Ack! Scatterbrain!

I just remembered that the only reason I brought up my visit to the doctor this week was because she told me not to run! She was like, “The pounding is probably making the pain worse. Running is really bad for you.”

And I was like, “I lost and kept off 200 pounds running – running has been really good for me!”

And she was like, No. Not anymore, it’s hard on your joints, your bones, everything.

So now I’m kind of casting about trying to figure out what I do if I don’t run. I’ve pretty much tried everything at this point, and running is the one consistent thing I will do. At this point it’s not about what I can or can’t do, it’s about what will I do consistently to maintain my weight? Yeah, I like occasional variety, but running has been my fall-back position for over a decade now. I..don’t like contemplating a future where I can’t get my exercise needs taken care of by slipping on a pair of running shoes and heading out the door.

I usually strictly follow advice from doctors but I’m…considering not in this case.


Yoga Workout and Request for Mat Recommendations

My new workout DVDs arrived last night. I know I’m like a one-track record with my exercise DVDs, but I love the Jillian Michaels workouts, so I got three more from her. This morning I threw on Yoga Meltdown and did Level 1, because according to my husband, who is also working from home today, yoga sounds like it would be a relaxing workout for somebody on heavy anti-inflammatories (*more on that below) due to muscular problems.

I tell you what, that is definitely a workout, but I wouldn’t call it a relaxing workout. I definitely see room for improvement, so I’m looking forward to getting better. I’ve done yoga maybe 2 or 3 times in my life, and the last time was years ago, so I definitely consider myself a total newbie at this.

Downside, though: I was raining down sweat on my mat so heavily in the middle that I could barely get my feet stuck in place and slipped a few times on downward dog and when I was doing a plank from my elbows. I think I need a different mat or something, because the one I have gets really slippery when it’s wet, and when I’m working hard, it’s soaked. I’m a sweater, that’s just how it is! Recommendations on that particular problem are definitely welcome. Drop me a comment if you have a solution or product rec!

Image found on the internet. Perfectly pinpoints my problem area.

Image found on the internet. Perfectly pinpoints my problem area.

*In other news, I’ve been having terrible shoulder pain for several months now, and I finally saw my doctor about it. It turns out that I’ve got a slightly pinched nerve coming out of my vertebrae in the thoracic area, which is causing these muscles that sit between my spine and my shoulder blade on the left side (see handy diagram –>) to spasm and become inflamed. She gave me heavy anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants for nighttime, and painkillers for when it gets really bad. Also I need to ice it 3 times a day. So far I’m already feeling better, which is good because this is an area that there’s not much that can be done – physical therapy isn’t really an option due to the location of the pain, so we just need to get the inflammation under control. I’m also taking a look at my desk set-up to try to make it more ergonomic so I’m not straining it that way. I spend so much of my day working at a computer I think that’s a likely culprit.

Frustration and Acceptance

Last week I worked out 40-50 minutes 6 of the 7 days. Running was my form of exercise for 5 of those days, and I did a kettlebells workout the other.

This week I’m on track for the same sort of thing – yesterday I did 60 minutes of cardio conditioning using a DVD, and today I ran for 50 minutes this morning.

And yet…my body remains stubbornly the same size no matter how much I exercise. It’s frustrating. I track my food and exercise with MyFitnessPal and try to stay under 1600 calories each day, but no matter what I stay the same. I know there’s one way I could become smaller again – a VLCD diet. And I’m just not interested in starving myself again, only to watch as those pounds come back, again, over the next few months.

I remain 20 pounds above where I’d like to be. But 20 pounds beats 200. And when the only way to get them off is starvation, well. I need to work on acceptance.

Travel and Weight Management, Part 2: Business Travel

Traveling for business can be a much greater challenge to weight management efforts. I frequently travel for business and almost every trip is depressingly similar – I fly somewhere far away to sit in a room at a table where my food choices are very limited. This is a real challenge for weight management because I don’t get any exercise whatsoever during business hours, I don’t get to bring my food along with me to meetings, and often the choices provided are spectacularly unsupportive – pizza, burritos, pasta, fast food – things I would avoid in my real life. This is where things get tricky for weight management. Record keeping, on the other hand, is a breeze on business trips, because often I find myself in meetings, bored to tears, looking for some task to set my mind to – a perfect time to make sure my food journal is up to date!

