Sunday, January 29, 2012

Next time won't you sing with me?

What a week! I feel bad that I haven't had much time for blogging and I'm afraid today isn't much different. Work has been extremely busy lately, followed by an unusually active weeknight social life. I'm surely not complaining but it has been difficult devoting time to myself. My workout routines and eating have been off the mark as a result and it has left me feeling uneasy. This weight loss adventure is not only helping me to change my eating and exercise habits, it has been a lesson in time management. I find that I do extremely well when I have my meals and workouts for the week planned in advance and am able to follow them without interruption. Unfortunately life likes to keep us all on our toes with various hiccups and curve balls, which makes planning so much more difficult!

This is what I need to remind myself... it's OK if Plan A falls through! Think on your feet, figure out what needs to be done to achieve the desired outcome and DO IT!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Let's get heavy for a minute.

While running on the treadmill last night, I started thinking about my accomplishments this week. In my blog post yesterday I kind of glazed over the fact that I lost 5 pounds since last week's weigh-in. The reality of this pretty much smacked me in the face during my run. I have been on this weight loss journey since January 2008. Between 2008 and 2009 I lost approximately 55 pounds. It was such a huge adjustment for me mentally that I was afraid to continue the weight loss.

I couldn't quite wrap my head around the fact that I was now 50 pounds lighter. So I allowed myself to become more relaxed with my workouts and diet and to get comfortable at my current weight despite needing to lose another 50 pounds. Well let me tell you, I settled in for the long haul. For the past few years I have maintained my weight (successfully, if being afraid of change can be considered a success) but I have not lost more than the same 5-10 pounds over and over again. So to lose 5 whole pounds in one week is a bit of a wake up call.

I am learning that weight loss, especially a major weight loss, needs to happen in your head just as much as (if not more so) in your body. I have always had a mental block when it comes to reaching my goal weight. When I was younger I refused to walk around the neighborhood or exercise outside because I feared people would judge me because I was fat. In reality they probably would have thought "good for her", or more likely wouldn't have even noticed me at all. Once after losing 30 pounds with Weight Watchers, I went to a family gathering where my relatives ooh'd and aaah'd over my new figure. Most people would revel in the attention - I hated it and promptly ate my way back to invisibility. I wore my fat as a cloak to hide behind; it was my shield against unwanted attention and it was also my security blanket. I knew how to be the fat girl, I did not know how to be the pretty girl or the skinny girl or the healthy girl. 

The past few years of maintaining my weight have helped me to adjust mentally to the increased attention. I've come to better understand how to deal with success and praise. There are certainly still times when I feel like the invisible kid I was back in high school and I have to remind myself that that girl is long gone. I want this... and I think I'm finally ready for it.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Weighing in and dining out.

Friday is weigh-day 'round these parts and today was a good one! I could tell throughout the week that my clothes were fitting more comfortably so I had an inkling the scale might have something nice to say. I have now obliterated 7.4 of the "holiday 10" pounds that re-kindled my fitness fire. It feels awesome and couldn't have come at a better time - this week I was required to squeeze into my suit for a business trip (and squeeeeze I did). Success all around!

Something that has been on my mind a lot lately is dining out. I like eating home-cooked meals and saving money. I also like being social and spending time with my friends. It seems that the chaos of daily life doesn't provide much time for socializing outside of meals & drinks but going out to eat makes me cringe! Unhealthy meals dominate restaurant menus, portion sizes are 2-3 times what they should be and my willpower is constantly tested. Even the healthy-sounding items have horrifyingly high calorie counts - I'm looking at you, Firebird's Grilled Shrimp & Strawberry Salad (1148 calories, 74 grams fat)!

So what's a girl (or guy) to do?! Well, the other night a friend mentioned that Mondays are her "cheat day". This caught my attention for a couple of reasons: a) a day to indulge responsibly can certainly be a motivational tool to stay on track the rest of the week, and b) I don't like the idea of cheating anything, let alone myself. One night while browsing Pinterest, I came across this post by Coach Calorie. He lays out a pretty good argument for a once-weekly "cheat meal" and has opened my eyes to the fact that maybe indulgence is OK in small doses.

Being of scientific mind, I decided to put his theory to the test. On Monday nights I play trivia at a local sports bar/restaurant. Virtually everything on the menu is fried or smothered in something. I chose menu items that I deemed indulgent within reason and washed them down with a beer. I felt good not only because I was eating food that I tend to avoid during the week but because I was in control of my choices and could focus more on my friends than on my food. The following day I resumed eating within my calorie-range and kicked butt in my workout and at the end of the week I am down about 5 pounds. So... maybe there is some truth behind the cheat day. I will have to continue this "experiment" to be sure. This week I have trivia on Monday and a friend's birthday dinner on Tuesday - yikes!

