Category Archives: Daily Update

Initiation?

IHeartRunning

I think I was initiated into a secret running club without even knowing about it.

I went for my run yesterday because it was the first day in ages that it wasn’t 100-and-Firelands degrees two minutes after sunrise. Actually, it was pretty nice at 8 am or so. A little on the humid side, but it felt good. In comparison, I saw several people on walks/runs last night around 11:30 pm because it was FINALLY cool enough to do it. (Yes, my area is safe enough where people were out and about at that hour for exercise.)

My run ended up something like this: little over a half mile walk to warm up/get to the main trail, ran a full mile (YAY!), felt shin splints trying to develop, so I walked about 3/4 of a mile to just around the killer hill in the neighborhood beside the trail, turned around and walked the 3/4 mile back, ran ANOTHER full mile (YAY AGAIN!), then walked about 3/4 mile home.

So I’ve proven to myself that in a single ~4.5 mile workout, I can run one mile without stopping TWICE. Next is a matter of connecting the dots, with less of a break in between, and getting in that third mile of running. (Normally I would have jogged a bit during the 1.5 mile walk in between the two running miles, but again…shin splints.)

Which leads me back to the initial point of this post.

I want to say it was because the weather was finally nice for a run, but everyone on the trail was even MORE friendly than usual. I didn’t think this was possible! But EVERY person I walked past during my warm-up said hi or good morning or at least afforded a friendly smile. Usually I smile and go, “PUPPIES!” if they’re walking dogs (which usually earns me a smile in return) but I don’t think I’ve seen it from EVERYONE.

Then I got to the main trail. Stretched for a minute, then kicked it up to a run. That’s when it happened.

The first jogger coming toward me waved. He waved at me. I know it was at me, because he didn’t wave at the walker in front of me, and there was no one behind me. I smiled and waved back, had a surge of happy energy, and kept going.

Then it happened again with another runner.

And then another.

Walkers were still smiling and friendly, but they didn’t do the wave. It was odd.

And then when I was on my way back, jogging the second mile after my walking portion, I passed by the first jogger as he was heading back to *his* starting point. He waved again. Same wave, too.

It felt like I was being taught the secret handshake of runners.

I’ve said before that I’ve been feeling welcomed into this world that other runners live in, even though half of my workouts are not yet up to speed.

I’m having a hard time grasping this. I don’t think of myself as a runner yet. Yes, I run for 2 miles every time I go out on the trails, but I’m mostly walking still. So if only 45% of my workout is actually running, how am I a runner?

And yet, the challenge is to think positively on my goals. I WILL get there. I WILL run a straight 5K. I may not be able to do it now but I’m working on it. I’m running, therefore I’m a runner. I have a feeling that once the scale tips so more of my workout is spent running than it is walking, THAT’S when I’ll promote myself to “runner.”

But even still, there are other people—strangers—who are recognizing what I’m doing. And for that, they’re giving me the “Hi, One Of Us! Keep going!” wave.

Gotta say, it’s pretty damn cool!

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June Wrap-up

MakeJulyYourBitch

June was a crazy month. Not crazy in a bad way, but still crazy.

The beginning of the month started pretty normal. Diet, exercise. Stayed on schedule with both.

Then came vacation. There was a little travel bloating (sodium, eating at restaurants, not drinking enough water, not getting to exercise like normal) but weight-wise not much changed. I managed to get in some exercise days DURING vacation, though. That felt pretty good!

After vacation was my birthday. For all the weight I didn’t gain on vacation, I seemed to put it on over the course of a few days around my birthday. It came back off just as quickly, but those two days at a peak weight were not fun on the ego.

On the plus side, those days DID aid my motivation.

I also started seriously running. While I can’t run for miles and miles without stopping, I was doing intervals that added up to at least 2 miles in each run. Usually that came out to about half of the session. I couldn’t do that before. I was especially proud of the day I ran a mile without stopping. I hadn’t been able to do that since high school!

The running seems to have sparked some more weight loss, too! I’ve noticed since I’ve been able to run regularly that my weight has also begun to drop at a slow, but regular pace. My previous workout schedule was mostly strength training with walking as my cardio. I’ve been doing slightly less intense strength right now and working on turning my walks to runs. I think I just needed to find the right balance. The scale says weight is dropping. I can tell my calves, especially, are looking thinner. The sad part is that they were always pretty decent. I wish more would melt off my inner thighs. The only DOWN side to running is that I’m discovering the horrors of chafing!