While I hardly ever seek out a hotel gym while I’m traveling for pleasure, I visit them religiously when I am traveling for business. If I can’t hit it at the end of the day I will set the alarm early and go before heading into work. Exercising not only helps with my weight management, but I find it helps me to clear my head and elevates my mood as well. These things are often desperately needed on a business trip. So always pack your gym clothes and shoes!

If I can possibly swing it, I like to get out and locate a grocery store to stock up on healthy snacks on the first day of my trip. If I’m attending a conference or convention I can usually pop up to my hotel room during the day when everybody else is having their hotel-provided afternoon snack of cookies, brownies and sodas to eat some of my own healthier snacks. When the meetings I am attending are catered, I am often stuck in the position of having to use my willpower, something I hate to rely on. First I survey the lunch options, and if there is any salad to be had I pile my plate with it. If not, I pick the vegetarian option if there is one (unless it is pasta in cream sauce, then there’s no benefit to having the vegetarian option). It helps to have a ballpark idea of the caloric content of various foods when I am making my selections. I do the best I can, and limit my portion sizes as much as possible.

And, of course, at the end of the day you’ll probably have to find a restaurant for dinner. Here are some guidelines to use when eating in restaurants, because there’s just no avoiding that!

Weight management while traveling does require some planning and foresight, but it is possible. In general, if I can hold my weight steady while traveling I feel like I’ve won the lottery. It’s all about striking the comfortable balance between enjoying my travels and paying some attention to weight management essentials.

Travel & Weight Management, Part 1: For Pleasure

Hi guys! I’m working on setting up a new page with quick access to some of the old articles I posted over the years that cover what I consider to be my main tools and modes of thought for weight management. In the process of doing that, I discovered that one of the posts I really liked writing was a cross-post on a blog that appears to have gone dark. So I’m going to repost it here (of course I kept a copy!) so I can link to it, and hey – it’s the Summer Travel Season right now, so it may still be of use to us all this season! Enjoy!

Travel and Weight Management

Travel is one of the biggest challenges to weight management. There are two main categories of travel which need managing: Travel for Work, and Travel for Pleasure, and I’ll start with pleasure (always start with pleasure!). When I hit the road I remember the key elements that work for me at home: record keeping, environmental control, exercise and making smart food choices.

Travel for Pleasure

Traveling for fun and pleasure is the definitely easier of the two, because I tend to have a little more control over the environments I find myself in. I always carry a notepad so that I can write down the foods I eat. This is definitely harder to do on vacation because of the nature of eating while traveling for pleasure – often I am grabbing a quick bite on the go, I may not even be stopping to sit down! So I try to remember to write it all down but if I don’t keep perfect records on vacation, I don’t beat myself up over it. The nice thing about traveling for pleasure is that I usually get a lot of exercise – I’m walking all day long, up and down and around museums, through attractions, in and out of shops. I hardly ever sit down when I’m visiting a new city! That’s a lot of exercise that I didn’t have to make any extra effort to fit into my schedule. In fact, all the walking I do on vacation usually means that I can be a bit more forgiving if other exercise efforts fall short in all the excitement of having new adventures.

When I am at home I do what I call environmental control – making sure not to surround myself with foods that will derail my weight management effort. This means I don’t keep things like cake, candy, baked goods, etc, in my kitchen at home. This is something that is much harder on vacation because I don’t have much control over my environment, but there are a few things I can do to manage myself, and they mainly involve not putting myself into situations where my willpower will be tested. I know that willpower is NOT a muscle, it doesn’t get stronger the more I use it, it gets depleted, so I don’t want to gratuitously force myself to invoke it. This means I don’t wander idly into candy and chocolate shops and ogle the wares. I don’t sidle up to sidewalk hot dog vendors and smell longingly after their goods. When I need a snack I look for a coffee shop or sandwich shop and I search for things on the menu that will be supportive of my goals. When I travel in Europe I find that almost every place that serves lunch has a menu item that is essentially, “Soup and a roll.” I always get that for lunch. Soup is a fantastic food for weight management, particularly if it is a water- or stock-based soup because it has a low caloric density – it’s made mostly of water, often has high vegetable content, and fills me up.

