) and carbs (those coupled with naturally occuring fiber such as whole grains and long grain brown rices) to survive properly.

Phase 1, what I'll be doing for two weeks, is the most restrictive. In this phase, there are no baked goods, cereals, flour, pasta, fruit, rice, and other grains allowed. Most people say "What?! Do you mean you can have no sweets? No breads? No fruit?!" It sounds a lot more terrible than it is. First, Phase 1 is only two weeks. It's not forever. And, the list of items allowed far outweight what isn't!

See for yourself:

I am allowed water (including Crystal Light packets and calorie free flavored waters), coffee (black), V-8, diet sodas, and tea (unsweetened). It is recommended that there be no more than 2 cups per day of tea or coffee. I don't really like the idea of Crystal Light or diet sodas because I don't love aspartame (or it's crazy side effects) so I will probably just stick to water like I did last time.

As far as condiments, dressings, and seasonings, I am allowed basically anything as long as it doesn't contain sugar. I am still able to use all extracts (such as almond and vanilla), and really any spice or mix of spices I want. Mustards (except honey mustard) is ok, mayonnaise (regular, NOT fat-free), chimichurri steak sauce, hot sauce, tabasco sauce, horeseradish, salsa, low-sodium soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and a myriad of sugar free salad dressings (including a ton of yummy sounding recipes in the book) are all allowed.

In fact, Dr. Agatston makes a great point when he writes, "I encourage you to use anything that enhances the flavor of your food. If your healthy dishes taste great, you'll be less tempted to indulge in unhealthy ones!"

Also in Phase 1, I am allowed up to two servings of dairy per day in the form of 1% or fat-free milk, cottage cheese, or fat-free plain yogurt (remember, no sugar). I can have any reduced fat or fat free cheese (though as a general rule it should contain no more than 6g fat per serving) including ricotta, feta, mozarella, cheddar, etc. Fat free sour cream is also alright.

Eggs are allowed unless you have terribly high cholesterol, and in fact, are a great source of fill-you-up protein. I made egg cups with meat and veggies last time that filled me up at breakfast time.

All fish and shellfish is 100% acceptable, unless it is fried. Most meats are totally ok, too, and are a part of every meal because they are the main source of protein.. I can have sirloin, tenderloin, top loin, round tip, bottom round, eye round, and top round in beef, because they are the leanest cuts. Well-trimmed pork chops, pork tenderloin, and boiled ham are allowed. Canadian bacon is preferred over regular bacon because it is leaner. Veal cutlets and leg of lamb are allowed, too (though lamb is expensive)! Fat-free and low-fat lunch meat is allowed as long as it is not the "honey" cured variety. Low-fat bologna, salami, and pastrami are also totally ok, surprisingly enough. Turkey breast, turkey hot dogs, turkey salami, and turkey bacon are ok, too. In Phase 1, dark meat in poultry is not allowed, but I am allowed chicken breast, and cornish game hen. I'm also allowed turkey sausage during breakfast as long as it is not every day. And, for vegetarians, tofu, tempeh, and soy-based products are allowed in all phases.

Canola oil, extra virgin olive oil, flaxseed oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, and walnut oil are acceptable for cooking as well as salad dressings, in all three phases.

All types of nuts are acceptable, even macadamia nuts (though almonds are the best). Nut consumption should be limited to 1/4 cup per day.

I am allowed pretty much all the vegetables I can eat, as well, on phase 1. Spinach, and all other leafy, dark green veggies are great. Artichokes, asparagus, avocados, beans (black, butter, chickpeas, green beans, Italian, kidney, lentils, lima, soy, split peas, and wax), bell peppers, broccoli, broccoli rabe, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, collard greens, cucumbers, eggplant, fennel, leeks, lettuce (all varieties), mushrooms (all varieties), onions, radishes, scallions, shallots, snow peas, spaghetti squash, sprouts, turnips, water chestnuts, and zucchini are all allowed. Basically, the only ones to steer clear from are the ones that will metabolize into starch (which then turns to sugar): white flesh potatoes, beets, corn, and (in phase 1 only) sweet potatoes and squashes.

