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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!

What I Learned on Vacation

OMGBackAgain

I just spent the past 10 days away from home, away from my computer, away from my fitness equipment and stocked kitchen, and went on vacation to see family. You learn a lot about yourself when you are trying to get fit and healthy, and you learn even more when you are forced to improvise away from your “natural habitat” and live with people who are not used to your habits.

The first thing I learned is that my stomach does NOT like fast food and grease anymore. I spent more than one day in stomach discomfort (the worst time was when we went to see the Avengers movie and I REFUSED to get up to run to the bathroom), and while I was glad I brought the Pepto tablets, they turned my tongue brown for a few days. That’s the problem with vacation: you are often at the mercy of what is available to eat, and when it’s a case where you’re going to be socializing a lot and eating out, even trying to choose healthy choices doesn’t always help. My belly missed veggies and fiber, and hated having so much salt on EVERYTHING because that’s what “normal” people are used to. I didn’t get as many fruits and veggies as I would have liked. We got Chinese once and I only had the option of white rice, fried rice, or chow mein noodles…no brown rice. So you make choices, and I made mine based on whether or not I thought my stomach would get upset or not. Hey, I’ve had vacations where I laid awake at night with heartburn, and did NOT want to go through that again!

Speaking of food, the other issue I had was getting into a cycle of binging/starving, even though I tried not to. When you’re used to eating 5 small meals a day, switching to 2 or 3 meals proves difficult. For breakfast I usually eat 2 eggs and an egg worth of egg whites, with veggies, maybe a piece of fruit, and sometimes some nuts or cheese. So having a bowl of cereal or one egg and a piece of toast usually left me pretty hungry. When lunchtime hit, I would be STARVING. I would do my best to not wolf down my food (I wanted to give my body time to register that I had eaten) or take more than I could handle. There were a few meals where I know I ate more than I normally would have only because I didn’t eat as often as I was used to, and by that meal my body was CRAVING more fuel. I could feel the differences in my body temperature at night when I tried to sleep depending on what I had, how much, and when we last ate.

The next funny thing I learned? Usually when I DID get a large meal (like at a restaurant where everything is served as a “platter”) I could never finish it. I used to be able to finish that much food…AFTER having an appetizer and THEN having dessert! I kinda felt bad going to Chili’s and leaving *A* chicken crisper strip and most of my fries (Hey, I TRIED choosing from the healthy menu, but didn’t ALWAYS succeed. >.>), and tapped out early once when we got pizza. I brought home leftovers from the seafood restaurant. Blasphemy!

I know I also drank a lot of soda, and not enough water. Ugh, my body was CRAVING water the entire time. According to my weigh-in this morning I put on about a pound and a half over vacation, but I can pretty much guarantee that it’s water weight bloating from the salt and not drinking enough water. Give me a few days and it’ll come right off.

Because of the change of eating habits, my skin and hair felt icky most of the time. My skin was dry and flakey, and my face felt puffy. I felt like I always needed to exfoliate, but because I have sensitive skin I knew I couldn’t or I’d make things worse. My hair felt greasy quickly too. It was strange how quickly I recognized the changes in my body due to changes in nutrition. I was okay for the first few days, and then WHAM! It was like a sudden bout of PMS complete with the acne, bloating, and my sweet tooth being reactivated. Heck, for all I know it COULD be PMS, just made worse with the diet change.

Of course, I’m not just writing to complain about vacation completely derailing my efforts or anything negative like that. Overall, I think I managed to keep my calorie count around my normal level, even though it wasn’t as healthy.  I actually managed to get some exercise in! I found several bodyweight workouts for strength and cardio (squats, lunges, push-ups, crunches, etc. with cardio in the form of jumping jacks, running high-knee, butt-kicks, etc.) so I was able to stay active. It was tempting to not exercise because I was on vacation, but I told myself, “You never regret the workout you did, though you’ll probably regret the one you didn’t do.” Sure, we did a lot of walking, but not at the pace, time, or distance I’m used to, so I made sure to get some extra in.

And vacation had one other good effect: DESTRESSING! I’ve been the caretaker of everyone and everything for so long now that it felt good to finally get some time away from home to relax. I came home last night making plans for what I need to do, and for the first time in a long while I didn’t feel overwhelmed with “OMG THIS STUFF ALL NEEDS TO BE DONE YESTERDAY!” I feel more calm and focused.

The first “deadline” coming up is that my birthday is in 2 days. I’ve been debating a birthday present for myself: First I thought about getting new running shoes, but then I thought that maybe I should step it up a notch and treat myself to a gym membership and a few personal trainer sessions to check and correct my form. I’ve been wanting a gym membership for over a year now, and the only downside to the place near me is that they don’t have a pool. I really miss swimming laps (I used to swim competitively when I was young) and would love the option. But if that’s not to be, then I’ll make do. Another option is to get a Fitbit Tracker or similar gadget. I’m especially interested in the sleep tracking function.

No matter what I end up doing, I’m pretty excited about this year. It’s nice to know I’ve motivated some people and have some friends on the wagon with me. Vacation had me thinking about this year’s “Bucket List” of things I want to accomplish by the end of the year and by my next birthday. At the top of the list was getting into great shape again, complete with quantifiable goals. Lower weight and body fat are obvious, but the gym I’m thinking of joining has a 5K race in September I might sign up for. It’s easier to have goals to work toward, you know?

Vacation was a nice end to a previous life chapter. And now it’s time to move forward. I’m pretty excited to see what happens this year!

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)

Read the rest of this entry

Note to Self…From Myself

GirlsFuckingSweatDear Aili,

You know damn well that weight loss comes from causing a deficit of calories. You want to burn more than you eat. It’s simple math.

But never EVER forget again that there’s such a thing as creating TOO BIG of a deficit, which will impede your weight loss goals. You want your body to burn fat, not burn the muscle you’re working SO HARD to build. You know those big solid lumps in your arms? Those are your BICEPS and TRICEPS. You got complimented on them today. DON’T LOSE THEM BECAUSE YOUR BODY IS PANICKING THAT IT’S NOT GETTING THE CALORIES IT NEEDS! Seriously, don’t be afraid of eating a little more!

I know you don’t like to eat breakfast, but GUUUUURL you GOTTA do it! And you’ve found several recipes and ways to mix things up that you won’t get bored, remember? No one says you HAVE to eat “breakfast foods.” Eat one of those little steaks for breakfast. Cook up a chicken breast. Have some salmon. IT’S OKAY. Save the eggs for a salad if you want. Just make sure you are eating enough.

Also: Veggies. Veggies are yummy. Veggies are full of water. You feel cooled off when you eat your veggies. SO EAT THEM. (Doing great on the fruit, though! Awesome idea to start freezing grapes again!)

Speaking of water, good for you on keeping up with that. Just push it a little more. You’re almost back to 3 liters a day. Your skin is looking better. One to two more glasses. YOU CAN DO IT!

You’re kicking ass on the exercise. The entire reason I’m writing to you, Aili, is because you may be kicking a little TOO MUCH ass right now. The amount of ass you’re kicking is fine if you make sure you’re eating enough. So start tracking that food RELIGIOUSLY. Then go kick more ass! KICK ALL THE ASS!

So yeah, eat a little more, track it, drink more water, and keep kicking all the ass!

Your bestest friend,

-Yourself

PS – Don’t let the scale tell you that you suck. It’s a stubborn bastard and a total jerk. Now your clothes…they’re telling you that you’re awesome. Seriously, you look HOT in that tank top.

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!