I have also been working on eating more this month. Yep, furnace was lit, and suddenly I’m burning more fat, too. Of course, I’m still focusing on healthy foods, but I’m trying to relax a bit. I wanted to stop mentally stressing myself out over food, but still be careful about it. Between vacation and forcing myself to relax, I think it’s helped a lot.

Since the day after my birthday, I’ve dropped 3 pounds. The majority of the month was a plateau, but it’s still the least I’ve weighed since I really started focusing on getting in shape again. (I’m also 5 pounds down from the post-birthday-bash peak…a lot of that was probably water weight and “food mass” in my stomach, but it’s still nice to lose that and more!)

So what’s in store for July?

First and foremost is that I have a job interview the second week of July. I won’t say that I’m guaranteed the position, but I think I have a really good chance. A lot of July will be planned around whether or not I get this position.

I still would like to join a gym. We’re having this heat wave this weekend, making it virtually impossible to run. I could go running, but I don’t want to risk my health. Originally I said I wanted to join a gym for access to heavier weights and machines. Now I ALSO want to be able to use the cardio equipment on days like this entire weekend when running outdoors is just unsafe. Joining a gym, and which one, is dependent on whether or not I get the job.

I have a goal of getting past this plateau and back into the 160’s again. I would like to hit 165 by the end of July. That’s about a pound a week. I won’t be disappointed if I’m lower than that! The shorts I bought just before my trip are already beginning to feel a bit loose. I would like them to be unwearable (too big) by the time autumn hits and I switch back to jeans. Although right now I’m practically living in workout clothes…I try to sleep in them so when I get up in the morning I have less preparation to do a workout. It’s harder to say no when all I really need to do is put on a sports bra, socks, and shoes!

But you know, even if I don’t reach my weight goal, I’m setting a schedule for myself to stick to. I made a calendar and everything! So even if my body doesn’t want to cooperate as far as the scale is concerned, I’m going to try to hit those non-scale victories and be able to point at what I’ve accomplished.

Tomorrow is picture day. I may or may not post them. But if things continue as they are right now, hopefully I’ll have even more to show at the end of the month!

The Spirit of Competition

BeProudOfWhatIDid

During my run this morning (OMG, I’M STILL RUNNING! NOT DEAD YET!) I began to think about WHY am I running? Why now? I’ve never been a runner. I was on track for a few days during 8th grade, but then switched to the girls’ soccer team. I wish I had stayed with track, to be honest. But hey, that’s all in the past.

My thoughts made me reflect on my history of competition and sports. (Long, so I’m adding a cut!)

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A Fitness Bucket List

SetGoals

Saying “I want to lose X number of pounds” or that “I want to get fit” is nice and all, but sometimes you need a goal to work toward to really push it. Last year my goal was BlizzCon and Krystal’s wedding in a 1-2 punch at the end of October. While meeting my goals was kind of at the mercy of what my body chose to do (“LOL PLATEAU!”) having a looming deadline kept me pushing.

My birthday was two days ago, so I began writing out a new list of goals to focus on for the next year. I WANT to include BlizzCon 2013 in this list, but it hasn’t been announced yet so it’s hard to count it. That’s not to say there aren’t other things to work toward.

Right now my first goal is to join a gym. Guess what? Happy birthday to me! I’m researching the gyms in the area, and while I think I’ll end up joining the one closest to me, you never know if there will be one that offers something that I just can’t live without. For example, the nearest one is a standard gym with separate weight rooms, cardio rooms, and offers personal training. There’s also a Curves nearby, and there’s even a boxing gym which could be interesting. I think there may even be a Crossfit gym, too, but I don’t know its status. I really wanted a place that has a pool, but the one I know of is far enough away that I don’t think I would be compelled to go as often. There’s another standard gym not too far from here. They might offer something or have better rates that would make the extra couple miles of travel worth it.

A gym would be a great investment in my health and fitness. For the strength training plans I’ve been following, I’ve maxed out the amount of weight I have on my bar and dumbbells. It’s hard to continue improving when you can’t increase the weight. I would also love to go for a run right now, but we’re having a thunderstorm. I don’t mind running in the rain, but would rather not during a thunderstorm. In addition, our summers get very hot and humid, so it would be nice to be able to hop on a treadmill or get in some other cardio if the weather is potentially dangerous.

So the big question is finding a gym that I like, and ensuring that I’m committed to using it…which is why I’m setting up a goal list in the first place!

Not gonna lie, if there was a Pink Iron in my area, I’d join in a heartbeat.