I am even allowed sweets!! Yes, you read that right. Though I should stick to 75 calories or so per day, I am allowed to have hard, sugar-free candies, no-sugar-aded fudgsicles (which, in spite of containing artificial sweeteners, I love), no-sugar-added creamsicles, sugar-free jello, and sugar-free gum.

The average weight loss during Phase 1 is between 8 and 17 lbs. When I did it in October, I lost 13 (but I didn't follow it as strictly as I should have). I am hoping for the same (if not better) this go around.

Phase 2 starts at the end of the first two weeks, and will continue until goal weight is reached. I haven't decided yet if I'll continue with the actual diet plan this way. I don't see why I wouldn't, because it is pretty much all guidelines we normally follow (and most clean-eating dishes fall into the South Beach diet acceptable foods) so I may continue. I will post a separate blog about the ins and outs of Phase 2 in two weeks, along with my total SBD weight loss/inches lost.

After these two weeks, I am hoping and praying I'll be able to get back to the gym and to my planned 30 Day Shred. I feel like I'm missing out by not being able to do the second part of the "plan". I'm doing the best I can with the weight loss portion, but feeling like I am failing miserably at the "get fit" part! It's coming, though. I know this.
Because I am tired of feeling like a blobby bump on a log not doing any physical activity, and because I'm having trouble sleeping, I've decided to start trying to do some pilates and yoga in these few weeks left of being out of the gym. My wonderful sister-in-law pointed me towards our streaming Netflix- they have a whole fitness section! Who knew?! I'm going to pick out a pilates work out and a yoga work out and try to do the pilates in the morning and the yoga before bed. That way, I am doing something, and it's low impact enough that it shouldn't aggravate my lungs. Plus, I could use a few minutes of relaxation and winding down before bed, and I can't think of a better way than yoga. Hopefully at the end of these two weeks, I am lighter and leaner!

Then, maybe, DVD Jillian won't be so hard on me.

Yea, right. :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Monday Weigh-In. A day late!

It's Monday, so you know what that means: Weigh-In Day!

My current weight is (da dada daaaa): 187 lbs

For those of you following, that is a 7 lb weight loss, but there has been no change from last Monday to this Monday. No additional loss, but (thankfully) no gain back, either.

I am chalking this up to a few factors.

First, I was on almost two week's worth of steroid medication, starting with a shot the day I went to the doctor, followed by steroid pills, and two inhalers that both contained steroids. Steroid medication can make a person retain water and it increases appetite.

Second, though I tried to eat as well as I could during these courses of medicine, I did have a few instances where I ate things I shouldn't (a whopper junior from Burger King one day, and a fried chicken tender salad with full fat honey lime dressing from Cheddar's another day).

And, lastly, I was on the "no physical exertion" restriction for two weeks. Over the weekend, I finally got the energy to do some serious cleaning at home and much to my happiness, I was able to breath clearly the whole time. So, I'm thinking I may be over The Great Lung Sickness of 2012.

My goal for this month was to lose 10 lbs. I have 9 days left of this month, and 3 lbs to hit that mark. I feel like I can make it, if I really stick to it and push myself. But, I'm not going to beat myself up over it if I don't hit it, because all things considered this month, I've done well.

I was supposed to start the 30 Day Shred this morning, but we had a night full of thunderstorms and tornado warnings, and I couldn't sleep. I had set the alarm for 5 am, so I could get up, Shred, make a smoothie, take a shower and get ready for work, but at 3:45 when JP came to bed, I was still wide awake. So those plans were nixed, at least for this morning.

The new plan was to hit the gym after work for 30 minutes of cardio and about 30 minutes of weight training, then, after picking up L and getting her settled at home, pop in Shred for a last little vigorous work out before bed. It didn't work out like I'd planned, but at least I got SOME time in the gym.

