It’s a Journey, Not A Sprint

I felt a little nostalgic today and started rereading the blog I did on My Fitness Pal. I haven’t added to it in about a year and a half. I read the entries backwards, so it was weird to see my thought processes go in the opposite direction, back to square one.

I already knew it, but it really showed me that this is a journey, not a sprint. 

I started on MFP and trying to lose weight back in January 2013. At that time my only goal was to lose at least 100 lbs. My size made simple things like walking long distances without getting winded, touching my toes, wearing clothes from regular sized stores a struggle. At that time my focus was only on the scale, on the numbers and each day, the number on the scale dictated if I was happy or sad, if life was going well, or if it just plain sucked. Rarely was I happy, if there was a loss, it was never enough for me, I wanted it all off immediately. Gains were devastating and my record number of plateaus were just as bad, why do all that work and not see that scale number go down? I only saw the number and was never happy. The scale ruled my happiness. I was a fool.

When I first logged onto MFP, and plugged in the numbers, having enough sense to use a one-pound/week loss as a goal, (because the calorie count it would have given me if I set it for two pounds would have made it too difficult to do), it also gave me a date in which I’d reach that goal and I remember being so upset that it was so far off <insert big snort here> Little  did I know. That date passed a long time ago. Now I see it as a good thing, the time it’s taken for me to lose a slow, but steady 100+ lbs. and not gain most or all of it back, as most people tend to do, according to so many studies. It’s  given me time to educate myself about what works and what doesn’t:

  • how gaining a pound overnight is not fat unless I ate an additional 3500 calories.
  • how sore muscles mean water retention which will show on the scale and how it’ll drop off in a day or two.
  • how adding muscle will not show as a loss on the scale and usually as a gain, but will show up in the mirror and the now loose clothes.
  • how eating minimally processed foods most of the time isn’t that hard and tastes darned good.
  • how better food choices are now a habit and one I’m not looking to break.
  • how reaching my goal weight doesn’t mean I’d go back to my old ways of eating, so what’s the rush??

That last one is the most important one and it took me a long time to realize it. I spent a lot of time being frustrated by gains and plateaus (still do but I’m working on it), but when I think about it, there’s no reason to be. The only thing that will change is a maintenance plan – a few more calories and a new road on this journey.

I started in January 2013 to lose weight, to lose fat. That’s all I wanted. Along the way, I did that, but more importantly I gained better health, both physically and emotionally/mentally. My weight loss journey turned into a health one, a journey that I’m on for the rest of my life. Who knows what’s around the next corner?

I can’t wait to find out.

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Favorite snacks

 

My dietitian emailed this idea for a blog post to me. My reply – “but you won’t let me have Edy’s Chocolate Chip ice cream.”

Partly true. Yes, it’s probably my favorite snack. No, she’s not forbidding me to have it, just making me see that it’s a huge trigger food for me and right now, I can’t handle having it in my freezer. Even as a “1/2 the fat” ice cream, a 1.5 liter tub is gone in two nights, and that’s if I pace myself. So right now, it’s my favorite from afar. She’s trying to get me to decrease my processed sugar intake, because I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal disorder which has a lot of symptoms, but one of the main ones, is it can lead to insulin resistance – where the body doesn’t respond normally to insulin, and blood sugar levels remain higher for longer periods of time. It makes it easier to gain weight and harder to lose. Too much processed sugar leads to chronic inflammation, which can also lead to weight gain (makes me amazed I was only 248 lbs when I started this journey).

But there are plenty of other snacks to be had. Besides ice cream, chocolate is my other love. I’ve been managing to get my chocolate fix with a Chobani Flip – the Chocolate Haze Craze. Chocolate Greek yogurt with mini chocolate chips and hazelnut pieces “flipped” in. I take one to work and have it with lunch, kind of as a dessert, I guess. I try to hit my protein macros first and with 12 grams, and yummy chocolatey goodness, it works well. It does have 21 grams of sugar, but we’re not trying to cut it all out, just keep it under control (my dietitian is incredibly realistic).