PinkIronGym

Goal #2: Sign up for a 5K race. The closest gym to me sponsors a 5K in the fall, and they even posted the race map…which I have been walking most of already! I walked/jogged the entire course the other day, and it wasn’t too bad. The worst part is The Hill through one of the neighborhoods. I’ve always seen a running club jogging down the hill, and now I know it’s because it’s apparently a route that’s a measured 5K. So you know what I’m doing? I’m working my way up to running it, and going in a direction to run UP the hill. (I don’t know if the race goes up or down the hill, although the map has it marked “Uphill” but I figure this way I am putting a little extra work in.)

On the subject of running, I hit a non-scale victory the other day by running over a mile on a particular trail non-stop! I know that might seem silly to the people who are used to running several miles non-stop, but I don’t think I’ve run a full mile since college. I then walked a quarter mile, jogged a quarter mile, walked a half mile, jogged another quarter, walked The Hill, jogged a quarter mile, walked a half, jogged a half mile, and walked the final quarter mile home. I remember starting going on walks in March and being winded and tired after only walking 1.25 miles. Now my distance is nearing 5 miles in the same time it used to take me to do 3, and I’m running more. If I keep it up, (I’m loosely following the C25K plan) I am sure I can do a whole 5K in September!

Goal #3 is to continue the running and getting in shape. Why? Have you ever heard of the Krispy Kreme Challenge? According to the site, the course is now 5 miles…just a little over what I walk already. The challenge is to eat the dozen doughnuts before reaching the finish line. I love me some Krispy Kreme Doughuts. I grew up with them. I giggled in college when people first discovered these “new” doughnuts. The Challenge is more or less a local race for me. So why not? They don’t have the information up yet for 2013, but this year’s challenge was in February. I’d assume it would take place around the same time. And yes, I know how many calories are in a full box of Krispy Kremes. I would likely sign up as a casual runner and not attempt the full-dozen challenge. But exercising more means you can eat more, right?

ODNSGainWeightAfter1BadDayOfEating

I’m researching other races and events to join. There are several in the area, especially in the spring. If I have dates to look forward to, I can keep on track and not “Oopsie, where did the time go?” by the time BlizzCon rolls around again.

While I’m looking into running races, I don’t want to stop my strength training. And now we’re back to the “Why I want to join a gym.”

Whenever BlizzCon is to be held (3 of the 4 times I’ve gone it’s been in October, but it was in August one year), I want to be able to cosplay this year. I want to look like this:

ThoseAbs

Holy crap, that’s hot. And I KNOW I can do it!

Thing is, I want to get strong not JUST to look hot, but to be able to USE that strength as well. My final goal on my list?

Fall 2013. Tough Mudder.

I have ALWAYS loved obstacle courses and ropes courses. Sure, I have a terrible fear of heights, but this stuff I can do. I need to get into shape for it, but I know I can do it. Whenever I went to summer camp, I always first signed up for horseback riding, and then ropes or obstacle courses.

This is not a race, but a challenge. And there’s nothing I love more than a challenge to get me fired up. I know that in order to join, I need to be way more fit than I am now. So guess what I gotta do?

You guessed it…I need to stop dreaming and start DOING. Well, I’ve started, but now I have some goals to focus on.

BWForgetSkinny

One month later…

OtherWaysToMeasureProgress

The title of this post is a little misleading, as it hasn’t exactly been one month. But it’s close enough. I took pictures on Thursday, May 3, 2012, and then started my diet and exercise schedule on Sunday, May 6, 2012. Or you could be even more technical and say I started on Monday, May 7, as Sunday is my “cheat” day. On May 6 I did a walk workout, but as far as food was concerned I ate like it was “Dimanche Gras.”

However, it’s been 4 straight weeks of workouts and trying to eat better. I still need to work on the eating better, but I have made clear progress even if the scale hasn’t been so kind.

I haven’t missed a workout, and have felt an increase in stamina and strength. I really need to get some new weights or plates because for many of my exercises I have maxed out the weight on my barbell/dumbbells, and those exercises have become too easy. As I mentioned in my last post, my walks are getting longer in distance, shorter in time, and I’m adding more periods of jogging into the walks. I’m going to shake up my workouts a bit soon, although I’m going to keep the same schedule. I don’t want my body to get into “muscle memory” territory…although it HAS been nice to have finally mastered some of the moves I was doing. Especially the ones involving the stability ball. Yeah, those moves know what they are. I showed you!