I was going to take specific before and after pics for the 30 days I am doing Shred (so, today and then again on Feb 22), but I decided to scrap that plan because I am also going to be doing other cardio/strength training at the gym. I didn't want anyone to think whatever results I get in the next 30 days were due to Shred alone, and be misrepresenting the product. I have seen before and after pics from Shred, and if I can have those results alone, I'll be ecstatic. I am just amping it up a little more by doing other stuff with it. So when you see a difference, keep in mind that is is not solely a result of Shred, but a combination of Shred, interval training on the treadmill, and circuit weight training (as well as eating as lean as possible- low carb, high protein, lots of veggies and fruits). Plus, I'll be taking an updated pic on Feb 1, which will be 9 days into Shred, and then again on March 1, which will be just after I've completed Shred, so I'll have some result type pics anyway.

Upcoming plans:
1. I am hoping to start the Couch to 5K training program on Feb 1. I am really excited about this because I have never been a runner. Seriously. Never. I have always said that the only time I would run is if something big, scary, or zombified was chasing me. I love to hike and do walking trails, I've just never been really into running. I have decided that I want to start doing races. JP has done one and wants to do more. We have this awesome running stroller that L is still small enough for and she LOVES to go fast, so I know she'd be stoked if we ran her around in a race. I'm not giving myself a time frame to get "race ready", though the program has a set time frame, but I'd like to run some kind of race in the spring. Plus, JP has promised me some cute running clothes (and I have been pinning some on Pinterest for ideas!) if I can succeed. Cute running clothes will look even more awesome on a fitter body, too so I'm going to wait to take him up on this offer until I'm closer to my goal weight/shape.

2. Supposedly, one of the benefits of Shred is increased stamina. I plan on doing the level 1 30 day cycle, and (provided Jillian Michaels hasn't killed me by then) then move on to level 2 and so on. I am hoping to do all three levels in a 90 day time frame (though I've heard it's taken many months for users to get there). I am going to continue to do those in the mornings before work. I will have at least 3 days each week that I can't make it to the gym for different reasons, so on those days, I'll do Shred in the morning and then one of the other two DVDs I have later as my "actual" work out. I'm pumped about this. I know they're going to be HARD but I am just so ready to turn my body into the body I want. SO ready.

3. When it gets warmer, I want to do some more outside. I'd like to go to the Don Fox park with L and walk (or without Lily and run). I think I'll do much better actually running outdoors (because I still get nervous on the treadmill for some reason).

4. At some point, to switch things up, I'd like to start swimming at the Jimmy Floyd Center. I don't want to do it regularly but I would like to occassionally. Swimming burns tons of calories and is easier on your joints and muscles, so I think I may save this for "rest days". L also loves swimming so it would be a fun activity for JP and I to take her and play in the water in the indoor pool with her. Even leisurely swimming burns a lot of calories.

5. For Valentine's Day, I've asked for a really nice heart rate monitor. JP has one that syncs with the equipment at our gym. It accurately reports heart rate and calories burned. I would like to have one of these for myself so I can not only wear it at the gym during weight training to track my calories, but so I can wear it at home during Shred and the other DVD workouts, and during any outside activity I might log. I feel like MyFitnessPal is really good at figuring calories burned for a lot of what I do (cleaning, playing with Lily, regular treadmill walking, etc)-- but then other things, like interval training on the treadmill, Shred, Insanity, Zumba, etc--is not listed. I have to estimate what I have actually done and try to categorize it. Sometimes, to get the calorie count on the gym machine to match MFP, I have to "over log" my activity- a 30 minute interval train on the treadmill might be 400 calories but only 1.5 miles, but to make it right on MFP, I have to log it as a 3.5 mile run at 7.0 (which I am not actually doing). So I feel like I'm lying to the people who are following me!! Right now I'm putting Shred in as high impact aerobics, but it's not totally that. It's a combination of cardio, strength and core. It doesn't really fit into any of the MFP categories. So, I'm excited to get my heart rate monitor so I can figure out exactly what I'm burning in a day.