Nighttime eating is still something I’ve been working on. That’s mostly where the Edy’s became a problem. I used to eat that as well as microwave popcorn, both after dinner. My current after dinner snack is Elli Quark, which is a cheese, but it looks and tastes like Greek yogurt. I love the lemon and usually spoon it out over a half cup of a fruit, currently blueberries. It’s got no fat, no artificial sweeteners (also to be avoided with PCOS), and has 14 grams of protein. It also helps with replacing the ice cream, since it’s got a smooth, creamy texture.

My daytime snacks tend to be pairings of carbs and protein. The protein keeps the carbs/blood sugar from spiking too high. I’ve been eating cantaloupe and mozzarella cheese lately, I’m not going to be happy when cantaloupe season is over. I’m also a big fan of turkey pepperoni slices and usually pair these with the mozzarella when I am getting in touch with my Sicilian roots or with granola or quinoa sticks – the “Hi, I’m Skinny” brand is a favorite.

Sunflower seed butter, and nuts like pistachios and walnuts are other favorites. I keep 100 calorie packs of nuts in my desk at work in case I’m suddenly starving and I’ve had to open a couple. That small amount does wonders and keeps me away from other goodies around the office.

It’s possible to enjoy a snack without it being full of sugar. It doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some once in a while, but what I was doing in the past wasn’t good for me, it showed on my body and it also didn’t make me feel good on the inside. One of these days I may try to deal with the ice cream issue, but not right now. I’m okay with that, I’ve found a lot of great ideas to keep me happy, both my body and my mind.

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Random Thoughts During Boot Camp Class

Boot Camp is my favorite class. I love the variety of equipment, the different formats, the ability to work on your own, and/or in a group. It’s just fun. I take a Monday morning 5:45AM class, it’s a great way to get the week off to a good start. Weather permitting, we play outside on the Brady Bunch-like Astroturf in the front of the building (Google it if you’re too young to get the reference.)

Today’s class consisted of three stations, each with three moves. The first station I was in, involved medicine balls, doing diagonal wood chops, then lunging across part of the turf while holding the ball overhead, followed by rainbow slams.

Station two started with dumb bell deadlifts, backwards bear crawls while sliding one of the dumb bells (I know, I made a face too), ending with lunges while holding the dumb bell.

Station three had kettle bells, first goblet squats, then suitcase carries, followed by kettle bell swings. After each set, you increased the reps, to a certain point, then decreased them. We switched stations after a set number of minutes, it was probably seven, but felt like seventy.

Did I mention the humidity? I visited the rainforests in Australia once. This was right up there.

First up, we had to displace a poor frog who got through the fence and was sorely disappointed by the turf. “Hop away, be free! Run for your life little frog!”

The warmup consisted of a lap around the building, during which I did my usual cursing of the architect for making it so big. Then we ran drills with the agility ladders, or the “inagility” ladders as I’ve dubbed them, because although I like them, they do make me feel like I’m sorely lacking in agility (and grace).

While trying not to trip over my own two feet – or the feet of the woman in front of me –

“Don’t fall, don’t fall, don’t fall…”

“I used to be so good at hopscotch, this is so pathetic.”

Then backpedaling down half of the turf –

“This isn’t going to end well.”

“Why am I running on an angle? What is wrong with me??”

First up for my group was the medicine balls. By now they were completely wet from the humidity – just to give it a little element of danger.

During diagonal wood chops –

“I’m going to fling this sucker over the fence.”

During the lunges while holding the ball overhead (on the third pass) –

“WTH? Did this ball gain weight?!?!?!”

“I need coffee.”

During the slams as the ball was hard to catch –

“Please don’t hit me, please, please, please.”

Survived station one. Next up, dumb bells. Two of the guys had brought a 50lb kettle bell to use and I deadlifted with it. (I’m up to 175 lbs with a barbell and no humidity)

“Where are they? I want them to see this.”