Not gonna lie, I’m bummed about the scale not showing my progress too. This coming month I’m going to focus more on diet since I pretty much have the exercise handled. I’m pretty sure my main issue is still not eating enough throughout the day. I also forget to track (oops!) and when I do I discover at the end of the day that I’m missing x-number of calories, so I tend to cram those in as a post-dinner meal. But that also affects my sleep, and that just doesn’t make me feel good. So goal for June: GO BACK TO TRACKING EVERYTHING EVERYDAY TO MAKE SURE I’M EATING RIGHT.

But overall, I’m proud of what I HAVE accomplished. I debated posting these pictures, and finally decided to go for it. I’m not entirely happy with them…it’s not where I expected to be. But the progress is obvious, which keeps me motivated to keep pushing forward. (Pics under the cut to save your eyes and stomachs. XD)

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Reincarnate Yourself

StopQuitting

It is 10:38 pm according to the clock on my computer. I JUST finished my workout.

I didn’t want to do it today. It was the holiday weekend. I was tired. I didn’t feel in top form all day. I wasn’t sick but didn’t exactly feel well. I didn’t feel like myself.

I wanted another day off. I wanted a lazy day. It doesn’t feel like a holiday when you push yourself to do the things you HAVE to do when what you WANT to do is laze around with a cold and tasty adult beverage in hand.

I knew the consequences of taking another day off. I would be mad at myself and feel guilty, but I could get over that. Otherwise? Who would know? Who would care? It matters to no one else whether or not I take a day off.

My old self would have given in.

But I had this ad running through my head as I forced myself to put on my workout clothes and tie my shoes:

It brings tears to my eyes every time. I see myself in that ad.

I’ve mentioned before, the phoenix is a very important personal symbol to me. Isn’t that what all this is about? Shedding our old selves and coming back a little wiser, a little stronger, a little changed for the better every time?

It’s now almost 11 pm. I just logged my minutes and calories on my SparkPeople tracker, making sure I got it in for the day.

It might have taken me all day to get my workout in, but at least I can go to sleep tonight without having that lingering feeling of guilt or anger at myself for not doing it.

I don’t like the old me. It can stay behind if it wants to. I’m gonna keep going.

Emancipation

fear

Three months ago yesterday I moved out of my ex’s apartment and into my house. It’s weird…some days it feels like it’s been forever, and other days it felt like it was just yesterday. I’m pretty sure he’s felt the same too, as he was saying it had been three months six weeks ago.

I’ve had my ups and downs. I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD over the losses I had back in 2008/2009. Avoidance of things I needed to take care of…like the house? Flashbacks, like being unable to take care of others when they were sick? Nightmares, insomnia, anxiety, depression? I seriously had it all, and just didn’t know how bad it was. I didn’t get the help I needed then, and it became too much.

I was letting the fears get the best of me. Yes, PTSD explains why, but I hate admitting letting something like fear keep me from a positive future.

When our relationship fell apart last year, I didn’t have much to hold onto to get me through it. He said he was sorry for cheating and wanted to try to work things out, and I believed him. I said that working things out meant he had to stop the cheating. He promised he would. So I said I was going to move, but was taking my time because I thought he really wanted me to stay.

I still had a lot of fears regarding facing the house. And the thought being on my own after living with a person for nearly a decade was also scary. Those fears kept me from doing what I needed to do. I convinced myself that things would be all right as they were. That time would handle everything. I didn’t push myself to move.

I let the fears win.

Then I caught him at it again earlier this year. He doesn’t know how much I know. He thought he could lie and say he stopped, but I knew everything. I know what he’s said and done. I know the things he’s called me. He was done with the relationship long before I broke up with him. So much for wanting to work things out….

It all finally hit me. It was the proverbial rock and a hard place. I was letting the fear of moving keep me in a bad living situation. It was the fear of the unknown, being alone, that held me in an uncomfortable but familiar “relationship.” I realized I had a choice: Remain in a situation where I was unwanted, miserable, being used, and not getting the support I needed…or face those fears and give the unknown a shot at being good. It wasn’t a hard decision at that point.

FUCK FEAR, MAN.

I’m not saying that the past three months have been all sunshine and rainbows. I’ve had several days where the depression wanted to bring me down again. But I’ve gained SO MUCH by facing those fears.

Suddenly, I felt free.

I’ve taken to calling February 24th “Emancipation Day.” Sure, it was the day I moved out, but that means it was also the day I freed myself from my fears. Sure, they still linger and threaten to take over from time to time, but then I remember what I gained by facing them, fighting back, and defeating them.

I have a great house. I have a great new roommate. I am getting my health back, both physical and mental. I have friends…loads of friends! Friends who suddenly stepped up out of Acquaintanceville or who came back, rekindling friendships we had before. Friends who are interested in me as a person, not what they can get out of me. Heck, friends who are interested in more than just friendship, but kept their distance in respect for my previous relationship. Now they don’t have to.