Do you have a "cheat day" or "cheat meal"? How do you handle dining out while working toward a healthier lifestyle?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Let's shake things up a bit.

Holy Cow! I have discovered the most DELICIOUS protein shake ever. Let's just get this out there... I love chocolate and I'm a bit of a snob about it. For me the darker the chocolate, the better it tastes. And I really kind of hate things that are supposed to taste like chocolate but don't. One day while browsing the interwebs I stumbled upon a recommendation for Silk PureAlmond Dark Chocolate Almond Milk. I've been enthusiastically riding the almond milk train for a couple of years now but I've never tried anything other than the unsweetened vanilla. So on my next trip to the supermarket, I picked some up and wow! It is a lot thicker than my usual almond milk (Almond Breeze) and between the thicker consistency and the rich dark chocolate flavor, I was in heaven. It's a little high in the calorie department (120 cals/cup) so I tend to use it as a special treat and I really look forward to it.

This brings me to tonight: After my workouts, I've been making whey protein smoothies to help accelerate muscle recovery (read more about whey protein here). For the record, my whey protein of choice is Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Gold Standard. I did a lot of research and read a million reviews before deciding on Optimum and I have been extremely pleased with both their products and their customer service. They have a huge variety of flavors and a high quality whey protein blend. I like to use the Vanilla Ice Cream flavor with my fruit smoothies. On its own it tastes more like cake batter than ice cream but it's good.

The standout flavor for me though is the Mocha Cappuccino. I have tried it mixed with water, which is good but definitely resembles watered-down coffee. Tonight, in a stroke of post-workout genius, I decided to merge the dark chocolate milk with the mocha cappuccino protein powder. HE-LLO! Why have I not tried this before? The end result was a cross between a Starbucks mocha frappuccino and a Wendy's chocolate frosty (two of my favorite things)! Rich, chocolatey, lightly coffee-flavored bliss in a cup. Please do yourself a favor and try it!

  • 1 cup Silk PureAlmond Dark Chocolate Almond Milk
  • 1 heaping scoop Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Gold Standard Mocha Cappuccino
  • ice, lots of it

Pour the milk and powder in to the blender and give them a spin for about a minute (this helps dissolve the powder). Add in your ice, crush it up and then blend until your desired consistency is reached. Voila! This smoothie packs a whopping 25 grams of protein and weighs in at around 250 calories - so for me it is something best enjoyed post-workout. It does turn out quite generous in size so if you'd like to enjoy it as a dessert either cut out the protein powder or reduce the milk to one-half cup and the protein powder to one-half scoop. Suddenly I'm a lot more motivated to work out...

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Setbacks are for humans.

OK, so I've been a slacker in the worlds of both blogging and working out. No excuses here: I guiltily succumbed to the convenience of fried road foods on my frequent out-of-towners, followed by the oh-so-happy holidays and their cookie-centric festivities. When it was all said and done, my pants did not fit comfortably. Oh. Hell. No. I had gained nearly ten pounds. TEN POUNDS! This was not OK.

I felt intense guilt and shame for having undone ten pounds of hard work. I vowed not to gain another pound and to whip my jiggly butt into shape. And then, I got sick. It was just a bad cold but I had zero energy and couldn't breathe out of my face, so exercising was not an option. By the time I was able to function without a box of tissues attached to my hip, the new year was upon us. Which leads me quite wordily to my point: I'm starting over amongst the herds of Resolution Makers. There, I said it.

Now as I've stated previously, I'm a planner. I like charts, data, tracking progress... but my spreadsheets felt so 1985. I remembered hearing about an iPhone app called Lose It! (they have a website too). It allows me to track what I eat, when I work out, and how much I weigh. It honestly reminds me a lot of the online Weight Watchers program I did about 6 years ago, except it's FREE! It's also convenient because with the app I can do everything directly from my phone. I've been using Lose It! for a little over a week and it's been interesting learning which foods leave me ravenous and which keep me full. I actually look forward to working out because when I tell the app how many calories I burned, it adjusts my daily calorie total (which usually means I can eat a little bit more that day and still be on target).

Another of my favorite features is that you can "create" your own recipes. I don't eat out very frequently and it seems most weight loss sites/calorie counters only calculate nutrition info for the big box restaurants & pre-packaged foods. With Lose It! I can input all of the ingredients in a recipe and it will break down the calories per serving and allow me to save it to my "recipe box". This is great if you have certain recipes you make often because you don't have to input the ingredients each time.

This app is just one of the many exciting weight loss tools I am exploring. I've found that I am better motivated when I have a new "toy" to play with! So far I have lost three of those newly added pounds and I can't wait to shed the rest.

What motivates you? Did you receive any fitness "toys" this holiday season?