Most places I visit have some version of a fruit and veggie stand that is easily findable by tourists. If I am wandering through a new city it won’t be long before I stumble upon the place where fruits and veggies are sold. Truly, I seek them out. I know that when I get hungry the best thing I can reach for is a piece of fruit, a bag of sugar snap peas, or similar. These things are always available, no matter where you are in the world, and as an added bonus, often you will find fruit that is not available to you at home. That’s what traveling is all about! I always pick up something new to me if I can, to get a little local flavor. The last time I visited Hawaii I packed a kitchen knife and cutting board (checked luggage only!) so that I could enjoy the local fruits back in my hotel room. In fact, I usually carry a backpack when on vacation so that I can carry supportive foods such as fruits and veggies with me wherever I go on my touring – I never want to get so hungry that I’ll eat anything because that’s the most dangerous time to make a food selection. Eating a piece of fruit or other supportive snack every hour or so keeps me from getting too hungry, and keeps me going throughout the day.

Another thing I like to do is stay in lodgings where I can cook for myself – hostels, apartments and long-term-stay hotels. All of these lodgings provide full kitchens for the use of their guests. I love to find the local grocery and make myself healthy, supportive meals using local ingredients. Managing my weight is vastly easier when I know exactly what went into my food.

All of this is not to say that I don’t enjoy a fancy meal out or sweet treat occasionally while traveling. I do, and I relish them, I just don’t eat that way every day. I focus on the new experiences and adventures I’m having and let splurging on heavy foods be only an occasional indulgence.

Science! (Moves Slowly)

Unless you’re living under a rock, you probably saw this article plastered all over the news today, with increasingly fantastical titles:

Scientists find how obesity gene works! or Obesity gene discovery could forever change weight loss! or No need for diets & exercise? Scientists find obesity gene with off switch!

But since I know you’re all savvy media consumers, you know before you even click that any practical application of these knowledge is at least 10-15 years out. And even then, the differences they say they’re seeing between people with the gene and without is about 7 lbs. Not much to write home about if you’re battling a serious weight problem like me. Heck, not even much to write a post about.

Cancel the keg and party hats. Keep eating right and exercising. (But I still hold out hope they’ll figure something out so I can indulge when I’m an old retired broad.)

Runner’s Not-Quite-High

I have the weirdest relationship with the mythical “runner’s high” you often read about. I’ve gotten what I think is a true runner’s high like, maybe 5 or 6 times in my ten years of running. It’s so incredibly rare for me, if I were running in expectation of one I wouldn’t be a runner.

Today I got what I think of as a slight, mid-run high. Sometimes it happens during my run, where I suddenly get a wash of euphoric happiness where nothing hurts, everything feels good, and I feel like I could run forever. It’s usually accompanied by goosebumps. And it’s often brought on by a really rockin’ song coming on my iPod – today it was “25 or 6 to 4“, which, btw, is not about doing drugs – it’s about writing a song. Just FYI there. Anyway, it didn’t last too long, but it was nice.

Yesterday and today while running I’ve been mulling an invention that needs to happen. I need a drone, now that they’re apparently available to civilians, which hovers over me while I’m running holding a big umbrella or sun shade so I can run in the shade. A big hat is not enough, my whole body needs to be shaded, it would really improve my experience. I imagine it would be a combination of a chip in a wristband (incorporate this into a fitbit-type device?!) I wore and a drone which has a camera which is programmed to watch me (the one wearing the wristband/chip) and make sure the shade it’s throwing is covering me, while also watching out for trees and other obstacles and not running into them. It also needs to keep following me when I’m in natural shade. There are a probably a few other variables that need to be accounted for, but that’s my initial sketch on how this would be done. Anybody who wants to run with it has my blessing as long as I get one.

There would totally be a market for it – all people who run outdoors and don’t want their skin to turn into baseball gloves. That sun can be relentless, turning a simple run into a grudge slog.