I have so much support and love coming from all directions that it’s overwhelming sometimes. I have so much support and love to give, and it feels good to give back.

I’ve gained so much confidence again. I’ve been coming out of that dark place. I’m remembering who I am.

I am happy.

Sometimes I wish I had faced those fears sooner, but I think it happened at the right time. Would my relationship have survived? Maybe. But looking back at everything, would I really want to be in that relationship anymore? Not really. I learned a lot about myself and a lot about him, and it’s better this way.

But most importantly, I am free to be me again. I have learned how far down I can slip when I let my fears rule me. I have learned I have the strength to overcome them myself. And now? Now I have new goals and know I can attain them.

Come back here next February 24th. You will see a VERY changed person.

And I challenge you to do the same. What do you need to free yourself from? What fears hold you back from being the best YOU that you can be?

Face them. Break them. Find your freedom. It’s the most amazing feeling.

Structure

GetDietBackOnTrackFor any of you who have been following this blog, you might have noticed when I tend to fall off the wagon. The number 1 reason? Lack of structure.

If my exercise plan is great, but my diet plan is not, then I will let the exercise slip. Or the other way around. It’s almost inevitable. I need to have enough structure to keep me occupied, but enough flexibility to keep me from getting bored.

For example, when it comes to diet, I’ve done so many types that I’ve lost count. Weight Watchers and Nutrisystem come to mind, because they both had something I needed, but lacked the strength of the other plan. I liked the flexibility of Weight Watchers, but if I could convince myself that 16 of the day’s 20 points can be spent on getting a Chick-Fil-A sandwich and small fries, I’d do it. Justifying “bad habits” allowed me to slip. However, it had the accountability of the meetings and weigh-ins. Nutrisystem, on the other hand, had a structured meal plan to follow EVERY DAY that kept me on track. I lost more weight on Nutrisystem, but then I got bored.

With fitness, barring any injuries or real life issues, I had fewer problems as long as I could work my exercise into the day. I found it easier to set up a plan (workout 3 times a day for 4 to 6 weeks) and remind myself that it only adds up to 12 to 18 workouts.

But if my eating schedule wasn’t figured out (I feel better with about 5 small meals per day), then I was likely to let my exercise slip.

“Oh, I’ll get my workout in a half hour after I eat!” Yeah, but 3 hours later I still hadn’t eaten because I didn’t know what I wanted.

THIS HAS CHANGED!

It wasn’t easy, and I can share the details in another post if people are interested, but I sat down one weekend and put together a plan based on pretty much ALL THE RESEARCH I had put together from last year and previous diet attempts.

I knew I needed: Structured meals that ensured I got the required numbers (calories, nutrient macros, timing, etc.), but allowed for flexibility in foods and schedule. I needed to plan what to have pre- and post-workout to replenish my body’s energy stores as well as feed developing muscles. I needed to figure out how these meals would fit in with a workout schedule, so I had to plan what I was going to do as far as strength training and cardio. The day’s workout would determine my nutritional needs.

I wanted to work on the timing of which foods to eat to keep me sated throughout the day, but I wanted flexibility in those meals so I didn’t feel like I was eating the same boring “Grilled chicken and a salad” every day for lunch. This also had to keep in mind my personal tastes, like the fact that I’m not a fan of the soup-and-salad lunch. It also meant I had to plan meals and figure out which ones I had to cook, and figure out the most efficient way to work cooking into my daily schedule.

Working around the needs of a new roommate posed a challenge, too. I no longer wanted to be someone’s personal chef (even if it was my meal as well), but I had to make sure that if I made a meal for the both of us that it sated both of our needs and tastes. Thankfully, she’s very supportive of this effort.

Finally, I wanted to make sure that I had a “Cheat Day” worked in, so we could still enjoy going out from time to time and not feeling deprived of (most) foods we love. Likewise, I needed to work in days off from exercise to keep from burning out or causing injury.

You know what? Once I figured out some basic meal requirements and put the structure in place, suddenly planning meals themselves and even grocery shopping trips became SO MUCH EASIER! I have a regular shopping list, know how many days worth of salads or eggs to have on hand, how much of X type of meat to buy, and what kinds of snacks to get. I know that if I need 32 oz. of V8 for the week, and my 64 oz. bottle is mostly full, I don’t need to buy any more that week. I know I need Y number of oatmeal servings, and can easily see if I have enough or need more. There’s less grocery waste going on, as well as less time being spent at the grocery store. (As well as less temptation to buy things that I know are bad for me!)