During the backwards bear crawls, and when we figured out dragging the dumb bells made the waterlogged turf spit back water in your face.

“No freakin’ way I’m dragging 50 lbs. Twelve pounds will do.”

“Oh lovely, a shower. I’m not wet enough?”

“In what universe do bears crawl backwards dragging a dumb bell???”

“Where is a hunter to shoot this bear and put me out of my misery?” (we did a lot of these)

“Oh yuck, there’s a hair stuck to my dumb bell and it’s not mine!” (I actually ended up saying that twice)

“I need coffee.”

If you’re getting the idea that I hate bear crawls, you’re right. They’re right up there with burpees.

Station three with the kettle bells – I’m a big fan, so this was my favorite station. Still –

Knees cracking during goblet squats –

“Shut up, knees.”

“Stop it.”

“Fine, whatever. See if I care.”

“I’m not liiiistennning. La la la la la.”

Suitcase carries with two bells –

“I feel like I’m carrying groceries.”

“This is why suitcases have wheels.”

During swings with the horns slippery from the humidity –

“Don’t. Let. Go. (timed with each swing).

“I need coffee.”

Then we were done. Nope, not quite. A shuttle run. Okay, I can do those (run a quarter of the way down the turf, touch cone – or in this case, imaginary cone – run back, run halfway, etc. etc. ). Then —

Instructor: “And do three burpees at each spot.”

Me: “F$%&. (and I believe that shot out my mouth too.)

But I did them, and lived to complain about it. A cooldown, stretching, and then –

COFFEE 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

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Rest Does A Body Good (aka what I need to remember)

Yesterday I took a rest day.

I’ll admit I didn’t plan to, but an ongoing sore hip/leg issue was bothering me enough where the run I planned just wasn’t going to work. So, I didn’t go.

Now for the disclaimer: today was a rare work day off, and I went to both a HIIT and TRX class, both by 10AM. HIIT is my usual Friday class and this TRX class was one of the first I took regularly when I started and one of my favorite instructors was subbing it, so I went.

Rest days are an important part of the fitness journey, whether you’re trying to lose weight, gain muscle, or another goal. Overtraining can cause your body to stop making progress – weight loss plateaus, fatigue, mood swings, a decreased immune system, soreness that doesn’t go away and a higher rate of injuries. When you work out, you make tiny tears in your muscles, they need time to repair, which in turn makes them grow stronger. Constantly working out day after day doesn’t allow time for this, since you’re then making new tears. Constant stress to the body leads to an increase in cortisol, a stress hormone, which in turn can cause an increase in appetite, especially for sugary and high carb foods.

This is an issue I’m guilty of, and still working on trying to improve. Being morbidly obese for so long and wanting to get this weight off, put me in the mindset that I have to burn calories by exercise every single day. Even if I have a day where I do strength training only (and I  pick up some decent weights if I do say so myself), I still feel like I should be doing something to get my heart rate elevated and burn more calories. I’ve had major weight loss plateaus since I’ve been on this health journey, which I then burn even more calories by running to my dietitian and letting it stress me. And her. She has explained over and over how too much is no good, and I do understand it and sometimes even follow through and make regular days off, but sooner or later, I’m back doing something every day. For me it’s easy to rationalize it that I’m just walking outside, but it’s usually for a couple of miles and probably an hour. Just because it’s not a scheduled class at the gym, or running outside, doesn’t mean it’s not exercise. I know this, but sometimes the part of my brain that is scared to be obese again, is stronger than the part of my brain who is reasonable and rationale. It’s still a work in progress for me, this journey is an emotional one as well as physical. I’m lucky to have the support I do.

Current guidelines for exercise by the American Heart Association say for adults 18-65, 150 minutes of moderately vigorous cardio activity a week is optimal, broken down into five 30 minute sessions (and they recognize that three 10 minutes sessions are just as good and more realistic for today’s busy adult). They also recommend two to three sessions of strength training a week, but not working the same muscle groups more frequently than every other day, in order to allow time for those muscles tears to repair and new muscle to grow.