When I don’t have to worry about figuring out dinner every night (“Tuesday will be stuffed peppers, Wednesday will be grilled salmon…”) I have more time to focus on my workout and other Real Life Things. No more wandering in the kitchen for an hour, trying to decide what to cook.

It feels good. I finally have a food plan that keeps me on track, and I have checked it against my daily nutritional requirements to make sure I was getting enough. I have an exercise plan that keeps me going. It’s making me stay motivated, yet streamlines my day so I can spend more time doing Other Things that I didn’t have time for before.

And I can even say it works! Last week I got back on track, losing nearly 2 pounds!

How I got started

For myself, this post is a reminder of what got me interested in getting healthy. For others, maybe it will serve as motivation.

To be quite honest, deciding to get healthy, lose weight, exercise, get fit, or whatever your goal both is and is not something you can just “wake up and do.” The main key is that it requires a change in mindset. That change is often gradual. Over a period of time you become more depressed about your favorite jeans feeling tighter. Or maybe you begin to notice those chin rolls in pictures. You know that to change the direction you’re going you are looking at a diet and exercise program in your future. But what’s one more piece of cake right now..?

You absolutely CAN wake up one morning and say, “I’M GOING TO CHANGE THIS!” It’ll be that morning where you pull yourself out of the self-defeating depression and instead are fed up with it. You get angry. You realize you respect yourself more than the way you’ve been treating yourself. You realize you deserve better and you can tell the rest of the world to go fuck itself because you know no one is going to hold your hand through it. YOU and YOU ALONE are responsible for making a change.

I really think that was the biggest step in changing my life. You have to get so pissed off at where you are that you’ll do anything to change it. When you hate the way you look, the way you feel, the way your clothes fit, etc. you can either just accept it, or face it. Facing it is harder. But when you do, and you drop that first pound or do that first push-up, it feels so rewarding. Seriously, get angry. Don’t hate yourself for making bad choices, but hate the fact that you’ve made bad choices. And remember, those bad choices are in the past. This very minute you can make a good choice that will change your life forever!

The catch is coming up with a plan. This is where you can’t just “wake up and do” as easily as you’d like. You have to figure out how to eat again. You have to determine what kind of exercise program you can do that you will stick with. Sorry folks, both food and exercise are required. Eating better without exercising may help you lose weight, but you will likely lose water, some fat, and a lot of muscle tone. Who wants to be “skinny-fat”? (That look of a person who is thin but very soft because they also don’t have much muscle.) And yes, you can exercise without changing your eating habits, but you may likely undo all the hard work and effort by taking a trip to the all-you-can-eat buffet every day. In addition, your body will respond better to including certain foods and getting rid of others in your diet.

As you research this, chances are you may get overwhelmed. I have been there. I have given up and decided that it’s easier to not do anything and hope for the best.

Some people turn to specific programs, like Weight Watchers or Nutrisystem. I’ve been on both. They both work for the right people. If they are not for you, then you won’t stick with them, and all that money will be wasted.

So some people turn to coming up with their own plan. That’s what I did this time around.

FOOD!

Deciding what to eat was pretty easy. My main problem is that I usually don’t eat enough, and when I do, I go overboard. That starvation-binge-starvation cycle screwed up my metabolism. I could tell during the holidays on days when I ate WAY too much (like Thanksgiving…and I even held myself back pretty well!) that my metabolism kicked into high gear and my body temperature was higher than normal as my body was trying to burn it all off. I want to be able to do that every day without requiring a feast that really was too many calories.

So I decided that I wanted to “eat clean.” To me, that means eat foods you can recognize, avoid foods with chemicals and preservatives, and organic foods if possible. I shop around the outside of the store, mostly hitting the produce and meat/seafood departments. I’ve been experimenting with different veggies (who would have thought I could prepare eggplant!?), treat myself with fruit (mangoes, strawberries, and cantaloupe are my faves) instead of ice cream, and chose good cuts of meat, high-quality ground meat, and lots of fish and shellfish.

I know I am a carb addict, so I try to avoid pastas and breads. I will eat carbs in the form of fruit, veggies, and even rice and oats (steel-cut oatmeal is DELICIOUS), but going back to my original statement: I can’t identify pasta or bread according to its original form. Believe me, eating more fruits and veggies gives me the carbs I need and crave without me needing to launch myself into a huge bowl of cereal.

I also learned that eating healthy fats is required for a good diet. I’ve come to love avocados, usually cook in olive oil now, and keep nuts and olives on hand as snacks.

End result? I don’t follow a low-fat or low-carb diet, even though it may seem like it when you glance at my plate. My favorite dinner is a piece of fish (like salmon) or meat (yes, even red meat), and a HUGE spinach salad topped with fruit and avocado. With fruits like strawberries and mandarin oranges on my salad, I never needed any kind of dressing…which is good, because I don’t like salad dressing to begin with. Lunches were often something like my broiled tilapia, salad, and an apple. I always kept apples and almonds on hand for snacks. Breakfast was always the hardest, but usually involved eggs of some kind, a piece of fruit, and either veggies in my eggs or V-8. I’m still trying to find more breakfast options because I have never been a good breakfast eater, and that’s the #1 way to kick-start your metabolism in the morning.

With this in mind, I got started by going to the store and wandering the produce and meat sections, while avoiding the siren’s call of the pre-packaged foods sections. I’ve found recipes that involved cooking meat and fish in different ways, and have avoided all the “pasta bake” type recipes. I use ground meat in foods like chili and meatloaf, as well as for salmon and other “meat” muffins and burgers. It’s more satisfying to me to bite into a piece of meat than eat a spoonful of pasta melange. Heck, I’m not even that fond of soups and stews for that reason, although when you make your own you have more control over what goes into it. I will admit that becoming familiar with the slow cooker has been wonderful!

EXERCISE!

Deciding on an exercise plan is the hardest for me. I started with the 100/200/200 plan and got thoroughly hooked! I found it easier to make a challenge for myself: 6 weeks of a plan that happens on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday was do-able. It didn’t require any special equipment. I remember the feeling of finishing each week and saying I only had X number of workouts left. On the off-days, I’d hop on the stationary bike for a pre-determined amount of time, distance, or calories burned depending on how I was feeling that day.

If I didn’t have a bike, I’d probably go for walks. I might even jog an interval or two. We have a great trail system around here, and I really want to take advantage of it. Of course, there’s always that embarrassment of wondering what people will think of you when they see you. Honestly? I realized what I thought when I saw them jogging past me: “Good for them! I want to be like that some day!” And maybe it’s because I live in the South, but I’ve noticed that while they often mind their own business, usually they smile and say hi.

So the key for me was coming up with a plan, making sure that plan had a challenge to it, making sure it had a determined length (it’s easier to say I’ll stick to it for 6 weeks than doing something until…I can’t take it anymore), and sticking to it.

MOTIVATION!

Blogging about it also held me accountable, and it was helpful to tweet about it too. On days I didn’t feel up to doing a workout, I’d tweet for someone to motivate me. I’d get multiple responses of “You can do it!” as well as challenges (“I’m about to go on my run, so let’s see who works the hardest!”) and words of encouragement (“I can’t do my workout today for a valid reason and feel bad about it…don’t make yourself feel bad when you can do this!”). The next thing I knew, I was pumped up to do my workout.

And hey, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of getting to brag that you did 100-something pushups! Or saying that you FINALLY mastered a move that had been giving you trouble!

If you have a social network, take advantage of it!

In addition, hop onto Google. Do image searches for “fitspo” (a variation on “thinspo” which was a mixture of “thin” and “inspiration,” only this is emphasizing “fit”), or look up recipes. I love Allrecipes.com and Sparkrecipes.com to come up with tasty new things to cook.

Join a community, even online. I love SparkPeople.com since it’s free and an amazing resource for all the things I’ve talked about here. When you are feeling down about how you feel, there are plenty of people willing to lift you up again. And I love the personal challenge of collecting points and getting higher levels just by doing (and tracking) the healthy things you should be doing anyway.

Make your own goals, too. It’s great to have long-term goals of what you want when you reach your ultimate goal, but those can feel so out of reach when you get started. So set rewards for losing 2 pounds in a week, or every 5 pounds, or getting through 6 weeks of your exercise program. Heck, even a “I got through this week and am going to reward myself with a long soak in the tub” reward gives you something to look forward to.

If you’ve stuck with me this far, that pretty much sums up what I did. Changing my food habits was pretty easy, setting rewards kept me going, and the hardest part was deciding on an exercise program and the 100/200/200 was a great start that got me interested in doing more.

Hopefully this will help others as much as it helped me by serving as a reminder as we launch into 2012!

January 1 – This is MY year!

Okay okay…I’m back. Really, seriously back. I put it in my New Years Resolutions to blog at least once per day on one of my blogs (here, my WoW blog, my crafting blog, Tumblr, or my private journal), so this is my blog post for today!