If you can’t do that much, any time you can do is going to help you. Baby steps to work up to a regular exercise schedule are more likely to promote adherence to it and get you on your way to your own fitness journey. 

 

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What Nobody Tells You About Losing Weight

There’s a great thread in the Community Forums on My Fitness Pal called What Nobody Tells You About Losing Weight. It’s started about three and one-half years ago and is currently 406 pages long. I’ve posted on there a few times and love reading what others have discovered as we share a lot of the same thoughts, ideas, milestones, and changes, some funny, some serious.

So – my version of what Nobody Told Me About Losing Weight:

  • How one decision would change my life for the better.
  • How recommended serving sizes can be ridiculous. One-half cup of ice cream?? Who is responsible for that asinine idea?
  • The amount of time I would spend fondling my collarbone once it became visible.
  • How pointy my hip bones can be, and how much it hurts when I bang into something.
  • How everyone would think they could weigh in (pun intended) on my weight and food choices.
  • How I could bend over to tie my shoes and not get all red faced or a feel a head rush when I stood up.
  • That fiber makes the world a better place.
  • That I need pillows on my seats because it gets uncomfortable sitting on a hard surface.
  • How cooking my own food isn’t so bad. Goodbye to my Queen of Takeout title.
  • How flipping a tire in Boot Camp is fun.
  • How traumatizing running in public for the first time would be, although no one cared except that dog on the leash. Thank you C25K app.
  • How clothing sizes come in numbers, and without XXXs on them. 3X no more!
  • How the people who have the most advice about what I should do, or what I am doing wrong, are the ones who aren’t doing anything themselves.
  • How sleeping on my side without a pillow between my knees leaves red marks and is darn uncomfortable.
  • That I can deadlift more than my bodyweight.
  • That it’s possible to run a mile and live to tell about it.
  • That I would take group fitness classes and look at myself in the mirror without cringing. And get annoyed if someone got directly in front of me.
  • That the scale is not my friend and we need to break up, but that I’m not quite there yet. It’s a love/hate relationship.
  • That a good dietitian is worth her weight in gold 🙂
  • How trying foods I thought were disgusting as a kid, really aren’t.
  • That I had an eye for figuring out how much a particular food weighed before putting it on the food scale and how I can cut a chunk of mozzarella cheese within a few grams of what I wanted.
  • That work-related potlucks and parties are rarely worth the calories and I don’t need to feel obligated to eat something because it’s there.
  • That it’s a weird feeling to wear a shirt that actually touches my body instead of hanging loosely.
  • That there are people who take my weight loss personally and aren’t happy about it, and they had to go.
  • But that there are more people who are super supportive and it means so much.
  • That the last part of the body to lose weight is the brain and that I would be unable to see the first fifty pound loss until I put two pictures side-by-side.
  • That the first time I would go to the mall to go clothes shopping in regular stores (and not just order online from big girl stores) would lead to an anxiety attack because there were too many choices and I’d have to leave.
  • How “the girls” would not lose an inch for the first few years, until one day I woke up, looked down and went “what happened?”
  • That after drinking flavored seltzer, and coffee with just milk, sugary drinks were too sweet and not tolerated.
  • That I would willingly get up at 5AM to do early morning fitness classes.
  • That I would be able to do “big girl” pushups. (yes, real ones)
  • How trying on a pair of size 6 jeans in Target would bring a tear to my eye in the changing room.
  • That I’d start this journey so ashamed of my weight and how I looked, but now will show my “before” picture to people who didn’t know me then and even start a blog about this.
  • That I’d use my labor and delivery nurse talent of measuring with my fingers to check how much of the seatbelts on planes I’d have hanging free, whereas before I’d have it all the way to the end and digging into my thigh.
  • That I would learn to like and love myself.
  • That I would lose weight and gain self-confidence.

And so much more …

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