The end of the year actually wasn’t too bad. Yes, I did fall off the wagon, but not TOO hard. I’m still in the 160’s. My new jeans have gotten a little tighter, but considering they were a little tight when I bought them, I can handle that.

From October through last night I had: BlizzCon, K’s wedding, Ren Faire, Thanksgiving, finishing school, Christmas, and New Year’s. It was pretty much a string of travel and holidays that were not kind to the waist line.

I ended last year on some positive notes: I finished school with honors (3.91 GPA), travel was good, I learned to knit, and I faced some fears about moving into the house. So 2012 can only be better, right?

So I’ve been working on my New Year’s Resolutions. This is what I have so far:

This year:

  • Lose those 50 pounds. I managed to drop 30 by mid-October last year (okay, I put some of that back on >.>) and started in the end of April. So 50 is doable. I have a goal of hitting 120, or I guess you could say the “visual equivalent” depending on my fat/muscle percentage. I’d like to be back in a size 6 again, maybe even a size 4, but I don’t want to be “skinny-fat” where I am thin but have no muscle tone. Once again, I would rather be a size 4 at 130 pounds with lots of muscle than a size 6 at 120 pounds and little muscle.

Monthly:

  • To reach this weight loss goal, I’m aiming for 5-10 pounds per month.
  • Set month-long (or 6 weeks at most) exercise goals with rewards like I did before. So if I do Workout X every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I will reward myself with Y.

For January:

  • I will move into the house. My goal is to have the major move (U-Haul and everything, this being the day I actually live there) by/on January 21. My one concern is that I have jury duty on the 4th, and while it’s rare that it will take up that much time, right now I can’t plan for it. I HATE not being able to plan.
  • I will get a job.
  • I will finish at least 2 knitting projects: my Clapotis and my shrug.
  • I’m getting back on the wagon of eating right and exercising. This week I’m focusing on eating better and getting on a better sleep schedule (so I can get up and exercise). I am also using this week to figure out what exercise plan I’m going to do.

Weekly:

  • Plan meals and make grocery lists on Sunday.
  • Pick a room and thoroughly clean it by the end of the week.

Daily:

  • Wash my face and brush my teeth twice a day. Some mornings I wake up and don’t bother with either. While I always brush my teeth before bed, some mornings I’m just kinda “meh” about it. And while I wash my face every day, there have been nights when I would forego removing my makeup. So while I would still do these tasks every day, I want to make sure I get into a better routine.
  • Go to bed earlier/get up earlier. I just need a better sleep schedule.
  • Drink 3 liters of water per day. I feel better when I do.
  • Take my vitamins! I’m horrible at this, but it always makes me feel better. I also need to include Fish Oil in this. I need to buy one of those weekly pill containers.
  • Lotion on my dry skin. I hate maintaining this, but my skin looks and feels so good when I do.

So those are my “I’m being a responsible adult” resolutions. Now I’m having troubles coming up with the more “fun” resolutions. By that, I mean the resolutions like “Travel more” or “Read X number of books.”

There are things I want to do. I want to learn Intarsia and Fair Isle knitting, and I want to knit with nicer fibers. I want to actually make those costumes for BlizzCon this year. I want to travel more. I want to take care of myself more. I don’t pamper or treat myself enough, and usually only do it if it’s part of treating another person. I’m thinking of making sure I include at least one day, but preferably once every or every other week to just have a “pamper myself” day. That would include a nice bath with bath bomb, maybe even *gasp!* paint my nails. It could include learning a new makeup trick (I have always wanted to learn how to use bright eyeshadows like blues and greens without looking like a Jem and the Holograms reject), which would also involve getting a new type of makeup (like an eyeshadow quad) once a month.

I think it would also be interesting to learn Objective C to learn how to make iPhone apps. I mean, heck…why not? Mobile apps are so tied in with web design these days that it could only help me to learn it.

The main problem with saying things like, “I would like to do…” or “I would like to learn…” is that I’m not able to put a schedule and a solid goal on these possible resolutions. So what I’m working on right now is just listing them down so I can say at a later date that I have a goal for Month X to learn Goal Y. I know the goals I listed at the beginning of this post are practically a checklist of “How I’m going to micro-manage my life,” but that works for me to get me into good habits.

I guess coming up with these fun goals are more like the year-end Bucket List of things I want to have done at some point before the year is over.

Or before we’re all swallowed by a giant Mayan snake.

Anyone else have some great resolutions or goals you’re wanting to accomplish? What’s your schedule like to accomplish them?